For almost a year, we've had a family reunion on the calendar. Four days, at a lodge high in the Rocky Mountains, and nearly 40 people between kids and adults. We had a lot of activities planned to keep the kids busy, and lots of "visitin" time for the adults. But, one of the activities we had planned for everyone was a giant family photo session booked with a team of professional photographers. It was decided that the different major family groups would stick to a chosen color for our clothes. Our family chose a light turquoise. We found button-up dress shirts in the right color for the adult guys, and matching beautiful silk/wool scarves for the ladies.
.As you can see from the picture pulled from the online listing to the left, (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078NZYCMW/), the scarves were really more like thin shawls. This meant us ladies had a lot of leeway in how we styled them.
The only problem was the little boys. It was proving difficult to find shirts for them in the right color. So I suggested we could make vests out of an additional shawl
I ended up using two different vest patterns, as one of the boys was solidly in toddler range, and one was still in infant sizes. The scarf/shawl fabric turned out to be a little fiddly to work with. Once cut, I only had to to glance at it, and it would fray. This also meant there was NO ROOM for error, as trying to rip out a seam also destroyed the fabric. I kept reminding myself that these vests only had to last for the 45 minutes or so that the photo shoot would take.
It's the holy grail of every person who makes and (tries to) fit garments to their own measurements - a pattern pre-generated to your own shape. So, when I stumbled upon the Bootstrap Fashions website, I knew I had to give it a try. That, and the pattern prices were very reasonable.
I decided on two blouse designs to give it a try; a sleeveless yoke-front blouse, and a sleeveless blouse with asymmetrical ruffle.
When you set up an account with Bootstrap fashions, you can take your body measurements, and save them to apply to any pattern you are buying. In addition, you can choose to apply some common fit adjustments like fuller bust or longer legs. If you're feeling really confident about your ability to take specific measurements for fit, you can choose a "Pro-fit" option that will allow you to manipulate the less common fitting-points of a pattern, like armhole height and bust width. You can also choose to include seam allowance for an extra 50 cents.
Bootstrap fashions includes pretty detailed step-by-step construction steps, but no pictures. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend this to a beginning sewer. For example, this blouse has a button-closure front, and so the instructions (and pattern) includes a button stand. If you've never made a shirt with this kind of button closure, it can be difficult to understand from words alone.
Ta Da! All done! I didn't know really what to expect, but I think it turned out really nicely. I didn't have to worry about the bust or waist length - which are usually a nightmare to fit on my shape, especially on a button front blouse.
The only problem I had with the fit of this blouse is in the shoulder/armseye. I chose the wider-shoulder fit option, and it turns out I really didn't need to. If I make this pattern again, I will shorten the length of the shoulder, and make the armseye a little bigger.
And, spoiler, this was the main fit issue on the other pattern I tried. For this shirt, I used a soft denim chambray with a palm-tree print and beautiful drape:
And the shirt all done! Like I mentioned above - I still want to go back and adjust the fit of the arms/shoulders, but the fit everywhere else was pretty good. The shirt is a little movement-restrictive along the upper bust, where the yoke seam is, but I think that's down to style, not sizing.
After these two shirts - I've not been scared off from trying more! I plan to make adjustments in how I take (and enter) measurements.
What is really really tempting is that Bootstrap Fashions has a custom dress-dummy pattern generator, specifically for plus size ladies. I'm sure it will take more than one go (on my part), but the thought of having a custom dummy for my other costume and apparel projects...mouthwatering!
When you find a good pattern, I don't think there's any shame in making it in multiple fabrics and versions.
This particular pattern happens to be Butterick 6209, a dress pattern, shortened to a tunic top. I'd already made the pattern out of green linen (and given it to my sister), and light blue cotton shirting, which I dip-dyed the bottom half in a darker blue. Both dresses were flattering and easy-to-wear.
I picked up this blue chambray with gold foil arrows, and I knew I wanted to make a top I could take with me on a tropical vacation. After tossing around a few ideas, I decided to go with a tried-and-true pattern.
I will say, with all the times I've made this pattern, I've stitched up the front opening a few inches above the last button, for my own modesty and comfort. If you are thinking about trying this pattern, I would advise you that the things to focus on are getting the front vertical pleats neat and even, and on making sure the bottom of the front placket will lie flat without puckering anywhere.
The top turned out to be great for traveling - nice enough that I didn't feel underdressed anywhere, but comfortable and easy to pack - and not at all out of place on a beach on Maui!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!