Hi there! Looks like you're a new visitor. :) I'm so glad you've stopped by, and I would love for you to subscribe so we can keep in touch. Thanks for visiting!
Have you all been enjoying the Adobe Illustrator tutorials? I’m loving your comments on the blog and Instagram, so please, keep them coming!
Next up is a quick tutorial on using the measure tool in Illustrator. With just a few clicks, you can quickly measure between objects, between line segments, whatever. This is really helpful in pattern design for obvious reasons – you can measure the length of a hemline, the width of a pattern piece, etc.
In addition to the measure tool, I show you another trick I utilize to make patternmaking easy. So, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy!
Have you ever wondered how to add or subtract a seam allowance in Illustrator?
For years, I added seam allowances to my pattern pieces manually.
I laugh because now I now know it’s so, so easy to let Illustrator do the work of adding seam allowances for me. And now, lucky you…I’m going to show you how to do it! But first, I want to let you in on the plan for the next few weeks.
I know a lot of you are really looking forward to the grading tutorial – the one where I actually show you how to take one pattern piece and grade it up and down (and all in between) to create all your pattern sizes. Patience, ladies! Hehe, just kidding. But seriously. PATIENCE! When I started writing the outline (yes, there’s more to the tutorials than just turning on the camera and BAM!) for that doozie of a tutorial, I realized there were a lot of things some of you might not yet be familiar with. And if I were to try to teach you all those thing sin one tutorial, well, Vimeo would probably explode with the video upload size.
I did a series of mini tutorials to acquaint you with some really awesome and useful features in Illustrator – stuff that I use all the time when grading patterns and designing stuff for my blog. Here’s the schedule:
Tuesday, December 10 – How to Use the Measure Tool in Illustrator
Wednesday, December 18 – How to Use the Align Tool in Illustrator
Thursday, December 26 – How to Set up Preferences in Illustrator
Friday, January 3 – How to Measure Curved Paths in Illustrator (sleeve caps, armholes and necklines, oooh la la!)
Unless you already feel super confident in Illustrator, I highly encourage you to take the time to view these tutorials as we lead up to the bigger ones. They are only 5-10 minutes each, and you might learn a cool trick or two. Pinky swear!
One more thing before we get to that video… Have you supported my stash? I don’t require that you do, but anything you can send my way is greatly appreciated! Because of the size/frequency of my video uploads, I am now paying for a premium Vimeo membership. I am also working on saving to buy a license for Camtasia in January so I can continue bringing you these tutorials. If one of my tutorials or resources has helped you in some way, please, PLEASE help me out!
With that, let’s get to adding and subtracting those seam allowances!
It’s that time of year again…the time when the air gets heavy with naturally occurring particulate matter smog, the temperatures frequently drop below freezing and this mama just wants to go into hibernation until spring. And with the smog comes my complete inability to take a good outdoor photograph. C’est la vie, they say.
On a brighter note, this Staple Dress (pattern by April Rhodes) is just delightful. It’s a bit impractical for me since I have a little dude attached to my boob like, 28 hours a day, but I’m sure I’ll get some date-night wear out of it until he graduates from high school and disengages himself.
I wanted instant gratification when I bought this pattern, and that’s what I (sort of) got. I first made a muslin (waist up) in a size small, but it was too big. I adjusted it to an extra-small and felt it was much more flattering. And when I saw this lovely rayon challis on sale at Tissu, I knew it was a match made in heaven. It was only about $8/yard regularly, so at 31% off (Halloween sale), it was less than $10 for the yard and a half I needed to sew this baby up. (You’ll need more fabric if you make your own bias facings, but I purchased some instead.)
I followed the pattern exactly as written, and the fit and length are perfect. The only problem I had was with the shirring. Now, I am not one of those people who fears shirring and swears my machine won’t do it. On the contrary, I quite like both the process and finish of shirring. But for some reason, it kept coming out too tight and snapping this time. I adjusted my machine a million times, and I tried my bobbin both tightly and loosely wound…but nothing helped. Finally, I left really long tails, used a long stitch length and tied the ends together on the underside of the fabric. This way, I could more easily control the amount of tension in the elastic thread. It’s still a bit of a tight fit when putting the dress on, but it will do.
I love the neckline and sleeve finish for this dress (and the French seams down the sides). I used purchased single-fold bias tape from Joann in black, and I sewed my loops together at a 45-degree angle (like quilt binding) to prevent a lot of bulk at the seams. Perfecto.
I’m sure I’ll be making more of these, and I might even try a tunic length with no waist shirring and a shirt-tail hem to wear with jeans. At just 1.5 yards a pop (or less for a top), why not?!
On a tangent…I miss my long hair! Why do I always cut it and regret it? You’d think I would learn my lesson…
My hometown is a little place along the Florida border of Alabama called Andalusia. My goal in life was always to leave that place and never look back. And for a long time, I was successful in doing just that. While visiting there this past week though, something changed. I kind of fell in love with the place.
I have a lot of bad memories from Andalusia – memories that aren’t exactly the type of thing I want to blog about in this space. (I’ve learned that doing so only hurts feelings and takes me to a very bad place mentally.) But on this trip, I didn’t look around and see those bad memories. I saw my kids there making GOOD memories. I saw riding dirt roads, catching critters, swimming in the creek, eating fried food and sipping sweet iced tea. I saw happy things and happy people.
I finally saw what I could never see before.
The house in the photo above was my grandmother’s house at one time in Gantt. Her second husband died a while back, (maybe 20 years ago?) and the house and antiques inside were sold and auctioned to the highest bidder. After some ill-fated plans to renovate the home by its current owners, the home now sits in ruins. An old van sits on what used to be the front porch, and there’s trash and scrap metal piled all around it. Many of its leaded windows have been replaced by boards, and the structure is caving in.
My friend Justine at Sew Country Chick commented on my last post about Alabama that she imagined me sitting on a porch with a sewing machine and later photographing my creation while standing in the middle of a cotton field. I loved her vision! Looking at these pictures of Gramma’s old house makes me want to buy it and completely overhaul it to be exactly what she imagined, but I fear it is too far gone at this point. It makes me sad to know that on one of these visits, the old bones will be torn down.
The house above is where we stayed when we visited home. It has been in our family for a long time in one way or the other, but it’s been empty for the last few years. It’s a bit rustic, but it sits on the perfect quiet spot where armadillos are a common sight, and sounds of crickets and bullfrogs echo through the night. The lack of cell service was annoying but also a bit nice since I didn’t feel my iPhone was connected to my right hand for a few days.
I found myself thinking we could live there for a few weeks/months while looking for a house (or building one). But then reality struck – we could never live in a place with only a handful of restaurants and…ahem…no rock climbing gym (SCOTT!).
It was nice though to take Harper out on this pier – the pier where I docked my waverunner so many times as a kid. Harper liked picking up “seashells” (mussels) and looking at the ducks that would frequently paddle by or dive underwater for a tasty dinner.
As for the actual town of Andalusia, much of its old downtown sits in ruins, too. There has been some revival along East Three Notch Street but not much beyond that. Can’t you just imagine these old buildings being converted into boutiques, lofts and restaurants? Most of them are crumbling and overgrown with kudzu. But oh…so much potential.
This is the dirt road that leads to my Uncle’s house on Gantt Lake. Just past this tunnel of trees is a blueberry farm where you can take a basket and pick your own berries. How can you not love that?
Suffice it to say the trip was bittersweet. I thought long and hard about what I would write about this visit, but honestly, nothing seemed quite right. So hopefully the pictures have done the talking for me, and you can see what I mean about both hating a place and also longing to go back there and make it what you imagine it to be.
I suppose the best memories are the ones we make up in our own minds, right?
This is the post quite a few of you have been waiting for – the one with all the standard measurements! But first, I want to talk about a little something that some of you have asked about – compensation (or the lack thereof).
I’ve chosen to offer my video tutorials and other pattern-making/blogging resources for free. And I love it that way. I love that I’m helping to remove barriers to entry for aspiring pattern makers and sewing bloggers, and I think this little blogosphere of ours can ALWAYS support more talent! Some people have been very surprised that I’m offering my knowledge for free, but as I’ve mentioned before, I get my compensation by reading your happy comments and seeing what you’ve learned in action on your blogs.
If you want to show me your appreciation, you can do so by subscribing to my blog, sending me a complimentary copy of your future patterns, sharing my posts, leaving a comment or sending me a quick note to say “thanks.” However, I will admit that receiving a few bucks here and there makes me feel pretty good, too. It also helps to offset the upcoming cost of purchasing a license for Camtasia (the software I use to make the video tutorials – I’ve been using a trial version, and I must pay $99 to continue to use it in a few days), my monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and various other materials and expenses for producing the tutorials.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to give my lovely readers the option to “support my stash. To do so, simply choose an amount below and click “Support My Stash.” Of course, you are not under any obligation. However, I do appreciate any amount you give! THANK YOU! (Please note that you don’t actually receive the fabric amounts listed below; I am simply using these terms as a cute way to label each amount that you send my way.)
And now, without further adieu…let’s talk about those standard body measurements and size charts!
Standard body measurements are one of those things that every budding sewing pattern designer searches for at some point (I know I spent quite a while looking when I first started grading patterns!), and they can be tough to find. Of course, you can shell out some cash (up to hundreds!) for full sets of measurements – but if you wanted to do that, you wouldn’t be here, right?! And then, there’s the issue of whether or not the standards are up-to-date, correct, in the right size range, etc.
Well. Let me tell you. Your size charts can be WHATEVER YOU WANT THEM TO BE. Yes, you read that correctly – your size charts are up to you, the designer.
HOWEVER, having a set of standard body measurements is absolutely crucial in getting the proportions of your patterns just right. For example, you might use the standard bust and waist measurements for a given size, but if you are designing for the pear-shaped figure, you might increase the corresponding hip measurement by an inch or two.
In addition, establishing your own size chart is the absolute first step before beginning to grade your patterns. Without an established chart and range, you won’t know how much each measurement should increase for each size, and you won’t know how many steps you need to increase/decrease to create all your different-sized pieces.
So, let’s jump right in.
About These Standard Body Measurements Charts
I collected the information in these charts over a couple years and cobbled them together to attempt to give you a complete set of standard body measurements for whomever you’re designing for – men, women, plus-size women, children, infants and toddlers. Most of the numbers come from slightly out-of-date standard body measurements that can be purchased in their current form for a hefty price. Out-of-date? Yes, out-0f-date if you consider the late 1990s and early 2000s to be out-of-date. (I don’t.) The companies that compile the standards change them ever so slightly every 10 years or so in order to have a new product to sell.
Once I got all the numbers compiled, I adjusted the sizes to more closely match ready-to-wear (RTW) sizing from several of my favorite stores – Madewell, J.Crew, Garnet Hill and Banana Republic. As an example – the standard body measurements charts originally put me at two sizes bigger than what I would order from any of these retailers, so I made adjustments accordingly. If you so desire, you could make further adjustments this way or even come up with your own numbering system. So, an XS could be called size 1, and S could be called 2, and so forth and so on.
Finally, I converted all the fractional measurements into decimals so the numbers would be ready for you to plug into Illustrator. And finally finally, I filled in some missing pieces from various other sources to hopefully give you all the measurements you need. If you DO find you are missing something, you can often use the included standard body measurements to piece the rest together. So, if you needed the distance from the cervicale (lowest vertebrae of the neck) to the hip for a top pattern, you could subtract the head & neck height and the hip height from the overall height to calculate that amount. When in doubt, I draw a picture. Works every time.
Determining Your Patterns’ Size Range
The size range for which you will create your size chart is totally up to you. You might notice that sizes will increase pretty evenly from, say, 12mos through 4T, and then they start increasing more between sizes. You might choose to create separate patterns based on those increments, or you could base your size selection on the style/fit of the garment. Like I said – completely up to you. Also keep in mind that there’s a huge opportunity for someone who is willing to design plus-size patterns. I highly encourage women’s pattern designers to go up to and above size 14 when grading (keeping in mind some proportion changes which I’ll discuss more below).
Even vs. Uneven Grading
Generally speaking, there are two ways to grade in-between sizes: even or uneven. Even grading means that the sizes are incrementally increased/decreased at an even rate – so, the bust might increase 1″ between every size. At some point, your pattern might start increasing at 1.5″ (or whatever), but generally speaking, the grade is even. Uneven grading means that you base your pattern pieces more on exact standard body measurements – so one size might increase .75″, the next .5″ and the next 1.25″. The method you use is also up to you, but I personally prefer to use even grading. It’s must easier to digitally grade, and I just think it looks prettier on paper.
Or, you can do a combination of the two – the best method for offering an extended range of sizes. For example, if your size range includes from a women’s 2 through 24, you might only increase 1″ in the bust for sizes 2 through 14. Beyond that, you might increase at a larger rate of 1.25″ or 1.5″. In addition, the proportion for the waist might change at the higher end of the range, so you might create a break point in your size range where the grade changes. If the sizes 2-14 usually have 10″ difference between bust/hips and waist (just an example), your sizes 16+ might have only 8″ or even 6″ between them. You get the make the judgment call and then test the fit as desired.
Ready for those standard body measurements?
I hope this has given you a quick overview of how you can utilize these standard body measurements in your pattern designs. I’m sure there are some topics within this area that you’d like me to discuss further, so please leave comments with questions and ideas! I will do my best to cover any issues.
Quick note: I didn’t write out a detailed explanation of each of the measurements in these charts. I figured that if you are at the point of designing patterns, you can probably figure them out. Please do let me know if this is something you really need though! Also note that the centimeter/inch measurements don’t always convert exactly because of rounding.
I’ve been noticeably absent from the blog for a few days because we’ve been vacationing visiting with family in Alabama. I marked out “vacationing” because…well…as anyone with kids can tell you, traveling with kids leaves a lot to be desired in the R&R department. I like to say that vacationing with kids is just like being at home but with different scenery. In fact, I might even argue it’s harder than being home since your routine gets disrupted, and you don’t have all your creature comforts nearby. It provides for fun adventures nonetheless.
My dad’s house is just across the road from a sprawling cotton field, and because of all the rain this year, the plants are shoulder-height. Just amazing. I couldn’t wait to snap a few shots of Harper in the field. The first photo is of her with her Grandpa Jim (my dad), and the one above is Harper with Aunt Alli (my little sister).
As evidenced by the photo above, we’ve discovered that Harper has no fear of critters. She chased lizards, caught ladybugs, grabbed Granddaddy Longlegs (“itsy bitsy spiders”) and handled fish like a true southern tomboy. Apparently she is just like her mommy.
Ezra is having a great time, too. It was important to me for him to be able to meet his Great Gramma (above, my dad’s mother) since she is getting older and suffering from Alzheimer’s. He seemed at home in her arms and in the swing, too.
Harper looks really happy in the photo below, but this was right before she landed on her face on the ground. Two-year-olds apparently aren’t so great at holding on to the chains… (Don’t worry, she was fine.)
Growing up, my dad and I went fishing all the time. He lives on a lake that is stocked with catfish and bream, so this was a perfect opportunity for Harper to catch her first fish.
She was a natural with a bamboo rod!
…and not afraid of the fish at all.
Looking at these photos, I see just how quickly she is growing up. She’s really a little girl now – not my baby anymore. Even Chunk (Ezra) is growing up so fast. Someone stop them, or I might just need another one!