Christmas all over again!

I have bought myself a wonderful after-Christmas present.

How to use, adapt, and design sewing patterns, by Lee Hollahan

I love reading books on the bus during my long commute to and from work. (If you can’t do it, ya might as well be reading about it!). The table of contents looks loaded with “how to’s!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

One of the first chapters is on commercial patterns – how to measure yourself properly, pick a flattering pattern, pick the right size & fabric, layout your pattern properly, etc.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

The next chapter covers alterations of the pattern for a better fit – something I need practice with – working with a bodice, sleeve, skirt, dress, and pant patterns.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

The next chapter is about making muslins and advanced alterations for design and/or a perfect fit – something I have not done before. Want to change your pattern to make a bodice without side seams? Want to make a puffed sleeve head instead of the usual? What about putting a yoke in that flared skirt? I haven’t even gotten into all the dress, skirt and top variations yet!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

The book comes with pattern blocks – pardon me? – Yes, pattern blocks – US size 6 to 18 included!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Oh yes, and a chapter on core sewing techniques, such as zippers, pleats, sleeves, etc., just in case!

Ok, so some of this is just a refresher for me… but most of it isn’t!  I am very happy with my purchase and Ms. Hollahan is not paying or asking me to say that neither, it’s just my opinion.

ONE BAD – I do wish that the book came with spiral binding though so it would lie flat! Although I think by the time I’m half way through it all the pages will have fallen out anyway and I can rebind it with a spiral coil!


One book I saw suggested altering patterns with the “pivot and slide” method vs. this book suggesting “folding and/or cutting and taping” your pattern to adjust where needed.

Also one book suggested I measure across my chest above my bust, look at a chart, and that is the size of pattern I should always get – bust, waist and hips, etc. would have to be adjusted as needed on that pattern. But this book suggests that I go with my bust measurement if I am making a top and hip measurement if I am making a bottom then adjust the rest, if needed. I have never heard of the first method before!

Of these, which methods are most popular out there? Pivot and slide OR fold and/or cut and tape? And how do YOU choose what size pattern to buy?

PS… Sophie has decided to spend the afternoon on the fridge today and stay out of my sewing!

Nice dress!  Thanks, I made it!!
Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

13 thoughts on “Christmas all over again!

  1. Hi there. Your book looks amazing. Id want to take a vacation day just to read it in one sitting. I dont know much about sewing but I thought I’d share a comment my daughter shared with me–she works in the clothing industry. I wanted to purchase 2 pairs of pants, she told me to buy a size x in this one style but a size y (size bigger) in the other style because of the cut. You had mentioned about where to measure your chest in order to determine size. Even in the fashion clothing industry sizes fluctuate. BTW Im not a size x, I just didn’t want to put in my actual size. Is the pea coat finished?

    1. I wish most of all that store sizing could be the same! Good thing your daughter knows her business! The pea coat only needs hand sewing now – getting close to it’s “REVEAL”!

  2. I’m impressed with this book (even if it’s not spiral bound) because it sounds like it hits the right level of simplicity and complexity. I wish I could say the same for my iPhone 5 book. Useless.

    1. That it does!

  3. I’d heard about choosing either bust or hip measurements depending whether your making tops or bottoms.
    The book sounds fab! I’ve just started reading a book I’ve had 21 years that I ought with my overlocker, but always thought it looked too complicated. ! I’m wondering if I’d have read it when I bought it, would I have spent all my life working for the ambulance service?!?!
    It’s a book about measuring yourself from every angle and adjusting/drafting patterns properly, written by Betty Foster and comes with tissue patterns to adjust to your measurements (still in the packet) and sketch pads to help create garments from your blocks. She says to measure your bust measurements separately – front and back from just below the arm pit. Since I read it the other day I’ve adjusted my dress form – I narrowed the bust to my under bust measurement, making the back bigger and putting her a bra on – it’s much more like me.
    I really want to learn too, hopefully it will save a fortune on patterns, and will help when refashioning my old clothes.

    1. I’m going to have to re-measure myself, and check out Dolly, to see if it works better – good idea!

  4. That looks like a great book!!

  5. I will be checking this book out! Sounds like a good one and one I need.

    1. I certainly am happy with it!

  6. I usually buy and cut patterns according to my bust for tops and dresses, and hip measurement for pants and skirts. They are always too big and I have to remember to cut a size smaller. I think that’s why many people suggest going by the upper bust number–because commercial patterns often have a lot of ease built into them.

    1. Ugh! Such a puzzle! I guess there is no sure thing, we just have to keep measuring and checking. Thanks for reading my blog and the helpful comment!

  7. I’m a new convert to using the upper bust and then making any adjustments. Of course, I’ve only tried it once so far, but you get such a better fit in the shoulders. Will definitely be using that approach going forward.

    1. I haven’t decided which method to use. Guess I could try both and see what happens?

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