Barcelona Balcony Copycat: Issue 5

In this post, we will be using the bodice lining pattern you created in Issue 4.

Bodice Front Overlay Pattern

  1. Trace the bodice lining pattern onto a new sheet of paper.
  2. We are going to be adding fullness to the top and bottom of this piece using the slash and spread method. First, we are going to shift the dart evenly from top to bottom. If we leave the dart as-is, before slashing and spreading, the gathering at the bottom of this piece would be significantly more than what is on top. Draw a dot half an inch up from the point of your dart. Draw a line straight up from this point. (Ignore the blue vertical line in the image. I got a little ahead of myself, and I will explain it later.)Phone Dump 3-3-14 128
  3. Cut all the way to, but not through this dot, along the line you drew. Cut up to the dot from the point of your dart. You should now be able to “swing” the pieces back and forth.
  4. Shift your pieces so that there is an equal gap/”dart” ot the top and bottom. Tape in place.Phone Dump 3-3-14 129
  5. If you notice in the image, the gathering of the overlay does not continue across the entire piece. See images below. In the first image, you can see that to the left of the blue line, the bodice piece is flat (no gathering). In the second image, you can see that everything to the right of the blue line on the bodice piece is flat (no gathering). I cropped the image on the right to end at the center front so it mimics the pattern piece you are working with.  (Man, that would have come in handy when trying to draw that triangle cut out earlier!) Mark these lines on your pattern piece. Mine are marked in blue. If you are plus size, it is best to think about this divide proportionally, as oppossed to measurements. THINK: Proportionally you are dividing the piece into [almost] thirds, with the middle (gathered area) being slightly more. INSTEAD OF: It looks like that line starts one inch in from the center front, so that’s where I will draw my line.
  6. Time to slash and spread! We are only slashing and spreading the area between our two blue lines, as this is the only part that will be gathered on the bodice piece. Draw a horizontal reference line, so we don’t get “shifty” when we put this pieces back in order. Draw 4 vertical lines so that we will have 5 strips to spread apart. Number your pieces (mine are circled.)Phone Dump 3-3-14 133
  7. I wanted to create double the width of this area, to allow for the gathering. (I may decide it needs more after the first fitting, but this is a good place to start.) I measured the distance between the blue lines on top and bottom (omitting darts). And made a note of what that amount would be doubled.
  8. On a separate sheet of paper, draw a reference line. Cut apart the strips along the lines that you drew, and spread them out on the new paper, matching up the reference line.
  9. Spread apart your strips the appropriate amount (I wrote that double my top would be around 13″, and double my bottom would be 10 1/2″, I ended up spreading the piece for a total of a little over 11″, I figured that was at least a good place to start.) Pin or tape the strips in place, then trace around your entire piece. Make sure you notate where your gathering is supposed to start and stop on both the top and the bottom.

    Drawing a tic mark for where the gathering starts.

    Drawing a tic mark for where the gathering starts.

  10. Sketch in a dashed line, then use your french curve to connect any “wobbly” lines. Phone Dump 3-3-14 136
  11. Label your piece. Ta-Da! That wasn’t so bad, was it?Phone Dump 3-3-14 141

You are now ready for Issue 6.

Happy Patterning!



Barcelona Balcony Copycat: Issue 2

Whew! Creating a tutorial is a lot of work, you guys! So many photos! It’s fun, and certainly challenging for me. I’ve tried to cover everything as thoroughly as I can, but do please let me know if you need me to elaborate on anything, and I will go back and insert it in this post. Maybe make a Q&A addendum.

Here goes!

A note about pattern sizing…

Hopefully if you are reading this, you have already gathered up your supplies as listed here. We will be using McCalls M6893 to create pattern pieces for our copycat look of the Barcelona Balcony dress. If you have sewn from a commercial pattern before, you probably know this already, but I feel like I should say it anyway. Pattern sizes DO NOT correlate to ready-to-wear sizing!!!! This means if you are a size 6 when you buy a dress at the mall, you are not a size 6 in a sewing pattern. You are probably an 8, or a 10. And if you are using a vintage pattern, heaven help you, because you are probably a 12 or even higher. Really old vintage patterns (we’re talking 1900’s) actually based pattern size on age. In this case a size “12”, was “Size 12 years”. Interesting, huh? (The following image is of a vintage pattern that can be purchased through Etsy, here.)


My point being, I find it best to ignore the pattern sizes, and just take your own measurements and write them down. With your measurements at hand, determine  on a pattern by pattern basis what your “size” is by checking the handy little chart on the back of the pattern envelope, or on the envelope flap. This will save you a lot of aggravation. If you are plus size, like me, it is likely that this particular pattern is not available in your size, but do not fear! I will be showing you how to size it up in this post. Commence happy dance.

McCalls M6893

The first thing I noticed when I opened my pattern envelope was this neat little “Create It” page. I love anything in this world that has the same premise as a paper doll (hence my addiction to the Covet Fashion game on my iPhone, and no, they did not pay me to say that. I think I only have twenty readers, lol.) The idea is that you can mix and match skirts and bodices included in this pattern to create your own dress design. I’ve noticed the Project Runway series of patterns do this as well. I’m guessing this is something they train you to do in Fashion Design school. I could create an entire post about “Fashion Croquis”, so I’ll try to get back on track.

Cut out the following pieces according to your size: 1, 2, 8 (for reference only), 12, 13, 18

This tutorial will begin with the bodice, so you will only be using pieces 1 and 2 for right now. Put the others in safe place where they won’t blow away or be attacked and shredded by your cat.

create it


We will be tracing pieces 1 and 2 onto a separate sheet of paper in order to keep the original pattern pieces in tact.

Method 1) I have used brown postal paper in the past because I like the larger size, but I actually have found it to be too thick. You can order brown paper online in all different weights, but I just haven’t wanted to front the money for that yet. In my studio, I have a table that I can actually pin into. (Thank you Dad, and brother-in-law!) I typically roughly cut out the pattern pieces, pin them on top of my paper using push pins or straight pins, then use my tracing wheel or pounce wheel to trace around the pattern pieces, including the darts. Afterward I use my pencil, straight ruler, and french curve to “connect the dots”.

rough cut

Method 2) As it happens, we got hit with a blizzard in NC and I took most of these photos while working out of a hotel room where I was snowed-in. I took this an opportunity to trace my patterns in a different way that some of you might have easier access to. You will notice in this tutorial I am using a classroom sized “marker paper”. I carefully cut around the solid lines of my bodice front pattern piece, then used straight pins to actually pin them to my paper in a couple of places to keep it from shifting around. You could use pattern weights instead, or anything heavy you have around your house (i.e. tape dispenser, coffee mug). For the darts, I just cut into one leg and folded the paper over on the opposite line, forming the triangle cut-out that I could trace into without cutting up my pattern piece. I traced around the piece with pencil, but since my lines looked a little “wobbly”, I still went back through with a ruler to make the lines a little cleaner.

Cut out your piece, including the darts, and you are ready for Issue 3.

Happy Sewing!


TSW Challenge -26 Days Left

OK! I think I have decided what to do for the Pantone Fall color challenge. I still haven’t found that circuit fabric, but I know it’s around here somewhere.  From the stock photo, the orange isn’t quite “koi”, but it will have to do. I’m hoping to do this with no money out of my pocket -just using stuff from my stash. Although I’m sure I will have to buy a couple of zippers to match. I’ve decided to go with a dress and a jacket – I hope there’s enough time for both!

Here is the dress, it’s McCall’s M6503, and I’m thinking View D.


I was delightfully surprised to see that I had a red denim in my stash that I think is really close to the samba. I’m not sure yet how it matches up to the circuit fabric yet though so I may be re-thinking it later. We’ll see. The jacket pattern I want to use is Simplicity 2056. It’s a “Suede Says”, which I have never used before. If I do go with this denim, I want to do View B. Have any of you out there ever made anything from either of these patterns? If so, what did you think?


My First Sewing Challenge

It seems to me, that having a deadline, even if it is only one you create for yourself, can keep you from sleeping too late or falling asleep next to a box of cocoa puffs watching Netflix on your laptop. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m trying to get back into this whole blogging thing, and thought there would be no better way to start than looking to other sewing blogs for inspiration. I stumbled across The Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge. TSW, as they call themselves, was a group of four women who decided to sew together each and every week on the same theme, and shared their projects with each other. Hundreds of other folks joined in, and it sounds like it was one huge, glorious sewing party that I had no idea was going on. Well, it looks like I am getting another chance!  I was a little late to the game, since the challenge was to be announced on August 1, but the deadline is not until September 1. I think I can make it!

So what is the challenge? The look must incorporate color from Pantone’s 2013 Fall Collection:


I think it might be time to finally use that circuit board/robot fabric…..but where did I put it….?

Robot Fabric

Christmas Challenge 2012

Now that I have said it out loud to several people, I feel comfortable sharing my Christmas challenge with all my blog readers out there.

For this holiday season, I am challenging myself to a thrifted/handmade Christmas. Here are my rules:

1) Nothing may be purchased brand new from a store.

Exception: supplies for making things from scratch (i.e. magnets, fabric, frames, baking ingredients, etc.)

2) Items handmade by others are accepted. I DO NOT have time to make my estimated 15-ish gifts completely from scratch, entirely by myself. Makes me tired just to think about it. As someone who sells handmade goods, I have an great appreciation for others who sell their handmade items, and I enjoy supporting other artists out there, especially when I find someone locally.

3) Thrifted and/or vintage items purchased from a store is accepted. I just don’t want to purchase anything that is mass produced. I want to make use of things that are already existing in the world, instead of encouraging the mass production of brand new items.

4) No popsicle sticks. This is my cute way of saying that just because it is homemade, doesn’t mean it should look homemade. I want every gift I give to look nice. This means that if something is thrifted, I want to take the extra time to clean it up, or give it a new coat of paint, so that it can be all ready for its new re-purposed life.

5) Food counts! In our fast-paced world, (and I am going to preface this with “I am totally guilty!!!) it has become too rare to enjoy home baked goodies. I especially think baked goods are a great gift for those people who are hard to shop for. Cooking is a subcategory of handmade, right? I think as long as it is not cookies from a tube of store-bought cookie dough, that this can be included.

Due to the fact that I still want these gifts to be a surprise on Christmas Day, I will be writing posts about them as drafts, and then post them publicly after Christmas. In the meantime, if I run across any great ideas that I am not going to use, I will be sure to share them with you!

Do any of you out there have any sort of challenges or goals for the holidays?