I'm thinking there's a learning curve to this. I'll let you know in a few weeks. Until then, God Bless.

Sewing the jacket

Welcome, finally, we take a good look at pattern V8780.  What I absolutely love about this jacket is it’s irregular lines for the front, back and sides.  At all angles, just perfect for a larger woman.  To cut and sew the pattern takes no more than a half day, and finishing can be as simple or as difficult as you choose.  As we have discussed, there are a number of fabrics that can be used from sheers, to linens to heavier upholstery fabric.  As you can see, I used a heavier upholstery fabric with a loose weave.  This seems to be a popular look for the fall/winter 2015, I will make a pair of pants to match.

I did not experience anything unusual in cutting out or putting the pattern together.  And, in fact, I have made the pattern twice, both times without incident. 

Do remember that the pattern calls for double sided fleece.  This means three things, first, your fabric should have a nice reverse side.  Second, fleece is a knit, so you will have to allow for a smaller seam in those areas where you need stretch.  For instance, around the back, shoulders and arms.  An alternative, if possible, is to cut these pieces on the diagonal.  This will give you enough stretch.  And third, if you use a thinner fabric, you will end up with a larger jacket, if you follow the seam allowance recommended because, the seam allowance and jacket size, have been adjusted for a thicker fabric.

There is one area where I made a change.  Because I have a large chest, I tend to like things to softly gather, and then to fall generously below my bust line.  This helps to soften and minimize the look of my chest.  You will notice the neck collar is turned in, and stitched to hold it down.  This is too hard a look for me, so I did not turn in the collar.  However, this does create a problem in that the seam will show in the back of the neck.  If you wish to have a soft gather of fabric around the neck, like me, simply reverse your stitch when sewing the collar together, so the seam appears to be on the outside.  As the collar folds down, the raw ends will fold on top of each other, showing a finished seam on the outside.  

For me, I should have selected the longer jacket length.  The shorter length is too light for my rear, and I will need to add weight to the back of the jacket for it to fall correctly.

Fortunately, I have a number of options, most of which we’ve already discussed.  I can, with ribbon embroidery, or any of the other appliques discussed, sew rose buds, flowers or abstract design, cascading down from the bodice to the hem. This will distribute the weight more evenly, and not cause stress to any one part of the jacket skirt, causing it to fall lopsided. 

I could also just simply weave ribbon around the jacket in a wavy pattern.  I wouldn't want to do this just on the skirt, because that would attract a different kind of attention to the rear.

Although the above options would work nicely, I think, given the texture of the fabric, its colors, and the busyness of the pattern, I personally would like something a little more subtle.  So, I opt for a trim around the outside of the jacket.  Because the fabric is strong and hearty, I don’t need to worry about it fraying or sagging too much under the weight of a heavy trim, so my solution, is to knit a trim that will match the fabric, add the necessary weight and finish my jacket. 

I hope you will join me next week to see how I put the finishing touches on pattern V8780.

Until then, have a great week, and God Bless.

This is the length I went with, but, for me, the longer version would have fallen from my hips a little better.
The longer jacket would have worked better for me.
Jacket back. I did not try to match pattern. One of the advantages to the paisley print, but really any busy print.
Jacket front. I will be trimming off the frayed areas but, I wanted to give you a good easy option for finishing the jacket. Simply pull the threads 'till your fringe is the length you want, trim to a single length, and then zigzag the fabric just above the fringe line to stop it from fraying any further.
This is more the look I want. The trim will weight the front down enough so that it creates a nice gather.


Milk crate, flour, large bowl with about four cups of water, and newspaper torn into strips roughly an 1 1/2 inches thick and a 12 inches long (or the length of the newspaper).

Developing Your Dress Form
Allow a lot of space and time for this process because each layer will need to dry before you apply the next.  I put my form on a plastic milk crate.  This will allow you to move the dress form when you are finished for the day, but also, just rotate it around as you apply the paper mache.
Making the paste is not high science, just pour flour into your water until you get a consistency of runny cream of wheat. Begin with a 1 1/2 cup to one, that is, one cup of water for 1 1/2 cups of flour.   As the newspaper absorbs the liquid, you will need to periodically add water throughout the process.  This is why I usually start with a little more water to begin with.  

"Sclush" through to eliminate any lumps.  Now, tear up pieces of newspaper and put them into the paste.  I let them soak for a second or two to get wet, but not saturated.  

Now, start plastering.
Take your strips of newspaper, with your hands, clean off the excess paste, and put the strip on the dress form, making sure that you have no lumps or creases.  Because I had a LARGE area to cover, I keep my pieces as large as possible, but not so large that I compromised the ability to contour where needed.  Also, you will want to avoid any creases.      In other words, smaller strips allow you to follow the contours of you body better without creating creases in the paper. 

You will keep doing this until you have covered your dress form.  

And--I will leave you to it.  


Be very careful not to build too think a layer of paper mache.  

Let each layer dry before you apply the next.

If your layer when dry is very dusty, you have not added enough water.  If it is not holding together as one piece, you have not added enough flour.
 I guess a word about flour paste should be said.  It has fallen out of favor because it may attract bugs.  My experience is that I have not had that problem.  I made a paper mache cave for my creche almost thirty years ago and have not had a problem with bugs, and none have been coming around my Rosa-Mae.  I do put a layer of spray paint on the object when completed.

 An alternative is plaster of paris.  With this you can actually use strips of fabric. But remember, the fabric will add greater volume to your form.  Again, just remember you want to avoid adding too many layers.   Remember also to use plastic gloves, or you may burn your hands.  

We're half way there...until next time.

First published 9/27/2013

Well, let's get started.  I highly recommend the plastering of the dress form be done outside.  Step 1, however, not so much...

Step 1

NOTE: This process must be done with two people.

Dress in leotards, or just underwear, but remember, the more you wear, the wider the form.  Also, remember to wear a good bra.  I did wear a very tight thin tank top which I cut with the form and used to shape my shoulders, underarms and back.

Next, decide on how you will use the dress form, and what areas with which you will need to be very careful.  For instance, I make a lot of pants,  so the dress form was started lower for that purpose.  But, because of my height,  I have a slightly longer back and wider shoulder area, that also required special attention.

Once you have decided how you will use the dress form, start wrapping.  With both the saran wrap and the duck tape I pulled very tightly.  I pulled tightly to help give me a little room for building and contouring the dress form, and still have it end up close to my size.

Using all the width of the saran wrap, I carefully began from under my rear and in a circular, horizontal, motion, in one piece, went up around my body to just under my arms.  

Up until this point I pulled horizontally, now from the top of my chest to the top of my back, I pulled vertically over the shoulder.  The saran wrap was too wide for my shoulder so I  just cut away the excess before applying the duck tape.  

The process requires patience and that you be precise as you wrap. As you are pulling the saran wrap out,  make sure that very few, if any, lumps show.  (Of course I am talking about lumps from the saran wrap,  you're lumps are your lumps--embrace them--an accurate dress form will help you work around them.)  
Try to layer duck tape right at the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.
Inside, showing layers of saran wrap backing the duck tape.
Next, I did the same with my duck tape.  Wrap the tape in the same manner as the saran wrap, horizontally first, and then vertically over the shoulders.  
Four layers, tee, duck tape, saran wrap and plaster.
 In wrapping, as you are pulling tightly, you will also be trying to build the edge of the strips of duck tape together so that it forms a solid piece, but, try to do this as close to the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.

 When done, I cut up the front and right through my tank top.

With the dress form off, I re-taped the cut area, and stuffed the form with tight balls of newspaper to help keep its shape.

Step II

Next, you must take the time to measure yourself.

When measuring, do not pull the tape tightly.  You should have it taunt around the area you're measuring, but not too loose or too tight.

What you will need to measure:

1)  From the nape of your neck to your natural waist.

2)  Your back from the end to end of your shoulders, making sure that you sit up straight (don't slouch).

3) Your chest should be measured as follows:

Measure just under your arms and above your chest line.  Or measure just below your chest line.  This number is your "band width."  

Then, wearing a good bra, measure around your chest, the tape at the point of your nipples,  evenly parallel to the floor.

The difference between the "band width" and your chest size is your cup size.  Each inch is a cup size.  So therefore, if your band width is 38 and your chest is 44, your cup size is DDD.  I have included a link to a site if you need further instructions.

4) Waist is measured at your natural waist.

5) The hip is measured by first measuring from the waist, nine inches down your side, and then around the hip from the nine inch point.  If you are petite, you will probably want to measure 7 inches.  

These are the important measurements.  Then, as you might guess, confirm these measurements on your dress form.  

Thank you for joining me, the whole process only took about 15 minutes, but it was physically strenuous. 

I was pretty excited to see the form when it was finally off.  The duck tape does a good job in holding its shape.  

Let me know if you have any questions...until next time. 





First published 9/3/2013

Over the next few weeks, I will be showing you how to make your own dress form.  

I wish I had thought of Rosa-Mae, but it was suggested to me by a customer who had come to get the supplies necessary to make her.

I call her Rosa-Mae after two ladies, well known for their full figures, Rosalind Russell and Mae West.

If you sew, as a full figured, tall or plus sized woman, you know how very difficult it is to find a dress form that actually expands, lengthens and adjusts to fit you, even if you did have the money to purchase it.  This is a practical solution, very inexpensive, and although requires a little work, well worth the end result. 

The concept is very simple.  You first wrap yourself with saran wrap to protect your body from the second step which is to then wrap yourself with duck tape.  The duck tape, creates a shell which you then develop with paper mache.  

Fear not, I will go into more detail, but from a skill stand point...well...I learned how to paper mache in elementary school, so I'm guessing if you can read this, you will have no problem in doing it.  It does require patience, because you need to let each layer of the form dry before moving onto the next.   

You will need someone to help you with the first stage, it just can't been done alone.

You also will need:

one box of saran wrap,
spool of duck tape
pair of scissors
tight disposable tank tee with straps not spaghetti strings.
flour and water
large bowl
plastic milk crate
[Sorry for the picture. Unfortunately, there is a learning curve with my first idiot proof digital camera. But, if you look at the form from a certain perspective, it does come into focus.]
Stay tuned...until next time...
Welcome back, thank you for joining me.  We have now come to the type of ribbon embroidery I am most excited about when looking at this year’s fashions.  I don’t know the official name, but I call it—weaving. 

The processes is very simple but, can give you wonderful, fast, options with design and color.

Traditionally the stitch is used to create flowers.  But, with a little creative thinking, it can  be used to make any design.   

How it is done

The process is very simple.  Make a stitch, probably no more than half an inch, crosswise to the direction of your pattern, and make these stitches along the path your pattern will take.  For those familiar with weaving, these stitches will act as the warp stitch, the lengthwise strings.  However many stitches you make, always be sure to end with an odd number.  

Then, you begin your weaving, by entering your woof ribbon close to the first warp stitch.  Regardless of ribbon length, make sure you tie a knot in the end.  Now, you weave, in out, in out, to the end and back again.  At least do two rows to tie the ribbon down, but there really is no harm in running one ribbon through the warp without weaving.  I would caution that you will want to preshrink your fabric before you do this.  My experience has been that the ribbon will not shrink.  It washes beautifully. 

I had a sample quilt section left over with a verse on it, and am using that for my example.  The section is actually a boo boo, I didn’t have the heart to throw away.  You will notice color variation.  The reason is because I learned that when "they" say you can use an ink jet printer, that it still doesn’t mean that the ink will be color fast.  The fabric was printed on an HP all in one.  The color was not color fast, the black, however, was.  Now, getting back on topic.  You can see a little interest would be nice, this is why I used the ribbon embroidery. 

Practice notes:

Because the ribbon is so large, you will be less inclined to have a tight stitch.  However, after each stitch, I will flatten the fabric to make sure that it is lying flat.  Notice, I really don't need an embroidery hoop, but, that is its purpose, to keep your fabric stable and tension even.

As you make a stitch, run the needle along the ribbon to flatten it if it have rolled during the stitch.

When doing the weaving, use the needle backwards, so the point doesn’t go through the ribbon instead of under or over it.  You can also switch to a blunt ended needle. 

With the rose, I worry less about straightening the ribbon, as the gradually compacted ribbon creates a more realistic look.

Summing up 

The resource I used in getting started with ribbon embroidery is Threads.  http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3725/beginners-silk-ribbon-embroidery-five-easy-stitches/page/all but don’t limit yourself.  As you can see, we have covered hand sewing, weaving and embroidery.  Big bold looks are available with ribbon embroidery, and take very little time to do.  Have fun and experiment with the technique, it costs very little to get started, and can help add just the right detail to make your look flattering, exciting and original.

Thank you for joining me today, have a great week, and God Bless.


Copyright 2014-2015 by Anne A. Sears