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Fashion Challenge #2 - It's All About the Fit -- What They Made!!

Wait till you see what these ladies created for the All About Fit Challenge! I think most of you can agree that fit is one of the hardest things about sewing. These ladies did an amazing job creating well fitted garments. Some contestants went for a more casual look while others went for an evening look. Take a look at everyone's finished garment and vote for who you think created the best well fitting garment. You have until Friday morning at 3am (eastern time) to cast your vote!

This week's challenge will be judged my myself (Julie) and Pamela Leggett from Pamela's Patterns. Pamela is a fit expert and will be giving each contestant feedback on their garments. Thank you, Pamela, for your help in the judging process!

Winner of this challenge will receive THREE FREE patterns from Pamela's Patterns.

**Don't forget, if you would like to participate in the challenge from the sidelines, post your finished garment on the Flickr page! You will be entered into a random drawing to win a FREE pattern from Pamela's Patterns!**

Let's see what the contestants created...

My 28th wedding anniversary is coming up, so I decided to make a special occasion dress for this challenge.   My husband’s favorite color is purple, and our bridesmaids wore eggplant satin gowns, so I grabbed this eggplant satin as a nod to both of those things. 

The pattern, Vogue 1118, has an asymmetrical bodice, curved skirt seams, lining, side zipper and back vent.  Of the 16 pieces in the pattern, I altered 14 of them!   The full bust adjustment was particularly tricky since one side has a dart, and the other has pleats.  I had to distribute the adjustment between the pleats to balance the larger dart on the other side.  To add length for my height, I increased the length mid-skirt across 6 pattern pieces, truing up the curves, piece by piece.

That's not all!  This summer, I found out that I have scoliosis- which means that my spine curves to one side, which required more tweaking.  The shoulder area of the design is also asymmetrical, so it is hard to tell what asymmetry is me and what is the design!

Working with satin was quite maddening interesting.   If you rip out a stitch or have a lump or bump, it shows.   I alternated the matte and shiny sides to accentuate the design lines of the dress.   I like how the fabric looks so different in different lighting.  With all of the fitting and fabric challenges, this tested my abilities to the max.   I learned that I have a lot to learn!  

I’m going to love wearing this dress.  It’s fitted, but comfortable.  Classy, but unique.  Sexy, but age appropriate.  Perfect to celebrate 28 years of marriage  My husband's comment, "Aren't you going to be a little overdressed for McDonalds?"  Husbands....(shaking head).

This week’s challenge gave me a great opportunity to refine the fit of one of my favorite patterns: the Lola Tunic by Victory Patterns. This pattern is designed to be made with sweatshirt fleece, but last winter I made one in interlock and loved how comfortable it was. However, the fit needed improvement as interlock is much stretchier than fleece, which resulted in lots of sagging. I could not simply size down as I’m petite and was working from a size 2, the smallest size in the envelope.

Working from last year’s version, I essentially redrafted the pattern for a slimmer fit. Specifically, I reduced the circumference of the horizontal “waist” seam all around the tunic. I also reduced the cup size along the princess seams, even though I’m a D-cup! That tells you what a difference fabric makes. I also removed a large wedge from the vertical back seams to eliminate unsightly pooling on my lower back. All these pattern changes needed to be precise across multiple pieces in order for the seam lines to match up as designed—quite a challenge for someone like me who is typically a more fit-as-you-go person! I also omitted the pockets as I felt they added extra weight on my hips when I was aiming for a sleek silhouette.

My leggings pattern is McCall’s 6173, which I love for its slouchy ankles. My ankles always get cold but the extra fabric keeps them warm. I had to make plenty of changes for my petite frame even though it’s only one pattern piece. I reduced the length in two places (which maintained the proportions) as well as shortened the rise. I also adjusted the center back crotch curve to fit my shape. Finally, since my fabric wasn’t as stretchy as others I’ve used for this pattern, I used ½” seam allowances instead of the standard 5/8”.

I’m thrilled that I now have two versions of the Lola pattern depending on what type of fabric I’m using. And we know from last week that I love pink and grey, so this entire outfit is a big winner for me!

I selected Burda 7137 because I have successfully created a fitted sheath dress in the past from that pattern (link:  BUT--here are two differences this time...first the fabric is a non-stretch wool gabardine with a non-stretch lining, and second, the fabric is a solid, not a print.  Because I *know* that stretch wovens with a print can hide a multitude of fit issues, I knew that with this fabric choice, I would have my work cut out for me, even though the first dress I made from this pattern was a slam dunk.  

I was right, btw.  The wool gabardine is beautiful, warm, and luxurious, but hoo boy was I glad I made additional changes to my pattern to accommodate the non-stretch fabric.  It fits very well now, but had I left the pattern the way I had made it for my last version, it would have been very close-fitting, which was not what I was looking for with this dress.  Beyond that, wool gabardine shows the fit issues much easier than other fabrics, so it really is not the best option for a very fitted garment. 

To make sure the dress would fit me precisely, I added a 1/2 inch below the front dart end (and its corresponding point on the back), making sure to grade out from a point above that so the lovely curve of this dress's hipline would be intact.  I also made sure to keep my original square shoulder adjustment which worked well for me in the past.  Lastly, I deepened and lengthened the back neck dart since the original dress I made from this pattern has a bit of a gaping back.  

For anyone with a pear shape, you know how difficult it can be to find a fitted sheath dress without sacrificing either the fit at the top or bottom.  I have so many dresses that are either too large at the top and fine on the bottom, or perfect-fitting on top, but too tight on bottom.  I love that I can sew a fitted sheath dress to work for my exact frame.  :-)

I chose wool gabardine in a solid pine green color.  I love this color, especially for Christmas time, and the wool gabardine is so lovely and old-fashioned feeling.  The whole time I was making it, the smell of the wool brought me back to my grandma's closet.  I think people used this fabric far more in the mid-century than they do now.  I lined the dress in a poly of some sort that may have a touch of rayon.  It is a mystery fabric, but is lovely on its own, and suits the weight of the gabardine.  It is also slick enough to properly fall over tights without sticking to them.  I also chose vintage-looking buttons I found at G Street to top off the tab detail on the sleeves.

How can you use this solid garment in your wardrobe?  I will wear it at Christmas time, of course.  :-)  I have many occasions at that time of year that call for a conservative dress in a festive color or print.  I also will use this to teach in when I substitute at my kids' school, since it has a modest dress code requirement.  I also will use it when I want to showcase AMAZING accessories since the solid color lends itself to being the background for beautiful baubles and beads, etc.  I have very few solid garments in my closet.  I am definitely a print kind of girl, so I was glad Julie came up with this contest, even if halfway through I was shaking my head at how long everything takes me to sew.

When we first heard about this challenge, I wasn't sure what I should make.  I went back and forth between a dress and a button down shirt, but decided on the latter because it's nearly impossible to find a ready to wear woven shirt that fits my bust.  Plus, making one of these has been on my "to do" list for a while now, so I decided to finally take the plunge, and take a risk by making a type of garment I haven't sewn in about a decade. Really any dress would have been a much safer pick for me.

I chose to use Butterick 5678.  It's one of those ABCD pick-your-own-cup-size sort of patterns.  I measure into a 12-14 in patterns, but based on the measurements on the pattern tissue, I decided to go with a 10 (D cup).

I used a plain old woven for my muslin and made my final version in a stretch woven that I picked up at SR Harris in the Twin Cities.  It was labeled as cotton, but it is most definitely a cotton/synthetic blend (plus the lycra). It was not probably the best choice for this pattern with all of this top stitching, as it has a slight sheen and shows every stitch, but I'm happy with the flexibility it offers.

Fitting-wise, I ended up flattening out the top of the cup a bit, adding a small broad back adjustment to the shoulder area, shortening the whole thing above the waist by 1/2" and adding a 1/2" swayback adjustment.  In the end product, the back is a bit loose, especially compared to how well the front fits.  The sleeves seem long, but really need to be to account for the bending of the elbows; they are actually the perfect length as I type this.

This week's challenge had me quaking in my boots a bit! I decided to push myself and sew something I've never sewn before; a fitted, lined sheath dress!

While my garment fought me nearly every step of the way; I ended up with something that makes me deliriously proud and happy to wear! I love the fit I achieved on the bodice; my full bust often leaves me with a bunch of fitting challenges. It's a little more snug across the back skirt than I'd like, BUT I can still sit and bend in it!! It feels absolutely luxurious to wear!

I chose this pattern because it has been well reviewed around the sewing community and I thought it would be a nice dress to wear to celebrate my 4th anniversary. I used an amazing wool that I picked up from SR Harris, a warehouse here in town. I lined it with an acetate Vera Wang lining that I stashed from Fabric Mart sometime ago. This dress is just what I had in mind for a nice dinner out and I think it could easily be worn to a wedding or to the theater (I love live theater!).

I knew that I wanted to make a knit dress because I am really in the mood for fall sewing. One of my fall sewing musts is short knit dresses with sleeves.  The eggplant is a great fall color.  I am so glad my nephews helped me pick out this color.

When I think of a great fitting garment I think of a TNT pattern and my favorite TNT pattern is McCall's 5974.  The Perfect Knit dress.  This pattern is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern so it has a lot of helpful fitting information in it.  However, this is my 7th version of this dress, so I have a good understanding of what works and doesn't work for me.  

I made quite a few alterations to this version. I wanted to make the 3/4 length sleeves so that I can wear this dress all fall.  Unfortunately, the 3/4 length standard was about 5" to long for me, so I chopped it off.  Then the sleeves themselves were 4" to wide at the hem, so I took in each side of the sleeve by 2".  I tapered that 2" down to 1.5" at the under arm and then continued to taper it down to the original seam allowance at the belt.  This gave me a significantly better fit throughout the sleeve and the underarm.  You can see in the picture where I pinned it when fitting it, to figure out how much I wanted to take out. One of the other sleeve alterations I made was to the armscye.  I took off a 1/2" from each the sleeve head and the armhole so that the seam would hit right at my shoulder.  Without doing that the sleeve drooped done a little too much for my preference.  I also shortened the hem by 4" so it hit just above the knee.

I also eliminated the zipper since the knit fabric doesn't need one.  For the center front crossover I cross left over right instead because my right breast is a cup size larger than my left so when it is crossed right over left that difference is very noticeable and tends to gape open.. When crossed over opposite the garment appears even with no gapping.

I wore this to work today with my gray tights and gray sweater and it is a hit!  So many people complimented it and how great the color looks with my skin tone.  I also plan on wearing this with a chunky orange sweater and some tall brown riding boots.   Or even just a wide belt.  The possibilities are endless with this dress.  This will be a well worn dress this fall!

Sue from I Love to Sew!

Personally I like making pants. And while some people get annoyed reading reviews of the same pattern someone has created ad nauseum, I strongly believe that repeating patterns give you a chance to perfect the fit.

So what fitting issues did I deal with?
1.  Flat derriere.
2.  Wide upper thighs aka saddle bags--which btw are hereditary--thanks mom!
3.  Crotch curve--yes, everyone's is unique and I had to re-sculpt it to fit me!
4.  Waistline--no matter how carefully I measure and plan, I have to alter the waistline after I create the pants.  Luckily these days I have to take it in rather than out but it is tedious to get it perfect.

So, how did I do all this?
Flat derriere --I pulled out three sewing books from my library to figure out how to deal with this issue!  What happens to me is that I get a little pooling of fabric under my buns that looks like a cowl-neck.  I managed to take a 1/2" fold in the pattern tissue to eliminate the excess.  I had to work really hard not to over-fit in this area as I stated before my upper thighs are wider than I'd like so too much fitting accentuates my little pools of fat there.  So if you notice just a little extra fabric, that is a preference for me.

Because of the flatness, I had to rotate the back inseam to the front by 3/8" to get the inseams and outer leg seams to hang right.  I spent a great deal of time bonding with my seam ripper for this challenge!

Crotch curve issues....ah, the crotch curve!  I get these annoying little lines at the front crotch that I pinched out and took about an inch seamline. No more lines!

Back crotch curve was a different matter.  With that seamline I made a 'j' seam by taking in an additional 5/8" from the back seamline which can be seen in my photo.

Those were my main fitting issues.  Construction wise, I am very proud of how these jeans turned out!  They are very comfortable and I am very happy with the fit!  I like the addition of the white jeans thread I used to dress them up just a bit.  

Vote for who you think created the best well fitting garment.


  1. Each of the sewists has made a lovely garment and there are several really excellent fits. However, I think Ann from Sewbaby has the best fit in the most unforgiving fabric. Satin shows absolutely every bulge and fitting error, and her dress has complex seam lines yet fits her perfectly.

  2. I have no idea if my vote went through....every time I tried to vote, I was taken to a survey page about animals. Usually, I'm shown how many votes everyone has. What gives??

  3. I must say, this is an outstanding group of entries and picking a winner from among the beautifully fitted garments here will be extraordinarily difficult.

  4. I love reading these posts to see what every contestant made

  5. What a wonderful job they all did! My vote goes to Dina.

  6. Wow! the contestants really did a great job this time. Hard to vote for just one. Thanks for this series and thanks
    to the ladies for competing with their love of sewing to fit!

  7. Great job everyone! I am so impressed by the entries for this week! You should all be proud!

  8. Hi, could you please explain how the voting counts in the judging process? In week 1 it had the "vote now" link, but in the week 1 results post it only explained who the judges thought was the best and did not mention anything about us "viewers" at home voting nor who won the home vote. Does the home vote count for anything? Will who won the home vote each week be revealed at some point? Thanks!

    1. Viewers can vote every week. The "VOTE NOW" link is at the bottom of this post. The viewers vote counts for half the judging. Then there are at least 2 other judges every week. The winner is revealed each week, but we do not give all the details about the winning votes. We give each contestant feedback on their garment but also do not share that with the viewers.

    2. Great, thank you for explaining it!

  9. Great job ladies! I have to give my vote to Dina.

  10. Love all the items and everyone had done a good job. Ann from SewBaby dress is the bombdiggity!

  11. I'm so sad to have missed the chance to vote but have to say I think Dina looks amazing & her dress fits her perfectly! Such a classic style too! Ax

    1. Just wait till tomorrow! You will be able to vote in the next challenge.


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