Common Sense Fitting

If you don’t sew for yourself because nothing ever fits, you’re missing out on the joys of a handmade wardrobe! It doesn’t have to be hard and a few quick tips will make a world of difference. Grab a tape measure and your common sense. You can do this!

Give Yourself the Keys

A few basic measurements are the beginning to a better fit. While this may not take you to couture level, you can quickly adjust any pattern to fit your body. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s the patterns! They don’t fit any of us and they’re not sized like the ready to wear items you buy in the store. Remember, we’re not talking about a precise fit here, but you can make it better! To begin, start with these four key measurements: full bust, high bust, waist, full hip, and arm circumference. Write them down and make sure you find a safe place to keep them. Be honest! This is just for you and no one else will know. Others just get to enjoy the beautiful clothes you’ll be making!


You’re in Charge

There are so many beautiful designs available in today’s patterns! But often we think we can’t wear a particular pattern because it looks too tight, too loose, or we don’t like the sleeves or another element of the design. Remember: You’re in charge of that pattern and how it’s going to look when you’re done. Be fearless! Using your measurements, you can change the cut of a sleeve, the fit of the body, or the way the neckline sits. The most important thing about a design is that you love the garment after it’s sewn. Spend a little time and do what it takes to enjoy sewing for yourself. That’s the real common sense secret to creating a handmade wardrobe you love and can wear proudly!

About the Author: Annette Millard loves to encourage others to make sewing easy, stress-free and fabulous! She has sewn her own clothing, taught sewing, and worked in the sewing industry for most of her life and loves what she does. Her blog, The Sewfull Life, provides helpful tips, tutorials, and project reviews. Visit Annette on her blog at and be sure to say hello at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in one of her three classes!

7 Easy Tips For a Better Fit

Tip #1: Don’t go by another sewist’s experience fitting a pattern! Because we are all wonderfully unique, it’s doubtful that you are the same exact size and like the same exact fit!

Tip #2: Use your pattern to find the body measurements and finished measurements before you cut! Consider how much extra room (ease) you like in your garments and keep that in mind when you choose your size(s).

Tip #3: You don’t have to use just one size of the pattern! Find the right size for your measurements and go with that. I often use two to three sizes when I’m sewing.

Tip #4: Assemble your tools and don’t be afraid of the pattern. You’ll need a dressmaker’s curve, a sturdy tape measure, a straight ruler, and a variety of marking tools.

Tip #5: Banish too tight sleeves! Compare your arm circumference to the pattern sleeve and make the proper adjustments if needed. You’ll want more ease for a woven fabric than a knit, so keep that in mind.

Tip #6: Don’t just hope it’s the right length! Measure, measure, measure. Before you do any cutting, determine the length you want, compare it to the pattern, and make your adjustments.

Tip #7: Sign up for my Common Sense Fitting class at the 2019 Sewing & Stitchery Expo. You’ll learn more valuable tips and take home a measurement chart and handout and see how easy it is to make adjustments to your patterns. I can hardly wait to hear about your success! Visit to learn more about purchasing class tickets.

Why We Cosplay: Creating Community

Cosplaying is always better when you have someone to share it with and this community is fantastic for that kind of camaraderie! I have been making costumes for nearly eight years and every time there is a convention coming up, I always seek out like-minded people to share my joy with. At last year’s Pax (Penny Arcade Expo), one of the largest video game consumer conventions in the nation, I reached out to a group of friends with whom I share the love of the video game Final Fantasy. I asked them to join me in making something from the franchise. Our theme? Classic Characters. We dug deep into the game’s original graphics and came up with simple yet iconic costumes for the White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage, and the ever present Chocobo.

Instead of using conventional cut and sew methods for my White Mage, I decided to knit it with a knitting machine. The finished product was a fully fashioned sweater robe with a peplum of the iconic red triangles.

For my husband’s black mage, I used a gorgeous soft ultra-suede to make his robe and thick premium felt for his mage hat and gloves. For the veil, I used a black mesh which allows him to see through but still have an opaque texture from the outside. The group comprised of Sammy N. as the adorable Yellow Chocobo, Kelly M. as the Powerful Black Mage, Me as the White Mage, and Megan D. as the Red Mage. We formed an amazing party indeed!

In other instances, the community comes together to offer advice and help on costumes. While traveling in Japan last year, I couldn’t help but stop by a fabric store in Osaka. While there, one fabric really grabbed my attention. It is an Alice in Wonderland type fabric, with tea parties, pocket watches and rabbits. As I am relatively new to Lolita costumes (a style characterized by a Victorian-esque voluminous skirt), I asked the community to help decide on the styling and involved them in every subsequent step of the way.

I started the conversation by posting about my fabric and my general idea of making a Lolita dress. From there, the ideas started to pour in! Suggestions were to make a dress, a parasol, etc. Ultimately, I only had six yards of this fabric, so I had to plan accordingly. Once I reached the decision to create a dress, I set out to research different styles and showed the community my favorites. From those inspirations, I designed a whole bunch of dresses. Not wanting to overwhelm and to get a clear direction, I presented two of my favorites for the community to pick from.

While it was clear that the community favored B, there were also additional suggestions including adding a pocket to the dress. With that in mind, I designed another more complete and detailed version.

I continued to post on my social media pages for more sewing and construction videos, tutorials, and feedback and then of course, to share the final finished dress. To thank and give back to the community, I created a video demonstrating my method of draping this piece. Please check out my video below, enjoy!

Video Transcript

About the Author: Anna He is a costume designer and cosplay artist based out of Seattle. She has designed patterns for McCall and has worked for brands including Norma Kamali, Eileen Fisher, and Nordstrom. Get to know more about Anna and her work and be sure you’re on the mailing list to receive the 2019 Sewing & Stitchery Expo class catalog to learn about Anna’s 2019 class offerings before tickets go on sale in January.