The Sewing Guide for Holiday Dressing

The Dilemma
Awww, the Holidays. ‘Tis the season for your work party, his work party, a girl’s night out or two, holiday concerts, and all the family gatherings . . . . whew! What’s a sewist to wear without making a new outfit for every occasion? Enter the classic Little Black Dress. Simple and economical to make, it can easily be the most versatile go-to in your holiday wardrobe. All it takes is a little more sewing!

The Solution
The Little Black Dress on its own can be fabulous with just the addition of jewelry that sparkles or a drop-dead-gorgeous print sewn into a quick infinity scarf. For your holiday LBD, consider one of the patterns I found on the Simplicity web site. Each one carries its own impressive style, yet is simple enough to sew up in just a few evenings.

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From the Amazing Fit collection, Simplicity 8258 is available in petite, misses and plus sizing. Fitting tips and techniques are included for this impressive, yet simple design. The fit and flare styling, center front seaming and three sleeve options make this the perfect LBD for everyone. And, there are pockets!

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Designed by Sew Chic’s Laura Nash, vintage inspired Simplicity 8534 features a gorgeous, slimming waterfall drape. Easy pleating at the bust and waistline creates a wonderful fit and marvelous style. To make this your own, options include long or short sleeves, optional self-piping and a charming bow.

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Basic, easy, yet striking, New Look 6524 includes four different sleeve looks and lengths. It’s a wonderful dress for “The Year of the Sleeve”! Sew up a holiday style Little Black Dress now, then save this pattern for a fun warm weather dress, too.

The Additions
So, now that you’ve sewn the perfect LBD, just a little more sewing will make it a great fit for all your holiday events! The layering styles I found for you can change for each occasion depending on which fabrics you choose and the unique touches you add.

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Think about silk, velvet, rayon, sparkly trims, sequins and fancy machine stitches. For embellishing, consider Dana Marie Design’s exquisite Quick Fan Applique tutorial to add personalized style.

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Connie Crawford’s Butterick 6261 is a magnificent flare jacket with beautiful seam detailing. Marvelous for combining prints, it could also stylishly feature a yoke of sparkly, sequined fabric. A wonderful way to complete your outfit for holiday concerts or a dress-to-impress work party!

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For a more formal office party or girls’ night out, you’ll love the New Dimension Jacket designed by Louise Cutting. Beautiful princess seaming and full-length dolman sleeves create a slim, flattering fit that would be superb in velvet or a mid-weight silk. Two necklines and optional pockets offer alternatives for design that may mean you’ll want to make more than one!

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Karen Nye’s fabulous and ever-popular CNT Patterns A Little Somethin’ Jacket is quick, easy and a great fit for all body styles. You’ll find two sleeve lengths available and a wide size range. Stitch this one up for the family gathering in a gorgeous rayon. For a Holiday Concert or special night out, choose a dazzling lace for spectacular results.

The Joy
Get ready to look fabulous, darling. Choose your fabrics; choose your patterns – holiday dressing offers simply marvelous reasons to indulge in the joy of sew!

About the author: Annette Millard recently started her own blog, The Sewful Life, which utilizes her sewing and teaching experience to provide helpful tips and tricks, tutorials, and project ideas. Visit the blog at .

Pattern Sizing Made Simple

We’ve all had trouble shopping for clothing before. Go to one store, and you’re one size; go to another store and you may be a size or two bigger or smaller. Even sticking with the same brands doesn’t always help: what fit you in the fall may not fit you in the spring, and that may not even be the fault of seasonal holiday foods! The truth is, manufactured clothing sizes are always changing, thanks to the trend known as vanity sizing. But shouldn’t you expect the same kind of sizing struggle from sewing patterns? The answer is: NO! Choosing a pattern size is much, much easier than trying to find things that fit in the stores. All you need is a little bit of math, a measuring tape, and the handy measurement chart on the back of your pattern envelope.

Why do we need to measure? Can’t we just choose the size we buy in stores? As we’ve already discussed, those sizes and measurements vary from company to company, and even season to season. Pattern sizing, on the other hand, is standardized. That means that a size 10 from Simplicity is always going to be a size 10, no matter which pattern you pick up—and it’s the same for the other major pattern brands, too! All you need to do is take four basic measurements.

Now, before you get measuring, make sure you’re wearing the undergarments you’ll be wearing under your finished garment, and make sure there’s nothing in your pockets!

First, measure your full bust, around the widest part of your chest and straight across your back. Next, measure your natural waist—right below the base of your rib cage, not down at your hipbones! Next, measure your full hip, around the widest part of your bottom. This is usually about 9” below your waist. The last measurement you need is your back waist length. This is usually easier with a friend’s help. Your back waist length is the distance from the top of the knob at the base of your neck where your back starts, to your natural waist at your center back.

Now it’s just a simple matter of comparing those numbers to the size chart on the back of the pattern envelope. But what if you fall between two or more sizes? Well, that’s not a problem! Thanks to Simplicity’s multi-size patterns, it’s a snap to combine pattern sizes! Just take a felt-tip pen and draw a smooth connecting line between cutting lines for the sizes that best fit you. And one more tip: Simplicity’s Misses’ and Women’s patterns are designed for someone 5’5”-5’6” tall, so if you’re taller or shorter you’ll need to adjust the length of your finished garment. Most patterns will include instructions on how and where to do this in the General Directions section of the guidesheet!

About the authors: Deborah Kreiling and Tiffany Pegram work with Simplicity. If you’re still not quite sure if you’re doing all this right, you can view our in-depth sizing guide at Or, for a more personal touch, just reach out to Simplicity directly! You can reach us by phone at 1-888-588-2700 or by e-mail at Or, stop by one of our many social media channels, we’ll be happy to chat!

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