This entry in our Sewing for My Curves series is from Katie of Katie Makes a Dress. Katie started sewing at the age of 14 when she received her first sewing machine for her birthday. It took her many failed attempts of upcycling op shop dresses before she found herself sewing actual wearable garments. The love of vintage remains. She lives on the Sunshine Coast, Australia and is a photographer, a sewing blogger, a mother of two and owner of Sid the French bulldog.
Person shaped! I don’t really like comparing myself to fruit or inanimate objects, but if I were going to I’d be an hourglass.
Upper Bust – 37”
Bust – 40”
Bra Size – 38D
Waist – 32”
Hips – 40”
I vary so much between pattern designers that I generally ignore envelope measurements and check the finished measurements. Often I’ll compare pattern pieces to some I already have that fit and go from there. I generally don’t make toiles because I’m lazy and impatient, so really scrutinizing the pattern pieces helps.
In RTW I’m somewhere between a 12 and 14 (8-10 in US sizes), but I honestly buy so little RTW these days that it’s just a guess. I make just about everything I wear besides leggings and knitted jumpers and cardigans etc. I even make my own underwear.
I have a few that I need to make often:
- Full bicep adjustment– I do love a sleeve and often find them too tight so size them up.
- Full bust adjustment – A common one because patterns are generally drafted for B and C cups.
- Sway back adjustment– To correct the extra fabric at the back of the waist.
Because I’m short I’ll often have to adjust the length too, but that’s not a big deal. Also I don’t know if adding pockets is really an adjustment, but I do add them to most makes where possible. I will opt for a gathered or circle skirt over a straight skirt most of the time, but that’s purely a personal preference. Lots of my dresses feature fuller skirts than the pattern designer probably intended! My shape means I don’t have to do a lot of grading between sizes.
I’m a dress girl through and through. Dresses with prints. Always. I am a huge fan of vintage patterns but I’m not loyal to a particular era. I can make from the ’50s to the ’90s and back again. I love that they can be picked up from an op shop so cheaply and the envelope illustrations are generally pretty amusing, too. Some of the older ones use unusual techniques, so I’ve learned a lot from them.
Often I’ll wear skirts also, usually high waisted with a fitted top tucked in. I’m generally not a fan of rules unless they make sense like ‘don’t run with scissors’ or ‘fasten your seatbelt.’ Stuff like that. Rules that have somehow made their way into our lives like ‘no horizontal stripes for you, curvy girl!’ and ‘gathered skirts are not flattering for your hips, curvy girl!’ – well those rules can get in the bin. Wear what makes you happy; whether that’s stripes, big bright prints, ginormous full skirts or tight fitting denim. Wear it all. I’d personally like to see the word “flattering” banished, but I know it doesn’t bother everyone the way it bothers me (editor’s note: it’s not just you, Katie!). Sewing for myself is so freeing because I get to wear whatever I please and have it fit. Here are some of my tried and true favourites.
Wrap Dresses and Skirts – In dress or skirt form, I don’t mind. Give them all to me. I like that whole adjustable aspect, plenty of room for lunch.
Vintage Simplicity 7189 – This one is from 1975 and wraps from the back to the front and has the greatest pockets I’ve ever seen.
McCalls 7129 – A wrap circle skirt with a lot of twirling power.
McCalls 6959 – A wrap dress that I’ve sewn a few times, adjusting the skirt to an A line shape and to maxi length.
Fit and Flare Dresses – These are my most worn dresses. Step in, zip up and you’re good to go. Pockets in the side seams are a must.
Christine Hayne’s Emery Dress – Probably my most made dress ever. It fit me pretty spot on straight out of the envelope, so I’ve never really had to make any fitting adjustments. The collar is super cute and I’ve made them with gathered and circle skirts.
Smock Dresses – The relaxed fit makes smock dresses the ideal summer dress for me. No buttons or zips means I can throw them on over my swimmers and be ready for the beach.
Megan Nielsen’s Sudley Dress (or top) – My favourite of the smock dresses. I adore the collar and keyhole. Another bonus is there’s no front or back; wear it any way you like. I did end up making quite a fancy mesh version for an event I was invited to, so it’s not just a casual dress.
Shirt Dresses – I love how polished they look and using a print can bring the fun into them too.
Tilly and The Buttons Rosa Dress – This one is a bit more modern and very versatile. You could make it in a plain chambray with contrasting topstitching or in a print (because prints are life).
McCalls 6696 – This one is a classic and has been made by sewing bloggers all over the world. I tend to eliminate the gathers and use pleats instead because it means I can use narrower fabric.
Vintage Simplicity 5445 – I was lucky enough to receive this one from a friend. And it dates back to some time in the 60s. I really love the shape of the collar on this version.
Bras and Underwear – Am I able to talk about underwear? Let’s talk about underwear. Sewing it has changed my life and I’m not even exaggerating. When I sewed my first bra that fit me, angels started singing. I didn’t touch my first bra pattern for over a year – that’s how much it intimidated me. But listen, it’s really not that hard. I swear. And there are so many excellent online resources now (editor’s note: such as the CSC’s Lingerie Month!). How did people even sew before the Internet? Here are my favourite underwear patterns.
Pin Up Girls Classic Bra – My first and my most made. It does have a pointier shape which some women aren’t into (I personally love it) but all you need to do is shave a touch off the apex to get a rounder shape.
Kwik Sew 3594 – This is an excellent beginners bra and is one that has been around in some form or another since the 70s. I have the modern version and the vintage version, which are slightly different shapes. The modern version can be made with wires or without. Again it has a slightly pointy shape.
Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra – The Marlborough is more of a modern shape and can be made with lace on the upper cups. It has a power bar, which means lots of oomph and forward projection.
Ohhh Lulu’s Romy Bra – Romy is a bralette but the princess seams give it lots of nice shape and I do find it quite supportive when lined in mesh. I have plans to make swimmers out of this one soon.
Jeans, I really must tackle them. It’s another one that I’ve put off for a really long time because I’m a bit nervous about the fitting issues and all that topstitching. Plus there will be much more sewing from vintage patterns as inherited four boxes of them recently. It was like Christmas. Can’t wait.