Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hey Sew Sister.

The annual family beach vacation was almost a month ago. As always the weather, food, and friends were wonderful.

Sunrise  - East Coast!

DS's and friends playing Volleyball

Beach house at dusk

The sewing activity this year was to copy a favorite garment from RTW. My sister had purchased a pair of Tommy Bahama capri pants for $10.00 at her local thrift shop. Sis loved the fit of these pants, which had a fairly fitted  waist, with just a tad bit of  looseness that could be cinched in with a drawstring, and legs falling straight from the hip. They also had an invisible zipper on the front center seam and waistline darts. The fabric was mid weight 98% silk 2 % lycra print with the texture of bark cloth. 

Sis is a experienced machine quilter who is interested in learning to sew garments. So for our family vacation each year, we try and choose a garment sewing projects that is at her skill level, and that she is motivated to sew.   Pillow cases and tote bags won't do. Last year she sewed a dress out of her favorite batik quilting fabric. This year I offered to make a pattern from her capri pants which she could use to sew another pair.

I have copied RTW many times,  mostly simple garments like T shirts, woven tops, pants and shorts. It is so frustrating to buy a RTW top in a flattering style and then buy a pattern for the same style and have it fit horribly. Why not make a pattern from the RTW garment?

This summer I copied a cowl neck top - RTW top on  the dress form

A tank top, with wide bra friendly straps and flattering neckline. Pants and shorts- various brands and styles of  pants that fit well. One designer brand has the perfect crotch shape for me.   RTW top and pants on the dress form.

And a favorite sleeveless blouse. The original RTW blouse was too tight across the bust and gaped so I made the copy larger in that area.

I use different methods of copying for different types of garments.

For knit tops with simple bodice and sleeve shapes, the method I use is to lay the garment section ( front, back or sleeve) flat on a large piece of paper and trace. – the Craftsy.com Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear class, taught by Steffani Lincecum, is a good explanation of this method.

For pants , I prefer to lay the pant leg flat on a surface, lay translucent tracing paper over the pant leg, mark the seam lines with pins, and mark pin lines with marker. I have not seen this method on the Internet or in magazines, but in works for me

I have also drafted patterns of a RTW garment starting with my sloper, and using key measurements from the RTW garment for style details like  bands, yokes, collars, etc.

I used my paper on top method to make the  pattern from the capri pants.

We could not find any woven silk/ lycra fabric similar to the TB pant fabrics so Sis purchase a drapey rayon print from Nancy’s Notions.

It is always interesting to observe what quilting sewing habits Sis has to overcome to sew garments. It  was the humongous 5/8" seam allowance again,   and cutting out fabric with scissors. When I gently commented on the raggedness of her cutting, she replied that  she never uses scissors except to trim threads,  and that she was really  missing her rotary cutter.  We assured her she could use a rotary cutter to cut out garments at home with the appropriate mat, but not on the kitchen table of a vacation rental.
The pants were a success. And they also provided an opportunity to explain another sewing lesson - the impact of different fabric types on the fit of a garment. Amazing that 2% lycra of the original garment fabric made a lot of difference in the wearing comfort of the pants. We had to add  ½ inch on the side seams of the woven rayon version to get the same comfort level.

Another girl activity during vacation was coming up with new, sewing related lyrics for songs. This activity was instigated by me in preparation for some comedic entertainment at an upcoming sewing guild meeting. Songs like The Eagle's Witchy Woman  morphed into Stitchy Woman and Lady Marmalade - Labelle 1975 whose  refrain is  Hey Sister, Go sister, Soul sister, Go Sister  was changed to ...you guessed it .

Badges we wore all week.

Hey Sister, Go Sister, Sew sister, Go sister.
Hey Sister, Go Sister, Sew sister, Go sister
She gave up her stash and she went to the mall.
Hoping to find something new
But when she tried on a bit
and none of it fit
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Da Da
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Here
Mocha Chocolata Ya Ya
Crafty Lady sew a Lot.

Voulez vous coudre avec moi, ce soir, Voulez vous coudre avec moi?
Her friends filled their blogs with the best they could make
But she had nothing to post
So she went shopping online
And it was all fine
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Da Da
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Here
Mocha Chocolata Ya Ya
Crafty Lady sew a Lot.

Touching charmeuse feeling silky smooth
Color of café au lait
Made the savage beast inside
Roar until it cried
More, More, More

Now she’s the envy of everyone
Notions and bolts fill the floors
And when she gets a little urge
And thinks she needs to purge
She just cries ‘more, more, More!
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Da Da
Gitchi Gitch Ya Ya Here
Mocha Chocolata Ya Ya
Crafty Lady sew a Lot

With much thanks to the creativity and wordsmithing skills of J. Jarvis.


  1. I bow to your greater creativity both in song and sewing! I have never drafted a pattern from ready to wear, and I probably should, although there are so many patterns I want to make and I'll never sew up all the ones I have! I do have to say that the sleeveless blouse you copied is a million times better than the RTW - I can definitely see the better quality hem, necklines, etc on your version!

  2. What a wonderful vacation! Your sister is developing a wardrobe of patterns that she'll be able to use over and over again. That's fantastic!

  3. Love the new song lyrics. I just took a "copy cat" seminar with Kathy Ruddy. She uses the wax paper method,it very informative.

  4. Love the song! Very cute! I like the phrase Sew Sister. I have some of those!

  5. Sounds like you and your sister have lots of fun together! thanks for the tips on copying RTW.

  6. Thanks for showing your wonderful RTW look alikes they are great! Love the lyrics can imagine the fun you will all have!

  7. Love the new lyrics to one of my favorite songs and beautiful work on your sister's pants!

  8. Absolutely fabulous, both the lyrics and those wonderful copied garments. Aren't you two just the best sisters to read about. Your vacation sounds like a blast.

  9. Genius lyrics. Fantastic sewing. How wonderful that you have a sister to sew with.

  10. Hee, I like your new lyrics. I'm going to think of them every time I hear the song now.

    What a fun sister project! The finished pants look great.

  11. I've got to try this copy method, and thanks for the shout-out to DH!

  12. Love the lyrics!! Glad you and your sew sister are having fun creating together. Love your beach photos, spent time at the beach this year myself--loved it!

  13. Got a good chuckle from your lyrics. You've carried the copy/adapt RTW clothing concept into the songwriting arena. Making alterations to ready-to-sing?

  14. Looks like a great holiday spot. I love your cowl neck tops.