Vernon Fashion Studio’s Blog

Archive for January 2010

OMG, what a rough month January has been…especially the last couple of weeks! Hubby and I have been cleaning out our commercial building. Where did all this stuff come from?? I have lost track of how many dump runs and trips to the recycling center we have made this past week. Bea and Sadie don’t see the problem with going to the dump 2 to 3 times a day. They get doggies cookies on the way out, everytime. What’s not to love about that? Me? Not so enthusiastic.

The building sale closed on Friday but we still worked on the project yesterday and we have 2 loads left to do today. Then we will be done! YEA!!!! This is a big load off my mind.

I have gotten some work done on my coat this week. I am ready to attach the fronts to the back. I might get to it today but my poor house has been so neglected the last 2 weeks, I really need to do some housework.

I had planned to pick up my new Cover Hem machine yesterday but that didn’t get done so sometime this week I will get to Findlay’s. I sold the last of the machines in the building so I think I can buy a new serger too. My old serger is 13 years old and I have been unsuccessful at getting it to do what I want it to do. I hope they have improved over the years.

Welcome February!


Now that  you have your dressform bought and set up, you need to adjust it to your measurements. Invite a close friend over for drinks, good conversation and her help in measuring you. I have tried to do it by myself but it was harder and less accurate.

Tips for accurate measuring:
1. Wear something tight fitting and your everyday bra.
2. Stand up straight
3. Keep tape parallel to the floor
4. It might help to tie a string around your waist. Bend to each side and where you indent is your natural waist.
5. Measure your Bust, Waist and Hip and the base of your neck.

The trick to opening up the dressform with the adjustment dials is to open them starting with the neck then moving down the dressform. If you are close to the smaller end of the size range of your dressform then just start opening up to your measurements. If your measurements are closer to the upper end of the dressform’s size range you will have to work your way up and down dressform until you get to your measurements.

When you have it opened out, your center front, center back, side seams and shoulder seams are now midway between the parts of the dressform. Don’t use the edges of the parts or you will get your measurements wrong.

If you have a measurement that does not fit into the size range of the dressform then you have to decide how to handle it. As I said in Part 1, I have measurements that are close to the same so I just open to my bust and hip measurements and make sure the waist is opened to a measurement that is not staining to the dressform.

If your hip or bust measurement is bigger than the dressform then open that measurement to the maximun size and the others to your actual measurements.

Next set the back length. Stand up straight and tilt your head forward. Have your friend measure from the bump at the base of your neck to your waist. Adjust the dressform if needed from the inside. You manual that came with the dressform should tell you how to do it.

Next measure from your shoulder to the fullest point of the bust. Measure the dressform. Do they match? If they do great! If they don’t, you can fix it with padding.

Now lets fine tune the dress form. I like to check the half measurements next. I know I am a bit bigger across the upper back than my size allows for so measure your back down 5 inches from the base of the neck, pivot the tape and measure from armhole to armhole. Do the same thing at 7 inches below the base of the neck. Then measure the dressform the same way. If these don’t match then use the center back dial to adjust the back measurement. Then measure the front from armhole to armhole across the fullest part of the bust and match it to the dressform. Adjust the center front dial as needed. Then remeasure your total bust measurement to make sure it is still right. If it isn’t use the side dials to make adjustments, evenly. Check all you half measurements for a more accurate fit.

I also like to know how my shoulders match up to the dressform. Luckily my measurements and the dressform are almost the same but it you have broad shoulders or narrow shoulders, you need to know how you compare to your dressform.

I know this sounds like a lot but these measurements can be done in less time than it takes to drink a glass of wine.

So now that you have it adjusted, can you rely on your dressform completely? No. Some figure flaws like rounded shoulders, can’t be duplicated on the lower end dressforms so you still need to try it on as you move through the construction of your garment. And dressforms are not meant as an expensive clothes rack.

In Part 4, we will talk about padding out your dressform to match your measurements more accurately.

I feel so horrible that I have left you all hanging with the Buying a Dressform articles. I have learned the lesson that if I am going to do a series then write them all first then post them.

Part 3 is coming this weekend, I promise.

Work has been crazy the last couple of weeks. Added to that is the need to clean out our commercial building so we are ready to turn over the keys to the new owners next Friday. There is so much stuff to go through. The last of the laundry machines leave today, thank goodness. So then it will be down to papers and stuff…lots of stuff!

I have had people asking for a new Studio Schedule so I got that done last night. Hubby got a new color laser printer so I used it to produce the copies of the Schedule to take to Fabricland and Findlays today.

So much to do and so little time!

I have gotten some work done on my new red coat but I figure I will have it done in time to put away for next year.

Ok off I go to get more done. Leaving you in Stitches…

Now let’s talk features you should look for when shopping for a Dressform.

All dressforms should have a pinable surface. On the lower end dressforms it is a short nappy surface covering the whole form. You don’t pin straight into the dressform; you pin at an angle…mostly downward. As I finish the individual sections of a garment, I pin them to the dressform so they stay neat and out of the way while I work on the other sections.

The most important feature is the dials used to adjust the dressform to your measurements. There seems to be two types of adjustment dials to use to ‘dial in’ your measurements. This first one is my preference:

You hold the button in while you turn the dial to the selected measurement. Each measurment has four dials: front, back and both sides. The more dials, the more customized you can get when adjusting it to fit you. The one drawback to this dial, the part you hang on to is not very deep so if you have longer fingernails or fat fingers, it can be hard to use.

The other style of adjustment dial is this:

This dial rotates with the help of teeth. I find this one hard on the fingernails. Once you get it open a bit you can use the flats of your fingertips to rotate the dial. I still found it a bit painful and frustrating to use.

There should also be a dial to ‘dial in’ your neck measurement.

The next feature to look for is a height adjustment. It helps if  the dressform is the same height as you so make sure it has some way to adjust for this.

They both do the job well.

Next is a hemming guide. This is an adjustable guide to help you pin a straight hem all the way around.

Warning: this feature only works well if your Center Back and Center Front are the same length or if you have accurately padded out your dressform. Otherwise you could end up with the dreaded uneven hem. You know, when the hem is higher in the back than it is in the front or visa versa.

In Part 3, we will discuss how to ‘Dial In’ your measurements.

There are two or three big purchases you will consider making if you really get into sewing. The first is your first or second sewing machine. Some people start out with a very basic sewing machine so the big decision comes when they upgrade to a more versatile machine. Some people start out with the versatile machine. And most of us know this is a big decision.

The second big decision can be the purchase of a serger. Not everyone feels the need to own one but this purchase can be  tough given the price range and features available. And the other purchase some of us consider, is buying a dressform.

My philosophy when buying any new equipment is to buy the best I can afford that does the job I want it to do but not more than I am interested in doing.

Dressforms come in a wide range of price points. In Canada, dressforms are ridiculously expensive. Only buy them on sale…at least 50% off. I bought my two dressforms in the States at more reasonable prices. I bought my first one off QVC and the second from Joann’s and I didn’t pay more than $150 USD.  You can spend over $2000 USD for a custom dressform but that seems a bit much for me. My shape changes from decade to decade so that would get horribly expensive after awhile. The US and Canadian dollars are pertty much at Par these days so dashing into  the US to buy a dressform may be an option. Of course there are travel costs and the taxes we pay at the border but it might still be an option.

So what do you need to consider when buying a basic dressform? First is the size. Dressforms come in size ranges so you need to know your measurements…Bust, Waist & Hips. Most of them come in inches and centimeters. This is one of those times where you have to be honest with yourself about your measurements or your dressform may not work right for you.

Next, consider your shape. My shape is rectangular; meaning my bust, waist and hip measurments are within a few inches of each other. Dressforms come with hourglass shapes so I only match up my bust and hip measurements. I don’t do waist details so I ignore the waist size and I don’t pad it out.

Dressforms can be padded to more closely resemble your size and shape. So if you have a larger bust or hips match up the other two measurements then pad out the larger body part.

If you are on the cusp of two size ranges, ask yourself if you are on a generally upward or downward trek with your weight and buy accordingly. If you are lucky and your size and shape have stayed stable for a long time, buy the smaller one and pad out the measurment that is larger.

In Part 2, we will talk about the features to look for in a dressform.

It is chilly up here in Canada! Now I have to say here in the Okanagan Valley of BC, winters are not that bad. This winter inparticular has not been all that cold. The temp has hovered around 0°C/32°F which isn’t too bad. After living 11 years in SE Montana where it gets to -40°F in January, 32° is down right balmy!

We still need a warm coat in the weather. Perferrably one with a zipper closure and one that covers my butt. The coat I have been wearing is many years old and in need of replacing. I have the material and pattern to make the coat but got hung up on making blouses and a heavy work schedule over the holidays. With the weather as mild as it has been I wasn’t in any hurry to start making the coat until Sadie decided she liked to chew zippers.

Sadie(The charcoal black dog in the picture. Bea is our other dog) is our dear stupid puppy who likes to chew. We have to keep all sorts of rawhides and other chew toys around for her. She is almost two years old so we hope she will outgrow this chewing obsession. It started a few weeks ago when she chewed the zipper stop off Hubby’s sweatshirt. The zipper pull fell off in his hand as he tried to zip it shut. This wasn’t a huge deal, just annoying. A week or so later I was sorting through the coat closet and found a hardly ever worn reversable windbreaker/sweatshirt jacket that I didn’t want anymore. I set it aside to put with other garage sale items I have. Sadie got to it and chewed the zipper stop off so the zipper pull fell on the floor when I picked it up. Can’t sell that so in the trash it went. She got scolded which is why it was a couple weeks before she did it again. This time it was my coat.

The coat has one button left. Needless to say it is a bit breezy when I wear the coat. So yesterday I cleared off the cutting table in preparation for cutting out my new coat.

Necessity is definately dictating the sewing project! The purple blouse needs cuffs and sleeves and a hem. Hopefully I can get it done also. The red sparkly blouse is getting one more buttonhole. The top button is too low.

Luckily my work schedule is lighter so I can spend time at the Studio sewing. I have the Valentino DVD to watch so I am all set.

Leaving you in Stitches…