Monday, 24 March 2014

The Winifred sew-along # 1 - Getting started

Hello there  fine sew-alonger's and a very warm welcome to the  Winifred sew-along! 

I hope you're as excited as i am to kick off with the sew-along and sew up some gorgeous Winifred dresses?! 

To get this sew-along started,  we will begin with covering the basics. To help you get started on the right track to sewing up a gorgeous, well fitting Winifred dress and clear up some of the questions you may have.  Although this may seem a bit on the tedious side of things, it is always a good idea to refresh the old brain and its also useful for the newbies that are joining in or for anyone that has never sewn up a Bluegingerdoll pattern to get the gist of how these things flow. 

A quick reminder of the tools/supplies you'll need to sew-along if you haven't yet hits the shops to collect all your pattern goodies.

* The 
Winifred dress. ( I know some of you are still waiting for your pattern, please know that all sew-along blog posts will be available forever here on the blog AND the competition will be open for quite some time for you to get your entries in, in you're interested in participating in that.)

*Main fabric
* Matching thread
* 1'' Wide single fold bias binding
*2cm Wide elastic
* 2'' Slide buckle. This is the overall size of the buckle, but you can go larger if you'd like, remember the buckle is a statement feature on the dress.
* One safety pin
* The usual sewing supplies : Your trusty sewing machine, pins ( lots of them), sharp fabric scissors, an  iron, tracing paper, pens & pencils, measuring tape.

You can also refer back to the ' All you need to know sew-along post'  i recently did for all the details on the sew-along schedule, competition details etc.

So let's get started:

Topics we'll be covering today in the sew-along: 

  • Fabric choices
  • How to measure yourself , finding your size and what size to sew.
  • Tracing the pattern and being in between sizes.
  • Cutting your fabric.
  • Where you can find additional help within a sewing community, whilst you sew the Winifred pattern. 
*We will be covering both of the dress versions simultaneously throughout the sew-along.


The best place to start when choosing the right fabric for your pattern is to have a look at the back of the pattern envelope at the  listed  recommended fabrics. The envelope back will be become your gold mine for all you need to know, so learn to love it :)

I have recommended cotton and cotton blends, Chambray, Linen, batiste, shirting, linen and voile etc. For a more in depth look at recommended fabrics, as well where you can buy them from ( Yep, i look after you!)  you can find Heather's recent post on:


There have been a lot of you asking about the sizing of the Winifred dress and which size you should sew up. The best measurement to determine what size Winifred dress to sew is your full bust circumstance. This is the area that has the least amount of ease built into the design.  Pick the Winifred size that is closest to your bust measurement for a snug fit.  If you prefer a looser fit around the bust then go up a size.  We'll also be covering how to do an FBA during the sew-a-long, for those of you who only need extra bust ease on the front. Don't be too concerned about the largish waist measurement on the pattern envelope. The addition of elastic to the back will suck in most of the extra ease, leaving you a fitted but comfortable dress. Remember too the hips are a free flowing design, so you don't really have to stress yourself with those measurements.


First things first in finding your right size is  measuring yourself correctly. Its always a good idea to re-measure yourself again every now and then, our bodies do tend to change a little bit here and there and if you're anything like me where you have days of eating too much yummy stuff then its a good habit to get into. It'll save you heaps of head aches and frustration if you have to make any fitting adjustments. Use the below diagram to measure yourself correctly.


Now you've found your size grab your sewing pattern and tracing paper, cause we're gonna do some tracing!

Due to the fact that you may need  to make some pattern adjustments, tracing your Winifred pattern is recommended. Even if you don't need to make any pattern adjustments, its a great way to keep your pattern a lot longer, in its original state, for future use or if you want to sew up a Winifred for a friend who is a different size then you.

When tracing your pattern you can use pattern weights, basically anything heavy, i use whatever cans of food are in the pantry, it works a treat! In regards to paper you can use to trace your pattern pieces, i use brown pattern  tracing paper, which is transparent enough but also sturdy as well. You can use whatever paper you like, as long as it is transparent, baking paper from the kitchen works just as well as the expensive stuff. 

 So to start with trace off your chosen size, which  you noted down from the back of the pattern packaging. It is important to trace each pattern piece as accurately as you can, this is where,  if you have some curved rulers they will come in handy.
If you found you are in between sizes that's OK, all  you will need to do is overlap into different sizes at the areas which differ i.e bust, waist hips when tracing your pattern.

**For example: Above i have graded from a size 14 bust to a size 12 waist, then size14 hip***

 Also make sure to copy down all the important info and pattern markings, and notches onto your traced pattern. It is also a good idea to label each pattern piece, and the size you are using, and any instructions they have i.e cut on the fold, grain lines etc

Once you have done with all the tracing, cut out your pattern pieces.

Now you can lay out your pattern  pieces as shown in the cutting layout diagrams on the instruction sheet, page 1 or as economically as you can with the fabric you have. Once you have cut out all your pattern pieces mark sure to transfer all the pattern info across onto your fabric. There are a million ways to do this, but for now i will share how i do this. I simply snip the notches on my fabric pattern pieces. Also  use wax tracing paper and a tracing wheel to transfer across the bodice darts . For me i find this the easiest and clearest way, it also means i can come back to the pattern pieces later on with them  still clearly marked, pins i find seem to go astray.

Below are a few examples of fabric layouts for you to get the idea. When you're laying out your pattern pieces, take note of the fabric layout in the instructions,  width options i.e fabric on fold or fabric laid open which are listed on the back of the envelope.


I cannot stress this enough, 'MAKE A MUSLIN!' OK... I'm sorry i yelled, but it is such an important step in sewing up a garment that fits you perfectly and that you're COMPLETELY happy with, otherwise you'll sew it up and never wear it. So read on, my muslin making friends. 

You can make two types of muslin's: A simple calico muslin and a wearable muslin(which you can wear outside in public).

Once you have cut out your muslin fabric, depending on what type of muslin you are making simply just follow the below steps:

Simple Muslin
Don't finishing this muslin off nice and neat, just baste it all together.
* Sew the darts, front and back dress together etc
* Sew the shoulder and bodice side seams.
*Attach the elastic at the back waistline

Wearable Muslin
* Stitch as the dress normally as per the instructions. This is basically a 'real' dress.

Now you can try on your Winifred muslin and  ask yourself a few questions about the muslin's fit, so you can determine if you have cut out the right size:

 Is it comfortable?
Does the bodice fit correctly across the bust? No pulling or too loose?
Did some seams pop when i put it on?
Is the bodice  waist nicely  fitted and  comfortable? Again no pulling or too loose?
Is the dress bodice the right length?
Is the collar sitting correctly?
Is the elastic sitting on the waistline?
Can i lift up my arms?
Can i sit? 
Am i flashing my bits to the world? Too short ? Too long?
Can i do a spontaneous  fast boogie if i feel like it?

These are the factors i keep in mind when i test a muslin. Move around as much as you can, jump on your bike if that your thing, wear your 'wearable' muslin to work, running your everyday errands, chasing after the kids. Wear the 'simple' muslin around the house, cleaning up, chasing the dog or cat etc Its the best way to nut out any fit issues and you'll be surprised where fitting issues will show up when you're out and about. 

If you have found some funny business going on with the bust fit, too big or small, pulling here and there or just haven't even started because you know you have to adjust the bust, then  stay tuned tomorrow's sew-along post,  Heather will show you how to complete an FBA & SBA  on the Winifred dress as well a few other bits and pieces. 

There is heaps of info out there on pattern adjustments and fitting issues if you're new to this whole pattern adjustment garb or just need some extra help with it all, then ask a question on the Facebook sew-along group, upload a photo and show us what is happening and Heather and i will try out best to help you out.

That's it for today's sew-along post! I  encourage everyone to post and  share your progress as the sew-along progresses. Also remember this is your sew-along so please let me know if i have missed anything, or if you want to know something in particular and ill try my best to help you out.

Until tomorrow remember to join the Facebook sew-along group:
And also join up to the   Flickr group to enter this competition at the end of the sew-along, cause we gonna be voting on em all! 

If you feel like socializing or want to keep tabs on the sew-along, here are the places to do so:

Happy Winifred sewing!


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