From MMM to SPS by way of Nettie!

2015-04-27 update: I had to remove all the links in this post to the Web Archive version of Stretch Pattern School. Someone obviously bought the URL and is trying to make money from all the residual traffic for the site. It doesn’t seem right to let some greedy stranger profit from Mr Anderson’s benevolent effort.

As everyone know, it’s Me Made May. And I was tempted, but chickened out at the last minutes. If I were to wear every single me-made piece that I still own, then I might just about make it. But many are too summery for London at any time of the year, let alone this year’s unseasonably chilly May.

It did get me thinking about what I should make next / more of though. I have the woven top / dress & skirt blocks sorted, though I’m still missing sleeve block. But what I’ve been wearing more often are the knit Me Mades, especially the sleeved tops. And RTW jeans. Well there’s fat chance of me tackling the pants block any time soon. So I’m back to fiddling with my Fitted T-Shirt Block.

bs201209123mod1_4style_8Nope, the last version wasn’t perfect. The warts came out when I try to tinker with the design (from long to short sleeve). And that was like Take 5. (I obviously have infinite patience some things if not everything.) So at the moment I’m fiddling with Take 6. When I sort out Take 6 I’ll recap the attempts & hopefully include the result mug shots. (I find it quite frustrating to get fitting alteration advice that don’t come with photos of the results on real people. Drawings lie! Theories are not enough. I need proof that they work on at least some people if not every figure type out there.)

But in the meanwhile, Take 6 made me realize that I might have to live with the lower back puddle (also popularly known as ‘sway back’ wrinkles, though I’m not sure if I really have a sway back). Especially with a back that doesn’t have CB seam – which covers most T-shirt designs. Making the hip wider has no effect. Nor does shortening the CB in any fashion – the hem at CB just rides up. In fact, the only time the puddle temporarily goes away is if the hip is tighter and hem long enough to grab my hip / butt.



That got me thinking that maybe I should jump on the bodysuit craze started by Nettie.

(Actually, if my memory serves me, it was Donna Karan who first popularized bodysuit as normal wear in the 80s, and made them with crotch snaps so trips to the Ladies wasn’t a PITA. She also did hybrid blouson top with bodysuit bottom. How cool is that?)

Donna Karan 1980s bodysuitsDK Vogue Patterns 1961DK Vogue Pattern 2092

So, why bodysuit? The hypothesis being that adding the pants bit will pull the back down so it’s less likely to ride up and puddle. And this note on Stretch Pattern School kind of implies that, to me at least…

“…all tankinis will rise over time given the chance and there’s nothing you can do to stop it definitively…”

And speaking of Stretch Pattern School, I wonder if I should Nettie it or draft my own following the free instruction on Stretch Pattern School. I had initially dismissed the SPS patterns as they’re for swimwear & dancewear, neither of which I’d use often enough. Now I’m thinking maybe I should give it a go.


Nettie would be more convenient – as I have relatively average figure, I think it might work without modification. But SPS would give me a Block + teach me how to make design & fitting changes properly. So I’m slightly more inclined towards SPS.

BTW, Stuart, the author / designer / patternmaker / teacher behind Stretch Pattern School seem to have retired & taken his website down. But you can still find a copy of most of the pages at Way Back Machine. The Lazy Person’s section probably doesn’t work anymore since the softwear generating the block for you probably is offline now. Also, Way Back Machine doesn’t seem to save complete version of the pages every time it checked the site. So if illustrations are missing (and Stuart does give step-by-step illustrated instruction for most patterns) use calendar back arrow at the top in the Way Back Machine box to go to an earlier version of the page. Usually you’ll eventually get to a version with the illustrations.

But the website was definitely worth a visit. There’s so much little gem of info there, some of which goes over my head at the moment – like all that jazz about tension lines! Other tidbits are fascinating, especially in light of complaints about ready-made stretch patterns not fitting. You’d think that they would be more forgiving. But Stuart points out that amount of horizontal negative ease in the pattern affects how many people the pattern will fit within each size. Also that as the size goes up, so does the variation in body shape. And that based on the data people entered into his website, he found more Australian size 6-10 B-cups getting breast implants than other sizes, which is an issue for pattern designers as implants affect the fit. And with C up and above, a dart, or at least some easing/gathering would be needed, even in stretch fabrics, because the fabric will try to stretch evenly / even out the tension. Otherwise you’d get ripples. There’s also a fascinating page on tweaking for larger sizes and/or different body shapes. Plus maternity block instruction for Mommies-In-Waiting!

It’s a shame Stuart didn’t consolidate his website into an Ebook before taking the site down. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d buy a copy!

12 comments on “From MMM to SPS by way of Nettie!

  1. cath jenkins says:

    this makes sense.i made some amazing blocks from Stretch Pattern school .wanted to make some more and have been trawling the net for weeks looking!!! TOTALLY GUTTED!!!! do you have a way of contacting him???????

    • I’ve been told off & threatened with lawsuit for contacting him. So I wouldn’t recommend you try. I think he just want to enjoy his retirement from the industry in peace. Enjoy the blocks you made previously. We’ll have to look elsewhere for guidance going forward.

  2. Your bodice blocks are by far the best I have seen on any sewing blog! Have you already tried removing the excess with a dart? I am like you and prefer drafting my own patterns..,but I am also lazy… What about scouring old Burdas or something?

    • You mean my woven block or the knit block?

      I think my woven fitted top block is almost there. Still working on the matching sleeve block, but I’m pretty happy with the rest. It was based on Kenneth King’s Moulage, with some improvised tweaks. It’s very difficult to fit oneself though isn’t it. If you need to fit yourself, I’d definitely recommend making a paper tape double or use Fashion Incubator’s plastic wrap method to get a no ease flat pattern so you can get help once & use the result with future self-fit. Or next time you’re in London get in touch & I’d be happy to be your one-off fitting buddy!

      My knit block still needs a bit more work and testing. I think for my bust I’ll definitely need a dart, especially for less stretchy knits. The back pooling I think might require a CB seam or two vertical darts for tops that don’t go under the crotch (like bodysuits) nor have weight of a skirt to pull the back down. Still so much to experiment! I’ve tried using a basic Burda T-shirt pattern route (twice). But as they are are designed patterns rather than fitting patterns, it’s hard to tell how much design ease has been added where and what size to start off with. I wish all pattern companies offer fitting patterns so one can work out how much one deviates from their target shape, and therefore what fitting changes might be needed.

  3. Why not try the Nettie and if it DOESN’T work, try the SPS? That way you save yourself heaps of work if it does work, and only “waste” $15 or so if it doesn’t I have a faux-swayback from by big behind, and I can confirm that the pooling is NOT an issue with the Nettie 🙂

    • That’s good to hear – about Nettie & faux-swayback that is. I’m probably not going to tackle bodysuit immediately, so will sleep on it.

  4. Carol says:

    I’m pretty sure I have at least one of those DK patterns, but I’ve never made it up! I suspect they do provide a much sleeker fit, and not just for “sway back” issues, I really should revisit them. I stumbled upon the SPS site some time ago and was fascinated by it, there was a huge depth of knowledge very generously given. Based on the final blogs, he seemed to just move on and dropped it abruptly.

    • Oh you lucky gal! I don’t have either of those patterns. I just included them to illustrate DK bodysuits. Thought sewing pattern versions would be more interesting to you all than RTW versions. I like the more fitted versions from each (rather than the blousy versions). Look forward to your make!

      SPS, seem to have went down July 2013. There doesn’t seem to be much activity before it went down, so he probably just moved on & when his website hosting contract expired didn’t bother renewing it.

    • Hold on, don’t get too excite yet! There’s plenty of boring block muslin to come. Hopefully some of them will be wearable version rather than fit & ditch versions!

      • Ok, but as boring as blocks are, it makes (for me, anyways) very interesting reading because a) I’m too lazy to do it myself and love to read about your journey through each block and b) the process and alterations that you make are a gold mine of information. So, bring on the blocks!!! 😀

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