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!