Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our Adventure!

It all started when I found tips on the Stitcher’s Guild website where people referred to their Sure Fit Designs body blueprints as the starting point for their new garments. While people around the globe were using Sure Fit Designs, many of the garments were from people living in Australia, and the more I saw, the more I thought that each garment fit the designer quite well. Everyone raved about the magic “Glenda.”  

As I did more and more investigation, I found the Sure Fit Designs system and Glenda Sparling. There were multiple kits offered for dresses, pants, shirts, children’s wear, and also design leaflets to allow you to make other garments from what she calls your “body blueprint,” known to most of us as a sloper or block.

I purchased the dress, (for the bodice) a shirt, and a pants kit. I worked on the bodice through multiple muslins, never getting the fit quite right. It may have been due to having measurements that were slightly off. AHEM. My wonderful husband happens to be much better at wood measurements than he is at human body measurements.

The Sure Fit Design system starts with a basic block, and has “dots” that you utilize to draft a made to measure bodice. The system goes from very tiny to large enough to fit most of us. Glenda also has designed a stylus that she sells along with the kits that is like all the French curves in one, and includes a slot along each edge that gives you a 5/8’ seam allowance when used correctly.

Looking around the Sure Fit Designs website, I found that Glenda offers a 6 day retreat in Oregon for fitting both bodices and pants. As I contemplated a visit for expert fitting help and more in depth information on the Sure Fit Design system, I got more and more convinced that was the answer I had been looking for.

My friend Barbara and I have done multiple classes together at the JC, and find our personalities and outlooks to be similar. I knew if I did this, I wanted a “buddy” to come with me, and couldn’t imagine it not being Barbara.

Both Barbara and I have taken flat pattern at Santa Rosa Junior College. I found the class to be a wonderful inspiration, but was never quite happy with the fit of my slopers. As I’ve aged and various issues have come into play, I’ve had more and more difficulty fitting my unique shape and body. I know for most of us fitting is such a huge issue and prevents so many making their own clothing.  

Our adventure began Saturday morning very early. Barbara left home around shortly after 5 am, picked me up, and we were on the road to beautiful Eugene, Oregon around 6 am. This was my first “sewing workshop” out of town, and my first trip north of the bay area, not to mention my first “girl’s road trip.”  

There were five students, Glenda and her new in training assistant Jayna in our class. One of the women had come all the way from Lexington, Kentucky, one was from outside Auburn, Washington, and one was local, from Springfield, Oregon, as well as Barbara and I from the greater San Francisco Bay area.  Glenda has arrangements with the local Residence Inn for a very special rate during her workshops, so we had a wonderful two bedroom, two bath suite for the price of a regular room.

 The Group. Kathleen, Joann, Lynda, Glenda, Jayna, Denise and Barbara

We were up every morning at 6 am, and at Our Sewing Room in Springfield by 8:30 am. It’s such a fantastic place that every city and town should have one. It’s a wonderful huge studio with everything sewing. We had irons, cutting tables, sewing machines, sergers, and all the necessary tools to complete our “body blueprints.”


Our Sewing Room, Eugene, Oregon
Glenda Sparling, owner and designer of Sure Fit Designs met us bright and early each day. We’d all brought our kits with us for a bodice and pants as well as fabric for muslins, and knits for yoga pants and a tank top.

The first morning we all got measured expertly so the rest of the week was for drafting our patterns and fitting our muslins. Pants were first. As you can see from the group picture, we were all sizes and shapes. Kathleen on the left, is maybe 5 foot tall if she stretches. Barbara was the tallest, at least with her hair done. We had three days for pants and three days for bodices.  

We learned many tips in helping to fit our bodies. Three of us wound up making a seam down the center back and center front of our pants for more fitting opportunities. Kathleen got pants that fit her height without having “knees” at the hem level. It was a very eye opening session. We spent time fitting our body blueprints and doing muslins. Once those were complete, we were shown how to go down a “dot” to make a yoga pant. The third day was for making yoga pants or continuing to get your woven sloper perfected. The triple mirror was very helpful in seeing all sides of the picture! I think this was the day Glenda came in the morning and told Barbara, “I’ve been thinking about your crotch all night!” It got a good laugh all around. 

The fourth morning we started with bodices. Four of the five of us were rather voluptuous, and Glenda had been thinking of the best way to fit us all. On top of everything else, I have very bodacious biceps that have to be taken into consideration as the bodice is being fit so the sleeves will fit into the armscyes without having miles of extra fabric to ease in.  

Glenda had four of us start one size larger than our measurements for the front, and one size smaller for the back, while leaving the neck and shoulder area at the actual measurement. It worked like a dream. Although there was some tweaking of the bodices for a perfect fit, we all wound up with a perfectly fitting bodice and sleeve.

Yoo Hoo! A bodice and sleeves that fit!

Thursday, we adapted our bodice slopers for a tank top, and were to move the dart to a different area for fitting. The balance of the day, we could work on yoga pants or our tank tops.

As you can see, I worked on my tank top. I really don’t wear knit pants except for pajamas, and wanted the tank top fitted. I did a French dart, and Glenda was so thrilled with it that she actually sent me a photo collage!

Although it fits quite well, I’m not thrilled with my side and back photos, but I think you can see why I needed some extra fitting help!

On our way home, we needed to make a stop in Ashland, and just happened to hit a quilting store, Fabrics of Vision, and found Diane Erickson’s studio. A few little pieces of fabric might have found their way into my fabric stash. They just might make an appearance in my 2014 SWAP.

We had such a good time and I think both of us are quite thrilled with our results. If you have a yen for designing your own clothes, or just would like to have a great sloper as a jumping off point, I highly recommend Sure Fit Designs! And if you want a sewing getaway that will leave you with a great sense of satisfaction, consider a Sure Fit Designs retreat.




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