Craftsy Class: Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon

I am excited about my newest Craftsy class: I am taking Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. It seems like the perfect class for me because Fast Track Fitting shows you how to measure yourself and how to measure pattern pieces so you can alter your pattern pieces to closely match your own body’s sewing measurements. This process should help you escape the endlessly making muslins cycle, so you can have wearable garments more quickly and easily.

My Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for
My Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for my new online sewing class

So far I am starting with altering the skirt on the pattern included with the class (Vogue 1004 fitting shell). I am doing the skirt first because I had to order a second pattern in a different size for the sleeve and bodice. The pattern alterations I made were to make the waist bigger (ugh) and to raise the hip line. Using Joi Mahon’s tips directly from the Fast Track Fitting Class, I altered the front of the skirt and the back of the skirt separately. So, I proportionately increased the size of the front of the skirt more than the back. This should help the skirt fit the unfortunate “fullness” on the front of my abdomen (AKA fat), since I carry extra weight around my middle.

I am going to work on altering this skirt to fit, with the help of the craftsy class and also Pattern Review.

So what are Craftsy Classes all about? Here are the details, directly from Craftsy:

What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.Why should I take a class online?
Online education isn’t just for schools and universities anymore. Craftsy courses provide you the convenience of a world-class instructor in your home, whenever you want to learn.

free sewing classes online at
Online education, no matter what subject, is a great alternative to in-person classes for a number of reasons. With many online learning opportunities being on-demand, you are able to learn at your own pace, anytime. Online learning is a fantastic alternative to in-store craft classes for people with busy schedules or who have difficulty leaving the house. It also allows you to watch a troubling section over-and-over again, so you can see exactly how a technique is carried out, or refer back to your class for relevant concepts before beginning any new projects.


Skirt from Craftsy's Fast Track Fitting
Skirt from Craftsy’s Fast Track Fitting. Needs work, but at least it fits on my body.

So far I am happy with this class. The video format has easy question and answer interactivity with the instructor Joi Mahon. I wish the class had more examples of altering pattern measurements on a model using real numbers, but I guess that would have added too much time to the class videos.

I am like taking online sewing classes, especially since there are not a lot of sewing classes near me and I don’t know anyone who sews. Craftsy offers refunds if you are not happy with a class after you purchase it. Craftsy even has free classes for you to try out.


Side Seam moves forward on Skirt for Vogue 1004 in Craftsy Fast Track Fitting online class
Side view of Fitting Shell. See how the side seam moves forward? Need to fix this in the Fast Track Fitting Class

vogue 1004 fitting shell back view skirt craftsy fast track fitting
Back view of Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for Craftsy “Fast Track Fitting”
v1004 vogue 1004 fitting shell craftsy fast track fitting
Vogue 1004 Fitting Shell

Craftsy Class: Beginner Serging: Exposed Zipper Bag

My latest sewing project is the “Exposed Zipper Bag” from the Craftsy Online Beginner Serging Class. So far I love this class. It is appropriate for the serger novice like me. The Exposed Zipper Bag is fully-lined squared off small pouch with pull tabs at each end of the zipper. It would be a perfect pencil case or makeup bag for a quick sewing project. Um, my bag is missing the pull tabs. I am going to call this a design element rather than a mistake.

Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class
Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class

Even though my serging is still totally sloppy and uneven it is miles better than it was before I started this class. I couldn’t thread my serger, so it sat in my closet untouched. Now I am wondering if I will need a better serger someday (hmm a Babylock with auto tension?). FYI, if you are buying a sewing machine or serger it is important to look up the sewing machine review and the price that others pay for their machines first on Pattern Review, and to also post the price that you paid. The retail price is apparently kept secret by the manufacturers and customers have to negotiate price with dealers. Lame.

The Exposed Zipper Bag is the first project in the Craftsy class for serging. I haven’t done the other projects (a multi-ruffled apron and a scarf) yet. The instructor of the class does a great job, so I think I will complete these classes too. Plus the Craftsy website is actually very user friendly. The instructional videos are easy for a student to use because they let you replay a part of the video over and over automatically so you can understand that tough new technique. The videos integrate student questions and so far the instructors seem very responsive to questions.

I needed a lot of help start serging at all. I found a few websites that helped me develop some remedial serger skills. The post on Fiberosity (Serger 101) helped with basic information and balancing tensions. The post on Make it Handmade (Perfecting Serger/Overlocker tension) was particurally helpful with threading advice and stitch length and stitch width information.

This was a fun project that didn’t take long. I plan on making more of these, perhaps in some sort of waterproof fabric. I hope everyone like their Christmas presents!

Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag
Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag

craftsy beginner serging exposed zipper bag

craftsy serging project 1 exposed zipper bag open

Lynda Maynard’s replay to question about wrinkles on back!

I really needed a concrete plan to get rid of the wrinkles on my back, so I posted a question on Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect Fit question forum, along with a picture of my back from muslin 3 on my last post.  So, now I have a plan.  Here is the question and the reply:muslin 3 back

Side posted on Apr 12, 2013: Hi Lynda, Do you think these wrinkles on my back are caused by excess length, insufficient width or both? The bodice feels comfortable on my body, and seems to be hitting at my waist.

Lynda Maynard responded: Hi Side, The upper balance is arcing up as it nears center back, which indicates that there may be slight roundness in the upper back. The bodice appears to be too tight. I would recommend releasing the side seams so the back will “hang” properly. Then, place extra fabric strips in the side openings and redraw the seamlines. You will also need to redraw the waistline seam. Lynda

Check out Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect Fit.

Crafty’s “The Perfect Fit,” Muslins 2 and 3

Of course I’m still working on muslins! You didn’t think I was ready to make an actual garment, did you?  Oh well, it will all be worth it when I have a sloper  to help me see what changes I need to make to other patterns.  Warm weather is just about here in Texas, and I would like to have some nice-fitting dresses and skirts to wear, not things that are embarrassing.

I broke down and ordered two new physical sewing books- Vogue Sewing: Revised and Updated and Clotilde’s Sew Smart.  I have high hopes for Sew Smart.  But, now I’ll have to get rid of two other books to avoid clutter.  I wish more books were available as ebooks…

My muslins are coming along!  Here is my second muslin, which incorporates the changes I made  to the first muslin- a full bust adjustment and taking out a wedge from the back:Craftsy muslin 2 back Craftsy muslin 2 side

Craftsy Muslin 2
Craftsy Muslin 2


You can see that there are still a lot of issues here- the drawn-on balance lines are supposed to be hanging straight.  There is bagginess above my bust, a strong fold or wrinkle heading from my bust to my back, wrinkles on my back, and the balance line under my bust heads down at the sides.  On the plus side, it seems to be hitting at the waist.

I fiddled with this endlessly.  To do this, I undid one side seam and both front darts on that side, and played around with getting a good fit while the bodice was on my body.  I tried to lower the front side dart and move the vertical side dart out a bit, so that the darts point to the fullest part of the bust.

I made another major change in order to try to get a slimmer fit below my bust and get rid of some back wrinkles- instead of simply pinching out the excess evenly, I tried wrapping the sides according to this method.  I think armhole balance is the source of some of my back fitting problems.  I focused on getting the balance lines that weren’t altered by the different darts straight and keeping the very front waist at the waist.  This method really shows the difference in length between the front and the back (the waist is marked by the lowest blue line; the very large seam allowance exaggerates the difference:Craftsy muslin 2 armhole balance

This method enlarged the armscye quite a bit- (maybe too much? I’ll deal with it later), so the distance between my armpit is reduced quite a bit- about 2 inches.  I drew in a new waistline and side seam.  I also ended up taking a vertical wedge out of the back to reduce the width a bit.  Tracing muslin 2 changes back

I traced the changes from the muslin using my wax tracing paper from Richard the Thread. This stuff is so much better than the terrible wax-free tracing paper they sell in stores.  It’s large enough to actually work with, and doesn’t leave a oh-so-annoying colored chalk stain on your fabric.


Here’s the third muslin. Muslin 3 frontIt  isn’t perfect, but it muslin 3 backis more form-fitting on front torso below the bust.  Muslin 3 side Muslin 3 arms raised side The strong diagonal wrinkle or fold heading from my underbust to my side is mostly gone, and the bust horizontal balance line is essentially level.

It might be a little overfitted- I  think this is causing the wrinkles on the lower bodice.   I plan on letting out the front vertical darts a bit to correct this.  But, I could be wrong.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised by the placement of the front vertical darts- I wanted them to be further apart, but instead they start closer to my center, and curve out as they head up.  I can’t tell if they look like a nice style detail, or just make my torso look wider. I’ll try to fix them on my next muslin. I changed the side seams quite a bit, so I need to check if they are going straight up and down- right now, they seem to be good…but maybe they are creeping forward a bit?

I have several goals for my next muslin:

1) Now  I can see that the shoulder seams are too far back.  I’m going to move them forward so that they are nicely centered.

2) I think the shoulder straps need to be a bit narrower.

3) The front neckline has some ripples that I need to get rid of.

4) I need to see about getting rid of the wrinkles on the front of the bodice. Letting out the front vertical darts a bit might take care of this. Or, the wrinkles could just be caused by being worn on the body. At this point, I can’t tell.

5) Move the front vertical darts outward, and make sure they are actually vertical

6) Possibly move the front horizontal darts down a bit.  I hate to mess with them because I’ve already spent so much time on them…but, I think they might be a bit high on me?

7) Take care of the bagginess above my bust. I’m not sure if I need to adjust the shoulder slope and length to do this, or need to actually pin out a wedge of fabric in this area  Or, I could be misinterpreting the problem entirely.  What do you guys think?:muslin 3 front wedge above bust







8) Get rid of more back wrinkles!  I think this might be a length issue (still!), but pinning out a horizontal wedge seems to raise the waist too much.  I know the waist is dipping down by the zipper- that is my fault for drawing it on incorrectly.  Do I just need to shorten the back some more? Or, it there a better solution?

The bodice seems to feel nice on my body, so I don’t think I need more width. BUT, I could be wrong- maybe these are horizontal strain lines from not enough width?   What do you guys think? I don’t want to look like a stuffed sausage!



Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect Fit, First Bodice Muslin

Vogue 8766 line drawing
Vogue 8766 line drawing-I’m making version D, with sleeves from F

I  am taking Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect fitting class! This class uses Vogue 8766 as a fitting shell. The pattern isn’t one I would normally choose for myself- I think I look better in V-necks because they help balance out my figure, which is top-heavy.  But, I can see why the teacher, Lynda Maynard, chose it- the pattern is  nice and simple, without a lot of details to get in the way of fitting.  There are some options for fuller skirts, but I will be making the straight skirt option, probably with 3/4 sleeves.

The class emphasizes tracing or copying the pattern instead of cutting into the pattern itself.  This is a good habit that I need to start. It also emphasizes the importance of having vertical and horizontal balance lines on your project.  This helps you to figure out where the project is hanging correctly and where it is not. The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting  emphasizes this as well. Using extra-large seam allowances is important, so you have room to make changes on your muslin.

I recently asked for help fitting my last project (which I have now abandoned for good) on the blog and on Pattern Review, and got some great responses!  For one, I need to go up a size.  Yes, this is painful to admit- but size is just a number, and overly tight clothes never look good. Size 14, here I come.  I have been lying to myself- and for what reason? Because society wants women to weaken themselves through starvation?  Ugh. Why buy into that?  It is a bit annoying technically, because the difference in my upper and lower halves means I have to grade from a 14 up top to about a 10 at my hips, but I guess I’ll figure it out eventually.

The first adjustment I made was to add a shoulder pad on my right shoulder only.  Longtime readers know that I messed up my shoulder by sleeping on my side too much, so now my right shoulder is lower than my left.  Let this be a lesson to you!  Sleep on your back.  I have of course been ignoring this and hoping it would go away- but, sewing is about being honest with what you have to do to look your best. To look my best, I need to admit my problem, and fix it with a shoulder pad on one side only.  (Please note that for the muslin, the shoulder pad is not sewn in, just placed on my shoulder).

Craftsy First Muslin FrontCraftsy First Muslin Side Craftsy First Muslin Back



Going up a size does make a difference- the armholes are less tight, and there isn’t a huge amount of strain across my bust.

The first thing to do is assess the shoulder seems- they shouldn’t show up at shoulder level from either the front or the back- if they show, they need to be moved either forward or backward. I think mine are OK. There’s still some unevenness in the shoulder height, but the shoulder pad helps.

You can see from the horizontal line under my bust that the bodice is riding up a bit. The waist is a little high, especially in front. This also shows up from the side on the line above my bust.  There is bagginess on my torso under my bust, a diagonal drag line from my bust to my waist. There is too much fabric on my back, perhaps caused by excess length.

The first change I made was a full bust adjustment, cutting horizontally into the fabric above my bust, and angling the cut down at the sides. This allows the fabric to relax and spread apart.  I adjusted the lowered part of the bodice, letting it settle where it seemed to fit, and pinned in a piece of fabric to secure this more flattering fit. Full Bust Adjustment Front  This brings the waist, especially the front waist, lower down.  I added a little more length later, but didn’t get a picture.

I am not a fitting model, so one change isn’t going to do it for me.  Once I did the full bust adjustment, I worked on the baggy back.  I think my problem here is that my back is shorter than the fitting models, so I pulled the fabric down and  pinned out a horizontal wedge across my lower mid back.  This really helped!  My goal was to reduce the amount of horizontal fabric, without really changing where the back waist was hitting.

Once I was happier with the back, I needed to address the bagginess at my sides.  To to this, I simply pinched the sides in a bit and pinned. This was effective in adding shape and definition.   I may deepen the darts more in the next muslin if I need more shape.

After this, I realized the bodice is sitting a bit high on my shoulders.  To reduce length here, I pinched the shoulder seams up and pinned out the excess. Craftsy multiple adjustments frontCraftsty First muslin multiple adjustments sideCraftsy first muslin, multiple adjustments back One shoulder is pinned on the outside, one is pinned on the right side.

The muslin is much better now!  The waist is closer to  where it should be, the back is smoother and has less excess fabric, and the lower section is less baggy.   There are still some issues that I need to resolve in the second muslin: it is a bit loose on my upper bust, there is a diagonal drag line under my bust (that is much more horizontal than before, which I guess is good?), and some wrinkles on my back.  I need to assess if the shoulder seems need to be wider so that the outside shoulder seem hits where my arm hinges onto my side.  My breasts appear to be a different heights here- this is caused by the asymmetrical pinning in of fabric for the bust adjustment, and should resolve itself naturally when I make the second muslin.

Now comes the hard part- transferring my changes to the pattern.  The Craftsy class is excellent at showing you how to do this.  I am not overly impressed with the class in terms of it showing you what the problem areas are and how to fix them.  I guess this is inevitable thought, because there are endless figure variations, so logistcally speaking, one class simply won’t be able to deal with all of them.  You’ll still need  a book or a teacher to point out what your particular problems are and what adjustments you make to correct them.