The Power of Play!

I love this!  Thank you, Amanda!

Creative Energy..

From my friend, Amanda Neighbors.  Designer.

“I learned to dance with the elephant in the room”.  The magnitude of the “big, mama elephant”? Well, Amanda's challenge is certainly bigger than most.  Ahh….with a huge breath and a prayer, my advice; 

“Just keep sewing, Amanda.  Creativity WORKS!!   Creativity has taken me through tough stuff I never thought I would face.  Creativity heals mind, body and soul because it’s positive energy.  In my life, creating  really simple clothes that I can top stitch or detail like crazy  fills the day with something fabulous…and the best and worst of times.

The concept is simple: You'll have patterns for one basic top, one basic dress, one basic jacket/coat, one basic skirt, and one basic pant.  From each pattern; the clothes can be slouchy, they can be easy, they can be fitted, they can be layered.  The patterns will be changed one hundred + times, and, always...Comfortable and powerful clothes.

Amanda is a shining star in my life.  You’ll love these pictures of a beautiful lady who has truly mastered the art of PLAY… Amanda has an amazing story.  She has overcome obstacles that have disrupted her life in every way.  But…through the challenges, Amanda has creatively mastered PLAY!  We love you and your spirit, Amanda!  Thank you for showing us “how to dance…even when the elephant is in the room”.   Amanda in her dress... and  Amanda’s Story…Click here

 Amanda Neighbors, Ft. Worth, TX.

So whether or not we are dodging or dancing…

We DO have fitting challenges…and the answer all starts with simplicity.   I am not a teacher; and this is not a draping class.  At all.  My draping technique is this:  #1 Cut out my most basic pattern that resembles the vision in my head, #2 Put it on my dress form #3 Play   Way too simple!

Let’s do this!

Our bodies are all so different, but the rules are all the same.  (I will keep saying this.) The different body types used in the pictures represent a target market of 24 to 35 and since I am beyond that age group…let’s extend this to “ageless, timeless clothes”.  If the bust is lower, make sure the form is smaller and build out the bust with the Bust Pads at the lowest position.If you need to raise the shoulders in order to make the bust even lower; then bump up the shoulders with the Shoulder Pads to elongate the bust.  If your bottom got flatter; build out the thighs and the bottom on your dress form will match.  If your waist does not exist; create “no torso” by bringing the Side Back Pads down to the indentation of the waist.  Raise or lower the waist tape to match your vertical waist position.

fabric and curves...

Create blouses to infinity...#1 address the shoulder slant, the upper chest, and the armhole positions. The most common issue I hear is creating beautiful bust lines.   Although the bodies will have different pressure points for movement, the adjustment is the same.  We’ll use the bust as an example, but the rule would also apply to square wide shoulders where the arm might show pressure at the sleeve. When the fabric pulls across the bust, you’ll feel the blouse slipping back, see creases under the arms, and a shoulder slant that doesn’t match the shoulders. By releasing the fabric of the pull, the fabric will fall naturally over the curve.

Once the correct chest position and shoulder slant are determined, the sleeve and armhole will need to be matched to the crease of the arm

The adjustment on the bodice at the armhole will change the line at the arm crease.   Re-trace the line to match the original armhole, which will then once again, match the sleeve.If the sleeve pulls, you can make the adjustment by releasing the fabric to straighten the grainline and fill in the space both on the bodice and on the sleeve.  Remember:  For every action there is a reaction.  If you remove a pull on the bodice you must make the same adjustment on the sleeve at the same point.  Making an adjustment on the bodice and then trying to match the sleeve will not work.  Make the exact same adjustment on the sleeve that you have on the bodice…and at the same point.

I love this alteration for large bust lines, and it also works for a straight bodice cut on medium and even small silhouettes.   This is an amazing alteration to play with and try on many different shapes.   The cut creates a slouchy look for smaller people with broad shoulders, and tailored for the size it was meant for.  (Hmmm…I am always amazed by why works so well on so many different bodies.)

The sleeve is important in movement, of course, but most of the problems that will ever arise are in the bodice.  This is where balance starts.

You’ll see that with only slight alterations, you can change the bodice from the straight grain to the bias.  Be sure to check the fabric as silk, for example, will fall much closer to the body (and therefore smaller in size) on the bias than linen.  The bust position can be higher or lower according to the dart on the side.

For a blouse with a more defined bust line, create princess seams to follow the curve and cut the fabric on the straight grain.   You can make all of the adjustments, right on your dress form.

Even though the blouse is cut from exactly the same pattern, (that we have sliced and played with), the balance will fit many shapes.  In manufacturing, the key is finding the balance in fit, according to the size ratio of your target market.

Finding the target market and the balance for every shape in each size range is no easy task!   But…it is a million dollar pattern when you take the time to do this. More than.   If you are a designer, you must PLAY on every different body shape.   Don’t even think about not doing that!

The bias cut slouch blouse is my newest fav by far.   Not having enough pins for the side I walked away from the dress form for the pins and saw the droop.  Loved it…so tried it on all the bodies and yes, this was good.   It has ease built into the side seams rather than a defined dart, and it gives a layered slouchy, square body look.  Design takes its own path when you focus on the grainline or go with a mistake.  

To review.

You know why the collar slips back…right? 
You know why the bodice twists…right? 
You know why the shoulder pulls…right?
And you know why the blouse pokes out in front…right? 
You also know how to fix it…right?

If you missed this, email us immediately (with pictures)... at

You probably can guess where we will be going with this pattern; slicing and changing, adding sleeves and turning it into a dress.  In order to do the dress…we’ll need a simple skirt.  I LOVE THESE SKIRTS!  Easy, sh-measy, skirts!!    next...

Thank you!

Jill Ralston 

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