The Shop Company Professional Full Body Form Review


I’m so excited about my new full body form! I have been thinking about getting a professional full body form for quite awhile now. Although I had one of those flimsy plastic adjustable forms for years, it completely broke down last year and I had to part ways with her. A few months ago I contacted The Shop Company and asked about doing a collaboration and they kindly agreed to give me 50% off the price of the full body form. I was researching their forms and was planning to make the purchase myself either way, so I am pretty thrilled they agreed to work with me! The form is very well made and quite sturdy. I thought assembling the form would be difficult and take me hours, but it actually only took about 20 minutes.

I started right away working on a new pattern for a pair of overalls. I had the pants block ready to go, but I wanted to drape the rest of the pattern pieces on the form. Before I would have had to do this on my own body, which as you can imagine is a little difficult to do! This form is also pinnable, so it was easy to pin the tissue paper onto the form. The other feature I like is that it has collapsible shoulders. This means there is a spring inside the form at the shoulders. You press the shoulders together and they stay in place while you put your garment on. Then once the garment is on the form, you press the shoulders again to make them spring back into place. It’s very helpful! I also ordered the arms to go with the form, and they are easily removable as well.

As for which size to order, I kept going back and forth on the size. I read everywhere to order the smaller size and then pad up. The thing is, the bottom portion of the form was way smaller on the size that fit my top portion best. And I really didn’t want to cover up the form with lots of padding if the one measurement that was too big for me was the bust. Since I will be using the form primarily for pattern making, I decided that it would be okay to order the larger form in the end. So I ordered the one that was closest to my measurements in the lower portion and close enough everywhere else, except for the bust. So far the slightly larger bust hasn’t really been an issue. If you plan to make a lot of tight fitting garments, you might want to be cautious and order down a size and pad it where you need it. I suspect most people will need to pad the bust and to do that you can easily put one of your bras on the form if necessary. The backside is a little less padded than me, but that can be remedied with a bit of quilt batting!

I am very happy with the quality of this full body form and it has already helped me so much with the patterns I am working on. It is reasonably priced, compared to other quality forms and it is quite sturdy, so I think it will last me a long time. I feel like I have an extra helper in the studio!

The Shop Company has kindly agreed to give my readers a $15 discount on any Professional Dress Form! Just add the coupon code “anna_mcclurg” when ordering. You will also be offered a choice of a free gift (either a 10" Heavy Weight Shears, 8" Lightweight Shears, 4.5" Thread Snipper or 120" Retractable Tape Measure) when you check out.

What I Love About Vintage Sailor Pants


Sailor pants have been a classic style for both men and women since the early 20th Century. I wanted to walk through some of the key features of 1940's sailor pants that have made them so popular throughout the years, and show how these details influenced my Persephone pattern, a modern well-fitting adaptation of this minimal style.

The Persephone pants pattern is inspired by original US issue Navy sailor pants from the 1940's. In those days, the pants were made without a side seam, but in later years, you will notice that the side seam reappeared (I'm not sure whether the change was stylistic or utilitarian). I thought it would be helpful to compare the Persephone pants to an original pair from the 1940's and outline the key features that have made them great to wear, and show how they are now an accessible style for women who love to make their own clothes.

  • HIGH WAIST: Both the original sailor pants and the Persephone pants have a true high waist. Our waistlines have changed a lot over the years and most people wear their pants much lower, closer to their hips. But this is not the true waistline. I love a super high waist, and drafted my pattern to hit at the true waistline.
  • FITTED BACK: Many times, you'll see pictures of sailors wearing their dress whites with a more baggy fit in the rear. Even on modern women's wide-leg pants, the back can be problematic. I spent a lot of time perfecting the Persephone pants so they have a more flattering, feminine fit, and look great both from back and front.
  • NO SIDE SEAM: Original 1940's sailor pants did not have side seams, and I also wanted this minimal look for the Persephone pants. It took many pattern drafts before I came up with the exact fit I wanted. I love a straight side leg, which I believe aids in giving a super flattering fit through the hips and waist. 
  • SPACIOUS POCKETS: Original sailor pants had pockets that were shorter and more rectangular. When I drafted the first few pairs, I didn't think a whole lot about the pockets, except that I wanted the opening big enough to fit my hand. After wearing some of the first drafts, I noticed I put my iPhone in my pocket a lot. I don't know about you, but when I have mindless tasks to do throughout the day I like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. So when I made the final draft, I made sure the pocket is able to fit my massive smartphone (e.g., iPhone 6+). 
  • BUTTON FLY: Both the original sailor pants and the Persephone have a button fly. I personally love a good button fly and I'm always looking for ways to construct a garment which uses buttons over zippers (anyone else hate zippers?)! Button flies can be tricky to sew, but my pattern provides a clear and straightforward approach which will make you pleasantly surprised at how easy and fast it is to put together.
  • WIDE RANGE OF SIZES: Sailor pants can look great on all sizes, and I wanted my pattern to support this. The Persephone pants come in a wide array of sizes, from 0-20. Since the pattern was released, most sewers have found that my sizing guide works perfectly for them, but several have had to perform small adjustments to make these pants fit their bodies. I can provide advice on how to do this.*
  • SHORTS: I decided to include a shorts version in my pattern because I wanted it to be versatile for all seasons. Making a good pair of shorts can be more difficult than just the "cut-off" version of your favorite pants, so my pattern simplifies the process. I'm always looking for the perfect high waist shorts that aren't too short short (they are always too short!), but also not too long! I think the 4" inseam on the Persephone shorts is the perfect length, but of course they can easily be lengthened or shortened as desired.
  • 100% HANDMADE: Everything available in my shop is designed and constructed entirely by me. The feeling of having made the pants you're wearing is wonderfully empowering, and I want you to be able to experience that as well. Not only do you get to pick the color and fabric yourself, you can make any alterations to the pattern if necessary, so that they fit your own unique body! It's a great feeling wearing a pair of pants that fit you like a glove. 
I'm really proud of the Persephone pants pattern. It has been in the works for about 2 years, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed creating, wearing, and fine-tuning it.

Thank you to Morissa from bottleofbread for the use of her great images showing the original 1940's sailor pants

* One of the more common questions I get is how you would fit these pants with a much smaller waist to hip ratio. For this, you can cut the size that best fits your hips and then bring in an inch or two at the back darts and cut the smaller waistband to fit. Most people have had success with this method and haven't needed to add a side dart. If you have a fuller stomach, you can let out the front by re-drawing the opening so it is straighter and tapers less towards the waist.

Inspiration for the Persephone Sailor Pants + Shorts


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Today I wanted to talk a little bit about my new sewing pattern, the Persephone Pants + Shorts. I have been working on these pants for what feels like an eternity! In reality, it's been almost two years since I began drafting the original pattern. That pattern has gone through so many alterations since I first drafted it! I have learned so much about pants in the last year. I finally got the fit I was looking for and with the encouragement of several people, I decided to release my pattern into the world! I have been dreaming of a high waisted wide leg sailor pants pattern for years. I love the silhouette of the high waisted wide leg trousers from the 1930's and '40s. I wanted to create a modern interpretation of these pants, that were less baggy and much more fitted throughout the waist and hips. I think they can be so flattering on many different body types. I also personally love non-stretch pants and jeans and I haven't found a lot of home sewing patterns that were drafted specifically for non-stretch fabrics. Although this pattern was originally intended for non-stretch fabrics only, several of my wonderful pattern testers decided to use 3-5% stretch and they turned out absolutely fabulous! So really, it's up to you to decide what kind of fabric you want to use. I've been enjoying these pants made in a 10oz cotton canvas. I feel like it's heavy enough to hold everything in place, but it still has some movement and it's not quite as constricting as a 12oz or 15oz weight fabric. It's fun to experiment. I know I am looking forward to sewing some shorts and pants in a heavy linen this summer. But I am also thinking about making a pair of denim pants, maybe with a cut-off frayed hem. I love sewing because it gives me the power to make whatever I envision. The possibilities are limitless! 

The Persephone Pants + Shorts are available as a sewing pattern for home sewers or if you don't sew, they are also available for purchase in my shop. If you want to share your Persephone pants or shorts on social media, feel free to use the hashtag #persephonepants 

Thread Loop Tutorial


Here's a 4 minute video I created on how to handsew a thread loop. This video was filmed for the instructions in my Heidi Pullover sewing pattern

Sailor pants and an upcoming sewing pattern...


Some of you who follow me on Instagram know I've been working on a pattern for wide leg sailor pants for over a year now. I thought the first pair was already pretty good, until I wore them more and discovered they were really very uncomfortable! Those pants were drafted using my measurements, but as I've learned through this exhausting process, things don't always fit as expected.  Even when pants fit, they may not look good or they have wrinkles in odd places. The fitting is especially difficult with non-stretch fabrics. I also wanted them to be very fitted in the waist and hips, with a high waist, where the waistband sits at the natural waistline.

Most people think a high waist is at or just below your belly button, because we're so used to wearing pants at the hip. But the natural waist usually hits a couple of inches above the belly button. I know this from all the years of sewing and studying historical clothing. In the mid-19th century, the waistline on a dress would sit at or just above the natural waistline. It's essentially the smallest part of your waist.

I really wanted these pants to have a very high fitted waist, without front darts or hip shaping. I love the sailor pants men wore in the early to mid 20th century. If you've ever looked at a pair of sailor pants from that era, they don't have side seams! So essentially, there is no hip shaping in these. Obviously those pants were designed for a man's body, but I wanted to see if I could borrow from that design while also making them flattering on a woman's more curvy shape.  I wondered if there was a pattern for men's 1940's US sailor pants without the side seams, so I googled around and couldn't come up with anything. I decided to embark on the journey of drafting my own version. Countless muslins and several pants that are almost, but not quite good enough later and more drafting and MORE muslins and more fitting and... I think I finally have a pattern that I'm happy with! (Knock on wood...)

The pictures you see here are the pants I sewed up yesterday. I used a 10oz twill, which isn't actually what I want to use for the final pants. But I'm waiting on the fabric I ordered and this was all I had on hand. I also annoyingly forgot to cut the pants in a single layer (to help prevent "leg skew"). I still have the buttons to install, but so far they seem to fit quite well, despite possible leg skew.... I'm going to be making another pair in a 10oz cotton canvas which is what I plan to use for my final version. I also ordered a few other weights that I'm going to be experimenting with. We'll see how it goes and if it works as planned, I will start grading this pattern!

It has already been a huge challenge (which I never expected when I started), but on the plus side, bigger challenges generally produce the most rewarding results. At least that's what I keep telling myself!! I didn't want to rush this pattern and I still want to make sure it's just as I envision it before continuing to the next step. When I began this whole thing, it was simply so that I could have a pair of flattering wide leg pants for myself. But after posting pictures to my Instagram of my first draft over a year ago, I've had a lot of people ask me about a pattern. So you guys, that's the plan! I would love to say it will be ready in the spring or summer (or even earlier??) but I'm not going to push my luck. I'll take it one step at a time and maybe that means I'll work on another, more simple pattern if this one ends up taking more time. Maybe I'll be surprised and it will go smoothly from here on out!

If you're an intermediate to advanced sewer and are interested in testing my pattern, feel free to send me an email! I won't make the official call for pattern testers until I have the pattern graded and instructions written, but if you want to be notified when it's ready for testing, let me know and you'll be first in line!

If you've actually read this far, I applaud you! I wanted to just write what came naturally to mind, like I used to. I've been feeling more like blogging again and I'm going to try to find my voice, which I feel has been lost through the years. Instagram is lovely, but I don't feel like I can write very much in each picture and I find I need a place again to share more of my thoughts and ideas. I have so many ideas! Hopefully I will find time more often to write them down in this space. I hope to do lots more writing and creating in the new year. I hope whoever reads this will have a wonderful warm and happy holiday!

ANNA ALLEN CLOTHING: HOLIDAY 2017 (20% off through December 3rd!)



Ingrid Black and White Gingham Dress

Ingrid Denim Pullover Top 

Lisbet Navy Floral Blouse

Ester Navy and Red Plaid Tartan Blouse

Lisbet Rust Floral Blouse

It's finally here! My mini Holiday Collection! I'm very happy with how it turned out and I hope you will be as well! This little collection took me much longer than I anticipated, but life happens sometimes and I think it's always better not to rush things. I'm glad I took some extra time to get everything just right and I'm excited to finally share it with you!

Also! To celebrate the launch, I'm taking 20% off the entire Holiday Collection for ONE DAY only! Use code "HOLIDAY" at checkout.  Some people had trouble with the coupon yesterday so I am extending the sale! This sale includes everything in my shop! Just use the code "HOLIDAY20" to receive 20% off your purchase today through Sunday (12-3-17). The fabrics for this collection are limited (especially the floral printed navy and rust Lisbet blouses) so if you have your eye on something, don't wait too long. I may not be able to reorder that particular fabric when my stash runs out!



Non-Stretch Jeans


I'm finally putting up some pictures I took a few weeks ago of these non-stretch jeans I made for myself. I used a self-drafted pants pattern I recently re-worked. I am contemplating making this into a sewing pattern to sell, but I'm also wondering if we really need yet another jeans pattern on the market. Plus I'm no expert in sewing jeans! To be honest, I actually prefer the look of factory made jeans. I absolutely love a good pair of vintage style Levi's. It's hard to make jeans at home without it looking "homemade" unless you're using a dark indigo denim and then you let it fade naturally over the course of a year or more. I don't wear dark denim hardly ever anymore, thanks to my fluffy white/grey cat! And in my experience, dark denim always seems to rub off onto my furniture. I also like the way a good medium to light faded stonewash denim looks on me compared to dark denim. But I am so very happy with the fit of these jeans and I really think others might find a non-stretch pants or jeans pattern useful. I am leaning towards more of a non-stretch pants pattern, which you could easily convert to a jeans pattern if you wanted. I might fiddle around with this some more, perhaps make it up in a slightly different style or fabric. I'm thinking of changing the front pockets to a style a bit more flattering, perhaps slant side seam pockets. Let me know if you would be interested in a pants pattern like this. What do you think of wearing non-stretch jeans? Have you sewn your own jeans before? Did you find it difficult to sew or more difficult to fit? I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. The shirt I'm wearing is the Heidi Pullover pattern. Also, there's a 30% off site-wide sale through the end of October. Use code: "OCTOBER" at checkout.

Autumn Scenes


While most my friends in other parts of the country have been complaining of the warmth, here in Colorado it has been cold and rainy for weeks now. Yesterday was a bit warmer and the sun was out, so we decided to drive over to Golden Colorado, where it's generally much warmer and sunnier than other parts of the state. It was a gorgeous fall day and the hike was so lovely with fall colors starting to pop up everywhere. Here are a few scenes from the first day of October. I think I'm finally ready to embrace the fall weather. Bring out the sweaters and wool socks!