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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. My family was sick during the holiday, and we are still on the mend, but we still pulled ourselves together long enough for an egg hunt.




I have been reducing the clutter in my house, and sharing the results with you in my power of less series. I will finish off national craft month, with crafty decluttering.

For me, having no space to craft is the most discouraging barricade to crafting. When my craft “studio” is a mess, nothing gets done until the clutter is cleared.

This decluttering was simply reestablishing my pre existing organizational system, rather than an overhaul of that system. I’m pretty happy with the results.

As national craft month comes quickly to a close, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite crafty podcasts.


3) Destination DIY
Destination DIY is a independently produced radio show from Oregon, US that is also released as a podcast. It tackles a variety of crafty topics, from maker fair to crafting disasters. The professional quality of this podcast makes it a joy to listen to. Unfortunately it is not produced very often.


2) iMake
iMake is a multi-craft podcast from Guernsey, an island dependency of the UK. It usually consists of a craft segment, and a segment about Guernsey itself. My favorite thing about this podcast is the range of crafts it covers, some of which I had not heard previous to this podcast.

Electric Sheep

1) Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep is a knitting podcast, featuring pattern reviews, knitting essays, a ninja sheep, Molotov chickens, and beards. This smart and funny podcast from London, England, is the only crafty podcast that Fire Beard has ever willingly listened to, even the kids like the yearly audio panto at Christmas Time.

In celebration of national craft month check out some of these entertaining crafty podcasts!

As I said in my previous post, while working on the Taffy blouse from Colette Patterns I became a bit disenchanted with the Full Bust Adjustment, and decided to try the small shoulder adjustment instead. It worked beautifully, and now I am ready to share with you the method and the results.

I began by copying the front and back bodice pieces that corresponded to my full bust measurement. On the copy I also traced the upper portion of the pattern size corresponding to my high bust measurement. At the bottom of the armscye, I blended the smaller shoulder into the larger side seam. This new line was my new armscye.


If the length of the new armscye was more than 1.5 inches bigger than the sleeve, then the sleeve cap would have to be adjusted to compensate for the new size of the armsyce as well. Fortunately, that was not the case with this sleeve cap, and no adjustments had to be made. Frankly the idea of adjusting the sleeve cap of this bizarrely shaped sleeve is the stuff of nightmares, and I thanked God that it didn’t have to be adjusted.

The initial tissue fitting indicated that I was pretty close to a great fit, and a muslin indicated that it was nearly perfect. Here is the result.


I think that a comparison of the FBA adjustment and the small shoulder adjustment makes the difference in fit pretty apparent. The armsyce is really distorted after the large FBA, but looks pretty normal after the small shoulder adjustment.


Like nearly all pattern adjustments the small shoulder adjustment can be done in more than one way. My way, is simply that, my way. It is not necessarily the best way, or the “correct” way, but it is what worked for me, and I will continue using it, until I find something that works better.

Most sewing patterns base the measurements of their sizes on an imaginary ideal person. Her bust is a B cup, her full bust measurement is equal to her hip measurement, and her waist is 10 inches smaller than her full bust or hip. It is usually recommended that those sewers whose bust is larger than a b cup adjust their pattern using a full bust adjustment to accommodate their larger busts.

For those people whose busts are larger than a B cup, and their full busts are larger than their hips, I highly recommend this adjustment. But what about those, like me, whose busts are larger than a B cup, but the same size as their hips? For many of these people (including me), a full bust adjustment would have to be followed by a full hip adjustment for the garment to fit the entire body.

I have, as generally recommended, adjusted the bust and then the hip, with mediocre results. After hours of pains taking adjustments, I usually end up with a mangled pattern that is more tape than paper, and the proportions always seem a bit off even through my bust and hip are proportionate. I decided there had to be a better way, and began experimenting with small shoulder adjustments instead.

The problem for those with cup sizes larger than B (and nothing else is larger), is that, if the pattern size is determined by the full bust measurement, the garment will be too large in every place but the bust. What I realized, is that my hips and waist are proportionate to my full bust measurement. The only part of my body that is small in relation to my full bust is my shoulders. So, why should I pick a pattern size based on my upper bust (basically my shoulders) and adjust everywhere else, when I can pick the size based on my full bust, and only adjust the shoulders?

I believe the reason the full bust adjustment is generally recommended is that it is considered easier than the small shoulder adjustment. After all, the small shoulder adjustment involves the armscye, and adjusting the armscye is scary for most.

After doing an FBA and making a muslin I was not happy. The blouse hung strangely, still didn’t fit that well. I decided to start over and do the small shoulder adjustment instead. After making the muslin using this new adjustment, I knew I was on to something. I did a few more tweaks, the made the final garment.

I am pretty happy with the results (although I would adjust it a bit more if I made it again), and I am using this technique again in the garment I am currently making. Details to follow.

The Taffy Blouse, from The Colette Sewing Handbook.

My latest crafty endeavor is the Colette Taffy Blouse, which, given my limited crafty time and exacting standards, took me over a month to complete. While I will try to cover a few of the reasons it took me so long over several posts, today I will only be covering the sleeves.

The Sleeves of the Colette Taffy Blouse are, as you can see, quite voluminous. While they are very pretty, frankly, they are a bit much for my taste. So I decided to make the full circle sleeves half circles. I will show the the first step in that process today.


First I traced the original full circle pattern piece. I trace all of my pattern pieces before I make any adjustments so that I can go back to the original if I make any mistakes and so I can make a different size in the future.


I started to adjust the pattern by making evenly spaced cuts through the sleeve, up to but not through the seam line. I mirrored these cuts in the seam allowance, again, not cutting through the seam line. Keeping the seam line intact keeps the armscye intact, so that the armscye on the blouse portion of the pattern doesn’t have to be adjusted as well.


Then I overlapped my cuts evenly and taped them in place.

It is worth noting at this point that I could have also simply cut a large wedge shape from the center of the sleeve and taped the exposed ends back together. The reason I didn’t do this is that the sleeve ins’t a perfect circle, and while taking a piece out of the middle would have reduced it’s bulk, it would also change it’s shape. Reducing the sleeve evenly around it’s circumference better retains it’s shape.


When finished, the pattern looked something like this.

In the final version I further decreased the bulk of the sleeve and extended it’s length by several inches.

Gerwerken Crafts now has a new address;!

For now, you can still access the website at the old WordPress address too, but that will (eventually) change. So start changing your bookmarks as Gerwerken Crafts is moving on to bigger and better things!

March is National Craft Month, so I would like to start the month with a craft, food craft.

This last weekend was my son’s birthday, and he and my MIL created a cake of his design, a Angry Birds/Lego Star Wars Ice Planet Hoth Cake. It was adorable and he loved it.




The base was made from marshmallows, piled together like an igloo. Thick white frosting created a blanket of snow, and large pieces of sugar made it shine. Toothpicks were stuck into the lego pieces which were stuck into the cake, allowing them to hover just above the sticky “snow”.

My son created the snow speeder crash landing into the enemy, and my daughter created the rebel flag.

This holiday season, like most holiday seasons, I ended up with many gifts I loved, and I few I’m not so keen on. I also gave a few gifts that the recipients were not so keen on (kids don’t keep these things to themselves). In an effort to avoid poor gift giving decisions next year, I am cataloguing the lessons learned this gift giving season for future reference.


Lesson 1:
Unless you are a professional fashion designer or stylist, and know the size and style of the person you are buying for, don’t buy clothing. It is inevitably the wrong size, style, color, or fit.
If you need to give clothing, accessories in neutrals are safest. You can’t really go wrong with a pair of black gloves and a matching cozy hat.

Sometimes the things they like the most, are not the things they ask for. Firebeard’s grandparents gave my daughter a magic kit. She had never previously expressed an interest in magic, but she has played with almost nothing else ever since.

Getting what they ask for doesn’t guarantee they will like their present. My daughter asked for a diary for Christmas, so I got her a really cool one, with great reviews on amazon. She hated it. She didn’t want a cool diary, she wanted a pad of paper.

Lesson 4:
Even kids appreciate digital gifts. My son has played with the “barefoot atlas” app the good doctor gave him for hours at a time.

Lesson 5:
If you are at a loss for what to give, a luxurious, yet practical gift, like fancy soaps or shaving cream, will almost always be appreciated. I became very ill Christmas evening. Laying on the couch under a stack of blankets and cuddling a heating pad, the only gift I was thinking about was the thick cuddly pair of socks I had received earlier in the day.

Lesson 6:
Giving nothing is better than giving something unwanted.

And good riddance. I don’t think I am alone in saying that I am glad to see the end of 2012. It has not been a great year for many of us. The economy continues to stagnate, unemployment remains high, and the world at large is politically unstable. For me and my family 2012 has been filled with stressors and tragedies, shared and unshared, that made it an especially bad year.

2012 has not been completely bad through. Mostly, this year has taught me that I can not only survive, but thrive in adversity.

In 2013 I plan to share some of the lessons I learned in 2012, the skills I’ve mastered, and the ones that I am still struggling to learn. This blog is where many of those lessons will be shared, and I expect to see it evolve over the next year as those lessons unfold.

For now; Happy New Year!