Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Plus size pattern part 2

The most popular post on my blog has been my list of plus size patterns, so in that vein, I decided to do a part two. Please note some links are my affiliate links, which help me fund fashion school and buy fabric. Thanks!


Burda has a bunch of gorgeous patterns, many of them in plus sizes. I love that they show plus size models in actual garments and not just line drawings. There are patterns for coats, dresses, tops, bottoms, separates and suits. Many styles are very fashion forward and based on European trends. *Please note that Burda patterns do NOT include seam allowance so you will have to trace the patterns onto paper and then add (usually 5/8" for garments) your desired seam allowance). But this is actually easier for fitting corrections to be made.

Kwik Sew

Kwik Sew has a limited number of plus size patterns available, but from the patterns of theirs I've sewn they are drafted well. They really excel in stretch knit garments. If you're bust is 45" or less and hip 47" or less you can fit into the XL of their straight sized patterns, which opens up a lot more choices. Or if you're open to going the extra step to grade patterns up of course. But their sizing seems to be much more true to life than the other big name brands in my experience. They also have some excellent sewing books that include patterns. I have the Kwik Sew Lingerie Book, and Swim and Action Wear book. The Easy Sewing book is a great primer on sewing knits and stretch fabrics especially.


Jalie is a Canadian pattern company that gets great reviews at Pattern Review. I've yet to sew with them, but it is a goal for the new year! They have a lot of dancewear, yoga, workout type clothing. So think knits:) They have a very generous size range from size US 4-22 on the same envelope. There's a whole section on their website for underwear patterns:)

Have any other favorite plus size pattern designers or companies? I'd love to hear. Leave a comment below. Next I think I'll start compiling lingerie patterns, not necessarily plus size because that would be a very short list. What do you think?

Plus size lingerie patterns

One of my most popular posts is my list of plus size patterns sewing here. I'm going to be doing a follow up part 2 post soon. But I came across a great resource that I had to share. I couldn't wait for a full post.

Barbara Deckert Designs has some great plus size lingerie designs. She has written a book Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes That Fit & Flatter (Amazon affiliate link). Barbara specializes in patternmaking and fitting for plus sizes. She has several lingerie patterns on Craftsy that are sized 1X-6X and include a full slip or cami, 2 styles of half slips, and a panty girdle. Images below are not mine, I believe the are Ms. Deckert's but they come via Craftsy's site. If you click on any of the links of pictures you will go directly to her pattern page on Craftsy to see all of her offerings (Craftsy affiliate link). I'm super excited about her individual cup sized cami/full slip pattern. Let me know if you sew it up first!

Goddess of Glam Cami Source

Hippy Slippy Half Slip Source

New website!

Still under development but the new site is up at marlenaboutique.com. I'm in the process of transferring the blog posts over there. I'm still debating on whether to keep this blog updated or move everything over there. What do you think?

Making a swim suit with Folding For Stretch Fabric process

Good tips for working with knits that apply to lingerie design and construction.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sizély Plus - Desfile para 8ª Edição do FWPS - Verão 2014

Curvy Couture runway presentation at FFFWeek 2013

Curvy Couture runway presentation at FFFWeek 2013

Apparently embedded video isn't allowed for this one, but it is worth the click to check out the beautiful designs!

Moda Plus Size Cachopa Brasil Verão 2013 @ FWPS YouTube

Simone Perele & BGM Models "Curvy Couture" Competition 2013

Lingerie Promo Inspiration

So 2013 is drawing to a close, I have big goals for 2014 so stay tuned! Getting all my ducks in a row to quote my Mom:) I came across this great lingerie line called Curvy Kate via The Lingerie Journal, that specializes in D+ cup sizes. They are UK based but seem to be carried in the US as well. I just love their philosophy, styling and beautiful, curvy models. What inspiration!!!

Without further ado, here's a couple of their promo videos so that you can see these gorgeous pieces in motion!



Bra Fitting 101

Can you tell I have a thing for infographics? Well as long as they are useful! Apparently 80% of American women wear the wrong size bra! Well never fear here is a handy infographic to simply the measuring process for you. Then you will be off the hard part of finding a comfortable one that is supportive and doesn't look like matronly!

Bra Fitting - Infographic
Find your best fitting bras at Herroom.

Dress for your shape part 2

This is a beautiful infographic to follow up my post about finding your body shape. If you want more information about how to dress for your particular body shape and you're a curvy lady I highly recommend Hoax Fashion Formula by Mary Duffy (using my Amazon affliate link helps me buy more fabric). Sure it's a dated book, but you can't beat the wealth of information tailored for full figured women.

Shape Stylist Infographic

Created by IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel

Accessorize your curvy style

Accessorize Your Curvy Style: Hot Trends for 2013

Created by IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel

Curvy Girls show

Has anyone seen this show? What is this channel, I need to find it!

Curvy Girls, Season 2 on NUVOtv

Created by IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel

Monday, December 23, 2013

Plus size stylists

I'm starting a resource list of personal/fashion stylists that cater to curvy/plus size clientele. If you would like to be added to my list please me an email to rosa @ tortilladesigns.com [no spaces] with the subject line "Plus size stylist"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?


Today's post is a little bit different topic than usual. As much as I love to share about lingerie, I understand that sometimes you actually have to wear clothes over your dainties. Below is an email excerpt from one of my style icons Diana Pemberton-Sikes. I've personally bought almost everything she has put out because it is that good! She knows style and how to teach it! Wardrobe Magic is one the first fashion or style courses I purchased and it has been worth it's virtual weight in gold. I'd really appreciate it you chose to purchase this awesome program using my affiliate link.


“I want to look good without spending a lot of
money.  What's the best way to use my clothing

This question - or variations thereof - regularly
hits my inbox from readers all over the world.
While we may not all speak the same language,
there are a few things upon which we can all
agree that make us take leave of our senses: rich
chocolate, handsome men, and clothes that are too
cute to leave behind at the store.

So what's a gal to do, particularly when she's
been saddled with champagne tastes on a beer

First, set down those glossy fashion magazines
and back away from them slowly.  They can be
dangerous, particularly if you don't know how to
use them.  $700 pants?  $500 shoes?  Who can
afford to buy these things?  Not many!  Look at
what's popular, swipe some styling ideas, then go
replicate the looks in prices that you can

Secondly, start viewing any “must have” list with
healthy skepticism.  These are the latest trends
that the designers are showing that will be dated
by this time next year.  Some will be cute, true,
but others will only be cute on the models that
show them.  Once you learn what looks good on you
and what doesn't, you'll be a lot less
susceptible to buying what others say you “must
have” each season.

Finally, invest in classic pieces that work well
on your body.  It's the single best way to get
the most mileage out of your clothing budget,
because you can wear classic styles for several
years without ever looking dated.  Top a classic
base with a trendy accessory, and you'll look “au
courant” without going in the red.

So what exactly ARE classic styles, and how do
you know one when you see it?

Classics are styles that have been popular for
years because of their clean lines and
utilitarian features.  While trends are instantly
recognizable by length, pattern, or decoration,
classics transcend time with their cut, style,
and fabric.  They can be worn alone, layered,
dressed up or dressed down, and can be made to
look current by adding something trendy.

Examples of classics include:





    Sleeveless Sheath

    Tailored Jacket

    Crisp shirt

    Trench Coat

    Kelly bag

    Penny loafer

There are some years when these styles are more
popular and some years when they're less, but
they continue to sell well because they fit a
variety of body types and offer a simple, unfussy
silhouette.  Get them in basic, solid colors, and
you can wear them for years to come.

But won't you get bored with the “same old

Only if you have no imagination. 

The neat thing about classics is that they not
only look great all by themselves, they serve as
a wonderful backdrop to flashier pieces.  Add a
snazzy jacket, funky hosiery, or a great pair of
shoes, and you'll be able to brilliantly showcase
the new piece using your classic staples as a

Your friends, family, and coworkers will think
you spend a fortune on your clothes, when in
reality you're merely adding a few “to die for”
pieces each year.  It's a clever way to expand
your wardrobe choices without overspending your
budget or over-cramming your closet.

So the next time you're in a quandary as to what
to add to your wardrobe, opt for classics.
They're clean, versatile, easy-to-wear, and make
the most of your budget.  Dressing well just
doesn't get any easier than this!


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image
consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook
that shows women how to transform their unruly closets
into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at: Wardrobe Magic

Monday, December 9, 2013

Supporting Independent Designers

In the past week or so I've come across 2 great articles about supporting independent designers. One was specifically about the price of handmade garments aka answering "why does this cost so much" question. The other article is specifically 5 key points on why handmade lingerie so special. I'll share the links in a minute. First I'll give you my $0.02.

Of course I'm a bit biased since I'm an independent business owner myself. But I also walk the walk. I try to support local businesses, shop at the farmer's market and make informed choices. I'm not perfect and yes you will see me in big box stores on occasion. As an independent designer I am very aware of the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating your passion. Making something from nothing. Starting with a concept and seeing that thing through to the end, a finished work of art. I know from experience how hard it can be to part with that thing of beauty, you have dreamt about for months hoping it is going to a good home that will appreciate it. I also know about mean customers, crazy show organizers, wondering if you have a hobby or a business when someone tries to talk you down on price. But I know personally, I feel at my personal best when I'm making something with my hands. I love the creative process. I love the feeling of fine fabrics and trimmings in my hands. I love thinking through construction processes. I love the smile on a customer's face when they see my piece. And that my friend, makes it all worth it.

On pricing

On handmade lingerie

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lingerie Sewing Bookshelf

I'm developing quite the little collection of lingerie themed books. Some are coffee table books, most sewing or pattern making (hard to find I tell you) and other that suit my fancy. Here's some of my favorites. I will either add to this list or add a new post as I add to my collection. Most of these are available on Amazon, and if you purchase through my link I'll get a few bucks to help launch my collections so it's a win, win.

5 Key Plus Size Fashion Tips Every Woman Needs to Know

No matter your size, shape or weight there are some universal tips for every plus size woman to know. Here's 5 to get you started on your way to a more fashionable you.

1-Wear clothes that fit. Your size will likely vary from designer to designer, store to store and even from style to style (ie you may wear a 18 in the bootcut pants but a 22 in the skinnies). Don't stress or worry about the little label in your clothes, do one sees it but you and remember it doesn't matter. What matters is that it fits well and you look good. It's best to get good, accurate measurements of yourself.

2-Invest in good quality clothing. For some reason, most of the plus size clothing is cheaply made and expensively priced. Designers seem to think curvy women should spend their hard earned money on sack cloths that will fall apart as soon as you put it in the wash, pu-leez. A good quality garment might cost a bit more up front but will last you way longer and will cost less per wearing and look better.

3-Tailoring is your best friend. A little nip and tuck here, an inch or two off the hem can take a ho-hum garment from basic to fabulous. This is especially important for curvy women, who's designers seem to think that sack cloths are attractive (refer to #2). If you don't know how to do this yourself find someone who can.

4-Wear the right undergarments! Pretty please and thank you. The way your clothes look on the outside starts with the right foundation, just like building a house. Think of your bra and panties as the foundation (in the "olden days" that is what they were referred as) or structure of your house and your clothes as the exterior. Your makeup, jewelry and accessories are are the embellishments like photos, furniture and home decor. Good quality undergarments are not cheap especially if you're busty. However don't go overboard and try to squeeze all of your beautiful curves away by doubling up on Spanx just to fit into a certain dress (see #1).

5-Don't be afraid of color. There are millions of other colors besides black. If you are afraid of wearing other colors start with baby steps. Try adding a colorful accessory like a scarf, necklace, handbag or shoes. There are a lot of internet resources and books at the library to help you find out what colors look good for your skin/eye/hair composition (look for color analysis).

Be bold and daring, you have nothing to lose! Just try mixing it up and see if you like it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Corsetry part 3: The Photoshoot

A heck of a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this corset. Literally and figuratively. It took a long time to finish it. Many hours patternmaking, sewing up muslins, seam ripping, fitting, and repeating were necessary for my first corset. In theory corsets are simple because it is a lot straight stitching for the boning, but in reality, fitting a corset to a curvy body to make it supportive, sexy, and pretty all at the same time is a tall order. One of the people at the school describe cosetry as part sewing and party blacksmithing. I agree. So I decided I totally earned a professional photoshoot for this labor of love (oh and I finished finally sewing the binding on Valentine's Day). I made some accessories to go with the corset; a mini top hat and red skirt with a black tulle overskirt. Then I enlisted the help of Christina to make my vision of the transformation of the librarian who "lets her hair down"and becomes a vixen. Christina was my make up artist as well as the photographer. She's awesome!!! Another big thank you to sweetpea of King's Books for the gracious use of his perfect bookstore!

Want to see the progression of my corset? Check out this post here

The finished corset post is here

My lovely photographer Christina's post is here

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sneak peak pt 2

So my dear photographer, Christina of Midnight Sunshine Photography has sent me these two lovelies! A big thank you to Sweetpea for allowing use of my favorite bookstore for this shoot! If you're in the Tacoma area, go check out King's Books.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

First Commission!

I'm very excited that I've received my first commission for Marlena! I was contacted by an old friend to construct a beautiful wedding pajama set. The couple is going for a non-traditional pajama themed wedding. The underdress will be a princess seamed slip dress with a sheer overlay that is longer. The color story will be ivory and pink.

Here's her inspiration pics:

Under dress

Over dress


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Plus size patterns

I'm starting a resource list of useful links for plus size patterns. These can be hard to find and I hope to add to it as I discover more. If you are a plus size pattern designer, I'd love to feature you here or if you know of some great ones, leave me a comment or send me an email.

Want to get the fit right?

Online Sewing Class

Barbara Deckert's Online Sewing Class is a great way to get started with learning fitting techniques for the curvy body. Crafty's video format gives you 24/7 video access to the course work, plus you can ask questions to the instructor and other students in a asynchronous chat format aka you don't have to be online at the same time. You can post pics of problems or finished garments in the community as well. By using the affiliate link above you help fund my little fabric stash.

Pattern Review

A great place to check out how well patterns work out in real life fabric (and on real life bodies) is to check out Pattern Review. Lots of helpful sewers here! Tons of information, it's easy to get into information overload. If I'm interested in a pattern while I'm out shopping I pull up this site on my phone before I make my decision.

Fashion Patterns

I love supporting independent designers, especially if they happen to be local! Fashion Patterns is based in Washington, state that is:) Connie offers plus size sewing pattern in sizes 1-6X, she has a nice selection of patterns including dresses, tops, lingerie and pants. Check out the site here http://www.fashionpatterns.com/ She also offers books and videos on sewing, patternmaking, etc and straight sized patterns.

Sis Boom/The Scientific Seamstress

Not just for plus sizes, but most if not all of her women's patterns are sized to include plus sizes. I absolutely love Carla's attention to detail and the thoroughness of all her patterns. As a fellow scientist myself I love the way she has put together her "lab manuals" for the patterns. She includes step by step directions and clear pictures of each step in her ebook patterns. The great thing is you can purchase and download immediately and get to work. Purchasing through this link helps keep this blog going (*affiliate disclaimer, I heart You Can Make This website and I personally spend much more on this site than I make through affiliate sales, but hey every bit helps when you're a start up)


Butterick, although part of the big 3, has some pretty nice plus size patterns, especially if you're looking for career or casual wear.  Most patterns are offered multisize 18W-24W. http://butterick.mccall.com/plus-size-pages-156.php

Style Arc

Style Arc is an Australian based pattern company. I've heard great things about this company (fit-wise and instruction wise) and they have very stylish patterns! Their plus size offering goes up to size 30. Very fashion forward, I love the gallery and the photos of celebrities along side with their patterns.

Got any favorites? Leave a comment below!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Corsetry Part 2

I'm finally finished with my first corset! Truly a labor of love. This custom pattern required at least 4 separate fittings and many adjustments along the way. I learned a lot about my body, pattern making, grading, fitting, and handling power tools. As Dr. Whaley, Provost of the New York Fashion Academy says "making a corset is part sewing and part metalwork." I also learned you need a lot of hand strength to make a corset...from cutting coutil to setting the grommets to cutting the boning oh and hand sewing through 6 layers of coutil while trying to keep dotted material nice and even, I realized I need to work on my hand strength. Anyone have any exercises?

 My corset has a gentle sweetheart neckline and a v-shaped lower silhouette. Red and black tapestry patterned coutil make up the outer part of this lined corset. The lining is red polka dots on a black back ground. The corset has a 7 closure (extra long) busk in the front and laces in the back with metal tipped polyester lacing. I believe there are 22 grommets on each side. The edges of the corset are bound with the polka dot coutil. The over the bust bones are spiral and the rest are medium weight steel bones. If you want any other details just ask!

Without further ado, here's my beautiful corset. Want to see the progression? Check out the in progress pics in part 1. Professional pictures coming soon, so stayed tuned.

Front of corset

Back of corset