Finally…a reason for algebra

One of my goals for 2010 is to learn to sew. I’ve made little things here and there, but I’m not comfortable with patterns, and my machine, and bobbins…it’s all very intimidating because I just don’t have the experience. So my plan is to sew at least one thing every month. Last night I got a jump start on my plan and made myself this:

Couple of things. First, this is obviously a picture from a book. The book is Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. It’s a great book with clear, easy directions. It comes with a stack of full-sized patterns that run S-M-L, and also has several projects with directions for making your own pattern. This ‘Cuddle-up Cardigan’ is one of those.

So the directions are for small, medium, or large. I am pleased to announce that my college algebra finally had a real-life application for me. Because I’m a bigger person than the measurements for the large. Patterns run very small by the way…modern garment makers indulge us with ‘vanity’ sizing, so a size L on a piece of pre-made clothing isn’t anything like a size L in a pattern.  You really have to get a handle on your self-esteem if you’re going to be a seamstress.

So here’s how I adjusted the pattern…I looked at the chart and saw that each size had a three inche range for each measurement. For instance the bust measurement for a small is 32-34″, a medium 35-37″, and a large 38-40″. I just followed that through until I had my size. I hope that makes sense. An XL would be 41-43″, an XXL would be 44-46″, etc.

Here’s the algebra part. The directions for this cardigan called for making a pattern. It gave the dimensions of the pattern peices for S-M-L. In order to find out how big to make my pieces I used this formula. I subtracted the medium measurement from the large and multiplied that number by how many sizes up I had to go. The formula looks like this: (L-M)X. L=large, M=medium, and X=the number of sizes up. Then you add the answer to the large measurement to get your measurement.

Let’s say one side of the sleeve pattern for medium is 18″ and for large is 20″ (I’m making this up!) and you’re a 2X. Your math would look like this:

(20-18)2….(2)2….the answer being 4. 20+4=24. Your measurement would be 24 inches.

Just do that for each measurement required on the pattern, and voila.

I wasn’t so sure it would work. But it did! Like a charm. Make sure if you’re cutting a piece on a fold, that you cut the added inches (four in my example) in half.

I made my Cuddle Up Cardi out of navy blue polar fleece. Including making the pattern, this project took about three hours. The book called for sweatshirt fleece or double knit, neither of which were available in the little fabric department of our variety store.  I used two yards, and probably should have gone with 2 1/4 because I didn’t have enough to make the belt properly. Instead of 4″ wide, mine is about half that. The thinner belt looks very bathrobe to me and I probably won’t use it. The whole thing looks semi-bathrobe to me. That could be because I’ve only seen it over my pjs. Regardless, it’s super cozy and warm. I made my own pattern, including figuring out the math for increasing the size…I’m so proud of myself!

I paid more for the fabric than I would have liked. About $15 total. I have enough left to make a hat. I can buy something similar thrifted for $8-10. A new fleece jacket would cost far more than $15.

I’ll try to get a picture of my finished project a little later, when I’m fully awake and no longer wearing pjs.


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