Altering The Alder, Part 1: Adding Darts

Our guest blogger today is Kelly Walsh, the Director of Engineering at Spoonflower and an avid seamstress who loves a good hack. Over the next week, in two parts, she will explain how to alter the very popular Alder Shirtdress from Grainline Studio to add sleeves and bodice darts.


If you’re like me, you got into sewing clothing because you’re never quite satisfied with the options you’re given. You always want to change a garment in some way, just to make it different, make it yours. It might be the fit you want to tweak, or maybe it’s the color or design on the fabric, or maybe it’s those small details to add flare. Whatever it is, the whole point of sewing your own clothing is that you can do whatever you want!

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The original 3D model on Sprout and my finished alteration!

I love the concept for Sprout Patterns, but whenever I tell friends about it, I usually hear the same thing: “That sounds so cool! But I’m not just one size, I grade between sizes. They can’t do that (yet!)” Or “That’s nice, but I always like tweaking the patterns I get. If it’s printed on the fabric, I can’t do that.”

Well, I’m here to say that yes, you absolutely can alter a Sprout Patterns garment. You have to get a little creative about it, and you have to plan ahead, but I’m convinced that 9 out of 10 alterations are possible on a Sprout Patterns project. You might have to play with the seam allowances, you might have to get creative with scrap fabric, you might even have to re-draft the bodice. But you’d be doing those things with a normal pattern anyways!

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To prove it to you, I’m going to show you the alterations I did on the Alder Shirtdress (View B) by Grainline Studio. I love florals, so I picked a beautiful vintage-ish design called Royal Garden by Oksana Pasishnychenko. Now, everyone I’ve talked to has either loved or hated the “B” option for the shirt dress. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about those gathers, or that line drawing which people either fall in love with, or are completely turned off by. Full confession: I was one of the people who swore I’d never sew it, it wasn’t for me. It’s not that it was a bad dress, just that I knew I’d look like I was wearing a bag. I love shirtdresses, but I’m all pear shaped, and I just didn’t “feel” that silhouette. So I gave myself a challenge: How would I use Sprout to turn the Alder Shirtdress B Variation into a dress that I loved and felt good in?

I made the bodice a bit more fitted and defined my waist by adding some darts, and I drafted some cute tulip sleeves. Here’s what the Alder looks like sewn up exactly as in the instructions.

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It’s not a bad dress by any means, but it just didn’t feel flattering. My hips are wide enough that I have to choose a larger size to fit them, and my bust is small enough that I lose all shaping between my shoulders and my hips. But once I added a couple of darts in both the front bodice and the back, I got a dress that looks like this:

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I already loved this alteration. I felt like I had a waist again! I could have stopped here and been perfectly pleased with myself, but that was almost too easy. I wanted a challenge to see what else I could do to change this dress just a bit more. I decided that I wanted something to balance the fullness of the skirt, and give the dress a bit more construction. I’m always more of a sleeves girl than a sleeveless girl, so I played with a couple of options and eventually decided on tulip sleeves. After all my alterations and playing, here’s the dress I finally ended up with:

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How to: Shaping up and adding darts

There’s a whole lot of ways you can change the shape of a bodice. Some of them are more dramatic than others, and some of them definitely take more effort than others. When considering doing so with Sprout, there are some important considerations to think about. If you’re going to attempt something a little more complicated, like a full bust adjustment, do the math ahead of time and make sure it will work.

Sprout does include a seam allowance in the printed area, which considering that is on every side of every pattern piece, does add up to a lot of “flex” room in how far you can shift a pattern piece before you reach the edge. You can also increase your “margins” by ordering up a size. You’ll have to do some drafting to get it back “down” to your size in certain areas, but it adds some possibilities. I’d definitely recommend checking out the “finished garment” dimensions if you’re planning anything complicated as that will help you plan out how the fabric pieces will match with your body, and how much room you have to shift things. And remember, the darts aren’t actually printed on the fabric for sprout, so you have all that fabric to play with too.

Personally though, I’m usually too lazy to go about doing the math to draft up a whole new bodice draft full bust adjustment craziness. With something that has a relaxed fit, like the Alder Shirtdress, I’m much more likely to simply drape any alterations right on my body or on the dressform.

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The Alder only has two horizontal bust darts that come in from the side seams. This is great for creating a subtle shape with a relaxed fit through the waist. However, I have a fairly small bust, and larger hips, and since I had to order the size that would fit my hips, it means the bodice is fairly large for me, and my waist gets utterly lost. According to the Alder size chart, my bust is a size 6, while my waist is a size 10, and my hips are a size 12. I ordered my dress as a size 12, and sewed it exactly according to the instructions, but I wasn’t a big fan of the results.

My goal was to re-emphasize the waist and find some definition around the bust area. The easiest way to do this was to follow classic bodice traditions and add in two vertical darts going from the waist up. I also added slightly smaller darts in the back as well.

Now, yes, you could get out your ruler, and do the math, and draw on your fabric, and if you’re like me get utterly confused. OR you could simply put the dress on inside out and pinch and pin the extra fabric around this area until you like the shape it creates on your body. Let’s be real, no one’s body is exactly symmetrical, no one’s body follows a set of generic math rules. You can draw all the straight lines you want, but I have yet to find a single straight line in my body. I find it so much easier to just map the fabric to my body while it’s on my body.

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It’s easiest to do this technique if most of the major seams (especially the shoulders and side seams) in the bodice are already sewn, even if they’re only basted together. I didn’t plan overly well, and so I had done everything on my dress, down to even finishing the interior seams, before I decided to add these darts. That’s probably going too far, as you never know if you’ll want to let out a side seam to make the front dart larger, but it ended up working out in the end.

Here’s me with the dress on inside out, and where and how I ended up positioning the darts. They’re not perfectly even, that’s because my stomach isn’t perfectly flat. Maybe yours is, you lucky duck! There’s not identical, because one side of my body is actually a slightly different shape than the other. This isn’t unusual either, most people are slightly asymmetrical.

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IMPORTANT: Definitely double check yourself on this one. Put the dress on and off and on and off again, inside out and right side out, look and see if the fabric is puckering anywhere. Shift things around. Realize you liked it better the other way and shift it back again. Take in the side seams, let them out again. Make sure the dress is hanging off your shoulders straight, and you’re not slouching. Wear the bra that you’re most like to want to wear with this dress. Don’t drape a dress on your body while wearing a bra that you won’t want to wear with the dress, it changes your body, and therefore will change the shape of the dress!

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Once you feel good about where your darts are pinned, bast them. Then triple check yourself one last time. Then stitch them, and press them towards the center, just like always. And presto! You’ve made a bodice that fits your body, and fits how you want, better than any pattern could ever guess. All without any math at all.

Here’s some inside out photos of my darts, front and back.

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The front darts taper off at the top and the bottom, because of how the front panels of the Alder work. The top of the dart rests just below the point of my bust, and the bottom dips just under my natural waist. The back darts end at their widest point at the waist line. Remember that you’ll have to compensate with the gathers here, since you’re effectively removing fabric from the waistline, your gathers in the back skirt will have to be slightly denser to match lengths.

This one simple change was easy to do and changed this dress for me. And it doesn’t require any extra fabric, any math or drafting skills. I’ll say it again, you can alter sprout patterns projects! It’s okay if your entire body is not just the one size. You can get great results by simply adding some darts and shaping the fabric to your body.

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Tune in next week for Part 2: DRAFTING SLEEVES!


KellyBiopic.jpgKelly Walsh attended the NC School of Science and Mathematics and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Philosophy. She spends most of her free time reading, sewing the most elaborate Halloween costumes she can envision (and the occasional everyday outfit), and learning to weave on her 1900s Leclerc floor loom. Her favorite Sprout Pattern of the moment is the Archer Button Up. She joined the Spoonflower team in 2011 as a printer operator, and is currently the Director of Site Engineering.

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Sprout x Berlin Fashion Show Recap

Sprout Patterns Creative Director Caroline gives us the low down about the fashion show in Berlin that happened on September 7th at the Spoonflower European headquarters.


Ok, TRUTH? I now have a new appreciation for all runway shows. Let me tell you a secret – it’s A LOT of WORK! Is it fun? YES YES YES! But the coordination, the hair, makeup, models – it’s just a huge puzzle that you seem to be putting together on the fly, even if you’ve organized and rehearsed!

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Yes, that’s me, doing hair for the show, THANK GOODNESS for hairspray!

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Essentials – makeup, hairspray and chocolate – not pictured.

Since this is a “behind the scenes” look at the show, I wanted to also share how beautiful our models were without any special hair or makeup – naturally gorgeous!

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Jasmine and Martha – natural beauties!

We had a lot of help from the Spoonflower office dog, Ben. He made sure everyone got their daily dose of snuggles, petting, and canine slobber.

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Ben says all that snuggling is hard work!

I also got to meet with some of the designers before the show, like Mele de la Yglesia. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anyone so excited about seeing their art on fabric. I loved Mele’s enthusiasm and it was AMAZING to share in her pure joy!

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Mele trying on a Kielo dress with her design

One of the BEST things about this show was that we hired a professional photographer, Benni Janzen. He is AMAZING, and sweet and super easy to work with. Seriously, if you’re in Europe and need a photographer, HIRE HIM! But of course, since I’m stubborn, I had to take my own iPhone photos, like these:

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Juliana models for Benni and Sophie tries on her Inari dress.

I think the models had a good time and made some new friends. They were all a lot of fun and made me wish I could stay in Berlin longer to hang out with them!

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Martha has some serious attitude – LOVE IT!

We held the show at the Spoonflower office in Berlin – which is in a really cool industrial section of Neukölln. The room we used has great light, but we rigged up some LED’s since the event was at night. Here’s the space BEFORE the magic happened. ;o)

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The other thing about having a photographer is that they sometimes catch you at certain “moments” like me absolutely FAWNING over designer Cristóbal Schmal. Not too obvious at all, RIGHT? HAHAHA!!!

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I hope his GF doesn’t see this photo! ;o)

Then the magic started happening. Pablo forgot that he was shy and rocked the runway.

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Laura from Named Clothing remembered that she got up at 4am to fly to Berlin and see the show. THANK YOU for coming all that way, Saara and Laura!!!

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I got to meet some very cool German bloggers and patternmakers and talked to them about Spoonflower and Sprout.

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The show was so much fun and I LOVED meeting everyone! I wore a Named Kielo Dress I’d sewn by designer Alexandra Bordallo of Spain. Little did I know that everyone was going to wear their favorite Kielo! Model Juliana won the battle (I’m totally serious, there was almost a fight!) over the show sample from Pete Corrie, then Laura and Saara wore the Kielos they’d ordered from Sprout. This is definitely one of my favorite photos from the show, and no we’re not terribly short, Juliana was just rocking monster heels.

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And the Kielo prize goes to…..

In conclusion: Berlin was awesome. The fashion show KICKED ASS. All I want to know is when the next one will be. Someone want to volunteer their city? LET ME KNOW! ;o) Tschuss!

p.s. If you saw a dress / shirt / top you liked, it’s probably here on Sprout.

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You Had Me at Photo Sharing…

Sometimes Mondays are a bit hard to deal with, so we try our best to give you little surprises to make your day better! For a while we’ve had reviews on Sprout. You’ve been able to TELL us about your experience, but not share images of your project. Well friends, that day HAS ARRIVED! Introducing: reviews with project photos.

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Now you can upload up to three images per project.

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Did you add sleeves to your Grainline Alder Shirtdress, like Kelly? Share it with the world!

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Figure out a hack to add tiny pockets? Scream it from the rooftops!

We hope you’ll like this new feature and share your projects with the rest of the Sprout Community. You know you’re awesome, don’t keep it from the rest of us! ;o)

Sprout Sewing Resources

Sometimes you need a helping hand to start or get through a sewing project—we’ve all been there! So we’ve put together a resources page with sewalongs, tips and tricks and even videos to help you make your next Sprout project great!

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We have sewalongs from our Patternmakers

Grainline.jpgHaving a visual guide when sewing (otherwise known as a sewalong) can be invaluable and boost your confidence!

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Tips and Tricks to help your project be the best ever

Sewing should be FUN, not frustrating! We hope that the resources we’ve compiled will help you feel the same way, sharpen up your stitching game and eventually allow you to create a handmade wardrobe for yourself and your family!

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If you know of any resources that we’ve missed, or have suggestions for topics that we could include, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line and share!

Designing Your Own Clothing with Sprout

Today we are featuring Taiwanese Spoonflower designer and Sprout customer, Canigrin Chen. She shares her experience on Sprout as well as making the Laurel Dress by Colette Patterns.

Hello! My name is Canigrin Chen and I’m an illustrator living in Taiwan. I love creating repeat patterns, and always wanted to make my own fabric. So when I found Spoonflower, I totally fell in love with the idea that you can print your own fabric even just a very small order.

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I love that you can even choose the material from cotton, knit to silk. The variety of fabric allow you to make home decor stuff and even sports wear, which gives endless possibility for making my own product.

 
It’s a thrill to me as a creator and a maker that I can easily make my own products. I use Spoonflower to print my own fabric and sew it into apron, mittens, and even throw pillows. But after a few craft projects, I soon hoped that I can even sew my own dress with my design!

 

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I bought some books about making simple dresses, but the biggest challenge is tracing the patterns, I guess it’s the hardest part to cross. I did use a big frozen paper to trace and copy the pattern onto my fabric, as all of you may have tried. But it just frustrating when the dress doesn’t fit after all the hard work, just because of paper slips sometimes. The time I spent on tracing was way more than what I spent on the making of the dress.

 

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Then Spoonflower announced a new service called Sproutpatterns, which allow you to make your own dress with pattern printed on fabric of your choice. Boom!  What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I thought of it? It made making my own clothing as simple as playing with a paper doll. Simply cutting the fabric pieces and put them together, and you’re done!

 

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Creating Sprout Patterns project is just a few clicks. The 3D model made it a lot easier to imagine your dream dress! The best thing is it’s almost the same price as you order plain fabric (without seeing pattern printed on it) on Spoonflower, plus a copy of free PDF pattern than you can make more dresses and different sizes. But the experience of Sprout is so good that I was too spoiled to trace that pattern again.

 

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I chose the Laurel dress this time (first time I made the Moneta dress), as it’ll be a great gift for my mom. She’s a banker and I hope she’ll wear my handmade dress to work so I chose poly crepe fabric with the cuff variation. One thing about Sprout Patterns is that it seems like they have just a few patterns, but there are many variations hiding in each dress.

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A dress with cuffs or long sleeves makes it totally different, plus the fabrics you choose. The possibilities are endless! I think my choice of poly crepe fabric suits well for my navy camo surface design. The colors are vibrant and the touch is soft. I love how it’s lightweight, so suitable for summer time and I have the ability to layer so you can wear it every season.

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You can choose any design on Spoonflower to create your unique dress. Sprout even allows you to use different designs on different parts of the dress. For the Laurel dress I was making, the cuff is where I made changes. Some patterns give more flexibility and freedom to be your own fashion designer. Mix and match until you like it.

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The Laurel dress took me about 3 days to make. The invisible zipper was the biggest challenge, and I modified the design by making my own bias tape.  Both took more time than I expected to make, but I am satisfied with the outcome.

 

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Even though I’m in Asia, I used this service because it’s unique. Here we have some merchandisers who offer customized fabric printing service, but the minimum order has to be 20 yards of a single design. It’s not affordable nor does any of this service provide fabrics like cotton or other fabrics that are suitable for wearing. I just love creating surface design so thanks Sprout Patterns for making it easier for me to have my own dress!

 


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Canigrin is a dreamer, a maker and a creator living in Taipei, Taiwan. She shares her bright and colorful working process on Instagram and Facebook.

Five Reasons I Love my Sloan Leggings (and Yoga)

Being part of the Spoonflower print team is the best. But, working nights isn’t always easy – it’s difficult to develop a routine when your schedule is the opposite of the majority of the adult world. Meals are hard. When do you do laundry? And, when do you find the time to exercise when you’re totally not a morning person?

I found a way to get some exercise and a way to avoid doing laundry a little bit longer. The magical solution? Practice yoga, and do it in a new pair of Sloan Leggings from Sprout Patterns.

5 Awesome Things Yoga and my Sloan Leggings Have in Common:

  1. The most important thing: Comfort.

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Does doing yoga mean an excuse to wear leggings and comfy shirts? Yes, please! The Sloan Leggings (also available in a customizable paneled version) are ridiculously comfortable. My pair is made with Cotton Spandex Jersey, a lightweight knit that stretches with me.

  1. I can do yoga/wear my leggings anywhere!

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At my house? On a beach? In the print room? Do yoga. At my house? On the beach? In the print room? Wear leggings. Done. The Sloan Leggings even have a pocket so I can take my music with me, too!

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Bonus: I can also cut out Sprout’s pattern pieces anywhere, since there’s no need to lay the pieces flat. My favorite place is on my couch.

  1. I can do yoga/make leggings anytime!

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6am? My dinner break? A rainy afternoon? The hottest day on record since 1910? Sounds like the perfect time to roll out my yoga mat and my cutting mat! My preference for both activities is usually midnight, which is why I picked Midnight in a Perfect World (black) by Mirjamauno (who just happens to work in Spoonflower’s Berlin office!!!)  for my main design. It’s paired with Black and White Geometric by Crystal Walen for some fun contrast.

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  1. Both yoga and leggings make my life easier.

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Yoga helps you to be strong and flexible. These things are essential for surviving the print room, especially when you’re a tiny person moving cores that are bigger than you are and working with machines that are a constant physical challenge.

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You know what else is great for moving freely and staying comfy during any kind of day? Leggings. And, they’re cute! Dress them up or down for a fun pop of color.

  1. There’s something for everyone (furry friends included).

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Yoga is awesome for everyone, because you can create a flow that fits your lifestyle. Same with the Sloan Leggings – order a pair like mine (Creatures of the Night) or design your own!

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I was even able to make a matching headband from the extra printed fabric to keep my crazy hair at bay in the July beach air. Check out this list of four easy tutorials to make your own, too!

If you make your own pair, hopefully I’ll be the lucky print operator that gets to print them out. And, I’m probably going to be wearing my own leggings while I do it.

Happy stretching!
Gina


gina1.jpgGina is a printer operator at Spoonflower (or as she likes to call her position, “Slayer of Ink Beasts”) and a summer intern with Sprout. When she’s not having audible conversations with machinery, she can be found sharing facts about pigeons or Wonder Woman or old buildings with anyone who will listen. Her hobbies include fabric hoarding, wrestling her sewing projects away from her polydactyl cat Oz, and aimlessly wandering with coffee in one hand and her polaroid in the other.

White Glove Sewing Service is Here

For those of you who have wanted to use Sprout, but didn’t have the time or skills, we now have a White Glove Service to sew garments for you!

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We are excited and proud to announce a new collaboration with sewist Eloisa Rivera, as we expand Sprout to include garments sewn by Eloisa especially for you.

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Eloisa Rivera is a brilliant sewist coming from a family line of professional dressmakers going back to the early 1900s. Like her mother, Eloisa first learned to sew at home. She started with small hemming projects, and progressed to fabricating beautiful and unique pageant gowns for her and her sisters. Throughout the years, Eloisa has had the fortune to live in many Central and South American countries, where she applied her masterful skills to open a successful uniform manufacturing business that she owned for many years.

Why are we doing this?

Our aspiration was to create a service that benefits all of us. A way for customers to get garments sewn for them, while fairly paying the people doing the sewing. We consider sewing a skilled craft and want to make sure everyone involved takes joy and pride in their contribution. This pride is evident in the fine craftsmanship that you will see in the garments that you receive.

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How does it work?

At this time our White Glove Service is available on select patterns only. You can view these at the bottom of this page. The great part of this service is that you can add it to individual items in your order. Choose some items to be sewn for you by Eloisa, and sew the rest for yourself.

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If a pattern is eligible for White Glove Service, you’ll see it as an option where you choose your size and fabric. Once in the cart, you’ll see the added cost as well as a place to send a note to Eloisa about your order. If you have questions about the content and care of Spoonflower fabrics, you can find that information here.

Please keep in mind that this is a new service and we’re still fine-tuning it. Please send us your thoughts via our Contact Page. We love helping you design custom garments, and we’re excited to see what you create. Feel free to share on social media with #sproutpatterns or send us a photo of your Sprout Project!