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Otto Sizing Chart

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Otto 5/2013

I must admit I looked forward to getting this issue.  Most of my sewing is being done from Ottobre Design. These are not so much fashionable as they are wearable. Like it nearly always takes a few months or years before I make a garment from a Burda issue. But when I receive a new Otto, right away, I’m adding to the que.

So here’s what I think:

#1 Autumn Mood: is really the classic T-shirt I traced from 2/2006 but it has a wider neckline, shorter sleeve and curved hemline. I won’t retrace the complete pattern. I’ll trace the neckline (front and back) and fold my sleeve pattern at the hem to change the look. As for the curve at the hem, I’ll guesstimate that at cutting time.   I’m unlikely to make the tunic version but I do like where they placed the pockets.  I steer clear of breast pockets either one or two.  I feel like the upper location brings to much attention to an area where I prefer a little modesty.

#2. Outdoor Activity. I would have passed these if I hadn’t looked at the line drawings.  Sometimes I wish Otto would give us just a little more information. This is one time I can’t be sure where the waistline sits. Is it at the waist? Hip? I don’t know and again might have passed on making these except that the line drawings show me that the pant is darted to fit at the top and then a curved-facing is applied at the waistline. I don’t like big ol’ square pockets on my big ol’ square butt. I’ll use the acorn pockets I have from another pattern.  I’m also not all that excited about the fly shield and separate fly facings.  I’ll be adding the fly to the center front and cutting as one piece.  Oh yes, I will try these at least once.

#3 Leo Bohemian This is cute. I took a quick look at the previous issues and don’t see anything close to it.  I like the back yoke.  I’m narrow across the shoulders but need a little more ease across the shoulder blades.  The back yoke is an easy way to give me both.  Same thing with the front gathers at the shoulder line. I happen to like look of  gathers at the front shoulder line.  I do have to be  careful with front yokes. They tend to really emphasize how narrow and rounded I am.  The back yoke that just barely peeps over the top of the shoulder and the saddle shoulder are two drafts that I know work for my figure. I like the front opening and the coordinating fabric used for the placket but I was surprised Otto didn’t use more of the coordinating fabric.  To me it looks like what happens when I run out of fabric. Except I would but the placket on the inside making it a facing.  But I like this look. What I will do is use the same fabric for all the pieces; or use a coordinating fabric at the placket, cuffs and yoke. I think that’s a much more tied-together look. Another option would be the coordinating fabric at the front placket and adding appliques to body or a hem band.

One thing that concerns me is that every illustration shows the front hem to be higher than the back.  I don’t care for this because I’m always fighting this issue.  I’m particularly chesty so this also annoys me. I nearly always have to add 1/2 to 1″ length to the center front of my tops.

4 Monday Basic /Friday Evening

I’d need to compare this to be sure, but I think it’s a variation of  5/2008 Style  8. It may not be the same raglan shaping.  8, 5/2008 has almost a saddle shoulder. The neckline of #4, 5/2013  is much wider Both have 1 piece sleeves but #4, 5/2013 has a shoulder dart.  It also has a shorter sleeve. Neckline and sleeve length seem to be trends Otto is using. I won’t  make the dress length for sure. Since I have narrow shoulders, I’m leary of very wide necks. I’m more likely to use Loes  Hines 5205 and change the sleeve length. I know that LH5205 fits through shoulder, neckline, bust and hip.  It’s an interesting style. I use variations summer, spring, fall and winter.  I do recommend making it. Just that I won’t be using the Otto version.


Definitely will not make this either as a dress or top.  My past experiences were unlovely.  The band across the middle is uncomfortable and draws attention to my tummy.  My tummy is what it is and has been for many years, through many weight changes. This is not a style which I think is flattering for me.

6 Business Blazer I won’t be making this, but not because I can find any faults.  I think there is much to recommend this blazer pattern.  There is the two-piece sleeve which provides superior fit and comfort.  It seems to be a tailored blazer complete with lining pieces. I won’t be making it because I won’t be making a blazer in the foreseable future.

7 More Official

Won’t be making these either but not because I dislike the pattern. I already have my JSM pattern fitted and ready for fall sewing. I did take note of the waistband which is an easy details to add to my JSM.  These look like nice basic slacks. I do think someone mentioned they were too short, leg length wise.  To be honest, in the winter I prefer to wear boots. A slim leg, like this one, tends to stack in folds above the ankle because of the width of the boot. So a shorter leg could be desirable. It most certainly would keep my cuffs out of the snow and mud. What I do though is to incorporate a “boot cut” i.e. add a little flare from mid calf to ankle.

8 Girly Touch

This looks like a classic shirt blouse with front button band, back yoke, collar and stand. I don’t really see anything special; just a classic garment.  I probably won’t trace this one unless someone else point out what is so special about it.

9Made it Easy

I won’t make this, but I do think it’s neat.  It’s a skirt made by taking a rectangle and adding darts at the waist. I take it back, if I make a skirt this year, this will be the one.  It looks like instant gratification which could easily be adapted for children or the very large.

10 Parisian chic.  Don’t know if I will make this one. I like the look of it but the yoke is shaped in such a way that I fear it will highlight the roundness of my shoulder. I notice that Otto used black. Black does a good job of hiding details.  The model also has her hands on her hips which causes her elbows to bend and her shoulder line to rise.  I’m not saying this is deliberate or deceiptful.  Only that I’m not sure I want to spend time on a design which I can’t tell will look good when I’m finished.

11 On-Trend

Another classic cute skirt. A little short but that’s easily changed if you need a skirt in your wardrobe.  If I add a skirt, it would only be one skirt, the interesting #9.

12 Peplum

This blouse generated some talk. There are questions about the attractiveness of the peplum and the timing since this looks more like a spring or summer garment than something for cooling weather.  I was surprised at how flattering a peplum is on my rounded figure.  It’s an easy, sneaky way to get enough fabric across my middle front.  I say sneaky because the eye tends to follow the movement of the fabric and not notice the amount of body it is covering.  Again I like the back yoke of this pattern.  I’m more likely to make this than style 8 or 10 but I would make many changes.  First, a high, tight, round neckline is not flattering for me.  I’d get of that collar, even if I bothered to trace it. I would reshape the front neck but probably do nothing to the back pieces.  The “waistline” doesn’t fall in an attractive place for me.  I think it would be pretty easy to raise the waistline about 2″. Which would leave the blouse way too short but I also think the peplum at it’s current length is surperfalous. It needs to be lengthened. It begs to be lengthened. I would make it 6-10 inches long.  While the sleeves are cute, they’re not for winter wear. Definitely, definately they would be lengthened. In the end, I’m not sure I’d be making this pattern or one of my own.

13. Wardrobe Basic

I’m considering this very carefully.  I have wool purchased on sale 2 years ago.  I think this would make the perfect boiled wool jacket.  I love the 2 piece sleeve, the front shoulder dart and the styling.  Those front darts would be either pin tucks or made on the inside.  I’ve never liked darts sewn on the outside.  It just looks and feels wrong to me.   This one is in queue.

14 Waves

Another discussed as to it’s seasonal appropriateness. Personally I think it goes along with 16 as maternity wear.  If you’ve ever been pregnant in the winter, you know what I mean. But I’m more likely to make this next year out of a very soft jersey.

15 Bell amour

A cute skirt, I won’t be making. Because I rarely wear skirts and don’t need many in the closet. yet I think this is attractive and if made longer so as to offer some modesty, it would be neat to make. The directions tell you that it is a skirt and an over skirt. This would be an opportunity to use up those burnout silks and other sheer or semi-sheers in the stash. It is possible to make the skirt without the overskirt or to make the overskirt with it’s ruffle just add length again for modesty. Interesting skirt.

16 Pine Green

I’ve discovered that horizontal rouching does nothing for me when it’s across my middle. Unlike the dress#5, it doesn’t contain the irritating band and so is just an empire line I could possibly wear. Otto has published several similar but I haven’t made them.  I use Louise Cuttings Ebb pattern when I want an empire style. The Ebb is perfectly fitted to me both ease and proportion.  I don’t intend to be derrogative towards Otto’s designs. It’ just that when I have a sure winner, as the Ebb, I’m reluctant to experiment.


I have never been able to keep a surplice garment from gaping. Even double stick tape fails me.  So even though this is an interesting raglin version, I’ll let someone else make it and let us know how wonderful it is.  I do note that it seems to have a good overlap and lots of side shaping. I also like the shoulder-darted raglin sleeve which I personally think fits much better.  The pictures show the neckline much lower than I prefer. Normally that’s a Burda feature and Otto presents more wearable necklines. Maybe it was just that photo??

18 Fall Favorite

I do like the classic lines of this duffel coat.  I’m sure it is a perinneal favorite that is offered in stores every winter season. Otto has drafted this with the draw strings at both waist and hem (if you’ve ever had prarie winds whistle up your coat, you’ll appreciate these). Also think the split back is an interesting on-trend feature. I wear and sew simple one piece hoods but much prefer this 3 piece. It’s more to sew, but it tends to stay on the head even with aforementioned prarie winds.

19 Vibrant Saffron

The last “real” pattern (as far as I’m concerned) in this issue, is this classic coat.   I do love the wide collar and lapels and the belted sleeves. I love the bright-colored wool Otto chose.  When winter is grey, these kinds of colors are a visual and spiritual relief.  I won’t be tracing this one.  If and when I want another such classic, I already have a similar pattern. Mine was made of a rich camel colored wool, lined in silk satin in golden-yellow.

20 Chrystal

Not to me a garment pattern but rather a artistic diversion Otto is offering.  Last winter 5/2012, Otto presented a shoulder shrug which also had a practical aspect.  I have seen such collars in stores but never worn. Oh and i won’t be making this either. I’ll wait and admire yours instead.

So added to my queue is 1, 2, 3,13

4 substitute LH 5205; 16 substitute with CLD Ebb

9 maybe

This may not be Otto’s best issue, but if I make everything planned, I will have a new 6PAC.

Ottobre Design

First published Sept 2012

And then my Ottobre Design magazine arrived. I ordered 2 issues from Ottobre Design ()2/2006 and 5/2007). I’m not sure which months these were actually published because “5/2007 ” title makes me think May but the issue is subtitled autumn/winter.  These back issues were recommended to me because they contained basic styles and designs. It was thought this would be a good experience seeing if Ottobre Design styles were easier to fit, how the directions compare etc etc.

My initial reaction is delight. Yes the photo shoots aren’t the high-flauten NYC runway shots like Burda Style publishes. The models look more like the people I see about town or in the bank.  Which is good.  I’m always leary of the Big4 and fashion magazines because I’ve never had a model’s body not even when I was modeling.  Clothes do not hang on me the way they hang on the anorexic. When I look at those fancy spreads, I have a hard time seeing the garments on me and even harder time buying (or making) something for me that was designed to  fit an a 11-year-old.  So I’m delighted to see some real looking people doing a little modeling in real environments (no oversized leaves or jump-from-the-window views).  There is very little black, dark brown or dark blue in these two issues.  In combination with regular looking people doing regular people activities, I could see and judge the style details.  I can see where the shoulder line lays and how many darts there are as well as hem lengths, sleeve styles and a whole lot more.  The pictures were taken to inform me about the styles not WOW me about the models.  I like; very much I like this philosophy.  Burda style claims many more styles in their issues (I disagree sometimes. A hem length change does not warrant a new style # IMO). Otto does not even attempt as many. But what Otto does do is include all the sizes 34 through 52 on the pattern sheet.  This is very important to me because I straddle the women’s and plus sizes.  I’m a 38 shoulder, 40 armscye; need a 44 at the bust and waist but need the ease of a 48 to adequately cover my tummy and hips.  It is so much easier to trace my sizes when I’m working with only 1 pattern sheet and not needing to grade the pattern.  I’m very pleased and see the fewer styles as a PLUS.  Speaking of pattern sheets, Otto publishes on white paper.  Similar to Kwik Sew but not as heavy of a paper. Still heavier than the paper used by BS.  I haven’t traced my first pattern, but already it appears to be easier to see the pattern lines. BS is a mass of lines. I must locate the numbers, trace with my finger and then lay tissue on top and try to trace with a pen.  Can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed that up.  I’ll be sure to confirm this, but I think the fewer patterns means fewer lines to print and then attempt to read and trace; while the white paper means easier to read.  This is just a winning combination (few lines, white paper) that BS really ought to reconsider.   I’ve chosen my first pattern to trace and sew-up. I’ll be back with some real experience.

ETA: My cost for 2 issues plus postage was 19.60 Euro.  I suspect the total cost to me is US dollars will be a bit less than $20. I appreciate sites that accept US dollars. Those that don’t I rely upon my banker (credit card company) to make the exchange.  There will be an exchange amount, an exchange fee and with some banks a service fee. My CC is very good at listing out all the numbers. I’ll find out the equivalent when I get the next statement.

How I Fit Otto Patterns –YMMV

I’ve come to think of my Otto patterns as fitting out of the envelope. It only took about 3 patterns to reach that comfortable status. I am not standard sized. I am not deformed or handicapped (beyond aging eyes). I am pretty much the average American woman at 5’3″ and 160 pounds. Yes TMI, but I wanted you to understand that I am average and that my process can work for you.

I find when compared to the standard that I am 2″ shorter, have a narrow shoulders, hollow chest and my 10 pounds-over-the-average-woman developed into a bit of a tummy.  When it comes to pants, my waist is tilted and my rear “perky”.  If you compare my torso with fruit, I am a classic pear.  I have as much depth as breadth.  I really look like a juicy, well rounded pear. Now my figure is not that different from the “average” American female.  The pear is the most common torso shape and the shape most thought of as womanly.

Put it simply my process is to  measure my body and trace the size on the pattern which corresponds to the size of my bodily part and add seam allowances where needed.

I recommend starting with basic patterns in the Otto magazine.  The Vintage Blouse is a classic women’s blouse (not shirt) for a woven non-stretch fabric.  It is found in issue 5/2007 style #1.  For knits, choose the classic T-shirt in issue 2/2006 also style #1.  While you really might dislike “mom” jeans I do recommend that you start with the non-stretch classic jean in issue 5/2007 #16. This pattern will give you a wearable jean (even if you never wear it to the grocery store) while at the same providing you the fitting details you’ll want to know for other Otto trousers or pants.  Whatever it takes to fit these 3 garments, is what you will need to do for all Otto patterns.  In fact you need only fit one of the tops (either the woven blouse or stretch T-shirt) and the jeans to know exactly what to do to fit any other Otto patterns. One catch, that’s if you use my process and I always admit that your personal preferences or situation could be so different from my own that my process won’t work at all for you.

Here’s what I do:

Find the measurement chart in the Ottobre Design magazine.  It’s in the General Instruction pages.  Early issues contained only metric measurements.  The later Otto issues show imperial (inches) as well as metric.   Nearly every tape measure in America has Imperial (inches) on one side and metric measures on the reverse.  When measuring yourself , turn the tape measure over and record the metric measurements to compare with Otto’s metric chart.

Measure everything that Otto measures. No kidding. Measure your body everywhere Otto indicates:

  • Bust
  • Hip
  • Waist
  • Outseam length
  • Shoulder width
  • Sleeve length
  • Back width
  • Upper arm circ
  • Back Waist length.

Compare your metric measurements with Otto’s metric measurements and circle the sizes to trace. Yes that was plural.  It’s very likely that you will be tracing multiple sizes.  Maybe this is TMI, but my real life example looks like this I have an Otto:

  • 40 Bust
  • 44 Hip
  • 42 Waist
  • 38 Outseam length
  • 38 Shoulder width
  • 40 Sleeve length
  • 40 Back width
  • 42 Upper arm circ
  • 38 Back Waist length.

A real maze eh? On my first go at Otto patterns, I used the Vintage Blouse,  I trace a 38 neckline, 38  shoulder, 38 armscye, 40 bust, 42 waist and 44 hip. This sounds harder than it is.  There were times when I made dots at the correct size and then used a curved ruller to smoothly join between the lines.  You’ll be surprised after you choose multisizing the first time and realize how easy it is.

I did mention that I’m 2″ shorter than the average?  Well I’m accustomed to making a back waist length adjustment of 1″ on nearly every  pattern. Most Big4 patterns have a line with the caption “shorten or lengthen here”.  I would fold up 1″ in order to petite the pattern. Otto isn’t so marked but it’s still easy. I draw a line above the waist, horizontally 90 degrees to the grain line or “place on fabric fold” line.  Then I draw another line 1″ away from the first (still above the waist).  I fold the first line up to the second line.  It’s true that I have a little advantage here because I already know this. If you have unsolved issues, join us at Stitchers Guild and ask your questions.

Do you remember my previous post wherein I stated that Ottobre Design follows the European Cut?  That was important because the European Cut is closer to the body.  If you love Style Arc patterns, you’ll find that Ottobre Design, while not as fashion forward, has the same lovely fit.  I prefer a little more ease. Also  I  wonder whether my self-taken measurements had been entirely accurate, because the back seemed a tish tight. So on subsequent patterns for tops, I cut 38 neckline and shoulder, 40 armscye, 46 side seam.  I make the 1″ BWL (someday I must figure out how to do this while tracing) and then add 1/4″ seam allowances where needed (hint some necklines are designed to be be bound and do not need a seam allowance.) I find that this routine coupled with an awareness of the inherent stretch of my planned fabric, gives me a perfect fit every time. Every time.

When ever I trace a new top I trace along the same size lines

  • 38 neckline/shoulder
  • 40 armscy
  • 46 side seam.

it doesn’t matter the style.  Ineed an Otto  38 shoulder and 46 side seam to be comfortably dressed.  Stretch is a factor. I’m careful to choose a stretch fabric when the pattern specifies stretch fabrics.

I hope that my process can help you. I’m still proudly wearing that first blouse and wish the same happy experience for you.

Things to Know Before Fitting An Otto Pattern

Otto’s sizing is very consistent.  That means if you need to make one adjustment, say a narrow shoulder alteration, on one Otto pattern, you will need to make the same adjustment, the exact same amount on all Otto patterns.  I”m telling you this is wonderful.  This year I had to refit a number of patterns and was repeatedly frustrated by each of the Big 4 Companies patterns.  Every pattern needed different adjustments; and every adjustment needed to be tweaked by different amounts.  Let Otto’s consistency be a comfort to you.  It is the rare person who needs no alterations. You are unlikely to be that person. But when you find the alterations you need, you will repeat them on every Otto pattern.  I assure you that because you are making the same alterations every time, it become automatic and quick.  You’ll whip through them faster than then it takes to describe and you start thinking of your Otto patterns as fitting out of the envelope.

Otto’s sizing follows a European fit. It is closer than an American fit and much more flattering.  Most people complain that they spend hours altering the American Big 4  patterns because of the excess ease. If you like a closer fit, if you appreciate the European fit, you will love Otto.  Myself, I prefer slightly more ease and I will explain how I handle my personal preference as we go along.

Every Otto issue contains a sizing chart; and every sizing chart includes bodily measurements never shown on American Big 4 patterns!  This is the most helpful tool imaginable.  Earlier issues contained only metric measurements.  The later issues show imperial (inches) as well as metric.  If using one of the earlier issues, turn your tape measure over.  Nearly every tape measure in America has Imperial (inches) on one side and metric measures on the reverse.  When measuring yourself , turn the tape measure over and record the metric measurements to compare with Otto’s metric chart.

Measure everything that Otto measures. No kidding.  So many women struggle with fitting the upper torso, the shoulder, neck, above bust and bust because there is no reliable way to compare the measurements of American patterns to our bodies in these areas.  We’ve developed some pretty complex and ingenious methods of achieving a fit when using American patterns.  Trust me, measure your body everywhere on Otto ‘s measurement chart

About Otto’s seam allowances, hems and facings.  Otto includes 1″ hems but does not include any seam allowances. You are allowed to add your preferred seam allowance width.  Except, Otto is very aware of modern sewing techniques and will advise you to not add seam allowances in certain instances. You need to read the instructions.

Otto Instructions are unlike Burda Style’s  cryptic 2 paragraphs of text. Otto provides a generous half page of instruction for each pattern. You are expected to know basics or have reference manuals for basic sewing techniques. This is completely unlike some of the independent pattern companies who treat each pattern as a mini-workshop or like the American Big 4 who’s instructions are determined by the amount of printing required. Otto provides enough to get you going.  Definitely includes adequate text for unusual techniques.  But if you have problems, do consult a sewing manual or find a sewing mentor.

Tracing is similar to Burda Style patterns but on a smaller sheet of high quality paper. The lines are a little bit easier to find. But the sheet is smaller and therefore many more of the patterns are split into subsections. Like Burda you find the pattern sheet, color and piece numbers in the instructions.  You then open out the correct pattern sheet and locate the numbers, in the correct color on the side of the pattern sheet. Look straight across from the number on the side until you find the number within the maze of lines on the interior of the sheet.  I usually trace the pattern piece with my finger, before laying tracing paper on top and tracing with a pen.  I use a different color pen to trace than the color in which the pattern is traced.  That helps tell me that I’ve traced all the lines and markings before I lift the tracing paper.  I can, and so can you, put the tracing paper back down in place and copy anything missing, but it’s so much faster if I get all the details the first time.  Oh and I frequently miss something so this is a really good idea for me.


OK any other warnings I should give you…..

…. then onto the next post where I tell you how I trace patterns so that they fit right out of the envelope.

About Otto

aka Ottobre Design Magazine.

For those of you not familiar with this magazine….

It is created in Finland and available in many countries.  I subscribe directly from the internet site  This year, 2012, Otto expanded not only the number of  countries but the languages in which Ottobre Design is available.  I believe it began publishing in about 2004. Initially I dismissed Otto,  because I am primarily a dressmaker (sewing for a woman,myself), also doing a little tailoring, a little men’s sewing; some home dec and a bit of experimental/decorative stitching.  The first Ottobre issues were devoted entirely to children’s clothing and carried none of the things I’m interested in sewing.

As I heard it,  women so loved the children’s patterns; the esthetic of a wide range of styles (basic, cute and dress) that were well drafted, easy to sew and fit well; that women started asking/begging OttobreDesign to publish patterns targeted for the average woman with an average lifestyle.  That would be the size 14-16 female (vice size 0), who works in an office (rather than a bar or brothel)  takes care of the 2.3 children (the statistical average) and has neither the time nor desire to be heavily made up or overly dressed.  Otto responded with issue 2/2006, their first collection for women’s  “well-designed basic patterns for making individual clothes… picture … a wonderfully ordinary, energetic and active woman whose life mainly revolves around home and work….”

Otto chooses average women, not professional female models to photograph wearing their women’s collections.  This has both advantages and disadvantages.  You are not seeing “the fantasy” but rather seeing how you can expect to be perceived.  It’s a “no illusions” attitude and I have to say, I really appreciate the view-point.  By looking at the “models”, I have a fair idea how the clothing will appear when worn by….. ME.

I also find that because Otto is not focused upon presenting a “fashion forward view”, every picture reveals details of the garment. This isn’t true with Otto’s competitors. Otto’s competitors are selling fashion magazines which happen to contain patterns or opportunities to purchase patterns. Otto’s competitors are more interesting is publishing a heavenly dream in which all details are filled in by your creative left-brain. Because Otto isn’t focused on being a fashion magazine, they choose fabrics in colors that photograph well.  A great advantage for me is I’m not looking at a photograph assuming one thing and then upon turning to the schematics, finding something entirely different. (In a competing magazine,  I might find a completely different garment than the one I’m admiring!)

On the downside, I really disagree with their fabric choices as well as many model poses. I understand that the model’s are not professional, but really are the Finish in some way prevented from acquiring the same fabrics as the rest of us?  Often the fabric and poses can completely turn me off.  I’m expecting something more normal; more RTW just on a “real” woman.

Another downside I’ve experienced is that the stretch factor is not specified.  I believe that several of the patterns I’ve made were drafted for 4-way-stretch; and greater than 30% stretch.  The pattern instructions only indicate “stretch” fabric required.

In 2012, I was re-introduced and eventually purchased all the back-issues due to the enthusiasm of a Stitcher’s Guild member.  This member kept sharing garments she’d sewn from Otto patterns.  Over and over she stated that while Otto’s patterns were not fashion forward and the pictures can absolutely suck, they fit wonderfully and were the garments in high rotation i.e. the garments she really wore. I’m having a similar experience.  I was surprised while perusing  a recent RTW fashion catalog to find that every garment I would seriously consider buying, I already possessed a pattern; an Ottobre Design pattern.  I’m finding  that my Otto garments are in high rotation and have enough fashion details to be current.  Once I worked out the sizes I needed, I began creating garments that “fit right out of the envelope.” I’ve fallen for Ottobre Design.

Hello world!

… and welcome to my Ottobre Design Adventure.

I’ve become so enamoured with Ottobre Design magazines that I’ve decided to record my Otto experiences separate from my other sewing blogs sdBev and sdBev’s Pants.  This blog will host all my past and future posts about patterns published in Ottobre Design.