Clever Closure

Despite it’s errors, which I will share, I’m really happy about this blouse and have much to say about it.

Let’s start with the fabric, a rayon-challis, striped-print purchased recently.  I emphasized the ‘striped’ because for a long time I wouldn’t sew with stripes and reached the point of checking carefully to be sure I didn’t buy any striped fabrics.  (I’m buying most fabrics on-line and it’s easy to miss subtle details that will be obvious when the fabric is received like the Bargello nature of the Faux Surplice blouse shared Nov 30.) Then I learned about Pinterest. Started collecting pins. One of my most inspiring and I think soon to be most helpful boards has been my Stripes board.  It has freed me from the assumption my only choice was carefully matched stripes which were usually mis-matched some place. That board and all the wonderful artists it represents has opened my eyes to creative uses of striped fabrics.   For this blouse I cut the front and back on grain which made the stripes horizontal; and cut the sides and sleeves cross grain giving them a vertical direction.

Especially by using the Tabula Rasa Blouse version, I think this arrangement is excellent for us larger ladies.  I think the stripe disruption causes the stripes to slendarize me instead of adding pounds to my frame and especially hips which I think is best exemplified by the full back version:

I was absolutely thrilled at this tall, slender version of me.  Stripes across the back were supposed to be matched. ‘Fraid my center back seam which allows the much-needed round-back alteration was also a place for the fabric to slip just a bit. I did not attempt to match the stripes from back to sleeves.  It just happened.

However I had some issues. First off, I couldn’t find some of my blouse pattern pieces.  I considered use the  large size which is fitted but fitted as a jacket.  I fit the medium for use as a blouse and as you can see above, the ease if perfect.  The jacket is, as a minimum roomy.   So I should have 2 sets of pieces for the TRT with each piece is labeled respectively Jacket-Large, Blouse-Med.  I could find  the neck-darted back and the 1″ front placket front. But the plain pieces i.e back with CB seam and front extended for a CF seam were nowhere to be found.I preseume what happened was something like this: a frantic, creative process followed by a sweeping clean-up. Said clean-up sweeping away these 2 valuable pieces. Sigh, with no other alternative I traced again the basic front and back sized medium and set about trying to restore alterations which made it a TNT.  Easier written than done because I make lots of notation on the basic piece but in subsequent copies only note the current changes.  So I did which I could remember and compared as best as possible to the neck-darted back and button-placket front. Then hoped for the best which created issues down the line.  having the basics in hand I proceeded to my inspiration piece

I’m being inspired by  the Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren.  A PDF pattern is available in her store  which I didn’t buy. I hate PDF patterns and avoid them as much as possible. I hate printing all the pages, then assembling them. Then they never stay taped together so I need to either trace the pattern or struggle with missing pieces. What’s more, I have little faith that any pattern is going to fit me the way I want.  Sadly, I’m passed the days when a simple tuck for a BWL (back waist length adjustment) makes a pattern fit.  I’m  usually looking at a possible 8-10 alterations and lengthy fitting process. Well I have become smarter and found that some patterns are easier to fit but this is not one of them As much as I drooled over the neckline, I could not spend the $$$ needed to work with a difficult-to-fit me pattern.  Instead, I worked with my TNT, the Tabula Rasa Blouse version.  After tracing and then altering the front and back pieces for fit (as best as possible), I set about adding a front pointed tab to my front pattern.  First I added a 3/8″ front seam allowance and extended it up above the shoulder line. Not that I need it that far, that just where my big ruler ended. Then I guesstimated that the button should be at the fullest part of the bust.  I can tell you that I have pretty routinely shifted button placement around so that one would be right on that line. In fact, I’ve often wondered why they even indicate individual button placement on a pattern because everyone ends up shifting that button to the best place for them and then rearranging the other buttons for a pleasing effect.  Anyway, I drew a horizontal line from my bust point out across the front. I was using pencil here and dotted in my first distal point about 2″ from the CF line. Then placed a 2nd point 2″ above and a 3rd 2″ below on the CF stitching line. Now I could draw a triangle extending from the center front. Didn’t seem big enough.  Changed those points to 4″. Whoa! Too big. I’m over-weight but not really a big girl. I adjust the points back, then back again.  I stopped at 2.5″ .  Picked up my curve. Found a nice curve from shoulder point to the furthest triangle point and drew my neckline curve.  Add 3/8″ for seam allowances and I’m done.

It did take a few minutes and, at this point, I’m unsure of the final results.  My plan was to cut 2 fronts, then slice off the point from the left side.  However when it came time to sew, I kept both points. I realized what I’d done after I’d topstitched around the neckline, twice.

Oh well. Some things are what they are.  I made a mental note to cut that off for the next version.  Wonder if I will remember.

My front button:

Is a huge thing.  I almost didn’t get it into the buttonhole foot of my Dream Machine

My foot is similar to this but not exactly the same.

The Dream Machine using this foot, automatically measures the perfect buttonhole for your button. Like I said this old button was almost too big.

It was definitely too heavy for the rayon challis fabric even though my facing was cut from a poly cotton shirting fabric which was itself interfaced. My solution was the time-honored practice of sewing a 2nd button on the private side and directly beneath the big button

It’s a bit tricky. This button is old, I’m thinking 40’s, 50’s but was just what I thought I needed: a big focal point

I wanted to bring attention to that unusual button placket which seemed to get lost in the stripe fabric. I even top stitched twice around the neckline trying to break attention away from the stripes.  In that respect, the stripe fabric was not a good choice. Sort of like setting  up a 60,000 stitch embroidery that doesn’t show up. What’s the point of so much effort if it is just going to disappear.

Front picture shows one of the pattern issues which developed. Well, tissue issue. The original pattern is fine. My alterations, well they can make unexpected changes. Here’s one, the sleeves, which have been used previously and are fitted for the front-placket blouse pattern, are too long.I did notice that as soon as I tried it on but haven’t correct it, even now.  I seem to remember trimming the shoulder  a 1/2″ in length but couldn’t find that info.  I was waiting to see the blouse on me to decide if it is the shoulders or the sleeve which need to be shortened .

Having seen the pics, I’m thinking……. a little of both i.e. 1/4″ from the shoulders and 1/4″ from the sleeve. It’s an easy tweak even when done in two places and I will be much more satisfied with this blouse in the future.

Ummm so what else.  Well the side view was a surprise

When I was sewing the front was 1″ longer then the side front. Both sides. But the back matched perfectly.  I pinned the sleeve-side unit to the front and back (as in the instructions), took the pins out and pressed both pieces before pinning again.  Pinned the second sleeve-side unit into place and discovered it too had the 1″ difference. So I stitched it that way and trimmed 1″ from the bottom of the blouse. (Also folded the front tissue up 1″).  To my surprise the front is just dramatically rising.  First thought, this can’t be sitting correctly on my shoulders.  But it is. Or it isn’t far off. This will need some careful walking to determine what really needs correcting. The back matches. The notches match. The sleeve notches match. How did the side front get shorter than the side back? A mystery I must solve because..

I will be making both this TRB and this tabbed version in particular in the future.  Not next week. I mean I won’t be making the tabbed version next week. I very well could make a different TRB version.  I love this pattern because it was so easy to fit as well as being flattering and easy to sew.  You can’t get much better than that. Oh wait, yes you can. From time to time, the designer, Rae Cumbie offers Variations. These are templates to use for easily creating style variations to the basic pattern.  Love it!

This Tabbed version is especially interesting to me.  I made one tab, how about several?  Mine is 2.5X2.5″, other sizes are possible. I’m not even sure the 2.5×2.5 is the best on me.  I placed my tab bust level, how about moving it up? Or down (especially on a jacket)? I made the pointed tab,  if you buy the PDF pattern  Jennifer Lauren includes a rounded tab and some other style variations. But beyond style, I also want to perfect the technique. I haven’t worked a lot with plackets of this sort.  I have a “magic placket” pattern with which I can stitch 3 sides of a box and create a rectangular tabbed opening after it’s all folded and pressed correctly. But this sticking-out tab is a little different. Not something I’m familiar with and it sets my mind to thinking……



Faux Surplice

Returning to the much-loved Tabula Rasa Tee pattern but moving posts about it to the Block Party Blog because I don’t wish to make endless duplicates of the TRT but I love the fit and the ease of sewing. Which means I need to find easy ways to keep the TRT looking different; cute; fresh which is a perfect subject for the Block Party.

I bought the Clever Crossing Variations

several months  ago.  I’ve already used it to make a Surplice Front for my Autumn 6PAC. To me there are 3 variations rather than the 5 advertised because I think the Shaped Band and Curved Front are almost the same, as is the Cross Over Yoke and Full Front Cross Over Yoke. To be honest, I’m unlikely to sew ‘real’ surplice fronts.  I’ve never solved the gaping problem. Oh I’ve tried innumerable tweaks, but they all fail before the end of the day.  What works for me is some sort of Faux Surplice which is what I will be doing using the Yoked Surplice.

Well, it’s what I intended to do before running into some unexpected issues. I had traced the pieces for the yoke at the same time that I traced the Surplice Front for the 6PAC. So now I pulled them out to see how they worked. I understand the concept, but sewing my fitted T pattern pieces with the new yoke pieces aint gonna work. They just won’t stitch together smoothly. Let me assure you I don’t think that the drafting is the issue. Rather it is possible I didn’t read instructions correctly or I’ve made more changes to the TRT pattern than I remember. Also possible, I trimmed bits and pieces when my rotary cutter went wild.  I opted to skip finding out what caused the difference and go straight to creating pieces that do work together.  I cut a piece of aisle runner long enough to copy my front piece and  folded it in half. I traced with the CF on the fold.  When  trimmed of the excess tissue, I had a full front i.e. both left and front sides joined in one piece.  Using the left shoulder template from the Variations, I traced the curve on the left shoulder of my new full front. I cut apart along that line and added 1/4″ seam allowance only to the new left piece. I think the SA is already on the other piece.  Will find out for sure when I sew everything together.

I planned to used the left over pink polyester rib knit for binding before I even finished that failure of a garment.  So now I cut a nice long piece 2.5″ wide.  I laid out my pattern on  an ITY knit printed in sort of a Bargello pattern. It’s very abstract and once cut apart hard to see the Bargello. I stitched the CB seam, the front darts and attached the fronts and back together only at the shoulder. Then I folded the band of rib knit in half, pressed and basted it along the neckline.  I basted it twice. Three times until I was satisfied it was laying snugly.  Then I serged. One long sweep joining the band all around that most interesting neckline.  Then I attach the left shoulder to the front( up till now it had been dangling free). Time for dinner. I put the unfinished top on a hanger and trotted upstairs.

When I returned the next day, I was horrified; the neckline that I carefully basted 3 times was rippled and flopping about:

Yep that fabric that was lousy in its entirety as a top and was nasty as just banding. I’m actually glad DH interrupted me for dinner.  I much prefer having this happen before construction is complete.  I threaded  3/8″ lingerie elastic through the rib knit band securing it under the cross and again on the side seam.

I cut my sleeve short enough for  a 3″ wide cuff (which I cut 6″ X 10.5″) and added the left over rib knit in the seam which joins cuff to sleeve.

Here’s why I love the TR jacket and T:  I sew this little bit; then this little bit.  Stop to do this little thing. Suddenly, I’m putting in the hem and I’m done. It is hardly more effort than an old fashioned and ugly T shirt. I did test my cover stitch before putting the garment under the foot for hemming.  That burnt me on the BS145 version garment.  Nasty fabric anyway.   To my surprise I had to crank the pressure down a half turn.  I don’t recall turning it up, which I do when I want pin tucks.

Of course I added shoulder pads. Without shoulder pads, I have no shoulders.  Then I took pics.

I think it is really cute. Love it.


BSS145 Cowl Collar: A Successful Failure

I’ve had this pattern, Bresnan Studios 145…

… for 2 or 3 years.  I bought it specifically for the cowl which is a separate piece.  Most cowl blouses have incorporated the cowl into the neckline of the pattern. Makes sense but it also makes the blouse require more fabric.  The BSS145 cowl can actually be cut from a  completely different fabric which would lessen the amount of fabric even more. Which would make it excellent choice for those “whoops not enough fabric” situations.  The tunic itself, is a basic T-shirt with short flutter sleeves. Bresnan is closed, sigh, but the patterns are still available in her etsy shop.  I believe  her original intention was to develop a pattern line of women’s clothing in which all the parts would be interchangeable. Great idea, and similar to Peggy Sager’s (Silhouette Patterns) original thought, but didn’t seem to really take off.

This pattern has languished in my stash a few years. I’m always intending to make it but struggling so much with fit that I didn’t get to it.  I pulled it out this week because I’m seeing so many cowl neck garments for sale.  They are even starting to show up on my rural-casual friends. I think it’s trending!  So, I pulled it out and then said “Crap. Have to fit a whole new pattern. At least it doesn’t have any weird pieces to fuss with.”  Then I thought, why fit yet another T-shirt? So I pulled out Silhouette Patterns 195, the Sweater Set (and Peggy’s own favorite).  SP195 has become my goto basic knit top. I’m using SP195 so much that this and future posts in which 195 is utilized be at my Block Party blog.

The tissue stage of my project is very short. I folded out the sheet of 195, traced the collar

also traced the front and back neckline with a little of the shoulder and armscye to make my template(s).


I pulled out 195 front, back and slim sleeve pieces.  I place them on my fabric (a shiny polyester knit).  I trace the neckline of 195 with a purple pen but cut the rest of the front and back.  Removed the pattern pieces and placed the BSS145 front and back necklines on my fabric roughly aligned with my the traced neckline. I goofed here, so please learn from my mistake. The front shoulder/neckline needs to be cut wider than the back because the collar will fill in part of the front shoulder/neckline. I offset both front and back about 1/2″.

It is a fairly easy and common construction.  The pieces are cut. Front darts stitched and the cowl stitched into the front neckline. Back is cut (for me it needs a CB seam to accommodate my round back alteration) and a back neck facing is finished and attached. The cowl is tucked at specified points (be sure to transfer all the notches from the pattern pieces); then front and back shoulders are aligned; the back neck facing folded around the shoulder sandwich and then the shoulders stitched.  If done correctly, the shoulders are inverted and you have a lovely smooth neckline inside and out.  Trouble for me is I can rarely align the sandwich correctly and achieve the smooth neckline. After 3 tries on only one shoulder, I gave up and aligned front with back shoulder; added a little SAS to hold it in place and then stitched following by serge finishing the shoulder seams.  I like to ensure the shoulder seam stays hidden; so I fold and press that seam in position and secure it with a tack stitch.  I do this nicely.  It isn’t obnoxious, but it is visible.

The rest of the construction typical and easy T-shirt, i.e. insert sleeves, stitch side seams; stitch hems. Oh but I goofed again.  I did not test my coverstitch before zipping through the hems. They had to be ripped out which is an agonizing 45 minute job compared to the 7 or so minutes putting the hems in.  I tested before trying again, but this fabric would not cooperate. It insisted upon tunneling and gathering. I think this is the first fabric I could not tame through adjusting tensions and adding WSS.  I top stitched 2 lines to simulate cover stitching. Then discovered that the 30% stretch this fabric tested at, was not enough. My knit top was definitely too tight across back and biceps. OK this is why I make 1/2″ seam allowances.  I rip out the side seam/sleeve stitching and serge the  seams adding 1″ to the body and 1/2″ to the biceps. But got to tell you if this poly happens to shrink at all, this top will have a short life span.  BUT that isn’t the worse. The knit is rumpled during wear. Sat mouth-watering on the shelf. Hung beautifully on the hanger. On my body, Yuck!  Well I’ve had this problem before. Nice slick camisole takes care of it. NOT THIS TIME:

UGLY! It’s the fabric.  I’ve made this pattern several times.  I have had to manage ease. Did have an issue with sleeves.  All solved. The pattern is a keeper. I’m just glad I don’t have any other cuts in my stash.  It’s the kind of fabric you can’t even use for muslins because ‘the read’ will not be true.  I told DH I wouldn’t wear it unless I could cover it with a vest or something.

But it’s not a total failure. I love the cowl.  I have a template for future use. I understand how to cut the associated pieces and construct.  I have visions of style changes to the cowl. Because it is the separate piece, it is malleable and transferable. So the garment is a failure, but the pattern a success!



Walmart Short Shrug

I’ve shared the inspiration

for today’s shrug back in June of 2017. It is a big comfy garment which I’ve already copied once.

Thing is, it’s mess. It’s not really a flattering garment and in the wrong fabric would add pounds to my frame.  Also, it’s not as well-behaved as is SP083.  

or the Walmart Short Ruana shared a few days ago.

But both SP083 and the Walmart Long Shrug are really easy to sew.  What I set out to do, and the reason why this post is here in the Block Party, was to take the basic measurements of both Walmart Long Shrug and SP083 and arrive at something in the middle. So I measured. I measured the Walmart Long Shrug, the SP083 and the Walmart Short Ruana.  When I put together SP083, I didn’t understand what was the back or the armscye or the front. Now, I’ve got it worked out in my mind.  I decided that the width should be my wing span (52″) minus a cuff; and the depth, the center back should be the same as the Short Ruana (30″).   I also cut 2 cuffs 14″ long and 2 neckline/front bands 52″ long that were joined to make a circle. Notice that I didn’t specify a 2nd number for the width of the cuffs and neckline?  I planned a finished 2″ + SA 1/4″. Should be cut as 4.5″ wide but I cut 9″ wide. I goofed. Didn’t really notice until I was done and it may have been a Freudian mistake as I like the finished garment.

As desired, it is both well-behaved i.e. sleeves aren’t in my soup and not catching on things as I walk by and it is attractive:

Partly the measurements but of course lots to do with the fabric:

Thinking of soft wraps, I purchased several fabrics recently from This is one of them. I thought it was a knit but close examination shows it is a burn-out with the burn-out forming the clearly recognizable feather and fan knitting pattern. Stretch is minimal. It’s not knit and no Lycra content. It does collapse because of the holes into something a bit smaller and it does hang close to the figure also due to the holes.

It’s an interesting fabric that was a bear for sewing.  I tried stabilizing with gelatin. My first foray into gelatin-stabilizer. I dissolved 2 packets of gelatin in about a cup of boiling water adding 2 gallons when all the sand was dissolved. I soaked the fabric in the gelatin solution for about 45 minutes mostly because I was waiting for the washer to finish the current load. Once the washer was empty I added my fabric and the solution — just poured it in– and set the cycle to spin and drain. So the gelatin was not further diluted. When the cycle finished, I hung the fabric to dry.  Was a bit disappointed that my fabric wasn’t stiff when dry. I’m supposing that the spin must have thrown out most of the gelatin as well as most of the water. Still it did have a little more body, which helped. But as you see above I had to use clips. Pins would not stay in place.

This is a serger garment, i.e. not a stitch at the sewing machine is required although you could sew it instead of serging.  I liked how the big ol’ serger foot grabs and holds  3 layers of mostly holes.  I planned for 1/4″ seams but I serged some off because the fabric curled like knit. Once curled it wouldn’t unfurl. Simplest solution was just serge off the curl leaving a nice flat seam.

I wanted to share a visual comparison of the Long Shrug, SP083 and this Short Shrug but my camera skills are lacking. I could not get it all in one frame. So I’m putting out here 2 frames next to each other and hoping it appears that way on your device.

I’ve lined up the 3 shrugs on their left edge (left pic).  That’s them again on the right but due to pic manipulations I’m not sure how happened, they are larger on the right than left.What I hope it shows it the Walmart Long Shrug at 56″ is the longest. SP083, the shortest but widest, is about 2/3″ as long. My Short shrug (on top) is slightly shorter and slightly narrower than the Long Shrug but both longer and shorter than SP083. This Short Shrug, is my preference. SP083, even as a knit binds. I don’t have complete freedom of movement. My Short Shrug with no stretch does not bind. It is imminently comfortable. I think I want my Short Shrug just a little shorter. I really think I would have preferred the planned 2″ wide bindings in lieu of the 4″ I created.  Still and all, it’s a nice wrap. I think I need more.


Side Note:  My issues with SP083 could be solved by making another size.  I believe there are 2 more larger sizes drafted.  But then I think, why bother?  I like this one and it takes far less fabric. This one is a known winner. SP083, still a question.



Up Cycling #2

I don’t think this one is  done, done, all the way done. It too was a knee-length dress sewn for a December anniversary dinner and is a few years old.  I trimmed 9″, but without my realizing,  this dress must have been longer than the dress shared yesterday.  So I trimmed 9″ same as the beaded beauty and then added 3″ wide off-white lace trim. During wear, I think it far too long, plus I find the flash of white at the hem to be annoying.  It was amazingly quick (did I fail to mention that the beaded beauty took less than an hour?).  It will be even faster to cut off the lace and make a plain hem. Cover-stitched, perhaps?

Looking at these pics, I think the proportion is OK. But wearing…. I don’t know.

Up Cycling

I’ve made dresses the last few years to wear at our anniversary dinner.  Since anniversary is in the cold winter, I made long sleeves.  Because DH requested, I made knee-length. I’m not really satisfied with that particular look. Unlike Peggy Sagers, who I’ve come to admire, I don’t feel the only proportion which matters is length of top compared with length of skirt. Although I do agree that those lengths should vary with the person’s height. I also believe that a person’s weight has a dynamic effect on clothing proportions–because I’ve seen the results on me. Bottom line, now that I’m chubby, I don’t really like these knee-length dresses on me although I did 40 pounds ago. The anniversary dresses were worn once and then languished in my closet unselected for summer because of the long sleeves; unselected in winter because of the knee-length skirt (legs too cold and wind whistling across the nether regions); and always bypassed for something with better proportions.  When I changed out seasonal clothing, I decided these should go to the Goodwill. I loved the fabrics though and so just before the trip to make the donation, I pulled them out of the boxes.  I had re-evaluated and decided they could easily become blouses which I will wear in the winter.

My first up cycle is a black ITY with all sorts of lovely glittery designs. Great for winter.  Initially I had thought of trimming 9″ from the hem and adding a trendy note with black lace. Then I remembered some beads I bought July 2016.



I was particularly fascinated b the black beaded in the upper right corner (and just below). They were, I thin anodized with a metallic coating with colors that reflected the glitter of my dress.

So I cut 9″ off the hem. Then I put painters tape 3″ above the newly cut edge and made fringe by rotary cutting every 1/2″.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough beads to put one ever other fringe, so mine are placed on every 4th fringe.  I slide them on then knot the bottom of the fringe.

My pictures just don’t do them justice. They are glittery, shiny. Bounce the light off in all directions. It really has a holiday appeal.

Possibly, I would wear these with my ‘black, dress jeans’ .

I also have a short black skirt purchased in November and I’m planning on making a flocked/burnout velvet pant using 5682.

I hope I have the pic setting correct.  I’m hoping you can click on the pics and see an enlarged view.


Umm, probably enough pics in one post.  I have another up cycle that I will share tomorrow.


Jeannie’s Top

Peggy was highly enthused and gave excellent instructions. I really appreciated her cautioning that many of her measurements were her style choices.  It wouldn’t matter if our measurements were somewhat off or if we used different measurements, fabric type or pattern bases.  She used SP127, but specifically said 195 could be used as well. Having just finished fitting 195, I knew that was going to be my base.

My next thought was fabric.  I loved her use of stripes and wanted to duplicate that. Actually, I wanted to duplicate the whole thing because she’d worked out the problems. Isn’t that why we buy patterns; because someone else has worked out the details that make for a good garment? So I hunted for knit stripes in the stash. I’ve picked up stripe after stripe for other projects and said “no” because I didn’t want to give the attention they needed. Now when I want to use a stripe, I can’t find one. Part of my issue was finding a stripe with an interesting reverse side.  At best I could find stripes that were yarn dyed and therefore the same color on both sides instead of stripe one side glaring white the other. Mostly though I was finding 1-1/2″ yard cuts. Because I needed to cut 2 full fronts, I didn’t want to start with less than 2 yards. (I was right about this. When finished I had a 30″ wide by 35″ long left over. Not even enough for a tank top.) I finally decided if I couldn’t find a duo-sided fabric, I would make one.  Out came the paints.

A short hunt thought the stencils and I had one I wanted to use.  I spread out my fabric and spent a delightful 2 hours stenciling the bigger part of 2 yards of fabric.

When I finished stenciling, I pulled out the gold spray glitter

and had a go at it.  I have used the bottle before and ran out of glitter before I ran out desire to bling. I unscrewed the top and started dribbling the remains. When the glitter was all gone


I let it dry over night. Which was OK since I also needed to hem and photo my last 195 plus I needed to do some housework and stuff.  The next day (Day 2)  I pulled the fabric off my cutting table and pressed it. There was a surprise in store.  My painting ghosted.

From the right side, which I planned on being visible for most of the garment, the painting ghosted through. And I LIKED it!  Maybe I wouldn’t want this for a different project or maybe a different color would have been objectionable. But this fabric, this color, this stencil, it was an interesting development.  I pressed the fabric to heat set the paint.  I always let my fabric painting dry 24 hours and then heat set it. That may not be necessary since I added fabric medium to acrylic craft paint. But it’s what I’ve always done because it’s always worked. My painting never fades or flakes so I keep letting it dry over night and heat setting. Of course, YMMV.

Then I started with the pattern alterations.  I copied the front and started plotting points and drawing lines. As I said before, Peggy gave good instructions and I copied them down pretty well too:


I needed to rewatch only part of the video, the part where she shows how much of the neckline to duplicate. Although I’m sharing a schematic here  I did not make a separate left front.

I’m running low or Aisle Runner, my favorite pattern tissue paper, and decided to conserve by marking the opposite with the two different lines.  Besides the biggest difference was the bottom point is extended 7″ on the right front; 4″ on the left front which makes a huge difference as far as length and angle of the diagonal lines.  I drew the new lines and then folded up the tissue when it was time to cut the left front.

I copied  the back. The side would need to be shortened 3″ which I did not want to do to my now knit-sloper. I traced the back, then canted it out the recommended 3″ and traced the new shape. I needed to work on that curve since I didn’t hear Peggy give numbers just “establish a pretty curve”.  It took me 3 tries but I got there.

No change to the sleeve.  When finished my pieces looked like this (except on aisle runner paper.)

I trued the lines.  Found that the dart legs had to be evened and the back to sides needed a little tweaking.

I laid out the fabric and shifted the pattern pieces around for a few minutes. Finally, thankful this was a 2-way stretch, polyester, knit I laid the pieces out cross grain and cut the back and 2 fronts.  Peggy’s choice for finishing the garment is raw edges which I dislike. I have seen a few artful uses of raw edges but for the most part they look to me like you just gave up. Besides, I need more than just stay stitching to stabilize a neck edge. I can stretch out a stay stitched neck edge before I get the sleeves inserted!  That’s why I usually cut and run to the ironing board to apply fusible stay tape.  This time I cut. Stitched those french darts (noticed I’m not swearing at them) and then applied FOE. 3 times. The first time I applied the FOE to the side seam and hem of the right front. Ripped that out and applied to the neck edge and the flounce; repeat for left front. I carefully aligned and pinned the fronts before stitching them and then stitched the shoulder seams together. At that point, I eagerly took a peek in the mirror. Instead of delight, I said “OH MY GAWD”


That took me back to the time when I was late to church one Sunday and the only choir robe left was the XX XXL that was too big for the largest choir member we’d ever had. It swamped me. Worse yet was the chasuble? (not sure what that big white-collar like thing is called). That’s how the above pic looked to me,,, singing in the choir in robe too big. That’s all the congregation thought about that service.

LESSON LEARNED:  Things made for Peggy’s 5’7″ frame may not be exactly right for my own 5’3″ frame.

I start trimming the long diagonal edges finally shortening the front 4″ and reducing the flounce 2″ in width. It wasn’t until I added soft pleats into the flounce at the neck that I was satisfied.

I called it a day and went upstairs. Next day, Day 3, I started by doing pattern work for my next project. I like to start the pattern work and let it sit over night allowing me to think a bit. AFterward I finished the neck edge.  I was quite concered at how the front gapped:

Apparently the flouce, even trimmed was too heavy for the neck to support.  I planned on using FOE to finish the neckline but wasn’t sure FOE would be enough support. So I fused 1-1/4″ interfacing along the front neck edge

That’s held in place only by the FOE application. I’m hoping it does not ‘come free’ and curl. You’ll see in the final pics that the neck needs this support.

I cut the sleeves, hemmed them and attached to the blouse; stitched the side seams and finally pinked all the raw edges.  It was better than nothing but still I’m not satisfied with the edge finish. I may do something else with the edges or even something else to the blouse. See, I don’t have the enthusiasm for the finished blouse that Peggy did

The color is pretty. The fit is pretty good. That back is sweet. What an easy change to go from T-shirt style to Swing!

Even the sides look good.  There’s very few and then they are small drag lines.  It looks full and loose like the styles I’m seeing on TV, yet except for the back, I didn’t add any ease. Definitely is a high-lo hem but at a length I think is nice on me.

But my enthusiasm is definitely down a notch from Peggy’s level.

It may be the different color. Or the fact I have greater contrast between flounce and the rest of the garment than Peggy’s duo-sided stripe. I also did not create the asymmetrical hem that she did. Or it may just be a little too different for me.  The telling question is “Will you make this again?” Well the sleeve is already ‘kept’.  It is my slim, knit sleeve sloper. I plan to use it as a base for other knit sleeves. Heck I plan to use it and the armscye as my knit sleeve sloper.  The back I love. The swing back and rounded hem really are lovely. I definitely will use that again and I’ve kept it. The front is questionable.   OK I won’t make exactly this same garment again. For starters, I don’t have any more of that stripe fabric. But I’d also like to tweak the pattern to create Peggy’s asymmetry but at a length and width that are flattering for me in place of Peggy’s original dimensions.  Also I can see really working that flounce. It doesn’t have to go all the way to the hem. It is entirely possible to stitch the front seam with a portion to the inside and the rest out there in public view. That flounce can change in other ways too. The 12″ horizontal can be moved up or down; changed from diagonal line to curve; meet the neck closer to CF or further away; can be gathered, pleated or even made from contrasting fabric. It has a lot of promise. So I will not create exactly the garment you see above a second time. I will not create another version for a few months, maybe not until the spring season. BUT I will be using these pattern pieces again. It will appear in my wardrobe in the future.  I give Peggy 2 THUMBS UP for this version.


Sleeveless Armscye Template

When I’m watching Peggy Sagers on YouTube, I know part of the reason she can go so fast, can be so successful with her sewing, is because she has already followed her own advice. Peggy already has templates for  important to fit pieces like armscyes and sleeves. I’ve just got my first armscye template. Yep B6299 gave me a sleeveless armscye template that I am 100% happy about. I can finally tell Peggy (or anyone) that I like a 20″ sleeveless armscye. THIS is my favorite. The 20″ armscye  is perfect for my body.

However, it was drafted in 4 pieces: front, side front, back, side back. Once my Linen 6299 was sewn and fitted, I took the time to carefully copy the armscye and create a 2 piece template.  I think my ironing board provided the best support for these small, curved pieces.

Before finishing the armscye, I placed a large scrap of tracing material on my ironing board; then secured my armscye on top.  I carefully  traced  the back armscye.

Added seam allowances; 2″ depth; and marked everything I could think of (seam allowances, back, front, pattern number. Repeat for front half; trim excess tracing material.

I can repeat this armscye over and over and over, Every time/any time I want a sleeveless armscye, I’ve got MY perfect one.


Before and After AKA Upcycle

I purchased a sun dress last year.  Off the rack. In a gas store. What can I say?  It was pretty. Sturgis was over and the stores were clearing out their Sturgis stuff so it was cheap.  I loved the color. DH said it was cute. I wore it a couple of times at the end of summer and put it away when I made the seasonal wardrobe change.  This year I pulled it out and took pics.Why on earth did DH think this was cute?

It was one of those garments I folded up and put in the donate box.

But it haunted me. I loved the color; design; and ITY fabric. I started seeing these tank top dresses everywhere

Seriously, these were in my catalogs; in the line up at QVC, HSN and Evine.  These things are little more than a  length of fabric gathered to a shortened tank top.  However, the prices make you want to cry. This trend also dove tailed with another style desire of mine: the empire top.  An empire, when done right for me, is very flattering.  I think I can figure out the level the empire on which the empire needs to sit on me.  Also think I can figure out how much ease I need (my empire tops are best when they don’t accent my tummy).  It’s keeping the empire line level that has me buffaloed.  Thank fully, I’m not alone.  I’ve seen a number of these tank dresses and other empire styles; on slim models; and the empire is not level it slants upward at CF.  I really don’t like that look. To me that’s preggars. A look I had to wear for 9 months some 30+years ago and have no desire to repeat.

So I put both ideas together, i.e. the tank top dress trend with my need to adapt the empire for my figure and decide to pull the discarded dress out of the donate box.  I cut away the shoulder straps close to the stitching line.  The elastic shirring was a bit more of a challenge but I managed to get it unraveling and ripped out all 5 rows.  I do have an issue.  There are little holes where the shirring used to be:

I turned the fabric up side down placing what used to be the shirred bodice at hem level.  Hopefully the holes are not noticeable to anyone else. Heck they may even close up a little in the wash.  This is one of those places where my experience trumps Peggy’s opinion.  I don’t get these little holes if I use a ball point needle in a size 10.  I’m sure Peggy is right;  that the manufacturer used a standard size 70 sharp needle and the mfg was not expecting me to remove the shirring.  But I’d rather not have those holes and wish the mfg had followed my experience instead of industry standard as stated by Peggy. . Well, water under the bridge.

The other issue I have is the CB seam at the hem. Well used to be at the shirred bodice.  It’s a little rough

Ok pic doesn’t show my concern so hopefully no one else will notice either.

From my stash I retrieved  a black ponte remnant.  Looking back, I think I saved the remnant  with the thought of using it for bindings.  It is a little heavy but for a test garment probably OK.

And this is a test. Because I don’t know precisely what to do to make my empire line level.  I traced the front and back of my knit sloper from shoulder to waist.  I saw no point in tracing below the waist when I planned to discard all that anyway.  I started by altering the back pattern piece. I tried on a striped top that I like and measured down to the stripe level equal to where I thought I wanted my empire. That number is 4.5″.  I measured down the side seam 4.5″ drew a horizontal line across to CB.  From there to the hem was 1.25″ excess tissue which I trimmed away.  My sloper contains a neckline dart the result of rotating my RBA so that I don’t need a center back seam. I rotated the neckline dart to shoulder; moved it to armscye edge  and  trimmed away.  I trimmed all the excess tissue

and proceeded to alter the front.

I had trimmed 1.25″ from the back to make the side seam 4.5″ long. So now I trimmed 1.25″ from the bottom of the front.    Suzy Furrer has you move the bust dart to the hem when converting your sloper to a knit block. How would that work since I’d already cut off the hem?  I didn’t know. So instead I slashed from side seam to CF 4 times.  Each of the resulting wedges were overlapped until my front side seam was the same length as my back side seam, 4.5″. Unfortunately, my CF looks like the dog’s hind leg i.e. bent.

My front sloper has an armscye dart. If left In my tank top, the armacye will gap or I’ll need to sew a dart. Instead I rotated it to the empire line which thankfully straightened out my CF once again.

I turned my attention to the neckline and armscye of both pieces. My sloper is drafted for the typical high  T-shirt neckline and shoulder.  I want my tank top neckline to be lower both in front and back and I want a narrower shoulder. About 2.5″ at the shoulder should do but I’ll want seam allowances too.  I drafted from front neckline to be 6.5″ deep and 1″ further away from my physical neck. I changed my back neckline to be 3″ deep and 1.25″ away from my physical  neck. Why the difference? Something I learned from Suzy Furrer is that if you move the back neckline just 1/4″ further from the neck than the front , the back will pull on the front and remove any gaping. I drafted my shoulder to be 3″ wide.  Trimmed all the excess tissue and stepped back to take a look:

The back looks about as expected. I’m really cautious about the front piece. The empire line sweeps upward pretty sharply. I walked the side seam about 3 times just to be sure front and back side seams were the same length.

I serged one shoulder. Added FOE to the neckline then stitched the other shoulder. I stitched the right-shoulder 1/8″ deeper than the left to accommodate my lower shoulder. Then I basted the side seams and slipped it on. While it is hard to tell much at that fitting,  I did decide to trim 1/2″ width both front and back but only at the empire. IOW removing  a wedge from the side seam which was  1/2″ wide at the empire zeroing at the armscye.

On these type dresses,  the skirt is usually gathered to the tank top. I’m not a fan of that look especially on me. It says preggars, again. But I wanted all the hem circumference.  I could have cut the fabric into an A-line shape. I opted instead to pleat the skirt to my top. The result:

Fit02 above


Sleek and smooth. Just what I wanted. Tank and skirt smoothly joined. No gathers to pucker or emphasize my tummy. Joy of all joys, my empire is sitting level.  That odd front piece works. My criticism is that I think I want the bodice longer.  I should have made the top at 6 or 7″ long.   After this fitting, I added a 1″ finished band to add at the bottom. I agree with Peggy that it’s a better look to stop the eye at certain places.  The neckline is one. The hem  another. So I have solid black at the hem (bottom) and again at my neckline (top) framing my stature.


I’m really pleased with this project.  I have a wearable dress and a good beginning empire.  I will not alter my empire tissue further. I will however copy it and make changes.  In addition to the empire being shorter than I prefer, my tank shoulders are still too wide. Possibly I could just indicate that a seam allowance needs to be trimmed if using FOE. I might also deepen either or both front/back neckline. Because it’s a tank.  Finally, the armscye is a bit high, especially for a tank.  But I’m still pleased.  I’ve made a very good start; and definitely have some impressive before and afters

Too much flare at the hem

oh and the humongous bust dart continue to occupy my mind. I do like a tent top but I don’t want every top I wear to stick out at the hem.  I decided to leave the bust dart alone, after all it is working and turned my attention to reducing the flare at the hem.  I aligned my hip curve by the waist and pivoted back and forth until I could remove about 1.5″ from the hem


Which creased a nice smooth side seam


At the same time, I tweaked my sleeve


I like to change the ease of the sleeve on the fly (so to speak) and folded out the excess. This sleeve makes a cylinder shape on my arm.


Could be a little tighter at the wrist or I may have stretched the wrist when I cover-stitched the hem. Basically it’s a nice sleeve neither too tight nor too loose.

I added a V-shaped embroidery


Not wanting to use FOE or a ribbing, I created facings, both front and back ..

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… using a light-weight, white knit which I interfaced with nylon tricot.

I’m not thrilled with the finished garment:

The ridge is from my back support.

For starters, this was forgotten in the closet whilst I was ill. After being ill for so long, I’m noticing that I have to deliberately get up and straighten my posture or I will walk about hunched over. No doubt my wonky posture is affecting the look.  The fabric has about 200% stretch, (I exaggerate) while my pattern was fit for about 30%. About half way through construction, I remembered why this particular fabric has been marinating in the stash for so long (about 25 years).  It’s mostly cotton. Not sure there’s any poly or nylon or other fiber.  Interestingly,  it recovers quickly the first few times it is stretched. But after that, it doesn’t recover as quickly or completely.  I remember that the longer I wore the first garment (made from this exact same fabric), the further it drooped. The scooped neckline was below my bra shortly after noon.  Also it tends to reveal rather than conceal as seen by the ridge in the pic above which is my back support (also needed more since my illness).

It’s one of those fabrics that has me asking, “Did I fit this pattern at all?”

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Sigh. Unfortunately I changed the pattern so even though fabric is clearly an issue, I can’t be sure I don’t have a pattern problem.

You know, sometimes I think I need to remove every elderly fabric from my stash. Even the 100% wools and silks. Modern fabrics are so much kinder to my figure. And easier to sew with.