Snake Print 195

 I had this finished before I started on the new pants pattern but didn’t have the post written. Was so excited about the pants pattern, I delayed until it was done. Nonetheless, I do want to document and share my beaded neckline.


Silhouette Patterns 195 has become my knit block. I am especially pleased with the last alteration which shifted the french dart to an armscye dart. I much prefer the armscye dart. I think it is easier to sew and more importantly I can use it to tweak the fit of my upper body — the pear-shaped part above the bust.

I thought my fabric was an ITY knit but the way it handled in several areas has me questioning if it was a 100% poly ITY. I mean ITY  just means interlock twist yarns.  They can do all kinds of things to it which makes a difference in how it handles and wears and still call it ITY.  It is a recent acquisition for my stash selected this time because I thought it ‘went’ best with a beaded neckline I purchased off eBay.  Whew, I’ve just been taken over by the laces and trims offered on eBay. I’ve never had such a wealth offered. Prices aren’t bad either but that’s not the important point.

This neckline piece is a combination of plastic ‘jewels’ stitched onto a tulle base.  I assumed the beads and tulle base were to remain together.  Meaning, I did not remove the beads and stitch them separately onto my neckline by hand.  Of course the piece wasn’t as spectacular in person as it was on the internet.  I expected that. These kind of beads never are and so I wasn’t disappointed. I did think the size was different.  Please understand this was not the vendor’s fault.  They listed the dimensions correctly. I visualized them incorrectly. Which meant I had some fast thinking to do if I wanted to use the piece as intended.

I started by cutting out my front piece straight across from shoulder point to shoulder point. IOW not cutting the neckline at all.   I marked down about 6″ from the shoulder point and center front. Then I started shifting the neckline piece around trying to get it on the front in such a way I would simply cut the neck down from the shoulders. Couldn’t do it. Well I could if I wanted to leave the front neck totally unscooped. Not me. I don’t wear turtlenecks or high collars unless I will otherwise be naked.  I studied and played. Shifted it up, back. Side to side. Finally I decided.

I used a self-fabric french binding around the lower edge and then pinned the top of the beaded piece to the front about 5.5″ below the shoulder point. Next I made tubes which finished about the same width as the french binding and placed them from shoulder extending down to the upper edge of the beaded piece. I made a tube that were twice as wide as those extending from the shoulder and placed it across the where the beaded piece met the previous tubes. Finally I trimmed out the neckline. After joining the back and front shoulders at the serger, I stitched a french binding around the entire neck edge. It looks good until you get really close. I didn’t get some of the tulle edges covered and my top-stitching was a bit sub-par.  What I thought would be a quick, attractive neckline had turned into a 6 hour job. I was glad it was finished and that it looked as good as it did even if that wasn’t perfect.

I pulled my 1034 serger forward and made rolled hems along the bottom edge. Oh, I had cut the back and front hems slightly curved.  I’ve seen that several times here recently and thought it would be a nice change without getting too much going on. I added the sleeves, stitched the long underarm/side seam and then hemmed the sleeve by turning up twice and top stitching 1/4″ from the top edge.  Here again, I wondered about the ITY fabric.  Usually, my Brother produces a beautiful top stitch on ITY by reducing the upper tension to 3.8.  But I again have  less than perfect top stitching on both sleeve hems.  Ticked me off really bad because I ripped out and restitched both sleeves twice and 3 times.

I’m also a little surprised at the fit.  Not disappointed but surprised that it seems to be a swing T with fullness at the hem instead of normal skim-the-hips T.  Actually, I kind of like the extra ease, another current style trend I’ve been seeing.  Possibly, I could have corrected this if I had taken fitting pics. But I’ve made 195 so many times, I didn’t even slow down  once the neck was finished.  I just zoomed through the rest.

So this is not a garment I’m thrilled with.  The difficulty with the beaded piece and those few errors, plus the fuller-than-expected hem put a damper on my enthusiasm. But I’m not unhappy either. I think a short rest in the ‘magic closet’ and I’ll be fine.



I chose my fabric, an interesting fabric with two knit sides joined together. It is constructed probably with a double-bed Jacquard stitch pattern. It doesn’t look like double-knit it looks like double- cloth! It is heavy enough for pants. When purchased, that was exactly what I was planning. But  I’d pull it out;  pat it; even lay out the pant pieces, but would always put the fabric away.  Finally I realized that my left-brain was not telling me ‘not this pattern’ but rather ‘not pants’.  Once recast as a top, a winter top, the inspiration and execution of a garment came about in short order.

I’ve had this pattern KS3915

For quite some time.  Judging by the copyright, MMXI, I’d speculate around 2011-12. Although, it feels like I’ve had it even longer.  I’ve quit using most Big 4 and even my Kwik Sew patterns because of fitting issues; and particularly the Big 4 seem to have abandoned working from a basic block  so it seems that I can never fit their patterns. I never know what alterations to make and how much needs to be changed. AND, I’m not using 3915 now but I am borrowing the V neckline and collar from View A to use with my TRT. With this garment my Fit For Art Tabula Rasa Tee pattern moves from TNT to “block” and therefore posts involving the TRT will now be on  the Block Party Blog.

I began by tracing the collar and upper front, upper back bodices from KS3915 which become templates…

…and not just for the TRT.  I can easily use these same templates with 6299 and 195 and maybe with the raglan style 314.   Adapting a well-fitting pattern with a new detail, is one of the things I love to do.

I know that the back and front neckline must correspond in length with the collar. So next was comparing with the TRT front and back pattern pieces.  The back necklines, surprisingly, matched and no changes were needed. I laid out my fabric and cut the back and front. The back needs little prep work, so I serged the back seam, pressed and laid it aside.  With the front still on the cutting board, I laid my front template onto the cut fabric…

and trimmed away the excess from the neckline.  I stay stitched the V in the neckline, Frey Checked at the very corner and clipped.  Then I stitched and pressed the bust darts before joining the back and front shoulders;  as always, stitching the right shoulder deeper than the left. A step which accommodates the asymmetrical nature of my shoulders and removes the last of the drag lines on the right side of my bodices.  I cut the collar and folded it in half, pressed, and double checked that all the markings had been transferred to both collar and bodice. My collar will sit slightly differently because I’ve shortened the right side via that deeper right shoulder seam allowance.  Fortunately at this time there is not that big of a difference and only me during stitching and the eagle-eyed will even notice.  I matched notches and basted the collar into place



BACK UP A SEC  because I forgot to mention the flat piping.  I decided I wanted to emphasize the neckline by creating a break, a place for the eye to rest with a solid flat-piping.  I was introduced to this technique many years ago and love it.  Flat Piping is not as work intensive as the round piping everyone seems determined to use, but has the same impact.  I cut, crosswise, a strip from this dark brown scuba knit that I bought and have no intention of ever wearing (who wears garments that don’t breathe?) but makes good accents. The final piping is cut 2″ wide and folded in half. Using 1/4″ Sa, 3/4″ shows at the neckline. Now this was absolutely the worst of the sewing. I haven’t used this collar in a long time. Completely forgot how to do it. I bought the KS pattern years ago mostly for the instructions and dimensions.  First issue was how wide the piping should be.  I cut 7/8″. Didn’t like it.  Tried 1″. P-u-n-y.  What’s the point of doing this if it isn’t going to show, eh? Finally got bold enough to cut 2″ wide.  Well that looked good in theory. I basted the strip to the collar and then carefully basted the collar to the neckline. Whoa! It was weird. The right collar overlapped the flat piping. Tell you, it looked off. So take it apart, carefully arrange and pin in place so that the flat piping completely outlines the collar. Baste together. WTF @@!@@??? I had stitched it back together exactly as the first time.  Take it apart a second time. Pin. Pin. Pin. Check from the front. Baste. Ahhhhhhhh. Now it looks like the above pic and I can serge the collar to neckline seam allowance.  But dang all the width-trials and then putting it in 3 times took an hour.

Construction was pretty routine after that.  I did use the flared side pieces. I wanted a little swing. Look at the back, I’m not sure I wanted that much. Fortunately side and front look much better.

I wish the sleeve shows up a little better. I also cut  4.5 X10″ strips from the same scuba knit which were then used as cuffs on the sleeves.  Since I know, I will want to use this cuff over and over, I drew a fold line on the sleeve pattern indicating “cut here for 2″ cuff” and also indicated the strip size needed for the cuff. Actually it says ‘Cut here for 2″ Cuffs 4.5X10″‘ along that fold line. No new pattern piece is actually needed. I can fold along that line anytime I want a 2″ cuff or a 2″ shorter sleeve — the later I can’t imagine.    I prefer my cuffs to be smooth inside instead of feeling the seam. So I joined sleeve to side panel and the joined the strip in a circle, folded in half and serged to the sleeve.  I like the way that feels and I also like the way that looks.

I should have gotten a hair cut this month but that has no effect on how well I like the finished top. I will want to use my templates again fairly soon so that I remember how.  Also, there are variations to the collar itself.  I did not use the button loops and buttons. Have little desire to futz with button loops that are essentially non-functional. Should I want that look, I would still ignore the loop brouhaha and just tack the buttons in place.  I overlapped right over left. Entirely possible to use a center miter or even a right over left miter.  I hope you can click the pic to enlarge as I am wearing the collar with about 1″ turned down at the back.  It can be worn completely standing and folded down all around. It would take a little prep but it is also possible to narrow the back of the collar.  Less effort would be narrowing the entire collar.  Making a two piece collar is not out of the question, but again takes some thought and prep.  As long as the two long edges (neckline and collar) are the same, anything can be done to the collar itself.  The question for me is, do I like the shape and depth of the collar?  Yes, then change or repeat as the fancy strikes.


Adding a peplum to 195

Actually I started wanted to use this very lovely embroidery applique I got off eBay:

Yes I could have made one myself but I went down the rabbit hole at eBay looking for woven trims for another project (I’ve yet to start. Or even acquire all the materials).  I’ve never seen such an extensive collection of trims in my entire life. I’m also stunned at the prices. In years passed, when I could find trims at my local stores, they were enormously expensive or things you put on baby’s clothes.  The elegant variety on eBay makes me drool. And loosen my purse strings.

Anyway, having purchased I wanted to use the above applique and hunted in my stash until I found an excellent fabric:

It’s a slinky purchased during the last 3 years. Not sure exactly when or where.  Any time of have a sale on slinkies I look.  If there is a color and pattern I like, I buy 2   yards.  Except for a brief period of time when I tried to buy exactly what was needed for a T-shirt, 1.5 yards. This decision turned out poorly as in this case where it shrunk to less than 1.5 yards; and apparently was pulled off grain at some point. 195, as fitted for slinky, would not fit on the available yardage.  I thought to try the TRT (Tabula Rasa Tee), but that too didn’t fit on the available yardage. With a few minutes study, I decided to place the TRT back, front and sleeve on the main fabric and cut the side panels and binding from a scuba knit I had no idea how to use. (Who wears fabric that can’t possibly breathe?  Why is scuba knit so pervasive?) I laid out my pieces on my fabric as is my custom, snapped out the lights and went up stairs for the evening.

I hadn’t done my Zentangles for that day. Umm I bought a book for Christmas.  It’s a workbook that takes you through 3 tangles a day; describes some of the options and uses and then has you practice before making your own Zentangle.  It’s more than a 15-minute process but I really wanted to start firing up my imagination.  I wanted to kick-start some creativity now that I’m no longer bogged down in fitting. It worked!  In spades!  Next day I *eagerly returned to the sewing room; pulled out 195 again and 0456.   First I copied 195 including all the markings. Then I thought to hold the front up to my front and located my bust point.  I love the dart rotated to the armscye but looking back I see it’s always pointed at my toes!!! (Where my BP would be except for the excellent and expensive bras I buy and wear.)   First thing was rotating the dart to point at my BP.

Then I measured the peplum length of 0456.  I cut the front and back of 195 at the same distances from the hem as the length of the peplum.  Carefully labeled those pieces as they were not only peplums but modified for slinky fit. Then I put all the pieces away except for the upper bodices of the copied 195 and the sleeve.  Talk about clearing clutter. I had no idea how much I had out until I started putting it all away.

I hear you saying “and the peplum. You kept out the peplum pattern pieces”. No I didn’t.  See, the peplum doesn’t have to be in any certain shape. It can be in the shape of a flounce; or the bottom portion that was removed.  In my case I placed the bodices and sleeve close together on the upper section of the fabric, and cut straight across the fabric the entire width of the fabric but the length of the peplum.  No side seams on a back seam.

Although there could have been.  I could have added side seams.  Could have made the rectangle longer and added darts. My mind was filled with possibilities. The easiest one worked. I assembled the upper bodices; added the sleeves and stitched the side seams and underarm of those pieces.  Then I quartered my peplum and the now assembled bodice just like is done for applying elastic.  I serged those babies together. Well I did set the differential feed to 1.2. Still it was absolutely the fastest construction ever.

…… Rewind….. back to the lace applique.

The last applique (post) I stitched around the outside edge and trimmed  away the fabric beneath.  It is quite lovely but that was a real chore. One I wasn’t eager to repeat.  After looking carefully at the applique and my upper bodice, I decided I didn’t want to use the full applique and simply clipped away the roses which would have gone around a neckline.  Didn’t want to do all that stitching, so I placed the applique on top of a sheet of Heat N Bond and on top of that, a non-stick pressing sheet. I applied pressure with the help of a warm iron to the sandwich

and then allowed it to cool. I separated the applique from the Heat N Bond but found it also lifted in some of the intricies of the applique. I poked those with my finger and removed most.  Once I cut the upper bodice out, I placed the applique on top and centered. Well almost, I did place it closer to neckline than to hem. I again applied a pressing sheet and heat. It took a lot longer to fuse the applique to the fabric.  I was surprised and had to repeat the process several times.  By accident, I once hit it with not only heat but also steam. Which caused some of the glue to turn white. It shows. Sigh.

It can be removed by picking, which I am doing, but it is a slow process and not completed by the time I took pics.

I also clipped apart the roses that go around the neckline and appliqued one to each sleeve

…before finishing sleeve and neckline with 1″ wide FOE.  I bought the 1″ wide FOE some time again and really dislike using it. I wanted a wider finish this time.  It’s good on the sleeves but a bit too heavy for the neckline. My neckline wants to collapse slightly.

Confession, I thought the final garment would look much better than it does.

I think the problem is that there really isn’t much contrast.  The applique, especially in the pics, tends to blend in with the fabric  and not be noticeable.  My garment becomes fine as a supporting player but doesn’t really stand alone unless I want to be plain, plain, plain and unnoticeable. What’s the point of all the work if no one should notice?


*I’m retired. My days are pleasant but not nearly long enough.  I have many good days only a few bad but seldom do I start  a day feeling excitement; of eagerly anticipating an event.

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.