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.



When Inspiration Strikes

I don’t know where I found this pic:

but it was so interesting that I saved it immediately.   I was cleaning the stash room. Folding and putting back fabrics. Either pieces pulled and not used or left over pieces from garments.  I handled the remaining peach colord silk  in this failed garment

and thought it was such a shame.  It’s beautiful fabric. Most people think of silk and think shiny, slick, slippery.  But I love this rougher silk it’s soft cushiony feel and slubbed textured surface. I knew that with the right garment, even on a non-model (6+ decades, plus-sized, me) a really beautiful garment was possible.  It was then that I hunted through my inspiration photos and found the pic above. I think they’ve used the same or a very similar fabric. Looks like a match made in heaven.

However, I don’t have a pattern but maybe that won’t be so hard.  I retrieved my woven, sleeveless sloper and traced the front. Then I extended that into a full front.

I spent some time doodling.

It wasn’t aimless I was trying to figure out where the front should be trimmed to create the look in the photo.

I’d always thought the garment had an Oriental feel.  I think I associate the asymmetrical with the Orient.  That’s not necessarily correct, but it is me. I also thought the front overlay would be perfect for showcasing embroidery.  So I hunted through my embarrassingly large digitized embroidery collection and picked a freebie that I think EmbHome (defunct) distributed.

Color has never been my strong suit. When I can, I choose my colors from a fabric print. However, I didn’t have that to cue me.  I played first with colors from the same peach tone as my fabric and yellow greens. However for the embroidery to show up, the colors became vibrant. I didn’t want a vibrant embroidery.  I wanted quite; subtle but I still wanted it to show up.  Finally I switched to a clear red tone.  A few stitches later I knew I had the perfect solution. Light pinks, greyed greens colors more from the summer pallet than my spring peaches but I got want I wanted: subtle and visible.

Unfortunately, the pics don’t do the final embroidery justice. You’ll have to take it from me, it is truly beautiful.

When I cut the overlay, I realized this fabric didn’t have enough width to make the overlay faced. So I had trimmed another 2″ from the side and serged a folded strip to that side for finishing and to return the overlay to it’s desired width.   I decided to cut two of the overlays instead of a full front with an overlay on top.  It’s summer. Nearly all my sleeveless garments are intended for summer wear. Which means styling which helps me keep cool. I decided to cut a second overlay and  finish the side the same.  When the embroidery was finished, I aligned the overlays right sides together; serged the neckline and then inverted.  I carefully pressed the neckline and understitched. The back neckline is finished with a 1″ wide, commercial bias strip.  Back and front are joined carefully at the shoulders and then the armscyes finished with the same 1″ wide bias strip. The shoulder do feel a little thick and it’s an interesting pressing adventure.

How well did I copy my inspiration?

I should have paid more attention to the hem.  I think maybe the inspiration was cut at an angle.

I may also have a bit more ease and flare at the hem. Overall, I’m satisfied.  So much so that I cut the pattern pieces as a one-off and intended to discard them as soon as the garment was finished. I’ve decided to keep them.  I can see making variations in the overlay and even using contrasting fabric.

Striped Tank

I have several stripe fabrics I’d love to use but havent because I feared that solving fit issues would ruin stripe matching.  Finally, I have the confidence to make an attempt.   My fabric is  rayon jersey recently purchased from (I think).

I’m using the sleeveless, knit block recently  fit using my woven blocks which in turn were developed from Connie Crawfords 1201 basic blocks.     I’m stitching the bust darts because I love that bit of shaping.  While I do love the shaping of the vertical darts I feel like a knit tank easy wear and easy sew.  An easy compromise was moving those darts to the CB and side seams.  I scooped the neck 2″ making it cooler to wear.  Since I’m finishing with FOE, I also trimmed the armscyes of their 1/4″ seam allowance.

I starched the fabric lightly while giving a quick press to remove wrinkles.  I laid the fabric flat and cut each piece separately  using my waist notches to align the stripes.

Side stripes matched perfectly and the back is pretty good.

Of course, the knit fabric is responsible for a lot of the matching.  Knit easily stretches.  All I needed to do was pin accurately at color changes.

Interesting that the fit is not as nice as with other versions. Pretty sure it’s largely a fabric issue since the major change is the depth of the neckline. I’m trying to remove any gaping, but I seem to create drag lines when I try to get it tight enough at the underarm.

Nonetheless, I’m pretty happy.  My FOE application is perfect. Which pleases me to no end.   I struggled and struggled at my Viking Ruby without ever getting  nice finish.  At the Brother Dream, I’ve had success after success with  normal to minimal effort. The fabric’s colors are flattering and a knit tank can’t be beat in summer.

Light and Breezey

No I haven’t quit sewing but I have decided to take a break and do some simpler sewing. Simpler from a fitting point of view.  As I looked at the pictures of this top, I decided I’d like to play more with the trapeze shape.

I’ve used my woven block adapted for sleevelessness since we are definitely in summer and will be for some time.  I rotated all the darts to the hem which gives me a swishy feel. My bust dart, being what it is, adds a lot of swish.  In the past, I’ve rotated the bust dart to a single point at the hem.  This time I divided it between two points.

I added a center front and back seam not for style but due to an issue with the fabric. This light weight almost gauze cotton has been embroidered with a flame stitch pattern. The embroidery has been worn, caught and pulled along the center fold.  It’s narrow and my hem wide making it impossible to avoid by adjusting the layout. Pretty quickly, I decided the best solution was a center seam.  The back, already had a center seam as I’d previously moved the darts to center back.

I really wanted to use this fabric because it worked well with those pants.  The pants are barely ankle length when I stand. Sitting they flare about 6″ higher.  They do flare. I used Pamela’s Pant Pattern 113 at it’s fullest which for me includes the extra inch of ease along the inseam.  The pants are a cotton seersucker. Between their fabric and shape, this is very comfortable summer wear. They are a necessity to protect me from summer sun or when recovering from sun burn.  Unfortunately the pants had become orphaned. This blouse, this fabric and they are back in rotation.

The fit is so interesting to me.  There is nothing pinching the fabric (visible darts), yet it hangs gracefully. The detested underarm V’s and U’s are no where in sight.

It does have a tendency to hang up on my hip. I took 3 pics to get this good of a shot. I may need to add a little weight in the hem  to help it hang better.

I finished armscyes and neckline with commercial bias tape in a cream color– I thought it just enough contrast– and promptly wore it.

I had an oops

I had decided to increase the depth of the tucks made to change my sloper from woven to knit. My knit slope had a bit of crease to it so I took the iron to it.  To bad I didn’t check the iron’s heat setting first because my sloper with its plasticky side melted immediate. Oh well. I quickly traced my woven sleeveless sloper again and then applied 1/2″ horizontal tuck at the armscye notch and a 1/4″ tuck vertically beginning at the shoulder dart. I decided to increase the shoulder slope 1/8″ before truing the armscyes, hem and shoulder.  Last, but I’ve learned very important, I walked the seams. Imagine my surprise to find that the back side seam was 1/4″ shorter than the front. I don’t understand why that would change and it changed between waist and hem.  Above the waist notch and I would have thought the bust dart was having an effect. The original’s side seams matched when they were walked. Somehow copying and making those few small alterations also changed the side seams.  So now I had a base knit sloper which included darts and a jewel neckline.  I copied it.  Moved the front vertical darts to side seams, split the back vertical darts between side and center back;  and split the shoulder dart between armscye and center back.   I added 1/4″ seam allowance to the back. Trimmed excess and walked the seams yet again. This time all was well. So then I scooped the front neckline.  I never want a jewel neckline with sleeveless tops.  Sleeveless is a temperature cooling garment. A wider, more open neckline helps keep that cooling going on.

I chose another ITY and cut my pieces. Taped armscyes and neckline before serging the shoulder seams and binding the neckline. I basted the side seams together for the first fitting. Then with great pleasure I finished armscyes; stitched side seams and hemmed. I could nit pik this garment, but I prefer to just accept it.  It’s good.  Better than anything I can find in RTW.  It fits me better than what I commonly see.  The only thing I will change is to scoop out the entire armscye about 1/4″.  I wasn’t sure if the armscye would be too close until I’d rather not rip out all the serging, stitching and cover stitching. So I’ll just make the change to my pattern.


This was so kewl.  I had a new, nicely fitting garment in about 2 hours; and because of the oops, I had a nice neat pattern too.

Test2 ITY Paisley

By the end of the first test, my overwhelming thought was: how much effect did the interlock fabric have?  I finished Test 1 (of my sleeveless Knit sloper) and immediately fetched an ITY knit from the stash for test 2. I’m one of the lucky ones. I get along fine with ITY. It does not have the stretch of an interlock but does have a much nicer drape. I tested the stretch factor of my chosen ITY against the chart In Virginia Nastiuk’s 1986  Book III, Personal Pattern Development.   I discovered that my ITY could easily be stretched into the “very stretchy” zone but I didn’t like the look  of it.  I chose instead to consider and utilize my paisley ITY as a “moderate stretch” knit fabric.

I’m really happy with this book, Personal Pattern Development.  In 1986 I was not paying attention to sewing.  I was a young mother with a young child, a husband and a full-time job that was morphing into a demanding career.  I didn’t have time for sewing and, thankfully, I had the figure for RTW.  Times and people change.  I’m now at the point that RTW rarely fits me (jackets, coats scarves and the like are the RTW that fits).  Even worse, most commercial patterns require a Herculean effort to achieve a satisfying-to-me fit.  I have been reduced to working with basic slopers to morph draft current styles into something that fits me.  I send thanks to my Sewing Angel who unearthed a Jinny Nastiuk pattern from her deep pattern stash and began the SG discussion of this talented designer. I’ll discuss my acquisitions in another post. Just let me say that in 1986 I would not have given this book a second glance or more than 2 seconds for the first. Now, it is a godsend.

I made no new changes to the tissue, preferring to see what the exact same dimensions and shapes would produce with a moderate knit fabric. The finished interlock version utilized 3/4″ seam allowances at the shoulder and 1″ at the side seams.  I cut my ITY. Taped the shoulders but was interrupted and forgot to tape armscyes and necklines.  I permanently stitched the bust darts before switching to water-soluble thread and basting shoulder and side seams for the first try on. I tell you now, I was pleased.  Overall, this simple change in seam allowances (planned was 1/4″ shoulder and 1/2″ side) made for a nice looking garment with a few exceptions.

Looking at the pic below, who thinks I need an FBA?  Show of hands please….

You would be entirely justified in your opinion.  In case you’re new to fitting, in the pic below the aqua lines point to where the other readers are looking:

You, all of you would be wrong about my body. I’ve made a dozen tops with at least 4 different FBA’s.  An FBA never clears these drag lines on my body.  It might be helpful for you to look at how that drag line extends under my arm all the way to my hip:

I have a high, prominent seat.  Look closely enough and you will see how my garment cups beneath my tush.  It is also the issue, (my prominent seat) that causes most people to say I need a sway-back alteration.  During the try on, the back wanted to crawl upward and puddle in the middle of my back. Most people, and they are justified, look at the mess of fabric in the middle of my back and say ‘you need a sway back alteration.” I’ve tried a SB alteration many times.  It doesn’t help — for me.  Absolutely if you are new to fitting and don’t know why you are getting the same drag lines, or a mass of wrinkles in the middle of your back,  you should try an FBA or the SB alteration. Testing is the only way to determine if this is your personal issue or (as in my case) not.   What cleared these drag lines for me was increasing the shoulder slope 1/8″,  increasing the CB seam between neck and waist 1/4″ and stitching the side seam between waist and hem  at 1/2″.  Need proof?

I also stitched my right shoulder seam 1/8″ deeper because my right shoulder is lower than my left i.e. I have asymmetrical shoulders.

I enjoyed, yes enjoyed, Test2 of my sleeveless sloper. Start to finish: 3 hours. I made multiple tweaks in 1/8″ increments. Had I been bolder and used 1/4″ increments I might have finished sooner. OTOH, I might have ripped more.   I used a simple neck binding which is pressed to the inside, cover stitched and trimmed:

One of my issues with this sloper is that the armscye seems too low even after increasing the side seam from 7/8″ to 1.25″.  To keep the armscye as high as possible (and covering my underwear), I bound the armscye by wrapping up and over the edge (not turning down the edge like for the neckline). This too is cover stitched and trimmed.

While I had the cover stitch threaded and working, I decided to turn the hem up 1.25″ and cover stitch it as well.

However I was so totally happy to finally discover why my it was tunneling.  At some point I turned the differential up all the way.  It’s been so long since the previous use that I didn’t remember. In fact initially I looked at the differential feed setting and thought it was fine.  Only after thinking through and realizing that “2” meant it was feed something twice as fast, did I think I might need to adjust.


So I’m super tickled.  It fits. Not without basting.  Not without multiple tweaks. I have a finished, wearable garment, the second in fact, from what is really a “new” pattern.  Oh and this is not ‘wearable’ in the sense of PJ’s like the first 4 versions of my Eleanor’s.  No indeed, this will be packed for my vacation.  Even though a test garment, it is that good!



Trying out the Knit Sloper

The only way to know if something works, really works not theoretically, is by testing. But I don’t want a knit garment that tries to look like a woven garment.  I’m learning to honor the fabric because that’s when I create my favorite garments. So I don’t want all the darts but I’d like the horizontal bust dart and I’d like the other darts to be invisible but still shaping the fabric. I make a copy of the just created knit sloper.

I split the back vertical dart between side seam and a center back seam. I also split the shoulder dart between the armscye and center back. This will give me a very curve back to which I must also add a seam allowance.  I need a seam back there or instead of shaping from the darts I’ll have puddling from excess fabric. I also want to use ribbing. My favorites finish 3/4″ around the neckline and 1/2″ around the armscyes.  I make tick marks evenly along the necklines and armscyes and then trim that from the new back pattern.

Mostly, I repeat the same process for the front. I don’t add a center front seam. I don’t need the shaping in front and would prefer to have that expanse for embellishment.  I do want the horizontal bust dart and I fold it in place before trimming off the excess from the side seam:

In less than 15 minutes, I have my favorite knit pattern. I’m not going to kick myself. If this works, I’m doing some serious celebrating.  I repeat, I spent hours, days weeks, fabric after fabric trying to alter the patterns for a knit sleeveless top with horizontal bust dart into something that would fit me with minor tweaking. If this is it, I will be so over joyed. I must continue the test.. but I walk seams first. I learned my lesson with the princess seam sloper:  any time you alter the pattern, walk the seams. Somehow both  my back side seam and shoulder seams are 1/2″ shorter than the front. I correct these.

I chose a white, cotton,  interlock for testing.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Can it really be this easy??? So I chose a fabric that’s been in the stash about 7 years.  I think I bought it for long johns. Since I’m retired and not going out into the cold as much as I used to, I no longer need a whole drawer full of long johns.  I’ve used part of this fabric but still have 2 yards left. I can make several tests — which I might have to do. Nope, I decide not to be as demanding with fit as I was with the last interlock. The point here is check ease, check length, check for horrendous issues.  I lay out my pattern pieces and when cutting also cut a 2.5″ strip for the neckline ribbing and a 1.75″ strip for armscyes. Lord I hope I did my math right.  I fused straight tape to the back shoulders, bias to the armscyes and necklines; stitch the bust dart. Serge the CB seam and with teeth gritted serge the shoulder seams.  Since I know my right shoulder is lower, I take the garment-in-progress to the sewing machine and stitch the right shoulder seam 1/8″ lower. I change to water-soluble thread and stitch the side seams.  Lightly press. Take pics.

This first fitting is pretty good.the best. Not that it doesn’t have room for improvement.  I deepen the shoulder seams 1/8″ (3/8 left 1/2″ right), deepened the CB at the waist 1/8″ and increase the side seams from 1/2″ to 5/8″. Small changes but they all add up.  I continue fitting in 1/8″ increments deepening the shoulder and side seams.  I managed to remove nearly all appearances of the single U under the arm and most of the mess in the middle of the back.  I was concerned about excess flare at the hem on which subtle adjustments didn’t make any effect.  I stopped and finished this knit top when the bust dart became too high for my personal esthetics.

Many years ago, Threads Magazine published an article about the $500 T-shirt.  Think Marcy Tilton was the author but I may be wrong.  Thing is, I remember while reading the article that the author was talking about lots of small details which could be sewn thereby taking the plain T-shirt up to a whole new level.  I looked at the final fit carefully. Realizing the neckline had been raised (because of the increased shoulder seams) I decided  instead of the planned  1″ neckline ribbing a finished 3/4″ width would be more appropriate. The armscyes had been trimmed anticipating a 3/4″ binding. Fearing I would badly distort the armscye if I trimmed the fabric again, I opted to bind the raw edge in the simple up-and-over i.e. stitch right sides together press binding upwards; wrap around the edge and press towards the inside then top stitch before trimming closely.  I stretched the interlock binding as much as possible which gives it a ribbed appearance.  I serged the side seams; pressed carefully and then made a line of stitching from armscye down 1″.  It’s enough to hold the side seams in place under the arm.

Finally, I interfaced the hem and turned it up 1.25″ and fused into place before finished at the cover stitch. All little details that I think make this garment just a step up from RTW.

A plain garment like this is really helpful.  The tone on tone print adds interest to the fabric however from a distance it reads as a solid.  I wanted really plain because I need more tops that mix and match easily.  (I tend to sew Diva’s instead of supporting pieces.)  Unfortunately white doesn’t last long in my closet.  Either it turns color in the wash or I color it with my food. This particular fabric, a cotton interlock, is not a really good fabric either.  I used it once before to make long underwear.  It sags badly and grayed. Well it was underwear so maybe the sagging was due to stress but the greying made it an ugly something I didn’t want to wear. I’ve moved the fabric into my ‘Muslins’ stack. I don’t trust interlock to behave well during sewing. But it is a light-weight, knit, fabric and tends not to curl. I got a wearable this time. Considering the fabric, that’s good and enough.

My sewing experience keeps nudging me towards perfection but I have to admit the above is not a bad fit.  RTW does not fit me this well at all.  I was expecting to remove more ease and maybe a bit more length.  Definitely surprised to find my shoulder seams finished at 3/4″ deep and my side seams 1″.  Even with those 1″ side seams, I still feel like there is excess ease at least at the hem.  I started  wondering if the changes I made were due to the woven-to-knit conversion or if the cotton interlock knit was the determining factor. I made note of the changes but didn’t transfer to the pattern.  I pulled out an ITY knit, one of the fabrics I use the most.  I’m going to test with the ITY and note changes. Then I’ll transfer changes not only to this pattern but also to my sloper.

My Own Knit Sleeveless Sloper

It’s not that I want to draft patterns.  I’d far rather buy patterns because the designer has already made hundreds of sometimes tiny decisions as well as the big changes on which we focus. At one time all patterns were tested and accurate. That’s no longer true but my real issue is  my fitting problems. I can no longer do an NSA and BWL alteration and be assured the pattern will fill fit as the designer envisioned.  I believe my new issue is the increased slope of my shoulder. If true, why is it that  I can’t add a 3rd alteration (copying my shoulder line) to  the NSA and  BWL alterations  to create a pattern which fits?  Every pattern I’ve tried, I’ve had to make several test garments. I get there but not without a lot of fabric going into the garbage. So while I’d rather not draft patterns, I am moving in that direction.  I’m working more and more with my sloper to create new styles and to create new slopers.  Right now I’m working on a Sleeveless Sloper for Knits.

I know I’ve read and heard lectures on converting patterns designed for wovens  to work with knit fabrics. I’m not a fan of the ‘make a size smaller’ procedure.  I believe there are a number of small differences which add up to a nice looking and fitting knit garment.  I reviewed my Craftsy Classes and finally realized the information was put forth by Judy Jackson in “Pattern Making for Knits: Essential Slopers”.   Judy recommends a number of changes starting with removing 1/4″ from the side seams; then raising the bust dart, apex and vertical dart 1/4″ ; finishing by  drawing the underarm of the armscye 1/2″ higher. The directions are quite detailed and I do recommend watching the class (Chapter 4 has the nitty-gritty).  My summary leaves out a lot of good information which Judy shares. While I don’t agree with ‘make a size smaller’, I did think some of Judy’s alterations could be combined and simplified. Plus, I was puzzled by the fact she didn’t mention raising the waistline.  At night,  when DH has something on TV I’m not particularly interested in, I watch Craftsy Classes (and other craft videos).  It has a secondary benefit in that I don’t leap up and try out whatever, I think first.  In this case, the next morning I had recalled a method that didn’t involve the smaller size but was much simpler than the procedure Judy proposes.

Woven Sloper

I pulled out my woven sleeveless sloper. Why? Well yes I do have a basic knit pattern that will make the typical  knit top I like to make and wear; and I can do a lot with that basic pattern. But I want to do more. To do more, I need to know where the darts have moved and what changes have been made to the sloper. Actually, I need to have those darts where I can manipulate them and the other changes restored so that I’m working with a blank slate.  So I pulled out my just finished sleeveless sloper for wovens and copied it.

At the armscye notch, I drew a horizontal line across the bodice and then even folded out 1/4″  That takes care of moving the underarm up 1/2″ and at the same time moves the bust dart, vertical dart and any waist shaping up but 1/2″ instead of the 1/4″ Judy recommends.  For now, I’m just making a mental note this may be a possible issue.  The other instruction I recall said to fold out 1/4 vertically. But no matter where I put the vertical I’m going to be changing something. The question became do I want to make my jewel neck any tighter? or my shoulder narrower?  Neither, so I did trim 1/4″ from the side seam as Judy recommended. AND repeat for the front pattern piece.

Finished Knit Sloper

In less that 15 minutes, I have my sloper. Not only that, it should fit. I mean it already fit for woven fabrics. I’ve made 2 small changes to adapt for knits. I had the sudden realization I was going to want to kick myself.  I’ve spent hours, days, weeks trying to reach to create a basic knit pattern. Would this work?


Sleeveless Sloper #2

I start by ensuring I transferred the changes to my wearable muslin to the tissue i.e.

  • 1/8″ added to CB
  • 1/2″ added to back side seam
  • shoulder trimmed to 1/4′ SA
  • 1.25″ length added for hem
  • Front and back armscye curves skimmed 1/8″
  • Side seam pinched 1″ at underarm  0 at bust dart

I wanted to keep things the same to continue developing the sleeveless sloper; at the same time, I rarely want make exactly the same garment time after time. Copying the collar from CC5047, I opted for a contrasting collar and front facing.  I cut my fabric (a 15+ year-old, cotton shirting) ; taped the armscyes and stitched the darts. The shoulder and side seams were basted together for the first try on. I could tell with the first fitting that the changes above had made an enormous improvement over the basic sloper.  I focused my efforts completely on removing the remaining armscye gaping and the U’s on the sides.  When pinching to remove the gaping, the shoulder slope developed a curve. Yeah odd and I’ll show it to you

The white wedge is the piece trimmed from the tissue to match the stitching line.  My wedge does not extend all the way to the shoulder.  When it did, the garment neckline would stand away from the body. I had little tents at my neckline.  Starting the wedge mid-shoulder allowed me to increase the slope  1/2″ without affecting the neckline.  My wedge removed all the armscye gaping at the back, most of the U’s on the garment’s side and nearly all the gaping on the front armscye.

I could not pinch out all of the front armscye gaping without making an ugly dart in the armscye.

OK the dart wasn’t ugly. The awkward jog is ugly. It would be possible to create a nice dart, truing the legs and smoothing the armscye — for future versions. But I wanted to create a sleeveless top with a horizontal bust dart. I kept trying to smooth the gaping into either the shoulder or side seam. Couldn’t do it. Swear. I’d smooth; baste; and try on.  The gaping would return. Smooth. Baste. Tryon. @@!@@ gaping!!!

I wonder if that’s just what happens, the gaping, when there isn’t a dart in the armscye?  Is this particular gaping related to specific bodies or depths of the hollow? Does everyone have a little gaping and just ignore it? Am I particularly … um… blessed?  I think options to control the gaping would be a yoke,  or one of the princess seamlines.  I’m not against any of those styles.  In fact one of my favorite blouses from last summer is Connie Crawford 0456 (and it’s one that I look forward to making again. But I wanted to create:  a sleeveless top with a horizontal bust dart and no armscye gaping.

To finish my blouse, I ‘borrowed’ a knit fabric solution. If this were a knit, tank top I would cut a ribbing and ease the armscye to the ribbing. Well really with knits it’s just stretch, sew, and let it snap into place. For this woven fabric I measured the amount of the dart (3/8″ *2=3/4″). Measured the front armscye and then cut  3/8″ elastic the length of the front armscyes less the 3/4″ of the dart.  I stretched and stitched the elastic to the inside of the front armscye.

Serge finished the edge; then turned and stitched. The finished armscye is not perfectly smooth but it is nice.

It hugs my body and prevents viewing of my underwear. So the garment may need a little more pressing, but I doubt anyone will ever realize my cheat to fix the gaping.

Above is the finished garment. Hems done. Pressed. Lightly starched. Surprisingly, the back actually looked better in some of the unfinished shots. I’m trying to decide if my blouse is long enough and more importantly if I have the shoulders the right width. Do they need to be wider or narrower?  Sometimes,  I want narrower because I can trim off some of that curve I showed in the first pic. But I know for my own good, the correct width is the best answer because that’s the width I need to know for any style changes.

Before this side pic, I just couldn’t be entirely sure as to whether the armscye needs to be scooped. There is still a slight hint of a U and some diagonals on the back which I don’t see on the front. It’s always possible that my posture is the issue and I have to admit scooping needs to wait until I’m sure the garment’s shoulders are the right width. But I”m thinking a small 1/4″ scoop would clear the rest of side diagonals.

These are NOT the most flattering colors for me so I doubt this will ever be a favorite blouse. I still need to plink with button placement. I don’t have it quite right; and I think the blouse needs one more button below the lowest But I’m not unhappy.  It’s a good blouse. I’ve made good progress in fit. I normally leave RTW blouses with this styling at the store. I’d take this one home in a heart beat.   I’ve found gape-control options (dart, easing, yoke, princess) even if I don’t want to use them this time.  I’m in a good place. Just need to decide what to do next.  I wanting a long sleeveless dress for summer. Am I ready to develop that pattern?  I’m wanting pull-over woven tops.  I’m wanting woven tank tops.  Am I ready to develop those?  I’m wanting those other design options like princess seams, armscye dart, yokes etc.  Is it time to develop those?  Or do I still need to tweak this version just a little more?/?


Cumulative changes:


  • 1/8″ ease added to CB
  • 1/2″ ease added to back side seam
  • shoulder trimmed to 1/4′ SA
  • 1.25″ length added for hem
  • Front and back armscye curves skimmed 1/8″
  • Side seam pinched 1″ at underarm  0 at bust dart
  • Increased Shoulder slope evenly from 0 Neck to 1/8″ armscye
  • Curved Shoulder Slope from 0 at 2.5″ mid shoulder 1/2″ armscye
  • Marked 3/4″ armscye dart


*****************************************************************************Thinking out loud here….

Working with my basic, sleeved,  woven sloper to develop this sleeveless top has been eye-opening.  Connie was not entirely correct i.e. changing from sleeved to sleeveless was not a matter of just pinching the side seam. However, her suggestion was certainly easier and more successful that my previous sleeveless-fitting efforts.  I have 2 wearable blouses. I spent most of my time sewing as opposed to ripping and cursing.   I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked the Silhouette Tank top. Thought I had it only to be horribly disappointed with the very next version. Repeated the same process with the Otto tank; and the same unsatisfying results. Then was led astray by a knit version of  CLD’s HAF (it seemed to work on a ITY knit). The knit was very nice, the sand washed silk merely acceptable (fit wise. I still love the embroidery.)    For me, for my body my curves,  there is something basically right with  Connie Crawford’s upper bodice draft. Somehow, I need to be using it more and using it more effectively.  I need to direct my thinking and my process to make better use of my slopers.

A Sleeveless Sloper for Woven Fabrics

I was a little disappointed in my HAF of the 3 PAC. Oh it’s lovely and will be worn. The fit was OK. Just OK. A real pleasure in sewing for yourself is the ability to go beyond OK fit into excellent and perfect. My silk  HAF surprised me in that only a week before I easily fit it for an ITY knit. I expected the same ease of fitting. The fit around the neckline and armscyes was never really good. Despite several tweaks, It was just OK. There comes a point when you can decide to accept the fit as is or decide to ruin the fabric by continuing to pinch and pull.  I decided the silk was good enough and would return (after the 3 PAC was finished and posted)  to the question of fitting the HAF with a woven fabric.

For that project, I chose a 100% cotton blouse fabric. Traced a new copy of the HAF and added 1/2″ along the shoulder to give me a little play room. I tweaked the HAF 12 times. A full dozen fittings although the changes were small, 1/8″, each time there came a point when I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. The woven cotton just wasn’t going to drape around the neck and armscye as I wanted.

Stumped, I rethought the process. I’ve been struggling with fitting sleeveless tops for a while. Short while, but nonetheless, this is not my first rodeo i.e. sleeveless fitting effort.  I had several Connie Crawford sleeveless patterns I wanted to use but never do because her approach to sleeveless was too simplistic in my mind.  Connie says that if you want her pattern to be sleeveless all you need do is pinch the side seam under the arm until you are satisfied. This just does not jive with my what I’ve learned previously. My recollection is that a sleeved bodice is created by dropping the armscye depth 1/2-3/4″, extending the shoulder 1/4″ and adding ease across the upper bodice both back and front to facilitate movement within the sleeve.  My recollection is of a complex process where Connie says it’s a quick pinch. My mind immediately rejects her idea but I’m not making any headway following what I know. I decide to copy the front and back of my sleeved sloper developed from CC1201.   I just used it for the Golden Apricot top  and know it fits reasonably well. I decided I wanted  a front button opening which is already included on my sloper.  I turned to my stash of Under 2 yard fabrics and selected a 100% Linen purchased last year from  I raided their remnants and found a plaid comprised of cream, my yellows and two greens. Those aren’t my greens but (spoiler alert) when finished the blouse works with the green bottoms I was sewing last year, a yellow cotton PP113 pant and several tops. When finished I’ll have a 6PAC!  Although I have but 1.5 yards of 52″ wide fabric I mange to cut the front and back and match the plaids for the front facing. I’ll use commercial bias tape for the back neckline and armscyes.

Shown with my black DG2 jeans, but this blouse works wonderfully with several of my existing garments.

I started by removing the shoulder height added for shoulder pads. I like shoulder pads. I use very small 1/4″ or 3/8″ pads just enough to give myself a youthful lift. But I don’t think they work with sleeveless tops. I basted the shoulders and sides together and tweaked the shoulder slope until the neckline wanted to stand away from the neck. Then I tweaked the bust dart and underarm trying to remove all the drag lines in the upper bodice and along the side.  The Linen fabric reveals that my sloper is 1/2″ too small in back and 1/4″ too large in front. I can correct the front but the back remains just a tisch small. I used the back vertical darts. The front vertical darts were reduced to a 1/8″ pin tuck which I extended all the way to the hem.  The front wanted to flare. I wanted the flare controlled.

I added 5 buttons but I’m not really happy with them.  I think the first button should be placed at the fullest part of the bust. The button above is then placed to the desired neckline depth. The other buttons are then spaced according to what was just established.  I couldn’t get the top button properly positioned. It’s either making the neckline too high or too close to the first button hole. I dont’ want to space my remaining buttons 1.5″ or less apart.   I doubt that I ever close the top button .  It’s too high for summer weather.  I spaced the other buttonholes 2.5″ apart because that’s the distance between the top button and the button at the fullest. I should have added 1 more button at the bottom but I didn’t have another. Sigh. It is what it is– which is something I need to reconsider the next go round.

The biggest changes ended up being the tweaking of the underarm side seam.  When finished it sits close to the body and then curves outward to the bust.  I think that’s unusual. At the same time I remember creating this same shape in the past.  It works for me. Pulls the garment close enough to the body for modesty then skims outward and over my other curves, also modestly. The underarm was taken in a good inch. I compared armscyes of the pattern with the garment  and then trimmed the curve of the armscye 1/8″ on front and again on back.  I’m not entirely sure I had  the answer to fitting a sleeveless top on my body. I needed to completely finish to evaluate the next step.  I knew I was close.

I faced the hem with commercial bias tape because I didn’t want the blouse any shorter; and as planned, bound the armscyes with commercial bias tape before stitching the side seams permanently.

To the pattern I added 1/8 ease at the CB and 1/2″ to the back side seam.  Trimmed the shoulder down to a 1/4″ seam allowance.  In the armscye I trimmed the curve 1/8″ deeper on the front and repeated for the back.  Then added 1.25″ to length the hem so I would at least start the next garment with my preferred length.

Now  I can see finishing the armscye didn’t lower the side seam enough. I have 1 big U on both sides, although the right side is more prominent.

Next garment, there has to be a next, I will use the  tissue as just altered and work towards tweaking the shoulder slope, armscye depth and button placement.This is a really good start. 3 fittings and I have a wearable garment

Side note: 

This garment is an example of how RTW fits me. I know there has been some shade thrown at working to RTW standards. My personal opinion is that’s not my goal. Not my target. RTW is the least acceptable fit level I will accept. Generally such garments are rotated out of the wardrobe by the end of the season. I just don’t care to wear them. It’s interesting to me that I can feel how well my clothes fit and I will avoid wearing even garment with such minor issues.