Archive | December 2012

Review of Finished Blouses Burda 2010-08-130

originally published Sep 18, 2012



Previously published under the title “Ottobre Design”

Just a quick view of the finished blouses made from Burda 2010-08-130.

Version 3 (V3)

V3, I did all the top stitching and finishing as planned and then because it’s still quite warm here, I took photos on Mimie.  Mimie’s not my shape anymore so the blouse looks a little different on me. But better on Mimie than on a hanger.

Version 2 (V2)

I also fixed the hem of V2 and then hung it on Mimie while I tried to remember what else I was supposed to fix.  For grins, I added the vest from the Autumn 6PAC and said, WHOA this is blouse #2 for my Autumn 6PAC.  The colors are good together and the vest hides all ills.

Next I wanted to fit Burda 2010-08-106.  I really like the shape of that pattern in use with vertical stripes. I traced a new copy using my table of sizes posted previously.  Then I compared the fitted 130 with the newly traced 106.  This started me scratching my head. 106 has a back+front yoke combined at the shoulders. I had to join the pieces in order to compare with the back of 130. The back of the newly traced and graded (size 44 was the largest and my hips need two sizes large) 106 was about 1/2″ wider than the 130.  Ok not bad.  I had noticed that the back on 130 seemed to hug my back — almost as if the back were being pulled forward.  I thought perhaps the front needed more ease but maybe it is the back which should be larger.  The armscye and yoke area had me stumped.  130 is clearly a drop shoulder style.  The shoulder line neatly curves over and downward to meet the sleeve.  It is difficult to compare for fitting a drop shoulder style and the  high and tight armscye of 106. I knew  from my previous attempt it was far too high even when scooped 3/4″ .  I compared the front as well.  While the width matched the front armscye presented the same issue for me.  I knew there was no point is using this armscye.  It is too tight for me, but how to alter???  I also realized if I altered the armscye, I needed to alter the sleeve cap. When I compared the sleeves, I found the sleeve  at the armscye of 130 to be 6″ wider than 106. Now I was really uneasy.   I want to use a pattern with the fitted shoulder/armscye area. I wanted to build upon the knowledge gained by making 3 versions of 130 and umptyfrat previous tops that I worked hard at getting to fit after cutting out.  I took a pause and considered my options. If I wanted a fitted shoulder area, I couldn’t simply copy the armscye from 130. But I already knew that scooping 3/4″ into the armscye of 106 had not created a wearable garment. My first version of 106 is already in the landfill.



originally published Sep 17, 2012

.This will be quite detailed and mostly for my own benefit.  I apologize for that and freely forgive you for encourage you to click onto the next blog that you read if you find this type post boring.

V1, V2, V3 of Burda 2010-08-130

The front remains largely the same through each version.  That’s because I realized from other patterns that the size 38/12 is the correct size for my shoulders and front armscye. The front issues were a result of determining the correct amount of ease for woven fabrics for my tummy and hip areas.   V1 contained too much ease. V2 was just a little bit shy and also had too short of sleeves.  V3 appears to be the Goldilocks version.  Having the right amount of ease visually diminishes the size of my tummy.  It’s possible that the sleeves in V3 are too long.

V1, V2, V3

In each of the side views the need for ease across the bust is indicated by the diagonal lines extending from bust to waist.  This nearly always is apparent in a dartless blouse. The theory is that ease can be manipulated into various darts which can be rotated, moved to side seams and removed. In actual practice, and I think this style proves,  ease should be added where it is needed and taken away where it is not.  I know and have known women who refuse to make or buy or even try on a blouse/top without darts.  They dislike the appearance of poor fit  created by the dartless bodice.  I’ve always tended to be small in that area and am personally pleased by the indication that I might actually need a bit of ease. The tightness across the tummy and hip, the wads of cloth accumulating in the back at the waist and the horizontal pull lines in the lower third of the armscye command my attention.  I’m pleased with V3.  I do note that the back seems to swing forward.  While the temptation is to say more ease is needed in the back, it is more likely that the entire front from bust to waist should be increased a full-size.  This should add enough ease that the back could drop into place.

V1, V2, V3

Once again on the back V1 had too much ease. Additionally this was added with an FBA type slash and spread. The result was a shifting of the grain, a big poof of fabric in the center back and diagonal pull lines below the armscye.  I made multiple alterations none of which corrected these issues in the least. The blouse will be worn underneath a vest. The vest will camouflage both the diagonals and excess ease.  V2  is shy of enough ease  and clearly indicates that more ease is needed at the high bust in the back and of course more ease across the back hip. I have to say, I think the sleeves of V2 are at an attractive length, but they feel slightly uncomfortable.  By the time we get to V3, the sleeves are not only longer but I’ve increased 1 full size which is only 3/8″ on each side of the underarm and 1/8′ on each side of the wrist. Not much more fabric, but a whole new look.  Most of the diagonals and drag lines in V3 are because it was not settled well onto my frame for the pictures. Since the blouse feels really comfortable and because the side view (posted yesterday) shows that the hem is even, I think I’m at the point of adding a sway-back alteration.  I don’t have a sway-back. What I have are buttocks which are high due to the stairs I traverse several times daily and the weight I’ve gained due to my health issues. No matter the cause, if I want this pattern to fit perfectly, I’m going to need to make a little sway-back alteration.

This is a style that I love and have kept in my wardrobe for years. I resisted the urge to make any of the myriad of design changes possible because I wanted to be sure that any fit changes were due solely to the tissue alterations I planned and made. Before filing the tissue away, I will make three changes.  (1) a 1/2″ sway-back alteration. (2) 1/2″ shortened sleeve length (3) add 1 full size to the front along the side.

Finally, I’m amazed at the sizes I finally traced.  I seem to be a different size from top to bottom and front to back.  I had to grade the pattern up to achieve the needed tummy/hip ease.  Grading is something that I avoid.  I think of it as akin to drafting my own patterns.  Alas, the size I needed for my hips was not included on the BS master pattern.  I’ve recorded the sizes I traced.  I’m sharing this information mostly because I want to be able to find this information quickly in the near future. I’m not entirely sure that I’m finished with my fitting procedure.  This works, but can it be repeated? More importantly, can be it be refined?

Third Time Charm

originally published Sep 16 2012

.Ah see the big ol’ grin?

First Fitting

That’s because even unfinished this blouse feels good.  I still need to add the buttons which are a pink matching the flowers. I need to hem the blouse and I have planned some top stitching which will be in the same pink as the buttons and will make a nice contrasting finish.  Yes, I’m pleased; very pleased with this blouse at this point.

Third Version

The front still hints that ease is needed for the bust.  This is very typical for a blouse without darts–especially if you no longer need training bras.  You see those hints repeated in the side view, but I’m exceptionally pleased that there appears to be no tightness in the waist, tummy and hip areas or across the back.  I believe that I didn’t have the blouse really straightened upon my body which contributes to some of the drag lines on the back. However the side view

Blue line indicates how the hem is hanging

with its even hem supports the idea that a sway-back alteration may be in my future.  We call it a sway-back alteration but it can also be needed for large or high buttocks.  I believe I’ve developed larger buttocks due to a combination of health issues and regular stair climbing.  I’m curious about how the back seems to be swinging forward.  As if I still need more ease across the back even though I feel absolutely no tightness.  As I give it thought, the opposite may be true i.e. I may need additional ease in the front so that the back can drop into place.

My fabric is a 100% cotton fabric from Cranston Print Works Co.  I’ve had this 3.5 yards for a long time.  I believe that I may have originally purchased it with Home Dec items in mind.  However, those plans never materialized.  I’m happy to use it for fitting this pattern, Burda 2010-08-130.

I’m more than pleased with this blouse, I really want to know exactly what contributed to the success of this 3rd version.  To analyze that, I need many more words and will continue my analysis in future posts. 

A Pause …

originally published Sep 15, 2012


Finished. This blouse is really me.

…for fitting.I thought I was intensely working towards an elegant fitting procedure. That is a the smallest number of tissue alterations which will create a garment that only needs tweaking. When  I recognized that the old 1″NSA and 1″BWL no longer produced good fitting garments, I started trying to develop a new fitting procedure. That was  back in mid-June with Mccalls 6077.   Initially it seemed that maybe larger side seam allowances might do. But no, as the ball gets rounder it takes more length as well as width to cover it. I also thought that maybe FBA’s front and back would be an elegant solution.  I have to say I was really surprised at the diagonals which developed.  Keeping the grain correctly aligned is more important that I previously realized.  I still don’t want to draft my own patterns.  It sounds like the perfect solution until tried.  That’s when you learn about the thousands of decisions made and how the placement of the standard french curve can make tremendous differences.

What I want to do is  develop a perfect-for-me top that I can then use to quickly evaluate and adapt new commercial patterns to my size and shape.

What I am doing is trimming and tracing  pattern after pattern and making top after top which never quite fit. I need to pause in creating the 2012 Autumn 6PAC and concentrate my efforts on developing my fitting procedure.

So what I did was pulled out the 130 Burda Style pattern and re-evaluate.  The 130 is not a basic block.  It is the basic shirt/blouse style which  I love.  I prefer the one-piece collar (AKA convertible collar).  A collar with stand or stand only irritate my neck and I have the skin tags to prove that statement. The one-piece collar, when open creates a very flattering V for my face.  I’d say I prefer a separate front facing/button band just because it saves fabric.  But I like the cut-on facing for ease of construction and face it, sometimes there’s no point in “saving” fabric.  1/2 yard of dressmaking fabric is hardly enough to do anything with; sometimes it’s better to save the time than the fabric. The 130 style has a drop sleeve.  This is not shoulder extended until it’s too big.  The shoulder clearly curves over the shoulders edge to meet the sleeve head.

Actually I’d prefer to work with a blouse pattern which ends at the shoulder point. But this pattern is already traced. I already have experience with it AND it is a style I like to wear.  So I pulled the tissue back out and started comparing with the failed 106 and also several of my recent tops made from woven fabrics.  I didn’t consider the knit garments/patterns because there are substantial draft and fit changes between knit and woven fabrics which  I didn’t want complicating my process.  I retrieved the big pattern sheet from the BS magazine and began comparing the tissues from all these patterns to the master pattern.  It took a while.  But what I came up with is that my body is multi-sized.  I need one size for the shoulders, a second for the bust,3rd for the waist and 5th for the tummy/hip.  Also, my back needs a different size from my front.  I traced the pattern with my new sizes, blending between sizes.  I added seam allowances, applied the 1″ BWL and then trimmed away the extra tissue.  Next I marked bust, waist, tummy and hip lines horizontally across both front and back. Then I measured and recorded the expected finished measurements. I’m not only going in a general direction, but I want to be able to repeat the final result.

My fabric is a firm shirting purchased from (I think).  Pretty sure it is cotton + something, but mostly cotton.  It feels comfortable and will wrinkle but also presses  easily and beautifully.   I didn’t need to make the contrasting cuff and collar, but I wanted them.  In the first picture you will see that I used 8 small buttons.  I grouped them in two’s about 1 inch apart and spaced the groups 3″ apart.  I wasn’t sure that I needed all 8 buttons but I had them.  I’ve loved this use of buttons for a long time but seldom have the right top and the right amount of buttons to create it.

I took the first pictures before adding button/buttonholes.

The blouse looked great in the mirror but  felt a little “close” to me.  I wondered if the problem was that I’m so used to wearing knits or if I still needed more ease.  If I’d judged this garment strictly by looking in the mirror at the side and front views, I would have blamed my discomfort on the fabric. The Pics tell me more.

Even in the pics I think the front fits as expected for a shirt without darts. In this style shirt, the darts are rotated either to the shoulder or to the sides and hem. While the darts can be rotated successfully, in most cases ease is needed where it is needed.  In this style ease is needed for the bust  and  visible diagonal lines will nearly always form if you’re out of training bras.  I think the front fit is fine.

I’m a little more concerned about the back.  Gone are the diagonal lines which developed on the first version.  The armscye feels comfortable but I see the horizontal lines formed at the bottom of the armscye, maybe more like high bust and just below.  I expected the upper back to be smooth as it was with the first version. Instead of a bubble of undetermined original, which has happened in several of my previous blouses, the horizontal wrinkles here would tended to indicate a need for a sway-back alteration.  However the pic I loaded doesn’t show how tight the back is across the hips.   I think the whole back is pushing upward trying to find ease for the hip. In doing so, the sway back wrinkles emerge and the upper back becomes puffy.

The side view tells the store a bit more.

. I took two views because I wanted to see the effect of folding up the cuff.  The side views also clearly show that blouse is hugging my bu!! and the hem slightly higher in the back.  I’d also suggest to myself, that the front needs a bit more ease across the tummy.  The sleeve is just a bit short. It needs no more than 1/2″ length added.  I like the folded cuff best, but then the sleeve is too short by 1.5″.  I’ll wear this blouse with cuffs down and probably bottom button unbuttoned.  I may even add a side vent or just curve the hem a bit more.  The hem at this point is uneven in the front and needs more work.

I could use this blouse for my 6PAC.  It is an orange and white plaid that looks nice with the vest.  I won’t be using the first version of #106. I’ve already removed the buttons and placed trashed the fabric.  I have enough of that fabric to make the originally planned blouse.   I won’t be making it though until I tweak the 130 pattern to perfection.  Right now I’m thinking  go up one more size on the back from underarm to hem. On the front go up one more size at the tummy/hip.

2010-08-106 Muslin

originally published Sep 13, 2012


.I hate making muslins. Nonetheless, I have to admit my first attempt at Burada 106 August 2010 has turned into a muslin.  It actually doesn’t look that bad (given that I’m tired and show it.  I need a hair cut… and it shows.  Oh and I’ve worn my pants all day long, without a belt. AND it shows.)

When I first slipped on the blouse,I noticed that it seemed a bit tight under the arms (*I’ll come back to this) and had barely enough room for my tummy and rear.  The pictures paint a different story. The front pooches into a belly and  possesses a gaping front neckline.  I had decided to cut the cuff so the stripe would create a horizontal line.  It’s not only a nice change for the eye, but eliminates pattern matching.  I used my too-favorite cuff style which I think of as the LH-cuff.  I made Loes Hinse Tunic Blouse and have copied that cuff everywhere.  It is perfect for making a narrowing at the wrist, a finished narrowing at the wrist, while not having to sew a lot.  There is no fussy vent, clipping, trimming, Frey-Blocking–non of that stuff.  Unfortunately without the neckline band the front just lacks oomph. I need to take full responsibility for messing up the front placket.   I neglected to read the instructions and started the placket by interfacing and then serging to the center front. This should have been a narrow, concealed, button placket.   Due to my error and subsequent refusal to unserge, my front placket is too wide and definitely not concealed. The only plus is that having not made the concealed placket, I was able to button the front over my tummy.

The back has two in-your-face problems.  The horizontal strip on the back yoke, clearly forms a segment of a circle.  This fabric, this style, begs for shoulder pads–but *I’ll come back to that story. The back shows a big pouf of fabric between mid back and high hip.  If I normally made a sway-back adjustment, I’d suspect that I needed a really deep sway back adjustment but the side tells a different story…

…because the side shows the front hem lifting in the back, dropping towards the side and again lifting at the center front.  Clearly there is insufficient ease across the tummy and hips i.e. adding 1″ ease to front and again to the back was not enough.  I’m surprised by the distinctive diagonal lines below the bust.  I expected a “ghost”, at least a hint of needed ease because blouses without horizontal bust darts never fit the feminine figure. I’m rather flat in this area (remember my barrel comparison yesterday?) but was still expecting a hint that more ease was need for the bust.  These surprisingly, deep, diagonal folds could be resulting from the insufficient ease lower down. That is because if there is insufficient ease in the hip and tummy, the garment tries to push upward and deeper folds  will form where there may have been only a hint or shadow before.

Of course, all ills can be covered up:

and in a pinch I would do that.   My real trouble here is * the armscye is too tight.  (Remember I promised more information? Here is it.)  I’m perplexed by the tightness of the underarm. It’s not just high, it’s cutting into me.  At picture-taking time, I have scooped out 3/4″.  I know I added seam allowances. That’s not the problem. I also know that there is not very much difference between size 38 and 40 until you get to the underarm.  At the underarm a size 40 is 1/2″  wider, which adds in total 2″ across the bust but the 40 has only a 1/8″ deeper armscye. So, what’s wrong here? My previous Burda 2010-08-130  blouse, which should be noted is from the same issue and quite probably the same block, fits comfortably in the armscye.  My issue with 130 was the diagonal folds above the hip. Why would this blouse have an armscye which is too shallow?

2012 Autumn 6PAC, Second Blouse

originally published Sept 12, 2012


.At this point, I’m not even looking at patterns outside my Burda Style magazines.  I find that surprising since I so soundly condemned them when I cancelled my subscription 2 years ago.  My complaints remain. What has changed is my shape.  I’m now more barrel-shaped with the largest hoop circling my abdomen. Yes not my bu!! but that portion of my body in front and about 2″ higher—aAs I’ve mentioned in past posts, health issues that created other issues. I’m rather disappointed in the Big 4.  I was making a 1″ NSA and a 1″ BWL to a size 14 and often not even tweaking the fit.  The last few tops I’ve made have required substantial “saves”  that were only possible due to my advanced sewing skills and knowledge.  I switched to working with BS patterns because I have a wide variety of styles all using the same block. This is allowing me to understand and  tweak my tissue alteration process.

For my next 6PAC garment I know that I want to make a 2nd blouse. I also know what fabric I want to use, a blue stripped, 100% cotton shirting. My question is, which blouse pattern?  I searched through my BS collection for several days.  Finally I made a list of the styles I like  and the reason(s) why.  Reasons?  It bothered me that I’d select a pattern, trace and then decided I didn’t want to work on it.  So I decided to really analyze what I was looking for.  The process tells me that I’m still looking for very basic blocks with maybe a detail change.  The why? Is because I’m still unsure of the alterations needed.  I still don’t have a perfectly-fitting basic block that I can use to compare with new patterns.  There is something really wrong with every pattern I’ve attempted to fit up to now.  I’m getting better, mind you, I just still have major issues on the backside.  But the point is after realizing what I wanted, I chose Style 106 from Burda August 2010 because I thought it fit my needs.

I traced the pieces, added the seam allowances and trimmed the excess tissue away.  I find it’s easiest for me to do all this before starting the alteration process. After I made the 1″ BWL, I pinned the pieces together and tried them on Mimie, my dressform.   It was then I realized that this style was not going to help much with my goal of refining the fit process.  That’s because this pattern has a combined front+back yoke.  See those two little pleats at the front shoulder?  They are repeated in the back. This is one of the most excellent styles for adapting to hard to fit bodies.  I realized I did not need to add an FBA. Didn’t need to add waistline darts front or back. Didn’t need to walk the seams after making alterations. Nope, the only thing I needed to do was select the correct sized yoke and then be sure the bottom pieces had sufficient ease  for the widest part of my body.  If I had looked closely at the schematic

… I might have known this.  I blame BS photo style for leading me astray.  Neither photo really accurately depicted this blouse.  It has slight shaping on the sides not enough for a very fitted garment but enough to remove a little bulk from the middle.  I let this one sit for 2 days before deciding to proceed. It wasn’t what I wanted.  I really wanted to continue developing a standard tissue-alteration procedure.

But I decided to use it anyway.  I kept looking at my magazines, I have a collection of about 3 dozen now and found that this is a basic style which BS uses. There are at least 5 more (in my collection) very similar to this and another dozen that start with the fitted back+front yoke. So fitting this one, will give me a good start on a fair number of Burda blouse styles. I also realized, this is a particularly good choice for my fabric.  My fabric has a very dominant vertical stripe.  Trying to put darts into it is going to show and maybe not show well.

The alterations I made were pretty straight forward.  I added 1″ at the center back and 1″ in the center of the tuck/pleat marks on the front.  I checked the sleeve and decided upon adding 1″ to the center of it as well.  This is not a dart or wedge shape I’m adding. No, in each alteration it’s a straight 1″ from top to bottom.  I also decided to do away with the banded collar. I do like the looks of that simple neckline finish, but it always rubs irritatingly along my neck… AND….  I have the skin tags to prove it

Autumn 2012 6-PAC, Garment #4

originally published Sep 7, 2012


is a vest from Burda May 1999 Style 127

I knew immediately I would not be applying the front bellows pockets. My tummy bellows enough in that area and in truth I don’t need pockets for garments I wear around the house. I was curious about the flaps and as I worked with them realized this vest which I thought would be a one-shot deal, could be made multiple ways. This was not a pattern to be traced once and discarded, but a pattern than could have multiple personalities.

I made two other initial changes. I opted to fully line the vest although I didn’t use nearly as much interfacing. I much prefer the way my vests wear when they are fully lined. It’s like the difference between a fully lined jacket and a jacket with big facings. The pattern also calls for a front zipper. I don’t even like separating zippers and didn’t hesitate a second to change that to an easy beaded-loop closure.

I made the tissues changes as decided in my previous post. That is I traced the shoulders at a 38 but used a size 40 for the other cutting lines. After trimming the tissue, I added a 2″ FBA to the front and a 2″ waist dart to the back. The sides were hardly shaped at all so I did not make the 1″ BWL. During my first fitting I realized that the armscyes would be too small and tight when worn over most of my sleeved garments. I decided to cut the armscye in 1/2″ at the shoulder and 1″ under the arm. I used my french curve to draw lines between. At the time of the first fitting I always thought “this is so plain.”

I don’t know what my fabric is. I was surprised at how difficult it was to sew with. The lining kept creeping away from the edge so that either it didn’t meet the edge or I was stopping and tugging it back to avoid having the lining 1″ passed the fabric edge. Eventually I begin basting each piece and then either sewing or serging them together. What should have been quick construction was very slow because of the fabric. The front appears to be a bright apricot corduroy but there is a scrim on the back. The corduroy is not woven. It appears to be sprayed or glued to the back. It is the softest smoothest corduroy I’ve ever felt and it has the distinctive nap of a corduroy. In fact I chose to cut the yoke and shoulder/pocket flaps on the cross grain so that I could highlight the nap and grain.

I then topstitched two lines 4mm long; AND when I looked at the vest I thought, “how plain”.

I took the time to experiment with buttons and bought these new ornately styled buttons which are placed on each shoulder flap plus on either side of the closure. For the moment they are pinned into place. I want to wear the garment one time before committing to this ornamentation.

As for fit, I’m pleased. The garment should meet in the middle and hang smooth. I may be getting a bit too much ease at the hem, but the rest looks good. It has nearly straight sides and so should hang straight from the shoulders in the back, which it pretty much does. There may be a bit of extra ease, but I’m not seeing the poofyness that was present in previous garments. I think my fitting changes are beginning to work.

That completes my 3rd layer, a vest, and the 4th garment of my Autumn 2012 6PAC

The Reveal Burda 2010-08-130

originally published Sept 4, 2012

ETA  January 2013 I finally decided this buttonhole technique just wouldn’t work for me.  I carefullyaligned the facing and the blouse front. Using the manual buttonhole procedure, I stitched from the facing side all the way through to the front.  The result is a stress-free buttoning experience.

In my defense, it is 99 degrees outside and while considerably cooler inside, I’m still sweating like a pig while wearing these cool weather clothes.  I did try to show how I would wear this blouse but it was just too dang hot to spend a lot of time fussing, posing and taking pics.  I think I even look like I’m melting.  But let’s get on with the reveal:

The raised front hem is from the way I’m standing. My back hurts and I took off my support for the pics.

I made 7 alterations and fittings to the shoulder and upper back.  I added and removed a back “yoke”. Really it was just two big horizontal dart strategically placed to look like a yoke.  After Alteration #7, I realized that the back puffiness and the diagonal wrinkles were caused by the alteration I did to the tissue to add back width.

I tried to combine two alterations into one.  I added width to the tummy and hip area by adding a vertical waist dart, which remains unsewn as I need the ease to cover said tummy, hip and the butt below.  That alteration is correct.  It is the back alteration which is in error.  I reasoned that since we do a Y type alteration to add width and depth for the bust, something similar with only 2 legs  would add width for the back. And it does, but with limited positive effect.  What happens is that the grain for the sides is shifted and placed on the bias. Diagonal folds then develop starting on the front under the bust, traversing the sides and to the back.  The effect is happening on both sides and comes together in the middle of the back creating the pouf because this is shirting and not a  flowing fabric. A flowing fabric would have cascaded into a beautiful cowl neck drape over my behind. Instead, I have a pouf in the middle of my back.

Usually with an FBA we also create and sew a horizontal bust dart. This reverses the biasing effect on the front. I didn’t want to change the design of this dartless blouse and decided to live with  the effect in front.   While I don’t want bust darts in the back either, I thought  adding the “yoke” (moving the bust dart up to the shoulder level)  would correct  the biasing for this version.  The yoke removed the diagonal wrinkles around the armscye  but not the folding of the fabric  along the sides or the pouf in the center back. The “yoke” also dramatically changed the back armscye.  Had I kept the yoke, I would have needed to reshape the armscyes and possibly sleeve cap. What I decided to do is sew the shirt without alterations beyond what was done to the tissue and then dress like I normally do in the fall and winter, with a vest:

Opps, there that velcro bu!! thing happening again!

All the back issues just simply disappear. (I swear I never noticed the front of the vest sticking out like that. Must be my posture.) Also disappearing is the anomaly created by Burda’s instructions, the flying front facing:

Look closely at the folded edge of the front. The facing is not secured and therefore flys open.

I had decided to follow Burda’s instructions which create a buttonhole on the facing, but not through the front.  They are trying to create an easy hidden placket. It fails on several points.  It is awkward/difficult to button, but unbuttons easily. The facing not being secure shifts away or flying as I like to call it, creating a weird looking front. I’m contemplating adding either fusible web or a line of stitching to secure the facing to the blouse front. This is one of those design elements that Burda offers and those of you with good sense decide not to do. However, I was feeling a bit experimental (and at the time not expecting all the fitting hoop-a-la)  and went with it.  Since I’m likely to always wear a vest with this blouse, I could just leave it as is.

I also used my favorite cuff finish. I pleated the edges as directed but skipped any kind of  vent. I serged the cuff to the sleeve before sewing the side seams. In fact, since I knew this to be a drop sleeve, I took a minute and walked the seams.  The sleeve head and the armscye exactly matched so I serged the sleeve to the armscye and then the side seam, sleeve seam and cuff all in one go.

Blouse #1 for my Autumn 6PAC is, technically, DONE!

I still need to work on improving the fit of my tops so my plan for the next will be


  1. Cut shoulder line size 12/38
  2. Swing out immediately to cut size 14/40 through the armscye all the way to the hem.
  3. Make 1″ BWL
  4. Add “waistline” dart adding 2″ from tummy to hem.


  1. Cut shoulder line and armscye size 12/38
  2. At underarm swing out to size 14/40 all the way to the hem
  3. Make 1″ BWL
  4. Add FBA 1″ at bust, 2″ at tummy to hem.

Note: May need to divy up those 2″ adjustments. It becomes difficult to keep the tissue flat when spreading it so far apart.

A pattern observation:  I don’t like adding ease by crossing the side cutting lines.  I seem to lose the designer shape, yet I must do something to accommodate my own body shape and will inevitably not look like the anemic, walking eating-disordered models that are put forth as ideals.


Bruda August 2010 Style 130

originally published Sep 2, 2012


.I’m finished with the pants for my Autumn 6PAC and working on tops that will be suitable for the changeable fall weather.  My first fabric choice is a light weight shirting in alternating blue, orange and white pin stripes. I will be making long sleeves, mostly because that’s what my pattern, Burda 2010-08-130 specifies.

I chose to make a Burda pattern because I wanted to see if my new fitting routine would work  for Burda patterns.  This pattern “won” because I wanted to make a woman’s blouse with convertible collar.  I would have been satisfied with either a button tab or as on this pattern, the faced center front.  I wanted sleeves.  3/4 would have been acceptable but the pattern is drafted with long sleeves so  long sleeves it is.  I also wanted a semi-fitting blouse. Something that skimmed the body, neither tightly nor loosely flowing.  I would have preferred a regular shoulder in place of this drop-shoulder. For that style, my choices would have included either yoked or peplum details.  That’s all my Burda collection offers. In the end, I’m eager to see how this shoulder really looks IRL.  It is not straight or angled, but gently curves over the shoulder to about 1.5″ below the shoulder point. This shoulder could be flattering.

To choose my size,  I took my high bust measurement in centimeters and compared it to Burda chart. I was surprised, but pleased to see that Burda equates their size 38 with the US size 12–the same size I chose for shoulders on American patterns.  I traced the front shoulder and upper chest area at size 38; then used size 40 for the sides and hem.  For the back I traced the size 38 shoulder but immediately expanded to size 40 for all other lines.  I added seam allowances, trimmed the tissues and pined the front and back together at the sides to try it on Mimie.  I think this is the first time I’ve made a 1.5″ back waist length adjustment.  Usually I shorten the BWL by 1″. This is an alteration which I trust to Mimie’s figure.  Mimie’s cover was fitted to exactly my waist and in the last 5 years Mimie’s figure has never been wrong.

I unpinned everything and compared with the  Simplicity 2154 tissue.  2154 doesn’t completely fit exactly the way I’d like but  several critical elements are perfect and the rest close.

The size 12 shoulder is perfect.  The 2154 is  a sleeveless draft so when I compare it to a sleeved garment, I need to allow extra length along the shoulder. I don’t necessarily  have add anything, but as I’m looking realize that a sleeved garment tissue  would need to be a minimum of 1/2″ longer at the shoulder.

The darts are all in the right place.  So if when I compare a new pattern I can see if the darts need to be moved up or down or if they need to be shortened — shortened is usually the case.

There is enough width everywhere –OK nearly everywhere and I’ll come back to that– so when I compare a new pattern I can see immediately if there is enough wearing ease. Heck I can even tell if there’s going to be enough style ease to create the look I want.

2154 is the minimum length I want a top.  So if the tissue of new pattern is short, I know how much to lengthen it.  I also know that the longest I really like tops is 4 inches longer than this tissue. So if the pattern is too long, I know how much to shorten.

Now back to “enough ease everywhere” exception– I think it’s the center back, right below my shoulders. There are numerous drag lines that point or originate around my upper back (but below the shoulder blades) and terminate from middle of armscye to waist.  I considered that maybe the armscye was too shallow or the waist lacked enough ease. But the final garment feels wonderful around the armscye; and while the waist is comfortable it also obviously has too much fabric.

I entirely like the fit of the front -without the vertical waistline darts. I almost liked the fit of the back.  The back seemed to have too much ease at the waist but manipulating the vertical dart which should have controlled ease in that area, made the back look worse.

Why all this information about 2154. Well I’m using it as my basis for adapting 2010-08-130.  I compared  the tissues and added a 2″ FBA and almost duplicate adjustment to the back. I didn’t do the full 3-slashes FBA.  I split the tissue from waist to bust point and then to armscye.  I really didn’t want to add a bust dart. The style doesn’t call for a bust dart and  I can live with “those” drag lines. I added a 1/2″ seam allowance to the back.  Although not part of the original style, I want to keep working at fitting the back. If a CB is necessary in all future blouses, well that’s my figure. I don’t get upset at needing a smaller shoulder and I’m not getting upset with needing more room for my back. I did one other really odd thing. Adding the FBA and back adjustment pushes the hem at the sides out further and further. I don’t mean just adding ease, but the angle changes so that a Judy Jetson look is achieved. I measured carefully and realized that my FBA keeps incrementally adding width i.e. at the waist it added 2″; at the tummy 2.25″ but  at the hip is 2.75″ and by the hem the extra ease is 3.5″ per side or a total of 15″ additional ease. I only need an additional 4″ ease in the tummy-hip block. In fact if I was using a stretchy knit fabric, I wouldn’t need any additional ease.  To avoid the Jetson Fashion Styling,  I  cut diagonally into the side seam/hem corner from the center slash. Then I overlapped my new slash until the tissue was flat (about 1″).  I can’t say this would work for anyone else or at this point even if it’s going to work for me. I’ve read and followed the FBA instructions from several places and I think I’m FBA’s  right, but I keep producing a lot of flare at the hem. It needs controlling and as always, I’m looking for a simple method that can be done right on the tissue, repeatedly.  Like with every new tissue, I can slash and spread 2″ and overlap 1″.  I will report honestly on my results. For now, it’s time to cut fabric.

Burda 2010-08-130 First Fitting

originally published Sep 1, 2012


.Can I start by admitting I’m thrilled?

I cut pieces as indicated except for the sleeve placket.  It’s a lovely looking placket but rather fussy and I’ve never finished one to my satisfaction.  I’d like to work on perfecting my technique and make a really beautiful one….. someday.  Today, I want to check my alteration procedure and produce a nice blouse for my 2012 Autumn 6PAC.  I elected to cut bias strips to be used to clean finish the placket and neckline edge.  I added interfacing as indicated (collar, front facings) and stabilized the shoulders with fusible bias tape.  My fabric is astonishinly wide.  I have 2.25 yards of 60″ wide shirting fabric.  It’s 100% cotton but it’s been sanforized or some other type heavy duty finishing because it resists wrinkling.  I prefer separate front facings because an attached facing gobbles up the yardage. With this fabric I have left slightly over 1 yard plus some large scraps to be used in a summer top next year. I know there are uneven plaids, but is the same verbage used with stripes?  The striping is repeated across the 60″, but when the fabric is folded in half the stripes are not the same on the top side as they are on the bottom…. and vice versa. Usually, I would opt for cutting each piece individually. But I am more interested in fitting this blouse and it’s difficult to tell the right side from wrong side of this shirting.  I decided to fold and cut opposites together and make the best of it.  Such an arrangement is not automatically doomed to failure.  Single layer cutting possibly would assured success, but when I have to keep track of too many things, as with this fabric, I can rapidly turn beautiful fabric into trash.  I’ll keep it simple, and live with the result.

I fused the interfacing, applied fusible bias tape to the shoulders for stabilization and then basted shoulder and sides together for a first fitting.  I was happy just slipping into the shell. The fabric feels nice.  More importantly as I’m pinning together at top button and bottom button, I feel no tension.  I roughly space two more pins between the proposed top and bottom buttons and secure the front. Then I take a look in the mirror. I’m delighted with my reflection and so I pull out the camera for a few quick piccys.

Oh and I’m still happy.

Front, first fitting

I keep my excitement in check by reminding myself that without sleeves, cuffs and collar, there’s too much fit information I don’t have.  But I like the front. Oh yes I see the front doesn’t hang perfectly perpendicular to the floor– pretty sure that’s my fault– and darts are trying to  form along the side. But my personal experience after  growning my very own b@@bs, is that a blouse without “real” stitched darts like this can’t help but form some b@@b darts. You can try to smooth all the fabric to the side seams or elsewhere, but it doesn’t completely work unless you are working with knits.  A woven fabric needs darts to traverse womanly curves and will create it’s own darts if the pattern does not.  I confess that I felt slightly thrilled the first time I had enough b@@bage for my woven cotton shirts to form these drag lines. I could fix the drag lines by making a full FBA, but I don’t want to. I want the dartless blouse even if the fabric makes insists upon making it’s own darts. I see that the shoulders are, as expected, softly cupping my natural shoulder. The neckline is comfortable, even at this unfinished point.  I repeat, I’m happy with the front view.  Onto the side:

First fitting side view.

and I”m not entirely sure what’s happening at the shoulder.  I used water soluble thread (WST) to baste the garment together.  WST is wonderful for this type fitting effort.  I sew at normal settings (2.5 stitch length, default tensions, standard foot) but with WST in the bobbin.  I can pin and baste again, or if I’m satisfied, spritz with water or give it a big shot of steam from my Rowenta.  The WST disappears and the top thread is lifted and disposed into the trash can with one easy, continuous swift, graceful…. oh you get the idea one quick movement.  It looks as though the shoulder has already started ripping out. Given the brittle condition of the WST due to the heat, that’s  likely. Nonetheless there is enough information to tell me how and where the shoulder falls; a rough fitting estimate and sleeve room.  The side view further reveals the bust darts the woven fabric is trying to form; and  also is indicating some information about the back fit. I’m not drawing any conclusions, just noting some drag lines.  To gain a little more information, I lifted my arm and took a second side picture.

Side view, arm lifted

I think it is interesting that the front bust darts have nearly disappeared as well as the deep back folds of fabric and the much smaller folds around the bottom third of the armscye.  Again no conclusions from me. I’m just looking and thinking.

Finally the back view

First fitting, back view

I’m perplexed by the back view and plan to contemplate a bit before proceeding. I cut a size 38 right across the shoulders but extended into a 40 as quickly as possible.  I thought the issues with the back were caused by insufficient ease just 3″ down from the neckline. I gave this pattern a 1.50″ back waist length adjustment.  That’s the biggest BWL I’ve ever made, yet I’m seeing deep wrinkles in the center of the back which usually indicate either a sway back, or a BWL length  mismatch (body and pattern).  I do note that in both front and back views, the shirt fabric seems to hang up on the pants fabric and become off-centered or not hang freely. There is more then enough ease.  In another type garment, I would take the side seams in more.  Unfortunately the picture in the magazine

Burda Style August 2010

doesn’t really tell me how this blouse should fit.  Burda has shown this blouse in a fashion forward sense rather than something which could indicate how it should fit. This is one of my complaints about Burda which contributed to cancelling my subscription.  I get that they are a fashion magazine, offering the patterns as well as styling, accessory and wearing suggestions.  But they really short-change us, the viewer and magazine buyer, when it comes to indicating how the pattern will or should fit.  Grrrr Burda. So I’m left saying, well when my arm is lifted, I have even less wrinkles than the model does in the front. I’m left to guess what the back and side should/could show.

You’re probably saying, ” I thought she was thrilled.” Yes I am because I spent hours measuring, calculating, comparing and deveoping the fitting information I used on 2154. I distilled that information into a simple procedure and I transferred that information to a new pattern, new pattern company successfully. The front and sides of 130 fits as well as 2154. The back of 130 fits a little better -as a result of the finished 2154 and conclusions about it’s fit.  I’m pleased as punch to post that I have a simple reliable process for altering patterns for tops so that they fit me with just a bit of tweaking.  I just need to finesse the fit of the back.