Archive | April 2014

1992-05-116 Finished!

This is not a blouse that WOWs me. Make no mistake, I enjoyed the sewing especially the sleeves. The pattern is fine. Initially a little big, but the finished garment is not wonderful.  The finished garment is one of those plain, basic tops that everyone needs and should be glad to have in their wardrobe.


During fitting, I kept thinking the blouse was wearing me.  15 years ago (back in the 90’s) I did indeed wear styles very similar. I was also 40 pounds heavier. (isn’t that the weight of small child?) Clothing looks and fits differently now. Also I’ve quite gotten accustomed to the closer fit and shorter styles. I started transforming this blouse by adding a belt.

I wear a belt with my pants. Really don’t want to double belt.

Helpful, but not the entire answer.  I then folded out and stitched about 2.5″ horizontally below that humongous bust dart, and all around my body.  Shortening the blouse made a big difference, in my mind.


I am not WOWed.

It still looked like the blouse overwhelming.  I took in 1/4″ along  the side seams just between bust dart and about 4″ down from the sleeve-armscye. I can’t tell that it helped. I probably need to take out more.  At the same time I added these triangular shoulder pads that have been marinating in the stash.  They are 3/8″ fat. I prefer the 1/4″  but I had these and they do work with raglan armscyes.  I feel like the shoulder pads lifted the shoulder too much and the neckline is now floating away from my body at the shoulder. Not sure what the solution to that is. The pad can’t be moved up higher, it would show in the neckline.  It can’t be moved down lower because at that point the pad would be too narrow for the sleeve.  For now, it’s such a bland garment, I’m leaving the shoulder pads alone.  I felt the sleeves were adding to the “too big” impression and decided to control them a bit. I turn up my hem and inserted 1″ elastic. Finally still wanting the make the blouse shorter, I finished by folding the 1″ hem bias binding completely to the inside making the binding a facing. With the fabric coloring, the bias band makes no impact anyway.

Fit wise, it no longer looks like the blouse is wearing me.  The effect of the shoulder pads is subtle  and acceptable.  Take a look at how the sleeve is bunching on my right arm  before looking at the back view:

The mid-back is buckling. Some would immediately call this “sway back”.  I know from long experience that I am not sway-back.  Usually, I need more room across the butt. This pattern had 3/8″ more pattern across the back then my ABO-Ebb. The ABO-Ebb doesn’t buckle.  It floats freely. Why is this buckling? I think it’s the fabric. I think the fabric got moved into a different position and just stayed there. Just like the sleeves didn’t fall back into place, neither did the back.  However, recently I read came across a blog article that discusses a half-dozen causes of the mid back buckling.  I’m wondering if maybe my tummy doesn’t need more room and is pulling the back because as seen from the side:

My garment is clearly shorter in the center front that the back and there are front-side drag lines. A problem I often experience.  For future versions I will remove an additional 2.5″ at the shorten/length line and add a front wedge of about 1/2″ to make the hems even.  Still wondering if I need to add more butt room. I think not, because in addition to a curve hem the sides are vented. The butt should be fine.

Not entirely satisfied with the garment, I started playing with my vests. It’s a given I’ll be wearing a vest during the winter, and most of the fall and spring.  I may as well see what works, right?

Not These!

Heavens no!

This would be OK –if it was the only vest available.


But These:

Yes, these work. they cover all the ills of the blouse and coordinate beautifully with the pants.  These have the WOW factor the blouse was missing.



1992-05-116, Sewing and Fitting

My fabric choice boiled down to which fabric had enough width and length. I chose a 100% cotton advertised as shirting. Once washed, it lost the crisp feel I expect from shirting. So where once I might have made it into CLD’s the Blouse Perfected, now I thought it might be more appropriate for this 90’s style. The extra ease in the 90’s required soft fabrics which drape; or at least drape a little better than a crisp shirting.

As predicted, sewing was a joy.  I finished the bottom hem first. I used bias strips and eased them around the corners. Next I stitched in front darts and then sleeve fronts to the front and sleeve backs to the back. Oh did I mention, I placed the center front on a fold?  As long as I wasn’t adding that center, slot-seam, I didn’t see the need to add a seam to the center front. Once the sleeves were attached, I stitched from hem to neckline.  I made sure to carefully align and pin the shoulder/armscye seam.  Done correctly, this is a flowing elegant line. Get the crossing seam off and it’s a bit jarring. (Oh well, I could always wear a vest.) Just before starting all the sewing, I had scooped the front neckline about 2″.  Now I finished it with a bias strip.  I spent about 5 minutes preparing this bias strip. First I cut it, then  folded and pressed in half (long edges together) and then I pressed while pulling the folded edge.  That final press and pull, builds curvature into the bias strip which made it much easier to attach smoothly.  Otherwise, the neck binding was pretty standard for me. I baste the raw edges together leaving a 4″ opening.  Then I measure and clip at the point they will meet.  I stitch, permanently stitching, the short ends together. Finally I serge the neckline on the serger before spending 5 more minutes pressing the neckline into its final place.

At this point I basted the side seams.  I tried on the blouse and took a look in the mirror before taking a few pics. Up close my fabric is an interesting strip of soft browns and a soft orange. Despite the orange, it has a muted appearance. However standing 3′ away from the mirror, it look like a big boring sack.


OK, this blouse is not sitting squarely on my shoulders. Somehow, it’s dropped off to my right.  I also have not installed shoulder pads.  I don’t have any raglan pads and not sure about installing the regular half-moon shape.


Overall, the fit is about what I expected. It is the color which is killing me. I spent a few hours, one eye on the TV the other on my NOOK, looking for possible solutions. I surfed Eileen Fisher and Net-A-Porter looking for two solution: 1) how are the designers currently handling excess ease; and 2) how are the designers handling boring fabric. The answers were astounding.

Answer to Question #1: Big loose fashions are back in style.  The designers are just letting the excess ease hang and billow. The difference is that the garments are much shorter than they were in the 90’s. My ABO-Ebb is right on trend:


The ABO-Ebb

The other difference with the 90’s I noted was that the armscye sits on the shoulder not the bicep. Again, my ABO-Ebb is right on trend

Question #2.  Ignore the lack of interest.  No seriously, I saw more plain unadorned tops than anything else. Half-way through the Net-A-Porter slide show (26 pages with 60 garments on each page), I started noting bright but pastel colors. Not the soft orange of my blouse, but a bright peach straight from the Amazon. (The world region not the on-line seller.)  Not too much in the way of structures either. A few ruffles left over from last year and a hangy-down-in-the-front thing I couldn’t figure out and wouldn’t wear. (It’s a safety issue folks. That kind of stuff finds its way into the most dangerous spots.)  A surprising number of raglan tops in plain colors grey, black white. Or, the designers completely cover the front of the garment with paint. I do like profuse embellishment but at do it in the fabric stage, not at the end when I’m tweaking fit.  Maybe the last half of the Net-A-Porter slide show is different.  The only exciting garment I saw was Carolines lace top.  I noted and saved a number of tops with sheer sections or mostly sheer.  I might make use of sheer sections, but not with this garment.

I was left wondering, what to do with this blouse?  I loved sewing it. With the right fabric and a few fitting tweaks, this would be a fabulous go-to pattern. I don’t think I’d make it sleeveless without some more pattern alterations (the armscye is far too low). But I loved that the pattern  is drafted for woven non-stretch fabrics (Loes Hines Boat Neck Top is best with knits.).  I have some lovely rayons and a charmeuse or two that could be wonderful.  Sigh, life demands my participation elsewhere at the moment.  I’ll have to come back to this problem later.

Blast To the Past

I’m starting a new pattern this week. I’m wanting a 2nd blouse that works well with the cotton/lycra pants from March. The blouse posted in the final pic, works well for spring and summer maybe even parts of fall. But here in SD spring lasts about 1 week and is not scheduled to arrive for another 6. I won’t be wearing that blouse for some time.  I want a long sleeve blouse that will coordinate closely with the color of those pants. I have a small group of fabrics (3-4) that will coordinate as desired. For patterns,  I had considered CLD’s new pattern, Simplify Your Life but there are downsides. First I don’t want a short sleeve which would mean altering the pattern before I even know how it works. Secondly, CLD patterns are a sewing lesson or conglomeration of sewing lessons in one  pattern.   I love the knowledge, the techniques I learn but find I must carefully follow instructions. That often means handling a piece multiple times as I read instruction and fold or baste to see if I’m following it correctly.  Once finished, I can usually repeat the pattern with a quick memory refresh. But I’m wanting a quicker, easier sewing experience. I love sewing pants, but the fitting experience wears me out.

While I really want to use the SYL, instead I hesitated and start looking at other possibilities. My sewing angel gave me a box of Burda magazines.  One is the May 1992 issue without cover or glossy pages.  It has only sewing instructions and master pattern sheets. But as I look through it, I am intrigued by Style 116


It looks like a typical tunic from the 90’s era except it has bust darts.  I start to pass on it when I see the sleeve in the schematic:


Doesn’t that look like a 2-piece raglan?  I look closely and realize that it has a very narrow shoulder and that the raglan is not the typical raglan shape but a slight outward curve that I would expect of a set in sleeve. It rings a bell. With a few moments of hunting I find Yoshimi’s post about  the Fujiko top pattern from Tamanegi-kobo. (I don’t know that I got all the links posted. You might need to click on Yoshimi’s post to find the other links.).  Yoshimi was thrilled with her Fujiko pattern because, like me, she has narrow shoulders.  The Fujiko is a similar design to this Burda. This design has the advantages of raglan fit and stitching, but the look of a set in sleeve. I’m sold. I need to give my Burda 05-1992 #116 a shot.

Now I’ve always liked raglan sleeves. For sewing and knitting, they are excellent. I’d easily recommend the traditional raglan sleeve to the new sewist. But the typical raglan line is  not my friend. I have to be careful, because most raglan sleeve doe’t make my narrow shoulders look wider. No,  the long, slanted diagonal common with most raglans makes me look like spinning top — my head being the knob you pull up and down on to make the top spin and my beach-ball of a tummy the wide spinning part of the top. .  When I’m wearing wide leg trousers, I bear a striking resemblance to the Pyramids.  A very upright raglin, like the Boat Neck top of Loes Hinse is flattering. I also find that a busy print can counteract the raglan. This curved-raglan is different. I’m not sure how it will work. I suppose, I can always wear a vest (and often do).  So while the raglan is a consideration, I’m going to go with it.

Another concern is ’90’s styling.  I lived those years — at 170 pounds (and more). I clearly remember large; loose-flowing; shoulders that hit the middle of my bicep; and general shapelessness.   I’m pleased to note the bust dart in this patter which helps, but I also pull out my CLd Ebb to eyeball fit. I should be a size 38-40 shoulder, 44 bust, 46 waist and hip. The smallest size for 1992-05-116 is 44. This is the first time I’ve used such an old Burda Magazine.  There have been improvements over the years, but those master patterns were still eye killers. I had problems locating the pieces which were stacked on top of each other. I mean the blues were stack on top of blues. Even though there were red lines, the blue lines didn’t seem to cross many red lines, just blue, blue and more blue.  I anticipated making fitting alterations and choose not to trace facings. I started by tracing the front and back. At the bust there is 1.5″ (total 3″) more ease in the Burda than in my Ebb.  At the hip and waist there is about .5″ (total 2″) more ease. The Burda patterns are given without seam allowances.  I decide to trace the size 44, forget adding seam allowances and adjust the bust ease at the first fitting.

I didn’t trace the center piece. I know it’s an attractive and exciting slot seam but adding it would add another 2″ unneeded ease. 90’s fashions were so voluminous, I’m reluctant to add even more.

I also note that should I choose the longer length (the square/mitered cornered version) my hem will be mid-thigh.  I’m sure tunic styles will come back into fashion someday, but for now, I cut that away and am using the curved hem.

I would like  to use the gathered waist band on version A.  That’s a nice effect I do not use often enough but I don’t want to place it across the center of my tummy. I think a line, which this will create, following the curve of my tummy will really make it look like I have a beach ball under there.

The only change I made to the pattern, besides not adding seam allowances,  was a 1″ back-waist length adjustment.  I shortened the front and back so that the waist indicated on the pattern pieces will correspond with my own. I don’t see any shaping along the side seams so it might have been possible just to whack the excess of the bottom.