and One to Gift

I need new robes.  A robe for me is not a furry, cross over garment that is belted and tied in front.  Such a garment always slides open either exposing me or making me cold. I use my robes either first thing in the morning or after an evening bath.  At camp, they cover me during the walk between my camp site and the public bathroom when the after-dark need occurs.  At home they keep me warm after the evening bath and warm in the morning; plus if I don’t get dressed before UPS shows up, I’m half-way decent. I’m retired. I don’t have to get up early and dress.  So I prefer a closed or caftan style robe. Slip over the head and I’m covered and don’t become uncovered.  I scoured my Burda magazines and decided that #122 07/2008 would be perfect. I checked the size and was surprised that a 46 was me with a 1/4″ to spare.  But it seems to me that I’ve always traced the next size up and for pants, traced the back inseam two sizes up.  So  I traced the pattern but before adding seam allowances I started measuring.  The bust had about 3″ ease. Good. Hip? I measured 7″ down from the waist mark. I knew this was above the normal hip. I was thinking if it was big enough 1″ above the hip, it should be OK.  Oh Joy, it was!  I calculated 4″ hip ease.  However far too long.  I cut 3.5″ off the length at the hem and that’s in addition to the 1″ BWL I always do.  I also made my 1″ NSA.  I’m figuring this is a loosely fitting 3rd layer. I don’t even want it to fit like a blouse. I want it to float around and if it has deep vertical folds of fabric, I’m happy.

This is an easy garment to make.  I traced and made my alterations one evening.  Took about an hour maybe hour and half because I had to add seam allowances and make alterations.  My fabric is a 100% silk, I think.  I did not do a burn test. I didn’t buy this fabric it was given to me.  A friend’s mother died and my friend brought me a box of fabric.  According to my friend, her mother was a great seamstress and refused to work with anything but quality fabric. However, she was not above a bargain. So when she saw this 36″ wide silk, brocade on sale, she bought the whole bolt. I have 7 yards of 36″ wide silk to work with.  It smells like silk.  My friend told me it was silk. I believe it is silk.  It must be 30-35 years old.  I’ve had it for 16-17. The original owner hadn’t sewn the last 15 years of her life and sometime before then had purchased the fabric on sale . This was during the days when stores kept stock rather the being immediate supply demand (aka JIT just in time). A bolt could sit in a store for while if it was good quality stuff, and that was OK with the store. Moral of the story is I’m pretty sure it’s silk and it is old old silk.

When cutting,  I felt like the brocade was directional. Subtle, but when it was stretched out on my 6′ cutting table, I could see the repeat and direction of weave.  Since I was making a large garment, I decided that the directional nature could be come apparent during wear.  I opted to cut all the pieces directionally even going so far as to cut the front and back upper bodices individually. In the pattern, the back bodice is placed on the fold.  With 36″ width to work with, I added a center back seam. Once all the pieces were cut, I hung them on hanger and threaded my machines. Then snapped off the lights (and all the machines) before going upstairs for the evening.

The next day I stitched this together. I serge finished the underarm, sleeve hem and lower bodice edges. But just serged and top-stitched the other seams.  I put the bodices together first. Finished the neckline and basted the front pieces where they are overlapped. Then I serge finished the hem before turning it up and stitching using, once again, the flat felling foot.  I had no idea this foot could be so useful.  Then I serged the front and back skirt to the upper bodice. Serged the by now long underarm-side seam and finished by adding 2″ folded bands to the sleeve. Done. About 3 hours maybe a bit less.

That’s me in the morning in my winter PJ’s.  No head because I still have bed-head.

So why is this ‘One to Gift’? The empire line is tight and the hip is close.  If the empire line was not tight, I would keep the garment.  But since it has  two things I don’t like in my robes, it will gifted to someone smaller and probably younger than me.  Possibly I should have followed my hunch and made it a size larger.  I could have checked this blog.  Even a few posts would have told me that I always make Burda patterns a size larger than recommended. The few jeans I buy, are a size larger than recommended. I like my clothing semi-loose to loose-fitting. Or knit. I don’t like clothing that binds and restricts movement, especially when that movement is breathing. I’m surprised that measuring failed me. I wondered it the silk shrunk when pressing.  I press all my seams as I’m sewing.  But I think I should have known I needed more hip ease for a robe. Would that have automatically given more ease to the empire line?  Not sure. It’s quite common for me to add 1/2″ to back or all my blouses. I notice that I frequently take in the front side seam, but add ease to the back. Just seeing that the hip didn’t have the desired ease might not have prompted me to trace or grade-up at the empire line as well. The bust itself if fine. It is the seam under the bust and over my ribs that give me fits. It has never occurred to me that sufficient bust ease with a constricted rib cage would ever occur.

Lovely garment.  I will make it again. I could use the pattern as is with a knit fabric, two sizes larger for woven.  I chose the right length for me if using a simple 1/2″ turned up hem.  I like my robes just above my ankle so they won’t trip me if I need to go downstairs.



One to Wash; One to Wear

Despite having finished my 2nd night-gown relatively quickly, like the next day, it has taken me more time to post.

I use the same Burda pattern #116 in the May 1992 issue.  The first version I shortened 2″.  This was made full length which to me makes a very nice gown.   I used a cotton/poly fine ribbing.  It too is a Walmart purchase but had been used before. Just last year, as a matter of fact, and also as part of sleepwear.  During the change over, I realized how poorly that had worn. It both stretch out of shape and pilled.  I was quite disappointed as I had invested a lot of time via machine embroidery.  I vowed to use it all up this time and not to make any extradoinary effort hence the only band is the neckband.  The lower hem is serged, fused with 1/4″ SAS and turned up before top stitching.

I had serged the side/underarm seam and serge finished the sleeve hem.  Trying to turn up the narrow hem without fusing didn’t work well.  I didn’t want apply SAS now that the sleeve hem was circular instead of flat. Neither did I want to use the narrow hemmer foot. That foot works well with fabric that has been stiffened  to board like appearance. A floopy, squirmy knit was not going to work  well.  I was thinking of just leaving the top unhemmed but serge finished when the wacky idea to try using my flat felling foot occurred to me. Holy smokes, it worked!  The foot is big enough and the guides rightly placed to turn the edge up a scant 1/2″.  I used the 3 step wave stitch lengthened to 12 (I don’t know if that is mm or steps or but it was 12 on the screen).  The sleeve was already in a circle.  When I returned to the start of the circle, I removed the fabric from the foot and let it float beneath.  By that time, enough stitching and enough handling had persuaded it to stay folded about the same 1/2″.

This is definitely a hemming trick I will remember in the future.

I’m pleased to now have two, transitional-weather night gowns hanging in my closet; one to wash and one to wear.

1992-05-116 Sleepwear

Finished swapping out seasonal clothes.  Summer clothes are now safely ensconced into air tight boxes.  Winter corduroys and wools have been pressed and hung ready for deep winter wear.  An interesting side effect occurred as I asked help getting down and putting up the boxes of seasonal clothing.  DH decided to clean out his closet as well.  Between the two of us, we now have 6 boxes of clothes to donate and 2 big garbage bags to discard.

A known effect of changing the seasonal clothes, is knowing where I don’t have enough of a type of garment.  I know for example that I want a new dark blue vest.  The old one obviously needed replacement. I need new robes. The old ones are snagged and the ribbings have … well they don’t snap back any more.  What surprised me was that I have plenty of winter PJ’s, long-sleeved tops and warm bottoms, but not enough transitional sleepwear.  I had accumulated a small pool of DH’s discarded T’s for those nights which are too warm to wear winter PJ’s but too cool to wear my over sized Tank’s or spaghetti strapped cami’s.   DH’s T’s are comfortable but ugly on me.

I decided to use knit fabrics and an over sized T-shirt kind of pattern.   To find the ‘fit’ I wanted, I reached back all the way to 1992 and a pattern I’ve made once before, May 1992 Style #116.

I like this particular pattern for reasons beyond the style.  That is a 2-piece, raglan sleeve. To sew, stitch the front sleeve pieces to the front, then the back sleeve pieces to the back. It’s possible to finish the bottom hem of B or C at this point because it has a deep 5.25″ curve on the side vent.  Then lay the front over the back and pin along the center sleeve edges all the way up across the shoulder and stitch that long line.  I finish the neckline at this point and then the sleeve hems.   Next serge the long side and sleeve seam.  If the bottom hem and sleeve hems were finished earlier, the garment is done. Of course more top stitching can be done or a zipper could have been used.  This garment can be more complicated.  For sleepwear, I chose to fold the bust dart out at the tissue stage (so it’s not necessary to sew at all) and place the center front seam along a fold eliminating a seam. I think this pattern would be excellent for the novice sewist. When finished it looks like an inserted sleeve but when sewing, it’s just long sleams with a little curve under the arm.  But, it’s definitely 90’s styling and therefore not a popular style.

The always wonderful Mimie is modeling for me today. Hey guys, it’s sleepwear. Which means no underwear which I’m not modeling for public consumption.  For this version I folded out 2″ in length. When worn it will hit me just below the widest point of my thigh.  I like it, someone else might not.

I took the time to do a little embroidery on the front.  I did this while I was still working on the seasonal clothing change.  The embroidery machine can chug away while I’m pressing.  It makes me feel like I’m sewing, even if the machine is doing everything.   My fabric is cotton jersey purchased at Walmart 15-20 years ago.  I love this color and kept wondering why I still had this fabric. Both ends are serged which tells me two things 1) I prewashed/preshrunk this fabric and 2) I haven’t previously cut or used from this particular fabric. It’s too lovely to have been ignored. I think it must have hidden between other cuts of fabric.  However it was the devil to work with. The edges curled. Even with this easy quick pattern, I struggled because the bands I used to finish neckline, sleeve and lower hem were hard to wrangle.  They began curling immediately and were nearly hopless before I got to the ironing board.  I though a little starch would help the edges behave. Didn’t. The bands are 2″ wide folded WST lengthwise and serged to the body of the garment. I pressed but they didn’t want to lie flat.  I top stitched using the wavy zig zag.  I want easy wearing comfortable clothing. Curling bands would have been uncomfortable. So I nailed them in place.

In the pic above you can see the how deep and curved the side vents are.  This fabric also gave me problems just shooting it though the serger. I can’t explain it’s behavior and am pretty sure it’s not the machine because the machine has been working well.  The fabric would not feed straight making the sewn seam line uneven.  I used the sewing machine to correct the armscyes but left the other ‘goofs’ alone.  It’s sleepwear. I’m not even sure DH will see it. KWIM?

I used this pattern once before  back in April 2014.  So I didn’t need to trace or fit the pattern for which I was really grateful.  I’ve been struggling with fit; then time out for the closet switch over; and I just wanted to sew. Which this pattern did for me.


07/2010 Style 112 – Caftan

I like a caftan.  Had at least one in my closet since the 1980’s.  I no longer wear them out of the house. After all, they aren’t that stylish. Mostly brand me as an old (aged) lady. But I find them invaluable after a bath; or  running to and fro the bathroom–in the dark especially– at camp. Also found them particularly nice inside hotel rooms whose temperature I can never regulate. (I know, it’s a personal issue.) My last caftan I bought in Baton Rouge while working on the hurricane clean up efforts.  For some reason, Housekeeping thought my room should be set at 32 F (barely above freezing).  I came from outside temps of close to 100 into freezing temps. Took all night to warm that room. I found the caftan at Walmart. Without thinking twice, or even looking at the price tag, I took it home (to the hotel).  I figured no matter how cheap it was, it would do for the time I was scheduled to be in the area. And it did. But now, some 8 years later, its silky acetate/polyester satin surface has developed uncountable snags as well as one big run. It’s a woven. Woven fabrics aren’t supposed to develop runs.  So anyway, I knew I needed to replace my caftan.

New Caftan!

At the same time, I have an issue with my stash.  It’s grown beyond designated bounds.  I pulled all the black and grey fabrics off their shelf. Retrieved the pieces that weren’t on their shelf and planned my Winter 6PAC. That takes a lot longer than you might think.  I pulled the fabrics together and found that the black and grays had shades. Yeah there is a brownish cast and blueish cast to some of the fabrics. Also some fabrics are distinctively intended for either summer or winter clothing.  I sorted according to color and then also made a stack of bottom weight fabrics. As I considered which fabrics to use, I would fold the “not now” fabrics and carefully put them back on the “Black” shelf. As I neared completion of my 6PAC and could see which fabrics I really wasn’t going to use, I also ran out of room on the “Black” shelf.  I decided now is the time for addressing this issue. I sternly told myself, I needed to either use or donate.

I not sure of the fiber content of my caftan fabric.  I gave it the burn test. The flame burned blue at the base, yellow-orange at the top.  No smoke. It self extinguished, but not before shrinking to a glowing ember. After the ember died completely, I had a sticky grey and black ash. My chart says the flame is cotton but the ash is spandex. This is not a stretchy fabric.  It is deeply lustrous. Heavier than the previous caftan but still a satin face.  I know it is a Walmart fabric. I don’t know why I purchased it twice but I had a cut 2.5 yards and a second cut that was 3.5 yards.  I used the 3.5 yards for this caftan and had about 6″ left.

I used Burda July 2010 Style 112 which use a single pattern piece with both front and back necklines indicated.  I wanted to be sure this slipped on and off my head easily.  I didn’t have any modesty concerns. So I didn’t trace the included facings. I marked and cut my own neckline and finished it with bias tape. I also did not make the tie or the button holes for the tie.  Just didn’t want those this time.  I didn’t do any alternations to the pattern. Not even my usual BWL and NSA.  I did hold the piece up against me and checked length.  This caftan is just about right for a shorty. I hemmed it a full 2″  without adding any length to the pattern piece.  I traced the largest size. Didn’t add seam allowances to the pattern but used 1/2″ SA when stitching.  I used the same side seaming-method as for my vest NL6549. That is, serge finished the edge. Stitch the side seam at 1/2″. Press the edges around the armholes at 1/2″ and then top stitch those into place. Easy, quick and looks great.

I am a short woman. This caftan generously covers me and has plenty of walking ease at the hem. YMMV

Would I make it again??  I kept the tissue pattern and I do like a caftan in my closet. But I don’t need many and Burda has a few other variations.  I might because it is practically instant gratification. Also I’m not sure of this fabric’s durability.  So I could find myself needing a replacement. I will say, I wouldn’t refuse to make this pattern again.


PS I donated the second cut of 2.5 yards.  I still need to figure out what to do with 2 other “black” fabrics.  They could also be donated.


Uncommon Abbreviations

I use some of the same terms over and over but they aren’t common to the general public and may not be readily understood by every sewist.  I’ve been following common courtesy by spelling out the first instance accompanied with abbreviation and then using the abbreviation when needed subsequently i.e. Water Soluble Thread (WST) the first time then just WST.  Frankly, I know I’m lazy. I also tire of writing out these terms over and over. Yet I know that very people have read my every post and few of them are likely to understand all my abbreviations. But I’m still lazy.  I’ve opted for what I hope is an acceptable substitute. I’ve created a page on my base blog  titled “uncommon abbreviations” and I will link my abbreviations to that page. Granted the reader will have to scroll down that list to find my definition which could be a bit inconvenient for them. I apologize for that and the fact I am slightly lazy. But I’ve learned I can’t please everyone. So it’s most important that I’m satisfied with myself.

Uncommon Abbreviations

Wearable Muslin Continues

Once the pattern was altered I was eager to  finish. Well, more than eager. The pattern stage seemed ultra long. I had in fact altered two patterns, completed one garment and wore it for a full day to verify fit.  But the whole point was to get this pattern ready to makeand it felt long.  I decided to skip the center front placket  opting for a pull-over, V-neck shell. I kept the center back seam because it can  add shaping; and I’m worried that I might actually be at the point in life of needing a sway back alteration. I’m also concerned about the cute gathering detail in front.

I have a tummy. I had it when I weighed 96 pounds. I had even more of it when I was 196 pounds.  Considerably weighing less now, I still have a tummy. Done wrong and an empire line screams P-R-E-G-G-E-R-S.  It’s something I’m a little sensitive about and wish to avoid any discussion.

I chose a light weight fabric I think we called dotted swiss when I was younger.  This is not like a white, regularaly spaced,  polka dot on a colored background. It’s more of a big slub occurring randomly. Very organic.  It’s a blue and white rose print. The roses vary in size, most largish.  When I laid  out the fabric for cutting, I could tell it had a subtle one-way direction. Also I think this is a polyester. I didn’t make a burn test. It just doesn’t feel like cotton between my fingers and it doesn’t wrinkle -a sure sign of man-made fibers.  I don’t remember acquiring this fabric. I’m guessing it either came in the door in one of Fabric Mart bundles or was in the box someone gave me years ago.  I kind of like it, I’m just not sure what it is.

I stitched the front darts. I marked the waist and back darts with disappearing ink. I didn’t sew the fish-eye back darts.  I made more of a pin tuck that starts and stops where the darts do. From looking at the pieces on Mimie, I thought the waist was too high.  I didn’t want to stitch the fisheye too high.  I used baby hems for the sleeves and bottom of the dress. Self-bias gave me a very narrow nice finish at the neckline.

I was planning a straight across hem, but when I popped the garment on Mimie at the end of sewing day 1 and said Opps

This was definitely looking smock like. I trimmed off the bottom hem, curved it and finished with a baby hem. During fitting, I discovered that I needed  shoulder pads. This top emphsized the roundness my shoulders are developing.

To my surprise, adding the shoulder pads (shown in the pic above), besides giving me an excellent shoulder line, also eliminated a slight mid-back fold. Much more surprising was that the front which initially felt too loose  in the upper bodice now hugged my body, no longer an issue:

But I still have a slight preggars look. This may be my fault.  I didn’t read Burda Instructions. I rarely do because I find them hard to understand. I used clear elastic  and gathered along the indicated line using a 3-step zig zag stitch. The process was easy. I allowed for 1″ gathering over the 8″ gathering line.  That was a little too much. I’m not changing this version. Because I used clear elastic, I can relax some of the gathering by clipping the elastic at intervals. In the future, I can gather less, or extend the gathering line and amount of elastic used.

I’m just glad I decided upon a muslin, even this wearable muslin. I like the style. Definitely plan on making it again, with the V hemline, button placket and various sleeve lengths.  What I will change is to drop the the waistline mark along with the fish-eyed back darts. ( I want the waist shaping to fall at or 1/32″ above my actual waist.) I may also remove a little over all ease. Thing is, this much ease really does make this a temperature reducing garment.  As well as being comfortable to wear.

I’m not really sure but possibly I should have called this a Burda inspired garment.  I did trace all the pattern pieces. But I fit the pattern not by grading and musling but by super-imposing upon a well fitting existing pattern. I also made major changes [hemline, buttonplackette an neckline depth). But it is what it is and I will be happy to make future versions with the final tissues.


Wearable Muslin Style 117 Burda 2/2000

When first issued, this pattern did nothing for me.  It was totally not-special. That’s because of Burda’s photographic philosophy.  IMO, their pictures failed to illustrate an interesting garment choosing instead to focus on a feeling of sexy. This blouse was illustrated twice in posts of dark red and dark blue. Neither pose reveals the design lines let alone fit. Fast forward to this year.  I was looking for summery styles drafted for woven garments. I don’t look at the magazine glossies during a hunt for a pattern. I look at my scans of the center illustrated pages. Then check the fabric requirements. Then decided to make this cute style.

Unfortunately I had an issue. The largest size is given is  2 sizes smaller than they recommend for me. Typically I prefer more ease and have to make Burda garments one size larger than recommended. Now, there are people who have no issues grading up. But for me grading just adds to an already  long process. If I grade patterns, I have to trace the pattern, then grade up then apply my personal, standard alterations the 1″ NSA and BWLs. Then  on Burda patterns I need to check for neckline depth. I actually had this pattern on my radar last year, but didn’t decide to do the work until this year… and it’s not done yet.

Instead of tracing and grading up, I found a Woven T style in Ottobre Design to fit. Otto 2/2014 #5 is a shell with vertical back darts and horizontal bust darts. It is cap sleeved with a scooped neck.  I could have used the Vintage Blouse for my purposes. But I feel like there are subtle differences in draft between a blouse and a shell that would cause me to be dissatisfied.  Also having changed sizes again, I wanted to test how the suggested sizing would work with my sizing. I did quickly compare the traced Otto 2/2014#5 with the Vintage Blouse. Assured there would be enough ease, I traced, cut fabric and finished the Woven T. I was pretty pumped about the fit. During wear it felt like a little too much ease across the front upper bodice. You know that area between neck and bust points. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see how to apply my NSA because the shoulder was drafted so narrow.  Still, I thought this Otto pattern would be a good place to start the new  Burda.

I wanted to try a differed method of grading/fitting. I’ve seen this done and read about it, but not tried myself.  I don’t think it has a name. It starts with a shell fitted to your preferences. That means, you can take the tissue pieces and with no further adjustments cut and sew woven non-stretch fabric into a shell that fits your body the way you like it. Generally this means

  1. All your personal standard adjustments have been made
  2. The highest neckline you are comfortable wearing is indicated (I also like to note my lowest)
  3. The perfect length plus hem allowance
  4. Slim-fit, long sleeves that are comfortable.
  5. For maximum flexibility, such a shell would include all the darts, front and back vertical fish-eyes and horizontal bust

IOW You should be able to complete a garment for which you can find nothing wrong (color doesn’t count).  For me I’m starting with my Woven T understanding that I still need to work on that sleeve and the ease across the upper bodice.

  • Step 1 Take this perfect, basic pattern and copy it.  I pulled out the tracing paper, put the pattern on top and rotary cut a new version.  I traced the darts and waist markings.
  • Step 2 Trace a copy of the new pattern.
  • Step 3 Quarter the new pattern i.e. cut the pattern in half vertically and then cut those pieces in half horizontally.
  • Step 4 Place the quartered portions of Step 3  on top of the Step 1 pattern and tape into place. This step is the most challenging. The patterns need to be aligned along the side , shoulder, hem and center lines but the waist and bust points also need to align. My new Burda has a cut-on center placket which hung over the Otto Woven T in front. I couldn’t find all the waist markings; and because I always need to shorten the back waist length, the new Burda pattern over lapped in the center. But dang, this was quick.


This method works in reverse as well. I mean you can grade down instead of up. For grading up the pieces are cut and spread apart. Grading down,  the pattern pieces will all be overlapped and can be folded instead of cut.

This method could be used for usual fitting as well as grading and is especially helpful if  your patterns need multiple adjustments to fit. Instead of tracing the pattern and applying personal, standard adjustment, trace the  Perfect Pattern; trace the new pattern; slash or fold the new pattern to fit the Perfect pattern. I may try this.  After all, once I get my basic patterns to fit I often simply “borrow” the design detail and use them with my Perfect Pattern. See, I’ve learned that  my shape is MY_SHAPE. So that means whatever pattern I use, its shape must be altered to MY_SHAPE at some point or I’m not going to be happy with the fit. If I don’t like the fit, I’m not wearing the garment.  The interesting note is that once a pattern is altered to my shape, it looks remarkably similar to MY_BASIC_PATTERN.

One of the funniest to me stories I’ve read was Debbie Cook’s post about her what happened after she created the perfect pant. I don’t have the link but I can summarize. She spent ages working on a single pant pattern until it fit just the way she wanted. It took a long time. Many yards of fabric were sacrificed in search of the perfect pant. She took a brief break from pant fitting ’cause a gals got to have  tops too and then decided she needed another pair of pants. (A gal needs more than one pair of pants.)  But this time she thinks to herself that it should be easier and quicker to fit a new pattern because she learned a lot about her shape as well as pants and how pants fit and won’t be wasting time or fabric making the same mistakes.  That was ton of knowledge acquired from great effort and some cost. It should make a real difference. So she starts with a new pant pattern. It does indeed seem to be a quicker and easier process. Not painless (maybe not painful either) because she knows that certain alterations are needed. She bites the bullet and makes the necessary adjustments before cutting  fabric. The new pair of pants is a success. They fit with minor adjustments. Debbie decides to transfer these minor adjustments back to the pattern. But wait, the new pattern looks strangely familiar. She pull out the tissue from the pants that-took-forever-to-fit.  The pants where she learned about fitting, her shape and pants. The pants that….  I digress…   The tissues are nearly exactly the same. The difference is a detail (think it was a pocket opening but I could be wrong). I laughed and laughed. Right here in front of my PC I laughed out loud. But it made a wonderful point to me: my shape is my shape ergo patterns that fit the way I like are probably very similar. 

I wasn’t entirely sure of the process just completed. I wanted a quick double-check. I pinned the tissue pieces on Mimie, my dressform. Actually they looked a little generous. I’ve overstuffed Mimie. It makes for a deep cushy place to just pop pins into. The downside is that I can’t tell exactly about the ease.  If it fits Mimie perfectly, it’s going to be slightly loose on me. If it fits perfectly on me, it will practically burst the seams on Mimie. This tissue was perfect from neck to empire line and had extra ease from there to the hem. I decide to add the NSA even though part of it falls into the neckline and to raise the neckline.  I continue to fuss about Burda’s necklines. I can’t believe that European women prefer necklines that end just above the navel.  I raised the neckline 3″. I don’t want to show any cleavage. This is to be a light-weight blouse; comfortable for summer.  I don’t want to wonder if the neighbor, handyman or grocery man is trying for a peek….

As usual a quick post has expanded. My fault. I don’t talk so much but I seem to write forever.  Tomorrow I’ll share the rest of the process and the final fit.


Burda 02/2114 #137/138 are very similar to Jalie  3352 .  Both the Burda and Jalie patterns are Dolman tops with the option of long or half-sleeve.   I have a subscription to Burda.  I may as well use the Burda version and save my $$$ for something else. More fabric, maybe? There is a visible difference between the two patterns. The Burda contains a  yoke seam line which offers more color blocking opportunities. Once I traced the Burda pieces I realized this seam also contained a dart. A generous C cup or better dart.  For my figure a bust dart is important and the Burda becomes the much better choice fit wise. What I didn’t notice, until I traced the pieces, is that Burda version includes a unique shoulder gusset. As I traced it, I thought it would be a PITA; small and fiddly to handle. More like something I’d add as an afterthought to correct a too wide neckline…

…and I discarded it.  The shoulder gusset. I threw the whole piece away.  Just to be sure I had enough fabric to cover my hips, I compared this pattern with 2011/04#118. 118 is very similar and fitted recently. I had to add a bit of ease for my hip but I also said “no way” to the neckline as drafted. The last tweak I did to 118, altered the neckline to the narrowest and highest I would wear (not including turtle or stand up necklines).  As drafted the 137/138 neckline is about 10″ wide and  would fall off my shoulders.  I don’t like off-the shoulder necklines. On me. On you they are lovely. I don’t like fussing with my clothing. I want to put on my clothes and be unaware that I am clothed. An off-the-shoulder neckline tends to drift, drag and shift requiring constant attention. Nope that wasn’t going to do for me. So in addition to tossing the shoulder gusset, I transferred the neckline of 118 to my tissue for 137. However when I cut fabric, I cut the neckline 1/2″ wider (on each side) and 3″ deeper. Much more suitable for a spring/early summer garment.

Speaking of cutting fabric, my choice for this garment is a rayon jersey knit with an interesting foil printed design. I’ve learned that bold patterns can hide all design lines.  I was hoping this would be bold enough that if the yoke design line doesn’t really flatter me, it would disappear into the pattern. This fabric was well-behaved at the cutting table. But I wish I had  spray starched it before cutting.  I wasn’t able to sew for several days after cutting the fabric.  When I sat down at the machine, the fabric edges wanted to curl slightly.  It wasn’t really bad or I would have stopped and starched the fabric. But it was annoying and I’m sure that I trimmed small bits (1/16″) that should have been part of the garment. I wanted to do an up and over neckline finish at the 900CPX, however the fabric kept wobbling slightly. Tighten up the presser foot pressure and the fabric shifted created an undesired, rippled finish. After about 4″, I ripped out the cover stitching and used the SM to top stitch just under than band. Good. Enough and best of all done. The Design Ruby is a much more expensive machine than the CPX and sometimes  proves its worth by handling fabrics with which the serger and cover stitch struggle.

Mostly this was quick serger stitching and pressing. I did tape the back shoulders– those long shoulders that end half way down the arm; and I basted the side seams together to check the fit before finishing. Other than the 5 minutes spent at the CS fussing with the neck binding, this was an easy project. I needed that.  Having struggled with the fabric for the  Loes Hines boat neck top and then fussed with refitting PP113 (and trying out the PBA), I needed something quick and easy.

Now to the fit.

This is a dolman design. It’s not my favorite style. It lacks a smooth close fit and reminds me of when I was 50 pounds heavier, trying to wear RTW.  With my narrow shoulders and wide hips, I always ended up with excess fabric flapping away underneath my arms. It’s almost impossible not to have excess underarm wrinkles when using a dolman design.  I have seen some 40’s and 50’s styles which were constructed with an underarm gusset and tight shoulder fit, that were as shapely as a set in sleeve. However, That’s not this design and I’m not willing to put in the time to convert it. Besides there are times when I rather prefer the soft, casual look.

Unfortunately I can’t be sure of the fit.  I didn’t do one of my standard adjustments, the narrow shoulder alteration.  Because of that I have too much length in the shoulder which droops, well everywhere.

I think for a dolman it is acccpetable.  I’m a little annoyed with the hemming. Done at the cover stitch, I didn’t notice it puckering until I did the final press. The sleeves were hemmed flat, then the side seams serged and finally the bottom hem CS’d. I’m not ripping out serging unless it is absolutely unavoidable.  In this case, I decided to call my hem “tucked” and ignore that it wasn’t what I set out to do.

I like the fit of 118 better. Also the yoke seam is not unattractive but I don’t really like it either.  I think that instead of using this pattern again, I would take 118 and add the horizontal seam for the sleeve. I’ve become so round-shouldered that I hate seeing it. I used the triangle shoulder pads for both patterns which on my figure is justified even with a casual top.

This completes garment 3 for my Spring to Summer 6PAC.

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.