a knit top and some pants fitting

V8536This post is mainly to get some photos on the web so I can post them in some forums, so it may be a little short on text.

First up, a top from V8536, which is one of their basic design patterns – a knit top with several different necklines and sleeve lengths. I am following a Top A Month thread on Stitcher’s Guild and want to make most of them knits because I’m badly in need of experience working with knits. I’m really happy with this pattern and the way my top turned out. The V is a little deep but still wearable. I’ll probably tweak that next time, but everything else worked out just fine. A very nice feature of this pattern is that it has some bust fullness to it that you ease in on the sides. It this particular knit (a nice one from Christine Jonson) the easing is invisible. I’ll make this pattern again.

One of the areas that I really need to work on with knits is hemming. On this one, I used four lines of topstitching as suggested by Claire Shaeffer  in her High-Fashion Sewing Secrets book. Claire says this hem was used often by Jean Muir and others. There are two rows of stitching about a quarter of an inch apart at the hem edge, and two more rows of stitching V8536 detailtwo inches above that. There’s a pic of the hem even though the close match of the threads makes it hard to see.

Claire’s book is not a new one. It’s full of nice techniques to give a nice elevating touch to garments. I need to look at it more for ideas.

Now for the less successful. Cutting Line Designs has a new pattern called My Swing Set that has a skinnier-fit pant with side seams. My first attempt was a failure, but that was due to my own errors. When I finished this pair, I thought that they looked pretty good – until I took the photos! Now it’s plain that more work is needed. But I’ll give them another try.






Pinning a quarter inch scoop helps the left side a bit, but the right is still wrong. I suspect my right backside is a different size from the left, and that if I really want to do pants right, I’ll have to start cutting two different backs.CLD MSS 2


discover something novel


It’s rare that I have a vision of exactly how I want to make up a pattern. Generally I collect patterns, collect fabrics, and match them up depending on my needs.
When this pattern came out a year or two ago, I knew exactly how I wanted to make up the vest/top – with indigo ikat fabrics. It’s just taken me this long to get around to making it.

The fabrics came from eQuilter. They have an extensive selection of quilting cottons, but also have a nice selection of fabrics that are more down my alley, too. There’s a section of the website devoted to oriental fabrics. But even better, a search on the term yarn dye turns up all kinds of lovely things that to me are just right for patterns with just a few pieces, like the Cutting Line styles. Check out a few samples:

EIGUARAMTCIKAAOLTCSEM4IRThere are lots of nice chambrays and cross-woven fabrics, too.

They had a several patterns of indigo and white ikat to choose from. I picked three, two that were related in value and one for contrast that was the inverse of one of the main fabrics. Estimated how much to buy and I was a little short – so I had to cut separate lining pieces for the lower fronts and back. If you buy enough, these pieces are meant to be cut all in one, so that there is a fold rather than a seam at the lower edge. Less bulky that way.

The vest is fun and easy to make, especially if you buy enough fabric to start with. If you have a lot of interesting scraps, you can piece it any way you like to use up all the little pieces you can’t bear to toss.

The front opening crosses low enough that the vest requires an underlayer. I picked up a cheapie tank at J.C. Penny’s that will work just fine. It seems like it should be easy to adapt the vest to be a top, and I actually started to draft that up, but couldn’t decide exactly how the closure should be handled, so just went with the vest as drafted.

I also made the pants, so I have the whole ensemble. There was fabric in the stash for indigo pants, but that seemed a little matchy-matchy for an “artsy” outfit. Instead, I used a dark gray cotton/hemp blend that was pretty much the same value as the indigo. Followed the fitting instructions included in the pattern, knowing that they would work for me. The hemline for the pants is faced, so there’s no adjusting length at the end of the fitting process. I decided to make up the first pair as drafted, and then adjust the length later on if I make another pair. I saw Louise wearing these at an expo last year and hers were just above the ankle. I have fat ankles, and these hit me at a wide spot – I think I’ll make them just a hair shorter if I make them again.

Vision accomplished!

I kind of like the lantern-shaped pants I’ve made, both these and the Marcy Tilton ones. I do like them better in drapey fabrics. This pair will probably soften up with a few more washes – and may shrink up a little in length, too, which would make them really nice.

This is a fun outfit. I don’t think I’ll make another complete ensemble, but might make each piece separately again. The pants would be very cute in black with ballet flats and a slim knit top.


SAM #7 and other things

Shirt #7, with no sleeves or associated cuffs and plackets, was a much quicker sew and also just right for hot summer weather. This is that Ottobre shirt from the 02-06 issue, this time in the #4 incarnation, which is sleeveless.

The fabric is a Liberty lawn. This pattern is called “Pepper”, and is probably the ittiest, bittiest  print they make. Since the fabric was so nice, I wanted to be sure to make something classic. I also took care to sew the narrowest french seams I could, and the bias binding for the armholes was also the very skinniest I could manage. I also wanted to use my old-time Singer buttonholer to make the best possible buttonholes, but could not get it to work with this lightweight fabric. When I slipped something stouter under the foot, it worked fine. I did mess with the foot pressure and tension, but to no avail. Does anyone have any suggestions for the future? So the buttonholes were done on the Janome, which makes pretty darn nice ones, just not with as many variations as the  cams in the Singer attachment allow.

Made a few more tweaks with dart placement and think the tweaking of this pattern is finally finished. One thing I’ve noted with Ottobre patterns is that the bust point is much closer to the side than mine. So the vertical darts were moved toward the center; the horizontal dart was adjusted just a bit, too.

If I ever buy another dressform, I’ll get one with a cotton cover. This one has some kind of grabby velour on it that makes it so hard to take a nice photo. Everything clings everywhere.

The shirt is part of my summer 6-pack, and there are pants to go with it. These are the pants in the same Ottobre issue as the shirt, 02-06. Photographing pants is always a problem for me. Here’s a fuzzy mirror shot that at least shows the two pieces together. I modified the pants by replacing the slash pockets (don’t like the gaping) with pockets with a horizontal opening. Which doesn’t show, because I don’t tuck my tops.

When the last Ottobre Woman issue came, I really wanted to make style #10, the cute crossover top. Ordered the perfect striped knit to make it from, and got the thing nearly completed. Unfortunately, my usual Ottobre size was too small! Not only that, but it was too short! I was really put out, because the back waist length on Ottobre has always been just right in my usual size. I may still try the crossover top again.

That effort left me with some good-size scraps. The navy and chartreuse stripe was all peppy and energizing, so I really wanted to use it. There was just barely enough to squeeze out the Linnea top, from Ottobre 02-10, style #1. This is such a simple pattern, and I’ve wanted to try it for quite awhile, but didn’t have appropriate material. That lightweight rayon knit was just perfect. It went together in about 2 hours (probably faster for you if you have more facility with knits) and gave me no headaches! Changes from the pattern: bound the armholes instead of the turn and stitch finish in the instructions. For the hem, I decided to cut a band and serge it to the bottom. I wasn’t sure I could sew a twin-needle hem very well on such a light-weight knit. I love wearing this simple top with its easy neckline, and want to find some other knits that work for it.

Whether you’re sewing or not, I hope you’re having the summer you want!

new season, new 6-pak

The group that is participating in the 6-Pak sewalong at Stitcher’s Guild is so much fun that I had to join up for the summer season, too. But this will be an unplanned 6-Pak, since I also want the thrills, chills, and hair-raising excitement of making it up as I go along.

The first two items are complete, and looky looky, it’s a column.

The pants are from Marcy Tilton’s V8397 in a drapey linen/lycra blend. I’ve discovered that I like these semi-funky pants a lot as long as they are in drapey fabrics. I’m still not ready for the full-on funk of some of the arty pants styles. The top is from an old Burda envelope pattern, 3473. It’s a basic scoop-neck, darted tank top. The fabric is some sort of linen or cotton…maybe originally intended for a tablecloth? Whatever, I liked the texture and cut it on the bias for this tank.

For both of these items, I was dealing with short yardage. I must have gotten both of these pieces at Pursley’s when they were going out of business, so there was no opportunity to buy extra.

For the top, I had just enough to cut the front and the back. To finish the neck and armholes, I made  a bias binding from some off-white batiste. The binding was applied just like you

would for a knit top: folded the bias in half, matched up all the raw edges and stitched. Serged the seam allowances and pressed them to the inside, leaving just a little of the bias showing at the edge so it gives the same effect as piping. Topstitched along the edges.

The pants needed a little invention, too. This pattern has a front, back, and side panel, and each needs to be the full length of the pants. I was just inches short of being able to cut all three pieces full length. These pants have a very short inseam, so as drafted they would have been very short crops on me. I wanted them just above the ankle and lengthened the leg 2″ in order to get them that length – so shortening was not an option.

I love the phrase “make a virtue of a necessity” and that’s what had to be done here. A  poket was added, inspired by the CLD Easy, Ageless, Cool pants (which are very similar to this Vogue Pattern). The pocket enabled me to cut the side panel as two pieces, and it is such an easy pocket to do, too. Here’s what I did:

The side panel is a rectangle. For the lower part, I cut the rectangle as long as my fabric would allow. For the upper part, I cut a shape like this, because I was so short on fabric I didn’t even have enough to square off all four corners. Serged the lower edge (the top and sides will be finished when the seam are completed in the normal pattern steps).

The lower panel needed to be prepped for the pocket opening. I serged and interfaced the top edge, then pressed under an inch and a half for a self-facing. Edgestitched the fold and topstitched along the serging.

Now to line it all up. Took the pattern piece, and aligned the top of the upper side panel with the top of the pattern. Then lay the lower side panel on top, aligning the bottom to the bottom of the pattern piece. I had about an 8 inch overlap. All that remained was to topstitch the bottom edge of the upper side panel through both layers, which makes the pocket bag. The rest of the pocket seams are stitched when the side panel is joined to the front
and back.


This is a top & bottom combo made for a spring 6-pak. My plan calls for 2-count ’em-2 matchy-matchy tops and bottoms. Bottom for both are from the new CLD one-seam pants. They are quick to make, fit nicely, and are well-suited for casual combinations.  The top for this combo is also a CLD pattern – it’s the shell from Plain & Simple.

Making the matching pieces seemed like a good idea for several reasons: 1. A friend wore just this sort of pants & shell combo a few years ago with a nice necklace, and I’m still thinking about the outfit. That’s staying power. 2. Thinking in terms of Nancy Rix Rice’s inside/outside columns, those inside columns are my best look, and they work well with contrasting jackets. Lasty, 3. It’s thrifty. If the fabric is wide enough, you can squeeze a little shell out of the scraps from a pair of pants.

However, the two plain pieces were too plain, even for me, and a little embellishment was in order. Years ago, Threads magazine ran an article on using decorative threads and ribbons, hand-wound on the bobbin, for an easy embellishment technique. Here’s the article.  I didn’t get too adventurous. My thread was perle cotton

from JoAnn’s, in a color that toned in with the fabric. I loosened the tension on the top thread a little, lengthened the stitch, and made some free-form stripes across the shoulder/sleeve area of the top.
My thinking is that if you can’t be accurate enough to make your work look perfect, it’s better to make it look like you intended it to be free-form and random all along.

After the stripes were stitched, the embellishment seemed kind of half-hearted. It needed just a little more work to make enough of a statement. So, I wove additional thread between some of the rows of stitches in a zig-zag pattern, being careful not to draw the thread too tight. That seemed about right to me, and the top was ready to sew up. Because this fabric was a little heavier than usual for a top, I used silk scraps to make bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes.

The 6-pak will be finished out with another top & bottom combo in taupe (the pants are already made & awaiting hemming), a knit top in the Type-O confetti knit for which I am still auditioning patterns, and a Sewing Workshop Liberty shirt in a grey/taupe double sided linen.

I’ve been on a little bit of a spending spree, driven by some sale pricing and by sewing board chatter. Haven’t spent huge sums, but all the spending is coming at once instead of being spread out over time. It’s much nicer IMO to have a little treat show up in the mailbox once a month or so, instead of all at once with long spells inbetween. Oh, well. This is my little sewing bender:

  1. Bought samples and a piece of indigo knit from Christine Jonson. Then right after I got my samples, she announced a sale. Seems like a good time to make my choices & order.
  2. Sale on interfacing at Fashion Sewing Supply. I’ve been wanting to try the new Shirt-Crisp interfacing for some of the Shirt-A-Month tops, so now was the time to order.
  3. There has been much talk about Style Arc patterns on the boards, and I decided I wanted to give them a try. The very poplar Linda pant and the Jasmine pant are on the way. One of the exciting things about the internet is that it’s made pattern lines from all over the world available to us. I love it that I’ve sewed patterns from Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, and soon Australia.
  4. Cutting Line Design’s latest issue, The Blouse Perfected, is now available, and new issues are offered at a reduced price. I knew I’d be buying it eventually…so…..

Mini-Wardrobe 3

Easy Ageless Cool pants.

This photo shoot was a bit of a trial for the full-on wardrobe shoot I’ll need to do soon (if I complete the contest requirements). Results….meh. That’s for the shooting setup, not the pattern. I really like this pattern for casual pants.

Details were lost because of the lighting, but these britches have a side panel so there is seaming down both the front and back. Incorporated in the side panel are two buttoned pockets. Everything is topstitched, emphasizing the seams, but they don’t show up in this photo.

The pattern is for cropped pants with a cute hemline vent detail. Mine have been lengthened so they would be full-length. If you want to keep the vent detail, (which OF COURSE you can’t see in my pic) you need to decide on your length before cutting. Looks like I could add just a little more to the leg next time.


The never-flattering but all-important back view

I like these so much that I bought them their own shoes! I went with a natural-colored huarache. Picked this style because both the toe and heel are closed…any pedicure procrastination doesn’t show. Hmmmm. Internet is not allowing me to add a shoe photo right now. Sounds like something I’ll try again when the sun isn’t beconing me outside!

JAM #4 and slouchy jeans

Cutting Lines Designs – By Popular Demand

Sometimes the simpler things give us the most pleasure. Take this jacket – it was made up almost exactly like the pattern, with no real design changes. The fabric was a plain mid-weight cotton. It’s pretty, because the lilac color comes from cross-woven blue and pink threads, but it really was not super-special. And this was not a case where I was executing a completed garment that I’d already seen in my head. The project was really straightforward:  I wanted to give the pattern a try, and I had some fabric stashed that would do and wasn’t so expensive that I’d cry if I didn’t like the jacket in the end.

So there was no creative vision, no construction challenge, and no super-deluxe fabric involved. And guess what? I enjoyed sewing this more than anything I’ve done in quite awhile!

Background on why I made this pattern – I seem to always, always need casual clothing. I have my work wardrobe. I have grubbies for wearing when painting or working in the yard. But I don’t have clothes that work for just wearing around the house or out shopping. Once I did a SWAP that met that need; it was very useful but has since worn out.

Cutting Line Designs patterns seemed perfect to me for this role. They look casual, and carefree, perfect for our looong warm season here.  They can be made to look either classic or artsy. From past experience I knew that I like the way the patterns go together. I decided to make myself a little wardrobe using these patterns and a few others that work with them.  When the winter weather iced me in and cut off power a couple of weeks ago, one of the things I did was trace about 7 CLD patterns and think about summer weather. This jacket is the first piece to be made up.

Pattern description – this is a boxy jacket with convertible collar and jeans-type details. No collar stand or cuffs, so there are no tricky small pieces where alignment is critical. The front facing is cut on, and the collar is all one piece (instead of an upper & lower stitched together on 3 edges). Both of these features reduce bulk at seam intersections and help make for stress-free sewing! Sleeves are 2-piece, but the seams are design features; there is no shaping there. There is a decorative tab on the back yoke that gives a little interest to a plain back.

CLD patterns, at least the ones I have traced, all are straight up and down on the sides. On longer shirts and tunics, I need to grade out to a larger size at the hips. But since this jacket stops higher, cutting a single size worked fine.  Even so, I was not sure I’d like the sides with no shaping, but in the finished piece it just has a simple, uncomplicated look. Fine by me!

The instructions include seam finishes, and Louise has the seams on this jacket serged, pressed to one side, and topstitched. (There is tons of topstitching on this pattern.) I don’t have a serger and was thinking about flat-felling the seams. One of nice things about CLD patterns is that you can generally clean-finish everything. Susan in Miami on Stitcher’s Guild suggested binding the seams, and she was spot on! I ended up trimming the seam allowance that would be underneath, binding the one on top, then pressing to the side and topstitching like in the directions. The straight seams are so easy to bind. I love the way it turned out! Gave me the chance to use a pretty binding, and the finish is even neater than serging. Thank you, Susan! I will definitely use this finish again.

Topstitching – each seam, edge, and the front facing is secured with two rows of topstitching. That’s a lot of topstitching, but it really adds to the finished piece, even when contrasting thread is not used. I made it easy on myself and just used the same single gray thread I was using for seams.

Now for the changes to the design. The pattern has a faux-felled seam detail on the pockets that go horizontally on the breast pockets and vertically on the lower pockets. I made them all vertical. And I used snaps instead of buttons – those are the only changes.

I can enjoy  challenging projects and ones that expand my skills, but it was such a pleasure to work on one that sewed itself . There were really no decisions to make, no struggling to bend a fabric to my will, no worries. Everything just went together like it was supposed to. I think I want more of that in my life.

Another success (but not totally unqualified) was the new Hot Patterns slouchy jean. I made a muslin for fitting purposes and they were quite easy to alter. I like the fit and style very much. In the hotly-contested wide leg v/s skinny leg debate, I tend to favor wide legs. These look a little sloppy here because they were hemmed to wear with a little heel…and I have on Birkenstocks.

These were made in a Tencel denim, and the weight and drape were perfect. HOWEVER – I should have made a second muslin muslin before cutting out this fabric. I had to do some additional fitting. The tencel didn’t handle the ripping and re-sewing very well. And the blankety-blank 3/8 inch seam allowances didn’t help. I understand that they are handy for curved seams and all, but for perfectly straight seams, why not include at least standard allowances? And, silly Robyn, why didn’t you ADD to those 3/8 seam allowances? Huh? You knew that it would be smart. Purely lazy.

I’m not totally upset about my less than stellar craftsmanship, though, because the fabric is crocked and the dye is still rubbing off of it.

I love the fit of these jeans and am going to get them perfected. So I’ll make another pair soon – with 1″ seam allowances.