A Cute Angle

It seems like Cutting Line Designs patterns are being issued more frequently these days. That’s good news, because I usually like them very much. But now it is easy to get behind with trying them out. And since they are expensive patterns, we can’t have them just piling up on the corner of the cutting table!

A Cute Angle

A Cute Angle is one of the ones I hadn’t made yet. There are two patterns in the envelope: One is a long sleeve blouse with hidden button closure, and the other is an asymmetrical jacket. I was curious about how the blouse differed from some similar recent offerings. The Artist In Motion top looks similar, and I wondered if the front closure was the only difference. A quick muslin later, I had my answer. The ACA top is cut slimmer – there is much less volume than the AIM top. It also seemed like the shoulder is squarer. I didn’t care for the way I looked in it, so I started thinking about the jacket.

The asymmetrical design is kind of “out there” for me. A wrap or an off-center line of buttons is about as far as I have gone. But this one seems like it could hang with a lagenlook collection, so it needed to be tried.

I’d also been wanting to order from the linen specialty shop, fabrics-store.com. So I picked out a pretty blue and ordered yardage plus some swatches of other colors and weights to get an idea of their inventory. The mid-weight (IL019) linen that I bought seems like good quality for the price. Beware, though, they send lots of e-mails. Many of these are about sales and special prices (good), but they seem to come every other day (bad). I’ll give them another week to see if I have to send them to the spam folder or not.

CLD ACA frontHere’s the finished jacket. I like it a lot – and wish I had lengthened it just a little bit more. You don’t want to go making these really distinctive styles multiple times. When the hemline is all over the place, it’s hard to know where to take your length measurements.

In contrast to the little top, the jacket has a relaxed but neat shoulder/armscye/sleeve draft. If I do make it again, the shoulder could be just a tad narrower.

Maybe the lapels could be made smaller and I could do it again as a button-up top. As designed, there’s a single button and you have the option of making a buttonhole or a loop. I went with the loop and a big vintage mother of pearl button.

CLD ACA backYou can’t see it very well here, but there’s a little pleat running the length of the center back that is very cute.

One of the good things about sewing is that we get to define our own goalposts, and move them whenever we like. Much as I like the CLD patterns, the ones with the very square shoulders look pretty sloppy on me. Shoulder pads would fix that, but that’s not going to happen for everyday wear. It occurs to me that what I need are three different blocks so I can refine the fit of the shoulder and sleeves, and use them to modify the patterns. A dolman block, a drop-shoulder block, and a slightly-extended shoulder block ought to cover my needs for these relaxed styles.

Paco Peralta’s dolman draft fit me beautifully, so I’ll use it for the dolman styles.

For the slightly-extended shoulder, I can use this jacket (with the shoulder narrowed a bit) or the jacket from another CLD pattern, Pure and Simple (it’s out of print).

That just leaves the drop-shoulder, and I may look to Burda for a solution. Will need to examine some of the other CLD patterns to compare the shaping of the sleeve caps for styles that fall into this category.

So, a little project is born – I need to prove to myself that I can make those pattern modifications and that they will turn out the way I want them to. I’ll report on the results.

The jacket in this post was made on this machine…



Ottobre Woman 2/13 #3

IMG_4224IMG_4224a…And here’s the finished shirt. I’ve already seen Amanda make this up, and plans on another blog to make it, so this may end up being a popular pattern, for Ottobre. It’s a nice buttonup shirt with a pretty yoke detail. The front shoulder seam is quite forward and slanted, and the back of the yoke is curved. It has darts for a nice bust fit.

This shirt is part of a travel wardrobe for a relatively rugged vacation I have coming up. We won’t be sleeping in tents, but there will be plenty of hiking and hauling of gear, and the climate is different from what we have here so I do need some items good for what I would call cool, but not cold, weather.

Fabric is denim chambray. It’s a little heavier than a regular shirting, so I took the opportunity to use some scraps of a Liberty cotton to make the lining pieces.

Liberty surprise under the pocket flaps
Liberty surprise under the pocket flaps
Liberty inside cuffs and collar stand
Liberty inside cuffs and collar stand
little Liberty hem gussets
little Liberty hem gussets

The yoke is lined with the same print, too. Feels extra nice to wear.

Design changes: added second breast pocket and squared off the pocket bottoms; pocket flaps; added sleeves; changed hem to more like a swallowtail hem. Added a bit to the first fold at center front so the band is self-interfaced.

Alterations: I used my usual Ottobre sizing gambit (44-46-48, with the 44 @ the shoulder), forward shoulder and swayback adjustments.

General comments: I like that the front band is cut-on but am puzzled why they didn’t have the first fold wide enough to be a self-interfacing piece. Maybe I missed something in the instructions. In general, Ottobre makes their CF bands for their shirts a little narrow and dainty for me. Next time I’ll make it a little wider. Another possible drafting (or tracing) problem: The back side seam was about an inch longer than the front. I went back and checked my tracing against the original, and it seems like I traced correctly. But errors could have crept in with my alterations, so I’m not sure where the problem lies. In any case, it’s an easy fix.

I used the sleeve from the Gardener shirt in the 5/2012 issue and it fit into the armscye with just a little easing. HOWEVER, I should have widened the shoulder of the body so that it would fall a little off of my actual shoulder, the way most shirts do. The armhole for “Buttondown” is cut in a little bit, which is more graceful for a sleeveless design. I thought I could leave the shoulder width as is, since my shoulders are narrow, but the hang of the sleeve is influenced just a little bit. It’s really fine as it is, but could have been better, and will be next time.

There are a few more travel-related items at the top of my sewing queue. A couple of oversized shirts that can go over layers, and some utilitarian odds and ends. Marcy Tilton’s pattern V8407 includes a passport pouch, a little cross-body bag, and all kinds of cute envelopes for travel items. I want to make a few of those things, too.

I hope everyone is enjoying a fun and relaxing summer, whether it includes travel or not.


Cutting Line Designs – A New Dimension

A New Dimension is the latest pattern from Cutting Line Designs. I started looking forward to this pattern when I first saw the samples. In the thread devoted to CLD patterns on Stitcher’s Guild, Louise let us know when the patterns were going to ship, so I was able to shop for fabric and have it all pre-washed in time to cut out the day after the pattern showed up in the mailbox.

The pattern

Both views have shoulder princess seams front and back. Dolman sleeves, swingy flare at the hem. The shorter version has a deep v neckline with a collar band and a tab button closure – good opportunity to use a showstopper button. The longer version has a collar with an interesting origami fold and optional pockets in the side front seams.

For this line of patterns, I like fabrics with interesting textures. Those can sometimes be hard to find. During my fabric shopping for AND, I found a light-weight cotton with a woven-in plaid pattern that was further texturized with an embroidered design. It was the right weight for a breezy dress with lots of gathers, but not exactly right for a jacket. However, Super Textiles also had a selection of brightly-colored cotton batistes. The two fabrics used together would be weighty enough for the design and would also give me the opportunity to hide all my seams in the underlining. I thought of the colors available, I’d like the fuschia combined with the navy fashion fabric.

I also planned from the start to make a bound buttonhole because I still don’t have a good buttonhole machine, and toyed with the idea of using the fuchsia for the buttonhole lips. Then I thought maybe I’d also pipe a seam or two with the fuchsia. Thank goodness for photo software that lets us try out our ideas before we actually spend precious time executing them.



I didn’t like any of those options, not even example “a” with the barely-visible accent buttonhole. So I just proceeded with the idea of making an unembellished jacket.

CLD ANDSingle layer cutting helped me match up the plaid texture. I didn’t bother trying to match the embroidery as well.

This went together pretty quickly, and since there is plenty of flare at the hemline, it didn’t require much in the way of alterations, either. I did a forward shoulder and lengthened it 3 whole inches to make it the length shown in the illustration. If I had made it the original length, it would have reached my waist. Maybe. It is a very cropped jacket. If you are average height or above, be sure to check the length before you cut, because there is only 7/8 inch allowed for hem, and if you want extra length you’re not going to pick up much there.

The buttonhole tab has a seam running down the center of the back of the tab, rather than seams on the 3 sides. This eliminates a lot of bulk in the corners and gives you a tidy tab. I wanted to have a bound buttonhole, and wanted the seam to fall exactly in back of the opening – so that the folded-under seam allowances would form the back buttonhole opening. That required re-engineering the tab, and was the most laborious design change I made.

CLD AND buttonI had a huge vintage mother-of-pearl button that I attached using rouleaux made from the fashion fabric. The rouleau? rouleaux?  was threaded through the buttonholes and knotted on the front, stitched to the jacket on the back. The ends were cut close to the knot and will be allowed to fray. Maybe I should just say “bias tubes” and not try to get all fancy with French.

The fuschia will be our little secret, OK?
The fuchsia will be our little secret, OK?

And here’s a photo showing the shape of the collar and tab against the BRIGHT underlining.

I like this pattern and look forward to making the long version.

BurdaStyle, making a comeback

The last time my Burda subscription was up for renewal, I let it go.  The recent styles they had shown just weren’t appealing, and I had to admit to myself that I was no longer a Burda girl. That was sad, because I’d been a subscriber for a long time and used to look forward to each issue so much. But to be honest, even back in the days when my love was young, I was always looking at the line drawings with the intent of removing this or that trendy detail to make the design more classic. So maybe I never really was a Burda girl.

However, there are 7 or 8 years of the magazines in the stash closet, and I’m glad I haven’t thrown them out. Recently I’ve traced and made two new items from old issues, and am feeling the Burda love again.

The first was a pair of pants from the Fall 2008 Burda Plus issue, style #404. I don’t remember how I was led to trace and try these pants, but I’m so glad I did. This is the first pair of narrow-ish pants that have worked for me. Sorry, no photos because I just don’t seem to be able to get good pants pics. These 404 pants have a couple of features that help us curvy types get a good fit: The waistband is cut in quarters, so there are seams at the sides and center back.  It’s that CB seam, along with two darts in the back, that help give a nice fit back there that snugs up to the waist.  Having narrow pants with a good fit really opens up a lot of different possibilities for me, so yay Burda!

The second is the #108 blouse/jacket from the 2-2011 issue that was mentioned in my last post. Here it is all hemmed and finished. This was nice to make – the fabric was a real pleasure to work with; and the Burda pattern was well drafted and gave no headaches. Really, what every pattern should be.

Not all of the details of this pattern show up well in the line drawing. The top front and back are one piece and shaped with darts. The lower portions are pieced – lower fronts each have two pieces, lower back has 3 pieces. There are cute little vents at the bottom of the seams in the back. The hem is shaped, and is shorter in the back. In fact, it is so much shorter in the back that it would have ended right at my waist (not a good look). Even though extra length was added when tracing, I still had to borrow from the hem allowance to make it a bit longer, and didn’t have enough hem depth to make the little vents. Boo hoo. KayY, The Sewing Lawyer, made a different view of this jacket and noted that the upper back was very full. It is. Since the view I made was modelled as a blouse in the magazine, and my fabric was lighter weight, I left that blousy effect.

Construction notes: I used more couture-like techniques than usual. Instead of adding seam allowances to the tracing, the seamlines were chalked so they could be matched up exactly. There was a lot of hand basting. All the pieces were underlined with silk organza, which gave the right amount of support and body, I think, and also allowed for absolutely invisible hemming since the hems are stitched only to the underlining. The silk organza was also used to bind the seam allowances, and those were then tacked down by hand to the underlining.

Although I’ve set in plenty of sleeves, this time I decided to use Ann Rowley’s tutorial. Following it step by step taught me a thing or two, and I especially like the stability given to the armscye by stitching it twice. That’s something I’d never done before.

The front closes with hooks & eyes, per Burda’s instructions. I bought hook & eye tape from Mood for this, but ended up removing the eyes from the tape and sewing them in individually. I could not figure out how to get the eye side of the tape to stay unexposed. The hooks and eyes prevent any gapping, but I’m still not super-sold them. However, I’ll try wearing it that way at least once. If changes need to be made, some closely-spaced buttons/buttonholes can be added.

Here’s the bathroom photo so you can get an idea of how it looks worn. No, I won’t be wearing it with army green knock around pants. When I was taking these photos, I also tried slipping in a thin shoulder pad (no pads in this photo). Note to self: if I’m going to start loving the Burda again, I really need to standardize my shoulder adjustments. Those Burda glamazons have broad shoulders! The pads made a bit of a difference for the better, so technically this jacket still isn’t done….but the blogging is :-).

Special occasion top #2 from my previous post, the new Cutting Line pattern, is under construction. Since I want to wear it Thursday, it will be finished soon. See you then!

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.


relax a little

The first version of this little top was made before Martha’s Sewing Market came to town, and I was really taken with it. So one of the fabrics from the market was bought with this pattern in mind. No time was lost in making it up!

Version #1 made with no changes to the pattern except lengthening it a little bit and omitting the interfacing from the sleeve openings. The fabric is a beefy oxford cloth, and it just didn’t need any more body there.

In order to see how the sleeves look in action, you need to see it on a body. So here’s the ever-popular bathroom mirror shot; you do get a clear view of one arm.

This is meant to be a shortish little top, although I’ve seen it look nice lengthened into a dress, too. For my second version I decided to lengthen another inch, and like it best with the little extra.

Version two is made from a lovely rayon or tencel that I bought from the designer. It has a slightly sueded feel and is also a little crinkled, for even more surface interest. I’m pretty sure this will be a favorite. My dressform is covered in some kind of grabby fabric that makes it hard to arrange the top so it hangs straight across the bottom. In real life, believe me, it does.

The collar instructions in this pattern are extra-good. I have other Cutting Line patterns with banded collars, and although I haven’t compared the instructions step-by-step, I think they’ve been improved for this pattern. Nothing is left unsaid, from how to pin to which side to put towards the feed dogs, and the result is very nice. Having a collar stand that is squared off on the ends helps (and it’s a nice clean look, too) as it’s easier to make both sides identical than when the upper edge is curved.

The last thing I want to share is my seam bindings. Since I still haven’t bought a serger, the silk scrap bin was visited for binding material. I picked a patterned piece – it has paisley and dot motifs on it, and I love the way the two patterns blend. If I was Marcy Tilton, I would have used the binding somewhere it would show. But I’m not, so it’s all inside, but I really like knowing it’s there. Shhhh! You are now in on the secret.

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!