A Knit Top that Fits

Ah finally. For the full story click here.


RTW Basics

There are some basics that I just buy. Things like plain, cotton T-shirts and tank tops in plain colors of black, navy and white. The cost/time benefit is low. Especially with my laundering methods.  I get 4-5 of “like new” wearings and then colors fade and shapes change. Good enough around the house, but out-and-about, I want nicer. I think I really need these plain, basic pieces. It seems to me that if everything I wear is a statement piece, instead of looking put together I look busy; confused.  The statement pieces disappear into a mess instead of being a focal point.  I do sew these basic pieces sometimes, but mostly I just buy.

Recently I had an unusual issue with a plain, navy-blue T-shirt.  I would wear it with my other pieces and put it into the laundry.  It would disappear for weeks at a time.  Finally DH would bring it back and tell me it wasn’t his shirt… it was mine.  I decided I needed to do something so that I would know this was my piece.  I didn’t want to put a tag in it.  I’ve given up on personal designer tags.  I’m still proud of my creations. I just don’t like tags rubbing the back of my neck. No tags for me. What else could I do that would immediately indicate this was my shirt (upon coming out of the dryer), but still retain its plain supporting role in my wardrobe?

I considered machine embroidery, my favorite. Except I really don’t like struggling to hoop an already sewn-together garment.  I considered some type of decorative stitching but again I’d need to get some stabilizer in there and keep it lined up while stitching.  I could rip seams to make that easier— but I won’t. Finally decided the easiest would be stenciling a design.

I sorted through my stencils and found one I liked

Except, I knew I wanted to put this on the front multiple times. I know you can lift and replace the stencil and scrape the paint again, but I always seem to make a mess plus it’s hard to conceive the total impact,  errr to know when I’ve repeated the design enough times.  So I decide to use my Cameo Silhouette.  I followed Carolyn Keber’s excellent instructionsEmbird and the Silhouette Cameo” purchased on the Secrets Of site.  It might have been faster and easier to do  within DE (software for the Cameo) but I’m pretty familiar with Embird. For me it was fast to scan my design; set the edges using the outline tool; save as a SDF and after importing into DE click the trace button.  Because I’m familiar with Embird, creating the SDF took me no more than 10 minutes (that includes scanning in the design). Once traced, I changed my mat size to 13X24″ and then played.  I copied my traced design multiple times, arranged and rearranged. I spent more time playing than anything else.  For these large stencils I use two sheets of freezer paper that have been pressed together and then trimmed to size.  I have the Cameo set to cut through only the top layer. Once cut, I separate the two layers and carefully weed the top layer. It’s another time-consuming chore.  If I’m not careful, I will tear the freezer paper.  For smaller stencils, I use bona-fide stencil material, but I can’t find big material and judging by the cost of the small stuff, probably wouldn’t buy it any way.

Once separated and weeded, I’m ready to place on my fabric. I keep a largish piece of cardboard (cut from an old box) which I insert inside the T-shirt. So far that’s been enough to keep the paint from bleeding through to the back side. Then I spray my freezer-paper stencil with re-positionble glue (sometimes called stencil spray).  It’s possible I could iron the freezer paper to the T-shirt and not use the glue.  But I’d rather be safe then sorry and use the glue for a good seal. This time I had problems positioning my stencil.  I placed it; removed it; rearranged the T-shirt on the cardboard; then sprayed the stencil a second time and positioned on my T-shirt.  I used a gold puffy fabric paint and dabbed it onto the stencil.

Fearful that I would disturb the paint, I let the T-shirt dry, in place,  overnight. Should I have removed the stencil immediately?   Because the next day I had a heck of a time removing the stencil.

Some pieces wouldn’t release even using the dental tool.  I soaked it overnight in water. Scraped at the stencil. Washed it. Scraped at the stencil.  Soaked and scraped again and again, but still had little piece that wouldn’t release:

For the next week, I kept soaking in water and trying to scrape away little pieces of freezer paper.  I’ve never had this issue before.  Maybe it was the 2nd spraying of glue?  Finally, I gave up and said “I’ll probably wear a vest over it any way”

Not only are there still little bits of paper but the paint has turned white in multiple places. (All that soaking?) It’s not really the basic piece I envisioned.  Guess I’ll have to buy a new, navy-blue T-shirt.

PP108: The Plan Executed

My plan was a return to business as usual.  I had traced the size corresponding to my high bust. That was Pamela’s recommendation for a close fit.  I’m not content with yesterdays results. So I treated sizing just as I do for Burda, CLD, Loes Hines and other patterns.  I traced the size which fits my hips. Then I make 2 standard alterations. Well standard for me. These are the alterations which adapt my figure to the standard patterns.

So a large in PP108 fits the hips. Traced. I made a 1.5″ BWL because yesterdays medium was still about 1/2″ too long in the upper body.  I altered along the armscye petite line which Pam marked on the pattern.  Then I made my standard 1″ NSA.  Just before cutting my 100% cotton, jersey fabric, I compared the new tracing to my GOTO for woven shells the HAF.



No really I’m not WOWed.   This pattern is touted to have included adjustments for our rounder backs, forward shoulders and thickening girths. Today’s version of Pp108  does less for me than yesterday’s.

In addition to the masses of wrinkles on the back, the front hem is clearly rising.  But one big improvement: yesterday the back looked very small in comparison with the front.  Today, they look even.  Yesterday it looked like I was using a smaller sizer for the back than the front. Not so today.

But I’m especially disappointed with the front.

I”m not a busty individual.  Even at my heaviest I was only a C cup. Now I’m almost a B. But this version insisted upon forming an armscye bust dart. It formed and could not be eased out.  I tried. Several times. Several ways.  The fabric clearly folded into a bust dart. Why do I object?  Because I already have an excellent fitting shell pattern with an armscye dart.  I did not want to fit another.  If I wanted a shell even a knit shell with the armscye dart, I would have started with the HAF. I had assumed there might be small drag lines similar to what I see with PP104


Last T made from PP104

Had I known that the armscye dart would develop, I would not have even purchased this pattern.

In case you can’t tell, I finished the sleeveless top above. I made about 6 fitting tweaks but was never able to keep the fabric from forming a dart. So I finished with simple bindings, stitched RST, turned inside and top stitched. I fused the hem into place and then said “why knock myself out over this hem”.   I cut 1.5″ strips of sticky WSS and smoothed them into place on the wrong side, overlapping the area to be stitched.  Then I coverstitched the hem. Easy. Beautiful. Probably a very good procedure for these jersey knits. I remember seeing or hearing comments about how jersey knits are becoming lighter and lighter and therefore trickier and trickier to handle.  As I look as these last two cotton jersey knits, I wonder if I would have purchased these at the fabric store.  I certainly would not have purchased a completed garment.  They remind me of the cheapest Walmart stuff.  The kind you buy because you have to have something right now and know that you won’t willingly wear it twice. But that’s OK, because it is so cheap.  That kind of knit. So my adapted procedure added only a slight expense and while eliminating the headache of fussing with the hem.  One possible downside is that the WSS needs to be soaked in water to remove it and that means I don’t get to wear this garment before washing it.  but in the end. Sleeveless top is done and in wardrobe for it’s life span (however short that might be).

As for the pattern, I think I’m done.  I still need a sleeveless top pattern for use with knits.  I really don’t want to sew darts in these casual garments and can accept a few small drag lines.

And as usual…. I have a plan.

Pamela’s Pattern: Twin Set

From the name, I assumed this would be a pattern for a short sleeve sweater and cardigan.  A classic I wore as a young girl and don’t need to repeat in my dotage. I reconsidered when this pattern popped up again and again at SG as a summer, knit, tank top.  Such glowing reviews combined with my nearly worshipful attitude towards Pamela’s pant and T-shirt patterns suddenly made this a must have for me.   I ordered.  Waited a week for the pattern to arrive.  I read the instructions, of which Pamela is detailed. She explains the options and why you might want to use them.

Because of her instructions I measured my high bust and traced the size medium. I never measure and choose a pattern from  my high bust. I traced a medium then made a quick comparison of tissues with PP104 (the T shirt). I said “this will go over my head and pile up at the waist”.  It was obvious I was going to need more hip room, so I traced the large side seam.  I extended the large-size side seam up; and  the medium-size armscye out until the lines crossed.  I added my BWL but not the NSA.

I cut my first fabric. It was (yes WAS) a rayon knit from Fabricmart.  It felt a bit heavy upon arrival but became limp and slightly distorted when washed.  I loved the geometric print in black, pink and blue so I kept the fabric and choose to use it now. What a mistake. I struggled to align the obvious horizontal stripes. In retrospect, I should have made full pieces instead of struggling with the halves.  I taped the back shoulders and front neckline before serging the shoulder seams and basting the side seams.

What a mistake!  From time to time, I do have the problem of tank tops being too long in the armscye. But it’s rare. Which is why I read but didn’t follow Pam’s instructions for petiting the armscye . My issues with tank tops are usually gaping front necklines and excess, bust ease.  I tried to fold this front  in such a manner as to evenly remove one of the horizontal stripes.  I fussed adding 50 pins, and basted into place. A process which took 30 minutes for the front alone.  It was a mess.  At this point I thanked my lucky stars that I have more fabric in the stash. I tossed the incomplete garment into the trash and began Ver2.

In Ver 2 I opened the BWL I had taped into place just above the waist and folded out the 1″ Pam has indicated for petiting the armscye. I pressed the tissue flat and chose a a cotton knit. To tell the truth this fabric feels like it has a little poly content. I still have the Fabricmart tag which clearly states 100% cotton. But you know, you can just feel it with your hands and besides this light weight knit doesn’t wrinkle. 100% cotton?  Not likely. Fortunately, I prefer a little poly just for the very fact that it helps  cotton resist wrinkles.

I basted shoulder and sides seams after taping the shoulder and neckline. I’m a believer in fusible tape for these areas.  My experience is that investing a few minutes taping makes it easier to sew and the garment looks good for a lot longer.   In its basted state, I thought the garment needed to be taken in about 1/4″ under the arms (my too much bust ease issue that I frequently encounter) and the shoulder narrowed maybe 1/2″/

I serged the shoulder seams and finished the neckline with an up and over facing.  I used a rolled edge hem and wooly nylon along one edge to add a little oomph.  For the armscye, I folded a crosswise strip in half and rolled the folded edge with the same wooly nylon.  The photos are disappointing.  What is a fabulous, interesting print in person is just Meh in the photos. It is white, yellow and orange with a black feather design superimposed. In the pic, the fabric is grey with yellow and orange yucky patches (and I think I see a face just above the b utt crease):

Fit wise, the back is OK.  I did not stretch the armscye ribbing enough which developed Ghanis Khan shoulders.

My front facing should be laying flat. I can assure you I very-carefully pressed it flat. I think the issue is that there is too much ease across the chest and that the armscye is still too long. I noted in the basting stage that my bra was peeking above the armscye by about 1/2″ and that the shoulders were too wide, also 1/2″.  I chose this type binding for the armscye to fill in and cover up my bra. I trimmed the shoulder 1/2″ before attaching the armscye binding. There is a bubble in both front armscyes.  The bubble did not show up at the basting, first-fitting.  But it is a frequent problem for me and one of the reasons why I love the CLD HAF shell.  I had problems cover stitching the hem. It tunnelled. I was looking at the settings on the machine when I decided to cheat. I mean there’s only so much frustration I want to deal with. This thing was almost done and the hem @!##@s-up!  The fastest fix, which I did, is cutting 1.5″ strips of  adhesive-backed WSS and attaching it where the hemming line will be. Done and done. the cover stitch proceeded without any issues. But the WSS is still on the fabric adding stiffness and a little billowing along the hem. I think once washed, the Judi Jetson-esque hem will drape nicely.  It certainly does from the side.


I think the slight front rise and front drag lines are a result of the lifted arm.  I’m also pleased that the side seam appears to be vertical only a slight shift probably due to the lifted arm. What concerns me is the floppy armscye facing and that the back looks a size small. I know my tummy sticks out there but I’m pretty sure my b utt is as big as my tummy and therefore the fabric should hang evenly between front and back. Not in this pic. Again in the spirit of truth-telling, because that’s the only way I’m ever going to achieve perfect fit, I’ve been noticing this same issue in other tops and pants.  It is as if I need a size larger for my backside.  Fortunately, I’ve heard this is not an uncommon issue. Many women experience just the opposite i.e. they need a size larger in front.

Well it’s a learning experience.  I purchased several 1-yard  knits when Fabricmart put them on sale.  I knew the day was coming when I would want to fit a knit tank top. I paid $2 or $3 per yard so these are not a big financial loss. From the cost perspective alone, they could be considered muslins.

Onward upward…. to Version 3.  I’ve got a plan.


More Shorts for Summer

Love the MSS pattern. I have 3 new pairs of shorts in only 3 days. Details here.

Steam-A-Seam Substitutes

20140707 ETA: CuttingCorners Fusible Web


Alas Steam-A-Seam, my favorite fusible tape, has disappeared from the market. Their home page explained that their paper supplier retired and the Warm Company searched far and wide for an acceptable paper substitute. At one time the Warm Co published an expected ship date of June 2014 which now has been pushed to “in production” Fall 2014. In production? What’s the ship expectation? What’s the in stores projection? And dang it all, what is so wonderful about the paper that it can’t be easily substituted? Other companies have rushed to fill the void and though I have held off partly from loyalty and partly because SAS was my preferred product, I’m now actively investigating other possibilities. SAS may have lost my business.

****Cutting Corners fusible Web  This product is superior to Steam A Seam.  I forgot to include it in my original post because I use it very sparingly, mostly for zippers. Alas it is often the only product I need a the time and I’m reluctant to order only one thing due to shipping costs. This is the lightest weight I’ve ever used.  It has never added stiffness to my garment. I gave it a 4 star rating is because it doesn’t come in 1/2″ width and is available only through CLD.

** Dritz Sewing and Craft Tape Another long time available product. I think it was the first that I used. In its 1/4″ width, it is invaluable holding zippers in place for stitching. Removing the paper backing is a chore and often I remove the tape as well as the paper. My roll is old; very old because I hate to mess with the paper. 2 Star rating, because I’d rather use something else but this is better than nothing.

***Heat Press Batting Together Where Stitch Witchery is available everywhere including Walmart, you have to hunt more for the Batting Together. It’s also not marketed for use in dressmaking (my baliwick) but it does work with fabric and it does have the paper backing. However, I always had issues during pressing. Either I didn’t press long enough or pressed too long. In the first case the fusible doesn’t melt and therefor doesn’t stay in place and therefore makes a mess on my iron. In the later case of pressing too long, it didn’t stick to both sides. Just sort of melted into one layer. It’s prime disadvantage for me are the widths in which sold. I use fusible tape to hold edges in place until I can stitch them. (Edges: hems, facings, zippers…) 3/4″ is the narrowest Batting Together is available. I prefer 1/8″, 1/4″ and maximum 1/2″. I considered sawing the 3/4 roll but safety factors ruled against. Alas it does work satisfactory, but the downsides have me giving it 3 stars.

****Kool Tak I just recently found this and note that it’s already in clearance on some sites. One of its Stars is awarded because of the variety of widths in which available including the illusive 1/8″. It has the needed paper backing (Warm Company, why can’t you find paper?), peels off the roll and positions easily. If lightly pressed, it can be repositioned but if firmly pressed into place, it’s a done deal i.e. cannot be moved. It’s also thicker. Definitely more of a tape than a bonding agent. As such, I notice it in the hems to which it was applied. For me (my laundry methods are rough) the Kool Tak lessens with a few washings. But still stiffness continues to be present in the areas to which applied. It is for that reason that I prefer the narrower 1/8 and 1/4″ widths. Be careful when purchasing. Kool Tak comes in many forms. I purchased Double Sided permanent tape “Premium Pro”. It’s white on the roll but clearish when applied.
Seeing as how the Warm Company has no idea when SAS will be available for us again, I’m open to trying more fusible tapes. I want the kind that fuse two layers together. I have bias and straight tapes that I’m well satisfied with using for their purpose. I need something thin, narrow and paper backed. Any suggestions?

*** Stitch Witchery The product I don’t use because it doesn’t come with a paper backing. But it has returned to my attention because it is ever bit as good as SAS and it is available for use. It’s also reasonably priced, much lower than SAS. Still I hate the extra effort that comes from trying to keep it off my iron and it’s definitely not repositionable. Once in place, that’s it. Ergo my 3 star rating

Burda 117 2/2000

The muslin complete

Burda 117 2-2000

My story begins here


I couldn’t quite let go of the PAS. This has been a perfect pattern. It has made many beautiful blouses which fit perfectly. I was really bothered by the fact that adding the full tummy adjustment made the PAS too long in front. I was also concerned about the faint hint of a swayback in the final pic. I selected a silk charmeuse fabric for this version. There will be no doubt as to whether the fabric is sticking to my back side; being pushed upward due to a big rear; or piling up in the middle because of sway back.


I’m not sure where I purchased this fabric. My memory says Georgous Fabrics. But this is a recent purchase, like within the last 6 months.I haven’t made any purchases from GF recently. I didn’t have it before the trip to Fort Collins so it must have come from Fabricmart or Fashion Fabrics. Except, after prewashing, I put Fabricmart’s stickers back on the fabric or pin the description Fashion Fabrics gives me. This fabric had neither. Making it more likely that it came from Georgeous Fabrics. Oh well, that’s really not important as it is no longer available.

For the previous PAS, I offset the SA’s 1/4″. Now, I trimmed 1/4″ from the back pattern side seams. That still leaves me with 1/2″ SA. I prefer 1/4″ seam allowances, but I’m still concerned about fit and have decided to leave a fitting option.  The front, I completely retraced. That makes 3 times I’ve traced the front pattern piece. But it’s had to return the pattern to it’s original shape after having made and taped the heck out of 3 alterations.  This time, I made the BWL and NSA  but did not make any allowances for my tummy.

Is it Ok to say I think the front and back views are just beautiful? Oh and the side view is too:

The hems were turned up 1/4″, twice and stitched into place before the side seams were basted together. I serged the shoulder seams at 1/4″. I want to change that for the future. I didn’t notice until now that the bust dart is slightly low. It may be OK, but I like it just a little higher. Just like the side seams were Ok at 1/4″ but  I preferred to make thee, a little deeper.

Silk Charmeuse can be a difficult fabric. It tends to crawl around – making it hard to cut and sew. Charmeuse also   snags and damages easily.  If ever you’ll know about a needle problem, it will show up on Charmeuse.  I spray stitched heavily 3 times. I spent a good 45 minutes at the ironing board making sure this fabric was controllable.  I really wanted to sew like right now or I would have dunked it and allowed  an overnight drying.   I used a size 9 universal needle at the SM and a 12 ELX needle in my serger.  I can’t find size 10 ELX needles. Personally, I don’t feel like there is enough difference between an 11 and 12 to justify stocking size 11′s. I also used the 1/4″ quilting foot which comes with my machine, a Husqvarna Ruby

1/4 Inch foot on the right (as you are looking into the picture.)

My 1/4″ foot is also my Jeans Stitching foot and my Fine Fabric foot and a few other feet as well. The center is a small hole just big enough for the straight and fix stitches to properly execute. I also selected the fine, woven settings from the machine’s menu.  I had no problems with this fine fabric. Today’s machines have been carefully engineered and tested — so that they work as well as the vintage machines.

I’m so excited about this version of my PAS.  Burda and Otto have published multiple patterns which are based on this extended shoulder draft. For me this means, I don’t need to fit those patterns. I can use my PAS and transfer the design details. I trimmed 1/4″ from all seam allowances (that does mean I trimmed 1/2″ total from the back side seams) and put my pattern away ready for use when the mood strikes me.




I was really disappointed in my previous version. The Pure and Simple Shell has been a favorite of mine ever since it first arrived hot off the press.  I had thought to quickly make a larger size fitting my own larger size. Initially I was severely disappointed at the difference between my vision and the reality of the final garment. I’m not wearing that garment. It’s in the Goodwill box, even as I write. But I did take a second look. In that second look I was impressed at how the garment looked to small over all. The PAS is meant to be figure skimming with a hint a shape. It’s the shape most mature women prefer. My pics look more body conscious. Much more than I desired. I reviewed the back of the envelope. I’m pretty sure that I must have traced the wrong size. It’s hard to tell, because once all alterations were complete, the tissue was vastly changed. So I traced a 3rd copy, being careful to follow the right lines, and once again applied the 1″ NSA, 1″ BWL and 1″ Full-TummyAdjustments (FTA)

For the 2nd version, I selected a cotton voile. I was concerned the voile would be see-through. In fact, I had placed this fabric in with my other sheers. I decided to use the sheer test Sara Alm suggests in her *Craftsy Course (Essential Guide to Sewing with Sheers).  My fabric passed. So with a bit of hesitation, I cut the fabric but not a lining.  Then I decided to hedge my bet a little and converted my facings into a huge collar.  Here’s the thing, I don’t mind suggesting a little skin. I’m not appalled at the hint of a bra strap, as long as it’s not clearly visible. I feel the same about my back and sides.  I’m a little more sensitive about my tummy and definitely don’t want to suggest two dark circles slightly above my navel. I thought a big collar would surely solve the problem.

With the correct size, the fit needed only tweaking. I offset the side seams 1/4″ so that the back was smaller than the front. Otherwise, I spent most of my time on the collar.

Finished collar and front view

Originally the facing-collar was cut 3″ larger and looked like it was wearing me instead of the other way around:

Original size of the collar

I think the first picture and final version of the collar is much better proportioned for me. I trimmed the collar with white, flat, 1/2 inch lace. I aligned the two edges (lace and collar hem). Stitched once. Then folded up raw edge of the collar and stitched a second time. Theoretically you can just trim away the raw edge and excess at that point, but I’ve had a bad experience and prefer to Frey-Check first. The collar itself is very easy to construct.  I overlapped the front and back pattern pieces at the shoulder SA. I then traced the Center front, neckline curve and center back onto tracing paper. I freely sketched in the outer edge. It can be whatever you want as long as the neckline of the collar will match the neckline of the garment. I placed the center front and back lines on a fold and cut a once piece collar. In the past, I’ve placed the only the center front on the fold which allowed me to spread the collar a bit and add more ease in the collar. Sewing requires a little forethought. I did not cut a separate facing piece, interfacing or underlining. I placed the right side of the collar toward the wrong side of the garment. Serged the neckline and understitched to the garment. Usually you understitch to the facing. I didn’t want the understitching to show. When I inverted the collar to the outside, the understitching doesn’t show, the neckline is completely finished. While this fabric turned out not to be sheer, I did meet the sheer requirement of a neat, narrow seam.

At the first fitting, I decided the collar was too wide. That meant I had to trim the collar down and reapply the lace. You can bet, even though I’m not showing it, I took pics twice before deciding the collar was properly proportioned for me and finishing the collar a second time.


I really think there is a little velcro b utt syndrome going on here. The fold doesn’t go all the way across my back; and earlier pictures in the fitting process didn’t have any bunches in mid back.


What I noted in the side view, is that the front is longer than the back. WTF? I took the time to add both width and length to the front because the previous version was shorter in front.

Oh well, I think this is pretty and feminine. Definitely appropriate for summer activities.


*Course review yet to come, because I haven’t finished it. But so far, I’m liking it and have picked up several tests including the Wedding Ring test for sheerness.