Finished Brown and Orange Summer 6PAC

After I evaluated my wardrobe I started sewing. First needed garment: Brown shorts. Done!

Which completes my basic brown set of  dress pants, jeans, shorts and 3rd layers:

I look at my accent pieces and I have 2 completed 6PAC’s.

It hardly seems fair to complete  a 6PAC’s so quickly. Please don’t think you need to compete with me.  As I said before, I’ve been sewing and dressing this way 6-8 (?) years.

Also you’ll note that these are not “trendy” sets. You won’t find 2015’s Hottests Colors in my closet.  I sew in colors that flatter me. I sew clothes that are comfortable for me which are classic and even a bit dated. I always look decent but not like I stepped off the runway. And that’s OK. I personally don’t need to compete in that arena.  I live in an area that is very casual. Generally, new jeans are considered dress pants. Clean jeans are more than acceptable for church.  With the 2 sets above, I can pack and go everywhere from mountains to the desert or even out to a 5 Star Restaurant in Sioux Falls. Never been and don’t intend to visit New York City.  I’m set for where I do go. I’m ready for my life. And that’s why I love 6PAC sewing.

Read details about the my new brown shorts here.

Collection Thoughts

Finally I was left with a large group that didn’t really look well in any collection. They were OK in places. But why settle for OK,  when you can create great?

I titled them Orphans but it’s not as if they don’t work with any of the clothes in my closet. Each looks good in one of the basic collections with the 3rd layer in the basic blue, brown or black collection just not in one of the previous collection by accent color. Several were sewn for transition (spring and fall) or winter and could be hibernating (in winter storage) or set in the depths of the closet waiting for when (all too soon) autumn will begin. Truth is I’m at home most of the time and collections are at their best when traveling. So most days collections are not an issue. I will wear a top with a coordinating bottom. During parts of the summer, like rain storms, I will throw on a 3rd layer.

In the end, as long as these garments are in good condition, I will find ways to wear them.   And there’s the rub for all the tops, not just the orphans:  Are they and how long will they be in good condition. Many pastels and white (especially) often don’t survive the season.  The rest  last about 3 years. It’s rare that these tops last more.  Partly it’s my laundry habits. Clothes worn close to the body get worn once and then washed. Rayons are horrible for continuing to shrink and rarely last into the next season. Cotton fades or turn grey in the laundry. Knits pill. Some knits pill more than others, but they all pill.  Point is, all the garments are at least 1 season old. Most are 2. A few are 3. None is more than 3 years.  While I start the summer with these wonderful collections, if I don’t plan and sew replacements, I won’t be using the “collection” at the end of the summer.

There is one other catch.  I have not tried-on most of the tops  and I know that I’ve gained weight and changed shape. Interestingly enough, I’m sewing the same size. I need a deeper slope to the shoulders and more length over the front. That’s the two issues, I’ve solved. I have other unsolved issues. When I do, nearly all the tops regardless of sleeve length will, happily, be replaced.

The plan at the moment?

  1. Fill out my 6 packs with the missing bottoms
    1. Brown: shorts
    2. Blue: dress slacks
    3. Black: jeans
  2. Continue to work with Connie Crawford’s patterns to make basic
    1. Blouses
    2. Tank/sleeveless tops
    3. Knit Tops
  3. When 2 is done, consider new accent collections such as
    1. yellow and brown
    2. blue and orange
  4. Evaluate existing clothing and replace to keep the Accent Collection in place but maybe not so large (thinking of the Black/Pink)





Accents Too

Continuing from yesterday …

I found I had created several Royal Black pieces. So add these pieces, with the solid black and solid royal pieces; plus the black bottoms and I have another great Summer Collection:

I’d take this along for a 2-night trip. Maybe wouldn’t even pack all the 3rd layers.

As I identified collections, I hung them in the closet together. That action winnowed the remaining selection making it easier for me to see the next, biggest and possibly favorite to sew collection Black Pink:

If I added another bottom or two, possibly a skirt, I could travel the world with this collection. I might even leave a few pieces home!

I had a few more black/pink pieces which I removed from the collection. Actually I removed a few pieces from each of the collections. I only expect the top to work with each of the 3rd layers and the bottoms. The tops do not need to work with the other tops. But when looked at as a collection, it was clear some pieces just didn’t fit the collection. That being true with the next collection, I decided to keep all and call it the Odd Blues Summer Collection

Each top looks good under the long-sleeved blouse and with the bottoms. (Colors are slightly off. Digital Camera -> digital editing -> uploading -> downloading collectively and individually  take their toll on photos. I’ve even seen a demo in which the original was simply uploaded multiple times. At which point, it was unrecognizable.)

But back to collections, Yes I have more.  I don’t want to brag. I want to encourage any of you who feel you’ll never be able to sew enough to have a decent wardrobe.   I started with the first announced 6PAC. Think that was 7-8 years ago.  The first 3 seasons, I didn’t complete a single piece. I worked on fitting pants. After that, I worked each quarter on making a cohesive wardrobe.  My epiphany was realizing I made, want, need  3 collections all year round. One in browns. One in blues and the last in black.  With that, my wardrobe just took off.  It looks nothing like what I wore when working but it meets all my current needs, all year round. I unashamedly start each new season by looking at what I have already sewn that works for the up-coming season and build on that.

I like the black and pink but I love pink with brown. I’m surprised my Pink Caramel collection is so small:

Possibly I wear the heck out of these pieces and they don’t last as long as the black/pink collection.

Then again, I love and look really good in peachy pinks or corals and tend to collect them in various combinations like this PinkYellow&Lilac set

which looks best with the basic blues.


…and I’ve posted too much for one day.  I’m so bad at that. Let’s finish this up tomorrow.



The Accent Pieces

Once I had the light weight pants, shorts and plain 3rd layers sorted, it was time to turn my attention to the accent pieces: sleeveless, short-sleeved and long sleeve tops. Yes, long sleeve tops, because despite the high summer temperatures I will experience cold. The mountainous regions I visit are famous for getting quite chilly when the sun goes down (as does the high desert).  Doctors offices and the grocery store freezer sections are notoriously cold. Also, I need protection from the sun.  I do not tan. I burn peel and freckle.  Since I was 16 I’ve made the effort to protect my skin with clothing as well as the highest SPF on the market.  I need long sleeves in the summer. So for each Summer Collection I want

  • Tank or sleeveless top
  • Quarter or 3/4 sleeved top
  • Long sleeve
  • Optional:  Dress

I form my collections by the Long Sleeved Top because that is the garment which probably will go over (on top) of the sleeveless. It becomes my 3rd layer.  Sometimes I will use a 3/4 sleeved top as my 3rd layer. To sort collections, I pull out a possible Third Layer and see “what goes with”.  The first I had my hands on was a recently sewn tunic that works beautifully with my browns.  As I looked through my other tops, I found a tank in an orange geometric print, a half-sleeve  3/4 sleeve knit tops. On summer collection done:

Well, almost done.  I need the brown shorts. Also While I’m counting the tunic a 3rd layer, I’m more likely to wear the neutral cream-colored, waterfall top. I don’t like pulling things off and on over my head.  It’s fine to put the tunic on over the tank in the evening when I will wear it for several hours. But for running into the grocery store or sitting a few minutes in the doctor’s office and then being out in the sun again, well I prefer an open front.

As I looked at the Brown Orange Summer Collection, I realized I could swap the tunic for an orange/blue strip blouse; add a few more royal pieces and change the brown bottoms for blue to create a new Summer Collection the Orange Royal

OK, again I’m missing a piece, the dress slacks for the doctor’s office; and before summer’s end I want to replace all the pants and shorts in the blue basic collection. Once I have the dress slacks this summer collection is good to go. For several days I mean.  The Brown Orange collection would be fine for an overnight trip, which I make frequently. But for more than 2 days, I would want an expanded collection and would consider the Royal Orange Summer Collection.

Another great collection which emerged is the Royal, Red and Yellow:

I hesitated in adding royal touches to my the red tops in this collection. Hesitated again when adding the red touches to the royal tank top. But now I think red +royal is a winner I should repeat.  This collection gives me 4 day-time tops and 4 third-layers.  I’m not sure if you can see the stripes in the yellow long sleeve blouse. It is predominantly yellow but has thin red and royal strips. Both this blouse and the flowery long sleeve, really tie the collection together.


Mmmm I have more collections but that is enough for today.

Evaluating for Summer 2015

A few weeks ago, I opened the closet doors and cleared out the heaviest warmest clothes.  Into storage went woolen coats, thick sweaters and anything corduroy. Anything that said “deep winter” went into hibernation. Transition and lightweight clothing now pack my closet from end-to-end and around the corner.

Obviously, I needed a clean out. First I discarded clothing that should have been discarded at the end of last summer. Clothing that was worn or never worn. Clothing that had pilled,  stained, etc. All gone. Then I tried on the pants (excluding shorts) and making  back and front view pics. I knew I had replaced most of my winter slacks at the beginning of winter, so I was not surprised when  that most summer pants also needed to go. I decided against waiting. I cleared them out immediately. All gone.  Leaving me with about 4 pairs of summer weight, long-legged pants. I pressed and hung blouses, tops and 3rd layers.  I didn’t try on these or take pics. I can usually tell how tops fit me just by trying them on. But pants can feel OK while looking horrendous.  It’s the picture that tells me whether pants fit — or not. So blouses, no try on; no pic. Pants (of any length) try on with multiple pics.

Next I tried on shorts. I started with 9 pairs. Pretty good supply for an area where summer gets so hot you want to sit naked in front of the air conditioner. (Yeah even in snow-country SD. Fortunately only for about 2 weeks most years.)  Of the 9 pairs, I felt comfortable starting the season with 4 and I plan to replace 3 of those soon.  Then I sorted through blouses and wraps for 3rd layers  and pulled out 3 that were pretty plain. Next I sorted pants, shorts and 3rd layers by basic color (blue/black/brown) and created a ppt to show me what I had.

OMG what has happened to my summer clothes?

Let me back up a sec. Even though a summer wardrobe needs to include tops, I focus on having in my closet

  • 3rd layer
  • dress slacks
  • jeans
  • shorts

in each of my basic colors (black/blue/brown).  I have a variety of tops that work with these basic pieces to get me clothed and about my day. I find the entire coordinated 6PAC most valuable for my somewhat  limited travel.  For every day having a pant with coordinating 3rd layer + any blouse in the closet and I’m good to go. The caveat is that I do need dress and casual pieces. Hence dress slacks listed above.




Admittedly, I haven’t included any tops (blouses/knits). Even taking that into account,  my summer wardrobe is a bit sparse.  OTOH, It clearly tells me what I need to be sewing:

BROWN: shorts

BLACK: jeans

BLUE: dress slacks

Hey, I can get dressed in each of my basic colors if I make just 3 new garments.

However, before mid-summer I’ll be unhappy. For example the top stitching is popping/breaking on my blue jeans. Fine for beach combing but I want something a little better when going to the church picnic.  In fact most of the garments above, are on their last season.  While 2 garments will get me started for summer, I’ll plan to  sew something else then come back and sew a replacement for the garments above.

Good to go?  Not quite, I still need to evaluate tops and color schemes. Which means, another post coming!




Planning My 6 Packs

During the the first 3 6-PACs (9 months) I fit pants. After that, I spent several years making four 6-PACs every year,  choosing a neutral and an accent color to create a new 6PAC.  Somewhere along the line I realized that I create the same basic wardrobe over and over again. My accents changed but my neutrals remain markedly similar.  For instance I choose black or charcoal or grey. Really, all shades/tints of black.  Or maybe I decide to do blue which could be navy blue, light navy or even light blue but always a blue hue. My 3rd repeating neutral is brown. Brown with shifts into caramel or cafe au lait (heavy on the au lait).    I find that I like having all these 3 colors in my closet. With 3 basic color schemes to work with, I never tire of my clothes. I never realize I’m wearing some type of uniform. However I do need distinctly different fabric weights for the 3 seasons: summer, winter and transition (aka spring or fall).

My uniform is comprised of

  • 3rd layers
    • winter: coat, jacket, heavy sweater
    • summer: long-sleeve blouse, light jacket or wrap
  • Blouses
    • winter: long or 3/4 sleeve
    • summer: sleeveless, cap sleeve or quarter sleeve
  • Knit tops
    • winter: sweater, ponte or other heavy knit and
    • summer: tank top or sleeveless
  • dress slacks
  • jeans/casual slacks
  • Seasonal items
    • winter: vests
    • summer: shorts and dresses
    • tranisition  3/4 and quarter sleeve tops

When I’m planning,  I tend to leave out tops. For me they are  pops of color and accent pieces.  Additionally my focus right now is the summer season. What I’m really planning to sew, right now,  will be

  • 3rd layer:  long-sleeve blouse, light jacket or wrap
  • Blouse: sleeveless, cap sleeve or quarter sleeve
  • Knit : tank top or sleeveless
  • dress slacks
  • jeans or casual slacks
  • Short, shorts and perhaps a new summer dress.

But I cheat. I always tell everyone I cheat. Truth is the 6PAC is intended as a “wardrobe building” effort. It create a colloection of clothes that are appropriate for all  current and anticipated activities. Wardrobe building is not really the place for trendy or disposable garments (which do have a place in life). As part of the her original planning, ejvc anticipated reaching a point of having the wardrobe “built”; extant and at the fingertips. Participate year round and complete all 6 garments each time, in a years time there will be  a decent if small wardrobe in the closet.  But here’s the rub “no kingdom lasts forever” and clothes don’t last long all. If sewing stops after that first annual  cycle, you will again be naked in about 9 months. OK maybe a little longer. For me, I spend the first few days after ejvc has announced the new seasonal 6PAC and evaluate my existing wardrobe.  I pull out the stuff that doesn’t fit, looks like crap or I just don’t like for whatever reason. Then instead of sewing a whole new 6PAC, I sew replacement pieces. That’s my cheat. Some seasons I’ve only needed to sew a piece or two, usually it is several that need to be sewn. But that’s how I am able to be one the first done with my 6PAC. I cheat. I never start from scratch. From zero. With nothing. I use existing pieces on which to base my sewing plan for upcoming season of activities.



Hmmm enough for one post. Next post, I’ll share the evaluation of my current summer clothing.  

…and on a personal note…

Little less than a year ago an old health challenge seemed to kick up.  It took almost a year to fully reveal itself not as my old challenge but a a precancerous lesion on my vu|va.  I had surgery about a week ago and am convalescing. I am improving everyday.  Best of all, the removed tissue was examined and determined to be “benign”.

But I haven’t been sewing. The trek downstairs to my sewing room seems to put stress on the stitches. So I don’t make the trip.  I’ve been doing some retail therapy and I’ve fired up my knitting machine (which resides in the living room).

Thank you for all the kind thoughts.  It amazes me at how we use the Internet to connect with others. We feel very close to someone who really is a stranger. Would we know each other if we passed on the street? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop us from caring about a person we know only though their Internet presence.  Thank you for caring about me.




PP113 Adjusting Ease

Not changing the total amount of ease, but moving it to where my body needs it.  Read my full post here.

Sewing Room Curtain

A goal for this year, a goal that actually began last year but I didn’t act upon until this year, was reorganizing and redecorating the Sewing and Stash Rooms.  Progress made today, is a lovely new curtain for my sewing room.:

My Sewing and Stash rooms are in the basement.  My basement is fully finished with at least one casement window installed in every room. These rooms are light filled. I have a good blind in the stash room and have arranged the fabric shelves so as to prevent the sunlight from fading the fabrics. The light is that good. I would actually prefer not to have a curtain on this window, except that my neighborhood always has kids. That’s good thing. But kids will be kids and I decided several years back I didn’t want to explain to parents any state of disrobement that might be observed during fittings. Because kids will be kids and will look into windows.  Initially, to give me the privacy I thought I might need,  I bought a tension rod and pinned a small bit of yardage on it.

This was supposed to be temporary but has served it’s purpose for about 8 years.

I don’t mind making curtains and drapes.  I read some posts where I can actually “hear” the person groaning about “all those long seams”.  To me it just entails “pedal to the floor” sewing and a whole lot of ironing.

My fabric “found” me. It was in the stash. A crinkled cotton bought from Walmart eons ago.  I love these crinkle cottons. I have several and am absolutely delighted to see them reappearing in this year’s spring and summer fashions.  This one fell into my hands as I was rearranging some of the stash.  There is one dark corner in the basement. No smell fortunately (because whoever finished the basement did a dang fine job).   But the light doesn’t seem to reach that corner. The whole room would be great for a day sleeper but this corner is particularly dark. Good for fabric storage but difficult to see what fabric is stored. We’ve tried putting lamps and pole lights into the corner. Currently, there is a shop light hung from the rafters especially to lighten the area.  I opted to rearrange fabrics and put the white and yellow fabrics on the bottom shelf (of the shelves stored in this corner). To my surprise this rearrangement visibly lightens the corner. During the process, this crinkled cotton voile drops into my hands and I know immediately that’s what I want for my permanent curtain! OK, permanent as curtains can be since window coverings generally need to be replaced every decade or so.

I measured the curtain (18″tall 30″wide) and cut my fabric from selvage to selvage 36″ long. I did my embroidery (first pic in the post).  I’ve had it for years and years. It’s such a beautiful embroidery that I’ve saved it for something worthy. I changed the colors to closely match the colors of the edging.  The edging is 4″ folded in half.  It’s cut from a cotton canvas fabric I discovered just before Mill Ends closed and knew immediately I wanted for these rooms. There is but 2 yards and no hope of buying more. Wanting to coordinate the two rooms but not totally consume the 2 yards, I opted for the edging. The cotton voile was embroidered; the edging folded and serged to the raw edges; and the voile folded in half. I offset the edging so that both ends show. Finally, a single line of straight stitching 2″ from the folded edge defines the casing for the tension rod.  Did I mention that I wanted this peek proof?  That’s why I opted for two layers of voile.   Total time from start to hanging was about 4 hours. I embroidered at the Ruby (instead of the PE770) because the embroidery design was larger than the PE’s hoop and the design was not easily split.   While I love Ruby’s embroidery, I usually have her tied up with actual sewing.

I’m really very pleased with the final effect:

so much so that it has inspired an in-progress Home Dec project and I finally ordered the last of the containers I need for paint.  More posts, coming up.


5/8 is not a magic number

I had this brain-phart I wanted to explore. Both my muslin for CS1201 and 1204(dartless) required a 5/8″ shoulder slope. The BPh, was thinking that  I simply needed to add one standard alteration, shoulder slope, and my tops would fit beautifully as always.

So I traced another copy of PP104, the dartless version.  I made my usual BWL and the by now typical slash and slide NSA. The I drew a new shoulder line that was 5/8″ lower on the armscye side.  I knew this shortens the length of the armscye, so I also lowered the armscye by scooping out  5/8″ at the underarm and then trued the new points into a nice smooth armscye front and back.

I chose another ITY for my fabric. Well, it sort of chose me.  This is one of those fabrics that looked better on-line than it did in person. I wouldn’t have purchased it had I been in a store. But it was here. It was cheap and eventually I’ll need another muslin worthy fabric so into the stash it went. I have several ITY knits in the stash. I buy them all the time; like every time I see one I really like..  I like wearing and sewing them. They launder well and unlike rayon knits stay in the wardrobe for several seasons.  They are always well-behaved in the stash; patiently waiting the time when they are perfect for the garment imagined. Not this one. It didn’t like the stash. It would slide to the side. Creep to the front. One time it escaped to the back and beneath the stash shelves where DV (my robotic vacuum) choked trying to eat it.  I’m actually doing a bit of rearranging and came across this fabric, yet again trying to creep away. I decided if it was so determined to get my attention, it would be a muslin n-o-w.

I taped the shoulder seams and stitched them together. I didn’t think I’d like the finished garment (because of the print) and decided to use elastic to finish the neckline. I stitched the elastic to the right side; pressed folded and then top stitched.  My elastic is actually lingerie elastic with a tiny bit of trim which now peaks out at the neckline. I hemmed, then set in the sleeves and stitched the side seams. The sleeve hem gave me no end of trouble. First the sleeve itself was 1″ too long. I had to trim that. Then I wanted to turn the hem up and coverstitch but the wrist is too narrow. I fought with the CS for a short period of time before deciding it wasn’t worth it. Ripped out the badly CS’d hem and tried turning the hem 1/2″ twice. My pins would not stay in. My hem would not turn. I finally gave up. Threw it on the ironing board. Turned off the lights and went to watch TV.  Maybe it was just fatigue?  The next day, the hem turned easily; pins stayed in and I was finished (including shoulder pads) in about 30 minutes.

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening with the back. I don’t see signs of strain which would indicate the back is too narrow.  I know  both of Conni’s blocks benefited from increasing the depth of the back dart.  If this had been a woven it would be poofy. But since it’s a drapey ITY knit, it sags below shoulder blades and clings to butt. I question those diagonal lines because I know there is more than enough ease across both shoulder and butt. I may need to admit that like others, I need the CB seam. Because, even with the shoulder pads, you won’t mistake this for the back of a younger woman.  Yet, it’s not so bad I won’t be seen wearing it.

Even on the side view, I see the diagonal lines on the back. There’s also a strong horizontal on the front. That’s from my pants. Just finished, but they have an error on the waistband that needs to be corrected. I really need to get rid of that bra. I spent the day pulling it down (it creeps up and over apex no matter how much I adjust shoulder straps or hooks). Clearly it does nothing for my figure. But what’s really interesting to me is that the strong diagonal that were forming below the bust as shown here

are gone.  Interestingly, my research says the pulls above the bust indicate that the shoulder slope is too great (i.e. needs to be less than the 5/8″ I made), yet these drag lines above the bust were also visible  when the shoulder slope was too square.

That bra has got to go (pause while running off to find and destroy). Oh and the diagonal on the sleeve, prominent as always.  I just feel like all the diagonals, both front and back are going to the underarm.

So what’s next. Obviously, just lowering pattern-shoulders by 5/8″ is not the silver bullet. The shoulder slope does need to be changed and I need a reliable way to make every shoulder slope match my body.   I need to contemplate my next action.  I am anxious to resolve this fitting issue. I’ve seen several knit tops I want to copy.