CS1204, The Dartless Block

… (continued from yesterday)  the knit block was not my sole reason for purchasing CS1204. I was also anxious to get my hands on the Dartless Blouse which I presume are the pattern pieces labeled Dartless Block  I love a camp shirt. My favorite Loes Hinse Blouse (for wovens) is a dartless bodice. Many of Louise Cuttings tops are dartless.  I want a dartless block, especially now that I’ve realized I don’t need an FBA but a greater shoulder slope.

I pull out the document protector containing the dartless bodice pieces; separate the large from the X-large; and smooth the pieces with my hands.  I retrieve my 1201 block and quickly compare. Yea! These look similar. I’m expecting the dartless to be slightly different.  It’s my understanding that they move the darts to the side seam and then eliminate them to make dartless fashion. (Sometimes the dart is trimmed other times it’s just not sewn.)  My blocks should look similar but be smaller in a few places, most notably the waist. It is! I quickly trace the size large. Because I’m short and the front and back pieces have obvious shaping at the side seams, I make my 1″ BWL.  I add 1/4″ to the side seams of the back and then trim the shoulder seams to match the slope of my darted block, CS1201.  Once again, Connie has provided a quarter sleeve but I’m wanting a full sleeve. I place the pattern on my cutting table, align my EAC sleeve on top and then frost the cake with a layer of tissue.  I trace sleeve cap of CS1204; length  and hem from EAC. But it doesn’t sit well with me.  The sleeve isn’t wide enough.  I added about 1/2″ to the EAC to create a comfortable, long sleeve.  Do I really want to go narrower? Also, is the sleeve cap height and width right for me or will have I the same issues as on the 1201 sleeve?  I cut vertically from shoulder point to hem; slip in a bit of tissue and add 2″ overall width. It’s still narrower than the EAC sleeve. If I’ve added too much ease , it will be easy to remove.  Not enough and I’ll be recutting the sleeve.   Then I have another panic attack. What if by removing the dart ease, I don’t have enough tummy room?  I add 7/8″ to the side seams to give me a full 1″ fitting room.

I choose a shirting fabric.  I believe it was advertised as 100% cotton.  It feels like Pima but acts like it has a bit of polyester. I like polyester.  Combined with cotton it makes wonderful shirts that look good all day long and are comfortable to wear. This is an IKAT print. Not real IKAT, but a print that has been designed to look like IKAT and using bright, soul-warming colors.  It has a definite repeat in horizontal stripes.  I start humming the preschool song “I’m a little teapot short and stout…..”.  I place my pattern pieces cross-grain.  I can’t avoid the stripes, but I can use them to my advantage.  I struggle with placement. One repeat has big dots that I don’t want falling on any of my prominences. The other dramatic repeat creates a very slimming, almost color blocked inversion. I like that, but placing the inversion at it’s most flattering level, my waist, would eliminate using the border either across shoulders or waist. Suddenly I realize I very much want to use that border as the edge of a tunic. I pull everything off the cutting table and lengthen the front and back pieces 3″.   I purchased 3 yards and boy am I glad.  Aligning on the pattern wasted a lot of fabric. But I like the end result.  I stitched side seams shoulder seams and basted side seam before trying it on:

It’s sitting catywampus on my body. That combined with the pattern makes judging drag lines and fit difficult.  I decide to add the sleeves and that I want this to be a roomy top.  I use the same gathering technique  as yesterday for setting in the sleeve. Except that I serge instead of stitch as the SM. The sleeve is not quite a smoothly set in as before, but it’s good and besides you can’t tell if it’s pucker or pattern.  I’m not sure if this is final or not:

I finished the neckline by making a 3″ slit in front. I let out the side seams to take advantage of the fit-insurance but not for fit; for the roomy look I wanted. Thought I wanted. Seeing it now, I’m not sure if the sleeves are just too long (which they are) and making it look like a big sack all over or if I have made my blouse into a big sack. As I envisioned, it is comfy and cool. The fabric feels as smooth on my body as it did to my hand.  I look at the front and side wondering if I’m seeing those dreaded drag lines (and should have increased the shoulder slope) or if the ease is so great it just has to ripple and fold from some place, my bust being the most promontory.

I am pleased with the dartless block. Even if those are drag lines.  I know an easy fix. I prepared the block (tracing and initial alterations) in about 30 minutes. My garment was conceived, sewn and fitted over two days (typical for me) with little fuss. It wasn’t tweak after tweak after tweak (I racked up 8 tweaks with 1201). While my faith in Connie isn’t completely restored, I am feeling a little more confident.



I should be tweaking the sleeve of CS1201 but my new Connie Crawford patterns arrived in the mail and I’m excited to see if good fit is as easy to achieve with the new slopers as it was with CS1201.  I’m really hoping for the standardization I’ve become accustomed to with Burda and Ottobre designs. I love these magazines for the fact that once fit, I am the same size and make the same alteration on each and every pattern

I studied CS1207 and  CS1204 trying to determine which to buy. At $20 per pattern, I really looked closely to determine the differences between the two. As far as I can tell they are the same plus CS1024 includess  the Woven Dartless Sloper and  then Mens T-shirt sloper

I started CS1204 by reading instructions.   I feel it is important to point out that if you are looking for fitting instructions CS1201 is a better source. The booklet for 1204 is all about  sewing.  I found that the seam allowances are 3/8″ instead of the 5/8″ of 1201. Well that’s understandable.  When knit patterns first started being marketed there was a big to do about the new 1/4″ SA.  Thing is, after I fit a garment, I reduce most SA’s to 1/4″,  the seam width my serger produces.  I  adapt my patterns to serge as much as possible.  But while I’m fitting, I want a  more width in the seam allowances. I also feel the Big 4 is onto something with their consistent 5/8″ SA.  They have repeatedly and freely admitted that 5/8″ is not the best SA for all seams. The reason the Big 4 continue to use the 5/8″ SA (and the reason the inconsistency between CS1201 and 1204 disappointed me) is that a consistent seam allowance is less confusing for the dressmaker; that would be Me. So now I have to remember that Conni uses a 5/8″ SA for woven and 3/4″ for knits. Can I do this?  Probably not. I use such a variety of patterns it’s probably better if I just remember to write the SA on the fitted pattern and look it up again if I ever need to use the original.

Next, I checked sizes. Finding another, in my mind inconsistency.  CS1201 used standard  10, 12 etc closely aligned with RTW sizing.  CS 1204 switches to the ubiquitous S,M, L sizing which typically fits no-one at all. I checked the measurements charts. In CS1201 both my bust and hips fall into the same size.  For CS1204 I need to decide whether to fit my bust; choose a size larger to fit my waist; or a different size entirely to fit tummy and  hips.  It’s an inconsistency that is disappointing but I try not to be hard on the designer.  For one thing, her decisions were spot on for my woven bodice sloper. I’ve read that she has taken measurements from volunteers across the country (USA) and listened, no actively sought their opinions. It’s quite possible that her SML works.  I don’t understand why sizing is different this time, but I’m working with it.

According to the sewing instructions, I should find patterns pieces of 1) The Fitted Knit top; (2) Semi-Fitted Knit Top (3) Woven Dartless Block and (4) Man’s T-shirt.  I sort through the pattern tissues, trimming apart as I go along but find pieces for (1) The Fitted Knit top (2) Semi fitted Knit Top (3) Dartless Blouse and (4) Dartless Shirt. OK, what happened to the Man’s T-shirt? Is the Dartless Blouse the same as the Woven Dartless Block? Is the Dartless shirt the Man’s T-shirt or is it a woman’s shirt? I really don’t like using men’s patterns for womens’ wear. I’ve known women who swear purchasing in the men’s department assures them of both better quality and fit. But that has not every worked for me.  I grit my teeth.  I don’t like inconsistencies. That’s why I’ve gotten away from the Big4.  I’m not happy that I’m left to assume what is what.  In all probability, Conni made an announcement at some time, some place and everyone knows the solution except me. It’s another inconsistency which is probably minor but these are beginning to add up and annoy the heck out of me.

After separating the various blocks (and hoping I’ve made the right assumptions), I re-fold the tissues and place each block into its own envelope.  There are lots of pages and pieces.  Connie has provided not only 4 blocks but also 12 sizes. I don’t want to sort through it all every time I think I want a new block.

I’ve already decided I am unlikely to ever use the Fitted Knit top. It is drafted for making leotards, bathing suits and other garments requiring negative ease.  Probably the only garments I wear with negative ease are tights and socks.  Even my long johns are fitting with more than Zero ease. I want to work with the Semi Fitted Knit top.  I’ve been making blouse after blouse after blouse. I’d like to add a few knit tops to closet which don’t have bust drag lines. According to the chart I’m somewhere around a size L.  I pull out the XS to Large block. Ack! It looks too small. I compare quickly with my just fitted CS1201. Yes CS1201 is for wovens and CS1204 is for knits. My understanding is that patterns are typically altered in increments of 1/8 and 1/4″ to change from woven fitting to knit fitting. This came up in two of my recent Craftsy courses and is repeatedly asked  at Stitcher’s Guild. My CS1201 also has darts which for CS1204 would  have been moved to sides seams. Moving to the side seam and then eliminating the darts will also reduce width at certain points (like waist and shoulder length). But the difference between my CS1201 woven block and this knit block CS1204 (a block BTW that is drafted for measurements 1to 2″ larger than my own) is 1.5-2″ smaller on the back and again on the front. From eyeballing, I’d say about it’s at least 4″ smaller than my woven block. “That can’t be right.”, I think. So I pull out the tape measure and start measuring.  I add front plus back measurements less 1.5″ for seam allowances. (Each seam has a 3/8″ seam allowance. There are 2 seams containing 2 pieces ergo 3/8″ * 2 * 2 is 1.5″).   The knit block which should fit me with ease, will not. It has negative ease. I don’t wear T-shirts with negative ease.

I’m sure I must be wrong. I measure again. OK if that’s right, I must  have chosen the incorrect size. But a check of the size chart confirms that the Large should fit me with ease. Well it is what it is, so maybe I need to go up a size.  I pull out the XL to 6X tissues. At least this set looks larger, like it might have positive ease instead of negative.  However, when I measure, I need to go up not 1 size but two (to a 1X ) for any positive ease (over my measurements). Also I’m stunned by the shoulder length. The shoulder length of the Large is 4- 3/4″ including seam allowances of which there should be two measuring 3/8″.  This XL has a 3- 1/2″ shoulder length and that also includes the two seam allowances. A 2-3/4 (net) shoulder length is too short for me for a T-shirt. It would be OK for tank top, but T-shirt? Not buying it. I check sewing instructions. (Didn’t I read these the night before?)  According to the instructions, I’m going to need 3/8″for the armscye but the neckline is bound which does not reduce the length of the shoulder. Whew! Even one less seam allowance makes a difference, but 3-1/8″ is not enough for my personal wearing standards.

AND there’s another thing that really bothers me. The sides seams of the Large are nicely shaped. Very similar to Pamela’s Pattern 104 which I have loved since day one for its “Essence of Waist” (and thoroughly regret that it has developed bust drag lines).  PP104 was so flattering that I want similar shaping. I was, in fact relieved and pleased when first looking at CS1204 and realizing that the side seam was not straight up and down, but shaped. Well the XL and 1X  also have shaped side seam but visually it appears to slope outward in a curve from bust to waist and then inward to the hem. Instead of my pear shape, or a typical apple shape, it is orange-shaped. What?? Wait a sec, I do know a few ladies in the plus-size range for whom this would make a good T-Shirt. They however do not and will not sew. I sew, but am not making a T-shirt for an orange. I making a T-shirt for little ol’ pear-shaped me.

At this point I’m just stymied. I don’t trust the pattern to fit me. I have not had enough positive experiences with Connie Crawford’s patterns to just go for it when visually and measured facts say it won’t work (the way I want). The only other pattern of her’s that I’ve used was a jean pattern which I made fit me by copying crotch curve and other fitting points from another jean pattern. So I’ve got one nice success CS1201, and one “Holy Cow I don’t want to go through that again” experience.

It’s just too many inconsistencies. To many visual and measured points that I can’t reconcile. Much too much for me. I decide to put all the CS1204 tissues away and consider other options for a while.

.. but wait…

Fit: CS1201 Issac

Over all, I’m pleased with the fit. I can wear that sleeve but I won’t be surprised later-on when find myself converting it to a half-length.  I made one additional change to the back which I hadn’t contemplated at the muslin stage.  I kept getting a puffy back:

Not this bad all the time; and sometimes it wanted to twist to one side or the other:

There was plenty of ease. This was not a case of fabric being pushed upward because it didn’t have room to slide downward. This is not a  clingy fabric either. So I scratched my head and decided to deepen the back darts 1/4″. Just to make a stab at removing the poof. Was I surprised?


I do have  1/4″ shoulder pads in place and probably should get rid of those pants (I’m wearing a belt and they look like that? At least it’s the end of the day.)

A close look at the side view shows that something is still happening at the hem.

It seems to slope downward from center back to side seam and onto just about below my apex. From apex to center front, it lifts slightly. I’m also looking at the few diagonals pointing towards the side waist. Without the long sleeve, I didn’t see those diagonals. In fact all the under-bust and back diagonals I’d been struggling with had disappeared on the muslin (after the shoulder slope was corrected.).   I’m wondering if the sleeve cap needs to be higher still and/or the underarm scooped more than 1/2″.

Truthfully, I doubt if anyone else notices.  Besides, I really want to fix the sleeve before making any other changes. It’s a habit with me. Fix the obvious error and then see what is left.  Can’t tell you how many times I changed a single line of code and the whole program not only worked, but worked better and faster.

I’m really pleased to note that the neckline is perfect.  I stay stitched the muslin neckline and pinned it together during tryon’s.  It always scratched and felt a bit tight when wearing. But I’d look into the mirrors or at the pictures and say “that’s about right”.  About right for a jewel neckline. It’s a case where logic and appearance/feeling conflict. I just couldn’t get it out of my head that the neckline felt tight. I was so happy when I buttoned the neckline to the top and said “perfect”.

Many times, when I finish with an inspiration, I delete the photo or link.   But just as often, my final garment doesn’t look exactly or even close to the original. I think that has happened here. While my garment is lovely, at least to me, it neither duplicates Isaac’s in color, fabric or many details. I might want to try this again especially since I have a black and cream gauze in my stash. (Black and rose were the 2 colors in which Issac Mizrahi manufactured the original.)



  •  Shoulder slope
    •  3/8″ deeper at shoulder edge
  • Hem
    • add 2.5″
      • 1.25 for hem
      • 1.25 additional length
  • Back
    • 1″ BWL
    • add 1/4″ to side seams
    • deepen dart to 1/2″
  • Front
    • 1″ BWL
  • Sleeve
    • Add 1.5″ to sleeve cap

Issues still to be solved

  • Underarm depth
  • Sleeve
    • ease
    • shape
  • Possible hem issues


Sleeves for CS1201_Issac

For fun, I decided to “crimp” the sleeve cap using the same Cover Stitch Gathering technique as made the ruffles. I was pleased at how the cap just curled

Public side:

Private side:

It was fairly easy to pin into the armscye

although I did need to pull up just a little in a few places. You know, increasing the gathering just slightly

It’s hard to hold the fabric and take pictures at the times time.  I want you to see how I put the pin just under the top thread of the cover stitch loop.

I stitched at a moderate speed with a 3.0mm length on my sewing machine. I supposed I could have been radical and done this at the cover stitch too, but basically I don’t trust chain stitches,,, not since my RTW skirt practically fell apart one day at high school.  It wasn’t until I took the set-in sleeve to the ironing board that realized what a wonderful technique I’ve discovered

I did not find a single pucker on  either sleeve!  Definitely adding this to my book of tricks.

I was pleased that the cap inserted so well. I had added 1.5″ height to the tissue and tried to maintain the same curve as Conni drafted yet this sleeve inserted much more smoothly than the original.

BTW, I like the look of her sleeve cap. There is obvious a front and a back.   I do wish Conni had provided a full length basic sleeve instead of the quarter sleeve. I made decisions for a long sleeve which sounded logical in my mind and looked reasonable before me; might have worked in a slinky knit or something with 50% stretch. My sleeve was woefully lacking in ease.

It’s really obvious from the side view that the cap needs to be wider (I feel it too!).  The 16″ I allowed for my 13″ elbow were located too high up on the sleeve. At my actual elbow there was totally insufficient room. Oh and that 10″ for a 7″ wrist?  Only if I’m going to use a cuff and closure.  I could barely get my hand through there. Once on, the wrist was fine.  One good thing was that my old nemeses the front drag line was nowhere to be seen.

Surprising, the underarm felt good although the back felt a little tight when I moved my arms forward. I didn’t feel that tug when the sleeve had been short.  I had a suggestion to lower the underarm in conjunction with the sleeve wrinkle. Now I wanted to do that change to see if it would make the sleeve more comfortable.  Well, it did. It was almost like the sleeve breathed a sigh of relief. The sleeve had been too short,  now I had length for a 1″ hem. Oddly, the sleeve seemed to slide upward bringing the elbow shaping almost into place but at least where the elbow could have more room to manoeuver.  Unfortunately the sleeve cap was still filled with horizontal pull lines and the front diagonal returned:

I won’t at this point make underarm changes to my tissues. For starters, I think I want that height for sleeveless garments.   Without question, the cap, elbow and wrist need more ease.  I’m think I should copy some details from my EAC sleeve and at least get ease and over all length right for a woven, non-stretch shirt.

Well that’s a long enough post for one day.  Let’s finish this up tomorrow.


I’m calling it my CS1201_Issac because this Issac Mizrahi  beauty was my inspiration.

My fabric is cotton but unlike Issac’s polyester sheer, my cotton is light weight and lightly crinkled.  I started with a piece 45″ wide and 3 yards long. I have 12″ left (enough for jenas pockets!) . I cut my fabric and taped the back shoulder and neckline.

I made the ruffles using  my cover stitch as demoed here. On the fronts,  I marked 3/4″ lines away from center front (not fold line)  and then a 2nd line 3/4″ away from the first. I attached the ruffle at the sewing machine using a zig-zag stitch. It is possible to attach the ruffle to the blouse at the cover stitch. I preferred the look of the zig zag which not only attached but nailed the edges into place.

After the ruffles, I decided to do button holes. It’s easier at this stage; less bulk to be moving around. That bulk can also add drag, working against your machines buttonhole routine. In the future, I’ll do buttonholes first and then ruffles. I had to turn the fabric upside down to get the ruffles out-of-the-way. Fortunately my Ruby has a lot of harp room.

Then the little wheel had troubles staying on the fabric.  I used a trick from Louise Cutting.  I wrapped the band with enough water-soluble stabilizer for the wheel to ride on.

I had to leave the top button-hole until the neckline was finished. So next steps were stitching front to back shoulders; folding the combined facing/buttonband RST and adding a strip of 1″ wide self bias along the back neckline.  I serged, pressed and turned the entire neckline. While I was here, I top stitched the width of my foot around the neckline and edge stitched both  folded edges of the button-band. I don’t think Isaac edge stitched. I did  because I think it’s one of those 30 second jobs that takes my sewing from good to superior.  My back neckline strip of bias was too wide. It wanted to either flap up or roll. Either would be uncomfortable to wear (listen to the voice of experience.)  I had finished that edge  by serging before I even pinned it to the back neckline.  It was wide enough to roll or flap but not wide enough to get back under the serger foot. Unless,,, I removed all my beautiful top stitching which I did not want to do.  I let my rotary cutter with the pinking blade rescue me. I carefully pinked about 1/8″ away from my top stitching. At this point, I added the top and last buttonhole and all the buttons.

I want to put off discussing the sleeves and fit until tomorrow. I have much to record which would make this post much too long. So let me skip to the hem at the first try on.  At that point I realized the blouse was a tad short.   I’m hoping to be able to wear this blouse now as a spring blouse and later over a tank as a summer cover-up. I prefer a summer cover-up to be a longer (about 28″ from neck/shoulder point to finished hem).  I had added 1.25″ to the sloper so it would include my standard hem.  Now I added 1″wide bias to the bottom, turn it up , pressed and top stitched into place.  It still is not quite long enough to satisfy my personal vision of blouse-as-summer-jacket. But it’s good and enough; and sometimes good is enough.


Sleeves in tomorrows post!



CS1201 Pattern Alterations

I loved how quickly I fit CS1201.  I could have taken much less time. But I really dug in my heels and checked one thing before looking at  another. Each by itself i.e. requiring a stitching and pic session by itself. My net changes were

  • Decrease the back waist length 1″ (my standard)
  • Increase the shoulder slope 3/8″ at the shoulder edge
  • Adding 1/4″ to the back side seam while sewing the side seam with 1/2″ seam allowances.
  • Adding 1.25″ for a turned up hem.

I test fit the sleeve and was unsure.  Seemed like a lot of gathering, yet my old nemeses were still present. I opted to leave the sleeve alone, until I could see the full effect of the shoulder and seam allowance changes.I want to share that I made my first alteration using the seam allowance method.

For the shoulder slope, I slashed the shoulder seam from shoulder edge to SA at the neckline:

Although the photo above shows the SA spread apart, I overlapped at the shoulder edge 3/8″, taped into place and  then trued the armscye edge.

I was really impressed with the shoulder length as drafted. This is the first pattern (other than a tank top or racer back) that the shoulder has been the right length. I did not want to change the shoulder length which is what would have happened if I trimmed a wedge from the top of the shoulder.

My first issue for the proposed blouse (from yesterday),  is the front button band. My sloper includes a 1″ extension at the CF.    I knew I wanted to fold the center front to form the button-band and facing. But how much? Did I need the full 1″ extension?  So I cheated, I borrowed the top front from the Ebb and aligned center front to center front (Ebb to Sloper)

After I altered the shoulder slope, I realized I want shoulder pads. I extended the shoulder line 3/8″; the height of my typical shoulder pad

I secured tissue on top and transferred CF, Fold and mentally noted the width of the Ebb facing.   I removed the Ebb pattern piece, folded along the fold line and using the front of my sloper trimmed the tissue along the neckline, shoulder and hem. Once folded out, I have a cut-on facing and front button band.

I don’t know if you can tell it, but my new facing/button band is only taped to my sloper. I can remove it at any time I want a different style!

As I plan to sew all darts, I need no other changes to the front or back. But I want a long sleeve.  I slipped tissue below the short-sleeve sloper and stopped in my tracks. How long should this be? Can I “borrow” a sleeve pattern like I did the front band? I decide it’s time for me to memorize more of my personal measurements.  I didn’t always agree with Peggy Sagers but I’m coming around. I’m finding that the more I can look and measure the more I can figure out what works or doesn’t work for me.  I put on my muslin-sloper and measure from the shoulder seam to my elbow and wrist. I’ll tell you that wasn’t easy.  I found stiffness in joints and muscles I didn’t know were there.  That’s not the worst of it though. There’s always that nagging doubt about the accuracy of the measurements. Because I have to twist and bend to get measurements my body flexes and changes those measurements. Sigh, I have to start some place so I also measure the circumference of my bicep and bent elbow.   I extended the grain line from shoulder point to 24″ (my measurement was 22 but I want to include hem and room-to-correct.  I drew a horizontal line at 13 (my elbow) and 24 (hem).  I measured up 2.5 inches from the hem and marked another line.  I measure out 5″ from both sides of the vertical line giving me a 10″ cuff (wrist).  I measured out 8″ on either side of the vertical at the elbow distance giving me 16 inches and 3″ of ease.  Then I fumbled about trying to figure how to draw the sleeve side seam lines. Finally I drew a line between armscye  point and elbow (out at the 8″) and then realigned from the elbow to my wrist. I duplicated that on the other side.

Sleeve Length Alteration

Again, the alteration is taped into place and can be removed anytime I want a different style.

Next issue was the sleeve cap. Totally unsure of the sloper. Do I increase the cap because I still had wrinkles? Or decrease because I had lots of gathering?  Then I remembered the  Craftsy class  “Fashion Draping with Paul Gallo”.  I was pretty impressed but realized I’d never do the draping he did. However,  one  gem might be helpful here. Paul Gallo said that the cap height was distance from the underarm to the shoulder point. I don’t know if this only applies to the garment he was draping of if it is a general rule. I proceed as though it is the later.  I aligned my front and back pieces so that the grain lines were parallel and the underarms overlapping at the underarm seam. I placed one ruler vertically  in the armscye void and then a second perpendicular and level with the shoulder.

That gave me a measurement of 8.5″.  I measured the cap of the sleeve and realized it was 1.5″ short.  I slipped tissue beneath the sleeve cap, marked a short line at 1.5″ above the sleeve cap and spent at least a half-hour figuring out how to draw a new curve. I’m not sure this is right. I’m not sure my reasoning is right, but it feels right:

The good thing about a too high cap is you can, with awkward difficulty, trim it down. However if the cap is too short to start with, only recuting will fix it.

Anyway, that’s the pattern I’m starting with.

CS 1201 For Reals

Pleased as punch with the muslin fit of CS1201, I wanted to make a real garment.  OK, in my past I have worn blouses exactly like this sloper.  Same length, short sleeves, all the darts yada yada. At one time, this stripped down sloper was a current style. But I wanted something,,, a little more. Something still basic but would look current. I looked for inspiration thinking “How do I turn this basic block into a current style?”  I didn’t want to alter the pattern at all. Just add enough embellishment or styling to make it look current.

I looked at this:

and said “I”m not ready to draft collars.”  Simple collars, especially a band like this, are quite easy to draft.  My hesitation here is that the neckline had felt every so slightly choking. It may have needed clipping to lie flat and comfortable, but it may need to be lowered.  Sometimes I see pics and think that I’m developing the ol’ forward neck syndrome. If the back fits, it’s best just to trim the neckline a bit lower. But then all collars or facings must also be trimmed. So I’m not ready to draft collars. I want to be sure that the choking issue is not a fit issue.   Besides, I don’t want to wait long enough to do all that gorgeous embroidery before I can check fit.

Then I saw this lovely:

but similar problem. This time I’m wanting to be sure the sloper neckline is as high and shaped to fit my neck. If I scoop it out, I don’t know whether the neckline fits or not. Also, while I love, love, love the pin tucks and can easily achieve them, I don’t want to rotate, or eliminate darts just yet.  I want to see how my sloper performs with real fabric, real styling .

I do like the clothing styles Issac Mizrahi  sells on QVC.   But I like to sew and therefore prefer to take inspiration from what he brings to TV.  After going through several pages saying, I don’t want to slash and make yokes; don’t want to move darts; don’t want to yada yada , I found this blouse:

There are some difference. I think the neckline is about 2″ lower than my sloper and bound. What I’m seeing as binding could be top-stitching. I’m not sure if the front darts have been eliminated. Issac may have elected to shape the front with the self-fabric tie-belt (which always says Becky-Home-Ecky to me.) There is one picture that seems to indicate the back darts are sewn.  My sloper has a short sleeve while  this is long and uncuffed.  Two sets of ruffles frame the center button band (which appears to be folded and not sewn as a separate piece).  Finally, it is longer than my sloper. I however will keep my sloper as is. I will sew all darts, the higher neckline and existing length of my sloper.  The real purpose in my next project, is checking the sloper in real fabric.   My final garment will be similar, but not exactly the same.

Oh and guess what? This will be a multi-post.   Finding an inspiration and figuring out  how to interpret it to fit my figure is my favorite type of sewing. Since I refer to my blogs in the future to refresh my  maturing-memory on how I did something, I like detailed posts. Many readers have written that they like my posts because they are so detailed. However, I have to admit, avid-blog-reader that I am, when a post goes on and on my eyes fog over and I miss something important. So I want to tell the full story of this adventure, but I will do so chapter at a time. Thanks for reading along.

Gathering with Wooly Nylon

I used the Cover Stitch machine to produce this lovely ruffle.  See my complete post here.

Basic Block

I have a dear and highly intelligent friend who is especially knowledgeable about garment fitting and stitching. It was she, who solved my pant fitting issues. So when she suggested I might be interested in the basic blocks drafted and marketed by Connie Crawford, I surfed right over to take a look. I also watched a few Youtubes Conni has posted (also my friend’s recommendation). I was impressed. Not so much with the videos (which are definitely good) so much as with the drafting of her block. I look at her representative figures and think, she might have a clue as to what real women look like. She states that the back must be longer than the front or it will not fit.  Most importantly to me was the shape of the shoulder and armscye.  For the first time, I see a pattern which doesn’t assume  my shoulder grows at the same rate as my waist. I’m excited. Yet, I’ve bought lots of basic patterns.  Managed to fit quite a few. So while I like what I see, I’m not quite ready to rub the numbers off my credit card. I purchase only the basic block for wovens, CS1201.


My package includes a catalog as well as the pattern and a 12-page, 8.5 x 5.5″ pamphlet set of instructions.  I do like the instruction pamphlet as opposed to the usual humongous sheets.  This is manageable! I read carefully the instructions for choosing a size and the order of fitting.  I’m surprised at the size. I’m a size 14, cup B (same as my RTW) ; A.N.D.  3 of my 4 measurements are on the lower end of the range. I trace my size.

Re 4th measurement: I count my tummy as a critical measurement. My tummy can be an issue, especially with pants, because it is usually the same size as my hips but of course, 4 inches higher than the expected widest measurement, the hip.

I try to choose a fabric. I know what I want to use. Interestingly enough Conni recommends something similar. I want cotton, with no stretch in a light color and a touch of polyester so it will shed wrinkles and resist shape shifting… er stretching out of shape.  My stash is low on these kinds of fabrics, but I do find a mint colored poly cotton  I think can be used. I remove it from the stash, refold and press carefully before cutting out my pieces, front, back and sleeves.

I sew in sessions. Even retired, I’d never get anything sewn if I waited for a block of uninterrupted time . The first session was reading the pamphlet carefully from page 1 to 12 . Second session was tracing my size and cutting fabric.  Before the 3rd session I’d had time for regret. I had made no changes to Conni’s basic sloper. For years, I’ve made a back waist length adjustment (BWL) and narrow shoulder adjustment(NSA)  immediately, without thought.  Making these 2 alterations is not a chore. I’ve come to plan on making these alterations as part of my sewing routine when I want clothing to fit.   I made no changes because I’m optimistic and really hoped this would be the pattern that fit right out of the envelope.  Overnight, I realized my foolishness. I always make a BWL because patterns are drafted for people 2-3 inches taller than me.  If I don’t make a BWL, the shaping for waist and hips falls below my own waist (what I have of it) and hips requiring fixing.  I had numerous wadders before I learned these fixes can’t always be done after the scissors chew through the yardage . Conni too must assume an average height. An average which I don’t meet by 2-3″ .  The NSA however, can be applied later, albeit awkwardly.  I already had the fabric cut. I opted to ignore the NSA for now because right or wrong,  I wanted to see how Conni’s armscye draft fit on my body. For the BWL, I decided to immediately mark, fold and stitch thereby removing 1″ from the length of the garment above the waist.

I’m going to tell you to start with that I’m even more impressed now than I was when looking at the draft.  OK so the first try-on was not exactly beautiful:

After that photo, I made 6 shoulder and side seam adjustments that were all about tweaking the shoulder slope and adjusting circumference.  By the 6th attempt, I decided I had taken this muslin on and off, ripped, stitched, starched and ironed one too many times. But it looked pretty good:

I could have stopped at Tweak #4

I’ve worn blouses with more drag lines than Fit #4 and been proud. Because I’m working on a personal sloper (which I hope to use extensively in the near future), I keep tweaking. Quarter inch here; eighth there.  I was interested in the minimum ease I feel comfortable wearing. But it is the shoulder-slope changes which correct my drag lines, even those below the bust dart.  At Fit #6, the shoulder is sewn with a slope 1-1/8″ deep at the shoulder and 5/8″ deep at the neck. I’ve also offset the front and back 1/4″ (Back gets larger. Front smaller. Not sure whether that means favoring back or favoring front.)

I realized before even starting with the sleeve I’d have issues. My side seam allowances are not an even 1″ on both front and back as Conni drafted. I did a quick pin into place and estimated that I needed to drop the sleeve cap 1.75″.

I want to take a sec to point out the beauty of this sleeve.  I know from training and experience that the front and back curve of the sleeves should be different. Our arms and shoulder need different amount of ease and shaping for freedom of movement and comfort. Most sleeves I sew are marked with front and back notches but I could fold them in half lengthwise and they would look the same. Not so with CS1201. There is clearly a back, front and shoulder point. I measured down from the shoulder point 1.75″; aligned my french curve with the original cap curves and then drew a new line between notches and the new shoulder point.   Then I tried setting this sucker in. Not easy.  I did not trim the cap. I’m concerned that my armscye . It looks too high for a sleeve.  Every time I tried on the muslin, I’d think “This would be great in a sleeveless top. But I”m not sure about with sleeve. ” I did not remove the excess cap, but I did stitch on the sewing line I marked 1.75″ below the original.

I look at it and think “Not horrible. Not perfect. Not so ugly I wouldn’t wear it”.  The the hem does seem to be lifting (it should follow a horizontal line), which would indicate that a higher cap is needed. Also I see the echo of that front drag line which I’ve been complaining about for a few weeks.

I’m torn about making further changes to sleeve now; or any changes to sleeve at all. Fact is this muslin has been heavily handled. I question the accuracy of what I’m seeing.  When I transfer bodice changes (not including the sleeve) I wonder how that will affect the sleeve. I’m not going to slice off the top of the shoulder. I will use a wedge like alteration  below the shoulder stitching line which will leave the original sleeve length intact. Why? Because I was astounded by the shoulder length and slope at the first try-on. Outside of a tank top, I’ve never had a shoulder fit me straight out of the envelope. I’ve always needed the NSA because pattern drafters assume shoulder length grows at a similar rate as waist. (Hey guys, it’s the tummy that increases in circumference. The shoulder bone doesn’t get longer AND gets very little extra padding. )

What’s next? I’m transferring some changes from muslin to pattern and choosing a nicer fabric to make a blouse.  Oh and I’m buying a few more patterns, from Conni.

Half an FBA

I hoped to find an easy fix for a prominent fitting error on the Ebb. So while I was waiting for Connie Crawford Basic Block, I copied the front bodice, trimmed the button band/neck facing extension and called it one piece to be placed on the fold. I don’t think I need more circumference, ease or body width. What I need is more length  at the center front.  From my drape/HBL study, ideally extra length should be added between shoulder and apex. Unfortunately, I don’t understand how to do that without badly affecting both neck and armscye. The “experts” all add length via an FBA. I partially used Louise Cuttings Dartless FBA instructions and divided the front into 4 sections. I made my first cut from CF to apex (1), second cut from apex to Empire line.  I moved the freed section down 1″, slipped a piece of tissue beneath both pieces and taped it into place. Finally I drew a curve from the edge of the  cut piece back to the side seam (2)

In retrospect, all that cutting and sliding was not needed. I could have added 1″ length at the bottom of the CF, drew a horizontal line 4.5″ (half the distance between my apex(s) (ii?) and then drawn the curve.

What’s the #3 about?  Well I have also noticed a vertical fold just in front of the armscye which indicates too much width across the upper chest (and another reason for doing only half the FBA).  I noticed on my tissue that the original armscye swooped in a little bit more than the final armscye that I drew  using the recommended method (align french curve with original armscye; note numbers; slash/slide armscye;  align french curve with side seam and shoulder point). I redrew the curve trimming about half of the difference while maintaining a nice curve.

I walked the armscye seams before starting the above alterations. Walked  again after having trimmed the front armscye. Walked it a 3rd time to be sure. I had not altered the back armscye curve this time but found that it was short 1/8″. The front was short 5/8″ both before and after the above alteration.  I walked this seam 3 times because I had walked the seam twice before the previous Ebb and had thought the armscye was shorter than the sleeve cap. But during stitching, I had to convince the front sleeve cap to stretch to fit  the front armscye. I must have gotten my figures mixed up.  That’s all it could have been because I clearly needed a higher sleeve cap.  I considered adding a wedge and then figured it would make more since to add an even 5/8″ across the sleeve cap.

My fabric is a cotton, lawn batik. Well that’s how it was advertised.  I hesitated because I’ve always heard you want rayon batik for garments. When it arrived, it looked more like my playful efforts with color discharge than batik but the colors were even more beautiful in person than on the net.   I don’t think this is 100% cotton. I think somebody forgot to mention it had some other fiber content. It behaved on the cutting table with the exception that it didn’t want to fold crisply.  I cut fabric one day and stitched the  next. Overnight the cut pieces changed shape. The hems were especially evident.  I had to trim them back into shape and chose a rounded shirt tail which I promptly ran through the serger forming a rolled hem.   I did tape the neck and shoulders but I’m not sure it helped.  Then it again this could be my own mistake:

I’ve been seeing this cute neckline which is essentially a slit in the center front. Instead of the top of the slit standing tall and proud, the points are folded over. It maybe that I folded too far down. It may be that my fabric didn’t want to cooperate and should have been stabilized with something firmer.It maybe that the designers know something extra about drafting this neckline and I am clueless.

I know that cotton will never have the drape of rayon. But honestly, I didn’t expect this fabric to look larger, less elegant. I’m not upset. I envisioned this as a 3/4-sleeve blouse to pop over other clothing providing myself with either a little more warmth when the prairie winds blow or a little sun protection when the sun shines brightly and burns the heck out of my skin.

Just looks summery to me — hot hot summery. (Where are my shorts? Opps, not yet. We’re still due another snow storm.)

My sleep cap addition worked really well.  I didn’t use the hem vent on the sleeve. I trimmed 3/4″ (hem vent needs 2″) and then hemmed straight across 1.25″ deep. Sadly, I don’t know if my FBA worked or not:

The hem rises both center front and center back. Possibly my fault when I trimmed away the odd fabric growth.  The Empire line rises between side and apex but then drops slighty into center front. What??  Fortunately, this is not easy to see. I didn’t see it in the mirror and couldn’t see it in the pic until I lightened the pic 80%.

I almost wish I had not critiqued the Empire line.  I like this blouse. It will perform as envisioned. Also, I know for a fact most people won’t even realize this was not intended.

I don’t think I will be revisiting this exact alteration. As I type this, I’m about half way through fitting Connie Crawford basic block.  It’s my intention to use the basic block in developing patterns/clothing that fits me without all the slash, slide, smush business.