Walmart Collection: Short Ruana

To create the garment above, which I’m obviously loving, I started with a wrap purchased from Walmart, ummm, some time in the last 3 years.

It’s really a lot like the Ruana  which is why I’m calliing it the Short Ruana but then again not.

The back, is a big rectangle. Straight across the hem and side but  with sloped shoulders.  There are 2 fronts, each slightly less than half the width of the back, also with the sloped shoulders.

Back  ———-    Front on top of Back

The shoulders are sewn together. An armscye is left open from shoulder down about 14″ then then side seams are joined. I attached a band around the neck edge and front and fringed the hem.

I really like this shrug.  It is well-behaved like SP083, not sliding off shoulders or catching things as I walk by, but much more attractive and much more fabric conserving. SP083 tends to drop in swags beneath the underarm and puddles unattractively at the back hem. I wouldn’t wear this in a blizzard, but it is perfect for inside or out and about on a nice Autumn day.

To make the pattern pieces, yes I made a pattern, I folded the Walmart Shrug inside itself, effectively quartering it, and traced the back. For the front, I cut a copy of the back and then removed  2″ along the  CF.

This is a knit fabric recently acquired from I knew just looking at the pic on the site it would be beautiful as a wrap. I placed the pattern cross-grain so I could run the stripe vertically instead of horizontally.  I used a mere 40″ of a 54″ wide fabric. I habitually use a ‘with nap’ layout but I wanted to really conserve fabric, just to see how little was possible. I laid the pieces out with the hems on the edges and the shoulders touching at the center of the fabric. My stripes did not match over the shoulder.  I used a second, solid-black, fabric to cut 2.5″ strips folded in half for a wide piping in the shoulders — a cheat which I find distracts the eye resulting in  the viewer not even noticing the mismatch.

Using the same black fabric, I cut 2 strips 4.5″ wide, folded in half; joined at CB for the neck and stitched the length of the fronts. I fringed the hem 3″ using my by now familiar painters tape method.  I serged, turned and stitched the armscyes before stitching the side seams.

Especially surprising was how well it looks with the recently completed beaded beauty up cycle.

To me, it looks like this outfit was planned. I did not. I made the fabric purchase without considering the dress and up cycle. In fact the dress was at the time of the fabric purchase in the box to be donated. I think it’s a case of I pretty careful to limit my purchases to colors and fabrics I already wear. A new fabric nearly always works with something in the stack or in the closet.

This shrug is now definitely part of my Holiday Dressing. As for SP083 I’m unlikely to use it again given that this needs little fabric, did not confuse me and is so much more attractive.


The Walmart Shrug

I tell ya, Walmarts battin’ a thousand for me. OK, not exactly,but someone in the Walmart hierarchy is digging into the fashion vault and bringing out classic simple garments to sell to the public.  They then have the garments ‘staged’ at the stores in a manner that is irresistable. The first, for me, was the Walmart Caftan.   Nearly 10 years ago, I found a cheap poly version in Walmart that I wore well past it’s expected lifetime. When it was so ratty DH complained I made the pattern for myself. Next up was the Walmart Cami.  Really an undergarment that can be dressed up a worn as a summer tank. Again, elegantly simple. Well displayed in the store. Worn till it was ugly and demanded its own pattern. Third was Ruana which at the time I labeled the Walmart Long Shrug.  It’s really the perpetually new and popular  Ruana.  Made a pattern for that one before it became ugly.  Thing is, someone at/with/associated Walmart, is selecting a classic, simple style and then perfectly proportioning it for 5′, 16P me.   Their only mistake, I think, is using cheap materials. Most of these are ugly within 1-2 years.  The latest is a KNIT SHRUG:

Really, this isn’t much more than a folded rectangle of cloth which came in handy to use up the largish piece of fabric left over from my stab at Burda 2009-03 #124.

Ok but the square starts out 52″ wide and 48″ long

I think the dimensions are adjustable. The 48″ includes the 4″ neckline fringe which because I’m measuring both front sides is 8″ of the total. Even new (the grey shrug has been abused all winter) it really covers some distance:

Course, if you are taller than me (5’3″) your shrug might not be knee-length. Point is, inches could be added to the 48 to make it longer or subtracted to make it shorter.

52″ is basically my wingspan. I suspect a real stretchy knit, like the grey shrug, would accommodate a long of longer wingspans (give a tug or too).  But you could add a few inches to the 52 or like I did here add cuffs.

Mines are 3″ wide folded to 1.5″;  14″ long and serged to the side seams along the line I labeled 7″ Armhole.  It’s not really 7″.  You meet the long 52″ sides together  and stitch along the shorter side from the edge to 7″ away from the fold. That creates a 14″ hole to stick your hand through. I know from experience that hole can be hard to find. Hence the contrast color of the cuff. I applied the cuffs first, then serged the side seams.  This knit fabric doesn’t require any seam finishes.  In place of fringe, I added a 5″ (folded to 2.5″) X 104″ long band. Actually I cut 2 52″ long bands 5″ wide. Serged them in a circle. Folded in half and then serged to the neck/front/hem opening. It’s a nice finish and like Peggy Sagers’ says, gives your eye a stopping point. It’s almost visual relief.

Because I used that scrap, I immediately had a coordinating wrap for both Burda #124:

and the Red Crinkle 6299

Orange reds are definitely better for me

Admittedly, it does fall into those deep side U’s

Normally I despise them and do everything I can think of to eliminate them. But I like the U’s here.  I think they add to the overall elegant drape .

It’s also surprisingly fast to sew. This is the end of a day of cleaning and sorting. Decision to sew was based on the reluctance to fold and store an odd length of fabric. Didn’t really want to make another bog coat, although I did consider the possibility. The shrug idea presented itself as part of putting things away.  I intended to get to it. Better sooner than later. Less than hour later, it was done!

Walmart Caftan #2

Normally, the basement is comfortable needing only a space heater in the winter and a fan during the summer.  But a few weeks ago when I was thoroughly cleaning the Stash Room, I wanted full-blown arctic air conditioning. I did not give in to the urge.  Instead, dripping sweat, I went upstairs and showered; looked around for something cool and unrestricting to wear.  Surprisingly, my first Walmart Caftan didn’t do the job.  Oh it was freedom; and I felt so much better after a shower. But this was one of the very rare times when polyester was too hot for me to wear.  Also dealing with the mental drudgery of cleaning, I decided a side project of a rayon caftan would be a good idea.

I had created my pattern with the first caftan (link above) by measuring the purchased garment and plotting points on tissue. I chose an interesting woven, rayon fabric.  It has blue, purple and white threads. From a distance I see periwinkle.  Up close, distinctive coloration and a plaid effect.


I really wanted to concentrate on  finishing the Stash Room, plus this big expanse of fabric needs to be broken up or I look like a theater curtain coming at you!  I used this Iman

blouse for inspiration. (Hurry if you like it.  HSN has it on sale.)  I didn’t copy it stitch by stitch but rather the color combination of blue with large white embellishments and white trims/touches.  For me, the embellishments had to be machine embroidered. I mean it was the only way I would feel like I was sewing when I was really deep into cleaning.  I chose a neckline embroidery from a now defunct vendor (so not available).


Because this a caftan is a really big piece of fabric, I repeated the center motif twice directly below the first


My Viking Ruby happily stitched away for 2 days.  I needed 2 hooping for the 30,843 stitches.  It might have been possible to stitch this out in less time but not fewer hoopings (with my machine). I generally set the speed to medium or slow.  Just don’t like the way the highest speed can sling things about; and I stopped one days embroidery when one hoop was finished.  Began the next day’s embroidery with the next hooping.  It’s only a 2 color design.  I don’t think an embroidery needs 10 color changes to be effective and attractive. But I do like BIG.

I finished the caftan just a few days ago and took pictures with the ever accommodating Mimie modeling:


I finished the V-neckline with white, french binding which I turned to the inside and top stitched with white thread. This is a very loosely woven rayon. V-e-r-y.  I had cut the fabric and then serge finished the front’s edges — because I knew the front would experience some handling during hooping and embroidery.  Two things surprised me .

(1) My serger did not like this fabric.  It skipped stitches. My HV S21 never skips stitches. It might curl the edges but not refuse to form stitches. I even changed the needles.

(2)  The serging fell out of the fabric! After serge finishing, I embroidered. Then carefully folded the fabric and placed on a hanger until I could get back to sewing the garment.  When I started pinning the front and back together, I noticed that the serge finishing had absolutely fallen out of the fabric in places. Some long places. Well, the longest was a 6″ chain.  No I didn’t just miss that edge somehow because when falling out, the serging took some warp with it.

This directly affected  my finishing choice for the long side edges and bottom hems.  I serge finished the back as well. Serged the shoulders; pressed them to one side and top stitched. I turned the side-and-bottom-hem, serged edges up once stitched. Turned up a 2nd time and stitched. To me that’s a twice-turned, narrow hem.

Currently, this baby is in the wash–  I need to melt away the rest of the water-soluble stabilizer– and although I didn’t have it when needed last (cleaning the Stash Room), I now have a nice, loose, cooling caftan for the next time.

My Walmart Collection: CAFTAN

On the way to the hot tub.

I know lots of people have negative feelings towards Walmart.  I know a few who refuse to step foot in the store or even stop in the parking lot.  They have their own good reasons but for lots of America, Walmart has provided a less expensive purchase venue or in my case a venue to purchase a cheap, perhaps-disposable item for short-term use. I was working for the Govt after Katrina and sent to Louisiana for computer support. At night I stayed in a fairly nice hotel.  I had two complaints

  1. Other guests did not understand that ‘commercial grade’ laundry equipment was not the same as ‘handles 5 loads at once’.  They were always marking the hotel laundry machines as broke when the truth was they needed fewer clothes in any given load.
  2. My room was freezing cold.  I’m sure the staff had at one time been berated because a guest insisted he didn’t leave the heat up and was forced to endure a stifling hot room until it cooled because of staff incompetency.  Myself, I like the warmth.  I set the temperature at 65.  The staff turned it down to 50. They absolutely were not going to be beat up over a hot room. Consequently,  I froze.  It took a while to warm up the room that was hovering near meat-preservation levels.

I did ask the management to let Housekeeping know that I was a bit cold-blooded and would appreciate it if they wouldn’t turn the A/C so low.  That worked for a day or too and then I was back to freezing and hunting for extra quilts to cuddle in during the month of August.

The best solution presented it during one of my quick trips to Wally World picking up a few incidentals i.e. toothpaste stuff like that.  I rounded the corner and saw this caftan.


I knew immediately I wanted it. At a price of $9.99 I couldn’t afford to leave it there. It was a 100% polyester satin. Soft and smooth on the face. Not quite so smooth on the interior. But I didn’t care. I was so happy to be able to get off work; go to the hotel; take a shower and slip this on.  It worked well during my stay and was in good condition so I took it home instead of throwing it away.

Over the years, I’ve found this Caftan to be superior for travel. It packs down into a little space. Serves as a bathrobe, extra layer in the hotel and a decent cover up between spa and room.  (What fat, elderly lady wants to wander through the lobby in a near naked condition?)  I’ve had it for what, about 10 years? But it hasn’t looked really good the last 3-4.  It was a cheap fabric and snaged easily. But it is the most useful and comfortable caftan I’ve ever owned. Partly that’s the travel friendly status, but also the proportions are just right for me. It’s not so long that I trip walking up or down stairs; but covers me completely.  Not so wide that I find it in the chips and dip, but again if I’m cold I can pull my arms inside and be completely warmed. The neckline is not too low but both wide and deep enough to easily slip on and off. I examined the construction carefully and made my own.

My fabric is again a polyester satin but it has been permanently crinkled.  The crinkles are almost a half-inch deep. I considered several fabrics and decided upon poly again because of the fade factor. Hot tubs are always chlorine baths. I lose more swimsuits to fading and rot than actual wear.  Since the first poly caftan survived so well, I decided to repeat the fabric.  I had 3 yards to start with and about 4″ left over.  Two pieces  41″ wide and 50″ long are cut. The shoulder is sloped 1.5″ from the neck.    Armscyes 9″ deep neckline about 7″.  Necklines can be changed to suit yourself.  The original was a self fabric strip along the V-neck with a big back neckline facing.  I’ve used a cotton/poly knit band 2-3/4 wide which finishes at 1″ (I used 3/8″ SA).  The two pieces are serged along the long shoulder seam then the neckline is finished.  The long outer edge is finished next.  I used a 3-thread rolled hem with plain old serger thread.

Fold the garment wrong sides together at the shoulder and pin carefully so that the hems are even. Then measure 9″ down from the shoulder and 4″ in from the rolled hem. Start at the armscye  and straight-stitch  to about 4″ before the hem which would be over your feet.  This forms the Flange shown above, the armscye and the hem vents.  The original was back stitched at the beginning and end of that seam. Me, I prefer to play with my decorative stitches and used the triangle from Menu 9:

I mirrored the triangle at the bottom so that they seemed to point at each other kind of like this


Well I like it.

I created a paper pattern because I know I’ll want to make others in the future. Total time is about 3 hours and I have a pattern for future use!

I love this garment so much, I have to add one more jpg


Woven Cami

I used to have a wardrobe of camisoles. Yes practically a separate wardrobe.  Early in my career, I found that a camisole assured me modesty even in front of large, light-filled windows. X-ray like windows. When I moved to the Mid-West I discovered camis were also a needed wardrobe layer during cold spells (spells which last from Nov through Apr ).   So I developed a wardrobe of camis. Sleeveless, tank-top styles for summer. Short and long sleeves for spring fall and winter. Oh I varied the fabric too. Summer styles were most likely to be cotton lawn, handkerchief linen or a very light weight percale. Winter brought out nylon or polyester jerseys and interlocks with the occasional deep waffle weave for deep winter cold.  Then I retired. And I didn’t need as many clothes or as varied a wardrobe. As things wore out, they weren’t necessarily replaced immediately or even in-kind. The same applied to my camisoles which also suffered from the “I can make that” syndrome. Camis are easily sewn. Require little fabric or time. While I could have bought, I didn’t.  Until I was down to one rather ugly long sleeve cami that I wore only when the weather was so cold I didn’t care what I layered as long as I had multiple layers.

I started rectifying this lack last winter when I bought two camisoles from Walmart.  Then I copied the Walmart pattern and made another.  Which bought the inventory up to 3 + the ugly long-sleeved undergarment, thingy.  I prefer 8 of anything. 8 tops. 8 pairs of pants. 8 pairs of panties. Why? Because it gets me through the entire week without madly dashing about trying to put together a load of laundry.

So I’ve got  3. Which is not quite enough for a while week. But the 3rd at least told me I had a viable pattern. For a cami.  I hunted through the stash and found a 1.5 yd piece of transparent, woven nylon.  I cut rapidly and stitched 2 additional camis.

OK, I cut the fabric, embroidered, added 1 drop of bling and then stitched the camis.  I used the shell stitch hem to finish necklines, armscyes and hem. I like to serge the raw edge and turn it under while stitching the ‘shell’ at the SM.  The shell is formed by using the blind hem stitch allowing the zag to fall just over the edge.  It’s one of those delightful experiences wherein you have no idea what the stitch will produce unless you experiment.

The other thing I like is, this is truly quick even with my boo-boo. While I was embroidering, one the straps slipped beneath the hoop.  Fortunately, long ago, another embroideress had the same or very similar experience. I trimmed off the mistake and cut and stitched a new strap in its place. Then I applied a ribbon on both sides, not just over my boo boo.  To the average viewer, this cami has additional embellishment.  Only you and I know the truth.

First Version: Walmart Long Shrug

Let’s get right to it:

This is not the worst garment I’ve ever made even when viewed from the side

but it’s not quite as flattering as the original.

Possibly this is due to color.  The dark blue could hide lots of issues like the drag lines and hem fluting of the back

Possibly, I stretched the back at the hem. I didn’t measure but simply applied the binding 1:1.  Still the back isn’t horrible either. The front does tend to open as I move about and the front appearance changes a bit

Again not bad. I am considering adding a closure at the center front to keep it looking like the first pic, but it’s not that bad.  I may have changed the actual dimension when I bound the neckline.  I consciously pushed gaps back together. Maybe that was in correct.

This garment is also comfortable to wear but not quite as warm as the original. Obviously this has lots of holes to let in air. Maybe it would be better as a spring/summer/fall garment than todays bitter below zero temps.

Absolutely binding the seam allowances effect the drape.  I can see and feel that the drape is different from the original. Then too, the original was cushier and gave the garment a different look and feel. My first version is just not as wonderful as the original. While I was stoked with the Walmart original, I’m merely pleased with this garment. I will wear it.  I’m likely to add the front closure. But I don’t love it as much as the original.

I WON’T be throwing the pattern away.  Despite my lower enthusiasm, this shrug is still much better than most I’ve tried or owned.   The issues are with my seam finishes rather than the pattern.

I’m glad I have only 1 more piece of machine knit lace. Neither garment has been wildly successful. My disappointment is such that, I may donate the last piece or serge the edges and call it a afghan.  The wild edges need taming but the taming options I’ve attempted (serged, bound) have taken away from the desired appearance. I don’t see myself buying machine knit lace again. I do see myself making the pattern again and soon. The original is going to be ugly in mere weeks. I love it enough that I want another and I want the new one to be very much like the original.  In my mind, it’s just a matter of finding the right fabric.

The Long Shurg: Construction

I’m so glad I followed my hunch and waited over night before continuing. Sure enough, my left brain, the part that’s supposed to be creative, produced a practical oversight.  I planned for bound 1/2″ seam allowances but I didn’t add seam allowances to my pattern. Sewing 1/2″ SA’s would alter the dimensions of the garment. Something I didn’t want to do with my first version.

Only shoulder and side seam allowances needed adding on the front.  My measurements had included the ribbing along the front neckline.  Binding the neckline would not change the final measurements.  Same for the hem

The back needed seam allowances along the side and shoulder seams but also  I needed to raise the back neck:

I had drafted my back neckline assuming I would fill it in with a ribbing. Now that I’m planning to bind the neckline, I need to account for the change in neckline depth.  Conversely, had I planned to use the 1″ ribbing, I would need to remove the amount allowed for ribbing on the front piece.

I didn’t draft new pieces. Heavens no. I taped tissue to the areas to be changed and made my alterations on the tissue.

I started by making bias tape for binding. I know there are several ways that are supposed to be so easy.  I don’t like them. I feel like I’m fussing, fussing, fussing. Finally pulling a rabbit out of the hat.  I hate futzing around and I don’t trust rabbits in hats.   I want to get in and get it done.  I therefore pressed my Jacquard, laid it on the table and rotary cut 8  2″-strips. Then I sat down at the Dream and stitched them together

Do I love that laser light. Just align from corner to corner along the red light and stitch. Also love this little icon here (left with purple arrow)

which puts the presser foot into hover mode — just like my Viking Ruby.  Every time I stop, the needle stays down and the foot lifts slightly, just perfect for sliding in the next bias join:

I tell you, somebody has been listening to real sewists. (Also I do think Brother tried to include everything you can dream of in The Dream Machine.)

My left brain also told me I might try serging the pieces to the finished shape. Huh? Well I started by laying out my pattern and then marking with a water-soluble ink pen along the outside edges.

It’s harder to do than describe.  I used short back and forth strokes along the edge of the pattern and was relieved when I lifted the pattern and could see a line:

Then I cut well away from the lines and took it to the serger where I serged just inside the line trimming almost all of it away.  Reminded me of what they said about a good tailor’s cutter. You could tell their quality and knowledge by how much chalk they left on the floor. I tried stitch lengths at 4,3, 2 and <1.something large>. No matter my selection, the edges were not always enclosed in the serging.

Although I’m showing a corner ‘miss’, these gaps occurred all along ALL edges.

No point in tracing and cutting at the serger for this kind of result. Time for plan B. Except I had no plan B.  I cut the fronts separately; aligned a strip of binding up with the pinned together shoulders and stitched a 1/2″ seam.

I pressed lightly, wrapped the binding up and over before stitching the folded-under edge.

Not the worst looking inside seam

But, definitely not lovely from the public side

I begin to feel uneasy.  Binding stabilized the seam, hid the rough edges and probably will reinforce the seam so that it stands up to use, BUT it stabilized the seam making it less flexible; giving it a life of its own.  I’m quite certain that part of the beauty of the original garment is the total lack of stiffness. The fabric is free to drape, cling, enfold. Would these bound seams be able to emulate the original?

I’m in for a penny and in for a pound so I proceeded; first binding the armscyes then sewing the side seams. I bound the hem before the front and neckline.  I did want the front binding to be interesting. I’m always working at giving myself the illusion of height and now slimness. Bringing attention to the center front and away from the side seams is a good plan. Encouraging the eye to skim upward along the center front is another good choice. So I pinked one side of the binding and when I made the final stitching I left the pinked edge visible.

I was hoping the pinked edge would curl and initially pressed the pinked edge along the hem downward away from the lace. That looked groady instead of feathery so I gave it spritz of starch and pressed the edge back up before adding the front and neck binding.  I certainly could have made both front and hem binding in one piece. I prefer to have the very strong upward line. Having a line cross the front at the hem shortens the vertical. Mitering would have worked nicely. I tried. My miter looked like crap which is why I decided to finish the hem first and then do the front/neckline.

??How long is this post??  I think we should come back tomorrow and talk about how my first version of the Long Shrug fits and what I truly think of it.

Walmart Collection: The Long Shrug

The second Walmart purchase  I want to copy is this shrug:

I spotted it across about 60 feet of clothing displays as I was headed towards the freezer section, my last stop before departing Walmart and heading home.  I turned my basket immediately and upon reaching, selected the purple-navy.   I immediately liked the way it felt on me.  A nearby mirror confirmed that it looked pretty good. At least from the front and side.  I promptly put it back on the rack. I mean this is Walmart.  Its $20 price tag assures me that the cushy, acrylic, knit fabric will pill and snag rapidly.  Unbeknownst to me,   DH had been tracking me down and saw the entire ‘show’.  He was incredulous that I was putting it back.  In his words ” It looks so good on you and you obviously like it.”  DH doesn’t get fantasy sizing at all and is completely incomprehensible at how cheap for women can be worse than cheap for men. However as we stood there talking, I realized that I’d paid as much for patterns and besides this was done. It was not a cut of fabric that could be waiting on my shelves for  days, weeks, errrrrr   years. Nor was it an untested pattern needing alteration to look this good. It was done. Ready to wear right this minute. So I bought it.

In my few weeks of ownership, the long shrug has been worn a half-dozen times. Enough for me to be fascinated with its fit and comfort.  It is the perfect layer when I first venture into the basement sewing room.  It is adequately warm;  roomy and non-movement restrictive like a jacket or sweater would be. Also, the sleeve length is perfect. A jacket or sweater would make me too warm very quickly and then I would be cold after removing. This elbow length shrug remains comfortably warm for a long time.  But I’ve also been proved true in my estimation of its lifespan.  Already I see white pills and 3 or 4 snags.  I suspect it will be ugly before the end of South Dakota’s winter (April).

I call this a ‘shrug’ because of its simplistic construction which is very similar to most shrugs and almost identical to CLD’s short OTM (dimension and shape are vastly different from the OTM).    ‘Long’ because most shrugs just cover the shoulders and arms; maybe a little of the back and not much of a body’s front.

This long shrug covers a lot; especially with that 4″ fringe which reaches nearly to the knee of my 5’3″ frame.  Its slight overlap covers lots of the front too.

I knew I wanted a copy and possibly would want to keep replicating this garment for my wardrobe. I began by measuring and sketching the back.

Umm let me describe by starting with the first draft of the back:

The back is essentially a 29″ tall by 17″ wide rectangle. The sides, hem and center back are all straight lines.  The center back is to be placed on the fold so that after cutting fabric the shrug will be 34″ wide.

The neck/shoulder point is 4″ away from the CB and, at this time, the neck pattern is 2″ deep and curved to meet the shoulder. The shoulder slope is drawn from the highest point ( at the neck/shoulder point which is the full height of the basic rectangle) to a point on the side seam which is 6″ down or 23″ above the hem.  That’s a really big angle, completely unlike anything you will ever see on any simple shrug.  A side seam will be sewn between the hem and a point 10.5″ above the hem.  The armscye is formed by leaving the side seam open between that 10.5″ point and the shoulder.

The front is more complicated]

I did a sketch as well but I think it’s easier to explain then see through all my lines and points.  This time I started with a rectangle 29″ high and 19″ wide. That is 2″ wider than the back. Unlike the OTM and most shrugs, the Long Shrug can overlap slightly in front. The hem and side seam are again straight.  The underarm point is the same (10.5″ above the hem).  I copied the shoulder slope from the back pattern piece . Just lined up the side seams, traced that slope AND marked the neck/shoulder point of the back onto the front. Front and back neck/shoulder points must meet when sewing the garment together.  The front slope is a bit tricky.Measuring from the front, neck/shoulder point down 13″ and then over 13.5″  from the side seam,  mark a point.  I used my french curve to eyeball and then draw a good neckline from neck to the 13″ point.  From that point to the hem, I angled a straight line.

Believe it or not, that’s what my measuring told me.  I knew this shrug had to have different dimensions, different shapes  because it fits my body so differently from any shrug, scarf, poncho, or any garment I remember.

My next step was to choose fabric.  I thought the fabric needed to be soft and drapey. The knit fabric of the original clings to my body but not in a 50’s Sweater Girl fashion. It’s like a cacoon that drapes closely around the body. I scanned my shelves until my eyes fell upon a machine knit lace which has a crochet appearance.

It was advertised as ‘crochet’. I wish they wouldn’t do that. I prefer accuracy in the description and besides this fabric is the result of some complicated hold, tuck and transferring of stitches.  It deserves to be recognized in its own right and not mislabeled.  I thought it was beautiful on the web. I  loved the clay color.  I loved it even more when it arrived. How to work with machine-knit lace has been an issue. My last attempt here was fraught with tests and frustration. The final ‘success’ has since been tainted as after only a few wearings the lace has managed to escape its binding and I now have little loose wiggly things all over. However I  thought this pattern with its simple shape was meant for a beautiful but possibly fussy fabric.

I decided to use the lace knowing I had to make some procedural changes.  I didn’t trust the 1/4″ serged seams used with yellow lace (link above) So I would need large seam allowances and they would probably be raggedy.  To neaten the edges and perhaps reinforce them, a binding would be necessary.  Bind with what? Self fabric. I tested that idea with the yellow lace and didn’t like it. Commercial bias? Possible but I think beneath the beauty this lace deserved. I pulled out various fabrics to consider:

I decided I wanted a close match tone-wise.  Nixed the center print because I didn’t want to limit use to blue fabrics. Which is what I would do.

I really like the black and clay knit except again I knew I would limit the final garment to wear with black. Besides,that print is kind of casual whereas the lace has a romantic, delicate disposition in my mind. Which left me with

the Jacquard brocade on the right.  I also opted to use the reverse side (shown at the top) because its tone was closer to the lace.  I wanted the lace to be the star and the binding merely a supporting player.

I chose my threads. Loaded the Dream and the serger. Then cleaned both rooms and went upstairs just a bit early. Ofttimes, I will cut fabric before going upstairs.  I like being ready to sew vs prep for sewing at the beginning of the sewing session.  But I want to think through my choices a bit more. I’ve learned that my left brain, the creative side, speaks softly and is often best heard at 3 A.M.  I wanted its input and left the fabric uncut; not even laid out with pattern pieces on top.


..of course, this is to be continued. But hasn’t this post been  too long at this point?



Woven Cami II

With the embroidery finished, I turned my attention to construction.

I folded the embroidered rectangle  in half, long ways. Replaced the pattern pieces and rotary cut my two main sections, the back and front.  I decided against bias tape. I didn’t want to make my own and feared the commercial tape would be too heavy for this fabric. I dug through the FOE box and found 2 cards, 1 yard each, in a closely matching purple.

I traced the bust dart with disappearing ink. Long time ago, Threads Magazine had a helpful hint that darts were easier to sew if all 3 lines were traced. The dart is folded on the center line and stitched on either leg.  I tried the method and was immediately hooked. No more rippling darts. No uneven legs.  It was actually faster to draw all three lines, fold and stitch than to make dots, try to line them up and fuss at the sewing machine.

Except for today.

 Today the lines disappeared before I could finish sewing the first dart:

Under the sewing machine light, the bust-dart stitching-line was invisible. What to do? Well turn on my Dream’s laser light and line it up with the pin at the point:

Continued stitching to the end. Sorry I just couldn’t help bragging about the laser light once again. When I purchased this machine I thought it would be wonderful for bias and Quilter’s joins. I thought it would be very helpful at those times but only occasionally in use. I’ve found myself using it over and over with nearly every garment. The laser light has been exactly the solution I needed in many tricky sewing situations.

I serged the shoulders together and then applied the FOE around the neckline.  I was going for taunt but not stretched and ended up with about 8″ left over. Good thing because the 1 yard on the other card was not enough for both armscyes. I didn’t have another FOE even close to this one. Couldn’t find a matching/coordinating lace or ribbon. Oh I’ve got purples, but not these purples. Yeach!  I joined the 8″ left over from the neckline. Divided the resulting strip in half and stretched each half to fit around one of the armscyes.  This could be an error. The armscyes can be ironed flat but they always resumed that slightly gathered look.  Worse, the finished under-garment is too high at the underarms

Since this is a test garment, and I already had a significant error, I decided to practice narrow roll hemming at the SM.  I stitched two lines 1/8″ apart at the edge of hem:

I thought you judged the width of the fold (and stitching lines that help the fabric fold)  by the curl of the foot which was about 1/8″. But as I was sewing:

I found it really wanted to roll 1/4″ twice for a finished total of 1/2″ instead of the planned 1/4″.

I had problems, always do with a roll hem done at the SM instead of serger. But, at least this time I completely roll hemmed my cami.  There are spots of darker purple on the face of the garment because

I Frey-Checked loose edges resulting form those problem times; and trimed them with my duck-bill scissors.


Lot of pictures for what you are already an expert at. I’m not. An expert. So I wanted to carefully document my procedure for the next time.  I’m hoping to improve each time I attempt a roll hem. That means making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.

The finished garment fits close to expected:

Eh, not wonderful but OK for a woven cami. I’m not really concerned except for the armscye depth.  I think I might want to add to the over all length longer or maybe tuck the cami into my pants because it shows under my upper layer:

Nasty ridge when I was hoping the Cami would smooth over my jean’s waistband making for a smoothly fitting tunic.

I don’t count this first cami a failure. I learned that 2 yards of FOE is not enough for a cami. (must up the ‘buy amount’ to 3 yards.) My version of the Walmart Cami has slightly less fullness through the waist and hip BUT it is enough.  I love that the cami fits smoothly over shoulder, upper bodice, and bust. No excess there to rumple under garments.

Despite it’s short comings, I’m  going to wear this cami. The tunic has some issues which I think are fabric related (my sweater knits looked fine after they were either lined or worn over a cami.)   I think my HSN Tunic is so pretty.  I’m disappointed that the cami did not ‘fix’ drag lines like it did for the sweater knits.  Oh well, I can always wear a vest.



Sorry this second post got a little long.  I didn’t want to make you come back for a third post and just as importantly, I wanted my experience detailed in as few posts as possible.  When I go back and review garments for what I did and what I might want to change, I lose my own interest when it’s buried in several posts. Two I can handle. Three put me to sleep.

The Walmart Collection: Woven Cami

I gave some information on this garment in my “I Purchased Two” post a few days ago.  I am withholding dimensions although they won’t be hard to figure out.   I started with my basic woven block. You could start with your basic block or a sleeveless/tank top.   I used the front and back of my basic block.

I used my curve and ruler to copy the neckline and armscye following Peggy Sager’s instructions The French Curve.  Peggy is a master of the curve and she is good at explaining how to use it.  I’ll not post my own instructions as long as that video is up for viewing. I just can’t do as good of a job as she did.  Once at Silhouette’s YouTube channel, feel free to view her other videos.  She often pulls out the curve and gives a practical demonstration in copying curves of collars, armscyes, necklines. You name it. Wherever there is a curve in the garment, Peggy has it covered.

I used the rest of the lining from my Robe. That fabric had been in the stash far too long. Now the bulk of it has been incorporated into a good project, I feel free to use the remaining yard, yard and a quarter in a test garment, this first version of the woven cami.  I laid out my pattern pieces (the ones altered to be my cami) and traced the front neckline but rough cut a big rectangle around the front.  I proceeded to immediately embroider the 3 small designs on front:

This design was composed from a single, tiny freebie. It’s the kind of thing others complain is too small to be any good.  Which leaves me scratching my head.  First off, you were really expecting a large design that took hours and hours, test after test to perfect? You were expecting all that work for free?  From someone who doesn’t know you exist or really care about you? . I don’t find small designs worthless at all.

This design was 1.75X 1.50″ and  1900 stitches.  I prefer light embroidery and experienced some trepidation about using that many stitches, in that small of an area, on a light weight i.e. lining weight fabric. Would it work?  I did a test and was satisfied. Then I played with combinations.  I felt like a single was too small for the final effect I desired, this time. That’s not always true.  Absolutely can vision the single on the original cami’s pocket. But I wanted something to accent the neckline. Three, in the triangle shape seemed perfect.  I chose tone on tone embroidery with the embroidery darker than the cami fabric. That’s personal choice; personal taste. The final result is exactly what I wanted: a delicate embroidery on my undergarment; invisible beneath the upper layers. Sort of a secret, feminine touch just for me.

I didn’t mean to talk write so much. Now that I’ve done it and can’t edit out without losing what I wanted to document, well it’s time to split the post.  Please come back tomorrow for Part II.