Monthly Archives: January 2013

PJ’s from Otto’s Basic T-Shirt

I really want pajamas that don’t look like worn out long johns, so I attempted PJ’s again using Otto #1 issue 2/2006 and KS 3661. My previous PJ’s weren’t satisfactory because of a pattern/fabric mismatch. I.E. I chose  patterns for knits with more stretch than my fabric possessed. This time I made sure to stretch these fabrics and note that each had 50% stretch.

The light blue in the shirt is a cotton double-knit. The darker blue in the pants is a cotton/poly blend.  I chose two different colors because I was trying to honor my promise to use older fabric.  Also, I’ve been cutting down the yardage lengths for quite some time.  It’s been at least 10 years since I bought 4 yard lengths. In that time, I have sewn many of the fabrics which would have been suitable for PJ’s.  Matching top and bottom was out of the questions, but coordinating? Yes.

I created the neckline embroidery from 3 different digitized designs in my embroidery design stash. Within Embird Manager,  I arranged the design on the Ruby Royal Hoop.  I intended to save each separately for stitch out on the MC9500. Then I realized I needed to do ironing so why not let the Ruby stitch while I ironed? After all I couldn’t use her while I was ironing.  Even with Ruby doing the stitch out there were roughly 15,000 stitches. Ruby completed in about 30 minutes. Yes she is so much faster than the MC9500.  The 9500 would have needed 5 hoopings and at least an hour to create the same effect.

I once again used facings for the neckline. This time I used facings front and back; applied before stitching the shoulders.  I really don’t like this procedure.  The last time I applied a binding to the back neckline and had problems creating a smooth shoulder join.  I had the same issue with two facings.  I do believe this will be my last attempt. I spent a lot of time with the seam ripper and doing the basting-check-repeat dance.   It’s much easier to sew together at the shoulder and then stitch the neckline.

I finished the edges of the front facing before applying it.

I’m guilty of keeping a basic color thread in the cover stitch looper.

The back facing I planned to secure in place at the coverstitch.  Finishing was limited to a few strips of SAS to hold the edges in place.  I did draw a line where the facing ended on the public side of the back.  Actually what I did was to feel along the edge and make a chalk mark.  I then lined up the right needle so it fell just to the right side of the mark.


Not shown well, but I caught the facings in the armcye when I inserted the sleeves.

All the hems were finished at the cover stitch.  I’m really loving my 900cpx and wishing I had purchased it much sooner.  The cover stitch hem is quick, looks good and stretches with the knit fabric.  Much better than any other hemming method. Because the 900cpx is already sitting out, I use cover stitching more often.  I do change the needle threads to match the garment color, but I leave a basic color in the looper.  Not that it’s hard to change thread in the looper, I’m just that lazy.


KS3661 (show inside out) is a super legging pattern –just be sure the knit has enough stretch.  It could be completely finished at the serger.  I prefer to add a buttonhole, secure the waistband and then insert the waistband elastic.  All elastics are not created the same. Rather than pre-test, I create the waistband, insert the elastic through the buttonhole, adjust the elastic to fit my girth and then secure elastic ends and close the buttonhole.  I’ve had the experience of serging elastic to the waistband and then having to rip out the stitching because the elastic was too loose or too tight. No thank you.  I’d rather do it my way, because my way is done once and done forever.

I didn’t correctly line up the cover stitching on the waistband. I started to remove the first pass but decided I wanted to see how it would look if I over lapped two passes.  Well, I’m pleased.  I created a 3-row look which I love. My second thoughts about not buying a 3-needle cover stitch have been abated. Decoratively, I can achieve the same effect with little effort.  My only other thought is that a 3-needle cover stitch could be used to create narrower pin-tucks.  Still not a deal-breaker for me, because a 3-needle cover stitch gives me only 2 width choices.  I much prefer the many choices provided by my stash of twin-needles designed for my sewing machine.

They went directly into the wash to remove all the marks and stabilizer. They did fit and feel nicely prior to that. So here’s hoping these are not too warm to wear. I never know really how a garment is going to wear…. until I wear it.


5 Minute PJ’s

I made a promise to myself last year, in conjunction with SG’s Stash Busting Thread.  Up front, I have to say that I’m not interested in eliminating my collection of fabrics. I live miles from a fabric store. Even there the limited selection doesn’t compare to the JC Penny’s of my childhood .  (At the top of the escalators, nearly the entire mezzanine was filled with fabric.)  I often return home empty-handed.  A few years back, I started buying on-line.  Both possibilities involve transportation costs ($60 to the fabric store;  $8+ or more on-line) so when I buy I like to make the transportation costs worthwhile.  Having a personal selection of fabrics makes sense for me. But I admit that sometimes my  home selection gets a little large and a little old. The topic at SG made me realize that I also sew knits more often than my beautiful woven fabrics.  So I made a promise to myself last year that for every knit, I would sew one woven fabric and one old fabric.

The choice for this pair of PJ’s was an old medium-weight double-knit purchased from Walmart at least a decade ago.  I didn’t do the burn test. I think it may be a rayon blend.  One side is shiny, the other a wonderfully soft matt.  It’s an odd color.  Not quite tan, not quite pink but definitely pastel. In the early days I would purchase 5 yards of any dollar fabric I liked the looks of.  I vaguely remember making this into a T-shirt and being dissatisfied with the color against my skin.  It seems to wash me out whereas most pinks and peaches bring a healthy flush to my skin.  I was sure that’s why the fabric hadn’t been previously consumed.

Chosen now because I really need winter PJ’s.  I made a pair of green PJ’s late last year (can’t believe I didn’t share) of a heavy double-knit fabric (also a Walmart find).  The green pj’s fit fine but are way too hot.  I wake up every morning sweating (bedroom temperature is set at 55 deg F). They needed to be replaced.

Like most women, I’m not that particular about the clothes I wear for sleeping.  I’m guilty of wearing DH’s T-shirts and a pair of long johns way past their prime.  I did want this to look just a little bit better and chose to add an embroidery design to the front neckline and just above the sleeve hems.  I thought these designs:

were from a favorite designer.  The designs have his look but not his digitizing skill.  I didn’t realize that until I was stitching out the designs.  If these had come from my favorite there would have been no jumps. As it was I spent lots of time clipping threads. Argghhhh!  If I’d realized there were so many jumps I would have either chosen a different design or moved into Embird Studio and created joins.  I choose different colors.  My colors create more of a tone-on-tone effect.


Although I like bright colors, this softer, more feminine version is more truly in keeping with my personality.

I used KS 3661 to cut the bottoms and Otto’s Basic T  for the top.  I embroidered the design on the top and then applied a facing instead of the bindings the pattern calls for.  I made a large facing so that I could stitch down the center of the neckline design and open it up


The bottom edge was finished at the serger before applying the facing to the front of the T.

While front and back were still separate pieces, I applied a binding to the back neckline.


It a very simple strip of fabric stitched to the neckline, then flipped, pressed and top stitched.  No serging, no cover-stitch needed.  Front and back were then stitched together along the shoulder seam.

I’ve seen this finish on RTW but worried how clean the neck edge would be.  I was right to worry.  I spent a good deal of time pressing and stitching the edges together to achieve a smooth necked edge.  This would not be my first choice of finish ever again.

I then serged in the sleeves catching and holding the large front facing into the sleeve seam.

Both top and bottoms were hemmed at the cover-stitch machine.  I do think cover-stitching is a wonderful hem.  I folded the hems up, pressed them and applied  strips of Steam A Seam to hold the hems into place. The cover-stitch beautifully finishes both top and bottom of any hem.


Now about the 5 Minute title.  Truth is sewing (from cutting to hems) took about 6 hours.  I wore these for only 5 minutes.  I used patterns designed for knit fabrics because this was a knit fabric. I didn’t stop to check the inherent stretch. Big Mistake.  When I put these on I had to take them off very quickly.  They were too tight to wear and did not stretch as far as I could tell.  Thus after 5 minutes they became Goodwill donations and will forever more known as My 5 Minute PJs.

2007/5-8 Easy Collar Blouse – Muslined

I was unimpressed when first seeing this pattern.  It was,I thought, another shirt collar with stand.  I dislike that type of collar. I never wear it completely buttoned up or as a button down.  But closer inspection revealed that this was one-piece collar stand attached/included. Some people don’t like this type collar, with good reason. The seam between stand and collar adds significant support and shaping around the neck.  A one piece collar can never create exactly the same effect.   Otto calls it an easy collar.  I happen to like it specifically because  of that lack of support. Collars that sit close to my neck tend to irritate my skin causing me day long discomfort and usually a welt by the end of the day.

I intended this to be wearable. My fabric is a soft cotton. I didn’t do a burn test so I can’t be sure but I think there must be a tiny bit of poly or something to help with the wrinkles.  I don’t remember when or where I purchased this fabric, so I’m counting it as an old fabric yet I’m pretty sure it was added to the stash in the last 2 years.

Unfortunately it’s not the recommended type fabric. Otto calls for a stretch-poplin.  My stretch woven fabrics are all pant weight. I had a choice between knits of various stretch (but all more than stretch poplin) or woven fabrics. I was really curious about the collar and the sewing method Otto recommended so I decided to use this soft woven fabric.  OK I knew it would be too tight if cut at my usual size. So I took a few minutes and compared with the Vintage Blouse pattern. To my astonishment the shoulders and neck were the same dimensions but the body would need to be one size larger. So I traced size 38 shoulder/neck and 48 body. After tracing I made my 1″ BWL and added 1″ ease to the sleeve.  Then because I prefer a real hem of 1 or more inches, I added 1″ to the bottom.

And I think that was the last thing I did right.  I stitched the shoulders together; added the bands to the front and began working on the collar.  At one point I realized I was gathering, not easing but making little tucks of fabric to gather the neckline to the collar.  I had stay stitched the neckline but checked against the pattern to determine that the neckline had not stretched.  I pinned front, back and front band pattern pieces together and then tried to pin the collar to the neckline. It was 3/8″ short.  Somehow I had traced the smallest collar. I’m assuming it was my error.  I’ve not found a drafting error with any other Otto pattern but I didn’t compare the collar pattern with the master pattern. I know that Otto is not Vogue, McCalls or the others who rush patterns through to production and sales.  It is most likely that I traced the wrong size and I accept the blame.

I also accept the blame for installing the collar upside down. Yes  my undercollar on top. Not discovered until I had nailed the collar in place with tiny 1.5MM stitches. I’d already cut the collar twice, sewn the seam 3 times (ripped only twice).  It looked good. It was done, IMO. The collar instructions were clear and the method was not bad. It was easier than a separate collar and stand but this is not as easy as adding a bias binding or facing.

I serged the sleeves into the armscyes and basted the side seams  for my first tryon.  The side seams wouldn’t baste together evenly. The sleeves were fine but the side front and side back didn’t match. Back to the pattern pieces to discover that I had added 1″ hem allowance to the front but not the back. I could adapt by either using a narrow turned hem or a facing.


But then I discovered a real horror.

The bust gathers are offset instead of opposite of each other. I had used the serger to gather the front to the front band.  The gathers themselves were nicely even.  I had marked and matched the gathering dots on both blouse and band.  I had serged up to the first dot; changed to differential feed; serged to the second dot; reset the differential and serged the remainder.  The difference is that on one side I started serging at the neckline and on the other side I started serging at the hem line.

I stared at it for sometime and then hung the blouse on Mimie for further consideration.  My iron had broken and I couldn’t  do any sewing for a few days.  New Years Eve day I finally had a new iron. I caught up on the ironing and cleaned up the room and decided to start the New Year with all new projects. I decided to complete this blouse up to fitting. It is a muslin but I know that I have made the correct adjustments to use with a non-stretch fabric.  I’ve also corrected all the tracing errors. The blouse fits well from top to bottom, neck, sleeves, etc etc. Even the proportions are nice for me.


As a muslin it is successful, almost wearable.  The open collar is how I will wear the “real” version of this pattern.

For those of you who like a firmer more supportive collar I do know there are things you can do that will make the collar almost perfect (besides inserting it right side up).  The collar can be firmed up by adding a 2nd layer of interfacing in the collar band area.  A moon shaped piece is best.  Reinforcing by stitching a moon shape in the band area also helps.  Doing both helps even more.