Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Perfect White Blouse — in Pink

I’ve begun working on my summer 6PAC.  I’ve chosen pink and brown as my colors and selected this pattern for the first top.
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Actually I chose the fabric first then the pattern. The fabric is a light pink polyester/cotton twill purchased from Fabricmart last year.  Advertised with 1% lycra, I thought it would make excellent summer shorts or trousers.  Unfortunately it is blouse weight, so a blouse it will become.

I traced size 38 neck and shoulders, 40 across the armscye (which gives me breadth for my back) and size 48 along the side. After tracing, I made my usual 1″ back waist length adjustment.  It was difficult for me to find the critical top of shoulder and waistline ticks. In fact, I compared front to back in order to place the waistline mark on the front before making the BWL.

I compared the finished pattern to the Vintage Blouse tissue and I’m feeling a little uneasy.  I expected this blouse to be narrower because the pattern specifies a woven fabric with stretch. The tissue is however obviously larger than my roomy Vintage Blouse.  I also read of one person who had issues with the fit of the perfect blouse pattern. I’m feeling a little uneasy after these 2 facts, but I continued to add seam allowances and cut my fabric.  I’m happy to see that this pattern has a back shoulder dart, a bust dart and shaped side seams.

I traced all the pieces for future use.  I’m leaving off the collar and making short sleeves. I plan to wear this blouse in lieu of a short sleeve T-shirt. There are times when air-conditioning chills me to the bone and a secondary layer is really necessary, so I could be wearing this under another blouse and want to it be closer fitting than usual. I’m using the sleeve from the pattern and  cutting it shorter.


Style2,3 2/2012

When I first saw this style I thought “maternity wear”. My eyes lingered not a second more.  I do like that Otto provides a variety of maternity wear patterns. I can remember the lack of attractive clothing when I was preggars. So glad that has changed. Also with some changes to the ease, maternity wear can be flattering to the plus sized, especially if you have a tummy like my own.  But I wasn’t really interested in this style until I saw the pattern schematic.  My scanner is disconnected right now so all I can show you is the garment schematic

The pattern is 3 pieces, front back and sleeve or cap sleeve. If, someplace else, you can see the pattern schematic note that the empire line is not complete. The front and back separate 2-3 inches from the side seam and appear to drop down. what has happened is that the skirt is joined to the bodice at the side seam for about 2″ into the interior of the garment. I thought this draft quite fascinating but knew I had pattern alterations to make starting with  eliminating some of that ease.  The skirt back and front centers are intended to be placed on the fold.  I removed 2″ from each piece. I drew a line on my pattern showing where I wanted the centers to be and then I placed those lines on the fold.  Once I had removed the ease, the front didn’t quite fit on the fabric.  That was because the bodice portion contains cut-on button plackets. Easy fix, I left a 1/4″ SA on the bodice and cut and stitched separate button plackets. 

I  knew  I wanted a blouse rather than a dress.  I lazily traced section 1 and 2 and then ignored/didn’t add section 1A or 2A which would have created a longer skirt and there by dress version.

I was leery of the sleeve/cap sleeve configuration. The two garments, Style 2 and 3 are essentially the same. They use the same pattern pieces except for the sleeve. The cap sleeve is more like a sleeveless garment with a tab of fabric sticking out at the shoulder.   I know from personal experience i.e. failure, that simply leaving out the sleeve doesn’t make for a comfortable transition from sleeved to sleeveless garment. In that case the armscye is usually too low and the shoulder too wide. The reverse, adding a sleeve into a sleeveless draft, doesn’t work well either. In the reverse, the armscye become too high and tight and the sleeve restricts arm movement.  I wondered how Otto had solved the issue of putting a sleeve into a sleeveless garment. Otto cleverly gave you the choice of sleeveless, cap sleeve or puff sleeve. A puff sleeve contains the extra ease needed and usually drafted into a sleeved draft. I didn’t want a puff sleeve. I’m past the age of cutesy puff sleeves. I wanted a long or 3/4 sleeve because that’s the type weather we are enjoying in SD. My solution was to copy both the sleeve and the armscye from the Vintage Blouse .

This pattern only goes up to a size 46. I now need a size 48 to comfortably fit across my rear. I traced the 38 shoulder, 40 armscye and 46 side seam. Then I compared with the vintage blouse. Glad I did because I would have added another 1/4″ to the side seams. Comparing with the Vintage Blouse convinced me to add 5/8″. I can always take the side seams in if there is too much ease. Letting them out could be impossible.

My fabric is a light weight rayon purchased from FabricMart. This doesn’t help me meet my goal of sewing older fabrics. But I think I’ve more than covered that goal in all the pants muslins I’ve been making. I chose it primarily because it was a blouse fabric in a color I love and  haven’t used very much.  Sigh, in addition to trying to use up older fabrics, I’ve also been trying to bring the navy blues and browns under control.  This time I treated myself to new and lovely.

The blouse was fairly easy to sew. I stitched the center back seam and then eased the skirt to the back bodice. Next I applied the button plackets, buttonholes and buttons to the front.  I have to say this was awkward. There was so much fabric hanging off the table and ironing board, I was concerned about distorting the edges. I chose to finish the neckline with a bias band that is stitched, pressed up and over the SA and then top-stitched into place. The 1-1/4″ hems on both skirt and sleeves are interfaced, pressed up and then top-stitched.  I used contrasting white thread and  vintage buttons.  My buttons are some type of sea-shell with a metal shank.  They are so plain I have to tell you how special they are. You can’t buy these new anywhere. But now I’m wondering if the plain white button and white topstitching  looks more Becky-Homecky then vintage?

Now as far as fit, I think the back wrinkles should be called “velcro butt”.  Really there is more than enough ease. In fact I’m thinking that were I to use this pattern again, I would want to reduce the ease at least another 1″ on both front and back. I might have been able to follow my initial impression and add only /14″ to the seam allowances instead of the 5/8″ I actually did add.  I do see the wrinkles under the armscye. It might indicate that the armscye is not correct for this blouse. But also I note that my shoulders are rounding more–the result of both age and years in front of a computer. There is the possibilities that the garment is too wide contributing to the issue; and that a fabric with more body would have eliminated the wrinkles. I showed the back before the side, because I think you look at the side and say, “Oh if you’d put your arms down those wrinkles would go away.”

Very possible, except we saw that in the back view (with arms down) as well.

I have to tell you, I’m not particularly concerned about any of the wrinkles. For starters, I’m probably going to wear this blouse like this….

…making all the issues invisible. Also, I don’t plan to make this particular pattern again.  Struggling with the fabric weight while finishing the button plackets, holes and neckline was annoying.  While I like the end result, I think that Louise Cutting’s Ebb blouse is easier to construct because the skirt sections are separated from the bodice. I like this blouse. I think it is flattering in shape and color.  I will wear it with pride. Sewing was an interesting experience. But I’m not making anything else from this draft.

Style 4 Ottobre 5/2012

In the last 4 weeks, I’ve spent entirely too much time making pants muslins. I needed a palate cleanser. Something ease to do but rewarding.  I turned to my Ottobre magazines. Why?  Otto uses the same block, everytime. So the fitting changes I need for one garment will be the fitting changes I need for the next. Miraculously, most of the changes I need can be made during tracing. I trace a size 38 neckline and shoulder, blend the shoulder across 40 armscye and swing out to the 48 side.  At first I traced the bust waist and hip 3 different sizes. As I kept making Otto tops I realized that my body appreciated the extra ease across the back and tummy and I started tracing the same torso size from bust through hips.   I still must do the back waist length adjustment for Otto that I do on all patterns. That’s because all patterns are designed for the 5’6″ beauty and I’m 3″ shorter. Someday I plan to figure out how to make that change during tracing instead of after the fact. I traced  Style 4 Otto 5/2012 as usual:

I realized while tracing that this was going to be much longer than expected. I like Otto and have few complaints. Sometimes I do wish there were more photos of the finished garments. Style 4 was shown buckled and I’m not sure if it was cut shorter or the buckle made it shorter.  As drafted this pattern would be knee length.  I was wearing a vest at the time. I took the vest off, aligned shoulders and drew a line on the pattern 1″ below the vest hem. I folded the pattern up at that line.

I already knew the fabric I wanted to use. I’ve had it in my stash for several years. My fabric is either acrylic or acetate that’s been spun, and knitted into a lace.  The selvedges form a lovely scallop.  I placed the hems of all 4 pieces along the scallop edge.

I did lazy french seams. Wrong side together I serged the seams. Then carefully pressed seams together, apart and finally right sides together. I set the stitch length at 3.5 and made my final pass.  The back was cut on the fold, so no seam there to worry about. I felt the shoulder seams, which would be visible at the collar when worn, needed to be french seams both for strength and durability. But I have no idea why I followed though with french seams on the sides. A single serged seam would have been more than sufficient.

It was then I realized I needed to finish the long front seam and collar edge. I have no doubt if left on its own, this fabric would ravel unattractively. I checked the instructions which suggested a turn and stitch finish. I was appalled. I took a longish scrap and tested the turn and stitch finish. Not nearly as bad as I envisioned. From the right side, the finish is invisible:

From the wrong side, the turn and stitch is visible but the lace edge melds really well

.I’m showing my finished back view first because I think it’s excellent.

I think the back fits and is well proportioned. I like the feel of the front and the look, just not on me.  I think for me the garment should be longer to balance out all the fluff on top and perhaps the sleeves could be 1/2″ shorter:



Even though I see room for improvement, I plan to wear this. It was always intended to be a lacy cardigan worn chiefly around the house.  I’m glad to have it finished and yes it was excellent for rejuvenating my mojo.  From tracing to pictures about 3 hours elapsed. No ripping, just a little testing along the way. Great pattern and yes I’d recommend it to anyone else.

2013-02-06 The Fit

My first thought on seeing the pictures was Walmartians (Go ahead look.)

I thought these might be a bit big. I added seam allowances of 3/8″ but made 1/4″ serged seams at the sides and back crotch. That means I added 3/4″ of ease.  The waistband particularly concerned me. It is a straight waistband on a pant which sits just below the natural waistline. A waistband which sits below the waist needs a little curve. So I was not surprised then when the back gapped badly and the torso looked big.  Before taking the first pics, I added an extra back dart (1 each side) and a line of straight stitching on the side seams  at the 3/8″ mark.  To my horror, I belonged on Walmartians:

My next change was to shorten the torso length 1/2 by sliding the waistband down an equal amount.  At the same time, I had a wayward thought.  These really should be close-fitting. Possibly closer than I wanted.  I had traced and cut one size larger than recommended. I decided to stitch the side seams at the recommended  size.

Whoa! Other than the front crotch, there is no hint of excess ease. But come to think of it, Otto never showed this pant without a tunic length or mini-dress top. On me this would translate to:

Well that’s not worst dressed person in the bank line and would hardly get a nod by the Walmartian Forensics Team. Still this is a type of garment I would wear ONLY in silky fabrics beneath my usual slacks. I call that type of garment “Long Johns”. Very handy and desirable in the winter. Not so much during the summer.

I won’t be fitting Ottober 2/2013 #6 any further. The waistband and hem will be nailed into place and they will be deposited directly into the Good Will box.  I do take a few notes from the experience.

  • Otto’s recommended pant size works better for me. No need  to trace a larger size.
  • The 3.25″ length adjustment was about right but needs to be offset by 1/2″ (less or 2.75″) because 
  • I need to shorten the crotch 1/2″ in the upper half of the torso.   The length adjustment I made during fitting had an amazing effect on smoothing the torso and leg of wrinkles. 
  • The knock knee adjustment is clearly needed. I’m just not sure how much. With the next Otto pant I fit, I’ll try 1/2″. 

That’s it for this pattern. Oh I’ll keep it for making Long Johns and PJ’s.  The pattern is well drafted and sews together without a hitch. The pockets are neat and I will carry that idea further. Maybe even replace zippers with welts. But for this pattern if I ditch the pockets and zipper, change to an elastic waistband; the pattern is fine as long as it isn’t intended for public wearing.

2013-02-06 Construction

Having just spent 3 weeks making muslin after muslin after muslin, I’m in no mood to do a lot of fitting. I want sewing satisfaction.

I marked the pockets. I used the window system to add the zipper. i.e. I placed a interfaced, rectangle of fabric on the public side. Stitched the pocket opening. Slashed the rectangle sort of like a big bound buttonhole, and turned the rectangle to the inside.  I pressed carefully. I used 9″ black zippers — I’m doing a lot of work and want people notice. I put SAS on each side of the zipper teeth than carefully lined up the pants front with the rectangle over the zipper. Once in place, I steamed those suckers together. I stitched from the front side, around the rectangle opening. Then I stitched the edge of the zipper to the rectangle.  I marked a larger rectangle about 1/2″ around the opening and stitched that. Finally, I trimmed the excess of that first interfaced rectangle. Just used the ol’ pinking blade in rotary cutter to zip the excess away.

I interfaced the fly. This is the first time I’ve done that. I’ve been having issues with dimples below the fly. Not always and not always exactly the same. I’m sure fabric is a factor. Probably the factor since I use the same 3 patterns over and over.  This is my first attempt to address that issue. I don’t think it will work. I followed the Sandra Betzina directions. The interfacing ends just about the place the dimple occurs.  But it maybe that the fabric is collapsing where it is because of the weight above. If the interfacing supports the weight and keeps the fabric from collapsing, then that was the issue (not enough  fly support.) If not, I keep looking for another solution. Other than the interfacing, I did my usual 5-minute zipper insertion.

I interfaced the hem and the waistband. I’m working with 6 belt loops. This was a suggestion from SG which I find works pretty well.  I think I want to change the placement of the front loops just slightly.  At 1.5″ from center front, they were in the way when it came time to unzip and zip. But I need them close together to support the front of my pants.

I serged the  side, inseams and crotch together. My SA is 3/8″. My serger stitch is 1/4″. I’m expecting to straight stitch a couple of seams to size the pant down to fit me.  The hems are pinned and the waistband with belt loops, is basted to the top of the pant.

As I said at the beginning, I”m not in the mood for lots of fitting. Either simple adjustments and hemming or the waistband and hems get nailed into place and the thing donated.


2013-02-06 Fabric

Finally my “muslin” fabrics have arrived from  I specifically ordered 5 cheap pieces of fabric which could serve as pants muslin. When my order arrived I found:

  1.  was discontinued.
  2.  was called pewter which to me is a medium grey. On-line it looked medium grey. What I received is a dark dusky purple. I like this dark dusky purple. It has a nice hand for pants to be worn in the winter. It is terrible for a muslin. The dark color will not photograph well. So it goes not in the muslin box but in the stash.
  3.  was advertised as 100% polyester gabardine for suits. (My search was for bottom weight fabrics). From the photo I thought it was a hold out from the 90’s i.e. a hard polyester pant fabric. Makes great a great muslin but I hate to wear this scratch fabric against bare skin.  Instead of scratch polyester it is a lovely golden tan with a soft silky feel and a slinky drape. Much more suited to blouses or lingerie. The color would be fine for muslin, but I think the drape would not be indicative of normal pants. It went into the lingerie drawer which was stuffed to capacity before this order.
  4. an “acetate” suiting. Again a good color for muslin, but not for the typical pant. This would be fine for testing a very wide legged trouser. The type of pant I rarely wear. But I did put the fabric into the muslin box.
  5. and the last, is a wonderful pant fabric.  It is a cotton/Lycra blend having about 20% stretch (almost stretched from 4 to 5″). Terrific hand for pants.  Will make fabulous summer pants. It went into the stash.

Out of 5 fabrics ordered for muslin, only 1 went into the muslin box. Sheesh!  Do I have a problem?

I’m using #5 for the carrot pants. Its is white with black dots described as a mini check. If the pants fit, great. If they don’t, I haven’t wasted a lot of money.


2013-02-6 Carrot Pants Pattern

I was tickled when the Spring 2013 issue arrived. Delighted when I saw it contained 3 pants patterns. Unfortunately, only 2 are drafted in sizes I can wear.  I’m rather surprised to see a carrot pant drafted in women’s sizes. Additionally it has this really neat pocket detail.

After all the effort made with TJ906 and 902, I’ve returned to my old habits when choosing a size.  I checked my current measurements against the chart and chose 1 size larger. I believe the Europeans like a closer fit than I do or else everything they wear contains some Lycra content.  So one size larger and I drew the back inseam one size larger than that or 2 sizes larger than recommended.

Tracing was a little more difficult to do than with the previous garments I traced from Otto . I do believe there are more lines in this issue. Because of the size of the master pattern sheets, pants legs are each divided into 2 pieces.  There is also a piece for the waistband, the inner pocket and fly shield. I don’t bother with fly shields. So 5 pieces.

I compared the final version of TJ902 with these Carrot Pants. The pattern specifies a stretch fabric. I’m actually expecting the pattern to be a bit small. Instead I find that only the waist is lacking and only by about 1/8″ on the front. I also find that the waistband is longer than expected and perfectly straight. In the description, the pant should sit just below the waist.  I shorten the leg 3.25″. I didn’t measure or  perform exacting calculations. I marked the front seat balance line. The knee was already marked. I measured up from the back knee line the same distance as the front seat balance line and that’s where I marked the back balance line. I compared the tissue with TJ902  by matching knee balance lines. Then I removed the excess, 3.25″, between seat and knee.  I trued the side seams -boy do I have a curvy line. Then  added 3/8″ seam allowances and I add 1/4″ to hems. I prefer the 1.25″ hem. A 1″ is just a bit skimpy while 2″ seems a waste of fabric.

Pattern is ready!