Monthly Archives: June 2013

Finished! Otto 2/2006 Style 04 The Sleeveless Blouse

Let’s start with close-ups on the finished embroidery:

Above is the center back design digitized by Dainty Stitches on the SecrestOf website. This is called Cutwork Set 4. I’ve long been a fan of DS and purchased many of her sets.  I love the artwork she chooses, her prices are more than reasonable almost cheap and her digitizing is perfect.

My only complaint, if I’m allowed to criticize, is that the design above is 4 separate motifs that have been combined but not joined. During stitching there are 3 huge jump stitches from one motif to the other.  OK 3 doesn’t seem like much. It’s my past experience that kicks me.  Long ago, nearly 20 years, I was stitching with a Bernette Deco 500. Long jump stitches were guaranteed to get caught by the foot when if it traveled back across the jump stitch. There was horrible racket as well as a ruined stitch out and pretty much a wadder for a planned project.  My Janome 9500 has never suffered that fate because I have Embird. I examine every design using Embird. When possible  I covert those jump stitches to running stitches. Sometimes changing to a running stitch will adversely affect the appearance of the stitch out.  In that case I force a stop by changing the colors. Usually, I don’t want to change colors and will select a closely matching color.  The machine will sense a color change, stop and allow me to clip threads.  I don’t rethread. I just clip the jump stitch and then push the “Go” button.

I planned to stitch 4 (2 on each side) motifs on the front; the large central back motif and another 4 (2 on each side of the back motif) of the front designs. But I got cold feet after stitching out the central back design. I remembered how my teenage cutwork fared in the laundry.  While this is machine stitched and probably much stronger, I feared that the cutwork itself was too frail for my laundry practices.  In the end, I stitched the central back motif and two (one on each side) front motifs and then joined them with one of my HV Ruby’s  built-in stitches.

I used a french curve to draft the lines between motifs, after the shoulder seams were stitched.  I tried out several of Ruby’s stitches and finally modified E13 narrowing it to 5.0 and shortening to 6.0.  On the screen and at the default settings, it has a brick-like appearance.  Narrowed and shortened, it has the chain like appearance seen above.  I savored the irony.  When contemplating my purchase of the HV,I had agonized  about the 7mm of the Viking vs the 9mm stitch width of the Bernina. It was only after stitching out and comparing similar stitches on both machines (and a little work with the ruler) that I decided the 2mm difference wasn’t enough to justify the larger expense of the Bernina.  Now I’m realizing that I was agonizing over nothing since I most often narrow a stitch. I not only don’t miss the 2mm the Bernina would have stitched, I usually want the stitches even narrower. It’s quite possible that I would have equally enjoyed  a machine that could only produce 5mm wide stitches.

I finished the garment (pics coming up) and then started clipping stray threads. I do clip as I go along and Ruby both pulls the threads to the backside and clips 1″ tails. But at some point I want to clips those tails next to the fabric and catch any threads I missed clipping earlier. So garment all finished, guess what I clipped?

A hole in the back above and to the left of the central motif. What to do? I did think about adding a few eyelets. But to sprinkle eyelets, I’d have to fight with various layers in various places. Part of this blouse is 1 layer. But there are facings and interfacings ; oh and seams in other parts. Eyelets might look nice, but could I successfully add all the eyelets I would think were needed?

The first thing I did was to stabilize the hole. I didn’t want to use Freycheck. Freycheck is a bold move on Batiste. I chose instead to add a patch of knit interfacing to the inside.

Then I added a small arc, on both sides of the central motif which covered the hole; and followed that by clipping the interfacing close to the stitches (not shown).

I am pleased with the final fix.  To my delight, it blends well and looks intended.  The back is buckling a little around the motif, because I added WSS beneath the 2nd arcs while doing the stitching. I haven’t washed that out, but the iron with it’s steam has been close enough to cause the stabiliser to shrink and create what looks like, but isn’t, drag lines.

One last thought on the embroidery.  When I finished the motifs, it became necessary for me to rinse out the stabiliser before proceeding. In the heat and humidty of summer WSS will shrink, dehydrate, and become misshapen drawing the fabric into it’s contortions. So I washed and then noticed that my smoothly trimmed and stitched cutwork had developed pokies. As feared the cutwork was freying after one trip through the handwash cycle.  I added Freycheck, let it dry, and then trimmed pokies. I see there are still more that need trimming. In the future, I need to remember to Freycheck before soaking out the WSS.

Onto fit

I like the back. The mass of mid-back wrinkles have disappeared leaving a garment that fits pretty smoothly from shoulder to hem.  I do see some drag lines coming from the underarm area.  I’m not sure if that’s trouble or just body- in- motion.

Extending the front darts all the way to the hem a mere 1/8″ wide has gone a long ways towards controlling the Judi_Jetson appearance I complained about earlier.  I see diagonal lines but wonder are they tummey, bust or hip issues?  The hip should have more than enough ease. Honest.

I think the front confirms that I took a little too much ease out from underneath the arm. I was trying to remove the armscye bubble which I wasn’t sure but may have been caused by my not stay stitching before I handled it as much as I did.

I think all the issues I’ve pointed out are slight and are not keeping me from wearing my new blouse. I was lucky enough to have 5 matching buttons in my button stash and the buttonholes stitched out without a single hicup. My Ruby makes the best buttonholes of any machine I’ve every worked with. Just beautiful. She deserves kudos and high marks for that.

Hope you enjoyed my experience with this pattern. I plan to use it when restuffing Mimie, my dressform.  But that’s not the only time. This blouse fits closely but comfortably. I can see many variations. I’m happy to have it looking so good.  I feel like finally, I can do some of the embellishing I love but have avoided because I didn’t have patterns which fit.

Sleeveless Blouse Fitting

I don’t know that you recall, but during tracing of Otto 2006-02-04, I opted to trace both the side seam as given and the side seam of the nicely fitting Vintage Blouse because the Vintage Blouse front  was 2″ wider than this Sleeveless Blouse although the backs were virtually the same. I cut the fabric along the wider seam allowance; proceeded to embroider and now to fitting.

On the first fitting I offset the front and back along the seam line as given on the Sleeveless Blouse i.e. I sewed the blouse together on the originally drafted stitching lines.

The result is a fit that’s at least slightly too small everywhere as well as a back facing crept out-of-place and oddly folded. I look at the photo above and see so many issues, I don’t know where to start.  I started by topstitching the back facing along it’s lower edge between armscye and the finished embroidery. Then I stitched back and front together along the cut edges i.e. the side seam as given by the Vintage Blouse.

It’s like a miracle really. The bodice fits smoothly across the shoulders. the back is suffering with a little velcro butt which then pulls the front lower-half  and creates wrinkles there too. I’m not sure I’ll be able to fix the velcro butt issue.  The fabric is light weight, translucent, 100% cotton batiste. Lining the back isn’t really an option and because this is to be a cool summer blouse, definitely lining isn’t desirable. What kind of weights, my other known solution, would help without being visible or causing other problems?

The biggest issue now is the bubble of fabric forming in the armscye above the bust.  At least this  is fixable. I ripped the side seam from waist to armscye and offset the front only between those two points.  It’s like half a vertical-dart, taken only on the front half. Awkward, but produces the desired result.

I only made the alteration on  one side (the side with the lifted arm). While this greatly smooths that front bubble, I note with interest that the drape lines  under the arm as first seen on the Not Perfect Blouse  are at least faintly hinted. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what is causing these.  The shoulder is now the same as the Vintage Blouse which does not have even a hint of these drag lines. The armscye has changed. It’s higher than either the Vintage Blouse of the Not Perfect Blouse.   I’m wondering if it’s a difference in fabric. The Vintage Blouse is a crisp cotton/poly while this is a light weight 100% cotton and the Not Perfect Blouse was a fine nylon knit.  In the last two, the fabrics with more drape, the drape lines are most evident.

I didn’t stay stitch the armscyes and fear that the remaining armscye bubble may be my fault.  When I make my pattern changes, I will trim the front tissue only by the 1.75″ that I offset the front and back pieces.  I’ll also trim the front tissue below the side-waist but only by about 1/4″.  I see the side seam leaning towards the back which might say that more ease is needed across the back; especially when you consider the mass of fabric still in the middle of my back. But my pattern has developed a Judi-Jetson feel with the front jutting outward at the hem.  For this blouse, I’ve extended the blouse front darts all the way through the hem 1/8″.  I can take in more where and if needed to remove this tendency. I’m anxious not to remove the needed ease for my tummy and just in case I really do need some extra ease across my rear, I would prefer a leaning side seam to a cupping under the butt or even greater wad of fabric in the middle of my back.

I’ll have final fit pictures and close-ups of the finished embroidery in the next post.



Cutwork Sneak Peak

I again chose a design from GracefulEmbroideries. No matter how many designs in  my stash something else will always call to me.  This particular set is cutwork

. I haven’t used cutwork in anything (clothing, home dec crafts) since I was in my late teens. As I recall it was a fussy handwork which required reinforcing planned edges, painfully tiny clipping and trimming followed by excruciating care to create satin stitches by hand that were both equal length and equally spaced but packed together tightly.  The end result was pretty, but I never felt it justified the work. Especially as the cutwork didn’t survive too many trips through the laundry.

My next attempt at cutwork was during the early years of Home Machine Embroidery. My cutwork never made it past testing. Trying to stitch and trim while not changing the fabric’s position by a threads’s width, wasn’t possible for me.

I expect to test and then use these designs without the cutwork. They’re lovely either way. I was surprised when my second testing easily produced a breathtaking design. I think there are a couple of factors which aided my success. First, ME hoops have been slightly redesigned. Even mine which is now 12-year-old technology, is a better hoop than the Bernette Deco that I was using.  Also cutwork digitizing has improved.  There’s been so much experimenting that we’ve been able to settle on stitch length and densities that are better for use in machine  cutwork.

Lastly, I think the stabilisers have improved greatly. I used the sticky water-soluble that looks like fabric interfacing.  I hooped the stabiliser and placed my fabric on top.  I aligned my fabric and then secured it with a running stitch around the perimeter of the hoop. Yes the sticky should hold the fabric. My sticky is approaching the end of its life cycle. I need to use it up pretty soon because it definitely is loosing some of its stick. Even had my sticky been in prime condition, I still would have used the running stitch. Cutwork must stay in exactly the same spot. No if’s abouts, or almost. Even half a thread counts.

Both the cutwork done in my teens and the experimenting I did at the machine years ago were trimmed using small scissors. Truly an awkward process.  This time, thank to a DH with hobbies, I had access to different tools. I tested the following:

From top to bottom: a 22mm Rotary cutter, Fiskar Blade Cutter, Curved Exacto knife, Surgeon’s Scapel, Triangular Exacto knife. They all worked!

I removed the hoop from the machine and placed it on the edge of my cutting table so that the hoop connector hung over the edge.  This gave me a very flat surface for cutting. Although I tried each of the above and each was successful, I preferred the Curved Exacto knife. I found that putting the tip into a corner and then drawing the knife firmly away from the corner gave me nice smooth cuts which usually did not cut through the stabiliser.  I did find that cutting away from the corner each time was the better procedure. Which means that in design with 3 corners, I was lifting and inserting my blade 6 times (two from each side of each of 3 corners).

I then applied a 2nd layer of the same sticky stabiliser on top. BTW I buy in bulk and purchased this from Marathon Threads  They are my source for threads, needles and stabilisers as well as few other things.

I think it was the perfect sandwich because I tested 4 different times before completing the embroidery on my blouse. Each was perfect. I won’t hesitate to use cutwork in the future.

Sleeveless Blouse 2006/02 #4

I’ve had this blouse on the radar since I first purchased issue 2/2006. It is very similar to the Vintage Blouse which is the first Otto pattern I traced and fitted.

There are two significant differences which can been seen from the diagrams.

1) It is sleeveless. A sleeveless style requires changes to the armscye so that it will fit closely under the arm.

2) The back does not have the shoulder dart.  The older I get, the more I appreciate this small difference. In fact I often cut garment backs on the selvage instead of a fold so that I can “hide” a dart up close to the neckline (and still not need a seam finish).

As usual I traced 38 neckline/shoulder, 40 armscye, 44 bust, 46 waist and hip. (I’m wondering if I could change that to a 40 neckline, shoulder and armscye.)  I had troubles locating the lines.  There were so many lines that Otto decided some of the Black lines I should be tracing needed to be a different color. They made those grey.  GREY.  You have to imagine looking  through canary yellow for grey lines. BTW, I use the canary yellow because it is the sheerest tissue that I’ve been able to purchase.  I never found the waist mark or the darts.  I’m sure they are there, I just can’t see them through the canary yellow tissue. My take is Otto tried to give us a real bargain issue packed with lots and lots of wonderful styles –BUT did not add an additional master pattern sheet to accommodate the additional styles. Otto layered and layered until it is difficult to distinguish the lines. Perhaps their normal audience has access to different tissue and my problem is a non-issue for the majority Otto subscribers.

After tracing, I compared the uncut tissue to the Vintage Blouse.  After my experience with the “Perfect Blouse” which fit me horridly, I not only compared with the Vintage Blouse tissue for ease and length, I also paid close attention to the shape of the shoulder, armscye and bust dart. The backs were very similar. Without the shoulder dart there is minor difference in the shoulder width. The slope is the same, one the dart is pinched out of the Vintage Blouse.  The armscye is roughly the same but about 3/8″ higher. This is to be expected. A sleeveless style needs to be high and narrower under the arms or my underwear will be showing.  I added 1/4″ to the hip and reshaped the back side seam, which I will explain when I talk about the front.

The front of the Vintage Blouse was much wider under the arms, than the Sleeveless Blouse.  Nearly 2″.  That was so much that I had to stop and think. The shoulder slope was the same however the bust dart was much lower.  The armscye is greatly reshaped.  With trepidation, I kept the shoulder and armscye as drafted.  The issues of “The Perfect Blouse” was the change in shoulder slope, draft of the armscye, insufficient ease across tummy. The draft of that blouse resulted in drapes of fabric beneath my arms and drag lines radiating around my tummy. I know that the armscye needs to be different for the sleeveless blouse, It does need to be higher, as it is. So I kept the armscye draft.  I copied the side seam with it’s 2″ of extra ease and  copied the bust dart of the Vintage Blouse, because I know it is in the right place for my body. I expect to taken-in the front side seam during fitting. At the same time, I added a bit more (1/4″ to the back across the hip because  I keep having issues with enough ease for my bu_t. I can take away that 1/4″ during fitting.

I mentioned that I did not find the waistline tick or the body darts. I copied these from the Vintage blouse.  I added 1/4″ SA around the neckline and armscyes. I had copied the side seam allowance and the hem allowance from the Vintage blouse. No need to add those again.

I’m starved for embellishment and planning some cutwork around the neckline. For that reason I chose a light blue batiste which happens to match perfectly with these shorts.  I cut big hunks of my fabric, more than enough length and width for each front and the back and then chalk the outlines of my garment onto the fabric.  It’s just a little easier to add the embroidery and then cut the garment. Well not easier maybe, but it gives me an opportunity to adjust the design placement if I happen to goof during the embroidery process.

-Ok off to embroider. Hmmmm        I need another project while the embroidery machine does its thing. Suppose I could go on-line fabric shopping (ewg)

Fitting the Sleeveless Shell

My fabric is cotton sheeting. Yes sheets purchased from the local department store. It’s not high quality sheeting either. More like lawn or voile.  I made the purchase thinking this fabric would make excellent summer shirts which would then protect me from the intense summer sun or the equally excessive summer air conditioning experienced in most stores and public buildings.   What’s interesting to me, besides the delightful print and gorgeous colors, is that this fabric would be considered inferior for sheeting, but  excellent for my original intent of summer shirts and a few other garments. I’ve learned that just because one person calls a particular fabric crap or trash, it doesn’t mean I can’t consider it for use in my garments. (BTW, quilters would also consider this  fabric a waste of money).  Today I’m using it to fit Otto 5/2009 Style #11, the sleeveless blouse.

I placed the pattern cross grain because I liked the way the print dominated in that direction.  Let me say, I have a healthy appreciation for placing the fabric on grain. I do understand that using alternate grain placements can create beautiful garments which are wearable without issue or can create a really really hot mess.  The key is understanding how the fabric will behave once the garment is completed. My experience has been that I will have few if any issues for having chosen to highlight the print by my use of the cross grain. Still it’s something to consider, should things go wrong.

The fabric is a cotton polyester blend. I like blends. I think I get the best of both fibers. In this case I’m expecting a cooling summer garment that resists wrinkling and is easy to launder and press (iron). I’m the idiot that likes to press the wrinkles out of my garments before wearing them. DH says my issue is that I love pressing.  I say, I prefer the way garments look without wrinkles.  But I have once again detoured into unnecessary territory.

I cut my fabrics, marked the darts and then immediately applied fusible stay tape to the armscyes and necklines of both front and back; and only on the back shoulders. I most often use this fusible tape on the shoulders of knits.  I used it this time on these critical curved areas because I wanted to avoid stretching them during the fitting process but I dislike stay-stitching. In fact, I’ve had the experience of stay-stitching distorting my pattern piece.

I stitched the shoulder and bust darts. When I stitched the front and back fisheye darts, I limited the depth to 1/8″.  The fisheye darts are like an interior pin tuck. They tell me where the darts are supposed to be and then during fitting I can increase their depth as needed. I serged the center back seam. I was tickled to see this seam.  In my past I would have eliminated the center back seam by placing the pattern on the fold. These days I appreciate the fit opportunity provided by a center back seam.  I was surprised by the combination of  a center back seam and the back neck darts. However, I have lots of faith in Otto and proceeded with the pattern as drafted.

I pressed the darts and trimmed only the back neck darts with my pinking blade. Those back neck darts are unusually deep. That concerns me. Fortunately, I  had the presence of mind to align the pattern and back (with darts sewn) and then take a picture.

I was pleased to see that as I expected, the shoulder area was appreciably changed by those darts.

I basted the shoulder and side seams and then slipped it on for a quick first look.

(Note:  I did not plan on center back closure of zip, buttons or anything else. I assumed that wide neckline would easily slip over my head. Worse yet, I didn’t even look at the pattern instructions and can’t tell anyone if they should plan on a zipper or something else.)

I was totally shocked by this first fitting (shown above)

I was expecting maybe errors because of the square shoulder line. To my disgust the front neckline gaps needing at least 1″ removed. The shoulder point is flying 1/2″ in the air as well as revealing my bra strap. The bust dart is far too high and short. Not really showing here, but the fisheye darts are also 1″ too high but the waist portion and hip shaping falls appropriately. There are wrinkles under the armscye but I have excess ease beneath the arm.

But I thought, “first things first”. In my IT career and IRL, I’ve noticed that I can correct the obvious error and many small glitches just disappear.  I’m always puzzled but I can live with this. So I rip out the side seams that were basted with 4mm stitches and then rip out the bust darts and 1″ of the top of each fish eye dart.  The darts were sewn with a 2.5mm stitch. That’s the length my HV Ruby recommends for light weight fabric. Frankly the placement of bust darts is rarely a problem for me. I have the average “B” cup in the average place on the female body. I cannot remember a time when I had to move the bust dart. Since this was such an obvious issue, I fixed the bust darts, shortened the fisheye darts and took more pics.

Now I’m absolutely just staring at the second set of pictures. There is so much wrong. There is so much to correct. I don’t know where to begin.


5/2009 #11 Sleeveless Shell

My summer uniform consists of shorts and knit tank tops. In the last few years, I’ve been making an effort to use more of my stash which includes lots of lovely wovens. I find that for summer, the sleeveless shell is an ideal alternative to a knit tank top. My fit has changed slightly this year, so I’ve chosen to make Style #11 from issue 5/2009  because I think it’s an excellent basic, sleeveless shell.

Why not just use the Vintage Blouse pattern which has a fit a I love? More than one reason. The most prominent is that simply leaving out the sleeve will not produce a garment which fits well under the arms and across the chest.  A sleeveless top/dress needs the side seam raised under the arm and a slightly tighter fit through out the armscye. Otherwise, the armscye gaps and reveals underwear and doesn’t feel all that comfortable. A sleeve stabilizes and indeed requires the extra ease which is typically included for the sleeved top. The other top reason to trace a new pattern, is that I deliberately fit the Vintage blouse to be roomy. I prefer my sleeveless shell to skim all the lumps but fit closely.

This shell, #11 issue 5/2009, has an interesting rounded-square neckline. The neckline is lower than a jewel which is fine, desirable even for summer weather. The trick is to make sure it hugs the body and does not gap.

It also has front and back waist darts, the horizontal bust dart and a back neckline dart. I’m concerned about the squared shoulder. My shoulders are definitely sloped. However the pattern shoulder is narrow, about 2″, and the back neckline dart could change the angle of the shoulder.

Note to self, photo the shoulder before and after dart is sewn.

I usually get a good fit by tracing the size 38 for shoulders and neckline, 40 for armscyes, and 46 on the side seams. However, I kind of want this to fit closely and decided to trace 44 at the bust and 46 for waist and hip.  I compared the traced pattern pieces with the Vintage blouse and decided to add 5/8 to the width for fit insurance.

I made my 1″ BWL as usual. When comparing with the Vintage Blouse, which is a terrific length for me, I discovered that this would raise the waist and hip shaping but would be much to short for my personal preferences.  I added 2.5″ length at the hem. I was pleased to note that the #11 side seam was 1/2″ higher at the underarm  than the Vintage Blouse.

I did not trace the facings. I consider it a great possibility that I will need to tweak the neckline which will completely invalidate the facings as drafted.  I also think it is just as easy to cut the facings using the pattern pieces. Yes I know the facings should be about 1/8″ smaller so that they will roll to the inside. First off, most of the time I don’t even use facings. I prefer bindings. For those times that I need facings, I think it’s very easy to trim the extra 1/8″. As in, no big deal. I just do it.

Here’s the real beauty of this pattern, for me. I also need to refit my tank top pattern. The size selections and fit adjustments I make for this pattern, will be the same when I make the knit tank top pattern #1, 2/2007. That’s because Otto’s block and sizing is very consistent. The only pattern to give me any problems was the Perfect Blouse  #4, 5/2009.  That pattern had significant changes to the armscye, shoulder slope and ease. This pattern seems only to have a worry spot of the shoulder slope.