Monthly Archives: September 2013

Variation on the Vintage Blouse

Inspired by Burda 131 11/2012, I made this Vintage Blouse.


For details, click here.

(PS looks much better when you can see the pants and my head)


Otto 5/2013 #1

I’m always looking for variations on the classics, the Vintage Blouse and Basic T. These are GoTo garments in my wardrobe so easy changes absolutely thrill me and spark my sewing mojo.  I compared this pattern with Otto’s Basic T and decided that it had a

  • Slightly wider and maybe a little deeper neckline
  • Breast pocket
  • 3/4 sleeve length
  • Curved lower hem.

Easy peasy says I.

I chose a cranberry slinky purchased late winter last year. So late it was early spring.  While slinky is wearable in summer, I had purchased enough for long sleeve tops so I washed and put it in the stash. Speaking of the wash,,,,  This was advertised as “sparkly”. To my surprised it was (operative word being “was”) heavily glittered.  In the wash, most of the glitter detached and was captured by the lint filter. However, an astonishing amount simply fell free and lightly attached itself to the other fabrics.  From there it dropped off onto the floor, wherever I carried it.  Looked like the pixies had visited my sewing rooms. I’m quite sure I’ll be finding glitter for years. I could criticize the vendor and manufacturer. Vendor for not adequately describing the fabric, manufacturer for not using a better quality glue. But truth is, I prefer the fabric in its de-glittered state.  What remained was a printed floral pattern in an old-gold color and a sprinkling of sparkle. Slinky is famous for, among other things, having no wrong side.  This is wonderfully true. As I have both a plain and patterned cranberry side for creative use.

As for the pattern, I didn’t even pop the master pattern from the 5/2013 issue.  I smoothed out Otto 2/2006 #1 (whose pieces are now covered with fusible interfacing for longevity) and placed it upon the folded slinky.  I did have to trim the slinky’s selvages. They tended to draw up the fabric, or maybe the interior was freer to drape. Whatever, the fabric did not lay smoothly until I trimmed the selvage.   Sigh, my T’s are beginning to feel a little snug – the result of eating  but not exercising well this past year. However, for slinky I prefer Zero ease. Otherwise the garment just appears to be too large. With all things considered, I placed my basic pattern without alterations on the fabric and cut the pieces.

I folded up the tissue and starting making the alterations.  I trimmed the neckline 1″ wider (both sides, both front and back and scooped it about 1/2″ deeper (also front and back).    I skipped the pocket. I prefer a modest front and pockets seem to be to draw attention to the area I most prefer to be modest.  I also kept the long sleeve. I do like 3/4 sleeves. It’s just that in the cold weather I prefer to wear long sleeves. You would too if your DH drove with the air conditioning on max while in the middle of a prairie blizzard.  To curve the hem, I measured 1″ up on the side seams and used my french curve to chalk the new hemlines. I used the rotary cutter to trim and cut all. Slinking tends to want to spread. The rotary cutter minimizes that issue.

I stabilized the shoulders and back neckline with black bias tape, then serged front and back together along the shoulders.  I’ve sewn with lots of slinky. Lots.  This is a fabric I love. It travels well. Washes in the sink (if laundering facilities are not available) and looks good even if you spend all day in the airport.   But this slinky wanted to creep out from underneath the serger foot. I ended up serging and then stitching the shoulders.  This is something I never do. A 4-thread serger creates the perfect stretch seam for knits. But I’m telling you, this slinky was uncooperative and required extra handling

I didn’t dare try to use the cover stitch for binding.  I basted the neckband into place at the Ruby, who BTW never missed a beat. Ruby handled this slinky like a pro.  So anyway, I basted the neckband into place and checked to be sure I like it. The binding.  Several years back I discovered I could make perfect binding every time, with very little fuss or ripping if I would baste, check and adjust before permanently serging the neckline. So that’s what I did here.  Then I pressed the binding up and over so that it wrapped the neckline.  I top stitched using the cover stitch machine using Maxilock Stretch in the looper and polyester embroidery thread in the needles.

I thought the neckline would be so cool especially since I used the plain side to contrast with the printed fabric.  But when it was done, I was just, meh, about it.  It’s ok but not really that great. Certainly not worth the extra effort.

I hemmed it 1″ first.  I have learned that a curved hemline is impossible (for me) to get right after the sides seams are done.  I used 1/2″ fusible web to turn the hem and hold it in place.  Then I stitched two lines at the Ruby. Oh I tried the CS. Even though I had tested before even beginning to stitch and even though I had just finished the neckband, the hem would not stitch properly.  I had 3″ of stretched, knotted, ugly hem.  The most time I spent on this garment was ripping out that hem during which I ripped a small hole. Fortunately, the hole was in a place that could be covered with a little knit interfacing, turned up and be invisible.

I pre-pressed the sleeve hems, then serged the side seams and finally stitched the sleeve hems.  I didn’t even try the CS.  Since this slinky behaved at Ruby, I stitched two lines of hemming on my Designer Ruby.

The end result?  Oh gorgeous.

I know I’ll enjoy wearing this for the life of the garment.

Yogastein i.e. Otto 5/2010 #20

I like to keep all my posts on pants in one place. So if you’d like to read the details about my experience, click here.

The Raglin Cap Sleeve

This is such a relief after the failure of the Shirred Top I finished the neckline with the binding that makes for a more comfortable neckline depth. I think the neckline was as Otto designed. But my personal preference is usually something just a little more modest which I have achieved.  Before finishing the neckline, I realized why the fit was off.  Back when I was tracing the pattern pieces, I added 1″ seam allowances to the sleeves.  I trimmed that to 1/2″ when tissue fitting on my dress form.  Now I trimmed it back to the original draft.

I don’t think the front could get any better.  The fabric skims everything, my favorite fit.  I think a person actually looks slimmer when clothing does not reveal every curve. I’m happy to say that my contrast at center neckline and sleeve hems has offset the tendency of a raglan line to narrow my upper chest.   I didn’t realize that easing the sleeve to the bodice would create additional diagonals.  I saw them on Otto’s model, but didn’t think about the effect.  For me, this cap sleeve is a winner.

I trimmed 3″ from the length and tried the blouse on again. Well it was too much.  I mean that was the perfect length and I wanted a real hem. My solution was to add a 2″ folded (to 1″) band at the hem. I would prefer not to have the horizontal line at the hem but it doesn’t look bad.

With the sleeves and length altered the back falls into vertical folds instead of bunching up in the middle of the back.  It’s one of those things which I’m not sure if I should do anything or not. There is no side shaping to speak of; which means that designer did not plan for a fitted back.  Now it’s my choice, do I want to add some shaping with darts or side shaping, or accept this T-shirt like look?

I transferred two changes to the tissue.  I removed the excess seam allowance from the sleeves and I trimmed 2″ from the length. I think the pattern is good to go for next year.

Yes summer is winding down.  I’ll be able to wear this garment once or twice before putting away the hot weather wardrobe but the 2013 summer sewing is finished.

Raglan Cap Sleeve: Construction

A few minutes experimenting at my cover stitch machine achieved the look I wanted for this garment.   I marked the inside of what would be the front using chalk.  I first drew a horizontal line 1″ above and from underarm point to underarm point.  That became my “start line”. Then I drew 7 vertical lines  3/4″ apart. I began stitching by lining up the center guide of the clear foot with a vertical line and dropping my needles into the start line.  Then I stitched at a moderate speed i.e. neither slow/careful nor pedal-to-the-metal. After each line of stitching, I pulled the wooly nylon at the start line to the other side.  I leave long thread tails at both beginning and end. I was afraid if I did not pull those beginning tails to a place I could see and control, I would stitch them into something. When finished I had quite a mess both inside and out.

I administered a drop of FreyCheck on each group of threads at the starting line. Not shown here, but I simply serged off the tails at the neckline.

A long about here, I realized I wanted to emphasize the line at the sleeve hem. I folded up the hem 1/2″ and stitched with my left needle just barely catching the top of the hem on the inside.

I basted the pieces together and made the first fitting.

I think  it looks a little large everywhere with a distinct excess in the middle of the back.  It’s possible that the fabric is responsible for the apparent excess ease or that I don’t have the sleeves hanging on my shoulders properly. I had noticed the tissue, when pinned to Mimie, was a bit “poofy” in the same area.

I’m pleased that it is not too small. That’s happened to me even with what seemed to be Herculean efforts to ensure sufficient ease. Trusting Mimie was a good thing and maybe I should have trusted just a little more.

Besides the ease, the neckline is lower than I would prefer.  I had cut bindings that would wrap around the neckline edge. I will instead fill in the depth just a little by folding the bindings in half and stitching them to the edge, T-shirt style.

I also think that this top looks longer than I intended. I thought I traced the pattern 3″ shorter but it appears to be the same length on me as in the magazine photo.

Here’s the thing, while I will make the necessary adjustments so this version will fit and look the way I want, I’m not sure what if any tissue adjustments I should pursue.  I had not expected the jersey to stretch as much as it is. When I tested, I measured a 20% stretch. I’m not sure if the issue is the fabric or that Mimie is not my duplicate. She is larger than me. OTOH I don’t actually want her smaller than me.  I had a tendency to over fit when Mimie and I were the same size and shape. This resulted in clothing that was at times uncomfortably close. I think I want Mimie to be a little larger.  Since I’m just beginning to really use her again, I think the best thing is leave the tissue alone but keep in mind these issue for the next garment.

Otto 10, 5/2010: Tissue Alterations

I traced my usual multi-sizes except I have determined that I need a 38 width across shoulders with the 44 length between shoulder and bust. I thought it would be possible to trace the 44 line as long as the 38 and extend the armscye up to the 44 shoulder. Wonky. Yeah there was this sudden upright the last inch which I was pretty sure was not going to translate into a smooth body conforming raglan.  For this style, it was easiest to trace the 38 armscye and shoulder; then separate the upper bodice above the notches and add 1″.  I traced the 38 sleeve, add the 1″ length above the notches; and added 1″ seam allowances.  I still needed to do a 1″ BWL above the waistline. Funny how that works out. I need to add an inch so the dart drops down where my bust is, but then I need to remove an inch in length so the waist and hip shaping will correspond to my body.

If you follow me through my sdBev blog, you’ll know that I repaded my dressform, Mimie, a few weeks back.  I’ve been perplexed at her appearance and measurements and contemplating what and how to change. After the last few garments, I’ve decided to trust her a bit more. I made that decision because every change I made to her cover is what I’ve been making to my recent garments and I’ve seen those same issues when I pin the tissue or photo garments on Mimie,  but I’ve not taken action because I thought there was something not right with Mimie.  So I decided to trust.  I pinned the tissues together. Pinned them on Mimie and then evaluated the fit from shoulder to hem.

First thing I saw is that the sleeve didn’t need the 1″ SA and I pinned it out. I’m showing the front here, but both front and back were pinned the same.  I expected to remove the extra SA on the front, but I did think I would need a little more on the back.

Hope you can see the red pin above because the next thing I noticed was the front wrinkled and bubbled at the bust.  This is a clear example of how patterns are drafted for the symmetrical and must be adapted for where our bodies are not symmetrical.  I need extra width across the back. I actually traced a 44 front and 46 back at the underarm.  I thought that would work. The back did. The back is fine but there is too much ease for the front and I’ve seen that with each of the last two garments I’ve finished. The most simple fix, especially right now, was pinching out the excess and red pinning. After I take the tissues off Mimie, I’ll make the change permanent and true the seam lines.

I took it upon myself to trace a 46 waist and 48 hip on both front and back pieces.  Even though the Otto chart says my hip line is a size 44, my garments are consistently too close in the back. So having made the hip area 2 sizes larger than recommended, I was surprised to see my tissue pull away from the center back.  I split the tissue while it was still on Mimie and add whatever Mimie needed. I’m hoping of course that what Mimie needs is the same as what I need.

My fabric is a fine knit, not sure of the fiber, that’s been in the stash for so long I don’t remember when I purchased it.  It is a very narrow horizontal strip of blue and black. I mean it is like two weft-threads of blue and then two weft-threads of black.  From a distance, it reads as a muted blue.

Tomorrow, the sewing begins —spoiler alert— by testing at the cover stitch.

Otto Style 10 Issue 5/2010 (Design Evaluation)

I have real reservations about raglan styles.  My pear shape needs style lines which will balance my shoulders with my hip line.  Too often a raglan sleeve emphasizes the narrowness of my shoulders and can even makes them look narrower.  However Style 10 has some balancing design lines going, making it a possibility for me..

First there is this wide neckline made even wider by the shape of the sleeve. I’m cautions about these.  First off, the neckline will have to be sized to fit me. I do not tolerate shoulders poking up through necklines. Secondly, although the line drawing shows the fairly straight shoulder, it may not be that way IRL. But for now, I give both features tentative pluses.

A very upright raglan, such as the LH5205, works very well. But you can see that the raglan here is angled steeply inward. BUT…

is counter acted by the outward angled lines of the sleeve hem and neckline portion of the sleeve. Another interesting feature at the neckline is the series of pin tucks. There are more than just decorative. They can help with fitting, especially when you are hollow chested such as I. They also “read” as a horizontal block from which the sleeve launches

So what you end up with, is a visual dominance of horizonal lines and outward bound angles that offset the inward angle of the raglan.

I don’t know who designs for Otto, but when I examine this design’s  details, I start thinking they must be shaped like me.

#14 2/2010, Shirred Top

Why I hesitated over this garment. Starting with the back:

Which is admittedly, not bad.  I might prefer that the shoulders be a little narrower but I do think they turned out the way Otto intended. All the drag lines, if they can be called that, are emanating from the shirring. That’s the way it should be. I believe there is more than sufficient ease across the hip. I like the length. Really nothing bad to say about the back view.

Onto the front…

…where you can start to see my concerns.  The pattern called for elastic and casing at the neckline; shirring at the empire line. My fault for not doing both. I’m surprised that I didn’t notice the width at the neckline either at the tissue stage or the first trial. There was plenty of time to correct my oversight, if I’d just noticed.  My real issue though is that my bosom assumes some prominence and unfortunately my tummy does as well.  I have to handle empire styles carefully.  The right amount of ease, such as the CLD’s Ebb, creates a beautiful, flattering fit. The wrong amount and people start asking “When are you due?”. Not a question I want to hear or answer. Again, the length is fine, the ease across the hip and tummy is fine. My problem is with the shirring which you really can see from the side:

It can also be seen that the front hem rises which supports the preggers assumptions.

For this version, I’m going to release some of the shirring.  I’ve had garments, long ago, where the shirring snapped but didn’t completely unravel and disappear.  I’m hoping to make a few judicious slices in the elastic thread without destroying all the shirring and shaping.

If I make this garment again, several things need to happen.

  • The bodice between shoulder and bust needs 1″ additional length (1/2″ back and front).
  • The front neckline needs to be raised.  I rarely wear bosom revealing clothing.  It’s one of Burda’s design elements which I detest. Otto has been really good for drafting acceptable neckline depths. I’m surprised at this departure, which BTW wasn’t really visible on the model.


    • Yes I see it is low, but I don’t see the tops of her chi-chis. BTW this garment was acceptable on her for a couple of reasons, one being that she was shown with new child.  It’s actually refreshing to see a new mother with a new mother’s figure.

Continuing with the thoughts of what I need to do for future versions:
I need a flatter front. It doesn’t need to be straight up and down like the Ebb, but less curvature under the bust means less apparent jutting of my tummy.


  • I need to remove some of the ease in front.
  • The shirring needs to be about 10% vs the 30% I achieved — more testing time at the CS ’cause I’m not shirring with any other method.

I still think this is an interesting garment.  Love the way Otto used the plaid. Love the fact that my CS has another purpose. I do plan to make this garment again, next summer.

Style 14, 2/2010

As I was saying, I’m intrigued by the style lines and traced the pattern using my multi-sizing i.e. 38 shoulder and neck, 44 bust, 46 waist and hip; then  added seam allowances and cut my fabric.  That gave me enough time to sample Shirring on the Cover Stitch.  I cut a scrap 10″ by 4″ and stitched 3 rows of shirring equidistant apart.  Then I hit the sample with steam.  I didn’t actually touch the fabric, just held the iron above and let the steam pour down into the fabric and elastic thread.  As expected the shirring pulled up nice and tight.  I calculated that it shrunk about 30% which I thought would be fine for this garment.

Beautiful, eh? But now a niggling concern defined itself and I decided I needed to review the pattern. See my upper torso measurement  between shoulder and bust correspond with Otto Size 38 but I’ve been noticing that the more recent Otto pattern fit wonderfully as far as the width but are  too short between shoulder and bust. The armscye is much too short and the bust dart is above my own.  Curiously the 2006-2009 styles did not exhibit this same fit.  I’m not sure if I just wasn’t noticing or if Otto actually changed their block. What I do realize is that even with Otto, I need the narrower upper torso, but I still need the same length as if I was a 44 everywhere.

I pinned my tissue together and having a dressform with nearly identical measurements and shape, I pinned the tissues onto my dressform. Immediately I could see that the armscye and bust dart issue would be created if I sewed this just as I had cut.

I didn’t have enough fabric to recut. I considered adding some kind of a 1″ strap across the shoulder but I didn’t really want to change the design lines. Instead I opted to trim the existing armhole 1″ deeper. This turned out to be the better decision from a second stand point: the neckline is too low for me.  Had I made the neckline exactly as drafted, I would have been exposing the upper curvature of my bosom. Not the summer look I was going for.

I stitched the shirring at the empire line; gathered the front shoulder pieces the old fashion way (i.e. long basting stitches)  and  made a quick basting and trial fitting. I serged the back and front shoulders together and stitched a 2.5″ band (folded in half) to the neckline. Of course it stuck out to high heaven.  I was planning and did insert elastic in the neckband but seeing it on Mimie (my dressform) I decided to miter the front corners of the neckband.

I finished the armscyes with bias tape; serged the side seams and cover stitched the hem.  At this point it was done and really other than the time spent testing shirring on the CS, was an easy garment.

Tomorrow, my final pics and why I hesitated over this garment.

Style 14 Issue 2/2010

This is a charming design with some interesting sewing details mainly the neckline.  I’ve had it on my to do list since I first received the magazine, although I do have some reservations about its style and my body.  I started it now because I realized that it was now or next year and I wanted to try shirring on the cover stitch now.

It took a while for me to adapt to the weather in South Dakota.  We are completely out of sync with any other area I read about.  For example, winter doesn’t seriously start until about a week before Christmas.  We’re always guaranteed a “White Christmas” followed by bitter cold in January with but a weeks break sometime in February.  March warms and becomes slushy but I’m still wearing heavy sweaters and long underwear until the end of April.  At which point, the heavy heavy gets moved to storage but I’m still wearing long sleeves and long pants for several weeks. Suddenly towards the end of May we have 1 week of spring weather with rain guaranteed on the US Holiday. Regardless of when the holiday is scheduled, those campers are guaranteed to be wet and miserable at least one day of their celebration. Then it’s summer  (I mean immediately and as soon as the storm is over) and the reason I love SD. Summer is usually punctuated with one or two weeks of extremely, 3-digit, hot weather but for the most part it is wonderfully warm. We get a hint of cool weather sometime in September with pleasant warm temperatures continuing mostly likely all the way until the populace starts crying “What are we going to do if it doesn’t snow by Christmas”.  I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’m convinced prayer works because we have snow every Christmas (sometimes a little earlier).

 Point is, and I do have a point, that it’s timely to be making #14 now.  I’m still looking forward to several weeks of pleasant warm temperatures and will both be able to play with my CS and wear the result a time or two. Or Three.

My fabric is a cotton voile. It’s an old fabric so I think it is 100% cotton however it resists wrinkles so I’m not too sure about either age or fiber content. I’ve avoided using it because I had 1.5 yards and I loved the color and print.  I knew it had to be a warm weather garment but didn’t want to end up with a large scrap when finished. Here lately, I’ve been adopting a “use it now” or “cut it anyway” attitude and decided this fabric deserved to be a garment now.