Monthly Archives: September 2016

My Pretty New Blouse– Otto 16 2016/2


I removed the tissue after cutting the fabric; measured down 8 inches drew and cut my V neckline.


I finished it with commercial bias tape which is folded to the inside, top and edge stitched for a nice finish.

Otto specifies a zipper back closure but I know from experience my block will slip over my head and slid down my body.  I do not fit woven blouses closely.  At most, their fitting will hint at a shape beneath. That’s because I don’t like my fabric constricting movement or people being able to count my curves (rolls). I did however decide to ‘fudge’ just a little. Just in case I did need a bigger opening, by creating a 4″ neckline vent closed by a single button


and elastic loop


Good lord! Both pics show that I need to do some serious thread clipping.

Let me back-up a sec and say that I did tape the back and front necklines immediately after cutting them. I know for a fact that necklines will stretch. Sometimes even stay stitching will cause the fabric to stretch. The back vent was formed by cutting the back on the selvege, and leaving the top 4″ open when stitching the CB seam. I pressed the seam open then top stitched to keep it open.

I echoed the same top/edge stitching on the sleeve hems


and around that lovely mitered hem.


Otto perfectly executed the miter. I interface my hems and serge finish the raw edge.  For this hem I left the miter unfinished; folded the raw edges together and stitched 1/4″ away. I press the seam open using a point presser before top and edge stitching.  It’s really a beautiful finish.

Fit is a bit sketchy.  I love the front view


but admit I didn’t get the proportions right.  I think Otto used 2:1 i.e the top portion is twice width of the peplum.  Mine is closer to a 3:1 proportion.  This looks good on me. I got out my croquis and played with proportions. I could have cut the top portion at waist level. It would take more changes to the  peplum to reach a 2:1 than I wanted to make. Plus, I would not have liked the peplum at waist level with it long enough to equal the length above. It would have been almost a 1:1 proportion which doesn’t flatter me. (It turns me into a square peg atop a popsicle stick.) ATM I’m doubly glad I used my block because I did create a nice proportion. Had I copied Otto, proportions for me personally would have been off.

I did not add weight to the back hem. Part of the reason the back looks like this:


Of course the fact I didn’t straighten the garment before pics also contributes.  The back feels just a touch tight between the shoulder blades. Something I’ve not experienced will all the previous versions using my block. I don’t know if I have many of this type fabric left.  I had 4 yards of it which tells me that it is old, old Walmart-$1-fabric old. Modern fabrics are woven differently and behave differently on the body.  Still I’m going to add 1/8″ to the back block.  That’s a total of 1/4″ ease between those shoulder blades and should be just enough.

I stitched the shoulders the same as I did all summer:  left shoulder 1/4″ deep right shoulder 3/8″ deep. That was the fix for the side swags on all my summer garments. I also added 1/4″ shoulder pads.


They won’t be seen, as they would for sleeveless garments and I’m happy to be sporting ‘shoulders’ once again. (I don’t love my summer shoulderless appearance but I like even less the look of shoulder pads peeking out.)

To my surprise, this blouse has swags both left  and right  sides


Surprised? No, I’m stunned.  All the shoulder draping was done to eliminate these very drag lines.  They’ve been non-existent on the garments I’ve made using my block.   They appear only when I start with a pattern and copy my shoulder slope to the pattern instead of starting with my block and copying details from the pattern to the block.  I’m really glad for this lovely, busy print which will disguise the swags from the cursory glance. To be honest, I’m not sure this is a fabric issue, which it could be, or that I didn’t do something, make some kind of adjustment that should have been made.

I have to admit this is more of an Inspired by than real Otto draft. Even the peplums had to be altered after tracing.  Despite problems noted above, I love my blouse. It makes me feel feminine. I did think this would be a one-and-done. It’s rather distinctive and multiples would be noticed. I used cheap tracing paper instead of my good paper felt (Aisle Runner purchased at Hobby Lobby). But I’ve kept the pieces. I can see at least one more version for summer and maybe another version with a button front opening. There could be more copies in my future.





2/2016 #16

I like the looks of Peplum Wrap Blouse. Meant to make it earlier in the year.   It gives me a very feminine vibe. I’ve decided to use a navy,  cotton, floral-print fabric. That cotton might have some poly in it.  The fabric presses beautifully-(cotton) and resists wrinkles (polyester). I’m not going to give it a burn test. Confirming my assumption would make no difference in my sewing choices. However I do have a problem because it has no stretch whereas the #16 2/2016 pattern suggests fabrics with 10% stretch. I know from experience that 10% isn’t much during wear.  It’s just enough the fabric will recover from a deep breath or mild physical movement (i.e. don’t expect it to perform well at the gym but you’ll look great lunchin’ with the ladies..)

Looking at both the schematic and models,


I think this is my basic block with a few changes.It has a center back seam. Front is cut on a fold. The bodice is separated around the waist, I think maybe just above. The front has a V neckline. The  back neckline is not shown on the models. I’m guessing from the schematic that it is scooped a little and until just now I didn’t see that the back darts had been moved to the neckline.  The blouse bottom is formed into peplums. The has a little flouncing has been added to the peplums and  front forms an overlap. The hems are mitered at CF.   The sleeve appears to standard 3/4″ length.

After that evaluation, I decided not to trace all the pattern pieces.  I rarely trace facings (pieces 6 and 7) because after I make my fitting changes, facings have to be redrafted. Since this pattern appears to be a basic block, I opted not to trace pieces 1, 2 or 3 either. Instead I quickly cut copies of my basic block which is  drafted for woven -non-stretch fabrics. That eliminates my first worry (voiced in Para 1) of choosing a non-stretch fabric when the pattern suggests 10% stretch. Copying my block also eliminates all the fitting issues. It already has my shoulder slope; my front length, my back waist length; and all the circumference I like to wear. I did copy pieces 4 and 5 the peplums.  They are 7″ deep including the 1″ hem.  I added 1/4″ SA to the hems (I prefer a 1.25″ hem); 1/4″ SA to the top of the Peplum and 1/2″ to the side seams. After tracing the peplums I drew a stitching line 7″  above my block’s  hem edge and a cutting line 1/4″ below that. Slashed and trashed the tissue below the cutting line.    After walking the stitching lines of block to peplum, I increased the peplums length  3.5″. That’s a lot. More even then the biggest pattern size Otto included. OK part of that is the difference between stretch and non-stretch fabrics  but that’s still a lot more circumference than the largest size of the original pattern.

My sleeve block already has my 3 favorite lengths marked on it. So when I cut a copy of it, I folded up at the 3/4 length line and added  1.25″ for my standard hem depth.

For necklines, I eyeballed the pattern pieces and opted for a 1″ deeper back and 6″ deep from V both options I change when cutting fabric.

The problem with all my assumptions is that I may miss subtle drafting choices. They may have drafted the back neckline 3/4″ deep and the front 5″.  That change I’m OK with as I’m using favorites which became favorites because they look good on me. It’s quite possible that at the first fitting, I would change whatever they drafted to my favorites. I’m not so confident about just slashing off the amount of the peplum from the bottom of my block. I may have significantly disrupted proportions. These kind of things are why  I would prefer to trace  the original  and apply a standard number of changes. That way I would know I have only changed the pattern for fit and all the choices the designer made  –which gives their creation its unique character and appeal — would still be intact. There’s a strong possibility that with my choice to start with my block and make minor changes, that I’m really sewing a different design which is not what I wanted.

Let’s take a look.  The Schematic


Pics of my finished pattern pieces

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Finished! Otto 2016/5 #8 Drape Front Blouse

I could have done more fitting. I didn’t because this ITY was fabric was difficult to work with.  It acted like a nylon crepe. It was hard to keep the raw edges together for sewing. Hard to keep feeding evenly into the serger. Just a crawly, difficult to handle fabric. I’ve never had an ITY that behaved so poorly.  I don’t know if it was the extra shiny finish or the gold micro dots but I wish I’d starched the life out of it just for construction.

I realized a lot of the drapes I was seeing below the bust were really due to the shoulder. It’s the voice of experience of what works on my body.  I do think it odd that the shoulder causes the drapes near the hem, but that’s what happens to me. I used a 5/8″  SA on the left shoulder, 3/4″ on the right even though I only added 1/4″ SA to both.  The 3/4″ deep SA is my quick,  painless way of accommodating my   asymmetrical shoulders.

I added 1/2″ SA to the side seams but since it was tight across the tummy at the first fitting, I stitched the final side seams with a 1/4″ SA. Somehow, there is now too much front ease.

I also trimmed off 1.5″ of length from the center front blending that to nothing at the front side seam.  While the hem is definitely more even, the side pic above, shows I should still remove a little more.

I added a 15″ 3/8″-elastic stay across the back. Between that and the shoulder pads, I’m almost satisfied with the back view.

Almost?  The shoulders are much wider than I expected. The red arrows show where the garments shoulder points are.  The orange arrows are my shoulder pads which were placed 1″ inward.  However, the back itself is fairly smooth, maybe even a little large?  I’m guessing that the increased shoulder SA brought the waist and hip up just enough that I now have an excess of room at the waist and hip!

The cover stitch already had white thread so I hemmed with it. But I didn’t test first. Don’t remember what I cover stitched the last time, but this time the hems are standing a little proud. Well not a deal breaker.

My last complaint actually are the sleeves themselves.  They feel tight. Probably because I didn’t add a seam allowance. My bad. But if they are too tight, why all the wrinkles?

One thing I’ve learned about cowls and drapes, they rarely just fall into place. I finished the cowl with FOE which I stretched a little. I was hoping to cause tension which would pull the cowl a little inside.

Just letting it ‘hang’

Tuck inside

Had a clip handy in the sewing room:

Larger clip:

Think I need to buy a few broaches or find fancier hair clips.


Drape Front Blouse: Fitting

Cutting the fabric was easy as pie, although I opted not to cut center front or back seams. It will give me a slightly different look than the model, but I’m really more interested in how this will fit.  As Otto recommended I taped the back shoulders, then basted all the pieces together before taking pics.

My initial reaction is somewhat mixed.  I didn’t make any accommodations for my asymmetrical shoulders and therefore I see more wrinkles/drapes/pull lines beneath the right shoulder all the way to the hem on both front and back.  I also didn’t see the recommendation to use a double-sided fabric.  Something I’ll think about in the future, because the cowl inside is probably going to show. OK if that’s what you want.

I slipped shoulder pads inside and took a second set of pics. I don’t always do a good job with the pads are free-floating but they did improve the appearance of the job.  As will, I’m sure, the Spanx I will be wearing as the days get cooler->cold. The shoulders are wider than I expected.  I  thought they were extended-shoulder/drop sleeve but only slightly so more like my In-armscye cap sleeve than the 70’s bicep location. Ok I made a good story better.  These are sitting about 2″ passed my shoulder edges (See orange arrows? It was hard to find a contrasting color. Everything color wanted to blend into the background.):


At fitting,  I thought I have enough hip room, but was missing a little tummy space. .  I was right about not needing the 2″ center front length that I usually add (and was included by default when I copied the hem line from my sloper).  That’s an easy fix–just trim the 2″ and copy the change to the pattern.


2016/5 #5 Drape Front Blouse

This is the 2nd pattern I’ve copied from this issue of Ottobre Design.  It’s like I keep saying, I buy the other patterns and magazines. Get excited about design details. But Ottobre Design is the one that gets me sewing.

The Drape Front Blouse

It reminds me of the turtlenecks put out a few years ago by Burda 9/2010 #121 and Butterick 5070.  This is slightly updated. The pattern calls for center front and back seams and the turtle neck has been converted into a shorter, front cowl.  Otto says to finish  center seams and cowl with a rolled hem.  I think the pattern is an example of updating and recycling a very good design.

I traced size 48. Nothing beats success like another success and the 48  worked well for pants on me. The pattern sheet has 3 pieces but not the 3 I was expecting.  There is a sleeve (2). There is a top-half front(1) and a bottom half front (1A). Where was the back? Well you copy the front but trim off the cowl.  I wasn’t real happy with this solution. My front and back are not symmetrical. There’s very little that is symmetrical about me. But I decided to give it a go because my fabric is an ITY knit with 40% stretch. If this was a pattern for woven fabric, I’d quit right now.

I checked fit by comparing with my In-armscye cap-sleeve pattern just drafted a few weeks ago.  I’m nervous about that because it is drafted from my sleeveless sloper and this garment will have sleeves, long sleeves. I know the differences between sleeveless and sleeved. The sleeveless is fit closer to my body and the armscye is higher. Again the 40% stretch has me thinking this, using a sleeveless sloper on sleeved garment, might work.

One of the things I was concerned about is that as I grow wider, I don’t get a whole lot more length. Some yes. But it’s very little like eighths  of an inch. Also, patterns are typically drafted for the woman with is 5’5, 5’6.   While the 48 sized pant was fine hip wise, I needed to remove 3″ in length. I know that I’m also short-waisted. I’m not as long as the standard between shoulders and waist. When I compared patterns I placed my sloper on top of the newly traced pattern; aligned center fronts and slid the sloper up until the armscyes touched. I discovered that the Otto waist was 2″ lower than my sloper and that there was an extra 1″ length in the upper chest.  I folded out at both places and copied my shoulder slope.  I checked the hem. Otto has drafted a tunic length garment. I don’t care for this proportion on me.  I’ll be wearing long pants and possibly a vest, jacket or coat. The tunic length looks sloppy and unbalanced on me in that type attire.On the model the tunic is scrunched between waist and hip another look I don’t like.  I’ve spent most of my life adding width to be sure that puddling of fabric doesn’t occur. Now it’s a fashion? To continue, I shortened to my standard length.

I start to repeat the process on the front. Holy cow, it is 2″ longer from shoulder to Bust Apex and there is no bust dart. They say that anything above a B cup must add a dart.  I’m a B cup and can tell you there are lots of garments with out darts but when I wear them a dart forms. Currently, all my drafts have the bust dart.  Even the princess seam (dart is rotated to the shoulder and hem.) But it also seems to me that the extra length may have come from creating the drape front/cowl. If the bust dart was rotated to the neck to form the cowl, then there is a bust dart in front. Also I usually  need to add 2″ length to center front at the hem. I’m thinking it may not be needed because I have an extra 1″  up at the armscye. I decide my first garment will be entirely basted with water soluble thread so I can recut as needed. Then I make the same changes as the back (1- shorter through armscye, 2″ shorter above waist) and copy my hem which includes the usual extra 2″ length.  I add 5/8 for the seam allowances. My sloper includes 1/2″ seam allowances but it is 5/8″ wider — I measured.  Otto does not include seam allowances.  The difference could be my chosen seam allowance and fabric stretch factor.  Even if this fabric has 40% stretch, I’d rather trust my sloper.

I finished the front and back by truing and walking seams.

Then turned me attention to the sleeve. I aligned my sleeve sloper with the armscye.  I was not surprised that the Otto cap is shorter.  If I’m ‘reading’ the schematics right, this is an extended-shoulder/drop-sleeve garment. That’s why I chose the In-Armscye sloper.  However, length is way off. I need to remove 5″.  It’s such a large amount that I made the adjustment in two places.  I removed 3″ above the elbow about mid-arm by making a 1.5″ deep tuck.  Repeat that below the elbow but the tuck is only 1″ deep.

Whew. Lots of changes and after I baste together I made need even more.  As I cut my fabric, I hope this is not my new normal with Otto patterns.