Category Archives: 2008/5-17 Surplice

Otto Surplice: Cut. Sew. Fit?

I’m using an ITY knit recently purchased.  Otto calls for a jersey knit which I believe is a single knit fabric like ITY. I wanted to use this particular knit because it matches perfectly with my new pants, Pamela’s Patterns #113. Fortunately it is wide. Like 62″.  I’m able to fold the fabric in half, place the back on the fold and the sleeve next to the back. I cut these first, then lay the fabric out and cut each front separately.

I used a slightly different sewing order from my normal. I hemmed first.  I kept thinking about the two layers in front. Heavy bulky hems just don’t hang right. Once the side seams are sewn, I won’t be able to hem the front separately.  So I took advantage of the fact that this is based on a TNT with lengths and hems all figured and added. I hemmed everything at the cover stitch before doing anything else.

Next up was basting the right front tucks/pleats into place. Much easier to do it now then when working with one piece than later up when the top is more assembled and much heavier.  I followed that by fusing bias tape to the shoulders on the back piece.  When working with knits, I always  fuse bias tape to the back shoulders, sometimes to the neckline and fronts as well.  I just can’t tell in the fabric stage if a knit shoulder will stretch or behave well.  If even a recovery test is satisfactory, once the garment is finished the test is really null and void because of all the weight that will be on the shoulders. I don’t like to fuss with elastic, the other good stabiliser for knit shoulders. Bias tape is the perfect answer for me. Bias still has a little flex, which I do want with knits, but the stretch is controlled and will support the weight of the garment.

But  I used clear elastic to finish the entire neckline including the surplice. I don’t really care for stitch and turn finishes. They are IMO unfinished and ratty looking. However one of the tips I received for controlling the surplice gape, was to stretch elastic tape just slightly during application. Supposedly  the surplice will be forced to snug  to the body.  I used the 3 step zigzag to attach the elastic to the wrong side. I stretched 3″ to 3.25″ all along the way. Then I turned it under and finished at the cover stitch. Voila, nice, clean finish even with a Turn and Stitch technique.

I serged the sleeves into the armscye and then  and then serged side seams from bottom hem to wrist hem all in one swoop.

I suddenly realized that the garment was finished and I hadn’t checked the fit.  I didn’t rip the serging only to baste the garment together. I threw the blouse on Mimie for a quick check.  I must repeat that Mimie is not exactly a copy of me. I fit a muslin to my body, then cut the cover and fit it to my body. But when I added stuffing, the shape changed slightly.  I removed some stuffing and then left it alone. I know from experience that the stuffing will pack down. Until it does, I keep in mind that working with Mimie is close and good for initial planning but not final fit.

On Mimie I discover that my careful drafted surplice; with it’s clear elastic controlling the stretch — Gapes a good 2″

While the neckline looked high in tissue, I’m concerned that in fabric it’s already too low. Also, the front droops oddly totally unlike the Otto original.

I know I’m going to need to try the garment on for final changes so I throw a few pins in the surplice and head upstairs to find my new pants.

I also choose a few vests to try with my new outfit (blouse + pants = new outfit – bling)

Ok when I was younger, I would have worn this.

I mean really younger, like 19 and wanting to look 21. It fits pretty well which is what you expect from a TNT.  The odd drape isn’t quite as visible on me as it was on Mimie.  As I got older I realized I wanted to be taken seriously at work. That low neckline would have to go. I pinned the neckline in front which just looked awkward. Later I pinned 2″ at the side and then on both the right front and the left front. Later still I increased from 2″ to 3″.  This surplice, this fabric, needs 3″ removed in order to snug my body and cross high enough not to reveal any part of the girls.

For fun, I tried on the other vests and took pictures.  I’m glad I did.  I would have chosen these but regretted my choice:

The grey vest hides the pins, but the outfit has no interest.  The brown vest just doesn’t color coordinate. It looks wrong. the Plaid vest might be OK. I need to take a picture without it being closed. In this view, I’m just not satisfied.  However I would be happy with the next two:

I think the black has a little more punch. Which is too bad because I really should get rid of it.  The black vest was sewn with a very loosely woven wool. It snags and up close is beginning to look bad. The stripe vest is OK, I wish it contrasted just a little more.

I finished this blouse by darting the surplice close to the side seam. I made 3 darts, 1″ each.  That adds more mess to the draping. But is covered by a vest. I will never wear this blouse without a vest. I also just tacked the surplice together at the neckline. I made a little diamond which didn’t show in the pic I took.  So I can and will wear this blouse. The pants are a different story.  I’ll be updating that post

For the next version

  • Remove the original surplice tucks.  I don’t like the way they drape.  While the Otto version looked better, I’m most likely to use the same or very similar fabric which will look equally bad.
  • Add 3 darts along the surplice edge or
  • Gather/rousch the Surplice edge or
  • Use a casing and elastic to gather the Surplice edge
  • Remove 3″ from the surplice edge

I like the basic style. I’m convinced that I *can* control the surplice edge.  I’m sure to make this again, just not exactly the same.


Otto Surplice Top: Drawing A Pattern

Sometimes I do my best thinking in the bathroom. I’m not alone in this phenomena.  I’ve known several others who say flushing the toilet just seems to clear the mind and allow new thoughts inside.  This time, it was what my mom called “simmering on the back burner” which worked. I didn’t return to this surplice problem until noon the  next day.  By that time I had checked my Margolis Book and found the information I needed.

I started with PP104 (Pamela’s Patterns 104).  I’ve already fit this T-shirt so it works for me as a basic block.  I don’t like to draft patterns. I hate all the plotting points, drawing lines to connect the points and then you still need to make a test garment (otherwise known as a muslin).  But I found out that many pattern cutters don’t plot points for every new style. They take their basic block, make a copy and add the desired details. So that’s what I did, except I made 2 copies because I need a right front that looks different from the left front.

There are some important differences between PP104 and Otto’s basic draft.  PP104 has built-in shaping for the bust and waist. Also the hem is curved. On me, the neckline is drafted for a wrapped binding rather than a folded in half binding (Sorry. Sr moment and can’t remember exactly what that’s called.) I’m not going to worry about the neckline binding because I’m changing it into a surplice and ditching the collar for this version (I hope there will be more).  I like the shapely fit of PP104 better than Otto’s Basic T (2/2006#1) but that hasn’t stopped me from making lots of Otto’s Basic T. It’s just that I need to refit the Basic T.  I don’t want to do basic fitting here. I want to adapt for the surplice neckline. So I’m also ignoring the difference in shaping and hemline. It will look good. I’m sure.

I take one of the copies and pin it on Mimi (my dressform).  This will be the Right Front. On it I indicate where I want the surplice to attach to the left side seam.

Then I mark the center front for how deep I want the surplice to be and finally a mark where the shoulder should sit.

Off Mimie and back onto my table, I try to use my hip curve to join the 3 dots. Didn’t work. I spy the seldom used curved ruler (which I bought to discover my crotch curve) and I put it into use.  It’s rather like using a garden hose to mark where your garden beds will be placed and planted.

It does the trick and I cut both front along the designated line.

I reverse one of the fronts and label one RIGHT and the other LEFT.

I set the left aside and dig the tissues out the trash from yesterday. Locating the right front of yesterday, I measure where the tucks are placed and transfer to my tissue. (Approximately 1.5″ from the top of the surplice. Each tuck is 1.5″ wide and 1.25″ apart).

Then I draw 3 lines across the front starting at my marks, roughly horizontal to the hem and all the way across to the right stitching line.

I cut the tissue along the 3 lines, place another tissue beneath and spread the slashes apart 1.5″. Followed by securely taping all in place.

I know from experience that the left side, where the tissue was slashed and spread, can’t be cut even.  For a good stitching line and BTW one of things we are trying to say when we make the comment “well drafted” , I fold and pin the tucks into place and then trim the excess tissue along the original side cutting line.

I unpin the tucks, smooth the piece back into shape and am immediately surprised. My Right Front looks remarkably like the tissue I rejected as impossible yesterday.   I placed the Right Front (red dashes) on top of the Left top (green dashes) and took a picture so I could show you.  The bottom of both are very similar. But the top portion of the Right front is very distorted.

The surplice side has lifted up looking much larger and bulging outward.  The shoulder has shifted away from center making the surplice seem to have grown in length(it did not). The other side has a bulge under the armscye and  sharp indent at the waist. Both features I was sure shouldn’t exist.

I finish by pinning both fronts to Mimie and checking the tissue. I think the surplice looks a little higher than I want. But I leave the tissue alone. It will be easier to trim a little from the fabric than to try and add any later on.

I conclude that I started with just enough knowledge to make me crazy.  It did help to have a pattern which fit. I didn’t have to figure out how to join 3 different sizes.  Astonishingly, I spent 2 hours the day before, but today I’ve got less than 30 minutes into the project.

Tomorrow I’ll cut and stitch. Oh and post again.