Tanking the Otto Tank Top

My desire to have more of a “tank” top coincided when my desire to reduce the number of Under 2’s in my stash. So I pulled out a lovely knit purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics intending to pursue altering the pattern  into a tank. The fabric is a crinkle cotton. I think the crinkle has been stabilized by a line of elastic sewn to the reverse side.  It’s an interesting fabric that was easy to work with as well.

So at my age, you don’t go bra-less.  If you do, people see your nip ples around knee level.  Bad bra? Nip ples appear around the belly button.  I keep the girls where they belong by regularly buying and wearing new bras (although I do mess up from time to time.) That means that even a tank pattern, needs to be bra-friendly. I rotary cut a copy of the existing pattern from fresh tracing paper to work with. I think the neckline width is pretty good so I measured 1.5″ from the shoulder point and made a mark. Using my curved ruler, I drew the armscye from the new point back down to the curve of the underarm.  I did not lower the underarm.  Sheesh, it took 2 versions to get it bra-friendly.  I’m not ruining it now.

For me, the wonderful thing about TNT’s is that I can put my time into embellishments.  So this Tank version isn’t quite a TNT, but it’s close enough that I felt like having a little fun.  I went through my collection of graphics and found an interesting feather.  I wish I could give credit for this but I saved the file with only date and time.  There were 4 in the pic.  I cropped to 1 feather and then imported into my Cameo Silhouette Studio program.  I converted it to a cutting file, resized, repeated, mirrored and arranged.  I spent at least an hour developing a design I wanted to use.

Silver stars and nails were added just before sewing was complete.

Then because it became a large design (12X18″) I moved the Cameo from its shelf in the computer room to the kitchen table.  Previously I’ve ironed two layers of freezer paper together and put that into the Cameo for cutting on its shelf.  That does work but not perfectly.  There will be bubbles (no matter how hard I try to press evenly) between the two layers. When the Cameo cuts, the bubbles won’t cut cleanly.  That won’t do for this design. It has to cut very well because it has lots of small dots and dashes and paisleys and stuff-that-needs-to-be-cut. On the shelf, the work receives minimal support. This would be fine if I could also use the mat.  The length of mat needed, will not feed smoothly through during cutting. It bounces when it reaches the wall.  At the table, this isn’t an issue.  Since I was using the table, I could also use a mat and I only needed 1 layer of freezer paper.

But at the table I couldn’t connect the computer to the Cameo.  I had the learning experience of transferring my design to SD card complicated by the fact my computer is not accessing its built-in SD-reader. I must use a USB adapter. The first USB adapter I tried was broken. How the heck do these things break? It would show up in File Explorer but then the computer couldn’t do a file copy.  Eventually I changed readers. Another problem solved. Another appears.  I haven’t previously  transferred files to the Cameo using the SD card.  I’d read about it — and forgotten the instructions. So I diddled at the Cameo for 15 minutes before I was able to figure out the menu selections I needed to load the file. Another problem solved  …

and another appears.  The cameo wouldn’t cut the freezer paper. 3 sheets of freezer paper later and I know to set the blade to a depth of 2.5. I learned that after running back to the computer changing software settings ; downloading the file; and cutting at the Cameo several times. I think I’ve got the procedure down, now.  I love technology. To be truthful, I love this kind of plinking around convincing devices  to do what I want.

Down to the sewing room with my stencil.  I spread out my fabric and placed my altered pattern on top.  I chalked the outline of my pattern pieces upon the fabric then cut out around the intended front allowing a good 4″ margin all around.  I trimmed the  stencil, still leaving a nice margin and sprayed the shiny side with stencil glue before carefully placing the stencil on the upper bodice.  I smoothed it into place; dug out my white textile paint and a dabber.  Painting took less then 5 minutes. Sheesh, all that work for 5 minutes of daubing up and down with a teaspoon of white paint.  After clean up at the sink (I love acrylic paints) I removed the stencil from the fabric.  Last time I stenciled, I left the stencil on while the paint dried. I also had a bit of a problem placing my stencil that time. I had sprayed it twice with glue after having tried to iron it into place.  I still have bits of freezer paper on that project.  Not wanting to repeat that experience, I carefully pulled the stencil away now before the paint was thoroughly dry.  The design was beautiful.  But a little flat looking. I had glitter handy. Not something I buy regularly. This came with some purchases made during the last Nebraska Junk Jaunt. I sprinkled glitter lightly over the paint. Then left all to dry.

The next day, I placed my pattern back on the fabric and cut the pieces for my new tank top.  I taped the neckline back and front, the shoulder and the armscyes.  Usually I tape the front neckline and back shoulders. But this was all so skinny I was afraid it would stretch if allowed to dangle without support.  Before beginning construction, I cut strips 1.75, 1.5 and 1.25″ strips from the fabric. Using white Stretchy Max I roll hemmed one side. Then I serged shoulders together and finished the hems, armscyes and neckline using the type A, Up and over binding.

There is no real change it the fit. It’s all design details and whatever the fabric does.

Fit is fine, I’d say I can make the neckline wider and maybe the shoulder a little more exposed. But you know, I think It’s a great summer style.


Otto Tank

I felt that I had made a major change to fit with the first iteration of this pattern, otto 2/2207 #1.  I transferred the change to the pattern, a 1/2″ tuck in the armscye both front and back.  Then I fused non-woven interfacing to the backs of both pieces.  I chose my fabric, a rayon knit with  horizontal stripes., I decided to make full patterns instead of half.  I can waste a lot of time trying to fold fabric in half and align for stripes or plaids. I decided several years ago when faced with either of these types of fabrics, just to make a full pattern.  It makes it so easy align designs.

Typically I can place the armscye points across from each other on the same stripe and be safe.  After cutting the fabrics I also cut 3/4″ width-wise stripes.; carefully trimming to highlight the narrow dark stripe.


I scooped the neckline and trimmed 1/4″ from the shoulder.  I’m still not sure the Pattern Cutting  Made Easy book is right about the ease, but I do know that necklines will gape if I don’t do something to stop it.  I immediately taped the front neckline and the back shoulders.  I curved the hem and finished it with the easy up and over binding (like a type A binder produces) along the hem. I serged the binding to the backside then folded it and over and stitched it in place on the front side.  I left a 1/8″ raw edge which I’m hoping will curl into place. and be lovely.  I used the same finish on the neckline and armscyes after the shoulder seams were serged.



Fit wise, I have no serious complaints.  The armscyes are a little loose right now which I’m attributing to all the handling.




Although from the side, it’s obvious I’m becoming more like Humpty Dumpty with every passing year.


That was an old bra.  Maybe I should throw it away.


I like this, as is but it doesn’t say tank top to me.  I expect a narrower shoulder and deeper front and back neckline as well as a little more shaping. Additional shaping is going to be hard to achieve. Let’s face, all Humpty Dumpties are basically round or convex across the middle instead of indented. I’ll be keeping this pattern, cause I like it too but I plan to copy it and make refines that will say TANK TOP.

Sleeveless Otto 5/2014 #5

The Woven T gone sleeveless Version 2, is I, think a success!

No more bra-peepage and the garment is still comfortable to wear.  This is a light weight cotton/poly. It has some body but not nearly as stiff as yesterdays.  I made a slight V neck and instead of facings finished all with bias tape.

In retrospect, a facing would have been faster. Oh bias tape works. I even have beautifully stitched, multiple lines of top stitching.

I love the crispness added by edge stitching. I really should do this more often. It does impart a professional finish as well as nailing the bias tape into place.

Picture of the back didn’t turn out — I moved. You’ll have to accept my word for it. The back hangs instead of bunching. Fabric. It’s all in the fabric. I am considering shifting just a bit of ease from front to back hip and perhaps adding a wedge which will lengthen the front. I’m surprised that the diagonal side lines exist.  I thought they indicated a bust dart was needed. My bust dart is both in the right place and the right width.  I think the diagonals are saying more room in the rear please.

I stitched this together at high speed. Did not take time for a single fitting. I did make a new template which raises the armscye 1/2″ instead of the 1/4″ of the first version. Also the V neck has less depth than the scoop neck of yesterday. So it was not necessary to trim 1/4″ from the shoulder and stabilizing was limited to stay stitching the V of the neck.

I have to confess that sometimes this is the kind of sewing I like best. I picked a pretty fabric, cut it out and stitched together within 2 hours. No fitting, all machine stitching and finishing contribute greatly to reducing the amount of time involved.

I’m ready to whip up my next TNT: the Otto Tank Top 2/2007 #1.

Woven T Going Sleeveless

Usually I try to fit basic garments T, shell, sleeveless shell, trousers and then fit them for both woven and knit fabrics. It takes at least 2 attempts for each and makes it a long process when I have to refit basics. This time I decided to take Otto’s Woven T 2/2014 #5 and using Pattern Cutting Made Easy convert it to a sleeveless, woven top.

Actually the book starts with a sleeveless, close-fitting block  and converts to sleeves. So I was working backwards.  Using my already traced pattern, I created a template with a raised armscye of 1/4″.  I also felt like there was too much ease across the entire front. I trimmed a scant 1/8″ from the CF. Because I scooped the front neck, I also trimmed a 1/4″ wedge from the shoulder.  The book explains that additional ease is often incorporated in the upper bodice which is not needed with a lower neckline.  I’m not sure about that. I also know that when you scoop you start introducing more bias edges into your work. Bias will stretch.  Before sewing a single stitch, I stabilized the front neck with fusible tape.

I selected a 100% cotton homespun with a neat geometric design. I didn’t have a full yard and needed to make adjustments in order to use it.  I added a center back seam and instead of laying all my pieces in the same direction, I placed them head to head. That way there was plenty of width at each cut edge for the bottom of the garment while the shoulders shared the space.  I did make an effort to match stripes.  This is a wavy pattern and my matching came out really good.

Here’s an interesting point The fabrics I’ve used previously with this pattern were softer, had less body.  This fabric is firmer but not really stiff. Nonetheless, it wants to bunch in the mid-back. The other fabrics did not or at least, not noticeably.

Armscyes and neckline were finished with bias tape.  It’s a finish I love despite the fact that it often makes these edges lie a bit differently. In the back photo, my neckline is practically standing up.

I stitched bust darts and shoulders together than basted the sides and tried on my garment. I could tell then that the armscye was still just a 1/4″ too low. My bra was peeking out. It’s not that noticeable in the pic because I don’t wear white bras only shades of tan.  Still I don’t like my bra showing and will need to repeat this exercise.

I can be fit (Otto 2/2007 Style 1)


Tired of futzing with PP108, I returned to my faithful Ottobre Design Magazine.  I think Otto is not more popular because of its fabric selections. Whereas Burda photos in weird positions and dark colors, Otto chooses fabrics from the late 50’s.  They must have a warehouse someplace. Honestly, I look at the fabrics and think ugly, ugly, ugly.  Also while they use real people as models, why can’t Otto help with makeup and pose. That’s what those million dollar babe’s do. Yeah, they get paid $1mil because they need to pay for their entourage which includes makeup artists.  And it’s the photographers that say turn this way, give me that face yada yada. A good photographer gets good photographs because he/she/it stages the shoot and directs the model. I’m quite certain those Otto everyday-models, would look as great as the million dollar babes, if someone was in their corner directing their every move.  But I digress. My point is that Otto has excellent fitting patterns but it’s hard to tell from the photographs.

This is Otto issue 2/2007 Style 1 Tank Top.  In the magazine it looks more like a de facto tank top.  It look more like a sleeveless knit top on me because of tracing and fitting decisions.  Up to my using pattern 2/2014 #5, I had been getting excellent fit from Otto by tracing multiple sizes. I remeasured my self for that pattern and decided to trace a straight 46.  I measured the hip for 2/2007 #1 and decided that this pattern has negative ease. I like negative ease. Especially in rib knits.  The rib stretches over my bust making me appear to actually have both a bust and waist. However negative ease across the hips causes the garment to slowly work its way upward until all the lower coverage is bunched up around my waist. So I chose to trace a size 48. According to the measurements of the pattern, a 48 would give me 1.5″ ease in the hips and 2″ across the bust.

I haven’t grown any taller and still need both my NSA and BWL. I added the BWL above the waist. But couldn’t figure out how to do the NSA.  The shoulder is already 2″ wide. Applying a 1″ NSA was going to just about do away with the shoulder. I didn’t want spaghetti straps or strapless. So, I worried about the effect of the NSA. Then I worried about having measured correctly.  I added 1/4″ SA to the shoulders and armscye. Increase the hem from 1″ to 1.25″ just because 1.25″ is my personal standard hem depth. Then added 1″ SA to the side seams. I cut the fabric;   basted shoulder and side seams at the planned stitching line….

and tried it on for fit.  My fabric is a rayon knit. So very thin and somewhat stretchy. (Like 25% stretch). I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at the first fitting. I had applied my BWL between bust and waist. That adjustment needed to be there. It brought the waist and hip shaping in alignment with my body. But I also need to shorten this pattern between shoulder and bust.  This happens frequently but not every time. It’s not a standard adjustment for me but something I do look for. I did notice when tracing multiple sizes that the shoulder to bust distance was shorter but not by this much.  Since the fabric was cut, I  increased the shoulder seam to 1.25″. Then I looked at the underarm. As expected there was a little too much ease across my bust which caused gaping at the side seam under the arm.  I increased the side seam 1/4″ but in a wedge, like a dart where the wide part is at the underarm and the point is 3″ down on the side seam. That’s it 2 adjustments. Both easy and one 1 very small.

I’m using an up and over binding. I’m pleased with the neckline. Ok with the armscyes. I usually stretch the binding around the curves just a titch. I think I stretched 2 titches instead of one. Still not bad. May even stretch out and hang beautifully during wear.

Today’s jersey knits are so thin, they have become difficult to sew.  I used my straight stitch foot and a spyder at the beginning of straight stitch seaming.  The serger handled this fabric beautifully without even changing the size 12 needles. (Which is a good thing because I can hardly find a size smaller in an ELX705 needle).  The CS wanted gather. Instead of adjusting settings, I cut 1.5″ strips of stabilizer and fed it beneath the hem. I used the heat-away stuff — just to try something different.

Well actually I’ve had this roll for a while and seldom use it.  I decided to use it just to get rid of it. I’m not entirely sold on this heat away stuff. In fact, this time I am displeased.  The sticky WSS I used on the last top held the fabric. Absolutely nailed it in place.  This heat-away would grab the fabric but still allow it to move.  Going over steams required careful navigation. That would have been OK except I spent an hour trying to melt away the stabilizer, instead it has melted into the fabric.

It’s possible that this garment is ruined. I’m wearing it today to check fit and see what happens when it goes through the laundry.  I may throw this cr@p in the trash.

But back to fit, which I’m excited to share. Two tiny adjustments and the front is near perfect.

I expect a little pulling at the armscyes or bust because that’s what happens to me if I buy RTW. There is none.

The back is not quite as good.  I think I may have shortened the shoulders too much. It looks to me like the armscye is cutting back under the arm too soon. I know there is sufficient ease. It’s the hemming causing the bunching. Before the hem, the back hung perfectly. Even with this light weight knit, the back just hung straight. I turned the iron up to max heat trying to melt the stabilizer. I think it may have shrunk the fabric. It certainly did make little puckers where the stabilizer melted and clings together. Well this was a good fabric to try this out. In person, I really don’t like the colors.  The light color is a greenish khaki (bad color for me). the green is a dark olive and the bright blue is not the best shade for me. When I wear the right shade of blue, my eyes practically pop out of my head.  All you can notice is my eyes because they become so brilliant.

So where am I going with this pattern?  I have several knit remnants (and a few I bought on purpose) that I want to make into tank tops.  Because of my fitting adjustments, this isn’t really a tank top, IMHO.  I’ll transfer the adjustments to the pattern. I’ll shorten the shoulder to bust length only 1/2″. Then I’ll  make one more just like this one without using the melt-away/heat-away stabilizer. That will tell me how the pattern with alterations really fits and how much the stabilizer really messed up. Then I’ll be adjusting the width of the shoulder and that whole armscye area, trying to develop a true tank top.  Each version will be quick to make. Time elapses between versions because  I like to wear a garment all-day, at least once before decided what adjustments need to be made. Sort of like denim jeans. You fit jeans for how they will feel after 3 hours of wear. Usually that means so tight you have to lay down on the bed to put them on in the morning. As the day goes along, the denim softens, stretches and the true shape/fit emerges.  It’s a phenomena that is most apparent in denim but occurs to a lesser degree with all fabrics.

For now, I’m just happy to have this pattern. I found something that fit with only minor tweaking in the fit stage. That’s what I want in a pattern.

Uncommon Abbreviations

I use some of the same terms over and over but they aren’t common to the general public and may not be readily understood by every sewist.  I’ve been following common courtesy by spelling out the first instance accompanied with abbreviation and then using the abbreviation when needed subsequently i.e. Water Soluble Thread (WST) the first time then just WST.  Frankly, I know I’m lazy. I also tire of writing out these terms over and over. Yet I know that very people have read my every post and few of them are likely to understand all my abbreviations. But I’m still lazy.  I’ve opted for what I hope is an acceptable substitute. I’ve created a page on my base blog sdBev.wordpress.com  titled “uncommon abbreviations” and I will link my abbreviations to that page. Granted the reader will have to scroll down that list to find my definition which could be a bit inconvenient for them. I apologize for that and the fact I am slightly lazy. But I’ve learned I can’t please everyone. So it’s most important that I’m satisfied with myself.

Uncommon Abbreviations

Style 5, Otto 2/2014

Making this blouse, #5 Ottobre Design 2/2014,

is a prelude for another project.  I chose it for the classic design:  Set in sleeves, scoop neck, horizontal bust dart.  I admit it is close in design to Pamela’s T shirt.  It even has some shaping in the side seams, but it is drafted for woven fabrics.  Since I’ve been refitting all my patterns, I decided to start fresh with Otto. Before choosing my size, I flipped the tape measure over and took my measurements in MM’s.  To my surprise I fit, just fit within a size 46 at both bust and hip. My tummy however belongs in the next size up. I made my 1″ back-waist-length adjustment and then compared the pattern to Otto’s Vintage Blouse which I had refit just a few weeks ago.  They were close. Right at the hip, the vintage blouse is about 3/8″ wider both front and back pieces than this classic top.  If it has been 1/8″, I wouldn’t have bothered.  Even 1/4″ difference, I would have ignored. 3/8″ is getting too close to 1/2″ which would mean a difference of 2″ ease (4 pieces of fabric {front, back, left, right} times 1/2″).  I definitely felt uneasy.

Besides I wanted to try-out  two new-to-me alterations by Pam Erny. (Brought to my attention by a comment on a previous post.)  (Link is to the alterations).  The full-hip alteration made sense to me. I measured down from the waist to ensure that I spread the pattern 1/2″ over the fullest part of my hip (which is 7″ down from the waist).  My concern with the full-hip is getting enough ease across my b utt without developing the Judi Jetson hem.

I did not fully follow Pam’s Full Abdomen Alteration instructions. If you look at the diagram, it does not add length.  I cut my pattern as in the diagram and also added length to the center piece.

I pinned the pieces together and pinned the tissue to Mimie, my dressform. On Mimie, I could tell that the neckline was too high and that the shoulders (which measured a mere 3″) were hanging over about 1″. I made a 1/2″ narrow shoulder adjustment. Normally I narrow the shoulder by a full 1″.

My fabric is a 100% cotton purchased from Joanns  last week. I like paisleys and felt the fabric was perfectly colored for inclusion in my Summer 6PAC. Although the pics don’t really show it, rose-pink dominates the paisleys  with a few narrow, rose-brown lines. In the pics, the blouse has an over all brown coloring.

The fabric was labeled “premium 100% cotton” for $12.99/yard. At the counter the cutter happily announced it was on sale for $9.99/yard.  I’m not even sure what “premium” is supposed to indicate. I know Pima. I like Pima cottons. This felt OK in the store and wasn’t what I would call cheap, even at the sale price of $9.99/yard. As always, I serged the ends and laundered it once. It did not shrink (a good sign), but was not as slick and smooth as when first purchased.

Onto fit.  The Back:

There are things about this I really like.  I did not insert shoulder pads yet my shoulders do not appear rounded or sloped.    The hem is even across the bottom and does not swing outward like Judi Jetson has arrived. It was not necessary for me to make the full hip adjustment to the back piece. There is more than enough ease. My only criticism is the puffiness in the center of the back.  I’m seriously considering a future sway-back adjustment even though it means adding a center back seam.

The pattern has a horizontal bust dart and plenty of ease over the tummy but I see the drag line from the bust. From the front my shoulders do look rounded. Guess I need those shoulder pads after-all.

I’m wondering how much my “picture posture” is effecting the side view. When I take photos I always think “Stand straight.  Shoulders back. Knees relaxed.”  Maybe I should quit talking to myself and just stand there relaxed. From the side view the center back looks puffy; there are multiple drag lines from the bust and the front hem is rising like flood waters.  Oh and something I’m never noticed before, my head is sitting way forward–I’m turtle necked?

Despite my criticisms, I like the blouse. I was afraid it would look like a hospital smock. I think the scoop neck has saved it from that awful look, but a little more could be done.  I’m seriously thinking of adding a shirt-tail hem,  changing the sleeve length and adding a little more curve in the side seam. I’m keeping the full hip alteration but removing Pam Erny’s  full abdomen alteration. I think I need an FBA  over my tummy.

As always, Otto’s drafting is superb.  I do have problems finding all the markings — I never found the waist indication on this one but did find all the sleeve notches including the gathering lines. Which weren’t needed. I pinned the sleeve in 3 places; set the serger differential to 1.5 and serged the sleeve to the blouse with the sleeve down on the feed dogs. Perfect!   I use bias tape to finish the neckline; turned up and stitched to finish all hems. (Even though I knew the latter smacked of hospital smocks.)       Possibly I could have traced the pattern and applied my NSA and BWL alterations instead of fussing with new-to-me alterations. Part of sewing fun is trying these new things and deciding if they work for you or not. I did like that PE’s alterations do not change the side seams. I didn’t have to get out my curves and blend lines together. Really this was a 3-piece, easy-to-sew pattern.

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.

5/2008 Style 17 Surplice


This is a surplice style drafted for jersey knits. From the schematic I think, those are 3 tucks/pleats along the left side with the surplice tucked in just below the underarm.  I thought, surely this will be a winner for me. First off, it’s Otto. I’ve had really good luck with Otto fit.  Partly that’s because I trace one size for the shoulder, a different size at the bust and yet a third size for the waist and hip.  I join these disparate lines using a hip curve.

But I’ll tell you right now, this was the worst pattern I have ever traced and that includes all the Burda magazines.  I took new measurements. It hasn’t been that long since I last took my measurements but I wasn’t sure what the pattern pieces would look like or how to alter them for my shape.  I wanted to start as close as possible to my real size.  I was disappointed to find my 43″ hips now required a size 52. I’ve had 48″ hips and know women with 54″ hips. I was rather surprised to find that many real women, the kind that Otto appeals to and shows in their pages, would not be able to make this garment. I traced the back and sleeve then started on the fronts. Yes Fronts as in two. A right front and left front are needed because each are shaped differently. Additionally, each front need an “a” piece joined to a “b” piece. To make things worse, from some reason Otto printed more than one style on the D sheet using blue ink. There were soooooooooooooo many conflicting blue lines.  I usually trace the lines with my finger before putting tissue on top and tracing with a pen. I kept getting lost. I could see that the shape I was tracing, was not any kind of a front but couldn’t figure out where I was crossing to another style.  Finally I figured it out and traced the appropriate lines. But then I couldn’t join my sizes. This has never happened to me before.  Joining the lines gave me unbelievable shapes.

I pulled out Pamela’s Pattern 104 thinking I might be able transpose the side seam, at least. That’s when I discovered that the size 52 was about 2 sizes too large.  I measured in inches and converted to cm’s. I’m assuming that my math was wrong.  So yes women with larger hips than mine (but I doubt 54″) will be able to use this style.  I managed to join the side seam lines, however the pieces just looked wrong.  The shoulder leans way to one side.  Anytime I’ve had that feature, there has been a dart, tuck, or gathering  to nip in the excess ease across the neck. I stared at that without understanding.  How could a surplice ever sit snugly across my body, if it started with too much ease?  Also the Right front had a ridiculous sharp curve along the side. How was that supposed to be sewn to the back side?  The left side (of the right front) curved outward in a large arc where the pleat markings were.  I could not visualize how this would form a top that would clothe my upper body.

Two hours into this “quick” pattern tracing session, DH called on the intercom and announced dinner. (He’s chief cook.).  Somewhat relived, I folded everything up, put it away and threw the tracings into the trash.

You did realize I would be continuing this story?