Category Archives: Tops

Quick and easy they said

So after my last wadder and an unsuccessful experiment (I’ll tell you about this one later), I decided to do something for me that was quick and easy.  Everyone one who commented on my tweed travesty suggested that I cleanse my palate with a quick and easy project.  I thought, “Elizabeth, why don’t you make that Burda turtleneck everyone has been raving about on the interwebs!” 


Burda 9-2010-121

I traced it out on Sunday night and would have sewn it too, but for two obstacles. 

  1. It took me forever to trace it out because I couldn’t see the pattern lines on the new Burda pattern sheet.  I even put on my big girl panties and my reading glasses and still could barely make out my three pattern pieces, much less their markings/notches.  Sheesh!  You guys weren’t lying.  I don’t know if I want to put myself through that again.  What if I want to make a more complicated project with lots of markings?  I would for sure miss most of them.  It’s darn near impossible to see all of them.  I have been considering giving up my subscription since I don’t make up a lot of Burda patterns (oh, let’s face it, I’m so slow, I don’t make up a lot of patterns.  Period.), but now I”m definitely not re-upping.  Burda has entered crazy town.  But I digress…
  2. The new show Walking Dead was on and I was too distracted by zombies to sew that night.  Word.

However, last night was a new night and I did several things that ensured this top would end up a wadder. 

  1. I just picked a random vanity size, sz 38.  Because that’s what Karen made, so that’s what I made.  Must. remind. myself. that. I. am. a. Burda. sz. 40. Repeat.
  2. I did not wear my reading glasses and therefore did not realize I was sewing the shirt with the wrong side facing out.
  3. I forgot to stabilize the shoulders.
  4. I tapered the sleeves at the wrist like Eugenia, forgetting that my wrists aren’t fairy-like.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  5. I forgot that I don’t like turtlenecks.  To be fair to myself, I didn’t actually forget as much as ignore.  Karen had mentioned that this top wasn’t a true turtleneck since the neck is cut on and not separate.  I thought that meant I would like it better than a turtleneck.  But combine a quasi-turtleneck neck with too tight of a fit and it’s the perfect storm for Elizabeth to hate it.  I hate having my neck covered and don’t like any fabric to rest on my clavicles ever.  Which is why all my t-shirts have misshapen necklines now, because I tug and pull at them to get them off my neckline and clavicles.

The good news though, is now my sister has a brand new brown bamboo knit turtleneck!  I’m sure she’ll like it because she has none of the neck issues I have and she’s a lot thinner than I am.  And hopefully she won’t read this post and find out the fabric’s inside out.  😉  

I’m not going to bother with a review since my viewpoint is all personal about the pattern rather than objective.  In general, it’s a good pattern.  It’s drafted as well as it can be with a cut on collar (i.e., it’s not going to look fantastic because that causes wrinkling at the neck no matter how perfect the fit for you).  Just know that the sleeves are incredibly long while also being extremely slim fitting.  If I were to make this again, I would widen the sleeves in the bicep area and shorten the sleeves by 2 inches.  Oh what the heck, I guess I will review it on PatternReview anyway later tonight.

What’s next on the plate?  Well, I am expecting a shipment from today with, hopefully, better and softer fabric for my surprise.  Sorry to keep you in the dark still; I am not ready to talk about it yet.  And by the time I can, it will probably be a major let down for you all (it not being a book deal and all).  😉 

We’ll see….   Here’s to wadder-free sewing for you all!

Pattern Review – New Look 6901

Pattern Description: Misses Six Sizes in One Just 4 Knits.  Includes one drape neck top and one mock wrap top plus skirt. I made the drape neck top as I have been coveting that kind of top for a long time.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 8-18, I made the size 12 with a cheater FBA from Debbie Cook’s blog after a disastrously ginormous muslin in a sz 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes I guess. It’s just an illustration, so you don’t get a real sense of how it fits.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were pretty easy to understand even for a beginner.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the drape neck but wonder if it really works for a c cup size or larger. I had difficulty making it work with my girls even after the FBA; it kept draping behind them. Hard to describe though.

Still a little tight at the bust, but acceptable

The pattern has a facing for the back neck which I found really hard to work with. Sewing it completely distorted the neckline on my muslin. So for my final version, I just folded the back neck over and sewed it done. Perfectly serviceable and minimal distortion.

Back neck

The sleeve cap ease is RIDICULOUS. My sewing teacher redrew the sleeve cap for me, but it was still too big when I made the final version. I still needed to ease it in.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton lycra knit from which I have made a dress in the past. I have so much left over that I am using it for knit muslins from now on. I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics back in the beginning of my on-line fabric days when I didn’t know how much yardage I needed for any given project. Ahh learning curves, love ’em or hate ’em?

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: For my final iteration, I traced the sz 12 for the neck and torso but moved out 3 sizes at the armscye to a sz 18 for my cheater FBA on both the front and back pattern pieces. While this seemed to help the pulling at the bust in front, it didn’t quite eliminate it altogether.  The rest of the fit was much improved from the ginormous sz 16 muslin I made: much more fitted without being too hoochie mama. Although this top does require a fair amount of sucking in the tummy to maintain a good line.   😉 

front cheater FBA

I used a blind hem stitch on the sleeves (see picture above)  and should have done the same for the hem of the shirt, but instead tried out stitch witchery. What a mess that stuff is. Due to lack of planning, I had some SW scraps on my ironing board and accidentally adhered them to my iron. What a PITA!!!! Anyway, the hem is a little wavy, but seems secure. I don’t know if it will hold up in the wash though. Guess I will find out soon enough. I really need to get on the twin needle band wagon or see if I can find a used coverstitch machined on craigslist.

I already mentioned the sleeve cap alteration and the neck band change I made above.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? While I find my final version wearable, I don’t think I will make this again for myself. This drape top does not play well with c cups and above. I might try the mock wrap top version to see how that works though. I recommend this pattern to people with b cups or smaller and you will definitely need to go down 2 sizes from their printed measurement suggestions.  I don’t think this will become a TNT for me.  On to the next pattern…

Conclusion: Cute pattern for smaller busted women. Sizing is ginormous. But instructions are easy to read and understand.

NL 6901 Take Two

Never one to back down from a fight, I took another stab at New Look 6901.  Yes folks, we’re back to my search for TNTs.

NL 6901

I had read about the cheater FBA for knits on Debbie Cook’s blog and thought I had nothing to lose but some knit fabric as another muslin.  Since my first muslin was GINORMOUS…

1st NL 6901 muslin

Oh sorry, was that too loud?  I decided to go down two sizes from a 16 to a 12.  And since the size 16 was too small in the bust, I chose to go up to the 18 from the armscye and blend it into the waist line.

front cheater FBA

Cheater FBA Back


Shoot, I’m just now wondering if I should have altered the back too?  Well I did and this is where we stand now.

too much fabric at the armscye?

Still a little tight at the bust, but acceptable

I have mixed feelings about this second version.  I am very glad I made this again though.  Fitting is a process.  There is no skipping over steps — it just can’t be done that way.  I love the overall fit of the size 12.  It’s fitted, without being too clingy.  There is definitely more room for the girls this time, but still a few pulling wrinkles across the bust line.  And the drape still falls mostly behind the bust wrinkles; kind of annoying to me.  My gut feeling is that I did the best cheater FBA I could because my side seams are pretty straight.  But I also think that this pattern is just not working for me and I should find another pattern that does.  One more thing, I don’t think the drape neckline works with suit jackets at all.  I would have to wear this solo or maybe with a sweater.  I would feel very exposed without a suit jacket and have to suck in my stomach for 9 hours at work.  Talk about exhausting!

But let me ask all the more experienced fitters out there:  please give me your honest opinion about this top and any suggestions you might have to make it work, if possible. 

And in case you’re wondering, I will most likely finish this top and put it into my work wardrobe rotation.  But I will have to make a skirt to go with it first.    😉  

Happy sewing everyone!

Sizing – Argh!

Last night I sewed up another muslin of another New Look pattern, #6807, in “my” size (16).  This sucker was 3 maybe 4 sizes too big!!!!  How can New Look’s sizing be that kind of variable from pattern to pattern.  That is just insane!  Thank the gods I didn’t use any good fabric.  I used the really icky dots fabric as my knit muslin. 

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

New Look 6807

And this is what it looks like on me:


YUCKORAMA!!!  Apologies for the blurry bathroom pic.

I am stepping away from my work wardrobe TNT project and sewing some birthday presents (don’t get mad at me Selfish Seamstress) for my nieces and nephew.  I need a break from crappy pattern sizing.

Hoping you have a better sewing weekend than me!

Muslin Hell

I am in muslin hell.  I made muslins for Simplicity 2452 and New Look 6901 over the last two weeks.  I hate them.  And no I don’t have pictures.  I would die of shame if you saw pictures.  Not flattering is the kindest term I can come up with to describe the awfulness that is the state of these muslins. 

Simplicity 2452

Let’s start the discussion with Simplicity 2452.  I first made this skirt in a size 14 in true muslin.  Choosing the size 14 was an exercise in futility wishful thinking.  I know sizes are just numbers, but folks, I really have a hard time swallowing the fact that I am a size 16.  Ok, so moving on, I choked back the tears accepted my “true” size and did another test run of this skirt in size 16 with some fabric of which I am not enamored.  I originally bought this stretch cotton for my Sew Fast Sew Easy class to make an elasticized waist skirt.  It’s a heavier weight (read: stiff — could stand up on it’s on) with Jacquard like stripes in an irregular pattern.  It’s easy to work with but the hand is not pleasant, think 70’s polyester blend.  Of course it doesn’t even enter my mind at this point that the size 16 wouldn’t fit, so I didn’t baste the side seams, I just sewed them at the regular stitch length (2.5 on my machine).  I hand basted the zipper in and tried it on. 

All I needed to complete the picture was a cane; I looked like I was at least 20 yrs older than I am.  What the?!?!??!?  It fit fine at the waist, but from the hips and down past the thighs, it was poufy (for lack of a better word).  Now I have to fit this size 16 to my apparently rectangular fat shape.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Have I done it yet?  NO!  Do I feel inclined to do it?  NO!  Will it be done? Maybe.  I don’t know.  We’ll see if and when I feel less bitter about this skirt. 

New Look 6901

Now for the New Look 6901 muslin…  I made view A the drape neck top in the pretty purple rain dress remnant as my muslin.  This time I “knew” to make the size 16.  First let me say that the New Look directions are great!  I understood every one of the steps.  The drafting is great too.  So let me tell you how I managed to screw up this simple top royally.  I got all fancy and decided to use my serger for the construction (not just the seam finishing).  The serger was not a good choice for attaching the back neckband facing.  Ask me how I know.  Then I proceeded to completely stretch the back neck out of all recognition by topstitching the facing after serging it.  It looks like hell.  The drape on the front, however, is beautiful.  After serging the side seams closed, I tried on my top.  Let me point out first though, before putting the top on, it looked ginormous in my hands.  Like triple XL ginormous.  I was scared it would be too big.  However, I didn’t realize how scared I should have been, because it fit.  For the most part.  It fit in the waist and shoulders.  Where it did not fit was in the bust.  Now, I am not of the opinion that I am overly well endowed in that region.  I would say that I am a little bigger than average.  I wear a C cup.  That’s it.  No FFF cups here.  Well that top was straining in the bust area with no less than three bust wrinkles.  And the drape?  The drape was draped BEHIND the bust wrinkles.   BEHIND!!!!  What the hell is up with that??  How is that even physically possible?  I can’t wrap my head around it.  And in case you’re wondering, the overall look of the top on me?  Reminiscent of women who wear clothes that are too young for their age.  I’m not that old people!!!!  

I knew I had gained some weight the last two years, but I must be suffering from some sort of delusion major body dysmorphia where I think I’m thinner than I actually am.  I have this picture in my mind of how I looked in 1997 and I’ve kind of frozen myself there in that year.  OMG, that’s thirteen years ago!  I thought it was only 5 yrs ago.  Time just flies after you turn 30 I guess.  Since I’ve had Jack, I’ve had this thought paradigm floating around my head that I can’t date right now.  Who wants to date a woman with a toddler, or who hasn’t lost the baby weight or gained more weight as if she had another baby but didn’t have another?  I can’t afford the babysitting costs required by having a social life.  So in my mind why should I bother losing weight or getting into shape again if I have no social life anyway.  What I hadn’t realized was just how much weight I have gained.  It’s shocking to me.  I guess these last two muslins have really made me look at myself in the mirror.  You know how you can look, but not really see?  That’s what I have been doing with mirrors since Jack was born, looking but not seeing.  Looking enough to put my make up on in the morning or do my hair, but not seeing the additional weight in all its glory.  

The funny thing is, I think back to when I was thin and dating and I distinctly remember thinking I was not thin.  Not fat, but not thin either.  It’s amazing how one’s perspective can be so skewed.  Now I know that I was thin then.  And now I see that I am not thin now.  *sigh*  

I have to start working out.  There’s just no hiding that fact anymore.  Even if dating is not in my near future, I still need to feel good about myself.  *double sigh*  Ok, I will stop writing TMI and get back to sewing.  I am not trying to be all self pitying right now, I am just sharing my sewing journey and a major part of sewing is being realistic about your measurements and sewing for the body you have now, not what you wish you had.  Am I making sense? 

Not sure what I am going to work on next, but probably New Look 6807. 

New Look 6807

Hope everyone else has a better sewing week than me.

Knit Top Patterns

In my last post, Drunk Printing, I mentioned that I was searching for a good knit top pattern to make some tops for my work wardrobe.  One sure way to punch up the volume in your work wardrobe is to have a variety of tops to wear with suits.  Confession time: for each suit I own, I really only have one dedicated top to wear with that suit.  So if you’ve seen me wear my brown suit, you’ve seen me wear my ice blue top from Ann Taylor with it pretty much all the time.  It’s time to change things up a bit, don’t you think?

I did some research on today to find out what different people thought about some of the Simplicity/New Look/Jalie knit top patterns.  I started with those pattern companies for the following reasons…

  1. Because Victoria told me to use Simplicity patterns no less that 3,456,217 times and in bold capital letters no less. (And also, they do tend to have really good directions.)
  2. New Look: because, darn! they’re cheap.
  3. Jalie: because Dawn loves them and I keep hearing how great they are with knit patterns.

After completing my research I came up with the following choices and purchased them from PatternReview because they were cheaper there:

New Look 6807

I like the top the model is wearing the best for under suits.  Super cute.  Second runner-up would be view B or E, but to be honest with you I can’t tell what the difference is between the two.  This pattern is my favorite. 

New Look 6901

Next up is this little cowl neck number.  I loves me a cowl neck.  But as Trena pointed out in the comments of the last post, they sometimes don’t work well under suits.  I’ll have to mull that one over for a while. 

New Look 6940

And the final New Look pattern is this cute knot top.  Love it.

Jalie 2806

I looked at all of Jalie’s offerings and really liked this one.  I have never used Jalie before, so I bought only one pattern to try them out.  Dawn likes them and she’s made some really cute clothes with their patterns, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. 

Of course, after I made this purchase, I saw all the suggestions made in the comments to my last post.  Robin suggested Simplicity 4095 but I am just not feeling crossover tops right now.  Still it’s a pretty top and a good suggestion.  Sue suggested Butterick 5354 which I loved and will definitely buy sometime soon.  Trena suggested Butterick 5283 and Burda 7866.  I liked both of them, so they’re going on my sometime soon list too.

And Marie-Christine wanted to be sure to warn me against making the badly printed fabric into curtains.  Apparently she spoke from experience.  Marie-Christine, I consider myself warned and will not do so!   😉

I am very happy with my pattern choices (current and future) and already feel the warm glow of a great wardrobe descending onto my being.  I can’t wait to receive my new patterns and start the work wardrobe manufacturing pronto. 

Happy sewing everyone!

New Patterns!

Still at my parents.  We stopped at Joann’s today because I mistakenly thought there was a Simplicity pattern sale.  Not. Oh well.  I still bought my long list of patterns (except the OOP ones of course). One of the major holes in my burgeoning pattern collection is tops. So I stocked up on a few of those.

Ok, I snuck a dress in there.  I also bought a few Burdas!  All dresses naturally.  😉

Burda 7696

Burda 7628

Burda 7636

I’m excited about these patterns, but don’t know when I will get to them.  I’m just really wishing I could sew right now.  *sigh*

I also bought my first vintage patterns thanks to Carolyn’s prompting. I will post them once they’re in my hot little hands.

Happy sewing every0ne!

The Finish Line — a poll

I posted the picture of my sashiko rocket on Facebook and my sister checked it out.  It’s in the same album as my other sewing pictures and she saw the picture of the top I made for Katie in February.  She commented on both pictures, but for Katie’s top she asked when Katie was going to receive it.  Yeah, I know, it’s been three months since I finished sewing that top, but there were some finishing tasks that I wanted to complete before giving it to Katie, like sewing down the zipper at the sides (it’s not a lined top), adding the hook and eye, sewing a binding on the seam that joins the halter top to the body of the top so that it does not scratch Katie’s torso and last but not least, sew on my “handmade by elizabeth” tag.  All are minor details, but for some reason, not as satisfying to me as actually sewing the pieces of the garment together.

So it seems that I have a dislike of “finishing” in sewing just like I do in knitting.  By finishing, I mean all the little niggling details that will finish off a garment so that you can wear it comfortably and that make it look nicer on the inside, like seam binding or adding hooks and eyes.  For knitting, that means weaving in the ends of the yarn, seaming the pieces together, adding buttons, etc.  I just loathe those parts of knitting, and now I do with sewing too.  I want the magic parts only, the parts where a two dimensional piece of fabric suddenly becomes a wearable three dimensional garment. 

It’s not that I don’t want my clothes to look nice on the inside, I do.  But, that’s not what gets me excited to sew.  So poor Katie’s top languished in mostly done status for months.  It’s a size 3 T which in theory should fit for at least a year, but it looks pretty small right now.  Hopefully my sister will let me know if it fits or not soon.  I crept upstairs to her floor last night and left the top (all finished, inside and out!)  hanging on her door knob.

So let’s do a poll!  What kind of a sewist/person are you?  Do you love doing all the finishing details on your projects, or do you just slap it together to wear it the same day?  Answer the poll and we’ll find out!

Please note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pinking shears.  I have a gorgeous high end vintage skirt that has pinking on the seam allowances.  I just know that it’s fast.  And I wish I were more of perfectionist.  Part of my problem is that I don’t have enough sewing experience  to know when to add different finishing touches in regards to the order of construction.  Or even if I have to add larger SA’s to accommodate french seams and the like. 

And as for the long awaited post on Day 3 of my class with Kenneth King, I might have to post that with Day 4 as I have yet to take a picture of the sloper before the fitting class.  I hope to do so tonight.  I also have to baste in the zipper.  But both will have to wait until after I see Star Trek for the second time!!!  A trekkie has to have her priorities!  My friend Andrea has graciously come to the rescue of this poor single parent and is babysitting Jack for me tonight in exchange for some baked goods.  I am paying a buttload in babysitting $$$ this month to take the class, so I can’t really justify paying one just to see a movie, but this isn’t just any movie.  Anyway, Andrea is making my day, my month, my year!  Thanks Andrea!!!

It happened last night

Doesn’t that title sound so dramatic?  Sorry if I disappoint you, but I spent my evening last night perusing my patterns and Burda magazines searching for a replacement pattern for my spring/summer top.  I think I came up with a good alternative.  BWOF 04-2009-122





There were 5 reviews on PatternReview for this pattern.  They were all positive and most mentioned that this blouse was great for a beginner.  I especially liked Dawn’s version.  I loved her use of grommets instead of button holes.  The only thing I might change about this is how low the v neck goes.  I don’t want to have to wear a cami or a tank top underneath this in the middle of a hot and humid NYC summer.  What do you think?  — Can I sew up the v neck a bit so that it’s not as low cut?

Happy sewing everyone!

Pregnant clown anyone?

After all the searching for a pattern, trying to translate directions, the Singer that died, and the endless questions on PatternReview, I made a clown costume for a pregnant woman.  Thank god it was only muslin.  Here’s a pic (please ignore the incredibly bad sewing)…hp101muslin1


I can’t believe it’s taken me weeks to create a wadder.  I made a size 12 (for 38 in bust) and definitely could have gone down a size or two.  There is just too much fabric going on here.  The guidelines for how much elastic to use for the neckline was too generous; I don’t think there was enough gathering for that much fabric.  I didn’t bother hemming the sleeves or elasticizing the waist as I was checking for fit and whether I liked the style on me at all.  I think it would have been even more comical had I gone ahead and elasticized the waist, I could have looked even more like a pregnant clown.  Have I mentioned that I looked like a pregnant clown yet? 

Saturday afternoon, I still was under the impression that I could salvage this project.  I went upstairs to my sister’s apt (we live in the same building — how awesome is that???!!!!) and borrowed one of her belts to see if I liked it as a tunic.  We came up with the following workarounds:

  1. Lengthen the top to tunic length (easy fix).
  2. Go down 1 sizes (now I think even going down 2 size wouldn’t work)
  3. Skip elasticizing the back neck and decrease the width of back pattern sheet to accommodate not needing to be gathered anymore (with my limited sewing knowledge, I don’t know if this is feasible without irreparably distorting the pattern).

It would probably work… if I used a different pattern altogether.  This pattern (HP 101) is just cut too wide.  There’s too much fabric around the middle and you will look fat no matter if you are a starving model or not.   Or maybe you need to have a long torso to pull it off or maybe you just shouldn’t make it.  Ok, in all fairness, if you used a much drapier fabric than unwashed muslin, it might work.  But I really wanted to use a cotton for this top and I don’t think any cotton would be drapey enough for this pattern.  Of course, I am no fabric expert, so if there is a really drapey cotton, please let me know.  So, sadly, I did not finish a top for Rae’s Spring Top sewalong.  But you should check it out and vote on the best one! 

Without further ado, here are some “tunic” pics…




It wasn’t all for naught though!  I did learn a lot on this top:

  1. How to use single fold bias tape (and how not to).
  2. I can sew straight seams pretty well, but really need to practice my curved seams.
  3. PatternReview is my friend!
  4. I still need to fine tune the tensions on my serger.  The side seams I created on this top were really loose and when you pulled the fabric on both sides of the seam, it exposed too much of the threads. 
  5. I still want to sew despite all the frustrations and setbacks on this project.


So now I need a super duper cute and easy spring/summery top pattern.  I don’t think I have anything suitable in my pattern stash.  Most of my patterns are for knit tops.   Any suggestions?  The search continues…

Happy sewing everyone!