Handkerchief Jacket

On my Pinterest Feed this interesting wrap popped up one day

I am always looking for interesting garments and even though they seldom work for me, I keep looking for simple garments as well. I’ve been contemplating summer wraps.  I need them.  I’m feeling the cold much more these days.  Can’t stand to choose food out of the freezer section without a little extra cover. But I digress. I studied this diagram closely and realized it was 4 squares: 1, the back placed on point. 2 placed on either side of the back for sleeves; and 1 cut in half ;  stitched to the sleeve’s free edge.

They call it a ‘handkerchief”. Hmmm, I would venture there are some people who’ve never even seen a handkerchief and have no idea of size.  I at least remember these dainty little bits of fabric carried by my grandmothers and all my aunts. They were small. 6-8″ square. Could not image the handkerchiefs of my memory covering my arms as is shown in the picture, so I reasoned the jacket much have used something larger. How large? Well if they used a 36-52″ Hermes scarf, surely they would have called it a ‘Scarf Jacket’. No? I argued with myself for a while measuring parts of me and turning the diagram around and around. Then I cut four (4) 18″ squares from aisle runner.

Aisle runner is my  choice for tissue and it stands in well as muslin too.  I needed to start somewhere, this seemed like a good starting point.

I stared at the diagram some more than attached the 2 sleeve squares half way (9″) down the back rectangle. Sliced the last triangle from corner to corner and attached to the sleeves. I’m using water-soluble thread in the bobbin so I can change things up if I want — which I assumed I would.

The look on my face says it all:  I’m not thrilled. The jacket wants to slide down rather than sit on my shoulders and appears to be both too big and too small.  Thinking maybe I just need to secure this ‘jacket’ to my frame a little better, I fold the sleeves in half and pin them at the cuff.

Not a whole lot of improvement. It does stay in place a little better. Perhaps the squares need to be smaller? But then the jacket would be way to short in back.  Maybe it needs some pleats in the neck or the shoulder part of the sleeve?  Umm but that’s not shown in the pics.  Ummmmm

It’s on ‘hold’ right now.  I am considering it a WIP (work in progress). It sits in the back of my just-cleaned-out closet whilst I contemplate a solution. I just don’t think I can do it with 4 equally sized squares. N-e-e-d t-o t-h-i-n-k m-o-r-e.



Sp600 Alterations

After several days of alterations, I’m pleased to share my final blouse from SP600:



First 4 alterations, removed a good deal of the frumpiness. Well all of it from the bust up. Alterations as follows:

  • Removed Collar
    • This was not a  pattern mistake. The collar is a combination collar with stand and should have been folded along the upper stand edge (about center of the collar). But I didn’t think of that until after I had removed the collar and finished the neck edge. Perhaps next version I should draft the exact collar of my dreams instead of doing a quick adaptation.
  • Increase shoulder slope to 5/8″
    • In retrospect, I’m not even sure why I stitched the shoulders with the 3/8″ slope to start with. When I looked at my notes I realized the error immediately.
    • This too is not a pattern error but a fitting issue.
  • 1/2″ dart at CB neck-seam
    • At this time, I am not sure if I stretched the neck edge or if the back neck is too wide. I had not taped nor stay stitched and I haven’t compared with the original tissue, yet.
    • Probably not a pattern error either. My back is rounded. I require a 5/8″ RBA and I did not exercise due care in handling the pieces prior to construction.
  • 1 . Half inch deep dart (1″ total length removed) on each shoulder
    • I haven’t had to do an NSA on  my other SP patterns including  the other non-stretch top

But there was some left which led to these alterations: Especially at the tummy and sleeve. After next 3 alterations the blouse hangs nicely front and back and the sleeve looks like it belongs on my body


  • Remove front waist dart
    • I often just ignore the front waist dart markings because I no longer have a waist in front
    • Not a pattern error but a fitting issue.
  • increase sleeve SA to 1.75″
    • I added 1″ for fitting. Have now removed all that plus about a half-inch
    • Even with the excess remove this isn’t likely to be a pattern error but rather personal preference in sleeve circumference.  I’ve heard that others share my desire for a slimmer sleeve. Some don’t. YMMV.
  • 1/4″ tucks 1.5″ apart around cuff 4.5″ high from raw edge
    • snuggled the blouse sleeve to my wrist.
    • between that and narrowing the shoulder, the sleeve now appears to be the correct length.
    • to me the sleeve looks good front and back
    • Again, most likely not a pattern error but personal preference coming into play.

I feel Like I’ve removed  99% of the frumpiness.  I’m leaving open the possibility future versions will look even better because I will start a nice fit.  I expect to be tweaking mostly for fabric variations but I may also need a few fit changes.

I was surprised at all the alterations needed, especially above the bust.  With the other SP top patterns I have made as I started them too with  a size 4; added the needed a 5/8″ shoulder slope and a 5/8″ RBA. That’s it to fit the upper bodice.  I would then add 1″ to the side seams and narrow that to 1/2″  under the arm at the first fitting to tweak the ease.

I pulled out the original tissue to check what I had traced. Only to discover I traced correctly. Really throws a wrench into my SP fitting plans and diminishes my enthusiasm for SP patterns. Not that there is anything wrong with the patterns. My enthusiasm for SP was based on being able to fit with so few alterations. LIke I said, I was tracing a size 4 and doing 3 alterations. One of the beauties of SP and one of the advertised features, is the consistency of the draft. However, I’ve put out a few feelers and had several people describe similar fitting experiences. I think it means, I can’t depend on size 4 with 3 alterations. I will need to check each new pattern before cutting fabric. I’m a little sad over that. I miss the years when I could buy a pattern, slash 1″ off the length and stitch together a ‘new creation’. Need to get over that regret.


SP 600 Classic Blouse

I’ve fit several Silhouette Patterns now, including one woven blouse (Pants 3418 still pending) so I expected 600 to be easy.  Necessary because, well it is the classic blouse which I will use as my block going forward and fitting it will confirm what I need to know to fit all woven Silhouette Tops. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

I started my routine tracing a size 4 because it fits upper chest (shoulder to bust); added a 3/8″ shoulder slope, and 5/8″ round back alteration before adding 1″ evenly to the side seams. Compared to the litany of pattern alterations I usually do, this was simple and easy.  I tell you the waists  dartsimpressed the hellO out of me. She’s not foolin’ with these. They are big, about 1″ width and shaped with curves not straight lines.  I can’t do my normal punch at the point and clip at the side seams. They have to be traced. Since they are so big I decided to treat them like stencils:

I trimmed the dart interior but left a tab to keep them joined. I will be able to run my purple pen inside to outline the dart for sewing but the pattern won’t flap about and become distorted — one of the things I dislike about a french dart is that it is so whomping big you have to trim and therefore it flaps about.

The more I thought about it, the less happy I was with the button band and collar details. They just aren’t me. I am more of a romantic preferring soft and flowing rather than buttoned up and stiffly tailored. At cutting time, I made a typical front facing by folding away the facing pattern 1-1/4″ away from the center front thereby avoiding cutting the button band extension that would be public. I also folded the button extension of the collar out-of-the-way creating a classic wing collar.

I chose a classic and loved cotton/linen blend fabric. Cotton/linen to me is one of the perfect blends. It will shed some wrinkles but not all and it is a dream to sew with. No issue with this fabric as I did with the Knit Ottoman of SP 3418.  It has an oriental print in browns with touches of orange. I think very pretty except after the blouse is done, I think looks more like drapery than dressmaking.

I serged shoulders together and basted the side seams. I add 1″ to the side seams but usually need to reduce them under the arm. Now I slipped the shell on and pinned along the previously marked center front. It looked perfect.

Which caused my terrible error. I finished the blouse. Did not stop for even  a 2nd fitting. Just zip, zop, done. Done all the way to the final pics. I sat down to make my post and examined my pictures.  I was horrified. H-O-R-R-F-I-E-D.  I couldn’t believe how utterly frumpy this blouse was on me.

Discounting the bad hair day (I haven’t had a real good one in months), the blouse just doesn’t look good on me. Is it the print? The colors? This is a classic shape. I’m not expecting to pop your eyes out, I’m expecting to look nice, put together.  I’m stunned by what I am seeing. The V lines have returned to the sides (diagonals on back and front that meet at the sides). I have no chest but am all belly in front (what was the point of those big darts?).  I mean, this is just not something I’m proud of. I can wear it with a vest on top or as a summer 3rd layer. I had intended this as a prime for spring and fall weather and supporting summer and winter. I’d just lost 2 seasons of wearing about the same number of seconds. Could this be fixed?

Burn-out Velvet

I’ve had this beautiful burn-out velvet for years. Years, I tell you.  I bought it after I first moved to Wyoming but the purchase was made in the Fort Collins, Colorado Hobby Lobby.  (Wyoming fabric sources dried up just before I got there and I was forced to shop elsewhere).  I can tell you it is a minimum of 13 years old. In the same time  period, I purchased another velvet in the same colorway.  I made that velvet into a kimono jacket which I still wear to this day even though there is much more padding on my hips and it positively cannot be tied over my middle. Kimono jackets are nothing if not forgiving of the changes in a woman’s life.

My burnout, however, sat on my shelves year after year because I couldn’t decide how to use it.  It was transparent and obviously needed a lining. It was too close in color way to the other fabric mentioned to make another 3rd layer. Top? Blouse? Certainly not pants. I don’t wear transparent pants which because of it is a burnout there are large areas through which my flesh will show. I loved it and refused to donate it. Finally I was a watching Peggy Sager’s  a “Let’s Sew” video and watched as she created an inner top attached to the outer top only at the neckline. Bingo! Sorry, I don’t have the link handy which wouldn’t be pertinent anyway because Peggy created 2 tops with the out-layer shorter than the inner thus the inner layer shows too.  I did just the opposite. So while Peggy’s top is interesting and dramatic, you hardly know that I’ve done something similar.

Continuing with my blouse, I decide that with only 30% stretch the burnout needed my regular i.e. not the slinky version of 195. I pulled that out and invested not more than 15 minutes converting it from french dart to armscye dart.  So glad I did this, but I think I may not have placed or maybe angled the dart correctly.

I chose to use an embroidered, very light-yellow,  transparent Tricot for the inner layer/lining. I cut only the front and back pieces without further changes.  Then, as always intended, I set up my Brother Serger ( the 1034 purchased because I needed a serger right now) for a 3-thread wide seam. This took longer than expected because I also needed to rearrange the table a little. Sigh, it will need a little more rearranging which will involve removing the machines completely.  Eager to work on my new top, I did the best I could with the arrangement of machines.  Oh what a good choice. I serged every seam, including the bust dart and  hem, on this inner layer/lining in about 15 minutes. WOW…. and it’s beautiful.  The seams rolled because I increased the looper tensions. I didn’t increase the needle (I’m using the left needle for a wide seam) tension because during testing it caused the seam to gather. (Note Remember to increase needle tension for future gathering projects.) After set up, which in the future is reduced to changing thread and maybe the needle, this is absolutely the fastest, most elegant rolled hem I’ve ever created and the nicest lining ever .

Know you can’t see too well because this is something I’m not going to model (in my generation we thought showing it all was a bad idea) and I”m showing the back. Front looks much the same.   I truly wish I’d invested $200 in that little beast (the 1034 Brother serger) long ago.  In one project he proved himself well worth the time and expense.

So onto the upper layer. After remaining inner garment fabric was trimmed of strings, folded, labeled and placed back in the stash, I smoothed out the burn out fabric and cut the 3 major pieces. I used my normal sewing order but skipped finishing the neck. When the shell/outer layer, was complete, I put shell and lining right sides together at the neck and serged.  I understitched, some times I want a little insurance that the inside will stay inside. Then I top stitched 1/4″ away from the turned neck edge. The armscye of the lining is tacked to the armscye of the shell in about 4 places. Just enough to keep it in place as I slip my arms in and out.

Unfortunately, I stretched the neck during construction which I didn’t notice until the first try on.  I used my normal cheat, elastic. This time I used a long length of shirring elastic. Doubled with the fold threaded through the eye. The tails are then pulled through the loop coming out of the eye and that makes a secure join that won’t come out of the needle. I ran the elastic in the channel between top stitching and neck edge and tied it in the back.  I was going to adjust at the next try-on, but it was fine.

So I put a drop of Frey-check on the knot and trimmed the ends.  Done.

314: Sweater Knit

Definitely into winter sewing, I pulled out the next ‘real’ sweater knit and paired it with 314 Abby’s top and Silhouette Patterns Raglan pattern.  I do like how this pattern goes together except I’m not sure how easy it is going to be to change necklines and hems. Those are the two easiest changes, usually, to make the same pattern look different. I have altered the pieces to include hems.  In this version, I cut separate bands for the sleeves by simply folding on the line I indicated on my traced copy of the pattern.

Because I’ve sewn it several times and worked out the fitting issues, it was a quick sew. actually mostly it was serged and coverstitched. No darts! But I did need to serge the right side a little deeper than the left and I still haven’t figured out exactly which shoulder pads and need and where they need to be.

Had a little problem with the neck-band. ..

didn’t cut it short enough. Dang I basted it in too but didn’t catch how floppy it is before serging it permanently.  So I used my easy fix which is cutting a small vertical slit in the inside back and  running clear elastic in the channel opened.

It is a very plain top relieved only by the cables and rib.  But I think I will mostly be wearing it underneath a vest and it will look wonderful

None of us are really enthused about making such plain garments. But they are so useful. That’s why it is best when making a simple garment to use a pattern already fit.  Honestly it goes together so quickly when you aren’t stopping to address fit issues or construction questions.   Even pants can be quick if those details are already worked out.


PS after these photos were taking, I top stitched the neck ribbing below the serged seam to make the ribbing lay down flat during wear.

195 Sweater Knit

When I make changes to the tissue, as I did for the Slinky Version of 195 shared yesterday, I want to check it immediately. I didn’t get to it until after we returned from Sioux Falls.  It is getting colder. Snow is predicted. Winter is definitely here. It’s not a matter of whether I need long sleeves, it’s how warm the long-sleeve tops need to be. The blouses are phased out of rotation and I’m leaning heavily upon my rayon, cotton and ITY knit for everyday year. It will be sweater weather before too long and so my eyes turned to the pile of knits which were sold as “sweater knits”.  Because I’m pattern checking, I decided to use a blue variaged sweater knit that really is a sweater knit it is just not worsted weight. By now, I had my new serger set up (which I have posted but have bragged about on SG) and put it to work.  This was a quick sew.  I needed only make my ASA (asymmetrical shoulder alteration) at the sewing machine. All the other seams were either serged or cover stitched.

(Although I’m hunched) the back is now looking like it should i.e. no drag lines from the shoulder blades

I am disappointed that the stripes didn’t match better.  Not sure if this is due to the curve introduced by my RBA, fabric mismatch or slip when in the Serger. The new Imagine needs a little help with thick fabrics and I may have had the differential slightly misset. I’ve deicded to be happy that I’m not seeing those dreadful back drag lines.

I’m showing the front next because I want you to see that with a mere physical turn, my shoulders have settled into place and no longer look badly asymmetrical. They still are. I did do my ASA i.e. made my right shoulder seam 1/2″. Curiously the sleeves look short. I don’t recall them looking short in the two previous garments that I made using this Slinky Version of the pattern. Hoping it is just the fabric which will relax during wear.

The bust dart, now 5/8″ deep instead of 1/2″, did what I wanted in so far as eliminated the side wrinkles but curiously

I stitched it in the wrong place. I recall clearly that I marked with the purple pen and had problems reading the purple pen when I got to the sewing machine.

Bottom line: my alterations to the tissue were successful. My dart marking needs to be a little more careful.

SP 195, Armscye Dart

I’m always grumbling about the french dart which Peggy Sager’s seems to love. Finally decided I needed to do something about it. About 2 years ago, I spent quite some time playing with rotating darts. Loved the results and consider myself at least competent. But I hesitated. Why? Well in the back of my mind I was thinking that the french dart may very well have been helping to control wrinkles which occurred below the bust.  After confronting my fear (that removing the french dart would remove the good fit of 195), I decided I needed to try at least once and be sure.

I won’t share pics of the dart rotation process but will tell you it was maybe a 15 minute job. I copied the front and on it  slashed where I wanted the new dart, then closed the old dart. Done.

I pulled out a fabric that tested at 70% stretch. Yeah, a lot. Decided to use my “Slinky” version of 195 which is reduced horizontally and vertically by small increments (1/8 and 1/4) through the armscye, midriff and vertically down the entire pattern piece. By the way, it was the front of the ‘Slinky’ version that I copied and altered the dart.

I laid out my pattern pieces, then decided I didn’t want just a plan T-shirt.  I trimmed 2.5″ from the hems and cut a V neck. Also cut were 2.5″ strips from selvage to selvage.  I stitched the armscye dart first

The stitched shoulders and finished the neckline with an interesting FOE

The FOE looks like someone has randomly applied bleach to it which results in lovely ombre colors. FOE is difficult to apply to a Vneck. So I chose to apply as if I had cut a scooped neck. Then I folded the neck right sides together and put a tack in the center front which nicely restores the V.  Actually, I could have cut a scoop neck instead of the V and done the same trick but Oh Well.

Since this pattern has been used a dozen times, although not in the Slinky Version, I zipped through the rest of constructions and applied ruffles at the hems.

These are the simplest ruffles ever.  I joined my 2.5″ strips. Roughly estimated the length of the circumferences; multiplied by 1.5.  I cut at the 1.5 mark. Folded the strips in half putting long edges together and set my serger differential at 2, stitch length 4.  Then serged the ruffle to the hem. Oh, forgot to mention, I had only stitched one side seam up to this point. When the ruffle was attached, I stitched the second side closed.  The sleeve ruffles were applied before the sleeves were inserted because I prefer to wrestle the least amount of fabric at any given time.  Oh and finally, the garment is finished at my normal length.  The 2.5″ trimmed from the bottom of the back, front and sleeves included my 1.25″ hem which I wouldn’t need. Actually I only needed to cut my strips 1.25″ wide. I made them 2.5 because folding the strips in half is a neater finish that requires no additional effort.

Boom blouse done:

Ah but something is wrong with my dart because I have drag lines from the bust,most easily seen in the side view

Think that my bust dart should be deeper i.e. 5/8″ instead of 1/2″. Am I going to change this one? No, I serged everything. I hate unserging. I quickly decided it doesn’t look any worse than what everyone else is wearing and said “better luck neck time”.

I also discovered the back has lost the depth it needs

It is absolutely too late to fix this.  An RBA has to be made before the fabric is even cut. So I pulled the pattern out and discovered that I had applied a 1/2″ “Slinky adjustment” i.e. a 1/4″ tuck across the back.  I changed that to 1/8″ for the next iteration.  Absolutely my patterns need to be shortened and narrowed when I’m using very stretch fabrics like Slinky and Sweater Knit. The alteration was not wrong, but the amount taken was.

I finished this just before my short vacation to Sioux Falls, but you know, I just felt it was missing something.

It still seemed too plain.  The fabric shopping in Sioux Falls is totally lacking. Not worth my time and gas. But several places carry a variety of trims and ephemera.  I found this Tulip iron Bling in Walmart

Oh sorry that pic turned out so poorly. I did a quick search of Google and didn’t find it either. Took 30 seconds to apply and then I felt like the garment was done!

This I love.