Summer Scene

Palm trees and islands adorn this rayon challis fabric making it a perfect reminder of summer travel.

My pattern, Connie Crawford 0456 is quite old. It has been reissued under another number which I don’t have at my finger tips.

I made small changes for this version but they make it look like an entirely different pattern.  Instead of buttons all the way down, the lower front is cut on the fold. I also trimmed of the points of the lower front.

No changes to the back.

It’s another lovely version of a TNT pattern.



CLD: Relax A Little Top (RAL)

Every summer, for several years, I made this top.  I kept 4 or 5 versions in the closet for spring, summer and fall weather. Then suddenly, I couldn’t remove the drag lines from any of my Cutting Line Designs patterns. I tried. Everytime I had a success with other patterns, I would try it on one of my CLD patterns. Nada. What worked elsewhere didn’t do it for CLDs.  Additionally, the RAL has a 1 piece yoke.  I need a shoulder slope alteration. Where do I make that?  Making it on the yoke definitely changes the style line. Not making it at all introduces deep U drape lines on the side. I put the RAL in deep time out because even if I could figure out what I was doing wrong on the other CLD patterns, I wouldn’t know how to fix the RAL

It was a Judy Kissinger video which led to my break through with the RAL top.  Instead of making my sloping shoulder and round back adjustments to the yoke, I made them at the top of the lower piece!.  Lower front was a piece of cake. Just like altering the shoulder at the shoulder except the line drawn was a little longer. Altering the back required some thought. First I measured down 5/8″ and drew a line (Yellow in the pic)  from CB to the marked 5/8″ line

Yellow line starts at top of drafted CB and traverses to the new lower side seam point.

Well what about the round back? My RBA needs to  add 5/8″. I suppose I could slash and spread as usual, but since the effect is the same, I made a mark 5/8″ above the top of the back (as drafted.) Then I drew a new line (Red) from this new CB mark to the lowered side seam mark

That line is drafted as a curve; so for my alteration I pulled out my french curve and also drew a curve.

When I trimmed the tissue, I trimmed along the red line. Looks weird, but, It works:

You really don’t notice either alteration.

One of the things I like about the RAL, is the ability to add shoulder pads. My shoulder slope is such that I often tease, I don’t have shoulders. I really appreciate what a little pad can do both in the back view above and this front view:

I did need to lower the “stitch to dot” on the side seam by 5/8″, the same as I trimmed away.

Oh you can’t really see that. What I really love is there are not any obnoxious drag lines even here looking at my asymmetrical and lower right side. I call this a success!


*****Summary of Changes

  • Small Yoke with Large lower front and lower back
  • 5/8″ shoulder sloper applied to lower front and back
  • 5/8″ Round back alteration applied to lower back
  • V neckline instead of collar.
  • Lower “stitch to dot” 5/8″
  • lengthened 3.5″
  • Curved hem
  • added shoulder pads


B5430 Acute Disappointment

I don’t mean that as “a cute” but rather a sharp-pain filled  disappointment.

I knew I overloaded the fabric with starch.  That’s the only way to be sure I will have total control over a creeping, crawling, synthetic, crepe-weave fabric. I learned that the hard way  after multiple failures. A few years back, I took the time to systematically test numerous crepe-weave fabrics. Not all my test fabrics consisted of synthetic fibers, but they all had the tendency to crawl off my fabric stacks sometimes taking all the other fabrics along.

I’ve accepted that making fabrics board stiff during construction, will mean during fitting they are stiff, slightly uncomfortable and do not reveal their true nature for day-to-day wear. Resulting, after construction, an immediate trip through the laundry and a second “final” evaluation. I can’t remember these being a real disaster —– before.  In fact, previously, they all stopped scratching and sticking out oddly; replaced by a nice drape against the body. This time, this fabric shrank. The little stiffness was replaced with terrible constriction across the back, chest, under-arms and  shortened sleeves.  But the worst, by far the worst, was the fact the neckline would not drape neatly against my body:

This is possibly a pattern issue.  I doubt it though, because I’ve used several very similar patterns with great success.

I’m really inclined to feel the shrunk-after -preshrinking Viscose fabric is at fault. (Note to self: Avoid Viscose in the future because it shrinks repeatedly!)

Because of the tightness across the back and chest, this blouse is not wearable by me and has already been placed in the Goodwill Box for donation.

I must admit that the thought the pattern is at fault makes me hesitate to launch into  construction of my Anniversary Dress. I  need to make another test–something without the need for a stiff starching.  I’m also wondering if I should choose a knit for the next test since the fabrics I’m thinking of selecting for the A-dress are also knits.

…hmmmm….. Must think.

B5430: Wearable Muslin

Muslin 1 is hanging in the back of the closet.  I’m still undecided as to whether I should finish it or not.  There’s actually quite a bit of work to open seams, serge or stitch and that doesn’t count the shoulder slope that must be corrected or the ripples in the back which probably cannot be fixed as I don’t have enough fabric to cut another back.

I already knew I needed a 2nd test, hopefully wearable, and had picked out a fabric purchased from Craftsy in the last year.  It is a crepe, Viscose print. I think Viscose is the same Rayon but if that’s the case why was Craftsy so insistent on labeling this Viscose while still calling other fabrics Rayon?  With  Muslin 1, I learned to distrust Gauze-like fabrics. But  I learned a long time ago not to trust crepe fabrics. They will crawl. They will shift. They lie about their grain and well no point going on.  I love wearing crepe but I’m suspicious when it comes to sewing  with them. A few years back I tasked myself with finding out how to conquer crepe and other slithering fabrics.  Cheap ol’ starch works for me.  I buy it by the gallon at the grocery store; mix up a batch 1/2 starch/water in a bucket and stuff my fabric in.  When the liquid is all absorbed, I squish the fabric around a few times with my hands making sure everywhere is wet.  Once satisfied, I hang my fabric in the bathtub to drip. Usually it also dries to board stiffness overnight.

This morning I had several places that were still wet and so I spent a good 45 minutes pressing without steam.  Eventually, the fabric dried and assumed a crisp almost board-like hand. Then it was onto the cutting table.

I delayed cutting long enough to thread the machines-no WST this time.  Then rapidly serged princess seams and shoulders together. I debated on eliminating the facing. I hate small facings and barely tolerate a larger one. Years ago, I eliminated facings in favor of bias tape, bindings and FOE (fold over elastic).  At the height of laziness, I may serge, turn and stitch. Anything but use a facing. This facing or maybe it is this style, the facing was confusing to me and hard to put in the right place.  I’d really rather not use it.

Finally I decided this was test 2 and I was going to determine if the facing could be ditched. After sewing everything except sleeves, side seams and hems, I pulled out the 1″ folded bias tape. I press my bias tape and stretch one side.   I find it follows a curve such as the back neckline much easier and somehow makes the binding better. Hard to explain but prepressing makes the binding better throughout the life of the garment. I stitched right sides together starting about 1″ past the cowl/yoke seam, across the back and down past  the other cowl/yoke seam about 1″. Then pressed to open the seam up.

Next I turned the bias tape to the inside pulling so just the tiniest bit of fabric shows along the edge.


Finally I stitched from the right side.  After thinking about it, I stitched across  one yoke, over the neckline, and back all the way to the other yoke’s raw edge.  The stitches didn’t show up, so I dotted-in  the stitching line. In retrospect, I would apply the binding the same way i.e. from armscye raw edge to armscye raw edge instead of just past the cowl neckline.

Fortunately, my stitching is more even than my drawing.

I basted the side seams and tried it on. Perfect! — for slinky. A little snug for non-stretch anything. Fortunately, I have 1/2″ side seams  and was able to let them out when I inserted the sleeve.  Also think I need to add a little more length to the hem. So this time the hem is serged, turned twice and stitched.  Looks like a nice narrow hem but hardly any effort required.

In Muslin 1, I thought the sleeve was a little too long. To finish this sleeve cuff I used the same serge turn-twice because it would have been too short.  Before stitching the long side-/underarm- seam, I gathered the sleeve about 2″ above the  hem. I used a strip of 1/4″ wide clear elastic 6″ long applied 2″ from the raw edges with a triple zig zag stitch. That means the gathering does not go completely around the cuff. So much easier to sew, especially because it can be done flat but still looks like the real deal.

Final fitting

The most difficult part of the sewing was attaching the yoke piece. I really thought I had it this time.  I had carefully matched and even added more marks/notches plus words like neckline, armscye, shoulder seam, to help me sort it out. Dang, still took me 5 minutes of turning these puzzle pieces around and around. Really frustrated to know I had done this before; know that it fit; but just couldn’t  get it right.  Ah well, done now.

I’m not sure if I’m seeing any issues or not. I put a lot of starch in the fabric. You can tell by the way the cowl refuses to cowl. I took these pics and then immediately put it in for a rinse-and-spin cycle.  I don’t want to hang it in the closet and trust wear to crumple away all the starch. I want to wear it a whole day to be sure I’ve fixed the last of the mistakes before I start on my anniversary dress.


B5430: Tissue Adjustments

Being my memory is not as good as it used to be and I used to make a lot of notes and lists, I decided to copy my fitting changes to the tissue before I could forget what I had done. At the same time, I decided to adjust the seam allowances to my preference which is 1/4″ for seams that will be serged together immediately and 1/2″ for the seams used to tweak the fit.  I only reserve both side seams for fitting, so nearly all the seams will be trimmed to 1/4″

All together, well it’s a real laundry list of changes:

  • Back Waist Length (BWL)  2″
    • across 4 pieces
      •  front
      •  side front
      •  side back
      •  back
  • Princess Seams  of front and back 1/4″ SA.
    •  I want to leave a larger SA below the bust just in case the BWL did not change the ease distribution as I expected. So I marked both front and back  princess seam for a 1/4″ SA from armscyes to below the bust where it veers out gently to  the edge.
  • Side Seams 1/2″ with serger edge finishing.
    • Drafted at  5/8″.  I want to keep the extra ease over my tummy and hips.
    • Add 1″ strips of paper to the side seam.
    • Mark to trim 1/8″ at the top
    • Rapidly adding 1/4″ by the time I reach the waist.
  • Back
    • See Princess Seams
    • See Side Seams
    • Trim shoulder line along the Small size line
    • Check curve of 5/8″ RBA.
      • The Back of Muslin 1 developed a real hunch.  I needed to be sure that curve was not in the tissue.(It wasn’t)
    • Mark 1/4″ neckline SA
    • Mark the 5/8″ Shoulder Slope Alteration
    • Mark 1/4″ shoulder seam allowance.
      • Only marking not trimming because I have more alterations to make and several pieces must fit together precisely.  I do better when I make all the trimmings at once with joining pieces pinned together.
    • Center Back Seam 5/8″, serged at 1/4:
      • I puzzled about this one. I’m not sure a CB seam is needed. Muslin 1 is a woven, non-stretch fabric (other than inherent to gauze) Once I added enough ease to the waist and hip, I had no problem slipping it on or off over my head. The pattern plans for a CB zipper.  I’d rather not use one especially when it isn’t needed. Besides that, though, I was still thinking about having let out all the seams, including this one. (In hindsight, it might have been faster to have sewn the tuck.) How much, I asked myself, did I want to change this seam?  I reduced it to 1/4″ at the neck easing out to 5/8″ by the waist level.  When serging, I serged the entire seam at 1/4″ and take it in more at the first fitting.
  • Back Facing
    • CB Seam copy from back
    • Neckline, copy from back
    • Extend back facing 5″
      • I hate little fussy facings to start with.   In addition to the missing understitching, the facing wasn’t long enough at CB to stay in place. I didn’t read all the instructions, so Connie may have intended that the facing be nailed in place along the back zipper. I’m not using a zipper so I will tack the facing  to the CB seam allowance but it won’t be nailed in place. By Being longer, it will stay in place practically on it’s own.
  • Front Yoke
    • Mark 1/4″ neckline SA
    • Mark 1/4″ seam allowance at yoke to front seam
    • Mark the 5/8″ Shoulder Slope Alteration
    • Mark 1/4″ shoulder seam allowance.
  • Front
    • See Princess Seams
    • See Side Seams
    • Trim shoulder line along the Small size line
  • Sleeve
    • Mark cap 1/4″ SA
    • Side seams -1/8″
  • Armscyes 1/4″
    • Pin the pieces together front, front yoke, back and overlay back facing
    • Mark 1/4″ SA
  • Trim along the marks

I spent my entire 3 hours, marking, trimming and truing my pattern pieces. Most people won’t have this many changes or spend this much time altering the tissue. .  I complicated the issue adjustments by having set preferences for seam allowances.  If you have no problems sewing with  5/8″ SA, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort.

That was it for today .


Connie Crawford B5430

DH and I have always liked to do something special for our wedding anniversary.  Since we retired and moved out into the cow patties, that ‘something special’ has been traveling to one of the larger South Dakota cities; spending the night and engaging in the local fine dining. A few years ago he asked that I make and wear a dress for our special dinner. Of course, I happily agreed. I love that he is still proud of me and still wants to see me at my best. Since anniversary is coming up soon, it’s time to get started!

Admittedly, some of my dresses have been better than others For this year’s dress, I decided to use a  pattern I purchased several years ago  B5430…

..back when I was totally enamoured with Connie Crawford. Which was before I discovered her wonderful practice of revising her block to reflect  the ever-increasing database of measurements from real women (she collected), meant that patterns published before the latest block-update, would not fit the same as whatever pattern I had last fit.   I still think it is commendable for Connie to actively seek current information and adjust her block, and so I’ve accepted that every new-to-me Connie Crawford pattern must be prepared with  test garments and failures. IOW,  because Connie is constantly updating her block, I can’t simply transfer the changes from the last pattern sewn to the new one.  I have to start at square one and find out what changes will be needed—every time.

I wanted to make this pattern with its very lovely neckline,  so I pulled out my block pattern (Silhouette Patterns 600) and did a quick comparison.  I opted to traced medium across the shoulders, large from underarm to waist; veering out to the XL by the time I reached the hip.  I made a WAG (wild-a$$ guess) as to where the hem would be for blouse length and traced no further.  Most of my fitting  problems will  be above bust. As long as I have enough ease below that, the muslin/garment  will be wearable. I added a 5/8″ RBA but wasn’t sure where to make my 2nd most needed alteration, the shoulder slope. So I didn’t correct the shoulder slope in my tissue leaving it for fitting.

I am hoping to make B5430 into a TNT. It has a lovely neckline as drafted and enough seams in the right places for ease in fitting. Through Pinterest I’ve discovered the neckline can be modified with several details to keep it looking new and fresh. See my Pinterest  Board:  Pinterest here.  That’s in addition to changes such as sleeves and hems. B5430 could be fairly versatile.

I am using a really pretty cotton voile purchase a few years ago, I think from Hancocks. Up close it feels and looks rather like gauze. But it’s not transparent at all. A bit heavy not like gauze, but loosely woven.  I started to use this fabric earlier in the year and discovered it had snagged multiple times just sitting in the stash. I moved it to the muslin stack. When I pulled it out today, I discovered the best work around for all the snags was to pull that warp (snag) completely free the entire length of fabric (2-1/4 yards. Yes it broke easily and had to be removed usually in 3 pieces per ward.) Up close, there’s a bit of transparency where the missing warp is, but it doesn’t look wrong.  I pressed my fabric, laid out with the pattern pieces on top and then thought to load the machines with thread before cutting. I am using water-soluble thread in the bobbin during the fitting.

Connie’s drafting is excellent so most of the pieces almost went together without my help.  I struggled with both the front yokes and the back facings.  I even stopped to read PR and found  2 reviews  under 5430 one listed under B5430.   As for my struggle, well it must just be me because none of those 3 sewists experienced any issues.  I struggled.  I  read the directions over and over. Checked my tracings against the pattern for accuracy and to be sure I had copied all the notches, circles and all markings. Compared the cut pieces with the tissue. I mean, I struggled. BUT I finally got it basted together. Well, everything except the sleeve. The first try on I didn’t worry about the sleeves.

Let’s just say, it doesn’t fit well.  I know the first inclination is to say I need more ease and a sway-back alteration. Truth is, I need more than the sway back.  The entire back-waist length is 2″ too long for me both back and front.  How do I know?  Well I pinned a tuck as all around  my torso, 2″ deep. The issues improved drastically:

I thought I took a picture of the back at this stage, but I guess not because it didn’t transfer from the camera. Oh well.

I asked myself if I should stitch in the tuck  and make the BWL to the tissue.  ButI am anxious to know where to make the shoulder alteration.  I wonder too, how much the shoulder slope could effect the BWL.  Instead of stitching the tuck, I  quickly let out the seams so the garment would slip on/off easily.  Then, I started picking at the top trying to figure out where the shoulder adjustment can be made.  Since it is the back which develops the most drag lines, I took in the back seam where it joins the front yoke. It’s not on the front or top of the shoulder but on the back  just below the shoulder:

You can’t even see that seam in this fabric this pic, so I traced over it with a yellow line. That’s were the back shoulder is seamed to the front yoke.

Dang that back facing. It just would not behave the entire time.  I know that’s because I didn’t understitch and while I pressed, I didn’t use steam because, hello,  water-soluble thread in the bobbin. It disintegrates when I steam-press.

The back still has issues, but I think it’s this fabric. Where I made the RBA in the tissue, translated into a big curve in the cut fabric. I even recut one side after spray starching the fabric twice more to be sure it was stable. I just didn’t realize how squirrelly this fabric would be.

Last fitting was a quick check of the sleeve. The sleeve in the pattern is  short and flirty.  I will be wearing my dress during the cold, snowy winter. I copied the sleeve. To length the sleeve, I placed the sleeve from my block on top top.  Also added another 1/2″ ease. Kinda of like my woven sleeves to be roomy.

The sleeve is a little long but the armscye is also a little off my shoulder.  I  plan to trim the shoulder  from  Medium to Small (leaving bust at large, waist/hip Xlarge) which will remove about 1/2″.  I think I’ll wait until that’s done before changing the length of the sleeve.

Question now, is do I finish and wear or toss it as an educational expense? I love the fabric both for its looks and feel but  during the construction and 3 fittings, it has snagged twice. Is this worth taking apart; replacing all the basting and finishing all seams and hems?



Walter’s Front Ti-e Blouse is another new Silhouette Patterns for fall 2108 that I just had to try. Unfortunately it’s the kind of style that feels great and looks good on other people.

I began to have reservations when I copied the pattern pieces.  I was not expecting the front horizontal seam. My fault. I know.  I just didn’t see it even in the schematic. I don’t like to draw a line across my big ol’ tummy or my generous seat. So if I’m going to wear a horizontal seam, it will be up in the Empire zone.   My best line is a center vertical seam. Even the princess seams  are better lines on me. I didn’t attempt to change the position of the horizontal line. I like to make a pattern pretty much as it is designed the first time. I mean, other than making needed fitting changes.

Which weren’t many. I made back and front shoulder slope adjustments, round back adjustment and added 1″ to the back 3/8″ to the front side seams.


Hey, for you guys always wanting a blouse with a 2-piece sleeve, you need to buy this pattern now. The two piece sleeve is the only sleeve I know of which really allows a trim, perfect, arm fit.  Love it in coats and jackets but I’m usually not dissatisfied with my top/blouse sleeves and prefer the faster flat-sleeve construction. IOW I substituted the 1-piece sleeve from SP600. SP518 has a lovely curved cuff which –er– I also did not use. I prefered my LH5202 version. I just fold up the SP600 sleeve to shorten it and then use the LH5202 cuff I copied.  The sleeve is slightly long which is my fault. I did not fold the sleeve up enough this time.

Not helping was that I decided I wanted a looser fit blouse and did not use the back darts. But that wouldn’t have helped those wrinkles along the back sides. They totally surprised me. Since I’ve been adding a 5/8″ RBA and 5/8″ should slope adjustments, I have NOT had back wrinkles.

I really struggled with the front

I wanted to make it exactly as Peggy directed.  Even re-watched the Classic Blouse SP600 Sew Along.  I’m using a silk fabric.  I knew it might be a challenge. It has wanted to slide around the stack  since I bought it 4 years ago from Fabricmartfabrics. Beautiful color. Silk. I mean, real SIIIIIIILK.  It is that classic smooth shiny stuff that slides about.  I spray starched the yardage 4 times. F_O_U_R before pressing and laying out with pattern on top. Most of the construction was smooth and easy. Can’t fault Peggy’s draft, ever. Even with my changes the pieces practically put themselves together. BUT I could not get the front plackets to fold evenly. I would press flat. Carefully fold and smooth the iron along the fold  while periodically burning/steaming my fingers. I did each side 3 times. 30 minutes of scorching my fingers.I even marked the folds using a ruler and chalk.  I’d fold along the line give it a fingernail press before the iron and it would unfold creating a wobbly, very amateurish, front band under the iron. Practically in tears,   I gave up.  Made the front the old-fashioned way with facings,  stitched right-sides-together and inverted.  Since the placket was such a b%tch, I tossed the collar too.  I’d say I’m an intermediate/advanced sewists.  I do well enough that people rarely ‘know’ I’ve sewn something. There are somethings I just can’t sew well. Others, like this collar, that I struggle with and usually get 99% right. I wasn’t struggling with this collar after having flubbed a very simple placket. Not doing it.

Blouse feels great but looks terrible. It’s probably on the way to Goodwill. I even tried  something interesting to hold the front ties.  But it does not work. On me. All the models and pins I saw of similar garments looked fab, just stylin’ with their beautiful front ties.  The ties add weight to my tummy and on me, there is too much excess fabric created by the pleat. The upper bodice just folds in flat like my non-bra wearing grandmothers’ bosoms.  Not a look I ever liked or wanted to wear. Even if I shortened the sleeves, I’d have to rip open the front and figure out how to remove most of the excess and then I’d still have the bad-for-me- line and those ties.

I wasn’t expecting those exact ties.  I thought they would be inserted in the vertical front dart. Again, my fault. I should have looked at the schematic more closely.  I saw what I wanted to see. The two-piece front, especially where it was divided,surprised me. The ties looked too large. I thought at first I was supposed to fold them in half. The instructions clearly show cutting 4, stitching 2-each together and inverting. Even my silk seemed too thick for that treatment. I should have stopped right then and just roll-hemmed. But I didn’t. I kept doggedly following the directions. Even when  alarms sounded over how  the ties were sewn in along the seam line. My ties were too heavy.  I had a heck of a time getting that seam straight. I had to baste the pleat on the upper-blouse, baste the tie onto pleat, then baste the seam before serging. Oh and talk about having a time figuring the pleat out. The instructions say bring the two dots together.  I didn’t mark any dots. Thought “Hold on. This happened to me on 418.” For 418 I just guessed by looking at the pic. My guess turned out right. I decided this time I needed to go back and find the dots and figure out how I was missing them. Well,  I couldn’t find any dots. Couldn’t find any circles  I was thinking maybe a unfilled dot?  Wondered if the dots were on the plus versions. I mean she did include two sleeve strips. Same size. Same titles. But exact same piece. No difference in length that I detected.  Maybe she made a second error and forgot the dots on the regular sizes. I couldn’t find dots.  I re-read instructions. All I see are the T’s she uses for notches.  I figured that one out, long ago and pretty easily. But I didn’t expect  a T to be a dot. Now I know.

Look I’ve seen a lot of great versions of very similar blouses. Have not seen 518 on Pattern Review, yet but I’m sure someone will post a beautimus version. The style doesn’t work for me.  I may wear a few times as an underlayer i.e. with vest, cardigan or jacket on top. But I don’t predict a long stay in my life and I won’t use the pattern again. YMMV