Altered HAF and a RAL Skirt

It should be no secret that I’m a fan of Cutting Line Designs by Louise Cutting.  I posted a question recently at SG asking if I could rotate the armcye dart in the HAF blouse to under the bust.  Louise answered much sooner than I expected, one of the reasons I’m a fan, and gave me some terrific instructions.


That whole scenario may sound slightly off because I’ve often voices how much I love the HAF shell. It is IMO the perfect-fitting, sleeveless shell.  So why would I want to mess with perfection?  Well at SG again we’re discussing creating some of the very interesting tops that we find in stores but for which there are no equivalent patterns.  Many of these are either dart less or have a horizontal bust dart.  I could just simply ignore the dart position, as I do when creating my Sobretto.  But I would like the horizontal bust dart option.  So I followed Louise’s instructions and then decided I wanted to “muslin” my pattern alterations.


OK I rarely do muslins, so in all honesty I’m prototyping.  I’ve already worn the resultant garment.  The fabric is a shiny undetermined fabric scored in a table diving frenzy last fall.  I could not resist it’s deep gold and lustrous shine then or now.  It was preshrunk in a normal laundry routine.  My position is if the fabric won’t survive the wash, I’m not spending my time sewing it up. It survived the wash but like the polyester used n the Sobretto, was a real b*tch to cut and sew. Yes and sew.  I had to change my needles twice and tweaked tensions several times to achieve an acceptable seam on the serger.  My Ruby was a different story:

  • activate Sewing Advisor
  • select woven thin fabric
  • check recommended A foot attached -done-
  • install needles recommended.


HV Ruby set all tensions.  Having struggled yesterday on the pencil roll using vinyl and a 7-year old spool of Coats and Clark sewing thread, I did make sure I was using my good Gutterman threads in both bobbin and top. Wasn’t going through that again ( I was amazed at how all the problems sewing with vinyl just disappeared when I changed to Gutterman thread. I didn’t save the spool for future use. Just tossed into the garbage.)


Like the Sobretto, the final solution was Sta Flo starch.  The liquid kind in 1 quart bottle.  Instead of painting it on, I put a little in a bowl then put my fabric inside the bowl and massaged the fabric until saturated. Then I shook the fabric out and let it dry over night.  Next day board like fabric cooperates everywhere.  It was of course, uncomfortable to wear for any length of time.  I also had drafted the collar using B5493 Top A as a guide.  My collar did not lay nicely since it was starched within an inch of it’s life. So a trip through the washer and dryer was necessary before pictures were possible.


In the same photos I’m sharing my first version of Louise’s Relax A Little (RAL) skirt.  The top, if you remember, was a bomb several weeks ago and I tossed that tissue.  But I kept the skirt pattern because it has been so popular and because it really is a classic shape: 4 gore, side pockets, elastic waist.


I wish I’d followed Louise’s instructions. Not because the skirt was difficult but because I would have learned something new.  Louise learns just by looking carefully at high-end RTW and couture garments and then has an uncanny ability to develop and communicate what she sees into usable procedures for us at home. OK I didn’t do what Louise said to do, but really it’s not a problem.  The skirt is fairly simple and practically sews itself.  I do like that several hem lengths are indicated right on the pattern.  In the pic’s my skirt is at the longest and it is unhemmed just serged.  The gores are cut with the center on the straight-of-grain, making all the seams on the bias.  I was concerned that I would experience problems with stretch and unevenness at the hem.  The hem is serged because this 100% silk from Fabric Mart raveled like the devil-on-fire. Not kidding, just moving from cutting table to iron resulted in large strings.


However both DH and I like the final look.  I’m pleased with the altered blouse. Unfortunately there was a little shrinkage remaining in the fabric. I wore the blouse yesterday, downstairs in my SewingNStash room and it pilled badly across my upper abdomen. We figured that I must have rubbed against the cutting table. I’ve not had another fabric injured like this, so I’m blaming the fabric.  The remaining 1.5 yards will be kept to line purses or something of that nature. On the positive side, I have no gaping at the neckline or armscye.  On the skirt, I probably won’t use those pockets again.  They are unique, but not my favorite method of creating pockets. As for the length, I’ll need to hem it at least 6″ just to get me safely up and down the stairs at my house.  At the ankle length, it is a trip hazard. The skirt has a tendency to ride up over my tummy.  I’m not sure if it’s the buttonhole elastic (which I’ve never used before) causing the issue or the fact that the skirt is so light-weight as to be like air. I’ll be wearing the skirt again. The blouse, well I’ll make the pattern in another fabric and many other versions.  I’m pleased to show you the pics and recommend either garment pattern to you.



PS the blouse collar is drooping on one side.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t doing that before the wash. But as I don’t think I’ll get that much wear out of this garment, I don’t think I’ll worry about fixing it.


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