Pure And Simple Shell

There are several Ottobre patterns I’d like to sew which have the same “bones” as the shell from Louise Cuttings Pattern 11238 Pure and Simple. I’ve made the shell dozens of times with many variations.  It’s definitely a GOTO pattern for me and by far, the most favored for summer.  I’m just now beginning to wear my summer clothing and wanted to check and see if the PNS still fit (before altering the Otto patterns to be like the PNS).

PNS shell and MSS shorts fnished 6/27 this year, 2013.


Because my rear changed so much last winter and effectively ruined the fit of nearly every bottom type garment (and bottom covering garment), I thought to slip-on one of the previous years versions and just check the fit. To my astonishment, not a single PNS shell is in my closet! I thought back and remember that I’d worn them all repeatedly until they had holes or were badly stained. At the end of summer, I removed all garments in the same category with the thought of forcing myself to sew new and in good condition. That all the PNS shells are gone reaffirms that this is truly my most favorite pattern. These are the first tops chosen time after time for summer wear. I think it’s the skims-everything touches-nothing fit that yet contains a hint of waist and thereby feminine shape.  The extended shoulder line helps visually balance my narrow shoulders with my hips and offers me a little more protection from the sun while still being cool. To use this pattern this year I need to refit.

I’m in love with Otto’s suggestion to trace the size which corresponds to the body part. I’ve already used that successfully already with Louise’s HAF (59269)pattern. I traced small shoulders and neckline, medium armscye and bust; large waist and hip. Then I compared the HAF with my tracing. I just slid the newly traced pattern on top of the fitted HAF pattern pieces.  The differences were as I expected, i.e. the side seams sloped inward for an indented  waist which the HAF does not have.

Since the new pieces looked as I expected, I chose fabric. This is a light weight, translucent (not transparent) voile. It is the left over from when I failed to fit Otto’s sleeveless shell. I think it’s a beautiful fabric and will be comfortable for summer.

I didn’t want to use the high neckline drafted on the PNS. That’s a nice look, but for summer I like to expose a little more skin. I chose to cut facings and add a sweet-heart neckline  and also scoop out the side and back neckline 1″ all around.


It’s been a long time since I’ve sewn a sweet heart neckline.I was concerned about the curved edges holding their shape. I interfaced the facing with fusible weft usually reserved for more fitted garments. I’m using large facings which extend from shoulder to shoulder; 3″ below the front and back necklines. I hate 5/8″ facings. They are fussy to work with and I never seem to be able to finish them evenly.  These huge facings are not only easy to work with but they give lots of support across the shoulder and neckline. Nonetheless, I’m still concerned about my curved front neckline turning into floppy dogs ears. As well as under stitching the facing, I edge stitched the neckline to provide additional support. Then I stitched a channel 7/8″ away from the top stitching. My thought was to provide a channel that I could insert clear elastic or perhaps another type support if additional support was needed as proven by wearing. It occurred to me to ask how I was going to thread anything at those sharpely-angled corners. For that reason I stopped and started the stitching 1/2″ away from what would have been a corner. This looks a little different to me.  If the facing/interfacing/top stitching supports the neckline well enough, I’ll finish stitching those corners.  Heck, if I had to add more support in the channel, I’m stitching in those corners.  For now, it is planned. It is a design feature.

I finished the armscyes and hem with 1″, caramel-colored, bias tape. Louise provides wonderful facings to finish the neckline and armscye areas. I used her facings the first time I made the PNS shell.  But I’m a bit lazy, plus I’m always making alterations that must also be made on the facings. I’ve fallen into the habit of using 1″ wide bias tape whenever possible. It folds nicely and easily rolls the fashion fabric just slightly to the inside so that the bias tape is not visible.  I didn’t have a matching peach or red. I considered using a neutral white, but like this caramel color combined with the colors of the fabric. Not to mention that it was very easy to then repeat the stitching lines at the armcye

curved hem

and along the straight edges of the hem, which echo the neckline stitching and I think unifies the embellishment.

The neckline change; edge and top stitching in red help satisfy my craving for embellishment. I’m so tired of refitting my basics and GOTO patterns. I’m dying to experiment, dabble and incidentally create wadders with emblishments-gone-wrong.

You have heard of course that “pride goeth before the fall”?  Well that’s true for me with this pattern.  I was so sure of the accuracy of my tracing multiple sizes that I didn’t measure and didn’t check the fit until the blouse was finished.  I made a quick comparison with the already fitted HAF; saw what I expected, and dived into sewing the first PNS for 2013. I had one really unexpected issue. The neckline refuses to sit evenly across my shoulders.

The neckline slides back and forth resting now on the left, next time on the right side of my neck. This may be an issue with Sweet Heart Necklines and the reason why it’s been years since I’ve sewn one.  It could also be the combination of extended shoulders and the wider neckline. That’s one of the issues I have when a garment’s shoulder is wider than my own.  But this could also be a fabric issue.  My cotton/poly fabric is not stiff but it does not have the soft drape of an ITY knit or even the cotton batiste used in the Otto Sleeveless Blouse. I’m sure that having 3 possible causes of the same issue is what drives people away from sewing their own clothing.  Once the time, energy and $$$ have been invested in a garment, you want it to fit near perfect or at least be easy to correct. The RTW industry doesn’t suffer the same defeat as the individual sewist.  Before RTW die cuts the first fabric, the designer has already tested multiple fabrics, in multiple sizes and tweaked the pattern as needed or discarded the whole dang idea.  Those of us who sew have to look at issues and say: “If I can’t fix it, can I ignore this?”

It’s a bit annoying but I can cope with the sliding shoulders this summer.  To test the shoulder fit, I’ll need to remake this pattern at least once with the default neckline. That won’t be too much to bear. I love this pattern and make it multiple times every year.  I’m sure I’ll test that neckline and several other design features this very summer.

I’m also seeing some drag lines from the bust to side and again from hip to hem. With a “B” cup, I never need an FBA. It’s more likely that I need a little more ease under the arm and along the waist.  In fact I’m noticing that I often need more ease across the back than I do on the front.  The MSS shorts  clearly revealed that situation.

While I can explain away the minor issues on the front view, with the side view I start saying “uh-oh”. The extended shoulder is going to have more drag lines than a fitted armscye and shoulder. The extended shoulder needs more ease just so that you can more around.  But I’m looking at a pretty deep wrinkle around the shoulder on back and front. Not to mention the mess of wrinkles in the center back. Amazingly, the front looks better from the side, then the front-on view.


The back view tells me that I clearly have ease issues. Yes the sliding shoulders are creating some drag lines, but the mass of folds in the center of the back indicate that I truly need to add more ease across the back hip.  The side seam-line is not visible in any of the pictures I took of me wearing the PNS shell.  Judging from how the printed design is hanging, I think the side-seams must be falling fairly straight. When I make the PNS shell next, I will add more ease to both front and back side-seams and I will baste-test the fit. Is the fit of this blouse satisfactory for wear? I think the bank line view is the best to answer that question:

and honestly, I don’t think I look any worse then any of my contemporaries. After all as soon as the body moves, the fabric will wrinkle. It’s a given that the pictures I take of the garment on me while I’m standing perfectly still will hardly resemble the same garments when I wear them.


PS We’ve been writing of proportions at Stitchers Guild.  I think that either the PNS blouse needs to be longer or the shorts need to be shorter. As is, I look like I have a long torso and squat bottom half. IRL, I’m short-waisted and long-legged.  I can remember my dad saying when he wanted to find me, he looked for the girl who was all legs. Dressed in these proportions, he’d overlook me.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s