Beginning RAL Top.

I’ll return to fitting the PNS in days to come. I’m switching gears because a group of 4 CLD patterns recently arrived in my mailbox. I have to admit that Cutting Line Designs patterns are a mixed bag for me.  I tend to either love them to death or declare them as total waste and get rid of them as quickly as possible.  The earlier patterns contained a lot more ease. Currently issued patterns seem to have embraced a skims-everything, touches-nothing while- hinting- at-feminine-form fitting philosophy. IMO, you of course and rightfully so, may differ. One thing I have learned is that the ease varies from design to design. It’s not possible to select a single size (or group of sizes) and sew the new-to-me pattern in the same size with the same alterations as previously fitted CLD patterns.  I’ve learned that I need to measure the pattern and compare the ease included with the ease I like; and the same thing with lengths. So the 4 patterns I ordered included 3 which I’ve skipped before because I didn’t care for the ease included and a 4th that I attempted but discarded when the end result was blocky; fattening; unflattering. That would be the Relax A Little (62905) top.

I kept the 4-gore skirt pattern and use that occasionally. The skirt pattern is a keeper. But the top just didn’t look good on me. This time, I trimmed the major pieces for the blouse, smoothed them with an iron and then  carefully compared Otto’s Sleeveless Blouse .  I looked at ease and length and chose to copy size medium but to use the shoulder length of the small and add 5″ length to the back and front pieces. I didn’t trace the pockets. I’m know I’m a little weird but I always feel like putting pockets over the boobs only serves to draw attention right there. Not what I want. If you disagree, I understand. BTW Louise has proven me wrong about Empire lines so I do try to keep my options open. This time I really wanted to give this pattern a chance to succeed. Since I have an aversion to boob pockets, I didn’t make them.

The front and back yoke are one piece. The instruction are: cut 2. The 2nd yoke is then used in a unique burrito like procedure which creates a cleanly finished inside.

There are shaped facings which I didn’t trace either. I knew I was mixing sizes between yoke (cut as small) and body pieces (cut as mediums) and decided that using bias tape would be easier than adapting facings.

Before I tell you my other design choices let me share my fabric. I once asked of a person who sews beautiful rodeo shirts, where she found her fabric. She uses 100% cottons and silk saris. Her cotton fabrics are stunningly beautiful and I never find anything nearly as lovely anywhere I shop.  Her answer was: the quilting cotton department. She added the advice to choose carefully. Handle the fabric and see if it is the weight you like. Does it drape the way you like. Does it feel good in your hands or when rubbed along your arm? If you can answer yes yes yes, then buy it.  So this is my first real, intentional foray into the quilting cottons with the intent of creating a garment. This is a broadcloth, 100% cotton,printed on one side in an abstract pattern.  The sunset orange-red drew me to it across the store.


(The top picture titled “Pattern” shows the printed pattern better. The picture titled “Color” more accurately indicates the beautiful summer sunset red color).

The fabric feels smooth, almost like a fine silk, definitely a pima or better cotton. I already have a clear red, linen, sleeveless blouse with pointed collar and revers. I was afraid if I made this version of the RAL with the collar, I’d be bored. It would seem to me so much like the red linen blouse that I wouldn’t choose to wear it. I decided that I would not use the collar or the neck facing as provided in the pattern.

This is intended to be cool summer wear. For me that includes freeing my neck and upper chest of a layer of fabric aka showing more skin around the face. I wanted to keep the revers. But had I kept the cut-on front placket facing, the open revers would have also shown the unprinted side of my fabric. I chose instead to extend the cut-on facing 7″.  I simply folded 7″ along the selvages

and aligned the pattern along the placket line with this folded edge

Sewing this garment is so easy, I want it to work.  I did have a little issue in that the yoke shoulder length was cut to the Small size, while the front and back pieces were cut wider to the Medium size.  I need the width across my back and butt. I don’t need the extra width across my shoulders. The fronts eased to the yoke with hardly any effort.  The back I gathered to fit the back yoke–this time. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to make design changes. I gathered this time, I could make a single or multiple pleats next time. The pleats could be place towards the armscye or centered in the back or changed into multiple pin-tucks. Oh and there’s all kinds of things that can be done with pin tucks. See? Extra ease can be a great opportunity for design.

Next I finished the armscyes with black, 1″, bias tape. Now this wasn’t an immediate action.  I spent at least 2 days and several hours deciding how to finish the RAL.  When I purchased the fabric to test for use as a garment instead of quilting, I also wanted to explore the possibility of adding machine embroidery embellishments to a busy print pattern. I selected and printed on vellum, 3D views of 6 different ME designs both in multiple and single colors.  I finally decided that a solid black colored embroidery would display well if it was 4″ or larger and not outlines or lightly filled areas. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide upon placement.  I wasn’t sure how the yoke line would be orientated on my frame.  Would it be at an angle or straight across?  I prefer not to echo the angled line of my narrow shoulders.  I don’t care for that particular orientation on me YMMV.  I also wasn’t sure where the yoke line would fall on me.  Would it be 1/2′” below the shoulder or 3″? Because ME is best done before the garment is constructed, I was working with the pinned together tissues and not feeling secure about what I was seeing.

So I tossed the embroidery thought and decided to use contrasting stitching and bias binding.  Hence the armscyes were bound with 1″ black bias tape then the side seams were basted together and the garment slipped into place on my body.

I was immediately reminded of the vest included in CLD’s

Your Everyday Drifter pattern (OOP) I purchased that pattern for the coat which I never made. However the vest pattern received slight changes to become a favorite warm weather top.  On the YED vest, I raised the neckline on the tissue. I raised the armscye by stitching further up than the dots on the tissue. I’ve made the pattern with the little waist tie and without. Eventually I removed 1/2″ ease at the underarm; tapered to join the side-seam width at the waist and hip.  With the right fabric, a soft drape is best, the YED vest is awesome and totally under-rated by the majority of CLD fans.

I pinned the RAL along the button line and realized that LC had changed the vest into blouse. The neckline was a wonderful depth. The armscyeswere correct for a sleeveless, extended shoulder blouse. The yoke is an excellent design feature. BTW if you’re short on fabric, the 2nd yoke, the one to be used as a facing on the inside, could be cut from a remnant or skipped (if you don’t mind the less sleek inner finishing).

My thought upon looking at myself in the mirror, with the front pinned into place, was “Oh my gosh! This is going to work!” It was really great to think that with the simple addition of 5″ in length this design which many month ago been consigned to the trash, could now be called simply wonderful.

I still have some finishing to do and final pics of the garment, but I’m happy to have paid for the pattern a second time.


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