The Finished RAL Top

Freshly stitched and ironed RAL top and MSS shorts that were worn 8 hours by the time of this pic.


I’m amazed!  From a pattern previously discarded comes a flattering top.  The addition of 5 inches, 1.25 of which was turned-up for a hem, made all the difference in the appearance of this blouse pattern.

I finished the neckline with bias tape but this time I bound the edge so that the bias tape with show. I also folded back the lapels and steamed them into place permanently, I hope.

With the armscyes, the bias was turned completely inside and became invisible. I top stitched the armscye using my cover stitch machine. It’s difficult to make crisp 90 degree turns on the cover stitch machine, so I finished the bottom edge with a single line of machine stitching.

The hem was turned up 1.25″ and also cover stitched. I’m putting the machine to use.  I feel guilty, can’t help myself, for having purchased a machine which has so little versatility. So every time I think “Oh the cover stitch could do that”, it does.

I decided upon black buttons and button holes.  I used the odd button at the top just because I wanted to.  The other 4 buttons match the 2nd button. The top button is old. Not sure how old. I don’t remember this in my mother’s button box so I think it was in one of the many jars of buttons I purchased through the years at various garage sales.

I don’t think I have any serious fitting issues.  The RAL looks great from the front.  Its skims-everything fit is cooling.  I paid dearly for the quilting fabric, but it is worth it. I can tell that this is premium cotton in the way it sews, handles and feels. The color is excellent for me.  I have no make-up on. I’m completely au natural (although I did cleanse and moisturize as well as comb my hair.) Yet my skin glows and I have lips.

Opps, forgot to button one of the buttons!



From the side it looks like I need an FBA. I’m a B cup. I never need an FBA. I would be honored to need an FBA.  I’m inclined to think that this basic style is the real issue.  There is little to no shaping.  The shoulders do have a slope. The side seams are not exactly straight, more like slightly angled diagonal between armscye and hem. The front hem seems to be tilting upwards. It’s something that I’ve noticed on more and more of the tops that I sew. Again many would look at the diagonal pointing at the bust and insist that I need to add the FBA. I think the issue is on the back.

There are just a few wrinkles in the middle of the back. This could be velcro butt. You know, the hem sticks to the fabric higher upon the hip like velcro and won’t drop into place. When it does that, excess fabric gets shoved into the back and wrinkles.  In my case though I think I may need just a little more ease across the hip.  I did not do my normal back-waist length adjustment which would have brought the shaping up and perhaps put more ease across my hip.   The sides were so straight, I thought the BWL unnecessary. I’m also finding that while I need a Small across the shoulders, I need a medium between the shoulder blades.  In the last few patterns I’ve needed to add 1/4-1/2″ right at the armscye but only on the back.   I think this may be part and parcel of the ageing process. As my shoulder rounds from age, the shoulder saddle becomes narrower but the distance between shoulder blades is lengthened.  I’m beginning to find, for a nice fit on the back, I need a center back seam. What happens on the back does not happen in isolation.  Since there is not enough room on the back, it tries to borrow it from the front. Hence we think we see a need for an FBA. We think  there isn’t enough room for the bust. In truth the back is taking the ease it needs by squishing the soft frontal tissues.  When I look back at the side view, I think that the back looks smaller than the front. That’s also an indicator that more fabric is needed for the back.

This is a nice blouse.  The problems are minor.  None of my friends will even notice. But I will adapt the pattern slightly for future versions.


11 thoughts on “The Finished RAL Top

  1. Bev, love the way you look in your new top. The trim is lovely and is the wonderful color of your fabric. What I really appreciate about your post is all the info about fitting.


    1. Thank you karen. I confess that I post some of the information so that when I make the pattern again, I can find out what I did. BUT I’m happy to help anyone else. Fact is I’m bold enough now to do some of things I do to patterns because of the blog posts of other sewists. I’m happy to take their inspirations and “pay it forward”.


  2. Really pretty blouse! I think you might be on to something with needing extra fabric on the back. About 10 years ago, I spent a long time making rounded shoulder adjustments to shirt patterns, only to discover that a full bust adjustment fixed all the problems with the back. Maybe you’re seeing the same thing in reverse.

    Last summer, I convinced myself I didn’t need a coverstitch machine, because my serger does both; however, I’ve been wishing for one again lately. Do you find you don’t use it as much as you expected? I sew a lot of knits and stretch wovens, so I use chainstitch and cover hems all the time. I’ve also been intrigued with the seam binding attachments. Is that something you use, or would care to use?


    1. Rebecca
      Thanks for your comments. As far as fitting, it seems to be similar to medical conditions i.e. your body only has so many symptoms but the cause and therefore cure can be very different. I’ve learned the hard way that particular drag line does not necessarily equate a specific fix. I’ve been surprised several times at what finally fixed my issue.

      I felt my cover stitch machine was an extravagance. I didn’t have either the $$$ or space. DH worked with me finding both. So when the CS sits unused I feel guilty (DF does not. He assumes a tool is needed when it’s needed and then put away for safe keeping for the next time it is needed. $$$ is inconsequential). I do have 2 binders but I haven’t been successful in using them. I bought the binders shortly after purchasing the CS and worked with them during one session. I assumed that my lack of success was due to general unfamiliarity with the machine and planned to become more comfortable with the machine before trying them again. So yes, I want to use these and the belt-loop maker. I’d love to find the Brother style hem guide would work with my CS. Unfortunately all these accessories are far too expensive to buy and discard. For the time being, I’m trying to maximize the use of the CS, with intent to make the binders work in the near future. Next up, is using the CS machine to top stitch jeans. Tell me it wouldn’t be wonderful to quickly switch quickly between sewing machine and a top stitch machine.


  3. Very nice! A good quilting cotton is a joy to sew. It’s just that with the increased price in cotton, the costs continue to go up. Still, it should be a workhorse for you.


  4. Thank you so much for going into the details of altering this top. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the RAL top for some time and you have shown me how to fix the problems. Yours is lovely and a beautiful color on you. Love your style!

    I have a new serger/coverstitch machine and am discovering the joys of coverstitching. As Rebecca asked, do you use any of the binding attachments?


    1. Connie
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I too have a love/hate relationship with nearly all CLD patterns. TerriK inspired me to alter the patterns to suit my figure and life style. With her encouragement, patterns which I previously would have tossed, have become loved and much used.

      I have 2 binding attachments. Purchased shortly after I purchased the CS machine and experimented with one time. I assumed I was unsuccessful in their use because I wasn’t comfortable using the CS. I plan to get them out and have another go but first I want to try using the CS to top stitch jeans. It would be great to be able to switch between two machines instead of repeated threading of the SM.


  5. I am quite impressed with your current adaptation of the RAL top. When I looked at the original pattern envelope, it looked like something that would only look attractive on someone built like the sketch on the cover (tiny little sticklike body, enormously long legs) You have turned it into something that looks good!

    Your careful alterations really make a difference, and I particularly like how you added the black bias trim and buttons, which work with the fabric print and also bring the eye up to your face… As far as your choice of colorway, it reminds me of something I read once, I think from “The Triumph of Individual Style”. The author was talking about how our best colors are those that are in our own personal coloring, our hair, the varied colors in our eyes, and that our best reds were the ones like our natural lips and blushing skin… I may not be remembering it exactly correctly, but the fact that the fabric really makes your face look vibrant makes me think that is what you have done here


    1. Oh thank you Indigo. I’ve skipped a lot of CLD patterns thinking I had to make them exactly as drafted except for minor fitting tweaks. With the encouragement of others, I’ve been able to see the “bones” of a pattern and start making adaptations to suit my figure. I think I read someplace that LC (CLD designer and owner) uses an 8-head illustration figure which of course no real person can look like.

      Part of what I love about being retired is the time to think through and try many options. I spent several days pulling together the pieces and trying different embellishments like the printed embroidery designs and different braids before I decided upon the final simpler route. While I didn’t consciously follow the Triumph of Individual Style guidelines, I’m glad that my no-makeup day can serve as a good example of what can be done.


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