the ABO

The ABO is kind of an elderly pattern. Not for the elderly, but not a vintage pattern nor a recent release. Because of the prominent drop shoulder sleeve and flowing ease, its styling is reminiscent of the late 80’s and early 90’s i.e. slightly dated. I didn’t purchase when first I became acquainted with Cutting Line Designs both because of the dated style lines and also the really dropped shoulder irritates me. However, late 2013, the designer, Louise Cutting, was asked “What is your goto pattern? What is that pattern that LC pulls out when she wants a new top and wants it now?”  Her answer was surprising.  She starts with the little top in this pattern 21406 Anything But Ordinary,  and then makes easy alterations to update the styling.  Essentially, she  folds the pattern parallel to the grain line in the shoulder area and removes the excess ease;  dramatically changing the drop shoulder. Once those simple alterations are completed, this is an easy to sew, updated pattern. Intrigued, I purchased the pattern immediately. But being me, it took this long to work on it.

I was tempted to trace the Small. Measuring across the pattern hip line indicated that the Small would fit. However, I knew from experience with CLD designs that this wasn’t quite true. I pulled out the 2X4 which I last used in October 2013 and compared ease.  I decided upon the size Medium. Once traced however, I was puzzled. The Medium contained just sufficient ease for my hips but excess shoulder length. Sigh, my shoulder is 1″ narrower than the standard.  I puzzled over how to remove the extra 3″ in the shoulder without removing it from the hip area.  This 3-piece pattern, the ABO top, is pretty boxy. Although the shoulder is sloped and the neck shallowly scooped, the side’s have no shaping. Also, there are no darts  anywhere.  This shape works well for the rectangular and apple-shaped individual but for pear-shaped me, it needs some adjustment. Which is born out by the first fitting:

Right out of the envelope, a size Medium on Me.

I look sloppy.  Even in this lovely rayon purchased from Fabricmart, I look sloppy and unkempt. The hip is almost too tight. You can see in the back it develops a fold at the center back and the raw edge wants to cup under.  The sleeves are hanging to my very finger tips and the shoulder is extended beyond cap sleeve territory into nearly 1/4 sleeve length. I’ll barely mention all the folds and drag lines everywhere. So many I’m not sure where to start.

I decided darting the shoulder might help by removing fabric at the shoulder but leaving it for the hip.  I pinched out the excess in the left shoulder and then basted in a big whopping dart. Wasn’t much help:

There are still folds  and drag lines everywhere. You can see though that one sleeve (my left shoulder) is now much shorter. Overall, not much of an improvement and not a look I wanted to “settle for”.

I had run out of time for the day.  I placed the blouse upon Mimie and shut down the sewing room.



…. to be continued of course


7 thoughts on “the ABO

  1. Bev, I disagree that this pattern, or any other current CLD patttern, is “dated”. “Dated” are the old lady pocketed cardigan jacket and sweater styles that make every woman look 70-80 years old. Louise’s instructions for modifying the “Go To” ABO top call for adding width, not subtracting it (see the descriptions under photos of the Go To ABO tops on the Cutting Line Designs Flickr group for full instructions).
    Go To ABO top with contrast underlay at the ASG convention
    Louise also puts darts in her ABO tops and has instructions on how to add darts to any pattern in her DVD #3.

    High end designer lines consistently include tops, dresses, jackets and coats with drop sleeves and lots of ease no matter the season. In patterns, both wearing ease and design ease are incuded. Drop sleeves are not dated or 80’s/90’s – that was exaggerated shoulders/huge shoulder pads. In the ready to wear lines, look at Eileen Fisher and Etienne Aigner that just started a line of beautifully designed clothing and accessories – some of which I personally own from the fall collection. I noted that many of the styles in the EA Lookbook can be reproduced using CLD patterns and none of those looks are dated. For example, the metallic cotton boxy jacket is the ABO with the CF extended similar to her Fun with Fabrics jacket.


    1. Terri
      I love your insight and appreciate your comments. Agree with them even. I was writing from my limited perspective of the shopping I did during the late 80’s and 90’s for my size. It seemed like all they offered me were hideously dropped sleeves. I confess, I was much more interested in my career than in fashion and quite possibly didn’t see the very things you pointed out. I absolutely bow to you as the fashion expert. You notice and remember things that totally escape my attention.

      As for the ABO, I must have misread Louise’s instructions. I thought for sure that she removed ease out there in no-man’s land (i.e. the shoulder area). Once I traced my pattern there was plenty of room in the shoulder area that could be folded out but barely enough for my hips–which was what I thought I was supposed to do. Now that I’ve added the shoulder shaping of the Ebb, I looooooove Louise’s styling. It is relaxed and very flattering, IMO, AND during the last few weeks, I’ve definitely seen similar garments in the stores and being worn.

      I’m working on why your comments are on “moderation”. They shouldn’t be. Again, I enjoy you insight and suggestions. I’d rather they post immediately instead of being sent to my inbox. Thanks for the link to the photos. I’ve delayed buying her DVD’s but think I should acquire them soon.


  2. Hi Bev, I’ve made the “Go To” top if that is the one to which you refer. If this is the one, as Terri mentioned in her comment above, Louise adds ease for this top. I’m having trouble seeing much in your photos I think due to the busy fabric pattern and the fact that I can’t seem to enlarge them.


    1. I dunno if I helped the picture problem or not. There is a box I can select to allow the pic to open in a new window. Not sure if you will be able to see a larger view or not. Thanks for letting me know about this issue.


  3. Bev, I hope that you will e-mail Louise (like I do) when you run into something that is confusing about her patterns or the modifications. She and her assistant Sandy Miller go over every possible detail in terms of drafting, fit and the instructions before they release the patterns so they want us to be able to fit/sew and wear the best possible garment from it. It’s clear that she is very busy because I posted a question about removing the collar from the A Cute Angle jacket on that sewing board, and she probably missed it because she didn’t respond. I’ve been busy too, but need to follow up and send her an e-mail about it. I also think you would also benefit from some small shoulder pads with your narrow shoulders.


    1. Terri
      Terry I’ll be following the shoulder pad advice, for sure. Just received my order from WAWAK for a dozen very small (1/4″) shoulder pads. It’s obvious now that one of my shoulders is lower than the other. Just a part of aging. Thanks for the thought.


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