Category Archives: ConnieCrawford

5538 Princess Seamed Blouse

Having made my princess sloper yesterday, I’m finally able to work with this pattern:

My sloper had all the basic pieces but they needed to be adapted to the styles above.  I assumed that the front pieces would be drastically different. Boy was I surprised. Upon opening the envelope I found the big difference was not the shape of the center front but the collars and cuffs… additional pieces.

I  traced the collar and marked the depth of the front neckline on my sloper. Fooled with the Version C sleeve but decided to use my standard sleeve instead.  Then decided I would want to use this pattern several times and should create a center front piece instead of marking a mark and cutting freehand.  I traced the center front but didn’t cut it out. I aligned it with the pattern and traced the pattern shape. To my surprise, both fronts were exactly the same except the V neckline of the pattern (my sloper has a jewel neckline).

Recently I’ve turned my attention to a new fitting issue, asymmetrical shoulders. My right shoulder is lower than my left.  I’ve been playing with different shoulder pads thinking of using one 1/8″ thicker than the other.  Could never really find a good set i.e. two different shoulder pads that were the same size, shape, material but slightly different thickness.  There are times when I still want shoulder pads but not to correct my asymmetry.  I’ve settled upon a 3/8″ fiberfill shoulder pad.  My sloper is adapted for a 1/2″.  Point is, I realized I needed to work with the shoulder fit so that my ‘standard’ would always work.  I laid out my pattern pieces, including the newly ‘drafted’ center front (I find it humorous to think my tracing is considered drafting) …and cut my fabric.

I’ll admit now that I was over-confident. I didn’t tape or stay stitch. I basted the shoulders and side seams together; marked center front and pinned shoulder pads in place. I couldn’t believe how many times I unpinned the shoulder pads; adjusted the shoulder seam and then repinned. I just couldn’t seem to get the underarm wrinkles to go away —on the back. The front looked pretty good after 2 fittings.  Finally I decided something had to have gone wrong in my process. I walked the seams. I found that to lengthen my finished garment, I had added 1.25″ to the front hem but 1.75″ to the back. The side seams were still uneven between underarm and waist. I’m thinking it has to do with how the bust dart was slashed and over lapped but I’m not 100% sure.  I trimmed the extra 1/8″ from the back underarm and sighed. Such an easy mistake to make and to catch. If I had walked the seams before cutting fabric I could have avoided at least 4 fittings.

By this time the fabric was unraveling horribly. I had used an interesting cotton fabric with woven, vertical, cream stripes on a lavender background.It’s raveled status now demanded that I finish sewing or toss it. I really wanted to see how the garment would fit after the changes I had made. In addition to increasing the depth of the shoulder seams, I’d also changed the shoulder slope, scooped the back underarm and increased the depth of the back vertical dart. It’s been tweak tweak tweak i.e. minor change after minor change.  They add up.  So I basted the collar to the neckline; positioned the facings and then serged the long neckline seam. Yep from one collar point, up the neckline across the back, down the other side and ending at the collar point. Beautiful.  Pressed like a dream. Looked good so I top stitched the seam from shoulder across the back ending at the other shoulder.

Then I tried stitching the front facing from collar to hem. It twisted. I saw odd stitches. I ripped. Smoothed. Carefully stitched again. Again twisted. I ripped even more. Smoothed carefully positioned…. b-a-s-t-e-d.  I never need to baste this seam.  I’m really good with this particular technique for adding collars and facings. I can’t understand why this is going wrong. Along about the 6th try, I get it basted nice and neat. But the lapels are now uneven. Yep, one is about 3/4″ and the other almost flush with the collar point. Wait, almost flush?  Look at View C above BOTH should be flush. Oops, I didn’t walk the collar seam with the back neckline of my sloper and the front neckline.  The collar was too short. UGGGGGGGGggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I took a break. I really wanted to see how this blouse would fit. Not only do the multiple changes add up but it seems to me the final stitching, buttons/buttonholes and a loving press can change the appearance and even fit.  I fixed the collar. I mean I added 1″ to the center back making it longer. Then laid out all my pieces and cut into  a ‘good’ blouse fabric.  This fabric is 100% cotton but it is a lighter weight. I chose to cut contrasting collar and facings.  This time, I taped shoulders, armscyes and the neckline. A V neckline is almost guaranteed to stretch. Even though a collar is attached, the base is a deep V. Then, I just went for it. I stitched the thing without trying it on once. Confidence? Annoyance?  Idiocy?  You be the judge:

Forgive the pants. I should have worn a belt.

I’ve got a little velcro butt going on but other wise, I like it. Most of the underarm wrinkles (U’s) disappeared however I confess to scooping out both front and back underarms another 1/4″. The fit, IMO, is pretty good. Not happy with the collar facing intersection:

I could not sew a smooth join. That little jog was the best I could do. It may be that I need to do something extra – like beat it with a hammer.  I also noted that the neckline is a bit low in front — something that I complain about with Burda patterns but didn’t expect with Connie Crawford. I admit it could be my tracing to the sloper rather than using Connie’s drafted pieces.  This is the way I’m going to be fitting new patterns. It is so much quicker to use my sloper and add details or morph into a different draft than to guess at size; trace and then adapt the fit. Fact is somethings must stay the same from pattern to pattern. I’m always going to need  my personal ease. I won’t be comfortable in anything else.  I’ll always need my shoulder slope.   It’s easier, faster and reliable to start with my sloper. It’s not important whether Connie’s draft was right and my tracing wrong.  It’s important that I note on my sloper what is too low for me. For now, I’m thinking of adding a free hanging hook and eye to the center front of this blouse. It will make me more comfortable.

And, I won’t be using 5538 again.  I love it. Why wouldn’t I use a pattern/style I love again?  Well I have an old Burda Style magazine that has the very same collar shapes. The difference being that they are one with the center front piece.  Think: shaped shawl collar.  No one else might notice that little jog. But I really don’t like it.  Since I”m not skilled enough to eliminate it, I’ve decided to move along to a technique that will.

Summer 6PAC Camp Shirt

I do think that a Camp Shirt should be easy wearing which to me means slightly over sized.  I’m not entirely sure about this one, mostly due to its length.  Current fashion is longer, tunic length and odd if not asymmetrical hems. My hem is level and falls somewhere between high hip and tunic length. I *might* be able to get used to this but right now it seems a little off.

I do love this rayon challis from Craftsy. It is like a fine silk which rayon was developed to imitate. Also was tickled when I discovered the perfect buttons in my stash:

The print is circles with circles within a zig zag color scheme.  My buttons are gold circles within white circles and the white matches the white of the fabric print.

I had fitting issues because I had forgotten all the things I’d done in the previous 4 versions of the same pattern. My tissue is rather cryptically marked with two shoulder lines. I fit the bare shoulder then added length for a 3/8″ shoulder pad.  I like shoulder pads. Not football protection, you understand, but a little filling-in of my maturing figure where needed. I think a properly chosen and worn shoulder pad is no worse than Spanx in anyone else’s closet. Shoulder pads help me achieve the appearance I want to project a-n-d want to see in my mirror.

I’m particularly pleased with the left side above, which does not display objectionable drag lines. Yeah sure, there are some lines due to my posture as well as the ease and drape of this wonderful fabric.

I should have pressed one more time.

I had fit this a little closer by using 3/4″ side seam allowances when I thought I had trimmed the pattern’s SA to 1/2″. To my surprise, I experienced tightness in the sleeve and between the shoulder blades along with some restricted arm movement. I ripped and then stitched between wrist and vent a 1/2″ SA.  ATM, I’m not sure how I’m going to adjust the pattern.  Adding that 1/4″ at the underarms and sleeves certainly made them more comfortable and mobile. However, I preferred the look of the slightly closer fit.

Construction was a breeze, outside of the initial confusion with the shoulder seam allowances.   A camp shirt is designed for ease; both ease of wear and ease of construction. The slightly dropped shoulder and flattened sleeve cap remove all the difficulty of a set in sleeve especially since I sew these in flat like a T-shirt. I cut and then fused bias tape to the neckline. I wish I had also taped the armscyes and hems.  My difficulty with the shoulder meant these areas were handled several times and, as can be expected, both stretched and raveled.  Many of the seams (collar, facing, sleeve/armscye) are serged at 1/4″. The others were basted with water-soluble thread until fitting was satisfactory. Then were straight stitched and  serge finished. I under stitched collar and front facing but top stitched the hem.  At the last second I added 1/4″ shoulder pads and tacked them into place; used the blind stitch to secure the bottom 5″ of the front facing.  I’m using Loes Hinse cuff procedure (from the Tunic Blouse 5203).  Had intended to do a little differently with the cuff but by that time I decided the garment needed no further handling.

I anticipate using this pattern in the near future.  There is a point at which you should leave the pattern alone and tweak for fit. But I think a little more can be done to assure me of an easy sew/easy fit pattern. I want to reach that point. More importantly, I want to be so confident of the fit, that I feel free to  copy design details from RTW and other patterns. As I noted with the Golden Apricot Blouse,  I prefer to buy pattern.s Usually, most of the decisions have already been made and tested. There are a surprising number of options, small changes, that make a difference in how the finished garment looks, feels even coordinates with other garments in the wardrobe. But given my figure and many needed alterations, sigh, I’ve admitted to myself that working with an untried pattern is difficult and frustrating. More frustrating then starting with a similar, basic style and incorporating the desired styling. I anticipate buying fewer patterns and the ones I do buy will be because I need templates; I need to know the conclusion someone else reached after testing numerous details.

But for now, I can happily say, had I see this blouse in a store, I would have bought it.  It has the  perfect colors for me; a classic shape I love and this particular blouse, since I sewed it, fits pretty well.  So, that finishes Garment #2 of my Summer 6PAC

Blouse/Shirt Jacket for 6PAC

I’ve decided to use Connie Crawford’s 5047  Camp Shirt for the corner-stone of my Summer 6PAC.  I like how the extra ease of a camp shirt enables it to function as a shirt jacket.  I’ll wear the camp shirt by itself whenever the temperatures are cooler i.e. late spring, autumn, cool evenings, visits to the mountains etc.  There are other times when I’ll ne expecting a warm day and will start the day in either the Golden Showers Blouse from yesterday or the coral tank (yet to be sewn or shared).  The day turns cold.  Maybe it’s  a sudden summer shower. More likely I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, just run into the grocery store, or other highly air-conditioned setting.  For those circumstances, I carry my camp shirt with me and slip it over whatever top I’m wearing. Instant comfort and control of my environment.

Most of the time, I don’t notice I’m aging.  Every once in a while it becomes apparent to me.Like now when I’m daily choosing to wear one of 5047’s previous versions while having completely forgotten the fitting effort. Seriously, I’m looking out there in pattern land for my perfect camp shirt pattern, while already wearing it. Duh. The good news is that I didn’t need to do a lot of prep.  I compared it with my basic block and confirmed it had sufficient ease (an extra 1/2″ on each side seam).  Even the sleeve had  extra ease.  Can see that I  already added 1/2″ to the collar CB because I previously thought I wanted the collar to sit closer to CF.  My biggest concern was overall length.  I like the existing length, but the current trend is longer.  I’ve found I don’t like ‘real’ tunic length.  To me, I look unbalanced, deformed even.  Its like I’ve lost leg length while my torso has grown. It’s not a matter of getting accustomed to the extra 6″.  Tried that twice.  Wore the garments several times before whacking off a few inches. So, I dithered for a few minutes before adding 3″ length at the hem.   Less than what’s needed for tunic length but more than what makes it high-hip on me. Last changes, not really a changes but a style decisions.  I folded the sleeve up 1.75″ to offset the 2″ planned cuff and replaced cut-on vents with separately cut 2″ wide by 9″ long strips.

I laid out my rayon Challis fabric; aligned the pattern pieces and cut my fabric. I think I’ve mentioned this before, I love creating a coordinated set by choosing a print fabric and then from the colors of the base fabric, selecting matching/coordinating fabrics for the other garment pieces.  This charming rayon Challis print is my first Craftsy fabric purchase

I predict there will be more. More fabric purchases. I thought Craftsy provided plenty of information to make a decision i.e width, fiber, weave, professional pic etc.

I was concerned about color accuracy and the lengths available.   Most fabrics are offered in 2 or 3 yard lengths.   That works for me with blouses/tops. I would be more reluctant when making a selection for pants.  I can squeeze a pair of pants out of 2 yards but I prefer a little wiggle room. I may want to check for shrinkage or match patterns. A contour waistband definitely needs more yardage than a straight; cut on WB can completely eliminates itself as a choice because the extra length just wont fit. I can run afoul when  I’m limited to 2 yards, yet I hate buying an extra yard of fabric and being left with this big ol’ piece that’s missing an 8″ square.  So purchase length will be a concern for me but not necessarily a deal killer. Thankfully,  colors were accurate and the hand what I expected.  Rayon Challis is pretty standard in that way.  But I have had the experience of purchasing a med-weight ponte for pants only to realize upon it’ arrival that it was not pant worthy.  Even when fabrics have a standard hand, I always have this niggling fear that the description wont fully prepare me for the actual fabric.


Well 1  had hoped to get this all in one post, but as usual I have more to say then should be said in one post.  Please come back tomorrow for construction and fit details.

A 3rd Layer

My collection needs a third layer. If you’ve read my posts for any time at all, you’ll know that I want extra coverage in the sun and in the grocery store freezer sections.

I’m using View B from Connie Crawford B5793 pattern. It’s an easy 2-piece pattern that doesn’t need fitting.

I prefer long sleeves for my third layer (for reasons listed above).  I actually started another garment with another pattern. Once I had it basted together, I could tell it wouldn’t work  visually or fit wise. Everything I could think of that would fix  fit, made issues elsewhere including visual.  Everything I did to make it more appealing visually wouldn’t coordinate with the current collection.  Finally I decided to set that aside and chose a new fabric and new pattern, B5793.  My fabric is silk/cotton. Note the silk first.  If I had to choose, cotton/silk would be my favorite of all time. But I like this combination too.  It is as light weight as a scarf and silky while still being opaque.    I made no effort to match the plaid. Was totally surprised when the plaid matched on the left side

Doubly surprised when the right matched too

I was focused on fitting the pattern pieces on the 44″ wide fabric. I wasn’t surprised when the shoulders didn’t match. I covered it up by inserting 1″ flat piping along the shoulder line.  I find that “place” for the eye to rest makes the mis-match less objectionable.  Only one odd thing with this pattern: the way the sleeves peak at the shoulder:

I didn’t notice that until I was pressing the shoulder seams.

I finished the sleeve with a narrow, twice-turned hem.

I used a serger rolled hem to finish the hem and neckline.

From start to finish this lovely casual 3rd layer took maybe 3 hours:

… and since this is a late-summer early-fall collection, this 3rd layer will be perfect.


I decided to take my own advice, shared on SG a few days ago.  I’m taking a break from the Ascona pant and working on a quick and easy project; a palate cleanser. First, I “discovered” I had 2 mending projects.  One is a pair of shorts with cover stitching popping in the hem. Not at the waist but at the leg hems.  It’s not popping just where the CS meets itself and is overlapped but at several places along the way on both legs.  Odd because cover stitching by itself is always stretchy enough for knits. But I guess this fabric was the exception. An easy 5 minute fix which I’ve put off for several weeks.  No kidding, 5 minutes at the sewing machine stitching around each hem twice. Done!

The second involves this pretty red knit top completed only last week:

I suspected that neckline would be too low as well as too wide.  I fixed the too wide before finishing and wore the top one time.  I spent lots of time holding my neckline in place. Like, every time I bent slightly.  As the day wore, on the center front continued to droop in front. It forms a very pretty neckline which continued to be more and more risqué.  Another simple but fiddly repair.  Several years back, I was into making bras and panties.  I acquired some very wide elastics and I still have some.  First I laid the garment inside out on the ironing board, positioning and smoothing the neckline.  I pinned a piece of elastic in place.  Took the top off the ironing board and slipped it over Mimie (my dressform) and adjusted the elastic to be tight enough and a centered a lace repeat.  I basted from the backside. Then flipped it over, adjusted one place that had tucked and another that had slipped out-of-place. Then I topstitched the elastic. It sort of flopped around. So I edge stitched along the neckline and then top stitched (making a 3rd row of stitching) about 1/2″ away.  This secured the lace quite nicely. The lace preserves my modesty and adds a nice romantic detail.

Don’t cha think, I need to alter the pattern and make another.


Embroidered 0456

I gave serious thought as to what I could use as a top with my straight inseam PP113’s

It’s muted tone threw me off and had me wondering if this comfy pair of pants would be winter pj’s.  In my stash I found a peach cotton poly fabric that was previously a table cloth.  It’s color just seemed to glow up next to the pants.  I had made the decision to use embroidery in hand sized amounts. Any large embellishments would be done with paint, ink, felting, couching or some other method. So, I was surprised to find myself upstairs planning an extensive embroidery.  But I couldn’t help myself. When I had seen the fabric next to the pants, I had a flash of inspiration (with a dash of compulsion?).   Of course, I couldn’t find the embroidery design I imagined.  It’s the curse of having such an embarrassingly large collection of designs.  You know you have something but you can’t find it.  I finally started copying designs that were close to what I “saw” into a working directory.  Many of my designs were free.  A large number were digitized by enthusiastic, talented but non-embroiderers. So I never just use a design.  I never just hoop up and go for it.  I always test first in Embird.  I look for density and watch the way a design stitches out. I discarded some possibilities because I didn’t want to do the work that would reduce the number of colors. (I’m envisioning a tone-on-tone garment.)  I discarded a few more because of the large number of jumps.  I tested two. Printed templates and made an arrangement.  Until I settled on my arrangement, I was planning to use my PE700.  10 hoopings. TEN.

Or TWO.  Two if I used my Ruby.   I don’t use my Ruby often for embroidery.  It makes beautiful embroideries.  But I like to be sewing while my machine is embroidering.  To use Ruby, I had to keep myself busy doing something else.    It became a question of Ruby or PE700.  I decided upon Ruby because I needed to do laundry.  Laundry for me includes washing folding and ironing clothes.  To my surprise and delight, Ruby was able to complete both hoopings, 84,000+ stitches  during the time it took me to do my laundry.

The next day, I cut and stitched together 0456. I’m really pleased with the final blouse and how it looks with pants:

This is something I’m proud to wear.


5863: View B

I’ve had this knits pattern for several weeks but would not attempt it until I pretty sure of the alterations I would need.  Even, then I’m making the one that should be most straight forward first:  View B ( The black and white print).

I traced the XL and immediately made my BWL.  I’m so happy Connie marks the L/S just above the waist (also marked).  While I’m tracing, I also mark a line 1″ above the LS so that my BWL is just a quick fold.  I whipped out 1204 and quickly compared for ease and length. So then I added 1.25″ to achieve my preferred length.  Next, I aligned the center of 1204 with the center of 5863 and slid 1204 slowly upward until the shoulders just touched.  I traced the shoulder slope from 1204 onto 5863.  I retrieved my curve and aligned it with the armscye curve.  Noting the number at top and bottom, I traced a new curve which started at the new shoulder.    I can’t make the shoulder adjustment in one step. But this is the most elegant solution I’ve found so far.  After marking the new shoulder line and armscye, I trim the excess tissue.

My fabric is a cotton jersey purchased here recently when announced a clear out of their remnants.  I didn’t even know they had remnants.  Often, when I’ve ordered almost all that’s on the bolt, they just give me the rest.  Remnants are so named because they are the remainder of the bolt. Supposedly.  Also in that category are cuts that customers returned and cuts that customers refused due to flaws.  (Sometimes customers returns are due to buyer remorse. More often it is due to flaws.)  I believe this remnant was due to flaw.  Either it was printed off-grain or stretch off-grain.  Either way, I didn’t notice the flaw until I was trying to smooth out the fabric to place the pattern pieces on top.  I almost threw it in the rag drawer right then. I decided since I had reservations about that neckline, I would go ahead and use the fabric as a muslin.

Reservations about the neckline?  Well I think that deep wide neckline would be best supported by the very pigeon breasted. Except the only people I know who are that well endowed will never wear this type neckline. I am not generously endowed and am afraid that the neckline will flop about and be too revealing.  I don’t trust pattern companies to honestly show how their patterns will “work up”.

No until I sat down at the serger did I realize the pattern comes with 5/8″ seam allowances.  I should have known.  The Big4 insist upon 5/8 seam allowances. I should have known that Butterick would have incorporated 5/8″.  What that means for me is that as I serged at 5/8 along the shoulder, I cut off the bias tape that I carefully fused to stabilize the shoulder.    I don’t know if there  are facing pattern pieces.  Originally I intended to finish neckline and armscyes using FOE. I looked at the sharp corners of the neckline and decided there was no way I was going to attempt to force FOE into 90 or sharper angles. I can barely sew FOE decently on straight and gently curved edges. I had enough fabric to cut self-facings, but I didn’t want the print to shadow through.I cut neckline facings from a white poly jersey. Not wanting to make a lot of effort for a “muslin” fabric, I did not interface the facings.  Then I thought better  and both under-stitched and top- stitched the facings.  You know me, I made big facings instead of 1″ fiddly pieces. So now I had this big neckline facing flopping around.  I fused it into place and top-stitched with one of my decorative stitches. Being I used white thread, the decorative stitch just sort of blended in and disappeared.

I serge finished the edges of the IMO really cute cap sleeve. Turned up once and top-stitched.   Next I serged the side seams and boldly (probably foolishly) serged finished and turned the hem up 3/4″.

My concern about the neckline was well founded:

It did indeed flop around, exposing underwear and girly parts.  I’d already nailed everything into place and was disgusted with my lack of patience.  I knew this could be a problem.  Why didn’t I baste at least a few seams and try it on first?  My after-the-fact fix is a dead-center  2″ inverted pleat

Which not only works well, but the extra weight at CF causes the neck to dip into a beautiful point.   I haven’t worn this top more than a few minutes for pics.  I’m concerned that the neckline may be heavy enough to continue dropping at the center front. Already, I’m contemplating adding a 1-1.5″ elastic lace across the front.

I think this turned out really cute.  I’m actually hoping that the fabric flaw will not cause me heartache.  I will work on View B pattern pieces to take out neckline width and depth. Otherwise, I’m extremely pleased. My alterations BWL, hem length, shoulder slope and armscye worked perfectly!

I’d love to move onto View A or C but I’m not sure how to change their shoulder slopes.  It’s not as easy as slapping 1204 on top and tracing.  For View A  the front between shoulder and neckline has been trimmed and attached to the back.  The View C neckline has been altered to add the cowl. I was hoping the cowl was a separate piece and View A was a decorative finish.  I’ll have to think about these for a while.