Category Archives: TabulaRasaT

TRT Short Sleeves

I’ve had a bad run of sewing (perhaps I’ll share in another post) and needed a success. I decided to pull out my Tabula Rasa Tee pattern and work towards having a short sleeve version in addition to the full and sleeveless versions.


I put on one of my TRT’s and stood in front the mirror with a ruller trying to decide how much shorter the sleeve should be. I thought about 12″.  I figure I will use this new sleeve style from time to time and it is different enough from the long sleeve to warrant a pattern which would include a hem allowance.  I folded up the full sleeve 12″ ; traced around the existing pattern and transferred all the markings. After that, just a matter of cutting and stitching my TNT TRT.

Except that the first version looked frumpy. “Oh, of course” I thought. The length I traced, created a half sleeve (elbow length).  This is not a flattering length for me and I’ve seen several designers/stylists who immediately change the half-sleeve into something else  flattering to many of us. Anyway,  I shorten the sleeve 3.5″ (1.25″ was the turned up hem); stitch, try on  again, and then I cut the sleeve off another 1.25″. The final “sleeve” is really short:

And still not typical T-shrit length.  Looking at the sleeve above, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to develop the short-sleeve length I desire.  I have to think of this a bit.

But I count this as a success. I do have a much shorter sleeve which looks pretty good.

. OK, I’m never going to look like some movie star but I can look like a nice, pleasant little old lady



South Dakota.

TRT: SleeveLESS Knit Top

I have a respectable stack of fabrics ear-marked for sleeveless tops. A sleeveless top takes a fraction of a yard. Well a little more if you make facings.  I accumulated these small yardages in the “Sleeveless Tops” stack from excess fabric from` winter sewing. Also I regularly cruise the remnants section of  I often find a piece or two that will make a nice summer top. I wash and then put it in the stack until summer finally arrives. Summer is here but I don’t have a sleeveless pattern which fits. Well, not one I trust.  My sloper will needs additional work. Even more to turn it into a sleeveless wonder. I’ve contemplated what it would take to make the TRT sleeveless.  I’m sure this can be done.  It would be a variation of a classic princess seamed vest.  Then I realized a pattern I had passed over might have the answer.

Yes, it’s right there in the “Swing Variations”. The vest. The people at Fit for Art have already modified the TRJ into a sleeveless Vest. I ordered the pattern and adapted the swing side-panel for my Spring 6 PAC 3rd layer (my post here).  It seemed natural to me to now pursue the idea of adapting the side panel to create a sleeveless knit top.

I’m using a remnant cotton-lycra knit with about 80% stretch. More stretch than I wanted, but this is a fabric I can easily toss if I make a mess.

I copied the straight side panel then added 3″ height to the top of the panel.  I convinced myself that the vest (in which the armscye is usually lower) was 2″ longer than the straight panel and by adding 1 more inch the side panel would be as tall as I needed.   I thought that I would probably need to narrow the panel at the top (the underarm) but decided to wait until I could actually see, on me, how much narrowing was needed.  Well that was interesting

The side panel just barely covers my underwear! What you can’t see is that I have pinned a 1.5″ dart in the center under the arm to make the new side panel narrow enough beneath the underarm. Then I took a 12″ ruler in the bathroom  and standing  in front of the full-length mirror  measured how much higher the side-panel needed to be. To my surprise, I measured 2.5″ and could have raised it even more.

Well I did. I added 3″ to the top (now a total of 6″). Then I measured out from the center of the side panel 3″ on either side (of the center mark). I wrestled with my curve for a while before reaching the conclusion that I would need to draw the curve so far and then reverse it to make a nice smooth side seam. Then I cut a second panel and basted into place.

The new panel worked so well I finished the neckline and top of the armscye panel with FOE before folding the bodice along the ‘armscye’ 5/8″ to the inside and top stitching from hem up the side panel, over the shoulder and back down.  Lastly I top stitched a hem in place.

I like this but I may want other versions in which the armscye rests on the edge of my shoulder.

See? It is pretty shoulder baring  and

like the vest square, angular where the panel meets the bodice. However, that’s not bad. It’s an interesting detail I just don’t want that style detail on every sleeveless blouse I make. I see a couple of options. I could finish the armscye with a classic rib binding. I could and probably will wrestle with my sloper until I make a nice sleeveless classic  top.  I could continue to alter the side panel adding more width across the shoulders as well as curve where the side panel joins the bodice. I could recopy the bodice front and back, apply my alterations without narrowing  across the shoulders. It could be interesting.  But for now, this is ready to make over and over.  Love the TRT pattern. Just love it.



The Last Knit Top for my Spring 6PAC

This was the hardest garment to sew. The pattern was easy. Actual sewing was a cinch. It was the choices of fabric, trim cuff finish that stymied me.  I was brunt when my Faux Surplice went so wrong and then was destroyed by the slip of the ripper. I still wanted/needed a plain top appropriate for South Dakota spring. But I didn’t want “just another Tee”. I wanted it to stand on its own as a garment rather than exclusively being a supporting player.  Supporting players are very important. In this case however the Tee might become the star should the weather become very warm, as it often does during SD springs.  Then again it needs to submit to being covered up and becoming a supporting player when the weather cools sufficiently that a 3rd and 4th layer become necessary. Changeable weather is the reality of South Dakota Springs.

I mulled over possibilities. Delaying until it was almost too late. I realized that the Colette Sorbetto , wildly popular with the sewing community a few years ago, had crossed into RTW and was being interpreted as an inverted pleat and waist released and several other minor variations  in addition of Colette original pleated front.  I realized this was the easy change I wanted that would make the garment both supporting cast and star as needed.

I chose to use this double-knit fabric which I think I purchased from Nancy’s Notions.  I questioned the statement ‘ ideal for jackets, pants, tops, and skirts’.  It’s been my experience that fabrics I’d wear for pants are not the same as what I would wear for tops.  I went with my gut and ordered royal blue yardage for a top.  When it arrived, I knew I was correct.

I made 2 changes while cutting out the fabric.  I placed the center front 1.25″ away from the fold. Secondly, I had decided upon a faux cuff.  I added 1″ to the length of the sleeve.  I spent a lot of time making sure that center pleat is as perfect as I can make it.  I chalked the lines; then based and heartily pressed.  This fabric is not going to make a sharp pleat. I’m hoping that it will keep the press-lines so that I can easily press the pleat back into place.  I stitched the pleat first, shoulders next and then finished the neckline.  After that, stitch sleeve to side piece and finished the cuff.  I serge finished the hemline and turned it up 1-1/4″ and stitched from about 2″ on either seam of the underarm before inserting 1″ elastic.  I made this very close-fitting. My elastic finished into an 8″ circle which is only 1″ larger than my wrist.  The elastic has to stretch to get over my hand!  The only sewing I’d criticise is the closing the opening that I left over the underarm seam.  That was a darn tight place to get my machine foot into.  My stitching is not perfectly straight and one of the 4 ends of stitching does not meet.  I really must think this further through before choosing this finish again.  I can do better. If only I could remember how.

I top stitched the hem in place, started beneath the pleat on one side, stitching all the way around and end under the pleat on the other side.  This left the pleat itself, free.

I did not wear  a camisole for pics.  I think I need to Roger-up and wear a camisole under all my tops. My figure is such that a camisole helps my tops to slide over my body.  I discovered this in Nov of 2015 when working with sweater knits. Made numerous camisoles (think I have 8) and wore them religiously.  Every pic proved that a cami, a slick cami was a good choice for me.  I think that’s what I need to do with all my tops.  Put something under the tops so that they don’t cling to my body. That’s not going to help my pics.

Several posts ago, someone suggested I give consideration to a Full-Tummy-Alteration. I think they have a point. Especially since that’s the only thing ruining the front view of my blouse. The back, I dunno

I did not expect those 2 strong diagonals. Haven’t seen them at all before this pic. Is it possible that the fabric is too drapey?   Although I do have to posit, that may be the result of my sharply pulling down the back side seams just before the pic.  My goal is to pull the garment out of the center of my back where it is pushed by my butt. I find it interesting that those diagonals are appearing right above where I pull.

Still I think the camisole is the right decision. One a day. Every day. Summer may be a little warmer this year.

Finally, I do want to say, I love this fabric. I plan to buy 3 or 4 cuts next payday.  It behaved beautifully during the construction process from layout to hemming. (Hemming is usually my final step.)  It did not make a crisp pleat but then I seldom want a crisp pleat. The blouse looks better on the hanger then on me. Without my body to distort the fabric, it makes a gorgeous garment. This kind of garment I want several hanging in my closet and I’m happy to have it as my 2nd top for my Spring 6PAC

An Easy Sew

which I really needed after the fitting disasters and the easy update that went wrong (I ripped a hole while I was trying to remove the surplice layer); oh and the T that looks so terrible I’m still considering fixes.

I think I understand why there are more quilters than dressmakers in the U.S.  It is because you do everything right, even make a mistake or two and your quilt will still work as a quilt. But with dressmaking you can do everything right, technically, and still have an unwearable garment. Am I right?

So I I needed this easy sew and chose an interesting cotton, jersey, print fabric paired with the beautifully fitting Tabula Rasa T.

Unfortunately, I don’t have it sitting on my body correctly and there are a few pull lines in the pic that disappear with a quick smoothing of the fabric.

The real surprise however is how well it looks with the previously sewn Tabula Rasa Blouse:

I like it so well that I’ve decided to replace the aforementioned “Print Tee that looks so bad on me I don’t know how to fix”.

But what I”m sure you’re all wondering about is that line of safety pins.

Well, I’m wondering, since I can’t fit the Ebb can I add an Empire line to the TRT?

I drew a straight line, in pencil, across the pattern and then replicated it on the private side of my blouse. Of course when sewn and slid over my head, the line is not visible. I opted to replicate the line with  a series of pins across the front.  What it tells me is that despite having adding 1″ more length to the front of the pattern, the empire line cannot be placed perpendicular to the center front/grain line. The empire will rise at the CF.

When I pursue this empire idea, I will adapt the pattern accordingly.

Spring T: Blue T

For my 3rd Top, I decided to use a poly-lycra solid-blue knit. This was the most horrible curling/furling/rolling knit-fabric I think I’ve ever worked.  It curled tightly as it was cut. Usually when that happens, I can place the curl side down on the throat plate and slide it up into the serger needles. The fabric will unfurl and the serging will keep it relatively flat. Nothing doing with this particular fabric. It curled and could not be handled into unfurling.  It was in fact this fabric which resulted in my Rolling Edges post.   After testing, I cut the fabric and painted the edges with Terial Magic. When dry, I replaced the pattern pieces and transferred markings.

I also decided to use the TRT pattern which should not be surprising since it is not only the most recently fit, it’s also been tested several times and proven.  I’ve discovered that sewing large groups of garments, like 6PAC’s and SWAP’s is best done with TNT’s.

I vacillated between sewing the TRT exactly as drafted or doing something a little different. That indecisiveness is the reason  the Blue T is next-to-last being sewn.  I considered neckline changes,  various embellishments and hem finishes. When it came time to cut fabric, I cut 2 fronts.  I had decided to make a faux surplice front. Faux because one front would be unaltered, but the other would be shaped to resemble a surplice. I prepared the surplice side first. Drawing the line using my curve; trimming excess fabric and then finishing the edge using a slightly new to me technique.  I’ve often stitched and turned that edge. The last few surplice tops, I’ve added clear elastic to stabilize the edge. This time I fed the 3/8″ elastic through the oval hole in my serger foot

I can’t claim credit for this idea.  Until someone at SG mentioned this was the way they added elastic, I’d always put it under the foot.  (Which I still would have to do for elastic wider that 1/2″).    It works really well, once the needles are sunk into the elastic. Not much effort to get the elastic through the hole and under the needles, either.  I did want to apply a little tension to the elastic along roughly the middle third of the surplice. This will be a technique I have to practice some more because…

I finished up the T except for establishing a connection on the left side. (I intended  a right-side faux-surplice crossing the body and securing on the left.) I mean I had everything done except that connection. I had hemmed. I had top stitched.  I had double top stitched. Neckline (cross-grain cut self-fabric) was attached, serged and double-top stitched.  Dang thing was done. D_O_N_E. Done!  I just needed to decide at what level to place the connection.  I pinned the connection in place and took pics.  Switched the connection up an inch, down an inch looking for the perfect place and taking pics all the while.  When I went upstairs and looked closely at my pics, all I could think is “Does anyone need a wet-nurse?  I seem to have 1 boob and a comfy tummy available.”

Obviously, I put too much tension on the elastic and gathered the surplice beyond what was needed.  I’m reluctant to rip and redo because that’s a lot of ripping. Serged elastic? Turned and double-top stitched? Yuk. I do not want to be removing that.  I’m further discouraged by looking at the sides:

I absolutely did not expect the gathering which occurred.  Is that because of the multiple layers of fabric (3 on the left) or did the Terial magic affect the seam?

Whatever caused my problem, I have 2 6PAC garments I don’t want to wear until they are fixed; or …. I could have 2 wadders and a failed 6PAC.  I definitely need a break.

2017 Spring 6 PAC: Print Tee

I might should have waited to brag about this Tee until I took a second set of pics:

I can clearly see I’ve got one shoulder pad sliding off the right shoulder towards the back while the left seems to have no shoulder pad. That’s because the pad has slid to the front. Why couldn’t I feel that?  Interestingly, even with the wonky shoulder pads, the back is hanging smoothly.

Like wise, I think the uneven hem on the right side

probably resulted from not positioning the garment, especially the shoulder pads, squarely on my shoulders.  I was preoccupied with what I thought might really be wrong and needing fixing:

My front neckline is not lying against my neckline. Oh it’s not the fabric. It is my FOE that is falling forwards.  Generally that can be blamed on not stretching the FOE enough during application. The FOE neck application also suffers with an uneven join at the shoulder.  I hate the typical neck application of leaving one shoulder unsewn and stitching around the neckline. You are suppose to finish by stitching the open shoulder closed. I know it can be done. Neatly. Perfectly. Done. I’ve seen it in RTW.  Even had a few people encourage me to keep trying. Invariably my edges will slip.  This time I had 3 pins in that sucker.  3 pins in less that 1/2″ of an FOE sandwich. I didn’t pull the pins until the needle was about to piece them. I bent pins.  The join is off by about 1/16″. Enough I can tell and be pissed.

I did a little better with the FOE sleeve hem application but I had wanted that to cup in a bit more. Oh and the joins were still slightly off.

So during the ‘photo shoot’ I was looking and wondering what corrective action I could take.  I’m thinking some darts at the front would fix the gaping.  Mirror on the sleeves and they might cup they way I want. Problem for me will be how to keep the edges of the FOE even during stitching.

For now it is what it is; which is my 2nd Tee in my Spring 6PAC.


Whup! Whup! 4 done; 2 to go!!!!

TRT: Slinky

I started this Tabula Rasa Tee just before receiving my Silhouette 195 pattern.  I was going to finish the TRT then start fitting 195 but I made neckline mistake. Maybe not really my mistake. The elastic I chose to finish the neck edge frayed required unpicking.  Unpicking is not a chore I look forward to ever. It was particularly distasteful now because I had stitched on black lace elastic and top stitched with black thread.   I decided to take a little break and fit 195. I anticipated 2 days. The break stretched into 2 weeks. All my thoughts were stale when I returned to finish my T.  I had chosen to test the TRT with a slinky fabric.

Wit the yellow mess I had converted and tested the back which contains a 1/2″ RBA that has been rotated to neckline darts.  The yellow mess was a loss, but I was confident that the alteration would remove all the last, back wrinkles; and it did even with this slinky

There is a little something going on underneath the left shoulder. That’s unusual but I don’t think I’m going to worry because both sides are perfect


The little bulge at the waist, is my belt buckle.  It might behoove me to wear a pant that does not require a belt when wearing slinky.

The sleeve is good.  It could be a little tighter and a little shorter. The lace applique (which I will share in a subsequent post) is not showing as well as I’d like.

With its FOE neckline finish, the front is equally lovely

BTW, I didn’t unpick. I trimmed the previous finish away. Smoothed the curve and then applied the FOE.

At the time I cut this fabric, I offset the front and back pieces 1/4″ from the fold.  This removed a total 1″ circumference.  When it came time to sew the side/sleeve unit to the front/back, I got cold feet. What if I had removed too much ease?  I serged those long seams then tried it on to check fit.  I was relieved to see the shoulders were too wide, the sleeve too long and the garment definitely in need of the 1/2″ seam allowances I had planned. I returned to the SM, stitched those long seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance then turned up the bottom hem and cover stitched it.  My initial change (less 1″ ease) is a success at least during fitting.  This is a fairly new fabric. Think it’s been in-stash only 3 years.  So I’m not entirely sure how this slinky will act.  Will it stretch much length wise? Continue to grow like slinkies of old?  I don’t know until I wear it for a while.  So I like this garment but the jury is still out because I won’t know how the fabric behaves until I’ve worn it at least once.



  • Summary of pattern changes
    • Off set front and back 1/4″ from fold
  • Proposed changes
    • Back/Front
      • Length -1/2″
    • Sleeve
    • Length -1/2″
    • Circumference -1/2″