Category Archives: 5203CowlTop

5203 in ITY

My second top in my Spring 6PAC is made in an ITY print using the (yeah!) TNT  Loes Hines 5203 Cowl Neck Top. Without the cowl. I don’t think the cowl looks that good on me. I look neckless. Plus I dislike collars that hug my ears.

I did however decide to tweak the shoulder pads.  I was ecstatic with the fit of LH 5202 Fuchsia Flowers blouse.   It falls smoothly from the shoulders without any drag lines. Exactly the fit I want. Funnily enough, my right shoulder is lower than my left but the shoulder pads and fitting  choices I made for that blouse created just the opposite i.e. the left was lower than the right. Not so funny, it strongly reminded me of the 80’s. I like a little shoulder pad. I think a little help straightening my shoulder line is youthful. But I don’t like foot-ball pads.  So I purchased a different set of shoulder pads from Wawak. Instead of 3/4 right, 1/2 left; I’m using 1/2″ right, 3/8 left. I was hoping that the 1/8″ difference (vice 1/4″) would make my shoulder line level. However shown clearly above, I’ve not achieved that goal. My left shoulder is higher than the right.

Even worse, at least a hint of the swag lines have returned. Now, the ITY knit has an effect upon the  fit. ITY does not have as much stretch as the rayon jersey used previously. I thought I compensated by sewing the side and underarm seams at 1/4″ instead of 1/2″. But that’s not quite the right solution.

Fortunately the dizzying swirl of color tends to hide the excess ease between waist and hip. So odd to me that the same change (reducing the side seam allowance) not only didn’t solve the too tight chest issue but created a too loose waist/hip issue.  But like I said, fortunately my fabric choice makes all that practically invisible.

Despite the interesting effect of the shoulder pads, I won’t make any changes to this pattern. I’m not sure this is the right combination for me.  I have 6 sets so 6 chances to makes it right.  I will continue to tweak the shoulder pad situation all the time wearing this is  really great addition to my Spring 6PAC.


LH5203 Fit?


Then came the fun of finding a suitable fabric.  I wanted to use a rayon knit because that’s first in the list of fabrics given by Loes Hinse.  It’s my understand that the first fabric listed is the fabric the designer used and tested. They may have tested the next few on the list and after that they are assuming the remainder will work or at least work well enough. To really see how the pattern is supposed to fit, the first fabric on the list is the best choice. It was while hunting through fabrics I realized that I’m able to resist most of the sales. I’m sucked in for  Rayon Challis,  ITY and slinky.  I know I purchase rayon jersey but I must use it as soon as it arrives because I hunted and hunted before finally finding a floral purple. I laid out and cut my pattern pieces.   Taped  neckline shoulders  of the back and the front neckline before serging the center back seam I added and the shoulders.  Despite my change I followed the same procedure as for the Fucia Flowers at the shoulders.  I stitched the Left shoulder with a 1/2″ seam allowance. The right got a 3/8″ SA.  (Loes uses a standard 3/8″ SA).  Switched to water-soluble thread and adding the sleeves before closing the long side and underarm seam. I spent about 8 hours creating the tissue. But when that’s ready, cutting and stitching a Loes Hinse pattern is quick.  I was ready for my first fitting about 45 minutes after making the 7-Step Custom Shoulder.

What a fitting it was!

In full color, I was tempted to finish and move on. Except the sleeve felt tight. I remeasured my bicep and came up with an inch difference. Not really sure why  other than I have wings instead of biceps.  It’s an age joke.  You’ll get it eventually.

To check the fit, I lightened the pictures 70%

Really pleased. I’ve got a little velcro butt going on and might have to agree with somebody who keeps telling me I need an FBA. Especially when looking at the side views:

The pattern has a boob bump on the side seam. Which I lost when I moved the armscye.  When I make templates, I may need to copy shoulder, armscye and bump.

My fabric has 40% stretch but I didn’t like it stretch 40%. I liked the 20% stretch. I think had this been slinky, or rib knit, it would have been fine.

One error I’m pleased to see, is that the front hem is lower than the back.  I added 2.5″ to the CF length because usually I need it.  I added it to LH5202. Here it doesn’t look necessary.

I contemplated adding a gusset but decided to baste the seams at 1/4″.  The 1/4″ is clearly marked on my machine. As is the 1/2″ and many metric small measures.  The 3/8 is not. My Ruby’s foot was exactly 3/8″ and so Loes 3/8″ SA was never an issue. But on my Dream the foot is not exactly 3/8″. It is almost 1/2″. I felt it possible that my seam wandered closer to 1/2″ and could have made the seams too wide. Since the 1/4″ is clearly marked and easy to follow, I pulled out the old basting, lined up the raw edges carefully and stitched the side seams again. Wasn’t sure this would work. At best I would be adding 1/2″ to the bust circumference and 1/4″ to bicep. It was worth trying.

… and the result close enough that I didn’t mess with a gusset before finishing:

On the tissue, I added 1/2″ to the side seams and the sleeve.  With a note to use 5/8″ SA with slinky. Also brought the hem up 1/2″ at CF. It’s now only 2″ longer than the side seam and looks very level.

I wanted you to see the final fit up close and lightened:

I’m going to agree, I need a little more bust room. I’ve decided I need to create another page in my Excel Workbook.  This is going to be about the ease that I prefer.  This top feels comfortable. If I were looking in the mirror, I wouldn’t have changed the 3/8″ SA.  But the pictures show I don’t have enough ease. That is, enough ease for rayon knit. This might indeed be enough for slinky or even interlock. I think I would want even more for ITY. The way to be sure, is note each fabric and the ease which made the best fitting and feeling garment.

I finished the neckline and hem using multiple rows of stitching spaced unevenly:

That’s was fun (oh what a boring person I must be). Although I do have reservations about the lightening stitch.  I’m afraid most people will think that my machine doesn’t sew a nice straight stitch. The Dream absolutely does.  Equal to or better than my Bernina 1630 or Viking Ruby.  I chose the lightening stitch for knit fabrics. It has just enough give so the stitches don’t pop.  My Ruby was able to adjust the straight stitch for knits when the ‘knit’ fabric selection was made. My 1630 was adjusted by moving the width selector just one nubbin–which I think was .1mm.  So far the least I can adjust the lightening stitch is .5mm width.  Interesting Nancy Zieman who sews on the Babylock equivalent says not to use the lightening stitch. But I tested. a straight stitch will pop. The lightening stitch does not.  I may get smarter and figure out how to set the width less than .5 or I may program my own knit top-stitch.  Love having that feature.


Combined Narrow and Sloping Shoulder Alterations

I zipped through the tissues changes , except for the shoulder alterations.  I wasn’t satisfied with Cheethams L shaped NSA followed by adding 5/8″ at the neck point to adjust the slope. The L shape, cuts out a block following the lines of the armscye down to the notch and up to about the halfway point of the shoulder. The block is then shifted towards the neck which reduces the shoulder length. That part is successful but it leaves an incomplete armscye which must be redrawn. I was nervous doing that.  I think I’ve ruined my Knit Block based on Connie Crawford’s knit pattern through a combination of re-drawing the armscye and then tweaking; and tweaking; and tweaking some more. So I’m nervous. Plus, I want an elegant solution. Something where the solves the shoulder issues without creating other problems.  First I tried making the L bigger. I cut the block to include 1/2″ below the armscye.  I was moving half the shoulder with the whole armscye.  Good thought, except I couldn’t line up the L-block with the remaining pattern lines. I needed to keep the width.  I’m narrower across the upper chest.  I have a normal depth from shoulder to bust point and average width.  I’m standard issue in those areas and need to keep the ease. As I rotated the block, trying to combine NSA and SS in one move I ended up with wonky shoulder, wonky underarm or adding length to the side seam.  The latter I knew unequivocally didn’t need to happen.   I taped it all back in place and ran off to think.

I also watched movies. At Craftsy. On DVD. On YouTube…. where I came across a lady I had subscribed to long ago and forgotten: Katrina Kay.   Now, Katrina works with a computerized pattern drafting program.  She’s really an expert and makes the whole thing look very easy.  She prefers the precision of working with the stitching line rather than the cutting line as I do.  As I watched these movies again, I realized it might be possible for me  to use her 7-Steps to Custom Shoulder procedure. It’s my experience that everything we do with computers today, were once done with pencil and paper. So I stopped the video. Rewound and started making careful notes.

Back down stairs I started by measuring the armscye.  Marked a shoulder point 1/2″ in from the tissue shoulder and 1/2″ down.  I drew my new shoulder line from this point to the original neck point. Next I retrieved my ‘Fashion Curve‘ — these things have a tendency to migrate on my cutting board. (The curve I’m linking to has only one armscye. The one I own has a front and back armscye.)  I drew in a new curve using the measurements I had taken earlier.  I was astounded. My first time through should have been slow, very slow. Took maybe 5 minutes.:

Blue lines denote the new shoulder and armscye.

I walked seams. Tweaked the front neckline about 1/16″.  Trimmed all my excess tissue and prayed it would work. Yep prayed because if this works, it is the elegant solution for which I’m looking.

LH5303: I spent a lot of time measuring

One the home dressmakers I’d admire the most is TerriK at Stitcher’s Guild. She calls her style ‘lagenlook’ but I disagree.  Lagenlooks appear to me to be in love with adding more more more along with long longer and longest. TerriK’s ensembles are layered with an underlying tone of simplicity and sophistication that I don’t see most logenlooks approximate.  I’ve asked her about the success of her garments. In short: she knows what she likes; she knows her body; and she does lots of measuring.

I found a similar theme throughout my sojourne into Pivot and Slide. Lots of measuring, comparing contemplating ease; and I believe I experienced some success with this idea in my last go ’round with LH5202.  Enough success that I wanted to expand target my ‘problem areas’.

I reviewed a couple of my Craftsy classes. Printed out the worksheets and took personal measurements all over again. (Fitting Solo is excellent for tips on how to measure oneself. The others all encourage you to find a sewing partner. (If only I could.)) So I had 3 or 4 charts with my measurements. Charts of Burda and Otto measurements. Printouts of the minimal measurement information provided by the Big 4. I merged my personal measurements into one Excel Worksheet.  I was relieved to find I consistently measured the same with nearly all measured spots. I mean, it’s real easy to measure the waist 4 times in 10 minutes and get 4 different results. I didn’t. I got the same result each time.

I knew I wanted to repeat and refine the success of LH5202 and so chose LH5203. Same designer.  Assumably same basic block and similar drafting routine. I know from personal experience that using the front armscye curve or the back armscye curve can make a difference. A designers personal drafting procedures and philosophy can make a difference in the final fit and whether one will be chosen over the other.

For example, I love to watch Isaac Mizarhi but I buy Diane Gilman because the DG2 draft fits me better.

Although I’ve made this pattern a dozen times, I took the time to read the back of the envelope and note several facts.

  • this pattern was designed for knits only specifying rayon, silk, wool, microfiber, cotton, fleece and blends.
  • it has a slightly dropped shoulder
  • Body measurements given were limited to Bust and Hip
  • Ease amounts were given (1″ bust and waist; 4″ hip)

I copied the bust and hip measurements to my worksheet and headed to the Sewing Studio to measure the pattern.  I looked very carefully for any marking or measurements. This is an elderly, very-classic pattern. It’s easily updated with hems, necklines and even ease. Still it is old and doesn’t conform to the new standard of lots of pattern noise i.e finished garment measurements bust point, waist , hip lines lots of things we dressmakers think we need. The tissue just doesn’t have a lot of additional information.  I proceed to use this pattern, though, because I had great success in the past when all I needed were BWL and NSA alterations. I traced size Large, again. Actually, I was relieved to be tracing the same size.  It made me feel that my estimation of a common block and drafting procedure was possibly correct.   So I took a lot of measurements.  Measures I wouldn’t normally even think about.  Like shoulder-to-shoulder; back between crease. I took  a total of 22 measures.

I inserted a new collum in my worksheet titled “Tissue LARGE”. Then started asking questions. How do my measurements compare with the tissue?  What’s the effect of seam allowances?  Is the ease as given on the envelope?  I did search for Loes’ standard measurement charts, again; and found nothing, again.  I’m hoping I’m just not doing the right search and someday will turn up a chart that contains all the standards. The shoulder is the area I’m having the most problems with and I see no hint of what Loes uses for the shoulder.  So what is a ‘slightly dropped shoulder’? is that 1/2″ wider; 1″? More? Less?  I compared both my shoulder to the pattern shoulder (always less seam allowances of 3/8″); the shoulder-point to shoulder-point and across the back. I gave the tissue measure a lot of thought before deciding upon my tissue alterations

  • -2″ Back Waist Length
  • Hem
    • I’m still uncomfortable with Tunic Length Garment.  I trimmed the pattern at the “fold hem” line after adding 2.5″ to the center front.
  • 0 Bust
  • 0 Waist
  • +3/4″ at back hip
  • +1/2″ at front hip
    • dividing by 4 seam allowances gave an odd, practically impossible result. I opted to ‘weight’ the division in favor my back hip because I usually have to add more back there.
  • +1/2″ Sleeve length
  • Shoulder
    • I left the shoulder until last even though the ‘experts’ all say to start here. I’m anxious about the shoulder alteration.
      • I need both a narrow and a sloping adjustment.  I keep wondering if I also need a forward shoulder adjustment.
      • My slash and smash NSA doesn’t completely solve the shoulder issue and introduces some change to the armscye and CF line.
      • My use of different shoulder-pad thickness did not solve the sloping issue
      • Kathleen Cheetham says that it’s possible you might need 2 or 3 different alterations to solve the shoulder fit riddle, but she doesn’t explain how to combine them or even in what order to do them.
      • Ditto Nancy Zieman and the Pivot and Slide.
      • Using Kathleen’s L-method resulted in redrawing the armscye which changed shape and length slighty.
      • I wanted to try something different.
        • a little more elegant
        • would solve all the shoulder drag lines instead of some.
      • I wanted something that would
        • narrow the shoulder -.5″
          • I usually make a 1″ NSA and did so on LH5202
          • Pattern shoulder and back measurements plus the idea of a ‘dropped shoulder’ convinced me to make this with only a 1/2″ NSA
        • increase the slope .5″



…and so I’m off to alter LH5203.  Keep your fingers crossed. Mine are.

Apologies for long post and lots of verbage.  I am working my way through the thought process by writing about it.  I want a record of what I thought, why I made the decisions I did.


A Two-Fer

Sometime ago, someone asked about making multiples.  I make multiples of the same pattern. Unless it’s a really distinctive pattern. Otherwise, doing the fitting and not making the pattern again seems like a waste of time.  But I rarely make multiples of the same pattern at the same time.  It’s too much like making a uniform. But when I made 5203 for the 6PAC, at the same time sewed this version

I made this version per the pattern instructions.  I didn’t have enough fabric for the previous version and so skipped the cowl and made the garment 5″ shorter. In this version I made the ViewA, tunic length with 4″ (2″ when sewn) vents. I made my usual 1″ NSA and BWL.  I used the same pieces for both versions because View B doesn’t have any side seam shaping. In my mind, View A was designed for someone with tummy and hips.  It curves outward ever so neatly just above the hips.  As always, this was an easy quick sew, even with the few pattern alterations I made.

My one disappointment with the pattern is the cowl itself. To me this is not a cowl:

I expect a “cowl” to drape much much more. To me, this is a deep turtle neck. Like the ones I wore in the 60’s. In a way, I wonder if I wasted my money.  I haven’t made the actual comparison, but I think the pieces are almost exactly the same as 5208, Bianca’s sweater. Now I love Bianca’s sweater, dont’ get me wrong. it too was an easy fit, but I wonder if I couldn’t have drafted an 8″ wide rectangle for the “cowl” instead of paying what I did for a new pattern. Oh wait, I remember. 5208 is more like View B of 5203 with it’s straight sides.

Doesn’t coordinate with the bright blue of my 6PAC, but looks good with the black:

Dang! Why does the camera always snap when I’m looking at the wall hung TV?

PS Fabric is a sweater knit of undetermined fiber.  I’m thinking trilobal. Nice wooly feel without being wooly itchy.