Category Archives: LouiseCutting

Beyond Frustrated

I’ve just had 5 days of sewing which made me want to destroy my entire pattern collection.  I’m documenting it here so that should I tackle these particular patterns again, I will have some recollection as to what I’ve previously done.  You, the reader, shoulder probably skip this post because there are no pictures only whiny bitching.

I was at a standstill with my Spring 6PAC. I wanted a little time to figure out corrections for both my printed and solid Tee. Also when it came time to cut fabric for the 3rd layer, I wasn’t so sure I had the right fabric for the type garment I wanted. So a time out which I would use by sewing something else.

I opted to make a quick check of the Ebb.  I love this pattern. It’s been one of my favorites ever since my first muslin.  But in recent years I’ve been unable to fit it completely. Last fall I thought my remaining issue was the rising CF which was emphasized by the empire line. During the review of my spring clothing, I discovered and was somewhat horrified that NONE of my Ebb’s fit even close to nicely.  They all suffered with not only the rising CF but also deep V’s on the sides. Since I’d recently discovered that I need an RBA, I thought of making a quick muslin to see if the RBA would fix my issues. I traced my size based on finished measurements. IOW I measured the pattern and compared with my completed Brad’s chart.  I opted to trace a medium shoulder, large side. I added a 1/2″ RBA and 1/2″ shoulder slope. After that, nothing went right. Since this was a muslin, I slashed freely to let the CF drop as needed. Would you believe, it didn’t drop? Nope instead it slid to the back; and in the process all the V’s I had removed returned. What’s worse is that the original fitting, the one with only the RBA and Shoulder Slope changes fit better than the 8 subsequent changes and fittings.  After 2 days of futzing with not 1 but TWO muslins. I decided I needed to get smarter, still.  I’ll find notes on this in 2016, Indy’s, Ebb Muslin Apr folder

Moving along, how about adding sleeves to the “fit” Sweater Set, Silhouette Patterns 195. I  had fit this for a sleeveless version. Didn’t want to make sleeveless tops right now but the pattern was supposed to be easily adaptable for sleeves. The sleeve pattern is already enclosed. The designer claims that the armscye for knit sleeves and sleeveless patterns is the same.  This may be a personal preference, but I always seem to want my sleeveless versions to rest higher at the underarms and that’s the way I fit the sleeveless 195. So I thought it would be easy to add the sleeve; just trace the sleeve and lower the armscye as needed. (I even considered that the designer might be right and the armscyes be the same.)

But I ran into problems immediately. I looked at the final muslin and didn’t think all the changes had been transferred to the tissue. Yet, I swear I did that before I wrote my final blog post. Well, easy to check, do a quick muslin.  Sure enough, the center back needed to be taken in a little more, i.e my rounded back adjustment needed a little tweaking at the neckline; also the back armscye darts had not been transferred to the pattern. So no big deal. I make those to the sleeveless pattern. Then I trace the sleeveless version and get ready for a sleeved muslin. As always, I walk my seams. Let me repeat, AS ALWAYS I walk the seams. I’ve learned that anytime I make changes there is room for error. My seams won’t walk.  The front hem is 1.5″ shorter at the side 1″ shorter CF. I thought I added an even 2.5″ to both front and back to make the whole garment longer.  I don’t like the length. It’s a simply style change, isn’t it? Then I find that the side seam notches don’t match. the front armscye is a different depth from the back at the side seam. The back armscye dart has never changed the side seam length before this, did it now? Somehow, I have gotten so many things mismatched that I don’t believe the sleeveless version fits either!

I start the fitting process over, tracing a 5W at the shoulders/armscyes and 7W at the side seams. I intend to remove 1/2″ circumference on each seam at the bust after all the other adjustments are made.  I do RBA, shoulder slope and add length now.  I walk the seams. THEY WALK!!! Well it’s a good sign.  Then I add 5/8″ to the side seams so that I will have a 1″ wide seam allowance for fitting.  I make my first muslin. At which point I discover I haven’t made the 1/2″ adjustment to circumference at the bust. After that it goes downhill. Downhill through 2 more muslins. (I made a total of 3 muslin).  I adjust the RBA up (3/4″) and down (3/8″). I increase and decrease the shoulder slope.  I add 3/8, then 1/4″ shoulder pads before deciding that no shoulder pads are needed and that I’ve stretched out the neckline (reason for beginning muslin 2) I take in a let out seam allowances. Just before Muslin 3 I decide that one of my issues has been ignoring hip circumference. The designer did not specify hip circumference and the waist was more than sufficient. I assumed the designer was correct and there would be plenty of circumference at the hem. Nope I need 6″ more.  I tell you I made, increased and decreased everything I could think of. Lowered the armscyes repeatedly.  I ignored the wrinkles on the sleeves thinking I needed to get the bodice fitting first. Never, ever did the bodice fit me again. I never removed the V’s. I never made the pattern look any better than it did when the only changes were RBA, Shoulder Slope and increased hem. What’s worse, I was trying to transfer changes that I thought successful to the tissue and add the 6″ (1.5″ each SA) I needed for the hip but I could never draw a nice curve. There was too much difference between bust to waist and waist to hem.  I was thoroughly frustrated.  3 muslins, innumerable changes and fitting pics. (I will find detailed notes in Indys, 195Muslin, Muslin2 and Muslin3). I threw all my tracings and all my muslins into the trash. It shouldn’t be this hard!!!

Why did the TRT and TRJ and TRB fit me so easily while these two (Ebb and Sweater set) never even came close?

Taking Another Run At the Ebb

I remember that phrase throughout my life “take a run at”.  Generally it meant digging into the depths of some task more with the intention of discovering what was there more than the actual hope of solving/finishing.

“Making a run at it” was always productive, if an honest attempt was made. I knew people who gave lip service to making an attempt who were then humiliated when someone else successfully made the effort. 

I’ve pretty much identified my fit issues and have already had at least mild success with the Ebb.  But haven’t reached the perfection I seek. My last remaining issue has been that the Empire line distinctively rises at the center front. With busy prints, like the 3 versions in my closet, the line isn’t all that visible. But I know it’s there. Since the last time I made the Ebb, I’ve draped my shoulder and create a basic block for both woven and knit fabrics (and tertiary blocks for sleeveless version of both).  I’ve used my blocks numerous times both in fitting an existing pattern and in drafting versions of the basic style. So I’m taking another run at the Ebb, using my basic block.

I whipped the tape measure around my bust — yep no change and then checked the envelope for recommended size.  I find that I make fewer pattern alterations if I start blouses using my full bust measurement and pants using my fullest hip.   IMO, it’s easier to tweak dart depth than to add tissue trying to make an full bust and prominent seat adjustments.  The envelope suggested starting with a size Large.  So I did.  I traced a size Large.

Louise uses industry standard seam allowances which is 5/8″ unless there is a specific need for something else (like mitered corners that are best with 1/4″ SA).  I, however, use 1/4″ for shoulders and armscyes, 3/8″ for crotch curves and 1/2″ elsewhere. The point is, I can’t just slap my block on top of her patterns and call it done. I need to allow for the seam allowance differences.  So the first think I do is mark the stitching line along the shoulder and armscyes for 1/4″ SA. Really easy to do. Just takes a tick mark or two measured 3/8″ in from the cutting line. Then I slipped my block on top align center front/back and slide upward until the armscyes meet. To my surprise, my block and the traced Ebb are a lot alike. My shoulder slope is different which I copied.  Then, just for fun, I started measuring some differences.  The back shoulder is 1/4″ longer than my block and the back  is 3/4″ wider at each underarm (total +1.5″ across the back).  The front is spot on!  I needed a 1.5″ back waist length adjustment (3/4″ tuck) both front and back.  I

I was tickled pink. I

  • Chose and copied a size
  • Transferred my shoulder slope
  • Made a 1.5″ BWL.

I chose a rayon challis in a busy grey/black/white print.  Laid out my altered pattern and cut my fabric. I taped necklines and the back shoulder.  Interfaced the front as indicated on the pattern and then joined the two halves of the front. Serged the shoulders together of both the blouse and its facing then turned to the SM and stitched the right shoulder 1/8″ deeper (1/4″Sa for the left 3/8″ SA on the right and lower shoulder).  Stitched the facing to blouse; pressed turned and top stitched. Nailed that back facing in place.  It’s large facing. It needs to be anchored. Added sleeves, stitched side seams and finished hems, buttonholes and buttons.  Did you see any fitting any there? Nope.  I’m taking this purely on faith.  Using my block I knew that I had length and circumference correct.  Depth at shoulders should also be correct. The only depth of concern is the same as always for me on the Ebb, the empire line.  I feel strongly this is either going to work or I’m going to need more work at the tissue stage.  So the first try on and  fitting check was done just before hanging in my closet.

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Pleased with the back other than I probably should have placed my shoulder pads a little further up the slope. Easy fix.

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Front is equally nice.  Love the 3/4 sleeve even without that neat vent trick. I’ve been using the various buttonholes on my Dream Machine to see how they really work with fabric. This particular buttonhole

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I really think belongs on a jacket or coat.  It has a wide gap. Very wide. But it’s not noticeable unless you’re up close enough I’d slap your face.

It is the side that tells me the truth

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There’s always the possibility that the pic is not rotated perfectly.  My tripod won’t hold the camera perfectly upright.  My pics start slightly skewed.  I rotate them at the computer but there’s the question of how well, how accurate my correction really is. So the orange lines I drew because it’s hard to see the empire line, may not be angled as badly IRL.  Despite that, I do think the empire is still definitely sloped upwards at the center front.

Also looking at the shoulder/ear alignment I think the shoulder is falling towards the back. Which happens to reinforce what I was feeling.  I kept shrugging and pulling the shoulders forward.  I think that’s a hint of what I should do next.  I know that my back has been rounding and a few times I have made a half-hearted attempt at adjustment.  I think it’s time to look at this carefully.

But I’m really happy to share that my other issue the SWAGS on the sides beneath my armscyes are G_O_N_E!!!!!

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Neither side has swags. I think that tells me the shoulder slope is correct and reinforces the urge to tackle a rounded back adjustment.

Oh and I’m wearing this. The busy print makes it difficult to see the angle of the empire line. I’ll move the shoulder pads in a little but otherwise it’s good to go — anywhere.  (Well maybe not black tie but I’ve never done black tie.)

 

 

Story of the LAST UFO: Princess HAF

My fabric is a silk jacquard that I thought would be perfect in a YED. Unfortunately that project bombed.  I was left with large pieces of an expensive fabric.  I attempted to recut using my woven sleeveless sloper, my tank top and finally the HAF I was so pleased with.   Unfortunately, none of the pattern pieces could be shuffled to fit on the available fabric. Then I remembered, I had converted one of my woven slopers to a princess seam.  I could do this.

I set off immediately and copied the last version of the HAF.  I rotated the armscye dart to shoulder

returned only 1/2 of the hem flare to the back shoulder

I find I like a little of the back shoulder dart rotated to the hem because it gives me a touch more ease across my shoulders and hip.  However rotating the full dart to the hem makes the back hem flare a bit.

Split both into princess seams and added 1/4″ seam allowances.

.

Because I’ve done this before, it was a pretty quick pattern drafting experience!

Rarely do I copy or make facings.  I did this time because I like big facings but didn’t want a princess seam in them.

Then came the fun of arranging the pattern pieces on the fabric.  I was able to fit the  side front and side back onto the previously cut front and back pieces.  I did try to align the grainlines.

Center front and center back needed to be placed on the big ‘ol left over piece. I did it but by placing these pieces cross grain and I admit, I’m not real sure how close the grain lined up.

I quickly sewed this together. Princess seams, shoulders, neckline facing, armscye finish, side seams and hem.  I was trying for minimal fabric  handling because the fabric has already been handled several times.   Good plan but…

First I mangled the appearance of the shoulder seam by trying to stitch in the ditch to secure the facing.  Usually that goes pretty well because I have a special foot with a little blade that will ride in the well of the seam. Didn’t do so good this time.  I gave it a thought and covered the mess with a very nice trim:

I finished the armscyes with bias tape, my favorite, turned in side so only top stitching is visible.

I attempted an heirloom, machine-stitched, blind hem which almost worked.  That never worked on my Ruby but this is ‘good enough’ . I need to work with this hem a bit more and perfect it because it looks like it is hand stitched – when well done.

Unfortunately the final analysis is not good. I did make sure I was using the same right side. Difference in color has to be the result of grain.  I did not stay stitch or tape the neckline. Consequently it sticks up oddly and attractively.

The front is equally unattractive…

… and the sides have an unattractive droop not seen in any of my previous HAF’s.

I suspect a couple of issues. Maybe silk Jacquard is not a good choice for this design (too soft and drapey?) but there’s also the question of whether the grainlines were aligned.  (This is one subject I just do not agree with Peggy Sagers.  I think aligning the grain is important and I’ve had more than the garment above to prove my point.)  I think too, that the fabric had been repeatedly pressed with the first attempted garment and then the repeated attempts to use other patterns.  That could have stretched the fabric in unknown ways.

Finally, my princess seams did not align at the shoulder.  I don’t understand that. The front and back shoulders are the same length.  If I divide them in half, the resulting seam should align when sewn.  It didn’t.  Same thing that happened to me the first time I drafted princess seams.  Like that time, I will adjust the pattern so the princess seams line up.  I’m not sure that the proportions i.e. the width of the centers to the sides are my best either.

Sadly, this garment will be going in the trash.  I don’t like it even well enough for a donation. But I did get a nice muslin and have direction for perfecting the Princess Seamed HAF.  AND I FINISHED MY LAST UFO.

 

My HAF: Almost There

As planned, I trimmed the 1/8″ from center front. But when I got impatient and trimmed 1/2″ from the side seams.  It almost worked!

My underarms are just a teeny bit too tight and too high . After this pic, I let the side seams out 1/4″ which makes it perfect ease.

I’m not going to have the appearance of side seams that are straight up and down. Or , at least, I don’t expect it because I truly am the pear-shaped. I’m narrow at the top and wide across the hips.

That noted, I do think I’m about as close as possible for me to having captured the fit of the HAF as drafted by Louise.

My fabric is a rayon linen blend. I think a low quality linen was used.  The fabric has some stiffness and raveled badly.

I changed the style up by putting a slit in the front.  I think that kind of styling pairs nicely with the nailed down facing. I liked the single row of top stitching so well I did a second.  If I’d planned ahead, I could have done the top stitching at my cover stitch. The cover stitch would have replaced serge finishing of the facing edge and two rows of top stitching. What’s not to like about that. Note to self: plan a-h-e-a-d.

But I’m almost there.  My HAF is just slightly too narrow and too high beneath the arms. I changed the pattern by adding 1/4″ at the back underarm tapering to nothing at the hem.  Honestly, I don’t think I can make it any better.

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I’m thinking, planning and putting together the materials needed for a jacket. The jacket is needed to complete my basic blacks.  I think careful consideration is in order. Jackets can stay in my closet for years. If they are well made. If they are more classic. If they have more neutral rather than trendy details. So while I’m planning the jacket, I’m working on UFO’s including this new one:

Vogue V8025 is one of the cutest dresses.  I made and posted this version back in July 2012.  Unfortunately, the straps would never stay in place on my shoulder.  I added bra carriers (a snap set at each end of a short strip of ribbon).  I added elastic and a clingy plastic.  All of which promised to solve the issue but didn’t. I even shortened the straps even after having carefully adjusted their length at the time of constructions. Nothing worked.  Although I wore this dress rarely, every time I fussed with the straps trying to keep them in place and keep my bra straps covered.  I reached my end point last week when what should have been a relaxing dinner ended up being a continual touching, shuffling, rearranging of those d@^^^ ^^ straps. I came home vowing to wash and donate. Let someone else have a pretty dress.  But then, I really do like the fabric (a rayon woven to look like linen) and the colors and the print. So instead of trashing I decided it would do perfectly for Test #2 of my HAF approximation.

After washing the dress, I cut off the scraps and side seams.  I pressed carefully and equally carefully arranged the fabric on the cutting board. I love rayon but in some versions, this linen weave being one, it’s as crawly as a crepe weave.  I trimmed 1/8″ from the center front and 1/4″ from the side seams of my pattern. Then I arranged the pattern pieces on top of the fabric. Interesting, the back pattern would not fit on the back of the garment. No biggie.

I wanted a slightly different neckline.  The high neckline of the HAF would be my choice for a white or even black shell worn for business. But my more casual life and the fact that it is summer determined a 2″lower neckline.  Since I frequently use this neckline, I made a template for future use.

There were not enough scraps for facings.  I had a linen-weave rayon in the Under 2’s but it was heavier.  I prefer my facings to be the same weight or lighter. So instead I chose white batiste. I could use the back pattern piece to cut my back facing. Because of the altered front neckline, I chose to arrange the cut-out front on the batiste to cut the front facing.

Cutting the front facing

Sewing was really standard. Tape front neckline and back shoulders. Serge the  shoulders. Stitch the right shoulder 1/8″ deeper/lower. Apply the facing — no vent needed. This lower neckline will easily slip on and off.  I did not nail the facings in place i.e. top stitch. I secured the facings with a combination of stitch-in-the-ditch along the shoulder seams and bar tacks along the center front and back seams. Yeah, the upcycled garment had center front and back seams. So this version had to have them as well.

I finished the armscyes with single-fold bias tape. Turned up my hem 1.25″ and blind stitched at the SM.

Notice:  No fitting. Is that supreme confidence? You bet. My sloper has only caused fit problems once and I think that was a fabric issue. I was pretty sure this version wouldn’t be too small; the armscyes too deep or shallow; and ditto for the neckline.  I have to credit Peggy Sagers here, too. I’ve been writing down and remembering “my measurements” which included how deep I like necklines.  I really wish I had expanded from bust, waist, hip to these finished measurements long ago. In my defense, the idea was so new and Peggy the ‘lone voice in the wilderness’ that I couldn’t wrap my head around what she was saying. It took a while and some experience!

And the result?

Pretty good I think!  I need to trim another 1/8″ from the center front. The shoulders sit too wide but because of the mini-cowl (even though much less than the previous test), I think it would be better to trim a little from CF.

I also need to trim another 1/4″ from the side seams at underarm.  I have too much ease under the arms.  I need to increase that amount to 3/8″ at the hem because I still have too much flare. I don’t think the side seam angle is right but I don’t want to over trim and make it tight across the hips.  The original HAF was drafted to be close but comfortable fitting. I got the comfortable down pat. I’m working on close.

 

 

UFO-02: A New HAF

Earlier this summer, I was trying to refit KS2599 for summer dresses. It bombed (scroll down the link if you want to see the pics). I had thoughts of extensive alterations which I allowed to marinate as I continued my quest for fitting not only 2599 but also an attached cap sleeve.  Now closing in on September, I’ve decided to take this failed dress and make a HAF pattern that will fit me.

I’ve loved this pattern since it was first issued. It is so me. Fits beautifully in the upper bodice. Slim fitting but still loose through the torso.  I taped the  bottom flange to the upper piece and  cut it as one. Also only sometimes did I want  to make vents, so I added a bit more ease to the hips and eliminated the vents.  (It was still quite ease to make vents when wanted).  However as much as I’ve loved this pattern, I can no longer make it fit. In addition to my long known fitting issues, my shoulders have changed drastically. Oddly, copying my shoulder to a new pattern doesn’t work.

What does, is starting by tracing my woven, sleeveless sloper. To approximate the style and fit of the HAF,  I rotated the back shoulder dart to the hem.

For previous versions I’ve only rotated a portion of the dart, 1/8 or 1/4″. This time I rotated the full 1/2″.

Then I rotated the front bust dart to the armscye.

I was really surprised that my rotated dart was exactly the same width as Louise’s dart for my chosen size. I compared my adjusted sloper to HAF’s tissue by aligning center fronts with the sloper on top and sliding the sloper upward until the shoulders met — shoulders won’t match for me.   I discovered that my hips fall in between XL and XL+.  I used the XL+ to copy necklines and side seams. I didn’t trace the vents. I’ve worked with the HAF so much since it was first published that I finally understand mitered vents and can create my own. (Thank you Louise.)  I planned to eliminate the vertical darts of my sloper — just sort of ignore them. I added a 1/4″ SA to the center back.  Sometimes I like a back seam. Sometimes I don’t have enough fabric and the extra seam really helps. I finished my pattern by walking seams, transferring  notches and finally trimming the excess tissue from my sloper.

Looking at the pattern, I’m most concerned that I’ve added too much flare especially to the back piece. I decided to proceed as is. This is a test garment.  If I get a wearable , I will have a double win 1) wearable garment 2) salvaged UFO.

The fabric is a rayon challis, one of my favorites. The previously attempted garment had a back seam so I aligned my back piece with the CB seam stitching. Aligned the front on the fold of the previous failed front garment.

One of the things I love about the HAF is how quickly it sews especially if I don’t use the vents. I tape the front neckline and back shoulders; stitch the darts and then serge the shoulder seams. Because my right shoulder is lower, I take the garment from serger to SM and straight stitch at 3/8″, 1/8″ deeper than the 1/4″ serger seams.

I add the neckline facing next. One of the things I absolutely love about CLD is her wide facings. I hate, absolutely hate those narrow facings that are designed to finish at 5/8″.  Somehow, I can never finish them neatly and evenly.  Then, even though carefully understitched, they always want to pop out or wad up inside the garment during wear.  I end up nailing them in place. Which can destroy the look. But big facings, like Louise designs, are easy to handle and they stay in place. I didn’t use her pattern because I’ve got too many changes. I cut my facings  by laying my front and back pattern pieces on scraps and cutting around the neckline and armscyes.  Then I freehand cut from the center fold towards the armscye.  I interface my facings with fusible tricot.

Oh and I did nail these in place, even though it wasn’t necessary

I created a vent opening in the back using a small, like 1″ diameter hair elastic.  In the button box , I found the perfect yellow button — a left over from projects forgotten long ago!

I finished the armscyes with single-fold, black, bias tape turned to the inside and top stitched.

Then I stitched the side seams and turned up the hem. Yeah, no fitting and I have concerns but I’m short on time.

Totally pleased with the results.

Yes, I have too much flare at the hem.  It’s OK but I really wanted to closely, as close as possible, copy the styling of the HAF.  Originally I thought the HAF’s side seams were 100% vertical. At one point I carefully examined the pattern and found that the side seam is straight  slightly anglee. I won’t be able to exactly duplicate  the side seam angle because I need hip room while at the same time I need to remove excess at the underarm

Fortunately, I only notice this ease during the pics. During wear, the underarms feel  good. I also note that I have excess width across the front. You’ll have to look closely at the front in the first pic. There are little waves, a mini-cowl if you please-which I don’t want.   So before the next version I plan to trim 1/8 all along the center front and another 1/8″ from the side seams.  I’m not really sure about changing the angle of the side seams which would reduce the flare at the hem.  Think I’ll leave that for yet another version.  I mean, this is a style I love to death. I have no problems filling my closet with HAF’s.

 

 

YED the second try

I think basically the YED fits.I just need a few minor tweaks. I’ve added 1/2″ ease to the back between hip and hem; and made a 3/8″ (3/4″ total removed) tuck across the upper bodices.  I chose a silk Jacquard fabric for my 2016 YED #2.  The silk Jacquard is softer, smoother and drapes just a little differently than the cotton used in the last version. This fabric alone could actually improve the look and drape but I’m counting on my tissue alterations to help as well.  I press my fabric layout my pattern and cut the pattern pieces, a front facing and a bias band for the back neckline finish.  I mark the notches and the center line on both fronts.

I begin construction by taping neckline and armscyes. I serged the center back seam but baste the shoulders and armscyes.  I’m hoping my tweaks work but want to be able to make further adjustments should they be needed.

Needed they are. The first try-on is worse than any of the previous versions. Being softer only means every hint of a drape or drag line is made maddeningly obvious.  Additionally the ‘sleeves’ are cutting into the front of my arm. They are painful.

Trying to remove those drapes I pinch shoulder seams

Twiddle with side seams

Increase the curve of the back

and then reverse all the above.  I simply did not see any improvement.  The 3/8″ tuck was definitely needed. For the first time, the front neckline sits comfortably at a modest level.  But I simply don’t know what to do to fix this YED.   I just knew I’d found the answer to fitting CLD’s patterns to my body. If the PAS fits, why won’t the YED? …and will the RAL (which I had planned to work with next)?  I love these simple blouses for summer. They are a step up from the cotton T-shirt that we all seem to live in.  I’m not happy.  I feel like taking every commercial pattern in my sewing room and throwing them all in the trash. I’m so tired of fighting with patterns.