Category Archives: 12238 Pure and Simple

Pure And Simple Shell

I didn’t post my last experience with the PAS. I was horrified by the way it slopped about my shoulders and gapped in front. I was reviewing the pics of that wadder when I realized the whole issue could once again be hip ease.    I’ve discovered that the diagonals to the side seam, such as these:

Are nearly always indicative of insufficient ease at my back hip for me. This probably isn’t true for you. Most people  find that these V/U’s indicate two other issues (sway back and full bust). But for me it demonstrates  Shirley Adams theory that ‘diagonal’ wrinkles result from  a mismatch of ease to body.  I.E. there is enough ease but not at the right place. But I still had the issue the shoulders slopping around and the neckline gaping. So I started back at Square 1.  I measured my bust and high bust before checking the pattern for size recommendations. I chose to trace the Large because my high bust said Medium but my bust said XLarge.  After tracing I compared with my sleeveless sloper.  Louise Cutting says the PAS (and several of her other patterns)  are developed from the Kimono sloper and dont’ relate closely.  I have to agree. I didn’t really understand how the shoulder line and armscyes related but the comparison did tell me that I should have enough ease across the bust, the dart would be too low and I  needed even more ease at the hip.  I traced the bust dart and side seams of my sloper and adding 5/8″ to the side seams for good measure. I prefer working with a full 1″ SA during tests. Typically I need to add length the front. Otherwise I have the preggers hi-lo look (you know high in front but not by intention).

For my test, I chose a rayon challis mostly because it was in my muslin stash because I thought it was the ugliest fabric I’ve ever ordered on-line. Using it ensure I would make a test.  The test surprised me.

I look better when my extended shoulder is not so extended. Also, I find that particular level to be irritating during wear.  Not necessarily restricting movement of my arm but rubbing every time I move my arm.   The U/V’s are not  defined although I do see a little drooping around and just below the bust.  Overall, had this been a pretty fabric, I might have finished it and that’s what surprised me. Last year I was so disappointed by the fit that I couldn’t imagine I would be easily successful this time.

So I trimmed 1″ from the length of the shoulder.  I used my curve the way Peggy demonstrates. I tried my slash-and-smash NSA method but that developed angles along center front and back. When I trimmed CF and CB to make them straight I lost about an inch from the pieces; 2 inches total ease.  So I traced a new copy; copied bust dart and side seams. Added length and trimmed 1″ length from the shoulders.  I chose another rayon challis.  I wanted to ensure that I would be seeing pattern changes more than fabric issues.  I’m really pleased:

My garment has just a little more skirt ease than I had in mind but I’m not unhappy.  These free-floating tops are really comfortable during hot weather.

I think here my posture is pushing the fabric up. I love the fluidity and drape of rayon challis but, as here it can be confusing. For starters, I didn’t see a hint of the side wrinkles during fitting. Only when I added finishing (neckline, armscyes hem) did there appear  hints of these drag lines.  The right side view shows them at their worst.  It could be just my posture but it could be that I need to tweak something. I’m just not sure about curving the shoulder.  This instruction:

shows that you lift the shoulder point 2cm and after determining how wide you want it, extend a line from neck edge straight out to your terminus.   I don’t know a lot when it comes to drafting patterns. But I look at this and ask if I should be curving downward (dropping) the shoulder line  after just having raised that point?

I finished the armscyes and neckline with bias binding

and top stitched the hem with navy thread.

I turned the hem up 1″ which was a PITA . It’s like hemming a circular skirt.  But I like the weight which this develops in the hem.  It helps my garments slid over my rear and hang like they should.  I’ve been known to put light weight chain and other weights in my blouses for that purpose.  My garments need a little help covering my high protruding rear.

Does anyone besides me do this:

A little top stitched rectangle beneath the underarm which secures the side seams in place on the inside:

It takes an extra minute each side but then I don’t have to worry about those edges peeking out or forming lumps under my arm.

It’s one of those little things that are quick and easy to do and makes the garment more comfortable throughout it’s life.

I’m really happy with the PAS.  I will trim the 1″ length I added to the front at the hem. On any future garment,  I’ll be watching the side seams carefully to see if those V’s develop and I’ll probably be testing the shoulder slope/curve albeit in small increments. I may try to remove a little ease.  I do like the full floaty effect but I also like a top that just skims all the curves.




PAS Tweaked 3

I’ve used a very different fabric for this version.  I’m using a silk boucle “suiting” purchased from Joann’s, Ft Collins Co I think back in 2005-2006. It is a lovely light pink with sort of a dusky cast.  I think of it as light rose, but the color companies don’t consult me on color naming. Or anything else for that matter.  Back to my fabric which has a lovely drape. It wants to drape closely to the body. Not cling. Drape.  Unfortunately it has several undesirable characteristics which have landed the last 2 yards in the “muslin” stack. It ravels. Horribly.  I mean you cut the fabric and it ravels. As you stay stitch one side of the neckline, the other ravels and stretches out of shape.  As I’m serge finishing one side, the other is wiggling apart. Sheesh.  I knew  it did this.  I’ve made a shell back in 2005/6 which told me all about the fabric’s bad features. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to throw the fabric away. Couldn’t bring myself to work with it either.  I did attempt to fuse before cutting. It doesn’t want to lie still during the fusing process which creates a permanently  off-grain  fabric. (Insert unhappy face).  Additionally, fusing with the lightest weight interfacing I had at the time, ruined the drape. It just wasnt’ the same fabric. (Two Unhappy Faces.)  To top it all off, the fabric shrinks with every laundering.  I hand laundered in the sink, people and it shrank.

I’m at the stage with the pattern that I don’t need a muslin but I wanted to use an elder fabric and reduce the amount of room this silk was occupying. I worked with it this time by cutting a piece. Rolling it up and taking it directly to the ironing board where I fused tape to all the curved edges. Then I marked the only dart and while barely lifting the fabric from the cutting surface, pinned the dart into place and immediately stitched it.   I’m hoping that using the hand wash cycle, cold water and my front loading washer (bypassing the dryer) will at least give me a few wearings.

I titled this post “tweaks” because I feel I was fine tuning the pattern. Looking at the end result, I don’t think I want to change the pattern any more, but will adapt for individual fabric at fitting.  I trimmed 1/4″ ease from front and back along the center line. I just lined up my ruler along the center front  and slashed off 1/8″. The front seems to be swinging forward, so then I angled the ruler and removed 3/8″ at the hem tapering to nothing just under the bust.  I transferred the 3/4″ lowered armscye to the pattern which makes for a more comfortable armscye without the side U’s:

even when I raise my arm.

Look Ma! No U’s!

Even though I’m pretty sure the side U’s were corrected by achieving a deep enough armscye ; I can’t help but  wonder how much is  also fabric effect.

I accidentally made a lovely hem.

I fused stay tape to keep it from raveling during construction.  Just before hemming, I serged the edge for a clean finish. I applied 1/2″ fusible tape to the wrong side. Turned up along the serged line and fused the hem into place. Although it would seem to be a lot of bulk, it’s really not. I used the overcast stitch along the hem and armscye edges. My Ruby Designer recommended the J foot which has an offset blade.  I bumped the fabric up against the blade and then stitched at a moderately slow speed. The stitch takes 2 forward and 2 to the side.  The second side stitch falls just on the other side of the blade i.e. into air. The foot keeps the fabric flat rather than rolling like a zig zag sitch and Foot B.  I used a size 12 universal needle and increased the stitch length slightly.  I think 3mm but I didn’t write that down so I’m not sure.  The effect is similar to using a wing needle for an heirloom hem.

I’m fairly pleased with the garment and thought these would be the final pics until I saw the back view:

I won’t be making an update to this post or any substantial changes to the garment or pattern.  I will top stitch both front and back facings.  Even though the front facing was easy to flip into place and stayed put during the photo session, I prefer not to fuss with my garments. Top stitching will mean that facing  is never a bother. The back facing obviously (to me) needs a little help.  I thought it was laying smoothly. Apparently not.  I’ll nail top-stitch it into place too. As usual the back is getting hung up on my bum. The fabric has some nap which contributes to the effect. There is plenty of ease and as seen from the side, the back and front hem are level when the back hangs freely.  Since I know this garment is not long for my closet (it’s the fabric that shrinks to non-fitting with the slightest immersion), I choose to experiment with chain or washers in the hem. Both are simple to attach after-the-fact.  It will be easy to remember to check for rusting and take a pic with each wearing to see if the extra weight fixes my velcro-butt issue.

I’m never done with this pattern. Never.  I already have another version ready in a lovely silk Matka on which I plan to add a front placket and buttons. Afterwards, I want to see if any changes to the pattern are needed for knit fabrics. Mind you, I wouldn’t hesitate to use a stable knit.  Wouldn’t give it a thought until fitting. But I think a rayon, ITY  or certainly a slinky knit would benefit from a bit of adjustment. That’s all future plans. My summer weather lasts until about the end of October (sometimes the first few weeks of November).  I’ll have plenty of time to make and share multiple versions.


First 2015 finished PAS:

I should be smiling much wider.  I really like this version but see some tweaks. Isn’t that what all dressmakers do?

although I removed 1/4″ from both sides seams (total of 1/2″ ), the front still looks a little a too big IMO.  The garment should skim the body hinting at shape without revealing all my curves. The pattern has waist shaping at the side seams and a bust dart. The garment should be a little more figure revealing.  I see a single vertical from shoulder to bust on one side.  I’m not sure if that is posture, confirmation that the garment is a bit large or something else. The neckline sits nicely against my chest and back but not at the shoulders.  Again, I’m not sure, is that the new shoulder slope? Is the garment too wide across the shoulders?

I like the back too. I added 1/2″ at the side seams (total 1″ for the back).  this helps it skim the hips but seams to nullify any waist shaping.  It too looks a little wide to me.  I didn’t want to add CF and CB seams, opting instead to enjoy the free-floating effect.

I lowered the armscyes 3/4″ which I think did wonders for the side:

I still have a bit of a U but again that could be because it is still to wide across the shoulders.  The bust dart is correctly positioned. I was afraid that moving the apex would not work. I was afraid that the fabric would ripple or do other funny things.  Definitely relieved that my change worked well .

I’m contemplating changes to the pattern and wondering if I should start fresh.  I will need to narrow the front and back through the shoulder and upper back; reposition bust dart and armscye; add ease to the back hip and remove ease from the front.  It would help if this fabric draped more but this is the kind of fabric I like to use.  I’d really like to have a version of this pattern which works well with this type fabric.I find it often. It’s like canvas. A plain weave with thin yarns rather than fine threads. It is soft and drapes and is comfortable to wear.  It does not cling– well except for my perpetual velcro-butt. It is one of the most comfortable fabrics for summer wear.  It protects from the sun but still is cool to wear. I convinced myself. Developing a pattern for this fabric is a must.

PAS cont

When I’m tired my mind just doesn’t function.  Last night I didn’t know what to do. This morning it was “(slap face) I could have had a V8″

The obvious answer was to address the shoulder slope.  I pulled out CS1201 and compared the shoulders.  CS1201 shoulder ends at about 4″ towards the armscye when placed on top of the PAS.  I traced/marked the slope that far then picked up my curve.  I disagree with Peggy Saggers on several things, but she is a phenom when it comes to utilizing the curve.  I matched the drafted curve of the PAS at the neck and then pivoted the armscye end downwards to align with the traced CS1201 shoulder.

Back to the sewing machine. I hemmed front and back at 5/8”.  I prefer a 1-1/4″ hem but the curve made for a lot of bulk.  I preferred the much smoother 5/8″ hem and so I used it.  I stitched the bust dart using thread in top and bobbin. Then switched to WST in the bobbin to stitch the new shoulder curve and 3.8″ side seams (instead of a 5/8″).

I want to focus on the side view.  I’m so pleased that there are no U’s (or swags or drapes or whatever they are called), drag lines which drape from under bust, across the side seam and up to the back shoulder. I felt underarm tightness and believe the upper bodice drag lines are confirming.  I’m also pleased that the front and back hem appear fairly level. The front may be slightly long. Which makes me think I didn’t have the shoulder seams correctly positioned on my body which could contribute to some of those upper bodice drag lines and the feeling of tightness.  The thing with garment construction is that the same drag line could indicate a few different issues.  It’s up to us, the dressmakers, to understand how the body is effecting the fabric.

The rest of the back drag lines, I’m calling “velcro butt”.  I suffer with this even with the slickest of fabrics.  I’m investigating using fine chains and flat washers.  Both are commonly used is jackets and coats.  Never seen them on dresses or blouses but I’m willing to make history if it helps with my velcro issue.

Oddly my front suddenly looks too big.  I’ve added a mere 1/4″ ease to the front.  I just don’t think it should have made that great a difference from the previous fit.

Happily this gives me direction.  I need to scoop out the underarm.  As I understand it now (initially I didn’t get this fact), the armscye is shortened by the increased slope and must be returned to it’s former depth and shape. I’ll also offset the side seams so that the back retains the ease of the 3/8″ SA but the front benefits from the 5/8″ SA.

…until tomorrow

Pure and Simple Shell

This must be my favorite summer top.  I love the simplicity of design; the fit and easy of sewing.  The extended shoulder is very flattering to my narrow shoulders and wide hip.  Tops made from this pattern cycle quickly through my wardrobe. They are so flattering and therefore often in rotation; and the washing machine and the dryer. Which means they wear out quickly and must be replaced equally quickly. I’m sure I’ve made a hundred of these tops. But only one is currently in my closet; a silk Charmeuse that sees little wear because the fabric is delicate. I need more.

As all my other patterns are needing re-fitting, I’m choosing to approach with the idea that this pattern will need some fitting.  I pulled out my pattern pieces and checked the sizing.  The existing tissue was created from the size recommended by the envelope. I pulled out CS1201 for  comparison. While  not being perfectly fitted, there is enough right about CS1201 to help me making length and circumference decisions.  The existing PAS tissue should be good. I’m a bit anxious though and added 1/2″ to the side seams when cutting out my fabric…

which is a 100% cotton canvas.  I like to think of this as homespun but it really isn’t.  It’s a fabric commonly seen in home dec.  I like it for summer garments because it is opaque but still nice and cool (as in low temperature.)  I have just enough yardage to cut the front, back and neckline facings.

I taped the necklines, shoulders and armscyes thinking that would be enough to keep it from raveling away.  Once again I am hopeful that this pattern which has one nicely fitting garment in my closet, will be nearly perfect.

I stitched the bust darts permanently i.e. 2.5 stitch length poly thread top and bobbin.  I stitched the shoulders and side seams using a 1cm (3/8″) seam allowance. Pressed lightly I want the seams to behave but still be able to change them about) before trying on.  I expected that the seam allowances would need to be 1.5CM (5/8″)  I did not expect the apex of the bust dart to be so low.  I was so astonished, I removed all stitching pressed out the front and back and compared with tissue. The fabric matched the pattern.  Next I went upstairs and tried on the current “nicely fitting” silk Charmeuse copy. How did I miss the bust dart being so far below the bust?

I raised the apex 1″ and drew the lines from side seam to the next apex point.  I’m hoping that fixes the issues on this version.  I can move the entire dart for the next (I’m sure there will be many future versions.)  Then I serged the seams not taped. I love this fabric but just trying it on once has created significant fraying when I want none. I stitched dart, shoulder and side seams all with water-soluble thread and at 5/8″ . .  I hope I’ve fix the issue but the wind has been taken out of my sails and I’m proceeding with even more caution.

So looking at new pics (hoping you can compare with the first set above)

I do think that raising the bust dart was a good idea, but I prefer the ease in the first set of pics which will be simple to fix.  Fabric often hangs up on my hip which makes it difficult to critique the back.   I see the vertical lines from shoulder to armscye both front and back.  I think these are just a fact of the extended sleeve plus maybe a little fabric behavior. The silk charmeuse and a long departed light weight knit are the only versions in which that vertical is not prominent; and that’s in all the versions that I’ve made. I’m most concerned about the U’s under the armscye. Similar lines were present in the  5620, the beloved RAL and any pattern in which the armscye is basically a slit. Armscyes which don’t create those U’s are both long enough and wide enough, they are not slits.  At the moment I’m really not sure what I will do to fix the underarm.   But hey, that’s enough words and pics for one post.  I’ll be back when I can think of something else.


I couldn’t quite let go of the PAS. This has been a perfect pattern. It has made many beautiful blouses which fit perfectly. I was really bothered by the fact that adding the full tummy adjustment made the PAS too long in front. I was also concerned about the faint hint of a swayback in the final pic. I selected a silk charmeuse fabric for this version. There will be no doubt as to whether the fabric is sticking to my back side; being pushed upward due to a big rear; or piling up in the middle because of sway back.


I’m not sure where I purchased this fabric. My memory says Georgous Fabrics. But this is a recent purchase, like within the last 6 months.I haven’t made any purchases from GF recently. I didn’t have it before the trip to Fort Collins so it must have come from Fabricmart or Fashion Fabrics. Except, after prewashing, I put Fabricmart’s stickers back on the fabric or pin the description Fashion Fabrics gives me. This fabric had neither. Making it more likely that it came from Georgeous Fabrics. Oh well, that’s really not important as it is no longer available.

For the previous PAS, I offset the SA’s 1/4″. Now, I trimmed 1/4″ from the back pattern side seams. That still leaves me with 1/2″ SA. I prefer 1/4″ seam allowances, but I’m still concerned about fit and have decided to leave a fitting option.  The front, I completely retraced. That makes 3 times I’ve traced the front pattern piece. But it’s had to return the pattern to it’s original shape after having made and taped the heck out of 3 alterations.  This time, I made the BWL and NSA  but did not make any allowances for my tummy.

Is it Ok to say I think the front and back views are just beautiful? Oh and the side view is too:

The hems were turned up 1/4″, twice and stitched into place before the side seams were basted together. I serged the shoulder seams at 1/4″. I want to change that for the future. I didn’t notice until now that the bust dart is slightly low. It may be OK, but I like it just a little higher. Just like the side seams were Ok at 1/4″ but  I preferred to make thee, a little deeper.

Silk Charmeuse can be a difficult fabric. It tends to crawl around – making it hard to cut and sew. Charmeuse also   snags and damages easily.  If ever you’ll know about a needle problem, it will show up on Charmeuse.  I spray stitched heavily 3 times. I spent a good 45 minutes at the ironing board making sure this fabric was controllable.  I really wanted to sew like right now or I would have dunked it and allowed  an overnight drying.   I used a size 9 universal needle at the SM and a 12 ELX needle in my serger.  I can’t find size 10 ELX needles. Personally, I don’t feel like there is enough difference between an 11 and 12 to justify stocking size 11’s. I also used the 1/4″ quilting foot which comes with my machine, a Husqvarna Ruby

1/4 Inch foot on the right (as you are looking into the picture.)

My 1/4″ foot is also my Jeans Stitching foot and my Fine Fabric foot and a few other feet as well. The center is a small hole just big enough for the straight and fix stitches to properly execute. I also selected the fine, woven settings from the machine’s menu.  I had no problems with this fine fabric. Today’s machines have been carefully engineered and tested — so that they work as well as the vintage machines.

I’m so excited about this version of my PAS.  Burda and Otto have published multiple patterns which are based on this extended shoulder draft. For me this means, I don’t need to fit those patterns. I can use my PAS and transfer the design details. I trimmed 1/4″ from all seam allowances (that does mean I trimmed 1/2″ total from the back side seams) and put my pattern away ready for use when the mood strikes me.




I was really disappointed in my previous version. The Pure and Simple Shell has been a favorite of mine ever since it first arrived hot off the press.  I had thought to quickly make a larger size fitting my own larger size. Initially I was severely disappointed at the difference between my vision and the reality of the final garment. I’m not wearing that garment. It’s in the Goodwill box, even as I write. But I did take a second look. In that second look I was impressed at how the garment looked to small over all. The PAS is meant to be figure skimming with a hint a shape. It’s the shape most mature women prefer. My pics look more body conscious. Much more than I desired. I reviewed the back of the envelope. I’m pretty sure that I must have traced the wrong size. It’s hard to tell, because once all alterations were complete, the tissue was vastly changed. So I traced a 3rd copy, being careful to follow the right lines, and once again applied the 1″ NSA, 1″ BWL and 1″ Full-TummyAdjustments (FTA)

For the 2nd version, I selected a cotton voile. I was concerned the voile would be see-through. In fact, I had placed this fabric in with my other sheers. I decided to use the sheer test Sara Alm suggests in her *Craftsy Course (Essential Guide to Sewing with Sheers).  My fabric passed. So with a bit of hesitation, I cut the fabric but not a lining.  Then I decided to hedge my bet a little and converted my facings into a huge collar.  Here’s the thing, I don’t mind suggesting a little skin. I’m not appalled at the hint of a bra strap, as long as it’s not clearly visible. I feel the same about my back and sides.  I’m a little more sensitive about my tummy and definitely don’t want to suggest two dark circles slightly above my navel. I thought a big collar would surely solve the problem.

With the correct size, the fit needed only tweaking. I offset the side seams 1/4″ so that the back was smaller than the front. Otherwise, I spent most of my time on the collar.

Finished collar and front view

Originally the facing-collar was cut 3″ larger and looked like it was wearing me instead of the other way around:

Original size of the collar

I think the first picture and final version of the collar is much better proportioned for me. I trimmed the collar with white, flat, 1/2 inch lace. I aligned the two edges (lace and collar hem). Stitched once. Then folded up raw edge of the collar and stitched a second time. Theoretically you can just trim away the raw edge and excess at that point, but I’ve had a bad experience and prefer to Frey-Check first. The collar itself is very easy to construct.  I overlapped the front and back pattern pieces at the shoulder SA. I then traced the Center front, neckline curve and center back onto tracing paper. I freely sketched in the outer edge. It can be whatever you want as long as the neckline of the collar will match the neckline of the garment. I placed the center front and back lines on a fold and cut a once piece collar. In the past, I’ve placed the only the center front on the fold which allowed me to spread the collar a bit and add more ease in the collar. Sewing requires a little forethought. I did not cut a separate facing piece, interfacing or underlining. I placed the right side of the collar toward the wrong side of the garment. Serged the neckline and understitched to the garment. Usually you understitch to the facing. I didn’t want the understitching to show. When I inverted the collar to the outside, the understitching doesn’t show, the neckline is completely finished. While this fabric turned out not to be sheer, I did meet the sheer requirement of a neat, narrow seam.

At the first fitting, I decided the collar was too wide. That meant I had to trim the collar down and reapply the lace. You can bet, even though I’m not showing it, I took pics twice before deciding the collar was properly proportioned for me and finishing the collar a second time.


I really think there is a little velcro b utt syndrome going on here. The fold doesn’t go all the way across my back; and earlier pictures in the fitting process didn’t have any bunches in mid back.


What I noted in the side view, is that the front is longer than the back. WTF? I took the time to add both width and length to the front because the previous version was shorter in front.

Oh well, I think this is pretty and feminine. Definitely appropriate for summer activities.


*Course review yet to come, because I haven’t finished it. But so far, I’m liking it and have picked up several tests including the Wedding Ring test for sheerness.