Category Archives: 12269 Easy Ageless Cool

A Tale of Woe

I’ve been working towards a new fitting procedure for blouses and tops.  I still need the 1″ back waist length adjustment because I’ve not grown any taller.  Same thing with the 1″ narrow shoulder adjustment i.e. my shoulders haven’t grown any wider  BUT they have become more sloped. I realized through trial and error, altering the shoulder slope wasn’t simply a matter of sliding the ruler down at an angle making the shoulder point  lower. I seem to have developed a specific shoulder slope which is not the same on the front as on the back.    The increased slope is occurring as my shoulders round due to age.  My shoulders are pulling forward which widens my back  and narrows the front. So it does make sense that my pattern front would need to be treated differently from my pattern back along the shoulder line.

I was surprised however that in correcting the shoulder slope,  diagonals  form pointing to the side seams. Even when there is 8″ of ease, these diagonals  form from center front and back terminating at various points along the side seam. They are not caused by lack of ease. It looked to me and many concurred, as if I needed an FBA (full bust alteration). I thought this odd because I’m barely a B cup.  Why suddenly after 6 decades of not needing to add width and height over my bust, did I need an FBA?  I tried several things, including multiple types of FBA’s and  finally sorted out the diagonals. It is the fit of the armscye. I can’t simply trace the new lower shoulder slope. The armscye must retain it’s length and shape.  Eventually, I realized I could trace my new shoulder slope and then trace the  armscye from which ever Connie Crawford pattern I was working with.

I thought “I’ve got it!”.  I knew what to do so that patterns would once again fit me

  1. 1″ BWL
  2. 1″ NSA
  3. Copy My Front and Back Shoulder Slope from my sloper
  4. Copy the pattern armscye from the pattern I wanted to fit.

4 alterations instead of 2.  If it means I can adapt every pattern to fit me, I’m willing to do 4 alterations.

Then I took a slight detour into the Slashed Sloper pattern alteration method.  That method worked well enough if the pattern style and fit is very similar to my sloper.  So Louise Cuttings Ebb Blouse, which basicially adds an empire line and a little ease to my sloper, was quickly adapted.  I was very excited with the success of the Ebb because I have several favorite CLD blouses  I’ve really been wanting to fit.

I started with Just My Style (71114) View A  because I thought this draft was also very close to my sloper. It is a dartless block with slightly dropped shoulder, high-low hem and a bit less fitted.  I traced the size corresponding to my hip and applied the 4 alterations above; cut fabric  and BASTED the garment together.  Fortunately, I used  water-soluble thread because I removed the basting 3 different times.  I gave up and stitched the garment  permanently after having changed the shoulder slope, adding a bust dart, and reshaping the side seams over the course of 3 days.

My fabric is either a nylon or polyester crepe. I didn’t do a burn test. It is light weight but I know from experience that it is more of a cool weather fabric as it is warm to wear.  I thought this fabric  would be a good test fabric. I purchased it for the interesting print.  Left it in the stash because of my wearing concerns.  The back looks nice enough. I am wearing 1/4″ shoulder pads and ignoring the fact that my right shoulder is lower than the left. It’s the side and front view I despise.  Even with the added bust dart (making this dartless block into a darted block), I have horrible wrinkles forming at the side.  This will only be wearable because it is a fall and winter garment (due to the nylon crepe) and will be covered by a vest.

I didn’t start another garment for several days.  When I did, I chose to use a nice, 100% cotton, shirting fabric. It has  no stretch but will be comfortable year ’round. I decided upon tracing the size corresponding to my upper bust which meant in addition to the 4 alterations above, I also needed to add 1/2 ease at the hip. But I’m  willing to add a 5th alteration, if it makes a nice garment.

It didn’t.

This is the Easy Ageless Cool (12269) camp shirt with sleeve lengthened. The camp shirt is also a slightly drop shoulder with straight sides and more of a loose fit. This garment suffers with the side diagonals too. The front hem is horribly tilted upwards because I did not attempt to add a bust dart.  It’s supposed to be dartless.  (The JMS hem also tilted upward until I added the bust dart.)  The back looks worse than the JMS back, but it’s  acceptable. This is a 100% cotton blouse.  I omitted the collar and did nothing with the sleeve cuff area because after 4 fittings I was disgusted with this garment too.   I finished it. Maybe I’ll wear it.

I’m not happy with my sewing projects above.  But you know, sewing projects do go wrong for a variety of reasons.  Even TNT patterns can shoot you down from time to time.  I’m most disappointed by the fact, I could not choose a pattern, trace the recommended size and then make a series of standard adjustments to create a garment I’m happy to wear.

I’m not wiling to make a throw-away (muslin) garment every time I want to try a new pattern.

I wish the Slashed Sloper method was more versatile.  It worked with patterns that were very similar to the sloper. Make a substantial change, or multiple changes (yoke + dropped sleeve + ease) and I’m unsuccessful.  With that limitation, I think it would be quicker to [trace my sloper and make the few changes I want] as compared to [trace the sloper, trace the pattern, slash and fold both in various places so that they more or less match???].  And BTW, having used that method with the Ebb, I still have one more alterations to make to the Ebb before it is TNT.

I have no desire to draft patterns.  I’ve done some.  I finish drafting and then still have to do all the fitting. Not only that but drafting involves dozens of tiny decisions which make or break the style.  It can take multiple muslins to re-create the look I want.

Definitely not buying more expensive Indy patterns that I can’t adapt to fit me. Could be clearing out of the stash the ones I own.

I don’t think making the seam allowances 1″ wide is the solution either because the problems I’m seeing now are related to the armscye and bodice front. I seem to be getting the back and sleeve pretty good.

I still believe I’m not horribly disfigured and should be able to make logical changes to flat patterns so that new patterns will work for my body.

I need time to think and discover new approaches.

 

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Ack

I transferred the small changes from my last version of the EAC to the pattern.  I made a small 1/8″ tuck from shoulder to hem on both front and back. It doesn’t sound like much but 1/8″ removes 1/4″ from each piece.  When I cut and sew, the change is made twice on the back and once on each front. A total of 4 *(1/8*2) or 1/2″ on the back and 1/2″ on the front; total 1″ ease removed from the garment.  I also walked the side seams and learned that truing after making the dartless FBA added 1/4″ to the side seam.  I made a 1/8″ horizontal tuck across the front about 2″ above the hem.   Since the front hem hung drastically lower than the back, I also removed 3/4″ length at the center front and then retrued the hem. I felt like I could have removed all the length added by the FBA, but I prefer to make small changes. Check and see how that works and then make more changes if needed.

Truth is I was excited by Myrna’s sleeve wrinkle revelation and really wanted to work with that. I added 2″ to the cap on the sleeve pattern.  Drastic, but I knew that 1/2″ had not made any perceptible difference. I wanted something that would really make a difference. I thought if that was too much, it wouldn’t be impossible to remove the excess cap during sewing.

My fabric is again a good shirting with about 1″ lycra, less than 10% stretch. I have numerous lovely blouse and shirting fabrics that I’m eager to use now that I know my slash-and-slide NSA and the dartless FBA will produce a smooth fitting shirt. I chose this fabric for its dominant yellow coloring and the fact that it is so much like the previous shirting.  I’ve absolutely reached the conclusion that a different fabric can produce different and not necessarily desirable results.  For example, I will never again use a soft knit fabric with my jeans pattern.

Well the 2″ sleeve cap was a bust. I moved it from 2 to 1.5 and 1″ high. Tried rotating backward and forward in the armscye and never, ever lost the sleeve wrinkle.

To my horror the drag lines from the bust returned

and the back developed issues as well

I wondered if the angle of the shoulder made any difference and I basted it together with a 1″ angle at the sleeve cap. Since that clearly made the back issues worse, I offset the front and back shoulders and repeated stitching at a steep angle.

Totally disgusted, I ripped the sleeves out; returned the sleeve pattern to its original dimensions and cut the sleeve cap down. I figured since the sleeve cap didn’t fix the sleeve wrinkle, I wouldn’t tolerate all the gathering needed to insert the higher capped sleeve. I also sewed the shoulder at it’s orginal length and angle. With no idea what went wrong, I finished.

It’s nearly impossible to detect any difference to this shirt from the ones made straight from the pattern without 2 hours of alterations, uncountable hours fitting and several fabrics sacraficed. Sheesh!  I comforted myself with the idea that I could wear a vest and cover the worst ills

Yeech. Bah! Humbug!

EAC: Pattern Alterations

I decided to start fresh with this pattern.  I made a new tracing but at the same size has the previous version.

I’ve always heard that you make length adjustments first so the first thing I did I made was a 1″ BWL (back waist length) alteration to front and back pieces.

Since the dartless FBA has a length component, I made Louise Cuttings Dartless FBA next.  Basically the front is quartered, separated specific amounts, taped into place and then lines are trued.   I added 3/4″ width and 2″ length.

Next I made my 1″ NSA as described in yesterday’s post.

Last I trimmed the armscye, shoulder and collar seams to 1/4″.  I prefer 1/4″ so I can sit and serge. But I admit to a need for fitting and left the other seams at least slightly adjustable.

I chose a good shirting fabric.  I did not want to repeat the mistakes made on the POV.  Ok part of that was simply I don’t like extremely dropped/extended shoulder seams. But the lawn fabric was also just not good for that design. It ended up looking like what all the fat girls wear  instead of the elegant garment in the drawing.  First step in avoiding that look (fat girl garment) is through fabric choice. My fabric was advertised as cotton shirting with 1% lycra. It has a very slight stretch, not even 10%. Which gives the fabric just enough room to stretch or bend when I do and then completely recover to its former size and shape.  I do think there is a polyester content as well because it presses easily like cotton  and tends to maintain the press like polyester.     At 2 yards and 48″ wide, I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I wanted to check sleeve cap height (shown here) and opted to make long sleeves but not the collar.  Still didn’t have quite enough fabric (I purchased this fabric thinking summer, short-sleeve, camp shirt) and had to change the full length sleeve into separately-cuffed, full-length sleeve.

I taped the back shoulders and stitched them to the front; then finished the neckline, front facing buttonholes and buttons.  I basted in the left sleeve and stitched the long underarm/side seam.  Then I basted the right side seam together but stitched  the right sleeve only at the underarm between notches.  As referenced in the previous paragraph, I checked the sleeve cap height and also took photos from front, side and back to check fit.

OK, a camp shirt is supposed to be roomy. Right? But does this back look too large?

It can be hard to see with a busy print (especially a blue that makes my eyes look so beautiful), so I drew lines following some of the vertical folds.

I was mystified. I did not expect the back to look so roomy. It did not look so big in the previous version

 

and was absolutely too tight in the POV:

(POV used same size).

 

I am surmising that the slash-and-smash and the rotating dart methods of shoulder alteration must have removed ease from the back with me noticing.  It will be interesting to test this theory. For now, in the final version I stitched a 1/4″ vertical seem from neck to hem edge:

It’s still roomy, but “roomy” like a camp shirt instead of a potato sack.  I have stitched in both sleeves, even though the shoulder cap on the sleeve needs to be raised. I’ve also added shoulder pads and finished the hems in the photo just above this paragraph. I’m not unhappy with this version but I will say that I probably could have made that back seam 3/8 or 1/2″ for this fabric.

To my total shock and the first time in a long, long time, my front hem is too long at center front:

I’m going to again assume, that my previous NSA methods were reducing the front length and/or lengthening the side seams greatly.

I’m also pointing out (in the pic above) that I do seem to have a bit of excess ease on the side.

I’m really pleased with the front view:

But don’t be surprised if I restyle this into a short-sleeve, summer, camp shirt. It just has that kind of feel for me.

I’m can’t call this a TNT, yet.  Judging from the width of the back and ease of the front, I might have started with a smaller pattern. I’m more interested in being able to do creative sewing;  so I will tweak this pattern to fit by

  • Vertical 1/8″ fold on the back to remove excess ease
  • Vertical 1/8″ fold on side-front to remove excess ease
  • Raise the front hem until even with the back, approximately 1″.

I like having a plan to fit patterns, so for new patterns or to re-fit existing patterns I plan to use the

  • 1″ BWL
  • 1″ Slash and slide NSA
  • 1/2″ X 1″ FBA

It would be wonderful if that’s all it takes to fit patterns to my frame, but I have to be honest. The camp shirt is a loosely fitting garment which hides many body variations. When I work again on the Tunic Blouse and my favorite T (PP104),  I will need to consider other changes to achieve the more skimming fit I love and desire.  I’ve not ruled out yokes, center front or center back seams as design lines that include fitting options.  Also, my body continues to age and change; so I will be continuing to explore and tweak fit.

 

EAC: Playing with the NSA

I have much more to say about this version of the EAC (Easy Ageless Cool) pattern.  Next up is my NSA Narrow Shoulder Adjustment.  I know my shoulder is narrow in comparison to the standard measurement charts.  A full inch narrower at the size 10.  I can’t remember when I didn’t need an NSA. My shoulders, both RWT and pattern sewn, always collapsed causing gaping at the neckline and er bubbling between neckline and apex.  My sewing teachers recommended shoulder pads and padded bras. I was well into my 30’s and maybe my 40’s before I discovered that an NSA took care of all my upper bodice issues.  At the time my NSA was very simple. Where there should have been a shoulder dart

I drew a line perpendicular to the shoulder slope; slashed and overlapped.  Interesting at a size 10, I overlapped 1/2″.  At a size 18 I overlap 1″.  The pattern companies seem  to assume that my shoulder length grows at the same rate as my waistline.   Whatever amount I overlap creates a bubble in the upper back area. It’s supposed to. We add darts to create roundness in our fabric which we hope matches the roundness of our bodies.  But I didn’t want extra roundness, just less length (and a greater slope) along the shoulder.  I would smash the bubble flat. My pattern would keep its outline but be wrinkled in the interior of the upper bodice.  Because my shoulder is the same length whether looking at it from the front or back, I made the same adjustment to both front and back pattern pieces.

This slash, overlap, smash technique worked very well for a number of years, over 20, not due to weight gain/loss.  I eventually climbed to 194 lbs and now am averaging about 40 pounds less. (Holidays and winter, YKWIM).  Possibly this worked for so long because it was a tremendous improvement over my previous efforts to control the upper bodice … um … fluidity.  Possibly it worked because during part of that time the artsy-fartsy look we now call lagenlook was very popular and definitely a major player in my closet. Possibly I was satisfied for so long because I turned my attention to other areas of fitting and other sewing experiences.

But now, with my body really beginning to show signs of aging, the slash and smash NSA is under inspection.  My back seems to be more rounded (maybe I’m just noticing it more). My tummy is definitely more rounded. I have no visible waist from a front-on view.  My rear and abdomen measurements are the same (weren’t always.)  One of the things I noticed from experiments with rotating the bust dart for design purposes, was that ease gets shifted, moved or as I like to think of it ‘thrown’ to the new rotated dart. You have the choice of sewing in the bust dart, leaving it unsewn or moving it to the seams. I wondered if I could do something similar with the back shoulder darts. i.e instead of slash and smash, could I rotate the dart and ease from the shoulder where it wasn’t needed  to the hip where my garments were begging for just a few more threads? Later when realizing that my back was rounding, could I throw some ease to the back?

Moving the shoulder dart to the hem wasn’t highly successful.

It added very little across the hip but caused flare at the hem line. A wide hem makes my shoulders look even narrower.  I prefer designs which at least visually balance my hip and shoulder line.  Because I need more back room, I rotated the shoulder dart to the back:

I extended the dart line all the way to the back. This not only added length to the back but also tilted the upper back towards the shoulder. This is a good solution, if I’m willing to sew a center back seam in  every garment . Another good and easy solution, would be a yoke. However, I have to apply this solution to the front as well (my shoulders are the original issue and they are the same front and back.)  I don’t want every garment I make to have a front yoke or center front seam.  While the rounding of my back is getting my attention, it’s really my hip and stomach that cause the worst fitting.  I decided to throw the dart across the hip and tummy:

This time the shoulder dart is extended to about the waist and then angled towards the side seam. This too works as far as reducing the shoulder length and does add some ease directly across my tummy and hips.  I also start noticing the center front and back rising no doubt caused by the fact that when the shoulder dart is closed, the leg going to the side seam opens and in addition to adding ease across tummy and hips, adds length to the side seams.  Side seams can be shortened what I couldn’t seem to fix was some additional fluting occurring at the hem especially in the center front. Again, I didn’t want the fluting at the hem;  I’m going for a pegged or at least vertical side seam to keep the visual balance between hip and shoulders.

I spent several session working just with tissue attempting to rotate the excess shoulder length by creating a dart at the shoulder, into other areas of the side and center seams. In short, I didn’t like the results.  In sheer desperation I decided to drop the line vertically (instead of perpendicularly) from the shoulder to meet with a horizontal line extending from the notches at the armscye.

slide it over 1″

and then true shoulder and armscye

I was really afraid to do this.  All  my sewing life, I’ve been told not to change the armscye or sleeve cap. It’s like burned in my brain. If you mess with these you’re going to ruin your garment because they can’t be fixed.   I’ve been emboldened by viewing to Peggy Saggers broadcasts. I was mesmerized by her demonstration of creating the sleeve cap and how it related to the armscye. I decided if this failed, I couldn’t be any worse off than before.  I did make the effort to measure the armscye both before moving that chunk and after truing the new armscye. It’s really close.

Sometime in the future, I’m going to attempt the seam allowance method of pattern alteration, but this looked so good, I wanted to see it in fabric.

 

…and then I pulled the pin…

Louise Cuttings Easy Ageless Cool blouse is one of my very favorites. To me it is the perfect Camp Shirt combining ease of sewing and wear along with a bit of femininity and elegance.  Alas, my previous  version was less than satisfactory.  A combination of diagonal bust to hem pull lines, rising front hem and mess of wrinkles on the back completely overshadowed a beautiful embroidery and delectable light peach coloring.  Inspired by the improvement seen in LH Tunic Blouse,I opted to attempt the dartless FBA on this next blouse. I have much to share, but today I wanted to start with an eye-opening-for-me experiment.

A few days ago, Myrna posted an amazing description of how she  determines the sleeve cap height and why . (Namely those front of sleeve drag lines I’ve been puzzled by). The following day she posted an in-depth tutorial for making a sleeve cap height adjustment to the pattern.  I’ve tried adding cap height  here. I added 1/2″ as given by that pattern drafter. Adding 1/2″ had absolutely no effect upon the wrinkles in my sleeve. However after seeing Myrna’s description and pictures,  I wanted to give it another go.

Today I made several alterations to my pattern (which don’t include cap adjustment and will be discussed in later posts), chose a fabric and cut a new blouse using the EAC camp shirt. I stitched it together almost. Hems are not done and the right sleeve has been stitched from front dot, down across underarm seam and up to the back dots. The top of the sleeve was left unstitched but held in place by a single pin. I took back, side and front pics and then I pulled the pin holding the right sleeve into the armscye.

 

I’d call that a good 1.5 to 2″ of bare skin. Which means I need to add cap height to my own sleeve whether or not it has an end effect upon that annoying drag line.

… More to share on this blouse tomorrow.

Not MIA

I haven’t been posting but I haven’t been sewing much either.  I’ve once again had a few health issues which  slowed me down.  Nothing horrendous. A summer cold which won’t go away. Pulled a knee muscle. Just as it got better, I pulled the other.  Then a failed jean project kinda of took the wind out of my sails.  I ve been reading, watching TV and shopping. Fortunately, I haven’t added to the stash but I ve got all kinds of new beauty stuff. When I finally came out of my funk, I’d lost track of what I was sewing and why. I have plenty of clothes. I sew for the pleasure and learning. So I read my own blog — sorry for all the mistakes. Promise, I run spell check and proof read but obviously don’t catch all. So I looked around and found I have 3 almost TNT’s.  Patterns that almost fit exactly like I want. But not close enough that I c an whip out a garment without thinking. So I started with LC 12269 Easy Ageless Cool Camp Shirt. The pants I’m not fond of but the shirt is the classic camp shirt, IMO.

When last used, I felt  the resulting shirt was a smidge too small. I loved the fit across the shoulders and probably could have simply added ease across the hip. Except I thought I could benefit from a bit more ease across the bust as well.  It’s usually easier for me to make a larger size and increase my NSA  to perfect the fit. The next size up added a lot of ease but I was fairly confident and selected a cotton homespun fabric and an elegant shoulder embroidery:

I trimmed one of the sprigs, repeated and joined it to form a hem border.

Yes it took some time but the payoff was 1 hooping to embroider the  hem front.  I used the multi-position hoop of my Brother PE 770. Which meant I had to stitch out half the design, move the hoop and stitch the other half. But I hooped stabilizer only once and used it for both halves of the front.

 

Despite my cherry smile below, I’m not satisfied with the fit.

With so much extra ease, I thought I would use this as an over blouse/light weight jacket. My first impression is that the sleeves are too long.

Then I looked again and realized that the shoulder is too long, even for a camp shirt. I’ve decided to ignore the wrinkles in the back–for now at least.  I’ve not added shoulder pads and with the shoulder drooping the back can’t look it’s best. At least, I do not have masses of horizontal wrinkles in the mid back.

I probably should just admit that I need a bust dart. It would take care of both the rising front hem and the side diagonals. But dang it, camp shirts aren’t supposed to fit like a tailored blouse and shouldn’t have bust darts.

I feel another couple of iterations will be needed before I’m totally satisfied. With the fit, the pattern I’m more than happy to have and sew. My maturing, rounding body needs a little more help to look it’s best.  In the meantime, this shirt will serve it’s intended purpose as a slouchy, easy to wear third layer.

Camp Shirt for the 6PAC

I finished this camp shirt and wondered why I didn’t have a dozen already. Louse Cuttings Easy Ageless Cool pattern #12269 ….

is better known for the pants. I think the camp shirt which is an overlooked hero.  As usual, LC includes excellent instructions, perfect drafting and a few tricks along the way. Her one piece collar all by itself deserves standing ovations. The hemming process is simple and elegant, just mark carefully and follow the instructions.  I made two pockets and altered the sleeve to full length. LC instructions include a diagram with multiple pins easing the sleeve cap into place.  I matched notches between sleeve and armscye; set my serger differential at 1.5 and serged it into place with the sleeve against the throat plate. The sleeves went into place perfectly. I finished the sleeve with a cuff less design feature I first learned from La Fred.

Hem as usual, add buttonhole through both sides of the sleeve and place the button so that when closed the sleeve is narrowed to your preference.  I prefer to be able to button my sleeve while the blouse is on the hanger and then slide my hands through the opening.  But you can make it smaller and button after the blouse is on your body.

I made my usual alterations i.e. altering the back waist length and a 1″ narrow shoulder adjustment. I opted to eliminate the darts this time although a dart template is included with the pattern for the purpose of locating both front and back piece darts. I also added a 1/4″ thick half-moon shoulder-pad. Yeah, I know it’s a casual garment. It’s just that I’ve become so round-shouldered that I really need just a bit of padding across the shoulders.

When worn, the blouse feels perfect. My pictures tell a slightly different story.

The full front view is very reassuring.

I’m seeing excess in the middle of my back on almost all my recent tops.  I think whatever is causing that, is probably causing all the other back wrinkles as well. It’s possible that I could use a sway back alteration.  Certainly the fish eye darts would have helped.

one of the issue I have when taking photos is being hurried. I’m trying to change things and get into position before the camera goes to sleep or snaps the next picture. Even though I didn’t have time to rally settle the blouse into place because of being hurried, I think it does show that my hem is rising in front and drag lines are forming.

 

While the garment feels comfortable I am debating how to fix the issues that I see. I could add length to the center front and extra ease for the back hip. I also could attempt a PBA for the back.  My feeling is that I might be better off tracing the next size up. Certainly, this is wearable for now and I love the fabric; a good quality quilting cotton in my stash about 7 years.  The fabric was on the “yellow” shelf. I realized that the pink was exactly the color I needed and that “some designer” had designed a perfect color scheme for me:  rose-pink, pastel yellow, and pastel violet. I think this blouse will be worn many years with many different garments. Despite my fit reservations, I give this blouse a thumbs up!