Category Archives: 62905 Relax A Little

CLD: Relax A Little Top (RAL)

Every summer, for several years, I made this top.  I kept 4 or 5 versions in the closet for spring, summer and fall weather. Then suddenly, I couldn’t remove the drag lines from any of my Cutting Line Designs patterns. I tried. Everytime I had a success with other patterns, I would try it on one of my CLD patterns. Nada. What worked elsewhere didn’t do it for CLDs.  Additionally, the RAL has a 1 piece yoke.  I need a shoulder slope alteration. Where do I make that?  Making it on the yoke definitely changes the style line. Not making it at all introduces deep U drape lines on the side. I put the RAL in deep time out because even if I could figure out what I was doing wrong on the other CLD patterns, I wouldn’t know how to fix the RAL

It was a Judy Kissinger video which led to my break through with the RAL top.  Instead of making my sloping shoulder and round back adjustments to the yoke, I made them at the top of the lower piece!.  Lower front was a piece of cake. Just like altering the shoulder at the shoulder except the line drawn was a little longer. Altering the back required some thought. First I measured down 5/8″ and drew a line (Yellow in the pic)  from CB to the marked 5/8″ line

Yellow line starts at top of drafted CB and traverses to the new lower side seam point.

Well what about the round back? My RBA needs to  add 5/8″. I suppose I could slash and spread as usual, but since the effect is the same, I made a mark 5/8″ above the top of the back (as drafted.) Then I drew a new line (Red) from this new CB mark to the lowered side seam mark

That line is drafted as a curve; so for my alteration I pulled out my french curve and also drew a curve.

When I trimmed the tissue, I trimmed along the red line. Looks weird, but, It works:

You really don’t notice either alteration.

One of the things I like about the RAL, is the ability to add shoulder pads. My shoulder slope is such that I often tease, I don’t have shoulders. I really appreciate what a little pad can do both in the back view above and this front view:

I did need to lower the “stitch to dot” on the side seam by 5/8″, the same as I trimmed away.

Oh you can’t really see that. What I really love is there are not any obnoxious drag lines even here looking at my asymmetrical and lower right side. I call this a success!


*****Summary of Changes

  • Small Yoke with Large lower front and lower back
  • 5/8″ shoulder sloper applied to lower front and back
  • 5/8″ Round back alteration applied to lower back
  • V neckline instead of collar.
  • Lower “stitch to dot” 5/8″
  • lengthened 3.5″
  • Curved hem
  • added shoulder pads


My New RAL

The Relax A Little pattern has been one of my favorites for a while. As drafted, the proportions aren’t correct for me and so the pattern languished after the first disaster. Then I started following TerriK’s example of “the pattern is only the starting point” and adapting it to me.  Unfortunately, I cut the first pattern instead of tracing. So when my shape changed, I needed a new pattern. This is my first tracing of a size medium. I made my 1″ NSA and added 3″ in length. Since I normally subtract 1″ with a BWL, the garment is now 4″ longer than the designer drafted but….  it suits me:

I’m using a cotton/linen blend purchased from Hancocks Fabrics in the not too distant past.  Originally I was thinking “vest” but this summery shirt won the day.  I purchased lucite buttons from Etsy seller SunnyDayVintage.  I’m not a a frequent Etsy buyer. In fact these were purchased in desperation. I have NO yellow buttons. None. Not one. (Still don’t since I used these immediately).  I didn’t want to make a 6 hour trip looking for buttons and decided to buy off the net. Of course, I placed my purchase just before the US Memorial Holiday. The seller shipped promptly (I checked the post mark). The US Post Office took their sweet time delivering. However, I’m glad I waited. IRL, they are perfect. The lucite seems to harmonize with the other intense colors of the fabric.

I faced the hem, neckline and armscyes using bias tape. IMO using bias tape is much faster than cutting and finishing real facings. Plus I didn’t have enough fabric for real facings. By using bias, my cut was more than enough.  I could have cut the yoke twice and used Louise’s sweet yoke finishing technique.  Louise’s procedure completely encases the raw edges of the yoke producing a smooth professional interior. I decided this heavier cotton would be more comfortable if I cut the yoke as one layer and serged the front and back pieces to it.  I added a little extra width so I could add the center back pleat.

That’s a super simple change. When cutting, I shifted the center back 1/2″ away from the fold. I also scooped the neck and discarded the collar. Summer has me doing crazy things.

Thinking of wearing it like this:


RAL blouse (this post), PBA2 cotton pants and nylon crinkle Dolman Jacket.


The Finished RAL Top

Freshly stitched and ironed RAL top and MSS shorts that were worn 8 hours by the time of this pic.


I’m amazed!  From a pattern previously discarded comes a flattering top.  The addition of 5 inches, 1.25 of which was turned-up for a hem, made all the difference in the appearance of this blouse pattern.

I finished the neckline with bias tape but this time I bound the edge so that the bias tape with show. I also folded back the lapels and steamed them into place permanently, I hope.

With the armscyes, the bias was turned completely inside and became invisible. I top stitched the armscye using my cover stitch machine. It’s difficult to make crisp 90 degree turns on the cover stitch machine, so I finished the bottom edge with a single line of machine stitching.

The hem was turned up 1.25″ and also cover stitched. I’m putting the machine to use.  I feel guilty, can’t help myself, for having purchased a machine which has so little versatility. So every time I think “Oh the cover stitch could do that”, it does.

I decided upon black buttons and button holes.  I used the odd button at the top just because I wanted to.  The other 4 buttons match the 2nd button. The top button is old. Not sure how old. I don’t remember this in my mother’s button box so I think it was in one of the many jars of buttons I purchased through the years at various garage sales.

I don’t think I have any serious fitting issues.  The RAL looks great from the front.  Its skims-everything fit is cooling.  I paid dearly for the quilting fabric, but it is worth it. I can tell that this is premium cotton in the way it sews, handles and feels. The color is excellent for me.  I have no make-up on. I’m completely au natural (although I did cleanse and moisturize as well as comb my hair.) Yet my skin glows and I have lips.

Opps, forgot to button one of the buttons!



From the side it looks like I need an FBA. I’m a B cup. I never need an FBA. I would be honored to need an FBA.  I’m inclined to think that this basic style is the real issue.  There is little to no shaping.  The shoulders do have a slope. The side seams are not exactly straight, more like slightly angled diagonal between armscye and hem. The front hem seems to be tilting upwards. It’s something that I’ve noticed on more and more of the tops that I sew. Again many would look at the diagonal pointing at the bust and insist that I need to add the FBA. I think the issue is on the back.

There are just a few wrinkles in the middle of the back. This could be velcro butt. You know, the hem sticks to the fabric higher upon the hip like velcro and won’t drop into place. When it does that, excess fabric gets shoved into the back and wrinkles.  In my case though I think I may need just a little more ease across the hip.  I did not do my normal back-waist length adjustment which would have brought the shaping up and perhaps put more ease across my hip.   The sides were so straight, I thought the BWL unnecessary. I’m also finding that while I need a Small across the shoulders, I need a medium between the shoulder blades.  In the last few patterns I’ve needed to add 1/4-1/2″ right at the armscye but only on the back.   I think this may be part and parcel of the ageing process. As my shoulder rounds from age, the shoulder saddle becomes narrower but the distance between shoulder blades is lengthened.  I’m beginning to find, for a nice fit on the back, I need a center back seam. What happens on the back does not happen in isolation.  Since there is not enough room on the back, it tries to borrow it from the front. Hence we think we see a need for an FBA. We think  there isn’t enough room for the bust. In truth the back is taking the ease it needs by squishing the soft frontal tissues.  When I look back at the side view, I think that the back looks smaller than the front. That’s also an indicator that more fabric is needed for the back.

This is a nice blouse.  The problems are minor.  None of my friends will even notice. But I will adapt the pattern slightly for future versions.

Beginning RAL Top.

I’ll return to fitting the PNS in days to come. I’m switching gears because a group of 4 CLD patterns recently arrived in my mailbox. I have to admit that Cutting Line Designs patterns are a mixed bag for me.  I tend to either love them to death or declare them as total waste and get rid of them as quickly as possible.  The earlier patterns contained a lot more ease. Currently issued patterns seem to have embraced a skims-everything, touches-nothing while- hinting- at-feminine-form fitting philosophy. IMO, you of course and rightfully so, may differ. One thing I have learned is that the ease varies from design to design. It’s not possible to select a single size (or group of sizes) and sew the new-to-me pattern in the same size with the same alterations as previously fitted CLD patterns.  I’ve learned that I need to measure the pattern and compare the ease included with the ease I like; and the same thing with lengths. So the 4 patterns I ordered included 3 which I’ve skipped before because I didn’t care for the ease included and a 4th that I attempted but discarded when the end result was blocky; fattening; unflattering. That would be the Relax A Little (62905) top.

I kept the 4-gore skirt pattern and use that occasionally. The skirt pattern is a keeper. But the top just didn’t look good on me. This time, I trimmed the major pieces for the blouse, smoothed them with an iron and then  carefully compared Otto’s Sleeveless Blouse .  I looked at ease and length and chose to copy size medium but to use the shoulder length of the small and add 5″ length to the back and front pieces. I didn’t trace the pockets. I’m know I’m a little weird but I always feel like putting pockets over the boobs only serves to draw attention right there. Not what I want. If you disagree, I understand. BTW Louise has proven me wrong about Empire lines so I do try to keep my options open. This time I really wanted to give this pattern a chance to succeed. Since I have an aversion to boob pockets, I didn’t make them.

The front and back yoke are one piece. The instruction are: cut 2. The 2nd yoke is then used in a unique burrito like procedure which creates a cleanly finished inside.

There are shaped facings which I didn’t trace either. I knew I was mixing sizes between yoke (cut as small) and body pieces (cut as mediums) and decided that using bias tape would be easier than adapting facings.

Before I tell you my other design choices let me share my fabric. I once asked of a person who sews beautiful rodeo shirts, where she found her fabric. She uses 100% cottons and silk saris. Her cotton fabrics are stunningly beautiful and I never find anything nearly as lovely anywhere I shop.  Her answer was: the quilting cotton department. She added the advice to choose carefully. Handle the fabric and see if it is the weight you like. Does it drape the way you like. Does it feel good in your hands or when rubbed along your arm? If you can answer yes yes yes, then buy it.  So this is my first real, intentional foray into the quilting cottons with the intent of creating a garment. This is a broadcloth, 100% cotton,printed on one side in an abstract pattern.  The sunset orange-red drew me to it across the store.


(The top picture titled “Pattern” shows the printed pattern better. The picture titled “Color” more accurately indicates the beautiful summer sunset red color).

The fabric feels smooth, almost like a fine silk, definitely a pima or better cotton. I already have a clear red, linen, sleeveless blouse with pointed collar and revers. I was afraid if I made this version of the RAL with the collar, I’d be bored. It would seem to me so much like the red linen blouse that I wouldn’t choose to wear it. I decided that I would not use the collar or the neck facing as provided in the pattern.

This is intended to be cool summer wear. For me that includes freeing my neck and upper chest of a layer of fabric aka showing more skin around the face. I wanted to keep the revers. But had I kept the cut-on front placket facing, the open revers would have also shown the unprinted side of my fabric. I chose instead to extend the cut-on facing 7″.  I simply folded 7″ along the selvages

and aligned the pattern along the placket line with this folded edge

Sewing this garment is so easy, I want it to work.  I did have a little issue in that the yoke shoulder length was cut to the Small size, while the front and back pieces were cut wider to the Medium size.  I need the width across my back and butt. I don’t need the extra width across my shoulders. The fronts eased to the yoke with hardly any effort.  The back I gathered to fit the back yoke–this time. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to make design changes. I gathered this time, I could make a single or multiple pleats next time. The pleats could be place towards the armscye or centered in the back or changed into multiple pin-tucks. Oh and there’s all kinds of things that can be done with pin tucks. See? Extra ease can be a great opportunity for design.

Next I finished the armscyes with black, 1″, bias tape. Now this wasn’t an immediate action.  I spent at least 2 days and several hours deciding how to finish the RAL.  When I purchased the fabric to test for use as a garment instead of quilting, I also wanted to explore the possibility of adding machine embroidery embellishments to a busy print pattern. I selected and printed on vellum, 3D views of 6 different ME designs both in multiple and single colors.  I finally decided that a solid black colored embroidery would display well if it was 4″ or larger and not outlines or lightly filled areas. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide upon placement.  I wasn’t sure how the yoke line would be orientated on my frame.  Would it be at an angle or straight across?  I prefer not to echo the angled line of my narrow shoulders.  I don’t care for that particular orientation on me YMMV.  I also wasn’t sure where the yoke line would fall on me.  Would it be 1/2′” below the shoulder or 3″? Because ME is best done before the garment is constructed, I was working with the pinned together tissues and not feeling secure about what I was seeing.

So I tossed the embroidery thought and decided to use contrasting stitching and bias binding.  Hence the armscyes were bound with 1″ black bias tape then the side seams were basted together and the garment slipped into place on my body.

I was immediately reminded of the vest included in CLD’s

Your Everyday Drifter pattern (OOP) I purchased that pattern for the coat which I never made. However the vest pattern received slight changes to become a favorite warm weather top.  On the YED vest, I raised the neckline on the tissue. I raised the armscye by stitching further up than the dots on the tissue. I’ve made the pattern with the little waist tie and without. Eventually I removed 1/2″ ease at the underarm; tapered to join the side-seam width at the waist and hip.  With the right fabric, a soft drape is best, the YED vest is awesome and totally under-rated by the majority of CLD fans.

I pinned the RAL along the button line and realized that LC had changed the vest into blouse. The neckline was a wonderful depth. The armscyeswere correct for a sleeveless, extended shoulder blouse. The yoke is an excellent design feature. BTW if you’re short on fabric, the 2nd yoke, the one to be used as a facing on the inside, could be cut from a remnant or skipped (if you don’t mind the less sleek inner finishing).

My thought upon looking at myself in the mirror, with the front pinned into place, was “Oh my gosh! This is going to work!” It was really great to think that with the simple addition of 5″ in length this design which many month ago been consigned to the trash, could now be called simply wonderful.

I still have some finishing to do and final pics of the garment, but I’m happy to have paid for the pattern a second time.

All Points Plus

It’s not that I haven’t been sewing.  Three of the V7973 posts required looking, comparing, thinking. While I thinking I was sewing other things, but not taking photos.  I couldn’t.  First the piece that holds the camera on the tripod fell off apparently breaking my camera.  So DH was going to really secure the piece that fell off the tripod but he broke that. I have my preference in glue. He has his.  Since he broke the tripod, he insisted upon fixing it and used his glue.  We let the glue sit up for 2 days.  It broke again in 2 seconds. Several days later we replace the tripod at Walmart. Of course, sewing commenced during all those days, as did my ruminations and experiments with V7973. Things are back to normal and I have a bunch of photos to share (Oh and after we replaced the camera, we discovered that the camera didn’t break. The SD card was old and just gave up the ghost on that last fall.)


First up  is my version of Rhoda’s All Points Skirt which I’m calling All Points Plus.  I shared my sewing experience and pics on Mimie previously.  I won’t repeat all that, I just wanted share how it looks on me.


I don’t have the new tripod set up exactly correct.  The photo was intended to show me head to toe to give a good idea of the final proportions.  I still haven’t shed all my Holiday weight so the top is looking a little tight.  It feels fine.  The skirt looks good.  On the day I wore it, I kept going to the full length mirror to look.  I don’t feel comfortable.  I feel big and fat maybe even clumsy.  But in the mirror, I was fine.  DH even complimented me and the skirt.  He thought the points unusual; neither wonderful, nor awful; but unusual and interesting. He told me several times that I looked good. (I automatically upgrade to beautiful just before…)  I guess he could tell I was unsure of my appearance and he kept reassuring me.


How about a quick shot of the slip:


The slip is necessary. Combined with the skirt it is so swishy.


I’ve washed both and am amazed to say these are both wash and wear items.  Seriously, they don’t need a squirt of starch or a puff of steam. Which is good because that’s a whole lot of yardage to iron.


As far as making again, I’m unlikely to make the All Points Skirt.  As written by Rhonda,  and drafted for my favorite length, I have these long, long edges that serve to trip me as well as looking a bit off (rather than interesting). I would recommend making your skirt lengths far less than 30″ for that reason.  I made this skirt wearable for me by lopping off huge triangles from each point.  That’s an awkward sewing procedure I don’t recommend.  But the real reason for not making this again is that it’s pretty distinctive and I don’t wear many skirts or dresses.  You go to a lot of effort to fit a garment and want to be able to use the pattern many times. But multiple uses of a distinctive pattern garner less than complimentary reactions.  I hear “oh you made that again” and it’s not said with enthusiasm.  I do make multiples. The top above is Pamela Patterns T shirt 104. I make lots of that pattern. But it’s a well fitted very common design and it’s easy to make interesting modifications or embellishments.  The skirt was an interesting sew.   I would recommend that you make at least one just for the fun of making this skirt


The slip was made by frankenpatterning Louise Cutting Relax A Little skirt 62950.  I like the skirt as Louise drafted.  It’s too bad I made the first one in wrong colors. This is a goto pattern and one that you make multiples.  It’s easy to fit. Comfortable to wear. The slip was easy to make. Even my goof with elastic choice was an easy fix.  I’m likely to use 62950 pattern again and again.


Psst- comments are authorized -unless I get a bunch more of those awful links.

A Slip, Finally!

I’m not sure if this makes sense, but while I’m thinking of pants fitting, I need to sew something else.  I need to sew.  It’s my therapy, my relaxation, my creative endeavor.  But pants fitting needs thought before I cut into the next fabric.  So I’ve preplanned a couple of simple projects.  Projects I can sew while I’m fretting about pants fitting.  This slip is one of those projects.

My fabric is 100% polyester.  I thought it might be nylon, but it holds up to heat where nylon would melt and ruin my iron.  It’s has a stiffness similar to a light weight horsehair braid.  Yet as you can see in these pictures, it drapes nicely.

I did this slip quick and dirty.  It’s a half slip based upon Louise Cutting 62950, Relax A Little skirt.  I used the front piece, measured 27″ from the waistline and folded the excess out of the way.  At the waist, I measured up 1/2″ and folded the rest out of the way.  I then cut the front 4 times and serged it together using a 4-thread seam.  I hemmed my half-slip with a 3-thread flat serged seam except I used the satin stitch setting and covered the edge generously with thread.  I goofed on the waist band.  I used 5/8″ lingerie elastic and did the stitch-turn-stitch application.  The goof is that lingerie elastic (pantie elastic) cannot support the weight of this slip.  I usually cut my 1″ elastic for pants at 34″.  At 34″ this slip dropped down 3″ onto my hips.  That was immediately.  Not after my body heat had warmed the fabric and elastic.

I was looking at two rows of triple-stitch zig zag that would need to be removed.  Now understand I’m making this slip only because I just made the AllPoints skirt out of a translucent fabric.  I haven’t worn the skirt more than a few minutes.  I don’t know if the skirt will find a permanent place in my wardrobe or migrate to the Goodwill box after the first full days wear.  I’ve not needed a half slip in years. But I need one for this skirt.  So I cheated.  I didn’t rip out a stitch.  I rummaged in elastics bin and found a 1.25″ black elastic that was a bit stiff.  I cut it 32″.  Then I used a plain zig zag stitch to attached this 1.25″ elastic to  the previous lingerie elastic.  Works pretty good. I am concerned that it might add visible bulk at the waistline.  I deal with that when it happens, if I decide to keep the AllPoints Skirt.

Altered HAF and a RAL Skirt

It should be no secret that I’m a fan of Cutting Line Designs by Louise Cutting.  I posted a question recently at SG asking if I could rotate the armcye dart in the HAF blouse to under the bust.  Louise answered much sooner than I expected, one of the reasons I’m a fan, and gave me some terrific instructions.


That whole scenario may sound slightly off because I’ve often voices how much I love the HAF shell. It is IMO the perfect-fitting, sleeveless shell.  So why would I want to mess with perfection?  Well at SG again we’re discussing creating some of the very interesting tops that we find in stores but for which there are no equivalent patterns.  Many of these are either dart less or have a horizontal bust dart.  I could just simply ignore the dart position, as I do when creating my Sobretto.  But I would like the horizontal bust dart option.  So I followed Louise’s instructions and then decided I wanted to “muslin” my pattern alterations.


OK I rarely do muslins, so in all honesty I’m prototyping.  I’ve already worn the resultant garment.  The fabric is a shiny undetermined fabric scored in a table diving frenzy last fall.  I could not resist it’s deep gold and lustrous shine then or now.  It was preshrunk in a normal laundry routine.  My position is if the fabric won’t survive the wash, I’m not spending my time sewing it up. It survived the wash but like the polyester used n the Sobretto, was a real b*tch to cut and sew. Yes and sew.  I had to change my needles twice and tweaked tensions several times to achieve an acceptable seam on the serger.  My Ruby was a different story:

  • activate Sewing Advisor
  • select woven thin fabric
  • check recommended A foot attached -done-
  • install needles recommended.


HV Ruby set all tensions.  Having struggled yesterday on the pencil roll using vinyl and a 7-year old spool of Coats and Clark sewing thread, I did make sure I was using my good Gutterman threads in both bobbin and top. Wasn’t going through that again ( I was amazed at how all the problems sewing with vinyl just disappeared when I changed to Gutterman thread. I didn’t save the spool for future use. Just tossed into the garbage.)


Like the Sobretto, the final solution was Sta Flo starch.  The liquid kind in 1 quart bottle.  Instead of painting it on, I put a little in a bowl then put my fabric inside the bowl and massaged the fabric until saturated. Then I shook the fabric out and let it dry over night.  Next day board like fabric cooperates everywhere.  It was of course, uncomfortable to wear for any length of time.  I also had drafted the collar using B5493 Top A as a guide.  My collar did not lay nicely since it was starched within an inch of it’s life. So a trip through the washer and dryer was necessary before pictures were possible.


In the same photos I’m sharing my first version of Louise’s Relax A Little (RAL) skirt.  The top, if you remember, was a bomb several weeks ago and I tossed that tissue.  But I kept the skirt pattern because it has been so popular and because it really is a classic shape: 4 gore, side pockets, elastic waist.


I wish I’d followed Louise’s instructions. Not because the skirt was difficult but because I would have learned something new.  Louise learns just by looking carefully at high-end RTW and couture garments and then has an uncanny ability to develop and communicate what she sees into usable procedures for us at home. OK I didn’t do what Louise said to do, but really it’s not a problem.  The skirt is fairly simple and practically sews itself.  I do like that several hem lengths are indicated right on the pattern.  In the pic’s my skirt is at the longest and it is unhemmed just serged.  The gores are cut with the center on the straight-of-grain, making all the seams on the bias.  I was concerned that I would experience problems with stretch and unevenness at the hem.  The hem is serged because this 100% silk from Fabric Mart raveled like the devil-on-fire. Not kidding, just moving from cutting table to iron resulted in large strings.


However both DH and I like the final look.  I’m pleased with the altered blouse. Unfortunately there was a little shrinkage remaining in the fabric. I wore the blouse yesterday, downstairs in my SewingNStash room and it pilled badly across my upper abdomen. We figured that I must have rubbed against the cutting table. I’ve not had another fabric injured like this, so I’m blaming the fabric.  The remaining 1.5 yards will be kept to line purses or something of that nature. On the positive side, I have no gaping at the neckline or armscye.  On the skirt, I probably won’t use those pockets again.  They are unique, but not my favorite method of creating pockets. As for the length, I’ll need to hem it at least 6″ just to get me safely up and down the stairs at my house.  At the ankle length, it is a trip hazard. The skirt has a tendency to ride up over my tummy.  I’m not sure if it’s the buttonhole elastic (which I’ve never used before) causing the issue or the fact that the skirt is so light-weight as to be like air. I’ll be wearing the skirt again. The blouse, well I’ll make the pattern in another fabric and many other versions.  I’m pleased to show you the pics and recommend either garment pattern to you.



PS the blouse collar is drooping on one side.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t doing that before the wash. But as I don’t think I’ll get that much wear out of this garment, I don’t think I’ll worry about fixing it.