Category Archives: Custom fit

My “Armani” slouchy beanie

My sister loves to shop and sends me stuff that she thinks I might like. We’re not the same size (she’s considerably taller than me), so some of the items are hit or miss in terms of fit.

This is an Armani vest, new with tags, fiber content of rayon/wool/silk/cashmere.

But we have major problems in how it fit. The vest looks nice laid out flat, but once we put a 3-dimensional body inside, it turns into navel-baring, hi-lo shell that I’m preeettty sure violates Mayo’s dress code in more than a couple ways.

However, I do need a winter hat. πŸ˜€ I thought I had enough material to make a slouchy beanie, and I loosely followed this Craftsy tutorial to draft a pattern. The pattern suggests it fits an “average-sized head” and is drafted for a final brim circumference of <20 inches. I added 2.5 more inches to fit my giant (22.5") noggin, I hate when hats feel like they are squeezing my brains.

Given the deep V of the vest front, there wasn’t enough fabric to make a double-layer hat. I opted for a single layer with foldover brim. Construction was straightforward, with only a couple seams. I sewed the seams with a 3/8-inch seam allowance, using a zigzag stitch, and then serged the raw edges.

With Casey

I love this hat! I may or may not have worn it all day. πŸ™‚

FO: Jalie pull-on jeans

TL;DNR – I sewed funky flare jeans!!!

But let’s go back to the beginning.

If I manage to get up at 5:30 AM, I can sew for ~15 minutes before I get ready for work. What can be sewn in twice-weekly, bleary-eyed sprints? Well, how about a sloooow pair of Jalie pull-on jeans! Cumulatively, this project probably took about 8-10 hours to cut and assemble, so while it was a multimonth project for me, normal people could probably pull it off in a weekend. πŸ™‚

I deviated from my usual cautious self and didn’t make a toile. Instead, I took flat-pattern measurements at the waist and hips and decided to go with a size X at the waist and blend it to a size V at the yoke bottom and then to a size T at the hips. I kept it at size T from the hips through the bottom hem, although I shortened the inseam length by 2 inches.

I didn’t blend between sizes quite right because the yoke extended into the side seam, oops. I just trimmed it off, and it didn’t seem to affect fit.

Fabric was from the stash, a nice midweight dark stretch denim from Lura’s Fabric Shop, purchased in 2011. (Excellent service at that shop, btw.) I’d originally planned to sew a few pairs of Jalie 2908 jeans (inspired by the Selfish Seamstress), but I lost steam after the first one (never even blogged it) and put the rest of the fabric away.

I set up 2 machines for sewing. I used a Bernina 830 Record for seaming and a Bernina 1030 for topstitching. I bought the 830 last year (totally lemminged Renee when I saw her post and then found one available semi-locally) but never gave it any serious time until this project. It’s a little jumpy (rabbity start, but possibly from user error), the lighting is pathetic, and the foot control is literally held together by packing tape, but it otherwise sews a fine seam.

For topstitching, I threaded the 1030 with 2 spools of regular sewing thread. I didn’t use a fancy triple stitch setting or anything because I anticipated the inevitable tearing out and redoing. Honestly, I am terrible at topstitching.

Gahh, where’d it go…

Picked it out and redid it. Not perfect, but better!

Even though I tried using specialty guide foots and other bells and whistles, the only way I could generate 2 parallel rows of stitching was to first draw lines on the fabric with chalk and then sew over the lines. Anyway, I’m happy with how it looks, especially considering that most of this was sewn before 6 AM and without any coffee!

Chalk line

Open toe for better visibility


Two major fitting challenges cropped up, swayback and muscular calf.

Three-way mirror shot

For the swayback alteration, I followed the Jalie gaposis fix and added 2 small darts to the yoke. I started with a single dart, but it was not a subtle change; to my eye, the curve looks much better with 2 darts and probably would be perfect with 3, but I’m OK with what I did. I’ll redraw the yoke piece to eliminate the darts in the future.

See how nicely it hugs the back now?

Up to that point, I’d basted the side seams only to the knee because I was working on fitting the hips and waist. When I finally sewed the side seams all the way to the ankle, I got an unpleasant surprise – the calf circumference was super tight and very uncomfortable! Yuck.

I’d thoughtlessly assumed that these jeans would fit a big calf. The designer even said, “These are not skinny jeans, but are ‘skinny friendly.’ As a big-calf girl, it is SO frustrating when a pair of skinny jeans fits perfectly everywhere but [just wants] to explode at the calf!”

Shame on me, I never measured the pattern below the knee. With a 3/8″ seam allowance, I had no fabric to let out. Gulp. I channeled Mrs Mole and tried to think outside the box. I found the inspiration I was looking for in a $280 pair of True Religion jeans.

Hello, flare! I drafted and inserted a godet following the instructions in Sandra Betzina’s Power Sewing. For the first trial godet, I drafted it such that the tip matched exactly where my knee hinged, but it was too low (no pics, sorry); I redrafted to make it 2 inches longer, with the tip starting at the top of the knee.

Ah, better. My jeans don’t quite look like the True Religion inspiration, but I will chalk that up to the model probably having a 36″ inseam and weighing 130 lbs. Ha! Next time, I will redraft the leg for a bootleg cut or swap that portion with the relevant part from Jalie 2908.

I remembered to shorten the waistband to match the darted yoke.

Some of the reviews for this pattern suggested the 1″ elastic was not wide enough for the waistband. I had 2″ elastic that I trimmed down to 1 7/8″ (Pro-Stretch, you can cut it horizontally without it falling apart).

At 1 7/8″, the elastic fills out the whole waistband and gives it a nice sturdiness. I also shortened the length of back elastic by 1″ and stretched it to fit.

It still gaps a tiny little bit at the center back, so next time, I will probably make a deeper concave curve to the waistband edges and shorten the back elastic length by another half inch.

Pretty bar tack

Next time, I will change the pocket placement ever so slightly. The pattern has the pockets centered on the back seam, not the topstitching. However, because the eyes reset the center back on the line of topstitching, it looks like the pockets are slightly malpositioned.

Will it be seen on a galloping horse? No, and hey, if someone notices being off by 1/4 inch, they’re looking a little too closely, anyway.

Laid flat, unhemmed

Lastly, I serged the raw hem edge and then washed and machine dried the jeans 3 or 4 times before hemming. I didn’t want a thick, bulky hem because the jeans were so flared (thought it might give the lower half a “hoop skirt” look). Instead of making a double-fold hem, I turned it up just once and topstitched.

Are you still with me? (I know, too many words.)

Back and front

The mini wrinkles and creases seem a lot more evident in the photos than they are in real life. Still, I’m not concerned about them at all, they have to be there so that my body can move in these jeans. I also rarely stand as stiffly in life as I do for photos, so the creases appear and disappear as I move.

Love this flare!

I like that it doesn’t gape appreciably when I squat down (critical wardrobe feature when you’re wrangling kids).

OK, to sum up – blending sizes, gaposis fix, flare legs. Thanks for reading!

FO: Skirt and top

[Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.]

These items have been finished since May – figured it was time to blog about them!

I made another Flirt Skirt, this time out of a striped ponte knit, purchased a few years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics. I had a heck of a time matching the stripes on the side seams because the angles of the front and back somehow weren’t quite the same (?), but I used a gazillion pins and matched every. single. stripe. to make it work.

I made a really cool t-shirt using a digitally printed knit of a city skyline reflected on water (from Sawyerbrook Fabrics [now sold out]). I am on their mailing list and saw the fabric when it was first offered for sale toward the beginning of 2015. I resisted – obsessed – worried about the price [$23/panel, and I’d need 2 for a shirt] – obsessed some more – gnashed teeth – gave in – made the shirt. Whew. It probably is the most expensive t-shirt that I own. But I like how it looks.

I had to forgo all of the darts and fancy fitting tricks that I’d been developing because it would mess up the vertical lines. Also, I could not make the front as long as it needed to be – see how the skyline angles upward and it still rides up at the hem?

But I ran out out stripes in the hem allowance and thus didn’t dare try to make the shirt any longer.

Pattern placement was interesting. I wanted the skyline of the shirt to be fairly high and the neckline fairly low without the two running into each other. I also wanted the skyline to be more or less at the same place visually on the front, back, and sleeves.

I was scratching my head for a while, trying to figure out what part of the sleeve should match the bodice – I found this visual from Knits for Real People, which was a big help.

So there you have it!

FO: Business casual

I bought a short piece of ITY from Nancy’s Notions in March. It was advertised as “fronds,” but when I got it in my hands, it started to look like “feathers.”

Feeling indecisive during layout, I put out a call for advice on Instagram, and Kathy very helpfully suggested that I drape it on myself in both orientations. Ah, in the feathers direction, I looked like a miffed bird, so fronds were the way to go!

I pulled out all stops and used my ever-evolving shirt pattern with the custom shoulders and sleeves. This time, I added French darts (borrowed from Silhouette patterns’ Ann’s top) and back darts (borrowed from Maria Denmark’s Audrey dress).

Chalk would be near invisible on this fabric, so I marked darts using tailor’s tacks.

I realize you can’t really see any details on this print, but that’s OK. I’m still mustering up the courage to make this up in a solid color. πŸ™‚ But please note, if you can, the very limited number of drag lines, the lack of saggy-baggy in the back, and the even hemline. I added an extra half-inch to all side seams but ended up cutting them all off again. I set the sleeves in flat but attached the cuffs in the round.

The skirt is also new (review is here). This is the Magic Pencil Skirt by Pamela’s Patterns. Fabric is some kind of rayon-poly-lycra blend from FabricMart that I bought a couple years ago. I’d assembled the skirt last year and gotten to the pin-fitting, try-on stage when I got discouraged (sewing late at night after a long day of work and kids is not really conducive to success). It sat as a UFO for months, but it’s finished now. The amount of skirt pegging seems universally lauded by everyone who’s ever sewn one up, and I have to agree – it really is spot on.

I’d show you the darts and waistband, except my tummy is covered with little Xs of Steri-strips, and I’d rather not photograph that. So, yeah, I had to undergo laparoscopic surgery last week to remove some diseased lady parts (1 ovary and 1 tube). Everything went as well as could be expected, and the pathology results are negative for cancer [big sigh of relief]. Recovery has also gone as expected (postoperative day 1 = miserable pain; postoperative day 6 = off all meds), but I look like I’m 5 months pregnant. (I’m seriously holding my breath for the above photos… except I can’t seem to suck in my belly much any more.) I guess 4 incisions through all the core muscles will do that. Hopefully, this preggo belly is temporary…

FO: The best and easiest sleeve cap you’ll ever draft

Let me introduce another round of t-shirt tweaks! I was saving this fabric for something good, it’s a fascinating digital print of Times Square on a rayon/lycra blend, reminds me of Desigual shirts. I purchased this yardage from the always-fabulous Ginny’s Fine Fabrics and Support Group. So wonderful to be able to browse there during a lunch break!

I did the easiest alteration first – moved the shoulder seam forward by 2 cm. The original pattern had almost identical armhole seam lengths for the front and back bodice, which didn’t make sense to me. Now the seam doesn’t feel like it’s sliding down my backside!

Remove seam allowances, abut 2 edges, redraw seam line, cut apart, add back seam allowances. Here, I’m also truing the shoulder apex.

Seems like I spend a lot of my free time mulling over sleeves… I’d been using a pattern based on a sleeve that I’d draped on myself last year. It was OK but not great, despite endless rounds of tinkering. Meanwhile, I’d made a holy grail out of getting striped set-in sleeves to match a striped bodice. Imagine my delight when I saw on Cloning Couture’s blog that it was indeed possible! I won’t lie, I immediately ordered the Allemong drafting book that she used to draft her sleeve.

So the book arrived and OMG it is 38 superdetailed measurements before you can do any actual drafting. Whoa. Now Matt is actually pretty good humored about helping me with this sort of thing – over the years, he has patiently and lovingly covered me in duct tape, measured me for Wild Ginger Pattern Master software, for Cochenille Garment Designer software, for Custom Fit sweater knitting software… (Can you see I’m crushing on custom pattern software?) But the Allemong sloper seems like another beast altogether, I hesitated to ask him again and I have no sewing girlfriends.

Still, drafting the sleeve cap requires just 3 measurements, of which only 1 is a body measurement (bicep; the others are flat-pattern measurements of the bodice front armhole and back armhole). The rest of the cap is drafted with simple math, eg, bisect this line, divide this other line into quarters, draw a line connecting 2 dots and divide the new line by a third to generate a new point that you connect to a preexisting line… Taken 1 step at a time, it’s simple to follow and quickly generates a primitive cap.

The magical part occurs when Allemong instructs you to slap down a French curve to flow from one set of dots to the next. Add seam allowances and whoa! Personalized, anatomically correct sleeve cap?!? I measured the seam lines, and the whole sleeve cap seam line is only 1.7 cm longer than the corresponding bodice seam line. Very cool!!!

Next, I spent a long time agonizing over pattern placement for the cutting layout. I didn’t want to have a bright patch highlighting the wrong part of my body, if you know what I mean. I laid the entire piece on the floor, circled the approximate bust point on the pattern, and tried as many layouts as I could. This fabric was expensive, so I had only a little over a yard and no room for error. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially with the vertical line running down the center front.

This time, I set the sleeves in flat, something I rarely do. I angled the right shoulder seam downward a little to match my shoulder slope, so the right sleeve cap had more distance to ease in, but it still looks OK. I eventually will make a full pattern piece with different shoulders and different corresponding sleeve caps.

It’s hard for me to understand how the Allemong formula works when I think of the myriad different shapes of an arm, and yet… It seems to work great! See for yourself!

I lightened the color a lot so you can see the details. To me, this looks darn near perfect – smooth cap with no drag lines, puckers, or excess fabric.

This shirt also underscored some of the challenges of working with knit fabrics because the varying stretch and drape among jerseys. This material is a rayon-lycra blend, whereas the prior shirts I’d made were polyester/lycra ITY and cotton/lycra. I made the same size 10-12 hybrid as I did previously, but it was embarrassingly tight; I had to let out the seams by 1/4″ from the waist downward to gain an inch of circumference. It’s probably not a bad idea to make wider seam allowances in the future and just shave them down during fitting.

Remarkably, the pattern was printed meticulously on grain. Very surprised and pleased to see that. Do you see what I did with the neckband?

I cut it so that it would repeat the motifs of the shirt right below it. It’s not a precise match, but I’m not sure it could have lined up exactly anyway. It’s good enough. I did completely mess up my calculation for where to cut the neckband edges, though, the seam was supposed to match the shoulder seam. Oops. Hopefully, that’s mostly invisible.

Side and back views, lightened for detail

I again gathered the side seam at the bust and left the back plain; adding darts is still on my list of future changes. Curiously, the back bagginess seems different with this fabric, funny how rayon hangs differently than poly. (Looks like part of the back got caught on my pants for the photo, those diagonal lines aren’t usually there.)

Are you sick of these t-shirts yet? Don’t be! I’m working on a new muslin with French darts, back darts, and shorter sleeves. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

FO: Morphing Renfrews

When I last posted about adjusting the Renfrew t-shirt, I’d made a couple of muslins and reviewed some of the adjustments necessary to improve fit. I’ve now sewn 3 more versions, let’s review! I was in a huge hurry to take these photos before my daughter came home from school, sorry that they’re a little fuzzy (no time to reshoot!).

First up is a shirt sewn from ITY polyester, purchased a few years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics. Per the muslin version from before, I cut a size 12 at the shoulder and expanded to size 14 at the bust downward. Let’s see what’s going on…

I see a slight pucker at right sleeve cap, oops, but I’m assuming no one will ever notice because of the fabric. I skipped the neckband pattern piece and followed Sarah Veblen’s neckband tutorial, which I’ve used before to great success. With this shirt, however, I first cut the neckband too short, which caused everything around the neck opening to gather weirdly. That neckband was picked off and a new one was sewn on. I also cut slightly too much off at the hem.

I gave up trying to ease 1 inch of extra front length into 5 inches of the back and just gathered it at the side bust; I’m calling that a legitimate design choice.

Note that the excess fabric in back is reduced but not wholly gone. The fit seems a lot looser than what I saw in the muslin; I attribute that change to the thin, drapey ITY fabric (very different from “Beefy T” cotton).

I realize you can’t really see anything going on with the patterned fabric (not a coincidence), so I made a version in a solid color to get a better idea of how to improve the fit.

This is sewn from a cotton mystery blend (maybe with a little lycra in it?) from the now-closed Mill End Textiles. This is a strange fabric, it sticks to itself and even slightly to my skin. I added a 3-needle reverse coverstitch to the neckline and hems to make the top a little more interesting.

I lowered the neckline by 1″ on this version. My caution in ensuring that the neckband was not too tight resulted in the pendulum swinging the other way, this neckline is slightly too loose and doesn’t hug the body. πŸ™ The neckband is also too wide and folds over. You don’t see it here because I actually ironed this shirt for the photos, and holy cats, life is too short to iron t-shirts on a regular basis.

What else? I see wrinkles on right shoulder only, which I think is pointing to asymmetrically sloped shoulders. The same wrinkles are evident in the floral tee above (but invisible in the photos here because they are masked by the patterned fabric). The shoulder seam is too far back and needs to be brought to the actual top of my shoulder. I made long sleeves without the banded hem; I did take a half inch off the length but could probably stand to take off a little more.

The side bust gathers are not doing anything to stop the deep folds from forming under the bust. The shirt also is just hanging straight down from the bust, but maybe a little underbust shaping wouldn’t be a bad thing. I don’t favor the common strategy of negative ease throughout because that would only highlight my lady belly, so I’m ready to explore French darts.

You can see my differently sloping shoulders pretty clearly in the back view. Also, I have little “wings” of fabric in the back sleeve cap that can be shaved down. The length of the back is good, but the bagginess at the lower back will not go away without darts.

The fit still seems kind of loose, even in this thicker fabric. Given the tightness of the very first muslin, I was not expecting 1 size up to feel so floppy.

OK, here’s the third and last iteration for this update. I went back down a size (10 at shoulders, 12 at bust and below) and used an even thinner and drapier ITY polyester knit than the floral one (also purchased a few years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics). I was afraid that this shirt would be too tight, so I went with the cowl view to distract the eye upward.

I did not have enough fabric and had to piece the cowl. Other than going back to the smaller size and adding the cowl, I made no other changes. I’m not crazy about the loose turtleneck style; in this near-liquid fabric, it feels simultaneously heavy and flopsy.

Size-wise, this seems OK (or possibly borderline too tight?). Maybe I’m just being self-conscious. What do you think?

All 3 shirts feel pretty comfortable, and I’m happy about wearing them out and about.

Here’s the to-do list for the next round of changes:

  • Move shoulder seam forward by 2 cm
  • Angle shoulder seam downward on right side only
  • Shave excess fabric off the back sleeve cap
  • Shorten the long sleeve length by another half inch
  • Decrease height of neckband
  • Add French darts to front
  • Add vertical fisheye darts to back

I feel oddly satisfied with this process of making incremental changes. It’s not unlike optimizing a laboratory protocol; you tweak just a couple elements at a time and see how those changes affect the culture conditions, assay reproducibility, etc. It is a slow process and perhaps a little boring (sorry), but I’m learning and hopefully improving as I go.

Renfrew (t-shirt) muslins

In my various e-mail conversations with Mrs Mole over the past year, we have talked at great length about sleeves and sleeve cap height. To reinforce what I’m learning from her, she periodically sends me photos from random sewing blogs, and I am quizzed on what I think the problem is and how it might be corrected. She’ll then send an annotated version of the photo with arrows and notes on what the drag lines mean. (Seriously, she is an awesome teacher.) She neatly summarized how to recognize and fix sleeve cap problems here and here.

Thus “armed” (ha) with new knowledge about sleeve caps, I wanted to give the Renfrew tee a try because I saw many striped ones around the sewing blogosphere with good-looking sleeves, ie, the stripes were running pretty horizontal (parallel with the floor). Sixteen bucks is a lot of money for a t-shirt pattern, no 2 ways about it, but I have learned from Tasia’s blog and wanted to support her. Also, I was curious to see how my customized pattern compared with the Renfrew draft.

Renfrew’s sleeve cap is considerably higher than mine (the pencil points to the apex for the corresponding size). Also, it’s symmetric from front to back, whereas my draft accounts for arms that swing forward.

Using my measurements and customized Jalie pattern as a guide, I traced a size 10 at the shoulders and widened to a size 12 at the bust and below. I added an extra inch to the front at the bust level (which prevent the front edge from riding up). I added 2 inches to the front and back at the shorten/lengthen line because I did not want the banded hem specified in the pattern. I kept the height of the sleeve cap but changed the shape to follow the asymmetric cap that I drafted last year.

Muslin source – free mens XL shirt from work

I think I’ve heard Mrs Mole say more than once that darts will practically drape themselves, if you let them.

Please forgive the unflattering photos. But let’s do this for science!

That seems to be the case here – I left part of the side seam open (skipped the side easing part), and you can see how the fabric is pulling deep folds under the bust, like it’s begging to turn into a dart. I used stickers (again!) to locate the bust apex, drew the approximate location on the pattern (and included what Mrs Mole calls “the no-fly zone” – a 3-inch circle around the apex that the dart legs must not enter), and pinched out a French dart. I didn’t have enough seam allowance to make it too deep, but you can see that even a shallow one help reduce the folds considerably. I made a mental note to purchase a t-shirt pattern with French darts.

The fit seems mostly OK but overall uncomfortably tight, I am seriously sucking in my gut in that photo. The back side shows some excess wrinkling at the level of my elbows.

On the plus side, I liked that I did not have to shorten the height of the armhole (a common alteration for 5’4″ me), the sleeve cap seemed smooth, and the sleeve allowed good freedom of motion.

I retraced the pattern again, this time making a size 12 above the bust and a size 14 below, plus the same adjustments as described above. I cut up a thrifted men’s t-shirt for the muslin and didn’t bother with making a second sleeve.

I didn’t feel so sausage-like in this shirt, yay. I closed the whole side seam this time but didn’t bother with easing the extra fabric at the bust. Note the deep drag lines around the bust again.

This shirt clearly confirms too much extra fabric in the lower back, time for a 0.5″ swayback alteration.

All right, 2 trial garments are finished and I’m feeling OK with how things look. Even better, I think I know what minor adjustments remain. Let’s move on to making this up in nicer fabric!

Final list of pattern changes:

  • Size 12 above bust, size 14 at bust and below.
  • Front lengthened by 3″ (1″ @ bust, 2″ @ shorten/lengthen line); excess bust length is eased in over 5″
  • Back lengthened by 2″ (@ shorten/lengthen line)
  • Swayback adjustment 0.5″
  • No bottom hem cuff
  • Made sleeve cap shape asymmetric from front to back

FO: Balaclava

Winter has been astonishingly mild this year, although we have had a few bitterly cold days. I am in charge of the snowblower at our house, and protecting my face while I clear the drive and walkway is a serious matter. At wind chill temps of -30F, exposed skin can get frostbite in <30 min, and if blowing snow hits my cheeks and melts, the cold wind quickly makes it painful. I used to have an old black balaclava (purchased while I was living in Boston), but it seems to have recently disappeared. It was a stretchy fleece hood with a cutaway for the eyes, nothing fancy. I could make a new one, right? Save the $20 or whatever? After a little googling, I found a free balaclava pattern.

The medium size seemed appropriate for my head measurement. Note that the pattern does NOT include seam allowances! I made a trial out of thin white fleece, leftovers from my diaper-making days.

The circumference feels good, snug but not too tight. Obviously, the eye hole on the pattern is completely wrong for my face. It starts too low and goes too far down, leaving most of my face exposed. If I pull the eye hole up to the appropriate level…

Ha ha ha! Now it gives the unfortunate impression of having a “reservoir tip.” But at least I know what to do next, which is the whole point of a fitting muslin, right?

I made a second one with some nice Polartec fleece. This time, I did not cut out any eye hole.

I thought about using a chalk pen or similar to mark the eye locations, but dot stickers proved to be handier (and safer).

Fumbling in the dark

Then it was simply a matter of cutting around the stickers…

And enlarging the opening to the right size. Sorry if I look a little scary here.

I used black foldover elastic on the lower edge and a strip of “fleece binding” (nylon lycra strip) around the eyes. I should have stretched the binding tighter when going around the curves of the eye opening, but it’s not a big deal.

Obligatory side and back views.

Now I’m ready for the next snowfall!

Pattern review is here.

FO: T-shirt revised yet again

I finished a new t-shirt! I took the last pattern iteration and made it just a tiny bit better, and I’m pretty happy with how it fits now, despite the drag lines under the bust. (Something to work on for the next time!)

Pardon the indoor nighttime shots, it’s winter in Minnesota and likely will remain so for the next few years.

The major changes were at the upper chest and sleeve. I slashed a fisheye opening across the chest and add another half inch of length at the bust level so the shirt does not ride up in front. I also widened the sleeves by about 1/4 inch.

Actually, I originally made the shirt with 3/4 sleeves. But it was just Too Much Stripey.

Not impressed

So I hacked them off and was happier.

Obligatory back view:

Coverstitching around the neckband, still very much in awe of how well the Babylock machine (BLCS-2) performs.

But there’s something about the shirt overall that bugs me… Here, let me show you what I mean:

You see where I’m going with this? Ha! What was I thinking?

This summer, I was inspired by SunnyGal Beth’s cheerful striped shirt, so much so that I immediately popped over to the vendor and ordered a couple yards. Except – I unintentionally purchased completely different fabric! Wah-wah!

I thought I could make it work… but the stripes are all wrong and even Meredith (my precocious 6-year-old) studied me and said I looked like I should be selling popcorn. Argh…

FO: Flirt Skirt

As I’ve gotten older (lazier), I’ve come to appreciate crafting kits. Someone’s picked out a pattern and found the right fabric to go along with it? Terrific!

I’ve always loved maxi skirts, even as they came in and went out and came back into fashion (mmm, gettin’ old), but I especially love maxis with a little something extra. Last February, I splurged on Craftsy’s Flirt Skirt sew-a-long kit. This maxi, with its fishtail back, is a winner! It’s a simple pull-on skirt with an elasticated waist. The kit has been discontinued, but the pattern alone is here (NAYY). The fabric that came with the kit was Kaufman Essex Linen, a cotton/linen blend.

It is a little wrinkly here (after wearing all day at work, sorry), and it looks like I’m bending my knees weirdly under the skirt when I’m not. Never noticed that until the pictures, though.

The .pdf pattern was 13 pages to be cut and taped… Screw that nonsense, my time is better spent sewing, so I used Inkscape to stitch the .pdf back together into a giant sheet and had it printed at a local printers for another $10.

I actually made a toile of this pattern, included horizontal balance lines and everything. From that, I made 2 main changes to the pattern. The original pattern calls for the front to be cut on the fold, but I decided to add a center seam, redraw the grainline, and cut the front as 2 pieces. Also, 5-foot-4-inch me actually had to lengthen the skirt by 2 inches (I know!) for it to extend appropriately to almost-the-floor. I cut the pattern approximately in thirds and added an inch at each cut, blending the seams to a straight line.

One minor change – I made a low-bulk waistband following Pam Erny’s tutorial here. It’s not the most beautiful thing, but to my eye, it looks a little better than a full casing.

I’m not entirely sold on the pull-on skirt concept because the waist has to be the same size as the hips for it to work… Before I made this, I thought that the straight shape would look decent on someone like me (waist:hip ratio of >0.8), but now that I see it, I think it would look better with darts, a real waistband, and an invisible zipper on the side. Hm. Or maybe it could be made up in fabric with a little lycra in it, so that it can stretch over the hips and still snug up at the waist. Tuck those thoughts away for a future iteration, I guess.


I love walking in this skirt – it has a little swishy drama going on back there, but the best feature of the fishtail is actually that it doesn’t hamper my walking stride at all. Not that I take enormous steps or anything, but I hate feeling constrained by clothing, so I especially appreciate being able to walk freely in a long skirt.

Because maxis cover the shoes, I tend to wear boring flats with these kinds of skirts, but these specific shoes are worth mentioning because they are barefoot shoes – like the Vibram 5-finger type, only less freaky looking. Here’s a better view.

It feels sooo strange to walk in these, I can feel every pebble and cigarette butt on the sidewalk, I am extremely aware of how hard my heels pound when I walk, I feel bumps in the lawn and not only hear but also feel leaves crunching underfoot, etc. This particular pair is made of “vegan leather,” which traps moisture, plus the back bites into my Achilles tendon slightly, so I can’t wholeheartedly endorse these shoes; still, I like them overall. I suppose I won’t wear them when it gets very cold out, I don’t think I’d enjoy walking barefoot on icy sidewalks!

That’s all I have to say! Go make yourself one of these fun skirts! The full review is here.