Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

I was soooo excited when this pattern was released (link here). A t-shirt drafted on a curvy block, with cupsizes- awesome! I had actually had disappointing results from the Cashmerette Washington dress (unblogged) but was determined to make this work. My end aim was to make my own graphic printed tees that fitted perfectly by refashioning commercial tees, and this has totally worked out!

Iteration 1
I used an old t-shirt of my husbands for this – is is 100% cotton jersey with not much stretch, the neck and sleeve bands are stash fabric.

I emailed Jenny for a sizing suggestion and she got back to me quickly – such good service. This is a straight 20 C/D. My measurements are 45-40-52 (with cup size much larger than C/D but it works). I went for a size that gave me zero ease at the bust rather than negative ease as the knits I was planning to use are not very stretchy.

Iteration 2

This is cotton-elastane jersey from the stash, and the V-neck option. Wearing this around convinced me that I needed a smaller size in the shoulders and a full bicep adjustment. I also added an inch of length at the waist.

Iteration 3

This is a refashion of a mens 3XL short sleeve shirt from threadless on clearance. Sadly these lovely designs are printed on a 45% polyester shirt – ugh.

I feel that the fit is getting very good by this tee. It is an 18 C/D down to the underarm and then 20C/D on down, with 1″ full bicep adjustment and 1″ added length at waist. You can see I reused the sleeve hems from the original tee.

My only regret is that I straight stitched the neckband seam allowance down. I did stretch as I sewed, but is has still caused unsightly gathers and pulling in. I have worn this shirt a lot though.

Iteration 4

This is my favorite, another threadless mens 3XL.

You can see I had to cut off the top of the design to get my pattern piece on, but I still think it looks ok. I zigzagged around the neckline this time. This version gets worn straight from the wash – I love it!

Iteration 5 – a tangent.

Well actually this threadless mens 2XL long sleeve was too narrow in the hips to fit my Concord pattern piece so I refashioned it for my 8 year old. Lucky girl! I love this print. This tee is also 100% cotton.

The pattern is Ottobre 3/2010-31 Funky Sisters. This is size 152 with 3cm added to each side seam. I compared the pattern pieces to some of her current tees and this pattern is super-super slim fit as drafted.

So I’m now in search of some more awesome graphic tees to refashion. unfortunately I’m going to have to use a raglan pattern to get long sleeves, but I’m ok with that. And the Cashmerette Concord tee pattern – 100% thumbs up from me, it’s a super curve flattering draft with great instructions. Thanks Jenny!


The curse of the empire seam

So my sewjo seems to be returning, finally. I wish I could say this is because I’m getting a full nights sleep, but sadly I’m not. Someday, someday….


Totally frustrated with pattern fitting and all the hard work, time and disappointment that entails for me I decided to try a new tack – Lekala patterns. This is a Russian company that offers pdf sewing patterns, thankfully in English, that are drafted to your measurements, including height. I thought I’d try the free knit top pattern #8004. I entered my height, all my measurements and also selected the low bust alteration.


I sewed it up exactly as drafted in a polyester jersey that I purchased years ago from Cotton onto Craft in Cowes, Victoria. I was very pleasantly surprised to find garment fabrics in a small coastal town. Well actually I did make some changes. I added a banded neckline finish, stretched on, as a turned and stitched hem on a thin knit like this looks very homemade in my opinion. This top is also unhemmed.


I’m actually quite disappointed and won’t be wearing this top (it was intended as a test garment, perhaps wearable if it worked out). Despite telling the program that I’m 176cm tall this top is miles too short in the body. It barely reaches my jeans when standing straight and I would add 10cm plus a hem allowance if making it again. The sleeves are just long enough now and would be too short if hemmed. But my biggest source of anguish is that damn empire seam.


It’s too high, sitting on the bust rather than under it. You can see it’s too high at the side seam too and there is weird pulling going on. So much for using that low bust setting, I know I’m wearing a soft cup nursing bra, but still….  Empire seams are horrible to fit. I love the look of them (when fitted properly), they lend themselves very well to attractive crossover V necklines but I have rarely, if ever managed to fit them properly.

Back when I was five months pregnant with Tessa I sewed this monstrously ugly wadder.


OMG! Baggy boobs. This was my attempt at the Ottobre magazine Loving nursing top.


I looked at the very small busted model they used, measured, pinned, deliberated and lowered the empire seam….way too much. I gave up. For reference this is what a RTW empire seam looks like on me – this top is the Target nursing/maternity top that pretty much every pregnant or nursing woman in Australia owns (photo taken when 5 months pregnant with Tessa).



And here’s a me-sewn Simplicity 3503 from 2010 that was not intended as maternity wear but ended up only maternity suitable – and with the too high empire seam.




I also made a wadder of Jalie 2804 Empire crossover top back in the day.  The only empire seam that I’ve made that fit was the Cake Tiramisu dress – and I didn’t think the end result dress was very flattering so never wore it much.


What should I do? Give up on empire seamed knit tops as too hard to fit? The different lengthwise street of different knits, the contracting effect of the neckband, the great difficultly of adjusting the seam once sewn all make fitting very hard. But… I really like the look of them. Dear readers, is the Lekala top pattern worth adjusting and remaking or should I give up on empire seams?


Musing about blogland

Just so you are not totally photo deprived, here’s another Renfrew I made.



I added 2 inches at the waist and I like this length a lot better than the last version. It’s pretty loose and comfy – perfect weekend wear. The fabric is lovely quality cotton lycra jersey from The Fabric Shop, Fitzroy. I bought it last winter and the colour is a big departure from my normal palette but I do like it. I now want a more fitted work-appropriate knit top, but I think I’ll try a different pattern rather than radically alter the Renfrew.

But what I really wanted to talk about today was blogs. My first sewing community was PatternReview. I posted a review of this little dress that I made Althea for her first birthday and people on the other side of the world who didn’t know me left nice comments!! I was so excited. The forums were warm and friendly and very helpful. PatternReview really kept me encouraged and sewing and  I am very grateful to everyone there.

I noticed that quite a few sewists on PatternReview had blogs. The blogs had more pictures, it was more customisable, and I just knew that there was another world that I would like out there. However at that time I was in the very, very torturous process of writing my PhD thesis and another distraction was not what I needed. So I read blogs sporadically when I came across them and would not let myself get a blog reader.

Post thesis I set up my blog reader and away I went. It took a while to find blogs and liked, and importantly to drop the feeds from blogs that drove me crazy (…..seriously talking about yourself in the third person, not my cup of tea). Several blogs that I only found late in their lives and loved have disappeared but I am learning that is the way of blogland: we all have real non-virtual lives and our passions wax and wane.

It’s taken me a while to settle into blogland and I still don’t comment on blogs as much as I would like. My big issue is that I do the majority of blog reading on my phone (I use Reeder for MacOS) which makes it very easy to read blogs during my lunch break, or a spare snippet of time I have at the park when the toddler is amusing himself (it does sometimes happen), but very annoying, if not impossible to comment on blogs. Blogger blogs, actually it is impossible. So I mark as unread and then a week later when I open my laptop the moment has passed.

There are so many lovely blogs that I enjoy reading and now I have finally managed to (manually, laboriously) import 25 of my favourite blogs into WordPress reader so that they can appear in my sidebar. The list is ugly – someday I’ll work out a better way to display them. (Gosh I wish I’d chosen blogger back when I started this blog – widgets! bloglists! bah!)  I want to spread the blog love so please do check out the blog list. There are some gems, I hope you enjoy!

Social sewing and my first Renfrew

So I finally made it to Social Sewing! I had a really lovely six hours away from the usual goings on of life. I met some lovely sewists, sewed up my first Renfrew top, traced out both versions of the Hummingbird skirt, started cutting it out and generally enjoyed some time to myself. The very lovely Helen of FunkBunnysGarden was also wearing a hot off the press Renfrew – so here we are!


Her version was totally gorgeous.

I was pretty happy with this T-shirt as my first iteration of the pattern.



My current full bust measurement is 43″ and the largest size in this pattern is a US RTW 16 designed for a 41″ bust. Given the larger sizes are 2″ apart, this puts me at a US 18. I traced the size 16 for the neckline, shoulders and down the armscye to the underarm point, then traced where the 18 would be if it existed for the inner sleeve seam, side body seam, hem seam, sleeve cuffs and waist band. It is a rather generous fit. Perfect for weekends with jeans or general slouching around but a neater, less baggy fit through the body would probably look more polished. I’ll try a more fitted version next.



The fabric is a cotton lycra jersey from Spotlight. It is a reasonable weight and very stable – good for winter. My favourite part of this pattern is the length of the sleeve right off the bat! So long, so lovely. My RTW long sleeves tops are all 7/8 length at best after a few trips through the wash. The body length is pretty good too, though I’m not 100% sold on the waistband finish. The band is not tight but it causes the hem to ride up a bit. The banded cuffs work well though.



The neckband was too long to sit well. I cut it as per the pattern and followed the notches. There was enough stretch in the band around the bottom of the curve but you can see that the sides wrinkle up a bit. On a side note, I personally find a 15mm seam allowance overkill on a knit neckband seam, I prefer 10mm seams. I sewed, overlocked then topstitched the seam allowance down. Normally I’d use a stretchy decorative stitch on my machine for this, or a well stretched straight stitch but I thought I try the zig zag. I’m not totally sold. It is a more casual and er, homemade finish.



Overall I’m really happy with this top and I plan to make several more. A winner at last!

A tale of two wadders

So I finished up my first garment from the US trip fabric/pattern haul and I just couldn’t bring myself to share it straightaway because it was so bad. Unwearably bad. Hello Vogue 1333.



Just check out the volume! Back AND front bustle. Nice. Also this


Those tucks STICK OUT big time. It actually looks worse than the photos show. It was very windy when these shots were taken and it still stuck out.

And check this out.


So bad. I seriously considered ripping off the elastic waist and adding a yoked waist and a zip, but in the end there really was no saving this skirt. I’ve put in on several times and I just have to take it off before I step out the door.

My husband commented that this skirt pattern is a great idea that just doesn’t work out, and I agree. Now partially this is my fault. This pattern is for a knit and I used a drapy polyester blend woven. I did this because I don’t love knit skirts and I had seen a successful woven version of this online – review here and pic here. I probably should have noted that sfshaza has a totally different figure type to me hmmmmm. Anyway I kvetched about this pattern on PR here.  Clearly success is possible with this pattern (cool stripy version) but not for me – I’m giving up on this one.

So what I really needed was some success! A quick and easy win. StyleArc Eva knit top will do the trick!


Oh yeah. Let’s check out that neckline.



So nice. Not. And just for full exposure here’s the back.


The sleeves are too tight and not long enough – I lengthened the 3/4 sleeves the pattern came with, but the biggest issue is that neck band.

First of all the proportions are wrong in the size 16. The band needs to extend further down so that gathers fall across the  bust not above it. It just looks a bit truncasted and polo-ish. I know I’m full busted but still I think the grading is a bit off.

Secondly the band is interfaced. All the back neck ickiness is caused by the back piece not fitting smoothly onto the band, which it won’t because you can’t stretch it on as it’s interfaced and not stretchy. This also causes the band to stick up and not conform to the body. There is also not enough fabric in the gathers for them to look like gathers, they look like mistakes.

The pattern says that the interfacing is not mandatory, it depends on the weight of your fabric. This is a very lightweight jersey that I picked up as a remnant from Clear It on Brunswick St, Fitzroy, where they sell the Alannah Hill leftover fabrics. Surely this lightweight stuff needed it? I cannot imagine being able to sew those square front corners on without it, and anyway the patterns suggests running stay-stitching around the neckband before insertion which would make it non-stretchy anyway.

You can see from the RTW top (City Chic) I’m wearing with the dud Vogue skirt that vertical bust gathering can look quite good on the busty girl. This top does not get that look.

So two duds in a row. I really hope that my next project works out!

StyleArc Twisting Tilly Top

Knit twist tops seemed to be a fad that I missed. Apparently the twist zeitgeist passed by some time ago, so now is probably a good time for me to get on the wagon in my usual extremely late adopter fashion.

I like this StyleArc pattern for a number of reasons. I love that unlike all other twist front top patterns that I’ve seen, the front has three sections rather than two. This gives a better fit over the bust I think.  The fit and body length is really very good straight out of the envelope. It fits just like the size 16 RTW tops I have. I obviously have to wear another top under this, but I expect that of any twist top. I also really like the double layer upper top means that there is no ugly seam finish on the neckline, just a nice clean folded edge.

This green version is the second time I’ve made this pattern up. The fabric is a thin wool rib knit that I bought from Rathdowne Fabrics a few years ago. I had planned to make an Ottobre jumper, but then I had another Ottobre wadder and the project got shelved. This pattern works well as an outer layer even though the recommended fabric is jersey. I added length to the sleeve and hem, and cut very slightly wider side seams. The ease and fit is very nice – semi-fitted but not encasing. The twin needle hems are not fabulous but I can live with them. I am yet to find a knit hem finish that I am really happy with.

If I made this again, I think I’d lower that front empire seam a bit. I also managed to stretch out the back neckline as I applied the binding which widens the shoulders. I should have stabilised that back neckline first.

Here is the pattern made up in cotton-lycra jersey.

I made no changes except lengthening the sleeves and the fit is very close. Definitely not a top for blobbing around in.

The hem finish on this one is just a single row of straight stitching.

Overall I’m very happy with both of these!