Susan 035

This is another rendition of my simple top block with a drapey collar added in to it. In this project, I re-traced the pattern pieces because they were starting to get a little wrecked. I lengthened the front and back and then added pockets to the side seams because who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?

The fabric is an orange heathery knit, and it’s lined in simple knit lining. The collar isn’t lined, it’s just cut and folded.

Front of dress. The top of the bodice got a little wrinkly where I put the lining and outer fabric together with a sleeve hole binding.

Front of dress. The top of the bodice got a little wrinkly where I put the lining and outer fabric together with a sleeve hole binding.

Back side!

Back side!

Here is the collar. It's a shaped pattern piece, wide at one end and narrow at the other, cut on a piece of fabric that is folded in 4.

Here is the collar. It’s a shaped pattern piece, wide at one end and narrow at the other, cut on a piece of fabric that is folded in 4.

Maybe one day I should properly analyze this pattern to see what it would be like to make it available as a PDF. Gah that sounds like a lot of work though. And it’s not really what I’m doing this for, anyway.


So for those of you who occasionally come around here expecting posts about civics & current events, you’ve got to wonder what kind of blog I’m running here. Well, it’s my blog and I like sewing a LOT and I feel like blogging about it, so I will continue to do that in amongst occasional bits about payday loans and politics.

Today I am going to try to do something that I haven’t done very well in the past: create a sleeve to go on a dress I’m making. Here’s the dress.
Here’s my work table all set up to follow a tutorial about sleeves.

Yup I’m still running Windows XP on my laptop. It’s from 2006. I’d call it the “old” computer but there’s a 2003-vintage Dell Latitude in this household which still runs like a charm. But I digress.

The YouTube tutorial I followed included measurements for sleeve cap height based on a dress size. I chose a size 12 and drafted my first block based on that. I then cut it out of an old bedsheet, adding about 5/8″ seam allowances, and tried it on. While it was the right length, the sleeve cap did not fit, nor did the bicep. I have these rower’s muscles, you know. 😀 So following the instructions in the Sandra Betzina Fast Fit book, I slashed the pattern piece vertically and then raised the sleeve cap. Here’s what my block looks like now:


You can kind of see in that second photo where I added height to the sleeve cap. I’ve cut it out of more bedsheet and stitched it together, and it fits quite well.

The purpose of a sleeve block is to give you the basic fit for a garment piece, but then you need to adjust it for design purposes. It’s not comfortable to wear a sleeve that is perfectly fitted, usually. For the dress I’m making right now, I’ll actually re-trace this sleeve block and then slash it in two places so I can insert the plaid fabric down the outside of the sleeve and make the rest of the sleeve out of my double-knit. Because I like to make life difficult for myself I will be trying to make the lower sleeve in one piece so there isn’t an underarm seam. With the double-knit being stretchy, I don’t need to add any ease to this block for fit. If I were making a pattern out of woven or less stretchy fabric, I would probably add 1 to 1 1/2 inches of ease.

The next step for this was to trace the original sleeve block onto new paper and then slash it into 3 pieces, then put the sides together at the underarm seam. This creates two pattern pieces, one which is cut out of the plaid and the other out of the knit. Here are the pattern pieces, and the finished sleeve:



That picture gives you an idea of the blocking on the arm.

With the dress itself, I realized when I was putting together the seams on the sleeve that things go together much more smoothly when I use Lite Steam-a-Seam to “baste” the zipper to the plaid, then the knit to the zipper, so layers don’t shift or stretch during the stitching. So then I decided to take out the princess seams on the dress and re-do them with this new technique. OH MY GOODNESS. It took forever. I had topstitched each of the seams so I had to take out two rows of stitching on each seam. All told, taking it apart and putting it back together took me three hours. So much for making another garment tonight!! I’m now working on the hem of the dress, after which I will re-make the neckline because it rides too high and bugs me. Should be wrapped up around ohhhh 11pm?

Having finished the Boy’s jeans, I simply had to dive into yet another attempt at making a garment on Sunday to wear on Monday. This time, I’ve had a vision of black skirt with pink godets in many seam openings.

I traced the pencil skirt pattern that I made for the disastrous blouse-dress/pencil skirt project, since I did actually manage to make a decent pattern shape for that skirt. Instead of the darts at front and back I made seams to piece things together. Then I began to lay it out on the remainder of black twill that I used for various & sundry things, because it was quite a nice twill. Except – wah waaaah – with the seaming, there wasn’t room to lay out this pattern on what was left of the twill. Sooooo I dipped into the stash and found a black floral print linen I’ve been harbouring for a year (that is actually a very short period of time for me to stash something). The pink fabric is a piece of (honestly) god-awful polyester that I picked up at a fabric swap almost as a joke. Turns out the pink matches the flowers in my linen print perfectly and the weight of the fabrics is a good match.

After putting together the seamed pieces for front and back and inserting another quite-decent invisible zipper with my new invisible zipper foot, I realized that I’d made one extra panel for the front and it was quite a bit too big. So I took out the side front panels and stitched it together, leaving the bottom 8″ open for the godets. I have finished the seams with black serging because this is linen and it will fray like nobody’s business.

I’ve inserted two godets now. The first was a bit of a nightmare but blessedly the linen print hides plenty of sins, and the second was a bit better.

I’m just taking a break for dinner at the moment and then I’m hoping to finish the godets and put in a lining. I’m really tempted to line the skirt with the pink polyester because I’m pretty sure I have no black lining at the moment.

Oh you want pictures?



Update – All it needs is hem!

The rest of the godets went in pretty smoothly (literally) using a serger so everything is tidy and finished. The lining was quickly drafted by taping together the pieces from the skirt and laying it on the pink fabric. The trick is going to be what kind of hem to use, because the linen will like a simple finish-and turn but the godet fabric is lighter and possible needs a rolled hem which gives me a headache just thinking of it. And I want to hem it before going to work tomorrow…so doing one treatment all the way around would probably be preferred.

So it might not make it to work tomorrow. Better plan for something else!

Hem This:

I’m pretty satisfied by how the print florals lined up after sewing the pieces together. Essentially the seams took about 2cm out of the pattern at each seam but it still looks okay.

By the way, the waistband uses one of my favourite garment-sewing tricks… grosgrain ribbon between the layers! I tend to stock up on neutral colour grosgrain (or petersham as it’s called in wider form) whenever I find it on sale, and in this case I’m glad I did because this looks best without a waistband but it needed some firm hold at the waist, without interfacing.