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Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 3–Matching Plaids, cutting out your garment pieces

February 24th, 2023

While visiting a favorite local shop in nearby Rockland, Maine, Clementine, I happened to fondle this amazing thick, soft flannel and thought it would made a perfect winter top.  The plaid adds a bit of complexity and opportunity to teach a few more advanced skills along with a fairly simple pattern for this series.

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.

You use the lengthen shorten line to make sure the pattern piece is places squarely on the plaid–the line on the pattern runs on top of the same horizontal band all the way across. The notches (when you have them on a pattern…still grumpy about that!) give you additional “checkpoints” to make sure the horizontals on the front will align with the horizontals on the back.


The Taylor Seville chalk is much nicer than the tailor’s chalk I remember from the 70s and 80s. It comes in a nice plastic case that prevents the edges from getting chipped, too.  The KAI shears are these.  They are the first fine shears I’ve bought in nearly 30-35 years.  WHY did I wait so long????? To be blunt, these make my Ginger shears look like lead clunkers!  They weigh less and are SO much easier on my arthritic hands.  They cut like a hot knife through butter!

By matching the plaid at the (made by me) “notches” the horizontal lines of the plaid will match up all the way around the garment, continuing from the front to the sleeve to the back to the other sleeve and back to the front. The next photo shows how nicely the line matches up across the garment.

The arrow shows how the black line carries across the garment. Because you need to ease in extra at the sleeve cap, the matching goes off a bit at the top of the sleeve.  That’s why it is so helpful to have notches marked on the pattern–that’s where you match up a plaid or stripe as well as easing the sleeve cap to fit properly!

Now that the top is cut out, it is time to start sewing.  My next post will be the first one on seam finishes.  See you then–but one more side-view to show what a beautiful seam you get when the plaids are properly aligned!

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf

Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 2-Make a muslin, fitting and sleeves

February 21st, 2023

At the end of Lesson 1, I was showing you how far off the fitting is in this pattern when applied to my body: broad shoulders, small bust.

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.

There’s a LOT of detail in this post, but if you read through you’ll learn why it’s a joy and a wonder when you can find a pattern that works for your body.  And once you make any necessary changes, it is fairly easy to use that pattern and make variations on the theme.  Somewhere down below I mention taking a WONDERFUL, highly-recommended, can’t say enough good tings about Garment Makers Question Time with Philippa Naylor.  I have been sewing over 55 years.  Others in the class have never made a garment. Yet we ALL are learning and getting good results!    You start out easy with a shift dress, move to a skirt, on up to rain jackets and fancy stuff!   I got sidetracked with life last year but can’t wait to get back to it.  Her work experience in the garment industry long before she became a quilter is golden.

It’s kinda like prepping a house to paint it–you have to do the yucky sanding and spackling and priming or the paint job won’t turn out well now matter how good the paint and painter.  This is the prep work part of a successful garment!

View from the back..see those pull lines across the upper back, that means even with the slices it is still too tight! Part of the problem is that the pattern sleeve pieces are cut without a front/back to the sleeve cap.

A close up of the top…holding a ruler to show how much I need to alter the pattern to make it anywhere near fitting properly. There are many books and videos and workshops to learn how to do this, but the one that finally made it click and work for me was GMQT.  Your mileage may vary, you may grasp the concepts well from some of the tried-and-true books from the 80s even.  But this is how I finally “got it.”

There are MANY resources, from books to youtube to online and in person classes to learn about fitting. A year ago I signed up for Philippa Naylor’s Garment Makers’ Question Time, a 12-month series of classes for a price that is modest, especially considering the vast amount of knowledge and content. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS WORKSHOP (not affiliated, just a happy student). Finally, after making clothes for more than 50 years, I feel confident in making alterations. The caption on the photo explains what I did to make it fit.

The upper bodice area was also too short…not enough room for my arms to move, so I lengthened by 1/2″. You can see the pencil notes… I made the cut perpendicular to the center front, spread the pieces and inserted more paper. I guesstimated where to make this change since the pattern itself does not include the standard lengthen/shorten here markings. I also raised the neckline since this is a winter top and Maine is cold!

I knew that the sleeve pattern was a problem as soon as I saw that it was cut symmetrically.  If you look at a human body from the side, the arm curves to the front.  A sleeve needs to do the same, not hang like a plumb line from the shoulder point.  The fact that the pattern piece was symmetrical (cut on the fold) meant it could never fit properly. I knew I could modify a sleeve pattern piece from another pattern if the length of the seams matched closely enough to make it work.

I used a technique I learned in that is called “walking the seam.”  You measure the length of the SEAM line, not the edge of the pattern piece on, in this case, the armhole opening and the top of the sleeve.  Luckily, my pattern piece from a different garment was within 1/4″.

To “walk the seam” you set your tape measure on its edge, and measure along what will be the seamline.  After adding in the extra 1/2″ length (you can see the taped insert in the photo above), that changed the side seam length, which meant I needed to make sure the front side seam matched the back side seam (easily done since it is just a straight line).  See next photo.  PS–if you want to make pattern weights like mine, my free tutorial is here.


This is the bottom front of the garment. Because of the changes to fix the narrow shoulders and shallow armpit, it altered the side seam, so I had to lengthen the side seam so the front and back side seams would be the same length.

I looked in my collection of patterns–yes, I have patterns going back to the 1970s!–and found one with a sleeve I thought would work. It did!

In the next photo you will see notches and dots.  These are standard in the pattern industry.  One notch on a sleeve usually means the front of the sleeve, two notches is the back side of the sleeve.  Dots are used for various purposes.  Sometimes they show where to run gathers from one spot to the next.  Other times they indicate where you match up the shoulder seam.  That means you can distribute the easing/gathering on the sleeve cap so the sleeve actually FITS and runs around the body in a way that allows you to move your arm.  Sorry–but I was just SO frustrated with this pattern.  It is, sadly, destined to make new sewers think they can’t do anything right, when the error lies in the pattern!

Notches, dots and lengthen/shorten lines actually make it EASIER for a newbie to figure out what goes where. Eliminating those marks does not help!

I have cut a sleeve pattern that merges the 100 Acts of Sewing pattern and the Simplicity sleeve pattern. I removed (yellow) from the sleeve cap to eliminate the bubble in the front of the sleeve and added (pink) to add room to move your arms forward. The sleeves on the pattern are described as long, but doesn’t specify if that is halfway down the forearm, 3/4 and/or bracelet length, or full length. I needed to add more, but not quite as much as pictured here.

Flare at the hem, you ask?  Why yes…if your sleeve angles out (or pants leg) and gets wider as it goes up, you need to have a hem that does the same.  Once you have figured out the correct spot to hem, fold the fabric up on the hemline and trim to match the angle of the seam.

PHEW.  So…that’s a lot.  Thanks for reading this far–so you get another shot of the finished top, with the infinity scarf on my arm so you can see the top better. Next up:  seam finishes, with a couple short videos!

I had just enough leftover that I was able to make myself an infinity scarf to keep my neck warm.

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf

Plaid Top Tutorial: Lesson 1-Choosing a pattern and starting tips

February 17th, 2023
Flannel Plaid top and scarf

I thought it would be fun to teach some basic garment sewing techniques using a simple “T” top in woven fabric as the platform, tossing in a few special lessons along the way. This isn’t a class in how to make a blouse–rather it is a way to teach several techniques that are useful in garment making and home dec across the board.  There will be 9 posts total that will publish on Tuesday and Friday through March 21. As they go live, I will update a list at the bottom of each post that has links to all the other lessons. Today, I’ll cover:

1. What to look for in a pattern
2. Figuring out what fits you by looking in your closet
3. Wearing Ease
4. Pre-shrinking!
and a tease….be sure to look at the photos at the very end!

Future posts will touch on

–alterations including length, shoulders and bust adjustments (full and small)

–Matching plaids when cutting
–fine seam finishes including
     *French seams
     *Flat-felled and lapped
     *Hong Kong finish–not used on the top but good to know
and a bit on when to use each

–Lined Patch Pockets, getting a smooth curve, presser foot tricks

–a bonus Infinity Scarf and wrap up

Please note:  I am affiliated with Janome as a Janome Artisan and am compensated.  However, my reviews are honest and I would say what I say whether affiliated or not.  I’ve also chosen to be affiliated with Janome since 2003 (!!!) because their machines are so good and they are so responsive to the interests and needs of their customers.  
100 Acts of Sewing, Dress No. 2
Pattern back

A dear friend loves this very popular pattern and has made it many times. It is a simple “T” shape and is supposed to be geared to beginners with simple shaping and few pieces. By making it shorter, you can have a top or a dress from one pattern, and the size range is good for almost all bodies. Or so it would appear. All I can say is that I am so sorry I cannot recommend it. At ALL. I’ll show you why.

Pattern layout. I knew there was a problem as soon as I saw the sleeves were cut on a fold with no shaping of the sleeve cap. It got worse when I discovered the front and back of the dress are exactly the same shape, with no allowance for a bust, even a small one!

As you can see from the cutting diagram on the left, it has a simple flared silhouette with a front, a back, a pocket and two sleeves. Easy peasy, right? WRONG. Here’s why: Registration marks are found on most patterns–I had thought they were on all but I was mistaken because there are none on this one. You see, notches make it EASIER for you to match what goes where and properly align your pieces. Registration dots do the same thing–there is usually a dot somewhere at the top of the sleeve cap which you align with the shoulder seam to position the sleeve so it will fit the body. Lengthen/shorten lines tell you where to do just that, because after all we aren’t all the same: some folks have long torsos, others are short-waisted, and arms–our arms are all sorts of different proportions. AND, there are NO DARTS. Can you imagine an A-cup and a DD-cup trying to fit into the same tent shape? Yeah. As someone I once heard say, one-size-fits-all means looks good on no one.

I am guessing the reason the designer had for omitting these essential marks was to not intimidate the beginner. Unfortunately, all that will happen is the newbie will make something that doesn’t fit any which way and will think they are the problem, when in fact the pattern is doing them a disservice. Like I said, I really wanted to love this pattern and use it as one that you could buy. Don’t. Please keep reading!


Since my bust measures 39″ the Size Medium is too small. I figured with my broad shoulders, the Large, to fit a 41″ bust would be good. WRONG.

You’ll want to measure your full bust, around the widest point of your bust line; wear a snug camisole so that you are measuring your body not bulky clothes as well . Then you want to measure the high bust, which is around the torso above the bust, kind of up under the armpits. If you have a large cup size, you will want to choose a pattern that will fit your shoulders, then do a full bust adjustment. Luckily, many of the independent designers now design for full bust–I have to skip those lines or down-scale the fronts so they don’t look concave and sag on me. The major companies tend to design for a B-cup, but some have started offering patterns for various cup sizes–smart!

Make a drawing! + photo of measuring a blouse

Then there are sizes. In this pattern, I opted for size Large since my bust measures 39″ and I have broad shoulders. The Medium would have been too small. a Many patterns from the traditional Big-4 companies, Simplicity, McCall’s, Butterick and Vogue, are based on sizes that DO NOT correspond to off the shelf. I am usually two sizes larger in one of these patterns than in ready to wear. Not to mention that my ready to wear, depending on the company, ranges in size from Small to Extra Large. I’m not exaggerating…we all know sizes are all over the place.

The key is to measure yourself AND measure a garment you have that fits you comfortably and looks good. Then compare those measurements to the information on the pattern. You can usually find two measurements: the size of the body and the size of the finished garment. The difference is wearing ease (see below). 

This is the back of Simplicity S8883. I was elated to discover it had cutting lines for various cup sizes. I still had to decrease to an A cup, but with the various cutting lines it was easy to see what I needed to alter. It shows, for a 40″ bust, a B Cup top would measure 46″, which is fairly roomy.

The Pietra Pants pattern is an Indy pattern design, and as with many of them, comes with lots of detailed information. I am between a size 16 and 18.  All that ice cream has made my waist a bit bigger.  It is also WONDERFUL that it includes the rise–the measurement of the crotch seam from front to back.  No more camel toe (those pants that pull and and cut into you in a very unattractive way)!  It also reveals the difference in wearing ease in the 3 views of the pants/shorts.  This helps you compare to something you have that fits (or doesn’t), so you can adjust accordingly.

Then, measure across a blouse (make sure you compare like items, so if you are making something with woven cloth, measure a garment with woven, not knit, fabric) at the bust line. That will have anywhere from zero to 4 or more inches extra. This is called wearing ease. Some of us like very fitted, body skimming clothes, while others (like me) prefer things a bit looser or even very loose. Fitted garments tend to have 0-2″ ease, while semi-fitted are 2-4″, and roomy is even larger. If you have a flowy top that measures 52″ over a 44″ full bust, that is 8 full inches difference. Knowing that amount of easy will help you choose a pattern that will you give you the results you want! There is also something called negative ease, found in knit garments.  If you want a form-fitting garment, it will be cut 0-2 inches smaller than the finished size, then the stretch in the fabric will make it fit you snugly and show off your beautiful curves.  

Pre-shrinking fabric: This is always a debate among quilters, but for garments there is no question. If you intend to wash or clean your garment, you MUST pre-shrink! Don’t do all that work, finish the garment, love it, then have it turn one or two sizes too small after you clean it. Even woolens that will be dry cleaned need a bit of a steam press! Since most of us wear things we wash and dry (hang dry or in the dryer) at home, treat the fabric you have purchased the way you will the finished garment. If working with tricky fabrics like rayon or silk, do some self–education on the internet about how to handle them. For now I’m going to talk only about this cotton flannel top.

I’ll explain the what and why in my next post, but for now, just LOOK at this! The Dress No. 2 was made for a 41″ bust. There is indeed enough room for a bust larger than my 39″, but the shoulders were TWO FULL INCHES TOO NARROW!

The muslin doesn’t fit any which way. And those sleeves are supposed to be LONG sleeves. On whom? They stop 2 inches above my wrists, and that is unhemmed!

Remember what I said about size, and picking Large for this top. Thankfully I made a muslin, above–
Above, the top as made per the pattern in a practice muslin to gauge the fit; I used super-cheap white cotton whose purchase price was, I think, $1 a yard which tells you how cheap it is. The shoulder seams are WAY in from the actual shoulder point, causing the shirt to pull up and strangle my armpits (yes, I DO have broad shoulders but this is crazy), which then causes the center front to ripple, not to mention feels uncomfortable. The way to figure out what needs to be done is to slice open where it is too tight. I marked the spots with a pen, took off the muslin, sliced, and put it back on. The next photo shows a gap of just one an INCH on just one shoulder!

If I had measured the pattern piece before I started cutting (smacking self upside the head) and compared it to an existing top that fits, I would have realized the problem and been able to take remedial action. But no matter what, doing a practice muslin saves money and effort in the long run. More in the next post on how I fixed it.

By slicing the too-tight top, I can see how much needs to be added to the pattern.  And how did I learn to make these miraculous adjustments?  …read the next paragraph! 

I will share fitting in the next post (on Tuesday, February 21, 2023), but they key is this:  In late 2021, I signed up for a fabulous set of 12 monthly lessons from Philippa Naylor, who is known for her prize winning quilts with immaculate construction and her wardrobe.  With significant experience working in professional garment making and patterning, she offers Garment Makers Question Time (GMQT) an online workshop with new lessons that build upon the previous ones.  The value for price, $15 a month, is simply phenomenal–I’m not affiliated in any way other than being a very pleased student.  Participants range from people who have never made a single garment to some of us who have been sewing for 50 years.  The amazing thing is that we are ALL happy and learning.  In my series of lessons here, I am sharing things I have learned over the years, not replicating what she has taught.  But I can heartily recommend GMQT–if you want to make garments that fit and are well made, this is the workshop that finally helped the alteration process click for me.  One key is to get someone (pay someone who does alterations if need be) to measure your body accurately–that’s what I did at a local fabric shop that has a teacher who gives semi-private lessons.  Again, that is Garment Makers Question Time.  Truly, I can’t say enough good things about the whole series! Look for more garments this year once my travel teaching is done!

Here are the links to all the posts in this series of lessons, techniques that can be applied to virtually any garment and many home dec projects.   Let me know what you’d like to learn and see here on the blog.  Cheers and thanks, Sarah

Lesson 1:   Choosing a Pattern and Starting Tips

Lesson 2:   Making a Muslin, Fitting and Sleeves

Lesson 3:   Matching Plaids, Cutting out Your Garment Pieces

Lesson 4:  Overcast Seams, just like Serged Seams

Lesson 5:   French Seams

Lesson 6:  Lapped and Flat-felled Seams

Lesson 7:  Hong Kong Finish for Seams

Lesson 8:  Lined Patch Pocket Tutorial

Lesson 9:  Hems and Scarf


Anthea Blouse in Sky Blue Linen

October 6th, 2022

While visiting my favorite local shop, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, one of the young women working there had on her version of this blouse. Asked the pattern name–Anthea by Anna Allen–went home and ordered it! The colors I’m wearing are Maine Summer and it is so flattering to many body types and comfortable.

Today’s blogpost takes you through making an entire blouse, which presser feet I use on my Janome (I’m a brand ambassador and compensated, but I’d say all this good stuff anyway…they rock!) m7Continental, why and offer tips and tricks for garment construction. Pretty much all Janome machines have or have available these presser feet with the possible exception of the automatic buttonhole, which many but not all of the Janome models have. Comment and let me know what more you’d like to know and what you’d like me to feature on the blog! I’m scaling back travel teaching and hope to have more time for this sort of thing.

The first thing to do is sew your side and shoulder seams. I opted for French seams for a clean, no-fraying finish. With a 5/8″ seam allowance, I sewed with the WRONG sides together at 3/8.” First press the seam as stitched (flat), then trim to a scant 1/4″ and press the seam allowance open.
Be sure to trim off the whiskers–you won’t be able to coax them inside the enclosing seam and trimming them a headache.
This shows me holding the fabric with right sides together; the fabric is folded EXACTLY on the first line of stitching. You then sew 1/4″ away to enclose all the raw edges.
Sew the second part of the French Seam at 1/4″. If you’ve trimmed any stray threads/whiskers, you’ll have a beautiful clean seam. Press to one side (for my blouse I pressed to the back). Notice that the edge of the fabric/seam is on the 3/8″ line but the needle is moved right of center to be at the 1/4″ seamline.
Next, I am stabilizing the button band by using cotton voile (preshrunk) as my interfacing. Unlike the polyesters or fusible we are used to using, it provides strength without bulk and retains a soft, fluid hand to the garment. I sewed the edges in place (so the strip won’t wiggle and wad up during use). The zipper foot is one of my favorite ways to get a perfect, consistent edge: set the side of the foot on the edge of the interfacing and move the needle toward the center. Be sure it won’t hit the foot but also doesn’t ride on the very outer edge of the interfacing and chew it up. ON the left you can see stay stitching.
I’ve folded the cut-on button band to the inside and am now stitching it to the front. When I have a “lip” or folded edge and want to edge stitch, I use either the edge stitching foot (on the right, which I think of as the Ice Skate with the metal guide in the center) or the over cast foot (on the left, in use). Using a straight stitch, place the foot so the blade is snug against the fold and move the needle to make a nice, narrow topstitch. Be sure the needle won’t hit the wires in the presser foot by hand-walking the needle for one or two stitches.
Next up: applying a bias binding to enclose the seam and act as a facing on the neckline. Here I’m using what may be my favorite presser foot, the F2 appliqué foot. The wide open toes and clear visibility help me sew more carefully and precisely. This photo applies to both facing the neckline and covering the edges of the set-in sleeve seam.
Buying a GOOD quality tailor’s ham and base to hold it has been one of the best, most useful purchases of the year. After 50 years of using my mother’s horrid old ham, I’m ready to sew! Here I’m pressing the bias in place on the neckline. You can see the narrow French seam on the shoulder in the center of the photo. As I press, I am easing the bias so that it lays nice and flat. I used my seam gauge to make sure the depth is even, then edge-stitch all the way around the neck.
Once the body is complete (except for the hem), it is time to start the sleeves. Although I have sewn garments for almost (GULP) 60 years–yes I started very young–I’ve been taking an outstanding online course with Philippa Naylor, Garment Makers Question Time. The price is phenomenal for the amount of instruction you get each of the 12 months. More projects coming up! Anyway, I learned to set the gathering stitches at 1/2″ and 3/4″ and sew down the middle at 5/8″. Philippa’s way works better: sew your gathering stitches one thread into the seam allowance from the final seam line and 1/4″ closer to the raw edge. Gather, distribute the gathering appropriately, and then sew the seam just barely to the left of the left-side gathering stitch. I like using a thin bamboo skewer to coax and ease the gathers as I stitch. Again, I love that open visibility foot!

Here is a link to Philippa’s Garment Makers Question Time home page. Highly recommended!

Here is the sleeve with the seam sewn and gathers gathered. I was a tad leery that the shoulders would be too narrow, but I did the right thing and made a toile (practice garment) out of cheap cheap cheap white fabric, and the sleeve seam is indeed set in from the shoulder point–this helps the gathers get that nice rounded puff! For the hem, at the top of the next photo, I sewed a linen bias strip to the right side, turned to the inside, and hand-sewed it into place.
LOOKIT that perfect match! On the first try no less! Once the sleeves are sewn to the bodice, you’ll need to finish the raw edges. The gathers in the sleeves make it too thick for a French Seam, so I chose to use I used a bias edge finish similar to a single-fold bias binding on a quilt. On the neck, the bias was entirely folded to the inside of the garment. Here, you stitch the bias strip of fabric–a lightweight cotton lawn in lime green–to the seam, wrap it around the raw edges, then stitch in the ditch to secure it. I also managed a perfect join on the bias for the “cuff.” Note that the pattern has a wide opening for the bottom of the sleeve–way too wide for the size of my arms. I gathered it up more, making sure it still moved smoothly over/around the elbow, and just made mine narrower.
Covering up the raw edges where the sleeve joins the body. Again I’m using the zipper foot. For the way my eyes and brain work, I get the needle closest to the edge of the bias using the zipper foot and moving the needle as far right as it goes. Keep a hawk eye on your stitching because it is all too easy to wander and veer onto the bias.
Janome’s automatic buttonhole foot (available on select models including the 9450 and M7) is amazing. You set the button into the back and it picks the perfect size. You can fine tune it if the button is thick or thin. ALWAYS to a test-stitch on a scrap (using the same interfacing and number of layers). You can see I have carefully marked the center of the button holes plus the start and stop lines. The Janome foot has a metal base plate that keeps everything flat and feeding perfectly. Here’s a video of it in action!
You can subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking on the YouTube link (bottom left) and then following the subscribe button on that site, I don’t post often, but there are some useful videos there. Or just click here to go to my YouTube home page.
This is the setting I used.
Worn tucked in with a linen skirt in gray. Blouse fabric is the IL-19 5.3 oz linen from Skirt linen is the Driftwood Linen from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply near me in Belfast, Maine; I bought the Brumby skirt pattern there, too. Yes, they do online / mail order!
I had some leftover linen, so I made a scarf, too. I sewed a narrow zigzag on all four sides, then carefully frayed the edges. Here’s the link to the pattern again: Anthea by Anna Allen.
You can also wear the blouse out–it has a narrow 1/2″ hem.
You can even wear it to Broomstick Riding Lessons (at Alnwick Castle this summer)! Funnest photo and time ever!
And you can also wear it after you have walked from Scotland to England—all the way across a 100 foot long bridge! With my oldest son and DIL on a trip of a lifetime.

Well I can’t believe it has been half a year since I blogged… that tells you how crazy busy this summer has been. All good stuff, but all at once. I am looking forward to being HOME for three straight months once I return from Houston / International Quilt Festival where I’ll be teaching again. I will try my best to be back before the end of the year…like maybe even in a month?

A return to my garment-making roots!

February 25th, 2022
Princess seam top, Simplicity S8333 (pattern currently available), commercially purchased linen pants. Made on my beloved Janome M7 Continental, aka Albus the 2nd (after Albus Dumbledlore, the greatest wizard that ever lived)

It appears months have evaporated since I last wrote–at least I am keeping up with my newsletter! On a lark, and in my endless quest to always be learning and improving my sewing, I signed up for Garment Makers Question Time with Philippa Naylor. A little over a year ago I took a 2-hour online piecing workshop with her that was brilliant; even after decades of quilting I learned stuff. Since I’ve also started sewing clothes again, I decided to sign up–it is only $150 for a full year and let me tell you the value you get for the HOURS of detailed instruction each month is amazing. Students range from total newbies to garment making and sewing to those like me with decades of experiencing and we are ALL benefitting! Wish you could see what total newbies have accomplished in both fit and construction.

I made view C without the scallops on the sleeves and slightly altered the depth of the neckline. The white is inexpensive fabric for dyeing… I will likely un-sew the basting then dye the fabric for piecing and quilts. Especially in the bottom right photo above, notice that the upper bodice, above the full bust, is too roomy–the neckline folds out and lots of excess near the arms. Read on….this is why you make a toile/muslin/practice piece!

A “toile” is a sample garment made to refine the fit since patterns are made to an average shape and measurements and, let’s be honest here, NO ONE is exactly that fit. The first month in GMQT is to make an A-line dress. I have never worn one in my life and never will….but…. I made a simple dress with bodice and gathered skirt (that’s coming in next month’s newsletter–use the sign up box on the right of this page or at the bottom of the other pages on my website to subscribe).

While waiting for the fabric I wanted to use for the more fitted project (a delightfully soft linen from online), I came across this pattern on sale at Simplicity online. I LOVE square neck tops, and thought the practice of fitting a princess seam top would be useful. I bought some Rifle Paper Co. fabric at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, Maine, then worked up the muslin or toile (above right). The pattern is multi size so I can grade from one size to the next as needed. I have a broad back, and broad, square shoulders, so using what I learned from the not-yet-made-dress toile, I knew how to adjust for the shoulders so it was quick and easy. This pattern is the first I’ve ever bought which offers B, C, D and DD cup sizes. That meant I took the B and decreased (sigh).

I learned that to get the ideal bust fit in addition to full bust and high bust, you measure from the apex of the bust to the neck, to the shoulder and to the belly button. That means you can triangulate (measure) on the flat pattern piece and get the apex of the bust in EXACTLY the correct spot for a perfect fit. With a princess seam, the adjustment is so much easier than the slice-and-pivot stuff on a darted bodice: you just adjust the curve and seam depth on the side front piece (in my case trim away)! I left the bodice center front intact and didn’t change the design lines at all–the fitting was done from the side piece. Finally, I lowered the base of the square neckline about 5/8-3/4 of an inch. With those changes, the excess fullness in the first toile fitting above is eliminated.

I’ve always used fusible interfacing, but chose to try Philippa’s method of using cotton lawn, a soft, finely woven, lightweight cotton instead. You cut the cotton “interfacing” the same size as the facing, then sew right sides together on the bottom edge and turn right side out. No awkward 1/4″ to turn under–a perfect, smooth, lined facing that supports the neckline softly–probably better than fusible, and certainly nicer look and feel. In this image I have clipped the curves so the seam will lie flat. You can also see two lines of stitching and the understitching line.
The bodice is to the left, the facing and seam allowances to the right of the seamline in the photo above. Using my 1/4″ Acufeed HP foot and the single stitch HP throat plate, I ran the inside left edge of the foot next to the seam, which yields a perfect parallel line of “understitching” which is the line of sewing that secures the seam allowance to the facing. This process helps prevent the facing from trying to roll back outward and produces a beautiful flat facing.
Ta DAAAA! Look at that nice, flat facing, sharp inner corner, tidy understitching and smooth clean facing edge thanks to the interfacing as lining.
I used the Hong Kong finish, which is a first cousin to a single layer quilt binding, on the shoulder and princess seams. It is trickier to manage (nearly impossible) on the “J” curve of the side seam which extends to the cut-on short sleeves, where I just overcast the raw seam edges. I used a voile, a cotton every so slightly lighter than cotton lawn, for this finish. You cut a 1″ bias strip, sew it to the top of the seam allowance, wrap to the back, and then stitch in the ditch. The back side of the Hong Kong finish is a single flat layer, not double like a quilt binding, which reduces thickness. Because of the bias cut and tight weave, no worries about fraying, plus that side is hidden under the pressed-open seam allowance. I used the 1/4″ foot with the guide/flange on it for applying the bright lime green.

Also, here’s a link to a Facebook post with a brief video showing me using the M overcast edge foot on the Janome to finish the side seams.

To make this even more fun–see the sleeveless version in the pattern? I was watching Call the Midwives and in that episode Trixie was wearing that EXACT blouse style! What a hoot! And Fiddlehead (my favorite store!) has GINGHAM–it’s back! Hmmmmm…….

Now that it is snowing again… six inches expected… all I have to do is wait for warm weather!