Variation on New Look 0134

This white top came together really quickly, but not as quickly as I had imagined.

I thought I could finish in a day, maybe two. Sadly, I think it was more like four, but I did a lot of hand sewing.

This is my second time with this pattern. The first time, the bust dart was in the wrong spot (overzealous alteration of the pattern). This time, I put the dart in the proper spot, lengthened the top 2 inches and tried the tuck variation and a different sleeve.

I ended up with a well-fitting basic top, as you can see:

Look, the dart's in the correct spot!

Look, the dart’s in the correct spot! Photo by Robert the Husband.

With the tucks in the bodice and at the top of the sleeves, it’s a little sweet looking for someone my age, but I like that it fits so well. I’ll probably make more variations. The only thing I’ll do differently will be to add double-ended darts to the front. I didn’t do it with this one because darts are so easy to see in a white blouse.

On the dress form, you can really see.

Here’s a good look at the finished top on Gene.

And the back.

The back darts are very obvious on a burgundy dress form.

The back darts are very obvious on Gene.

My last four sewing projects have involved making two patterns twice. I am ready to move on to something new, and I will as soon as I finish the big editing project I’m working on. Here’s the mood board for the next project:

I'm making the view on the left, but with a longer skirt. I've found that I like a 30-inch skirt.

The coral fabric is a cotton lawn from JoAnn’s. I’m making the view on the left, but with a longer skirt.

All the fashion “experts” say wrap dresses are super flattering. Well, I guess I’ll see. I think doing a full bust adjustment will be straightforward. I’m going to trace the pattern, make my usual adjustments, then make a muslin and see if it fits.

It’s still in the upper 80s in Northern California and likely will be for several more weeks, so I still have time to finish and wear this warm-weather dress. I think it will be the last one for a while, however.

I’ll be wanting to make a chambray shirtdress next. With white topstitching and faux horn buttons, it can easily go deep into fall with boots and a cardigan.

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The linen skirt, inside and out

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, I completed the Butterick See & Sew 5737 skirt made with the gorgeous embroidered linen from JoAnn’s.

I had gone into JoAnn’s looking for a natural linen to make the skirt. I thought I might explore using some machine embroidery along the hem, but then I found the embroidered linen. Perfect!

Here’s the before:


I made view A, on the left.

And here’s the after:

I love the drape!

I love the drape! This skirt makes me very happy.

After making the plaid version, I decided to make the pattern 3 inches longer, and the length feels great. I also reduced the waistband to 1 inch (as I did previously) because I prefer a narrower waistband, and I like to use the Palmer/Pletsch waistband interfacing, which is 1 inch wide.

The fabric necessitated a change in the pattern layout. It originally called for the center of each panel to be on the lengthwise grain, which would put each seamline on a bias (perfect for a plaid or stripe). The embroidered pattern on this linen is done in barely perceptible vertical rows along the lengthwise grain. The idea of those rows meeting at an angle made me anxious, therefore I cut the center front and back to meet on the lengthwise grain. I made a rough match of the embroidery.

These grain changes put the center of each panel on a bias and the side seams close to true bias. The resulting drape is really lovely.

If you have ever made a garment cut on the bias, you will know that the instructions tell you to let it hang for 24 hours so the bias stretches out as much as possible before you trim and hem. To even off this hem, I had to trim as much as 1.5 inches in some spots! But it’s even, as you can see.

The nice even hem.

The nice even hem, at least when worn by Gene the Dress Form. I have no way of marking the hem while wearing it myself.

On the inside, I finished the heck out of this skirt with Hug Snug rayon seam binding.

I finished the heck out of the inside with rayon seam binding. I'm not sure that I'm completely satisfied with how I handled the hem.

So pretty on the inside, but I’m not sure that I’m completely satisfied with how I handled the hem.

I’m wondering if I should have turned back a deeper hem. The pattern calls for a double-fold 5/8-inch hem (and I didn’t want to lose any length), but I didn’t want the topstitching on the outside. Instead, I sewed on the seam binding, turned and ironed the hem, then finished with a catch stitch.

Meanwhile, the way the zipper looks on the inside is an improvement over the navy zipper hand picked with white thread that I did for the plaid skirt.

The inside of the zipper looks good because the zipper and thread all match, but I'm still looking for a more finished look.

The inside of the hand picked zipper looks pretty tidy because the zipper and thread all match, but I’m still trying to devise a more finished look.

I was thinking a wide grosgrain ribbon placket over the back of the zipper might look better, but I’m still puzzling through that idea. I’m getting obsessed with the notion of the inside of the garment looking as good as the outside.

And here it is on me!

My outfit for lunch with friends at the Sacramento Greek Festival. Photo by Matt Henry, 9.

Long and swishy! Photo by Matt Henry, 9. Can you tell from the angle of the photograph that he’s quite a bit shorter than my teenage daughter?

My goodness, the skirt was cool and comfortable in the hot Sacramento weather today. My friends and I made our annual trek to the Sacramento Greek Festival for lunch. The SacAnime convention was held at the same time and location, so I was not the only person at the Convention Center in a homemade garment. Crazy costumes!

Next up, a simple white blouse from New Look 0134/6104. That’s the pattern I already made in the plaid. This time, I’m planning on honing in that side dart on the proper location.

And the matching plaid skirt

In no time at all, my plaid top has gained a matching skirt.


Maddie the Teenage Daughter has apparently never encountered matching separates. She thought I reworked my top into a dress.

And the back.


“Gene” and I have the same measurements, but somehow she has an hourglass figure. Show-off. 

It was my HOPE to match the plaid at all four seams. Alas, my cutting strategy was off a bit, so the center front and back are matched:

Matched (well, pretty darn close, anyway)!

Matched at the front (well, pretty darn close, anyway)!

And at the sides, not so much:

The plaid is matched only at the horizontal lines. Oops.

The plaid is matched only at the horizontal lines. Oops.

This is how I tried to match the plaid:

I compared the front and back pattern pieces. They were identical except the front was a quarter-inch wider. So I used that piece to cut all four panels so they would be identical, knowing I could just ease in the excess fabric. Then I pinned the pattern once and marked a reference intersection of lines in the middle of the pattern piece and the horizontal lines along the sides. I cut single layer, two face up and two face down.

Aha, two face down was my downfall. The fabric is a woven plaid; there is no wrong or right side. If I had cut all four face up with the plaids lined up with my marks, I only had to flip two pieces to get mirror-image matching along all four seams. As it was, the plaid hit the seam lines slightly differently on each set. So, the centers match on each pair cut the same, but the sides match only on the horizontal lines.  This may be obvious to some, but it took approximately 36 hours of pondering for me to puzzle it out after the fact.

Live and learn.

But I did try a new-to-me technique to make sure the plaids matched when they were sewn. I folded the seam allowance to the wrong side of one piece for each seam then laid it on top of the other (unfolded) piece so the plaid matched at the seamline with the right sides facing up. Then I slip basted from the right side so the plaid would stay aligned. After that, I opened up the seam and stitched on the seam line. This took a lot of time, and it was a little tricky removing the basting stitches (which got caught by the real stitching here and there), but it kept my plaid from shifting around too much when I sewed. Good technique.

I also inserted the zipper by hand. I never really liked stitching them in by machine. It seems to be such a crapshoot: Sew and hope for the best. Hand stitching gives you much more control. Sadly, in my first time trying the technique, I stitched too close to the zipper teeth, leaving no room for the zipper pull to hide in the fabric folds. Lame!

Here it is from the right side:

Look how nicely the plaid matches!

Look how nicely the plaid matches!

But I do NOT like how it looks on the inside:

The seam finishes with the Hug Snug look so nice, but the zipper looks so unfinished.

The seam finishes with the Hug Snug look so nice, but the zipper looks so unfinished. Using a white zipper would have helped, but I had navy in my stash.

All in all, I consider the plaid skirt a success, even with the matching problems at the sides. Regardless, my pattern matching came out better than the example below from a higher-end national retail chain commonly found in malls:

Even my daughter asked how this stripe could match so well at the top but not at the bottom.

Even my daughter asked how this stripe could match so well at the top but not at the bottom. I’m not quite sure what happened here.

I’ve already worn my happy top and skirt combo. Perfect on a not-too-hot summer day. Throw on a cardigan (of which I have many, many, many), and the outfit can easily be worn during our nice warm Northern California fall.

Next up is a linen version of the skirt that will be three inches longer. Here’s the mood board:


A pretty embroidered linen from JoAnn’s. I hadn’t bought the zipper yet when I took this photo. It’s the same color as the linen.

I’m not sure what, if any, attempt at pattern matching I need to make with this fabric. I haven’t examined it that closely yet. But I think there was enough unembroidered fabric along the selvage to use for the waistband.

But it’s linen, and Labor Day is around the corner. I need to get on this quick!


Butterick/See & Sew 5737

Pros: An easy four-gore skirt with a straight waistband that goes together in a cinch. It’s got a decent sweep, but not nearly the sweep of a circle skirt.

Cons: No finished hem width information on the envelope. The pattern companies seem to be moving this kind of information either to the pattern instructions or, worse yet, to the pattern pieces themselves. For me, this is important information when deciding to purchase a pattern. Fair warning to the pattern companies: I don’t want to unfold a pattern in a store to see the finished dimensions, but I will if I have to!


Slowing it down

I thrive on deadline pressure. My 24-year career as an editor and publications manager has been spent producing publications on time and on budget.

I am also always in a hurry to get to the next items on my endless lists. Living in the future, rather than the present, you might say.

I’m not sure if the reason I’m a good fit for a deadline-oriented job is because I’m always in a hurry, or if the reason I’m always in a hurry is because I’ve lived my entire professional life on deadline. It’s the chicken and the egg.

But the idea that it’s all about the journey, not the destination, has been rolling around in my brain for a while now. I’ve been wanting to slow things down; but in the rush of everyday life — work, family, volunteering — I had not found a way to do so.

And then, in November, my employer of 17 years and I mutually agreed to part ways. I was no longer a fit for them, and they were no longer a fit for me. So we amicably separated.

And I’ve discovered a little time to slow down. This has benefited not only my life, but also my sewing.

I read a quote in Threads magazine quite some time ago that went something like this: “Why are you rushing? When you finish this project, you’ll just be starting another one.” And more recently, I saw somewhere: “Why are you in a hurry? It’s your hobby.”

The teal dress is a perfect example of my slowing down: A partial muslin, a wearable muslin, then the final product with time-intensive seam finishes. Slow, sloww, slowww.

But, in my mind at least, a triumph. To me, that dress was a culmination of everything I know about sewing, 30 years in.

And the rest of my life?

I’m slowing that down as well. Sometimes, when I find myself rushing, I stop and instruct myself: “Slow down. Do one thing at a time.”

My editing is better. My house is (marginally) cleaner. I make more meals. I spend more quality time with my children. I (try to) make shorter to-do lists.

And I feel like I’m getting more done and enjoying it more.

I know the sewing is better. More importantly, the life is better. My business as an independent editor and publications manager is not yet where I want it to be, but I’m also taking my time with that. I want to build a business I can be proud of. To do so, I may have to speed my life back up. But I hope it won’t ever be as fast as it was before.

Modern life seems to dictate that we be in a hurry all the time. Our ever-present smart phones send us constant reminders of our multiple obligations and the next items on our to-do lists. But do we really need to rush through life?

I think there’s room for us all to slow down a little.

Overconfidence will get you every time

This sewing project went together so quickly that I didn’t have time to post on it before I finished it!

Here’s the before:

The envelop says New Look 0134, but the pattern pieces say 6104. The instruction sheet lists both numbers.

The envelope says New Look 0134, but the pattern pieces say 6104. The instruction sheet lists both numbers.

After the success I had with my last project, I dove right into this one, confident that I knew all the adjustments I needed to make:

  • Lower the bust point 2 inches
  • Full bust adjustment
  • Add a half-inch in length to the bodice

I was so confident that I didn’t bother with a muslin.


Turns out, lowering the bust point 2 inches was 1 inch too much. I don’t know if this is because it’s a New Look pattern (which I’ve never used before) or because each individual pattern differs. I don’t think it would be as noticeable if the dart were horizontal instead of pointing up so sharply. Regardless, after I discovered the problem, I decided that it could have been avoided if only I had pinned my traced pattern pieces together before I cut the fabric. But I tested that hypothesis that after my garment was done, only to find that it was really difficult to tell exactly where to place the shoulder seam with only half a garment. So, I would not have known that I goofed up the bust point unless I had made a muslin.

Oh well, it really doesn’t affect how much I love the garment. Not at all. Outside of the bust point gone awry, the fit on this top is great, and it’s so easy to make.

I was dealing with an uneven plaid (asymmetrical both horizontally and vertically) and just wasn’t up for all that pattern matching. I only wanted to deal with matching the horizontal lines at the center front and at the sides below the dart.

Lining up the horizontal stripes.

Lining up the horizontal stripes.

So, I cheated and cut everything else on the bias. Only the band around the neckline was supposed to be cut on the bias. I knew the front band wouldn’t have bias stretch issues because it would be stabilized by the woven fusible interfacing I would be using, but I wasn’t sure about the set-in sleeves. I thought the insertion might be a little tricky. Turns out, the sleeves went in just fine. And I really like how the bias front band looks.

The after:

It's tight in the bust area on Gene the dressform because her girls are in the wrong place!

The plaid across the bodice looks like it is matching the sleeve. I assure you, that is entirely accidental.

One thing I really like about not being a newbie seamstress is that I know how to improve upon the sewing instructions. For both the neck band and front band, the instructions called for folding the band to the back and sewing it down from the front. Um, no. I’ve been down that messy road before. I hand sewed both those bands down on the inside, which made it very tidy, indeed. Also making the inside tidy are the rayon seam binding seam finishes. Now that I’ve done two garments with that technique, I don’t know that I can stop. It eats up thread like crazy but is so very pretty. I blame Laura Mae.

It's almost as nice on the inside as the outside. I LOVE that!

It’s almost as nice on the inside as the outside. I LOVE that!

Two other challenges:

That center band: My automatic buttonholer did NOT like it. First, I had to make the buttonholes upside down (sewn from bottom to top) so the little wheel on the left of the presser foot that measures out the length of the buttonhole would have fabric to grab. Then, the bulk of the seam allowances inside the band (even though I trimmed them in anticipation) threw the buttonholer off a bit. So they aren’t as perfectly uniform as they usually are, but they do work just fine. I’ll trim the seam allowances more next time. It’s either that or work the buttonholes by hand, and that ain’t happening for a little summer blouse.

Staystitching the neck edge: The instructions called for staystitching, but didn’t mention that it should be done at 1/4 inch instead of the usual 1/2 inch. It needs to be done at 1/4 inch because the neck band is sewn on with a 3/8 seam allowance. So my staystitching ended up OUTSIDE the seam allowance. Yikes! Seam ripper and steam iron to the rescue. The little holes are barely noticeable.

And here it is on me!

 If the plaid across the bodice looks like it is matching the sleeve, I assure you, that is entirely accidental. Photo by Maddie.

Photo by Maddie.

I love having a woven blouse that fits! I know I need one in white, and I found that I already had a perfect plain white cotton in my stash. I also have plenty of the buttons from the plaid version left over. This time around, I’ll put in the bodice tucks from View C and try the sleeves from View A. And NO pattern matching.

But first, I’ll be making a matching plaid skirt, which is in progress, no thanks to Sewing Assistant Teacup.

Hey, can't you see I'm trying to match a plaid here?

Teacup! Can’t you see I’m trying to match a plaid here?

Teal and navy lawn: It’s done, and I LOVE it!

The teal and navy lawn version of Butterick 5846 is complete! It was a long road to get here — partial muslin, pattern adjustments, full wearable muslin, more pattern adjustments — but it was well worth the effort. I now have the best-fitting dress I have had since, well, I had two children.

Here’s the “before,” you might say:

The mood board for this project.

The mood board for this project.

And here’s the “after”:

This was my first time working with cotton lawn. It's wonderful to sew.

It’s a basic shirtdress, so I can do approximately 1 zillion variations.

And the back.

I think it’s on “Gene” the dressform a little off-center.

Gene’s wearing a belt, but the dress doesn’t actually need one because the fit at the waist is so nice. (I did place the buttons with a belt in mind.) The second set of pattern adjustments I made, after the wearable muslin, were right on the money. These adjustments will be very handy for other projects going forward. After making the wearable muslin and discovering that it only comes to my knee, I opted for the longer length, trimmed only to make the hemline even.

On the inside, I decided to go all “Laura Mae” with rayon seam binding tape. I had practiced on the wearable muslin and LOVED how tidy it made the inside. Check it out:

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding.

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding. (Is it just me, or does the inside view look like a Gunne Sax dress from the 1980s?)

 Here’s a closeup of the waist seam and side seam intersection:
How pretty is the inside?

How pretty is the inside?

The ONLY thing I don’t love about this project is the little pattern-matching problem. Did you notice? Close up, this fabric looks like it has a random all-over pattern. Once I pinned the first piece to my dress form, however, I noticed that the pattern actually has strong horizontal lines. This is not so great to discover AFTER all the pieces have been cut out. Note to self: Look at the fabric from near AND far before cutting.

And here it is on me!

With pearls and bangles. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit "looks funny."

With pearls and bangles for a vintage vibe. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit “looks funny.”

I plan to wear THE HECK out of this dress. If you see me in it way too many times, please be a Dear. Don’t say anything.


Next up, some casual summer skirts and tops with the cottons and linens I’ve been stashing for the past few months.

We’re sitting in the mid-90s in Northern California this week. Which makes it very difficult to look at the woolens JoAnn’s just put in the stores. Please! Not yet!

The Paris muslin is finished

It turns out that the Crazy Paris Dress made as a wearable muslin for Butterick 5846 is not the worst dress ever made. I even plan to wear it in public.

I don't think this looks all that bad, but maybe I've been looking at it too long.

I don’t think this looks all that bad, but maybe I’ve been looking at it too long. And would you look at that? I forgot to button two of the buttons when I put it on my dressform. 

The back.

The belt was made with a vintage slide buckle and some waistband interfacing. It stays closed with a snap I sewed on.

Although a contrast collar is one of the views on the pattern, this white one was done out of necessity. I didn’t have enough fabric because I cut out all the bodice pieces first rather than follow the pattern cutting layout, so I used some poly-cotton batiste I had in the stash. I really like the white collar, which inspired the white buttons and belt. I think all the white tones down the “novelty print” fabric.

You can get a better look at the red topstitching below. This is the best convertible collar I have ever done. The pattern calls for a hook and eye at the top of the bodice just below the collar itself, but I don’t intend to wear it that way so I didn’t bother. I also didn’t bother to interface anything because the quilting fabric seemed substantial enough and because this is a wearable muslin.

An up-close look at the topstitching. I used regular thread, not topstitching thread.

A closeup look at the topstitching. I used regular thread, not topstitching thread, which is thicker.

Here it is on yours truly:

As promised to Melissa, here I am in the dress. Photo by Maddie.

As promised to Melissa, here I am in the dress. Photo by Maddie.

By making the whole dress, I found out a few things that will come in handy when I make it out of the lovely teal and navy lawn I’ve got waiting.

  • I added too much length and width during my pattern alteration. I can take out half of the 4 inches I added across the front and half of the inch I added to the overall length of the bodice.
  • When you add length to the bodice, you must add length to the front facing. I remembered that little rule one scissor cut too late. Oops. There may be a little seam in the facing near the hem. Shhh.
  • I can’t imagine ever using the pockets on this dress. They just don’t seem like a very secure place to put anything more than a handkerchief. Since the pockets just complicate finishing the side seams, out they go for the real dress.
  • The length is too short by at least 3 inches. I’ll cut out the longer version next time around and figure out the best length when it’s time to hem. Thank goodness they still had the fabric at JoAnn’s. I bought an additional 2 yards to be safe.

All in all, I really like this pattern. Since it’s a basic shirtdress, it has many possibilities for variation. I could even make it into a shirt by extending the bodice and the tucks.

Now that I’ve got the fitting really dialed, I’m excited to see how it looks in a nice soft cotton lawn as compared with a quilting cotton. I hope to be re-altering the pattern tomorrow.

WARNING: Butterick 5846 has a mistake. The collar is marked to be clipped at the wrong spot. It should be clipped where the front facing ends. It’s an easy enough fix. KimP explains the problem and the solution well on her blog, which I found when I encountered the error and Googled the pattern to see which of us was crazy, me or the Butterick 5846. Turns out it’s the pattern. This time.


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