Top Knit Picks for Spring/Summer 2012

Taking it easy on sewing lately due to baby care.  Though I am sorely tempted to try out those pattern sales, I do feel that I have enough patterns at home and that I should withstand the temptation to purchase some patterns that I might not have time to make.

So here are the picks from the pattern stash. 

Simplicity 3790

I have made both the surplice and the yoked top before.  Here is the review of the surplice which I have decided looks deplorable on me no matter how well fitted.  But the little swingy top flatters me and I still have my wearable muslin which I have worn to bits.

Simplicity 2283

And I have made the vest of this pattern but not the tops.  Definitely sewing the vest again.  I looked for my previous review but could not find it.  The top looks cute but I wonder how much time it will take.

There they are.  Unusual for me to only have two patterns in the offing but it is kind of refreshing to have just a few designs to focus on.  As Sister from Dr. Fun Living la vida loca commented on my last post, the anticipation is half the fun. 

Now I can enjoy rooting through the fabric stash and see what can be found there. 🙂


Baby Yarp Season: Building a Nursing Wardrobe

Breastfed babies DO puke, despite what authorities say.  I remember being puked upon a lot, and often smelling generally milky.  At the time I did not think much about gathering clothing that would hide baby stains.  I wasn’t sewing as much or as well then, and I did not have much money to buy even secondhand clothes.  I remember feeling very frumpy.

This time around I want to do better so I have given it some thought.  Like I mentioned last post I am going to branch out style-wise and do the unstructured, layered look.  Adding and subtracting clothing on a per-stain basis should be easier that way. 

Normally I am attracted to wovens, but I am going to concentrate on knits for a season, as they are quicker to sew, don’t need fancy seam finishes, and if unstructured, can be easily taken in as my waistline, hopefully!, decreases.

My next thought was color – what colors best repel or hide stains.  Not just puke stains.  As the baby grows and feeding solids begins, he will have his hands in strained peas and peaches and then want to love on me, adorning my clothes with permanent orange, green and brown marks.

Thinking through the fabric/color issue while waiting on my second glucose test at the OB/Gyn’s,  I decided to build my wardrobe around darker knits in solids or flowy/busy prints.  Taking a cue from a recent post by Stephanie of 3 Hours Past the Edge I got onto the website and created a small basic palette.

Navy, burgundy, forest green, grey and purple in various prints and solids.

Not fancy but I think it will do for the upcoming season of baby yarp and food fights. 

Any other suggestions for baby friendly fabric or color options?

McCall’s 6119 Halter Top:Second Practice Muslin of Bodice:It’s Getting Better

What I should have done the first time around.

Tissue fit of McCall's 6119: I went up a cup size and was thankful to see the better coverage as compared to the first muslin.

Actually fit the tissue to the dress form.  Normally I don’t have anything especially customized about my dress form other than height, and that sometimes slips as the screws in this thing are very old.  At one time I had a duct tape dummy but I threw her out when my figure no longer matched.  That must have been why I forgot to try the tissue first. 

This maternity dummy is wearing one of my old bras so it comes the closest to my actual form than any I have had in awhile.  I ended up nipping in a bit at the neckline top, and some at the closure area. 

It’s better.

McCall's 6119 Second practice muslin of bodice: The fit is much better though I will have to lower the bust point just a tad on the final cut.

This is my second practice bodice and I am fairly pleased.  Went up a cup size, made a few alterations and the fit is much better.   During try-on I was a little self-conscious about showing this much of my chest but I keep remembering what the weather is like in August.  It will do for around the house.  I can always slip on a little jacket if I go out.

The next step of course is sewing it up in the fashion fabric.  I am rooting through my stash for the right material and hope to get it cut out today.

Bustin’ Out! Fitting Issues with McCall’s 6119 Halter Top

McCall's 6119 halter top

McCall’s 6119 appeared to be a pattern that would allow my belly to increase through the summer and I might even get some wear out of it next summer when I am no longer pregnant.

I pulled the bodice portion for a practice muslin and quickly sewed it up.

A problem arose.  Just a glance and you get the jist. 

All of you ladies out there who know what happens with pregnancy/nursing nips can imagine my horror when I tried this little number on! Clearly not enough coverage.

I’m bustin’ out!

I don’t dare show you a real-life shot as it was obscene.  Use your imagination about where things are placed on the normal female bosom, then look at the dress form and you begin to see how poor the fit is.

How I ended up with this state of things:

I am one of those women department store lingerie clerks despair of  because I wear the wrong size bra.  Though the skies may fall I go up a band size and down a cup size for comfort.  I know, I know – this approach elicits strong words from fashion advisors, but the band size that matches my rib cage is uncomfortable.  What is a little tight in the morning is excruciating by 4:00 p.m. when my body has naturally retained some water from the days food and liquid intake. 

I have quietly rebelled on this fashion issue and been quite comfortably trussed into my allegedly ill-sized lingerie.  However I should have remembered my approach is not the standard one when I cut this pattern.  My absentmindedness led me astray.   I cut my RTW bra size, not my actual measurement.

Just a heads up – if you are pregnant or nursing, skip the A/B option altogether.   A no brainer, all of you will remind me,  but I forgot.

See how the strap on the photo right is falling off the mannequin shoulder. And notice the gaping neckline at the bra cup top seam. Is a bigger cup size, meaning more fabric, going to take care of those fitting issues which may be inherent in the drafting of the pattern?

Now I am looking at the muslin I see other potential fitting problems. 

  1. Look at how wide apart the straps are and I have a narrow chest.  The one strap in the photo appears to be falling off the mannequin shoulder. Given the angle of the strap can one change the starting point and maintain the shape of the neckline?
  2. Even if I go up a cup size, or two, the material may cover my bosom, but will it be loose and drapey along the top like the practice muslin? 
  3. Will a bit of elastic along the neckline take care of that?

Over the last few days I have been reading what fellow sewist and blogger Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic is going through putting so much energy into fitting what might be a poorly drafted pattern.  I understand her determination as she has expensive fabric on the line.  But I have just invested an old sheet up to this point and I am wondering if it will be a waste of time tinkering with this pattern?  Or worse, I make it up in fashion fabric and still feel exposed and end up pulling on the shirt all day as it may slide around on my shoulders.  Should I abandon it now, or perservere?

Has anyone else made this pattern or one like it?  What was your experience?

Maternity Sewing:McCall’s 6121 Asymmetric Hemline Knit Top:Pattern Review

McCall's 6121

During April’s big sale events I had a gorgeous time leafing through the pattern catalogs looking for standard patterns that could be easily altered for maternity wear.  Normally I would bypass this pattern as too unstructured but since loose and flowing is now my goal I bought it for dirt cheap and quickly made a practice muslin.  The practice muslin I will not be showing you as it was sewn in that super-gnarly see-through Walmart knit, but I do have a picture of one of the final tee’s, and I have another on the cutting table ready for sewing over the next few days.


Super easy to construct.

Standard pregnancy patterns for tee’s are often of the boring, crewneck variety with a boxy matronly cut.  The asymmetric hemline is refreshingly fashionable. 

If in the last trimester you grow past the first hemline, you can add a simple band at the bottom to extend the length. 

McCall's 6121 Pattern Illustration:See the hemline is just a straight line. You can easily add a band for additional length if desired.

It is a basic tee at heart allowing for embellishments of your own at the neckline.

With the right figure and the right fabric it can work as a dress.  Paired with a small heel it would be especially lovely.

McCall's 6121 in stretch lace. The folds show best in natural light so I purposefully did not Photoshop or lighten this image.


Option A, the lady in red is wearing a tank underneath the fashion pattern.  That tells you that the neckline falls quite low on the chest.  I raised the neckline to securely cover both boobs and bra straps.

Leggings or skinny jeans may not be your thing, but this style works best with a fitted bottom.  Worn with a standard trouser and it may start to look frumpy.

Even using knits from a wide bolt, the sides of the pattern extended past my fabric edge.  Make sure you tidy up the edges by cutting off the selvedges neatly before sewing so you have equal widths across the back and front.

The armscye is a bit high and narrow for fuller arms.  The knits stretch over my arm the same degree as RTW, so I haven’t bothered to alter this as I would normally.  If you have fuller arms you may want to add a some width and lower the armscye.  Do a practice muslin and see how much this bugs you.

Some Assembly Required:

McCall's 6121 in stretch lace.

Call me lazy, I serged the whole thing.

Shoulders first.


Hems next because I had two different lengths, shorter in back and longer in front to accommodate baby. 

Then side seams and,

finally armscye.


I used a stretch lace acquired from Jo’s bargain table.  I think it will be cute in the summer as an overlay for tighter fitting tanks. 

The problem I encountered was that the Hello Kitty machine can be fussity with such fabrics, waving the hemlines, and when it is feeling especially kittenish, pulling delicate fabrics down into the throat plate.

Knowing that this top is not meant to last the ages I serged the hemline, neckline and armscye and left it at that.  The serging looks nice, somewhat like a ribbon edge from a distance, and most importantly, the edges are clean and undistorted.   Bypassed Hello Kitty entirely on this one.


When you raise the neckline you will also raise the hemline.  Consider putting those inches back onto the hem. 

When you raise the neckline at the shoulders you will decrease the armscye circumference.  Add those inches back at by lowering the underarm.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes.  It is very easy and will allow me to generate a lot of tops in a small amount of time.  This is a blessing since pregnancy often means cobbling together an entire new wardrobe.

Advice to Others:

The pattern can only be cut from 60 inch knits.  Nothing else will do to get the swishiness around the legs that you need.

The loose folds will allow for some imprecision, but the neckline is the focal point and you don’t want that to scream homemade with a wonky finish.  Beginning sewers may just serge/zig zag and turn under the neckline and armscye edges, but if possible try to familiarize yourself with applying a knit binding to those edges.  It can even be made of the fashion fabric versus buying a special rib knit for that purpose.  It isn’t in the instructions but it will upgrade the look of the shirt.

Overall Style GradeB.  Credit for the asymmetric hemline, but I don’t know how stylish very oversized tees are right now.  Better than plain tees from the maternity shop, but it doesn’t take one’s breath away either.

Results Grade: A.  Easy to achieve a good result.  The bottom slope of the side seams can even take some imprecision since the seamline is hidden in the folds of fabric formed by the excess. 

Next Post: Thursday, May 5, 2011: Kwik Sew’s maternity pants pattern for wovens – nicer than I imagined!

Simplicity 2447: Yoked Princess Seam Tunic

Simplicity 2447

I was betwist and between on this pattern as I don’t much like the tunic shown on the model but I did like the line drawings of the other styles.  Given that there was a sale going on, I decided to give it a chance. 


Other than the princess seam it is a basic blouse.

The different options show a basic blouse done several ways which means you can sew this pattern for either your summer or winter wardrobes.


New sewers may find the princess seam tricky enough without adding detailing like pockets or ruffles.

There is a collar with stand making the neckline more complex than a simple collar. For some reason stands show off sewing irregularities so much more than inserting a collar directly into a facing.

Some Assembly Required:

I did my usual: assemble the back, assemble the front, attach front to back at shoulder seams, attach collar, apply buttonholes, insert sleeves, hem.

Simplicity 2447 Side View


The fabric didn’t work out.  I had hoped that the yoked princess portion would break up the print but it still looks rather overwhelming.  I don’t know if I am going to wear the shirt or not.  We’ll see.  Maybe when the weather is hot and sunny the print won’t feel so far out there.

Simplicity 2447 Front View: I thought that the yoked princess seams would cut up the intensity of the print, but I was wrong. I am not sure I like the fabric.


My stand is a wee bit off on the button side of the placket.  All was good until the last centimeter.  When I saw the result I thought of ripping out, but even at that early stage I was beginning to have misgivings about the print.   I am not sure I will wear the shirt enough to fuss over an 1/8 inch awkwardness at a not very noticeable site.

Here is my stand that juts out from the edge too much. Should I have gone in and tidied it up. Yep. But I was already out of love with the fabric so I didn't bother.

Will I Sew it Again:

Yes.  I want to sew the tunic with the ruffle.  This time I am using a medium blue jacquard so the style lines will not get lost in the print.

Advice to Others:

If you use a print, be careful of what kind. 

Overall Style Grade:  B, not particularly fashionable, but then not unfashionable either, and a rather useful basic blouse pattern.

Results Grade: B, given the stand, princess seams and pocket detailing, there are greater opportunities for sewing errors, especially if you are new to those techniques.  An intermediate or experienced sewer will probably get an A result.  A new sewer may face some challenges.

Next Post: Thursday, February 24, 2011: I am going to make another version of this pattern, or I am going to start something new.  I haven’t decided yet.

Forward Shoulder Adjustment:Pattern Alteration

The computer was back up and running a few days ago, but alas, having caught the flu, I was not.   I did finish the first two of my spring blouses and completed the practice muslin for another pattern but it was slow going.  I am over the worst of the symptoms but still not too zippy yet. 

In my last post I mentioned showing you the forward shoulder adjustment I did on the camp shirt McCall’s 5052.  For years I have realized that my shoulders are settled forward but I have choosen to ignore that fact in my dress fitting.  Why ignore such a simple thing?

Because as a child I hunched over in a self-protective posture which has given me forward shoulders, and seeing those forward shoulders reminds me of the circumstances that left me feeling like I needed to be self-protective.  Rather than go there I just ignored it when a bodice didn’t fit so well at the shoulder.

But recently I guess some kind of emotionally-healthy-reality check kicked in and told my brain, “Hey, that shirt could be really cute if you would just fix the shoulder.”

I worried that the alteration would be too hard.

Then I remembered that I live in the age of the internet and someone somewhere has deconstructed everything.

Using two tutorials and my typical c’est le vie attitude towards fitting issues I came up with an acceptably easy forward shoulder alteration.

Here are the tutorials:

  1. One from Assorted Notions
  2. And, the other a hint from Gigi on

Contrary to my fears the adjustment was completed rather easily.

Step One: I cut a small wedge out of the front bodice and taped it onto the back bodice.  Then I cut the armscye of the back bodice deeper.  REMEMBER- save that little scrap of armscye you just cut away.  You will use it later.

Here I am cutting away excess from the back bodice armscye. If you look at the shoulder you can see where I taped onto the top of the back shoulder the wedge cut from the front bodice shoulder.

Step Two: I drew a straight line from notch to notch across the sleeve cap.  I cut along that line and moved the sleeve center point a small distance forward.  Whatever amount you take away from the front shoulder seam is the amount you move the sleeve head forward.

Drawing a straight line from notch to notch I cut along that line and moved the sleeve cap forward. You can see how far I moved the head by looking at the straight grain line marking on the tissue. If you have no other line, you will have to mark the original center before cutting and moving the cap forward.

Step Three: I cut the scrap of back bodice armscye in half and laid the halves on my sleeve pattern going from the center to the back notches.  This way I know I am adding to the back sleeve cap just the same amount that I cut from the back bodice armscye.  I taped the tissue slivers down, and then tidied up the edges. 

Hard to see in the photo but the tissue sliver from the back bodice is taped to the back sleeve cap. You can see the two slivers sticking out from each end. I took a marker and trued the curve, then cut away the excess.

Adjustment done and it worked!  The sleeve fits so much more comfortably now that I want to make this adjustment on all of my woven shirts.  Sometimes things we have avoided for years have the easiest of fixes! 🙂

I had to lighten up the photo considerably as the dark color was hard to photograph. Most of the original ill fit was along the back shoulder so I was surprised to see that the forward shoulder adjustment improved the fit of the front shoulder considerably as well.



You can't see but the camera is resting on my head as it was very hard to properly photograph one's own back shoulder. I have lightened it up in Photoshop. Hope the pic is not too grainy to see that the back shoulder area is largely free of excess fabric folds. Whenever I buy a shirt off the rack clearly it has a ton of folds in back as most shirts are not designed with my shoulders in mind. Usually I don't mind a few wrinkles as it makes my garments appear storebought, but the fit is so comfortable with this adjustment that I may do it to all of my woven blouse patterns. My husband even commented that it looked better than storebought.


Next Post: Tuesday, February 22, 2011: Pattern Review: Simplicity 2447

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