Jacket Preparations

Nancy went off on a vacation and left me with the new Butterick 6106. So far you have only seen the sleeves and the short cap but how about the rest of it?B6106

Let’s see what we are up against:            P1170894
The back is normal with side panels, the right front is interesting with diagonal strips and a triangle or two that attach to the back side panel. But then we come to the left side…hmmm



What you don’t see in the photo on the envelope is a lump/tumor of sorts of fabric that pooches out from the body for some reason…OK designer’s choice. In the paper preview, the middle strip is already showing this protrusion. When we go to the muslin it gets even better/worse.

2-right-side So far so good…3-right-side-level Bring out the ruler and see where our grainlines will be…can you see the angle?4-side-shape The front of the jacket will certainly flare away from the body by 3 inches…OK designer choice.5-front The fronts overlap and then….the left side problem emerges:6-tumor-left-side7-left-side-grainline Besides the tumor, the grainlines are wandering north and also flaring away from the body. Let’s see the fabric version.

10-muslin-back9-muslin-r-side Back and right side look the same as in the paper version…how about the fronts and left side?13-muslin-sewn-front-bulge Do all the opposing grainlines make you nervous? Do all the drag lines worry you? Does the tumor pouch make you wonder WHY? Me too! Maybe you are thinking that I should have cut a smaller size but the bust and hips measure out well for a jacket to be worn over other clothing, it is just this weird shape that worries me. The designer Katherine Tilton has shown other versions of this in plaid and stripes.L1030024

Once Nancy returns she will be modeling this puppy and we will see what it looks like on a real body.

Before I go I thought you might like to see the tunic that was attached to the sleeves in the last post. This cool linen/cotton fabric was bought at Fabric of Vision in Ashland, Oregon  years ago and waited/aged until I could figure out what it wanted to be.

P1180078 2-raise-necklineIt is Butterick 5390 that I have made in 2 other versions last year. The V-neckline is very deep so I raised it up 2 inches and cut the sleeves crossgrain and pieced them to be horizontal:    tunic B53905-preview-sleeves

Until next time…does anyone need more veggies? It has been a very long growing season in the Mole’s garden…Sept-2014-2



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Sleeve Cap Flap part 2

This week we needed a visual for a better sleeve with a taller cap. I placed the paper pattern down and traced the XL size along with the extra panel for fitting.16-new-sleeve17-added-panel The grain lines are drawn horizontally and vertically in black marker. The stitching line for the XL is the dotted line at the top and the rest as they say…is gravy. If we need it, it is there, if we don’t it gets cut off…CL-TL.

I pinned the lower half of the sleeve in the armhole from notch to notch and worked the rest of the sleeve with ease. Then I used the XXL stitching line at the cap only to give extra height…about 1/2 inch more. Here is the sleeve machine basted:18-new-cap19-front-view It is getting better with just that 1/2 extra don’t you think? But the bicep line still hikes up a bit. So what happened to the sleeve and the armhole? Dimensions please…..20-dimensions We went from 3/4 inch ease to 1 inch. Each sleeve cap section enlarged 1/8 inch so total 1/4 inch.

Then I thought…in the very first photo last week it looked like 1 inch extra sleeve cap height would be good. I removed the sleeve, drew another seam line 1/2 inch higher up and basted it in.

Adding a full inch added another 1/4 inch to the overall sleeve circumference so to reduce the ease below the cap and above the notches I pinned out and basted 1/2 inch (2 squares) all the way across. Now we have the original circumference with ease of .75 inch. While it looks like there are drag lines it is because there is no arm in the sleeve and it hangs flat.


Is there anything else we can do besides that pinning out? Of course, as my grandma used to say, “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. In this previous photo you can see you can raise the curved sections up:MuslinSleeveFlatv5_1-smalle You need to plan ahead for this as there is no extra fabric there once you have cut out the sleeve unless you want to make another muslin. Either way you are shortening the distance from the new cap line but still having a taller cap to eliminate drag lines and lay nicely over the shoulder bone. So for this pattern the real sleeve will be cut size XL with the cap cut for the XXL plus another 1/2 inch higher. The pinned area will be folded out of the paper pattern straight across.

This is just my version of making this sleeve look better, you don’t have to try it or agree. But if you look back through some of Nancy’s other patterns we have done this over and over for wovens and knits. Next week, she returns from her vacation and we can get started on pinning and slashing this jacket.

Thank you for all your helpful comments and questions. If I have not shown what you asked, please be patient, opportunities will bring more photos but in the meantime I am just working on my 45th bride this season and 33rd bridesmaid dress so time is short in the sewing room. You can always send photos and questions privately and if you have any SEW BAD photos for the Saturday feature…send them to: surroundedbywhite@gmail.com


Sept-2014 A sample of the garden produce this week…happy sewing everyone!




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Sleeve Cap Flap

This week, I have just about lost my mind about bad/skimpy sleeve caps. There was a challenge on the FabricMart blog for a simple t-shirt pattern to be manipulated into something quite unique by well-known sewers. Normally, I enjoy these challenges for the sewers discover faults and adapt their new designs and inspirations and make something super.

When you click on the link above you will see some darling fashions but every single one of them did not address the sleeve cap that is too short and causing drag lines in every garment…some way worse than others. Check them out…drag lines up the wazoo no matter what fabric they used.

It is not just this pattern, I would say a good 50% or more of patterns on the market cheat us out of good sleeve caps…and for heaven’s sake…it is simple…the shoulder bone is round and needs extra fabric to drape over it before becoming a tube.11002Front-arrows

If the stripes are 1 inch wide, you can see that with 1 inch added to the cap the stripes would line up well with the bodice. Here is another pattern, a new-upcoming jacket for Nancy with a bad sleeve cap:Tilton-jacket

Want more? Here are a couple from another blogger who I tried to help with her sleeves:SleeveSidev1_1MuslinSleeveFlatv5_1 She needed more than one inch so she could add it to achieve the result…the first photo shows the perfect sleeve with a few pins pinching out the excess and the second shows how she did it on her muslin. OK, you say…it doesn’t really matter in a print…OK…no one will notice…except the wearer when she has drag lines and cannot raise her arm.

Want to see a perfect sleeve cap with stripes? This is my new linen/cotton tunic, with a horizontal back slash of 3/4 inch to bring the shoulder seams forward and darts in the back neckline. The sleeve stripes are parallel with the floor as they should be.

tunic-sheeve-2 So, how do you get to this point?

I use the Mrs Mole method for everything- CL-TL…Cut large, trim later. If I am cutting a size 20 bodice, I cut the 22 or 24 sleeve because the cap is higher and I can just pin out and cut out what I don’t want later. Another method I have seen in tailoring books is to cut one inch or more beyond the seam line from notch to notch. You mark the original seam/stitching line and then use whatever extra fabric you need to make the horizontal lines parallel with the floor.tailor-trick Adding to the cap will definitely drop the sleeve lower into the armscye but the alteration of raising those areas up a little make it fit better. Of course we all measure our sleeve and armscye, don’t we? Don’t we all want to know what ease the designer left for us? YES WE DO! T shirts have little ease and flat sleeve caps while jackets SHOULD have more ease and higher sleeve caps…they can have up to 2 inches of ease. But you have to measure to know this:measure sleeve

Remember Nancy’s Vogue 8821 sleeve cap? It was a knit and needed more cap ease at the top and side seams…so out came the curved ruler to make that happen. If you don’t measure the front and back opening and the sleeve then you have no idea what you have. If you rely on the pattern company to get it right…guess again!!! OK if you don’t want to bother with measuring and recording it…then just “walk” the sleeve in the armscye to see how it will sew in…it might fit but the cap will pull up and then what?

Now try looking at blog photos for the sleeve drag lines…while the bodice will hang straight…maybe…without wrinkles…it is the sleeve that shows the true expertise/patience of the seamstress. Who do you want to be…the one with perfect or sloppy sleeves?



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A Treasure Hunt and a Save

You bought your dream wedding dress at a high end salon on the other side of the state, the salon assured you that the alterations would be perfect…so you left the dress with them. A week before the wedding, you picked up the dress and paid for it but they told you that you should not try it on because …WHY?…they have steamed it. (FIRST MISTAKE!)

You get home 5 hours later and try it on and realize that there is only one bustle point and the rest of the dress is dragging on the ground (like basset hound dog ears) and there are weird “wings” of fabric protruding from your hips. (SECOND MISTAKE! ) What now? The wedding is 4 days away!P1170799 copy You ask your friend who is a hairdresser who just happens to live across the street from Mrs. Mole for a favor. I accepted the 4 day challenge because I wanted to see inside the dress and make the 2 additional points on the bustle (see safety pins). Like many brides with their heads in the clouds, they try on a size 14 dress and need it to be a 8 or 10…no problem the salon says…”our back room seamstress can handle it”. Someone pins out the seams, and someone stitches them up…not necessarily the same person…and how can you tell?

Let’s see some telltale signs, shall we?open-liningFirst we open the lining to get inside,take-in-r-side here is the right side to be taken in…but where do the wings come from?P1170803




No matter where I looked there were chewed off bits and where the pencil line stopped, so did the stitching…guess the sewer did not know that she was supposed to trail off to nothing below the last pencil mark. Was this dress marked and then bagged up and dropped off at someone’s house for the sewing part? It is anyone’s guess/probably.


Beads have to be removed when they fall unto the seamline but not all seamstresses do this. Once all the new seams were sewn, EVERY seam allowance was trimmed and pressed flat and the dress was perfect and on time. I didn’t have the heart to ask what they were charged for this half-ass alteration job but there is no way the bride would have gone down the aisle looking so bad. She wrote a glowing review online for me and sent a thank you note too…it means so much to be appreciated!

Before I go, I want to share a new addition to my sewing family…drum roll please…instead of me droning on and on about my new machine, please click on this link for another seamstresses photos and reviews of the Juki 2010Q. Yes, it is targeted for quilters but it has a vertical bobbin case that I dearly wanted/needed and such a huge clearance for thick gowns and netting.JukiMy Elna has a new place to stay! A couple months ago I saw an ad for a 1930’s sewing cabinet on Craigslist. It was $30 but needed a patch of wood and some TLC as in sanding and staining and varnish to make it new again. My neighbor who built my platform added the patch and cut the chewed up legs off by 2 inches to match my counter top height.


What more does a girl want or need?

Have a super week of sewing everyone! And if you want your latest wadder featured on the SEW BAD Saturday, just email me at: surroundedbywhite@gmail.com

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Introducing SEW BAD Saturday…a day early

Just to liven up this blog, I am adding a feature so that all of you can participate.

There are enough sites where completed garments are shown and the drooling begins and compliments fly no matter what the resulting garment displays. In most cases, it is not the sewing that lets the final garments down…it is what starts in the beginning…a bad pattern or bad design. We are duped into thinking that we can fit into a design made for a size 0, six foot tall model who probably has clamps at the back of her clothes making them more form fitting. We are fooled into thinking that someone ever actually drew these patterns themselves, graded them and did a mock-up to test them. We are further lulled into thinking WE can make these paper patterns into something vaguely resembling the envelope photograph.

This week our first entry/guinea pig submitted her creation. She was given a few questions to help her construct her story and shares her photos. Take it away Lisa….

Here you go—
Now, if I only knew “why” I did things, I could answer your questions so much better!
Why did I pick that pattern, Vogue 1401? Probably because it was made up in red! Seriously! And it looked like it would be fun to make and to wear.
What size did the envelope say I should be: a solid size 16 with a slight decrease in size for the bust area.

Luckily, some kind soul on Pattern Review mentioned that this dress runs really, really big so I checked my measurements and made a muslin for the bodice top in size 12 and it was very comfortable after I shortened the length of the front and back by 1” which I took out at the bust line. I didn’t realize that the elephantiasis started at the next tier down from the bodice.
Alterations to the pattern before cutting:
I am only 5’4” so I took out an additional 1-1/2” in length in the lower front and back pieces. In total I shortened the dress by 2-1/2”.
I stay stitched the entire bodice and any bias edges for the lower tiers. I tried to move the front welt pockets down below the applique but they still got caught up in all that jazz there which made them difficult to turn. I would make the pocket bags longer so they can hold my house key and some money when I am out on the town if I make this again.

I kept taking in the side seams—probably a good 4 inches on each side to try to calm the hot air balloon effect. The upside of hacking away the sides was that the armholes became comfortable for a sleeveless dress so I bound them with bias tape and it is my heat wave outfit. I haven’t had the nerve to wear it outside the house but it works for the garden!

My fabric is an Indian madras/seersucker—very lightweight but I wanted to see the grainlines. My biggest complaint is that the bias tiers make diamond shaped designs in the middle of my butt and my girlie privates—and the pattern does not say that stripes would be a problem. The middle of the dress is a bias applique with bias slices of fabric sewn on top of it and then jeans thread sewn on top of that. I didn’t do as much as the pattern wanted but this was supposed to be a muslin:)

I like the idea of having a dress with “artwork” on it but this silhouette is not quite what I had in mind. I know that this art teacher style is not popular with your readers but I’m an old hippie and still think that tie dye is lovely so what do I know? vogue_1401_plaid_008[1]

Now dear readers, your comments and suggestions are directed to Lisa and she can answer in the comments section. Every Saturday that I have an entry/wadder to share, it will be featured so please email me and tell me what you want to feature here: surroundedbywhite@gmail.com. Also if you want to contact Lisa privately, I will pass along your emails to her.

For me, I do like the top of this dress and the embellishment and colors…but what do I know…my world is ivory satin most of the time! Please tell Lisa how you feel about her dress and her courage to be the first in this series of SEW BAD!

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Brides Gone Bad

Maybe it was the fact that they were both second time brides, maybe it was because they were both in their mid-forties, but both were infatuated….head-over-heels in love….with idea of being a bride/themselves. Both brought their best/long suffering faithful friends with them to be the audience/sounding board/cheering section.

The first bride went all out for a David’s Bridal wedding dress with diagonal seaming and long train that would finally have a French under bustle and an added halter to hold up her bodice. All went well with the alterations, hemming lace and adding 16 satin covered buttons down the back because “I could not even imagine getting married without buttons down my back”.

P1170632 2P1170633 The day of the scheduled pick-up and payment I got a phone call saying that she would like to delay the pick-up until the following day as she was going to have a preview hair-do and she wanted to invite all her girlfriends to my house for a hair-do preview party and jewelry try-on and viewing event. After I silently gasped, I managed to tell her that the following day was not available and we would have to stick to the original day.  That’s when things went awry/down the toilet.

The agreed upon time was 12 noon for she and her friend to come for the final try-on and payment…alone. At 1 pm, I got a call from her saying she and her friend were getting their mink eyelashes attached and the girl was running late so could they be a tiny bit late…OK. Then 30 minutes later the friend called to say that the bride was just starting  to get her new eyelashes on and they would be a tiny bit late…OK. At 10 minutes to 2 pm…in they wander with the mink eyelashes flapping away and extended all the way up to their eyebrows…Holy Kim Kardashian! The going rate for mink eyelashes is $200 for the first application and $75 for refills…more than the alterations cost! But they both were so happy flapping and flitting around the room, they floated out the front door and I had a check in hand.

The second bride and her friend came with a slinky bias-cut silk dress in a plastic garment bag and announced as she opened it, “This dress has been in this bag since 2006″. OK, I didn’t ask if it was for the same groom or a different groom because it seemed irrelevant… it was all about her from then on. The dress had to “puddle” just right to cover her feet and yes, there had to be a bustle so she could dance all night long.

back frontThe only thing that held the dress on her body were 2 thin spaghetti straps and some tiny loops. The back neckline dropped well below her waist as you can see in the photo. I did not photograph the dress on her as no one has to see a butt crack. Puddling completed with 1/2 inch horsehair braid hem, the challenge would be to figure out how to make a bustle when there was no center back seam or any darn seam on the back of the dress or lining. I decided on making a long ribbon of  stay tape which would be attached to the lower back and hang down inside without adding bulk.stay-tape

A clear button would be sewn to the tail.stay-tape-2 A thread loop reinforced with a square of silk organza for strength sewn through all layers would be made and then attached to the button:measure-tapebustle-looploop-attached Once attached, the bustle hangs down just right with puddling in front and a dance length in back…go figure?final-bustle But the best part was not the dress, oh no, it was the story of the wedding, the location and the shoes. The bride planned her wedding on a yacht in Marina Del Rey  in Southern California and the guests and she would be staying at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Her shoes told the rest of the story…to compliment the 8 year old dress she had ordered online 6 pairs of Alice + Olivia shoes first but they were not right, then she ordered 6 pairs of Prada shoes and they were not right. Finally, she settled on a pair of Manolo Blahniks. The fact that the front of the dress was going to cover everything did make me wonder. So after this little tale of extravagance as I am pinning up the hems, her friend asks, “well would you like to know what I am wearing to your wedding?” (Assuming she is the matron-of-honor) the brides turns and looks down from her platform/pedestal to her and says, “YOU?” and without batting an eye the friend says, “Yes, I’m wearing a navy dress.” I was chuckling inside and thought, “You go, Girl!” So this little bride from our rural little town is heading to the bright lights and splendor of LA for a real doozy of a blow-out wedding and her only worry was , “I hope every one of the guests will think it was worth the expense and travel time”. Who knows?

Before I go I want to share a lovely dress made by Tee on her blog: Dressed2atee. The time and love that went into making the dress for her friend turned out so beautifully inside and out with a special sheer cape for the church service…just divine!

Happy Labor Day to my US readers…soon the kiddies will be back in school and maybe some of the moms can get get back to some serious sewing!

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Tangling with Bridesmaids

Earlier this year a former bride had me chop off the whole bottom of her dress to just below her butt cheeks so she could be the sexiest women on the Hawaiian island to celebrate her 6th anniversary and hopefully return home pregnant. These are the stories people tell me…OK. So, this week she returns to wear this bridesmaid dress to a wedding she is in. Nice dress from Alfred AngeloAlfred angelo 7266S lilac but as the theme of the wedding is “rustic” aka let’s all wear cowboy boots and fill mason jars with daisies, this gal wanted me to remove the entire lower tier…OK Here is what the grown woman will be wearing…notice the skirt is now 14 inches long…it barely covers her underpants if she is wearing any:lilac

But unto a bridesmaid who was given a dress that needed 3 inches more around her bodice. 2 carly-bac-2k In addition to that, the pleated fabric was all caught wrong in the one side of the zipper and left a lump…nice. So let’s open this puppy up, go through the lining, pull everything out and let out all the side seams:3 getting-inside

Here we are inside out with just the bodice showing, not the lining. Then the satin hem which was thread traced in the chiffon as well will be sewn from the very inside since the lining is attached. Once flipped to the right side they lay flat nicely. The chiffon will have a narrow rolled hem.

4 inside-dress5 thread-baste-hemlines6 pleated-hem7 inside-hem-satin8 need-1.5-inches10 open-waist-213 old-seam-allowance15 inside-lining-bodice

Thankfully the side seams were generous so I could get 1.5 inches from each and the lining is now exposed and you can see the bust cups. Every thing I do to the fashion fabric I have to do to the lining so double the labor. So when your client says it is a simple job to let out the side seams…shake your head at her! See how much fabric was lurking in the zipper seam…WOW like 2 inches each side but this poor girl needed her side seams released not the center back this time.

16 pinned-waist-seams17zopper-seam


Attaching the newly widened side sections to the widened skirt waist and voila’ you can see before pressing that we attained what was needed and the lace straps were not involved just spread a little front and back.


18 side-seams-new

Now for a little giggle…I was inspired by Ruth at Corecouture for her starting some Alabama Chanin garments and decided to make some of my own only with cotton jersey t-shirts. I bought four 2XL shirts in 3 colors for $5 each since they are used double and fabric is cut away anyway why not have some cheap fun? I removed the neck binding and opened the shoulder seams and whacked off the sleeves and this is what I ended up with: You can see I folded the outer shirts with the center front to the side so you can see the huge sleeve opening and it got me to thinking…do they resemble anything in this state? Mr Mole was quick to notice the shape could be…..PANTS! So let’s flip them over, baste the curves seam together and what do we have? Instant karma….Yoga pants, dog washing shorts or sleep shorts or gardening togs…

t-shirt-pants-2t-shirt-pants With a little elastic and some adjusted gathering…you never know…don’t throw out those t-shirts…recycle!

Can’t leave without more garden bounty photos…anyone need some squash?crooknecksZucchini_140822


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