Jacket Taking Shape for Nancy

Nancy has returned to town to try on her latest jacket Butterick 6421.

After all the alterations from the last time you can see there are still a few tweaks to do to make it fit better. The front view looks ok and the neckline will be lowered one inch and the shoulder seam nearest the neck will be snugged up and a shoulder pad added. Even though the sleeve was moved in, it could stand to be moved a little more.

The side view shows the drag lines ponting towards the upper back so you all know what that means don’t you? Yes, we are in for some slashing and adding some horizontal patch of gingham. Shoulder pads will also help. The length is now jacket length instead of coat length.

Considering this is the “before” photo with pins everywhere the result is closer to fitting below:

The added gingham wedges give her just the right amount of ease to sit down without grabbing. Even though the muslin fabric is crispy, the eventual wool fabric will flatter her and hang nicely.

Maybe you are wondering what my own Chanel jacket looks like…well, I will give you a sneak peak into the beginnings of laying out the fabric and lining and using the deconstructed muslin as the pattern in class. Here are the muslin pieces placed right side up and cut as singles, no folds. The sleeves will be cut out later. Every seam allowance has has 1.5 inches added.

A blurry photo of the lining also cut using the wool and muslin as the template.

Every night I took my pieces back to my hotel room to hand sew them together for the next day. There was so much thread tracing and diagonal hand stitching to keep the lining attached to the wool on every section. We used Japanese basting thread in different colors.

Back in the classroom the next day with the lining hand attached and also machine quilted ready to have the sleeves pinned on.

Here are the sleeves lined by hand and curving nicely. The grainlines were tweaked to give that curve.

You can see the new green grainlines and the dotted quilting lines for the upper sleeves.

Thank you for following along with this project. Next time more tweaking of the bodice and steaming out excess fabric. It truly was an adventure for 6 days of 9-5 working and learning.

Mr. Mole survived without me and mastered the washing machine and dryer while Nadine went into a deep cat depression and stuck to him at all times in his lap.


It’s so good to be back home and able to work on my jacket in the peace and quiet.

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Ready for Class

After many weeks of making multiple alterations to the paper pattern and so many traced copies of every version of the pieces and tweaking the muslins, the result is …I have a class-ready sloper/toile with added seam allowances.

Here is the inside with the extended seam allowances. All seams are pressed away from center and the shoulder seams are pressed to the back. With the added seam allowances at the neck, it does not sit flat right now until fabric is trimmed away and snipped.

Not too much exciting about the flat back and I did not make the neck darts but just drew them in along with all the stitching lines for the quilting phase.Right side out and you can see all the vertical stitching lines and horizontal balancing lines at the front yoke, bust and waist. Again, all the thick seams are pressed away from the front. My muslin fabric is so crispy that is shows up any little highs and lows but so glad I added the roundness where the side fronts join the front section at the bust. Now the dreaded drag lines are from bulky seam allowances and not the bulky seamstress.

Side view and back show that I could use another sway back alteration but I won’t mess with that back waistline until I get to class. Considering how bulky all the seams are and add to the circumference, I think it turned out pretty well. Trying to coax thick stiff muslin fabric into delicate curves and side seam gathers was a real challenge. Looking forward to feeling the softness of wool fabric which should conform better. Once the sleeves are attached in class all those drag lines will hang properly and disappear.


And the 3-piece sleeves were made in the same way:


Just in case…I made sleeves with regular seam allowances. Sleeves will be attached in class later.

Sad news concerning my two basic sewing machines…the Elna 720 and Janome 11000. Both of them have started causing me fits…the Elna will not make long basting stitches and has a grinding sound and the feed dogs sometime seize up and refuse to draw fabric through.

The Janome won’t even start without turning it on and off with the needle up or needle down over 25 times and even then refuses to do some stitches and doesn’t know how to embroider or recognize commands. My dear repairman has tried his best to fix these problems but I think they will reoccur and I want a machine(s) that I can trust.

My friends tell me that after 20 punishing years of bridal sewing, they are probably just plain tired of cranking out 80-100 dresses a year and want to stop.

So with my sewing money saved up, I asked my local dealer to special order a Janome 14000 as they do not normally carry it. It arrived Dec 24 and so far so good. The manual has 170 pages and I have read through it to get acquainted. Lots of the functions are similar to the 11000 but with way more options like a pull out over table light and a “quiet mode”. Janomes are pretty quiet normally but with this setting, all you hear or feel is the needle hitting the fabric…no motor sounds!

This should be the year to get creative and get back into embroidery and have some fun!

Our weather on the West Coast has been scary with 65 mph winds and rain and flooding. Our fabric netted veggie cages were totally blown away and lots of trees were flattened in the back yard along with branches of trees from neighbors’ yards flying into ours. Neighbors on both sides of us had their wooden fences blown completely flat along with many many other folks in the valley so the fencing companies will be busy for a while! Mother Nature sure can hurl some crazy weather!

Thank you for following along and I hope this blog gives you confidence (and permission) to slash your patterns and slopers to get a perfect fit!

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Drag Lines

People ask me how to pick a pattern that will not need a lot of tweaking, since most patterns are made for a “B” cup…if that is not you, then you will have to make adjustments.

All along I have been trying to show you how patterns have very short front lengths which cause bust drag lines. I hate them and love them because they show me exactly where I need more fabric and length. It makes me wonder when these Indie and Big 4 companies release their latest and greatest designs…are they ever tried out on a real body or even a busty mannequin or just drawn out as a flat pattern and no shape.

Why do pattern companies just make the circumference wider and wider and the sleeves longer and longer when that is not where we need the extra fabric and ease?

I have copied some recent patterns from the Big 4 and more to show what to avoid if you don’t want drag lines right out of the envelope. If the envelope photo already has drag lines before it is even made up in fabric…what chance do you have to make it fit right? And of course, these models have the back of the garments all clamped tight (like bridal models) and have their hands either in their pockets to hold the front sections flat or their arm is across their tummy.

This poor man…even without breasts he has bust drag lines!!!

The pink shirt rides up in the center and screams, “Help, I just got pulled out of the dirty laundry basket.”


What hope is there if they cannot even make a knit fabric hang well?

The yellow one is particularly horrible in the side view.

Can the red knit have any more room for more bust drag lines?


For those who think making a “big shirt” is a good alternative to proper fit…how about these big old drag lines? Those blue sleeves are just so sad and droopy and the white blouse says “I’m hiding my baby bump.” Both have deep drag lines pointing to the bust…why? Where are the fitting darts?


Dresses and tunics don’t look any better unless you want even longer drag lines all the way down to the hem…gross! Again…where do the drag lines point to?


Trying to look stylish in fake leather or a traditional camp shirt? Even these “B” cup models have deep draglines pointing to the bust. Does this bother anyone in the pattern making department? I guess not as these keep appearing over and over.

Want to impress folks with a nice suit…drag lines to the bust and sleeves with too short of a sleeve cap will not get you that new job.

Next time I have all the pattern corrections done and a final sloper to share.

Maybe some of you are wondering why I choose this particular jacket pattern. It is a Claire Schaeffer pattern used in her Chanel Jacket classes and is Vogue 8804. I will attending her next seminar so the sloper had to be made before class and even though my muslin/sloper fit like I wanted, before the class we have to add 1.5 to 2 inches of extra fabric to all the seam allowances for adjusting.

For the last two days I have been doing that and transferring every single line and notch and dart marking on the traced off copy of the paper pattern to the new wider muslin pieces.

So, until next time, I wish you a great start to 2023 sewing projects!

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More Tweaking

Moving along in this challenge, I still am not happy with the way the front horizontal lines arch upwards. The red lines are parallel with the floor so adding about one inch would make them level….but do I dare slash across the bust line? Funny how when I work with Nancy and her patterns, I just have no problem just whacking away but this requires more thinking time.

The left side is the same and it reminds me of so many Indie patterns that have drag lines up the wazoo while the popular designers fail to accept the problems staring them in the face on their websites.

I don’t have to name names but you can take an educated look at the fronts of jackets and blouses and tunics and recognize that the front lengths are too short and cause these dreaded drag lines. Maybe they are considered fashionable but they only point to the problems.

Here I have taken the muslin apart to work with the pinned out sections like this armhole dart. On paper it will be removed for a smoother result and no gapping. This side section will also be extended in a rounded shape close to the bust points to look like a proper princess line.

Can you see the rounded extension? As the dart closes, it opens a little wedge. Of course this will add more vertical length where it is needed and when sewn back to the front panels will cause the need for lots of easing won’t it? Well, not exactly if you follow Kathleen Fasanella at Fashion Incubator website.

Here is the pinned seam of the front section on top and side section underneath to be slashed and lengthened to accomodate the new rounded extension without massive easing and puckering.

Getting brave and just slashing and letting the fabric seek its own level:

Right side view with edges taped together for an idea of what has to be added to the paper.

Pretty dramatic? I’ll be adding one inch all the way across the front panels graduating to zero on the side front panels.

What next? Adding 1/4 inch gingham strip of course!!!

Do you know that song by the Pointer Sisters? “I’m So Excited”?

Well, that’s me today…see why…

Starting with the left side, looks like it should and now for the right side:

So glad that I added the extra curve to the side front section and all the lines are correct, even that pesky skinny side panel is doing a good job. Next time I will go over what happens to the actual paper pattern and make another and final muslin/sloper.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mole has been battling the flu/chest infection with constant coughing. It seems that this recent outbreak in our valley has caused a real shortage of cough medicines. The shelves of the drug stores and grocery stores are completely empty and with these infections lingering 3 weeks or more, we have to just be patient. My 97 yr. old mother has Covid and has been prescribed a drug to keep it from getting worse so really looking forward to a healthy 2023!!!

Stay warm and healthy and if you are still up and walking around…appreciate it!

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First Muslin

Time to bite the bullet after so much messing and tweaking the paper pattern. The front view looks OK/sad without shoulder pads. The front princess seams are almost right over my bust points…hooray!

Here is the right sloped shoulder side. You can see that weird 1.5 inch side panel insert. What is it doing? Can you see the drag line running up to the bust point? Even the waist line is not parallel with the floor as it arches upward.

Let’s see the left side…more drag lines…oh no!

This shows that even with a larger circumference…the problem lies elsewhere and needs slashing…more slashing? Or maybe just opening the shoulder seam? Can you see how the front needs to drop down? Follow the drag lines…

The back view…this looks the same as it does on the mannequin. This girl certainly needs her right side propped up!!!

I have already added 3/4 inch slash but it looks like another 1/2 inch at least needs to be added.

Once the upper back slash is done, the waistline will drop as needed.

Slash and pin in some 1/4 inch gingham. Trying 3/4 inch just for fun.

Here is how that looks on the paper pattern:

Flipping to the front, I have decided to move the princess seams in 1/2 inch each side and try reducing the neckline by 1/2 inch each side with a 1/4 inch darts pinned out.

Pinned in a teardrop shoulder pad and opening up the shoulder seam.

Making the cut edges just touch by adding 5/8 to each front and back as a test.

Adding gingham to shoulder seams and also the the under arm seam so it be more like the original curve before setting in the sleeve. The little side panel will have the same amount added to the top edge.

After pinning, I decided to just add the 5/8 to the front seam allowance.

To reduce some of the back excess fabric, I made some vertical tucks after zigzagging the gingham in place. This amount will be trimmed off the paper pattern before making another muslin.

How about a messy side view? I still have a small armscye dart pinned out. This will be removed on the paper pattern as well and overlapped.

The next step will be to try it on a real body…mine…and see what else needs to be tweaked. Then each pattern piece will be altered and traced over with more new paper and another sloper made. The issue is that this muslin is not the final fabric but it does show up all the weirdness.

Where the pins are in the top of the side panel require that the side front panel be gathered but in muslin, it just looks bad. Fingers crossed…all this bit of ugly will be resolved in the next muslin.

Believe me, at this point I could just toss this whole thing in the trash but I want to see if I can “make it work” as Tim Gunn used to say on Project Runway.

With temps below freezing every night, the local burds have to scramble to get to the suet cakes in their feeder.

Wishing you all peace and best wishes for whatever holiday you are celebrating this season.


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Let’s Slash!

You have seen me do this 100 times on clients’ clothes…time to do the same on my own.

Instead of letting the center back seam curve, I need a neck dart to keep the center back seam on grain.

Adding new paper under the new dart:

New dart is 3 inches plus seam allowance.

Adding at the top allows the waist to drop, so a 3/4 inch horizontal tuck is made.

So much fun to see the next version of the traced pattern. This way of drawing a line with my actual measurements, I can see where the excess fabric is and change my mind about cutting a straight size 22.

Even if I use the size 20 cutting and seaming lines, there will be excess with that narrow side seam panel added. Maybe some of you are asking…why go to so much trouble? Seeing as this is the first time in a long time I get to make something nice for myself…why not? You too can treat yourself to a template and refine your next new pattern!!!

The front is even more pronounced. Have you noticed that no matter what cup size or circumference I need…the front and back length are the same for all sizes and only controlled by adding 1/2 inch at the shoulder?

Here are the main 3 pieces before I found the side panel.

Just before Christmas our local Foster Parents Organization holds a party for the 400-500 children in the program. Our ASG chapter contributes from our Community Sewing group members.

This is how we get donated fabric in bags and we turn it into usable projects for children:

These burp cloths were made and given to me by a blog follower…so sweet of her! Thank you, Lindsay!

Sometimes we get unfinished projects like these strips of flannel squares. I was able to sew them together to make two crib sheets and backed them with donated fleece.

All ready for pick up:

Next time the first muslin/sloper will appear and get more tweaks!!!

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Trying Paper Pattern

Ready to, as the experts say, “Tissue Fit”?

With the two fronts pin basted we can see some problems already but things change when the pattern is cut and basted in muslin fabric.

The back has the same issues as when we made the blouse muslin/sloper.

The back darts are just for the lining fabric.

The side view shows the upper back needing to be slashed and spread.

Those drag lines are sure pointing to the upper yoke line!

Pinning the sway back tuck and after deciding whether to add some length to the hem to equal the original back neck to hem length.

With the side seams pinned:

The back pattern piece reaches the mannequins side seam line.

Remember in the sloper how we added a armscye bust dart? Looks like we might need another…but then again, this is stiff paper, not fabric. The size 22 original side seam meets the mannequin’s side seam line.

I’m happy that I moved the princess seam to go over the bust point at 5 inches and not the original of 3.75 inches. Can you see the gathering at the side seam? Well, the pattern calls for some easing to remove 1 inch of fabric where a dart would be. More on that later.

In the next post, I will be showing more altering and measuring and another tracing of the final pattern pieces but before I go…you will laugh…as I was digging around in the envelope for the 3-piece sleeve pattern pieces…I found a missing piece!!!

Holy Moley…this adds 1.5 inches or .75 inches each to the front and back…or 3 inches to the entire circumference of the jacket. This may cause a change in different seam lines but it all will be resolved in the muslin stage!

Thank you for checking in and I hope all your sewing goes well! This has been “a first” for me finding a missing pattern piece but finding it before I cut out the real fabric is a bonus and life saver!



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Template + Jacket

Time to start using my template to compare a jacket pattern for myself. This jacket has front princess seams and a center back seam. With the template under the new pattern back, we can see that the upper curve is peeking through.

Flipping this over to reveal the template on the top shows how wide this jacket back is in the armscye area. Interestingly, the shoulder width is 5.25 inches but looks much wider.

Let’s do the same with the front and those princess seams. I have overlapped the seams to get it all to lay flat.

Flipped over, things line up pretty well except for the bust dart area. The center front edges line up perfectly.

After making hundreds of tops for women over the years, I discovered that most have a 10 inch bust point distance between them. So what is going on with this pattern? This pattern and another one like it both have a spread of 7.5 inches and that is for all sizes up to a 22 which I am planning on using.

If I want to make a 10 inch spread, I will have to add somewhere.

One place to add to is the side seam as I needed 13 inches from center front to the side seam in the first blouse, being a jacket, I should actually need more right? If you can pinch an inch down each side seam in a blouse giving you 4 inches of ease, pinching out an inch and a half to 2 inches would make it 6-8 inches of ease. This will be a straight boxy jacket worn over blouses and dresses.

So I can add one inch to the side seams to start with OR one inch to the front princess seam. Before cutting out a muslin, I’m going to add to both places as it can all be pinned and trimmed away later.

Here is the center front with added one inch where I need it and it allows the bust point to shift to the 5 inch (total of 10 inches) position. I want the seam to match my 10 inch spread and not sit to the right or left.

You can see that I have made a copy of the new pattern with all the measurements and grainlines I need. OK, it looks a mess but it will be traced again without all those lines!!!

My main concern always with women who have a cup size larger than say a “B” is to get enough coverage in front and the back should take care of itself.

You can see that the back top side seam is 1.25 inches wider than my template. For now I will leave it as it may be needed later? Part of the problem is that to get a good bust circumference (50 inches), they keep adding to the back underarm section but that is not where we need it.

The same goes for the wider armscye…all will be made right when the sleeve is basted on.

I will do my usual upper back slash and spread to get the right curve and probably add the neck darts. If I leave the curve and cut the fabric, it could accentuate the fact that I altered the pattern if the fabric has a linear or plaid motif. So the center back seam should be straight on grain.

Next time get ready for some slashing and adding and overlapping for a better fit! Having my template can really guide me to what will and will not work. In the end making a real sloper in muslin fabric will show up the differences that will be pinned out. Shoulder pads will be pinned in throughout the fitting process.

Before I go, I want to share the alterations done to Nancy’s back jacket. Neck darts have been eliminated and wedges of fabric have been added to the jacket “skirt” so there will be no pulling or drag lines and be easier to sit down. Still lots of tweaking to come before we cut out the wool fabrics but happy with the little additions!

I can’t believe we are almost in December but the frost on the rooftops warns that Winter is coming for sure! Snow is predicted this week…brrrr.

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Plans for Nancy

When Nancy spends time in Portland, she brings back such goodies for me!

Here are some future projects:

Butterick 6421 two-toned jacket/coat View A

Vogue 1318 jacket View B

Along with some Italian wool for 2 more pair of pants:

I made a muslin of the Butterick 6421 using just her measurements since we actually don’t have a template for her. The front is the shorter version for the jacket and the back section is the coat length just to decide what looks best.

All these pieces can be used as color blocking and we think the main body of the jacket will be made in the taupe color and the vertical bands in the charcoal wool.

The only alteration I did on the paper pattern was the slash and spread across the upper back and added neck darts to maintain the center back fold but they may move to the princess seams. That is the cool thing about making a muslin, you see things you want and can change before cutting out the fashion fabric. Adding 1 inch to the upper back slash and spread will cause the waist seam to drop, so that might need to be altered later.

On the mannequin, you can see how well it hangs until a real body arrives.

There are 2-piece sleeves and cuffs and a lining and collar and pockets to be attached later.


This pattern reminds me of the vintage West Point cadet uniforms with the striking vertical front band and high collar.

For those who missed my sleeve cap gathering rows before…here is the sequence:

The 5/8 inch stitching line is used once the gathers are attached to the bodice. Then the 3/4 inch row will be removed.

With Nancy in the jacket, we can see some areas to pin out. To start with, the neck darts will be moved over, the back princess seams can be tighter, the side seams can be taken in and the sleeve moved up. The waistline seams will also be moved up unto the bodice by about an inch so it sits on her waist.

Shoulder pads will be included next time. The collar may or may not be used.

The back skirt section was pulling and would need to be wider to allow for sitting, so I opened up that center back seam.

The side seam was opened as well to relax the skirt section and I also slashed the space between the center slash and the side slash. This whole pattern piece will be altered and re-cut in the fashion fabric. I may even add some waist darts using her pants pattern as a guide for placement. If you think about the top of a skirt and top of a pants pattern…they are really the same space…using darts to give extra fabric over hip  and tummy curves.

As our summer has ended, there are telltale signs that winter is near.

Sunflower heads that were too heavy to stay on the stems were cut off and the birds have made a feast of the seeds:

Mr. Mole has transplanted and mulched the outdoor plants and labelled them:

Nadine patiently watching a house finch tuck into another sunflower head:

For all those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I wish you a moist turkey and never-ending pieces of pumpkin pie. Thank you for following along!

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2008 and a Princess

Trolling through my “aging closet”, I found this pattern and muslin I made back in 2008. At the time I was smaller and just wanted a basic blouse pattern. It fit at the time and for some reason, it got hung back up to be worked on later…much later. Back then I cut the Xlg View C size.

Comparing the template with the CC pattern, with the darts pinned out you can see the size Xlg is about 1.5 inches smaller than the template on the front.

Checking the back section, I had slashed and added 1/2 inch across and a neck dart to keep the center back on the fold. It could also use 1-1.5 extra inches at the waist too. Using wrapping paper with polka dots to fill in the slash gives it a festive look, don’t you think?

A student of mine asked if the template would work for Princess seams…let’s see!

In the past, 2008, I used this CC pattern to make this into a tunic 8.5 inches longer than the pattern. I also lined the just the back sections with a slippery polyester so the back did not ride up and stick over the hips. I think View C is quite nice with an interesting collar feature and 3/4 length sleeves.

My client was a daughter of Paul Newman and she bought the most wonderful fabrics from Portland. I think I also lined the sleeves as the underside shows with those deep slits.

The center back section has had a 1/2 inch slashed and added. The center back seam would follow the template by adding another 1/2 inch all the way from neckline to hem allowing the top edge to curve with no neck dart.

Now, let’s pin the side back section on:

Because it is sewn to the center section, it also gets slashed at the upper back area and 1/4 inch is added.

Flipped over, you can see that it is shy 1/2 inch on the side seams.

The front will look a bit more messy trying to pat everything down flat and pin the curves but here we are:

The dotted red line shows the template edges beneath.

Flipped over, the fronts are very close to the template! So once again, it confirms that a CC pattern has me using the 1X sizing.

Would I just cut out that size right out of the envelope? With the last 3 CC patterns all showing the same fit, I would, althought the upper back slash would need to be added.

This probably would not work for the Big 4 patterns as they all have their own fitting models and blocks and the ease varies sooo much from design to design so having your template will help every time.

I hope these photos of different configurations and how important the template is will spurn you on to try different styles and pattern companies.

This week we have been having our first frost warnings at night so it is time to clean up the garden and mulch the beds before we enter a total winter scene. Some of the plants are still pumping out veggies for us and Mr. Mole harvested these yesterday:

Today we honor our Veterans for their service in the past and most restaurants in our area offer free meals. If you have a special veteran in your family, give them a hug today!!!

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