Pleated Back Flowy Tee

In early September, one of our local sewing machine dealers had a two-day event with Pamela Leggett, creator of Pamela’s Patterns.

Day one, part one was an overview of her background (which was extremely interesting) and discussion of techniques to improve sewing skills.  Description:  Are you ready to make the perfect garment?  The difference between “just OK” and “fabulous” are often simple techniques in stitching, pressing and notions.  This class will show you many unique was to make your garments look professional.

Some of these tips are in her Craftsy class, Fashion Sewing and Serging Techniques.  She is an excellent instructor and I highly recommend the Craftsy class. (Craftsy classes are also available on, which is a streaming site with a monthly subscription fee).

Day one, part two was about upcycling oversized t-shirts, ill-fitting sweaters, polo shirts, etc and re-making them to fit.  Description from her website:  Do you have collections of those oversized T-shirts from vacations, school activities, concerts, etc? Thanks to Pamela’s Patterns, you can take those big T-shirts and turn them into fitted and stylish tops you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! The technique is simple and fast. In no time you could have a whole new wardrobe of cute tops.

Pamela has a pattern for the upcycling with instructions for the process.  She showed us a variety of logo t-shirts that she downsized to fit, along with some very cool sweaters and cardigans.  These garments came from discount or thrift stores, in large sizes so she could customize them.  Her advice was to look at these garments as fabric.  She has a pattern that is drafted specifically for the makeover process.

Tshirt Makeover patternAt the end of Day 1, Pamela measured everyone who was attending Day 2 (The Perfect T-shirt) so we could get started right away with pattern adjustments and cutting fabric.

Pamela also has a number of You-Tube videos for her patterns.

Day 2 was Pamela’s Perfect T-Shirt class.  Description:  A T-Shirt can be more than a comfy top you throw on to do housework. A nice-fitting T-shirt can be the most versatile top in your wardrobe. This selection from Pamela’s Patterns addresses all the fitting issues women face (rounded shoulders and back, full bust, hip room, etc.), and gives you a T-shirt you’ll be proud to wear anywhere! Make it casual, dressy, or anything in-between. 

Pamela also includes a darted front pattern piece (to be used for a C cup or higher), along with a non-darted front (A & B cup users).

Perfect T-Shirt

I have made this ‘T-Shirt’ a few times, so I wore one of them to the first day of class.  Based on the t-shirt I wore, Pamela had suggestions for alterations I needed to make to the pattern.  And since I had already made this I wanted to use a different pattern.  One of the good things about her pattern line is all the garments are for knits.  And the changes you make to one top or dress pattern, would be made to all the patterns.  Necklines and sleeves are also interchangeable, so if you have a few patterns, you can make a variety of garments pretty quickly.  This is, of course, unless you are like me and make everything more complicated than it needs to be.  (You will see that next).

I decided to make the “Pleated Back Flowy Tee”.

Pattern photo

We adjusted the pattern (reduced the shoulder length, and the width across the upper front and I used the darted front).  That was it!

Pamela spent time in the class evaluating everyone’s fabric to make sure it was suitable (and worth your time to make the top). “Suitable” fabric is good quality, has good recovery & drapes well.  The recovery property is key.  A few people brought unsuitable fabric, so were able to purchase fabric from her.

I chose an ITY knit I purchased from FabricMart fabrics about a year ago.  It has a striped effect, and I wanted the stripes vertical, so I needed to cut the pattern out on the cross-grain.  The colors are black, beige and purple.  IRL, the purple is darker – more like a burgundy-purple (I call that raisin) and the portion that looks white is really a beige.  But you can see the stripe effect in the photo.


The front of the T-Shirt:


And here is where it gets complicated.  I was placing the upper back pattern piece on the fabric when I realized I would need to MATCH STRIPES!  You see, there is a horizontal seam in the back that creates the “flowy back”.  And it is curved.

Line Drawing

Oh my…so I looked around the room and found someone who had black fabric.  She graciously gave me her leftover piece.  I decided to cut a strip for the back as a separation so stripes would not have to be matched.  Since the seam was curved, the piece I added needed to be curved.  I cut a piece of black that was 3 1/2 inches high and the length of the seam.  That allowed for seam allowances to sew the strip to the upper and lower back pieces and have the small separation.  I then adjusted the upper and lower back fabric pieces to accommodate the strip.   I also cut a strip of the black so I could use black to bind the neckline.

All those changes added enough time to my work that I did not finish the top in class.  My final changes were to remove 2 inches from the shirt length, and 3 inches from the sleeve length.  With my busy fabric print, you can’t see the pleat in the lower back, but it lays nicely. Pamela wore this top in a solid color sweater knit in class, and it looked nice in that fabric as well.


Several people did finish their “Perfect T-Shirt” in class and all of them looked wonderful.  And they all fit very well too.  Everyone was very happy with their creations.

Throughout the day, Pamela demonstrated a variety of techniques mentioned in the pattern, to ensure everyone understood them and could try them.  The class was paced perfectly and Pamela is a patient instructor.

On to the next project – a woven blouse is in process.


Fall 2016 Sewing

I began my Fall sewing in August.  I love Fall, and the colors that go with it because they are MY colors.  I reorganized my closet (yet again) and found I was woefully short of clothing in olive green.  And I always need tops.  I chose to sew a variety of knits in a variety of styles.  As long as i have been sewing, I still run into things that can cause frustration.  These fabrics did just that – caused some frustration.  I used patterns I have used before, so that helped a lot and the fit of everything makes me happy.  This is probably the first time I have been happy with everything I have made.  I am trying to get over being so critical too.  First up – a couple of “tissue knits”.  These are thin, sheer, burn-out type knits.  I used the Fit for Art Patterns Tabula Rasa T-Shirt pattern here.

The contrast is a brown cotton burnout knit from Mood Fabrics.  I don’t recall where I picked up the green and brown knit – even though I have a ‘card system’ where I keep track of key information for a fabric, I am not always diligent about writing down every piece of information.  I am thinking I may have picked it up on a NY Fabric trip – I usually try to look for unusual fabrics.  I had to underline the print and the brown at the side seams.  I used a tricot lining fabric from the stash.  I did not underline the sleeves.  Seams were sewn with a slight zigzag, then serged.  Hems were done with the zigzag.  I haven’t worn this yet (still too warm), but I think I will like it.  Due to the step of underlining, it was a little time consuming for a ‘t-shirt’.


Item #2:  I used the Judy Kessinger Fit Nice/Sew Slim T-shirt pattern, with her Therese Tops variation. For this variation, you add a wedge to the side seam before you cut the pattern.  You end up with a slight flare at the sides.   I like the look – there is not too much volume/flare.  The photo looks like there is flare in the front, but there is not when it is worn.  But again,  have not yet worn it as it is still in the 90’s here.

Fabric used is a fairly substantial knit; a ponte-like fabric.  I think it is a poly spandex but beefier than usual.  Again I used the same brown cotton burnout for the sleeves and the neckband.  I made a V-neck for this, and followed Lynda Maynard’s directions in one of the Craftsy classes – Essential Techniques for Sewing Knits with Craftsy Sewing Instructors.  (This is a class made up from excerpts of other classes).


The last ‘project’ is a twinset.  This fabric was a nightmare!  It is a slippery poly/spandex, 4-way stretch, with tone on tone texture.  The pattern in the texture was horizontal, but I turned it so it was vertical.  With the 4-way stretch, I felt that would work.  The t-shirt took  much longer than it should have.  The pattern used was the Pamela’s Patterns Perfect T-Shirt #104 here.  I have made this several times; however this time I narrowed the area above the bust and it fits much better.  I made it sleeveless, and used binding as a finish for the armholes.  I also lowered the neckline a bit.


I used the same fabric to make a cardigan, using Pamela’s Patterns #111 Cool Cardigans Banded front.  I have used that pattern before, but this time I made two changes.  I narrowed the area above the bust and cut the sleeve smaller.  These changes were made based on the sloper I have developed for wovens, and the sleeve drafted for that sloper.  The cardigan progressed quickly since I had all the kinks of using this fabric worked out from the t-shirt.



And both of them together…


I am quite happy with all of these pieces and feel they will serve me well during the fall.  I have brown, olive and khaki bottoms to go with these.