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.


Just “Another” Pinch

JAP Front

I completed another Just A Pinch vest. This one made from a lightweight cotton/linen blend fabric purchased at Hancock’s (Boo Hoo to the loss of Hancocks – we are all still in mourning).

No changes to this from the previous vest.  I had added a bust dart, along with center back seam for my round back adjustment.

JAP 1Indoor picture because it has been too hot and humid here to be posing outside.  I also made the t-shirt underneath.  I used V1363 again, and did an experiment.  I removed the bust and back shoulder darts.  Because the knit is so lightweight, I thought darts would be too noticeable.  I am happy with the result.



This fabric for this vest is a very neutral beige color and needed something to amp it up.  The t-shirt fabric is a rayon spandex I picked up at Joann on sale.  It is very soft and I like the print and soft colors.  The knit was easy to sew too – it doesn’t curl on the cut edges.
JAP stitchingClose-up of the top-stitching I did.  This is on the collar; I used a rayon embroidery thread and the built-in Sashiko stitch on my sewing machine.  It is very subtle, but since topstitching was needed, might as well let it stand out a little more than matching thread would.


Side view:

JAP side

Next post will be for another Cutting Line Designs pattern…stay tuned.


Travel Tips & Highlights

We recently took a wonderful vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – then a cruise and land tour in Alaska. As I was talking to a friend about the preparation for this trip, she suggested I do a blog post with some of our personal travel tips.  As you may or may not know, I have spent many years of my career in project management.  Therefore, I think in a linear manner and everything I do follows a process.  Very annoying for some people around me, but as they say, it is what it is!  In this post I have included information and some photos from the trip.  Many, many photos were taken so I am only picking a few highlights.  We had beautiful weather on the whole trip.  We could not have ordered better!

Vancouver 1

The view out our hotel window, overlooking Burrard Inlet, in Vancouver, BC –  Day 1

This trip was going to be a longer vacation that we normally take (over two weeks) and we needed to plan for a variety of climates.  I was concerned about over-packing when I started researching and planning for every weather eventuality.  Normally for a beach vacation,  trip to Vegas, or other shorter trips, not as much planning is needed.

Everything I read about Alaska said “layers, layers, layers”.  And all the pictures showed people wearing rain or cold weather gear, even in the summer.  Now, I have been on an Alaskan cruise once before, and it was 14 years ago in late April.  I remembered some cold and rainy/icy weather, but mostly remembered it was warmer than I expected. And portions of Alaska are very green and lush along the coast, similar to rain forest.  However, I didn’t want to assume anything and kept watching the weather forecasts diligently.  What I saw in the forecasts was expectations of cool weather and rain.

Vancouver Public Library

The beautiful Vancouver Public Library

Here are some general things we do when traveling by air

Tip #1 – Take the flight earliest in the day possible from your home airport – less likely you will have a cancelled or delayed flight.

Tip #2 – Since you would need to get up and go to the airport at “dark-thirty” in the morning to take this flight, do a Park & Fly package at a hotel near the airport if your commute to the airport is more than about 20 minutes.

The Park & Fly has multiple advantages:

  • You have to be packed and ready to go the evening before.  That means no need to stay up all night – either continuing to add things to the suitcases because you “might” need them or worrying about whether you will oversleep because you have to be up so early to get to the airport.
  • You’ll be taking a hotel shuttle to the airport, so no need to leave extra time for parking your car and taking the lot shuttle (as it picks up a bunch more people, while you are nervously looking at your watch).
  • For this pre-flight hotel night, you pack a little overnight bag with your PJs, a change of undies, toothbrush (bare necessities for overnight); the morning of your flight you throw the little overnight bag in the car before you take the shuttle to airport from the hotel, and you didn’t have to open your nicely packed suitcase(s) at all.
  • You can be less stressed and get a good night’s sleep.
  • The hotel shuttle takes you to the airport 5 minutes away and drops you at the door you need.
  • It is economical.  In our city, parking at the airport would cost almost what the Park & Fly cost, and the no-stress feeling you have is worth the rest of the cost.

Vancouver sunset

The Vancouver sunset (actually the sun barely set – just went behind the mountains.  We were there right before summer solstice, so lots of daylight on the trip.  That is something to get used to).

We decided to visit Vancouver for a few days before the cruise departure day.  Since we are on the East Coast, might as well see as much as we can if we are traveling that far away.

The tip here is this:  When taking a cruise, plan to arrive in the departure city at least 1 day before the ship leaves.  Things can happen to delay plane trips, particularly when traveling across country.  Weather, crew issues and on and on.  It doesn’t take much to cause a chain reaction for flight cancellations and delays.  This plan gives you at least 24 hours to get to the city.  If you miss the cruise departure, you are meeting the boat at the next step, and likely at your own cost.  (We don’t normally book air travel with the cruise line, so if you don’t get there on time, it is your problem to get to the ship…).

And if everything goes smoothly, you get a day to see a city you may never see again; or decide it is fabulous and you want to go back for a longer visit.

Cool architecture

Vancouver is a city of green spaces coexisting with high rise buildings.  And they have some very cool architecture.

On to the “packing” tips for a trip like this.  I actually started thinking about and planning the packing 3 months in advance.  I love to read about wardrobing concepts, such as SWAP (Sewing with a Plan), 6PAC sewing, Capsule wardrobes, to name a few.  I don’t really sew this way, but when packing for a trip the concepts work.  The general concept of all the plans are to create a small core set of garments, accessories (jewelry, bags and shoes) that work together.  The old Mix and Match idea.

Ship pool deck

Ship pool deck

My basic summer neutrals for bottoms are navy and khaki.  I also have tops and cardigans in those colors, and I add in some teal, salmon and yellow for color. Keeping in mind the layering advice (and I am generally cold anyway), I pulled together navy and khaki pants, summer weight jeans, navy and khaki crop pants, cardigans in each color and a variety of tops I thought would layer well.  No, I did not take all of this with me!  I have a good spring jacket which is also water resistant, so that went into the staging pile.  Of course, going on a cruise required a few ‘dress-up’ pieces.  I took two Ponte knit dresses, and made them dressy with sparkly cardigans and statement jewelry.  (Formal isn’t really that formal anymore it seems on cruise ships).  Then shoes were planned.  I am one of those people who could (and has) take several pairs of shoes on a vacation of this length (I did not do that).

ATK on board

America’s Test Kitchen demonstrations on board ship (we recently became aficionados, so really enjoyed them)

It was time to sit down and really plan (remember I am a project manager, and everything is a project).  I downloaded the Weekly Wardrobe Planner from Imogene Lamport’s inside out style blog.  I filled it out with every day and where we would be on each day.  I then indicated when I needed casual, dressy, etc.  I roughly made notes about what clothes I might need for each day.  It was a big help.


Arriving in Ketchikan

The result? My needs fell into a few categories – travel days; sightseeing/outdoor days and ship days.  The cruise line had advised (in the fine print of the documents – you really need to read that stuff), that we would need a “journey bag” for the Land Journey Days.  What this meant was that you needed a smaller suitcase for very casual clothes and minimal needs for 3 days.  Cruise wear could be packed in a separate suitcase and the cruise line would store it after the cruise until you went to the airport for your final trip home.  Aha!  Lightbulb – the clothes & stuff we need for Vancouver (3 days) could be in the journey bag – and the 3 days post-cruise would also fit in there.  That realization helped me cull what we would take!

Misty Fjords

The (not so misty) Misty Fjords – it was a beautiful day so no fog. 


Misty Fjords – Seals sunning themselves, then oozing into the water 

So, in the end I took two pairs of jeans, two pair of pants (non-jeans), 2 pairs crop pants, 4 cardigans, about 8 knit tops, 3 pairs of shoes (2 walking and 1 ‘dinner’ shoe), work-out clothes, 2 pr knit (casual time on the ship) pants & t-shirts; along with the 2 dress outfits I mentioned earlier.  I packed 3 pairs of shorts for DH, along with jeans and assorted golf shirts, workout clothes and dinner clothes (dress pants & shirt + sportcoat).  Of course undies, jammies and necessary toiletries.  For us, this was pretty light packing.

Tram Juneau

Looking down over Juneau while taking a tram up the mountain.

What did I pack that we never wore?  Rain coats, gloves, warm hats, ear muffs.  Several of the men came up to DH and said they were jealous that he had packed shorts – apparently many did not.  He graciously gave me credit for packing shorts for him.  He was very happy.  So in the end – everyone was right.  Layers, layers, layers.  You may not wear most of them, but would sure want them if you needed them!


Beautiful Bald Eagle – being cared for at a refuge on Mt. Roberts – she had been shot in the eye and rescued.  She has no depth perception, so cannot go back into the wild.

My last tip about this trip particularly – if you go, do the Land portion first, then the cruise.  The cruise is relaxing and the land portion can be hectic with traveling from place to place.  Also, add an extra day or two (take a 12 or 13-day Cruise/Land trip).  The cruise is still 7 days, but a couple of more days within the interior of Alaska would have been even better.

Hope you find at least 1 helpful tip in this post.  I’ll finish with a few more pictures.

I was amazed at the flowers that grew wild in the rock of the mountains, particularly in Denali.  They get some quite severe winter temperatures.

Wild flowers 2 Denali

Wild flowers Denali

DH is a train nut – both model and real trains.  So we rode two of them.  The narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad from Skagway into Canada.  We learned all about the Gold Rush and the hardships the Rushers faced before the railroad went in.  This ride took the same path as the Gold Rushers…many men and horses died on that trip.

White Pass

We also rode the McKinley Explorer from Denali to Anchorage.  The scenery was beautiful on this day-long ride.  We saw rushing rivers; waterfalls created by snow melting on the mountains, moose bathing and running away from the train.

McKinley Explorer

We had a day in Anchorage before coming home, so we visited the Anchorage Museum.  It is a very interesting and unique museum.  A few photos of some of the fiber exhibits.

One exhibit was called Needle & Myth.  The picture below explains the exhibit.

Needle & Myth

View of 1 side of the exhibit.  The linens were hung back to back so there were two sides.


And one of the individual linens, answering the “She is…” or “She was…” question

Needlework item

And…last picture is of an interesting quilt.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the description. I loved the unique ways they hung textiles and other items in the exhibits.


I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my trip.  Go to Vancouver and Alaska if you can…it is well worth seeing all of it.

A sewing project will be next, I promise!


Vogue 1033 + StyleArc mashup

In my previous sewing post I gave you a sneak preview of my next project.  This was a test embroidery pattern I was planning to add to a blouse.  Mostly I was testing the colors and deciding on the correct stabilizer.  As you can see, this fabric/design combination needed a heavier stabilizer to support the embroidery so the shirting would not pucker around the design.


My shirt:

SA Marley


Inspiration:  I was seeing a lot of striped shirts in RTW with embroidery.  I added some Pins to my Tailored shirts Pinterest page.

Here is one of them:

Striped shirt embroidery

My fabric is a lightweight, yellow and white striped, cotton shirting with a little bit of stretch. Fabric came from FabricMart Fabrics a few years ago. One thing I noticed was that the embroidery designs on the shirts I was seeing were quite dense.   Given that the fabric has some spandex, I needed to use a lighter weight design and the correct weight of stabilizer.  I looked at all my hundreds of floral embroidery patterns and there was nothing that was calling to me.  So I got online, went to Hatched in Africa and downloaded this grouping.

I was looking for a more contemporary type of floral pattern and really liked all the designs in this package.

I initially planned to use the StyleArc Marley woven shirt.  I was looking for a loose-fitting shirt that would be cool for summer.  I could wear it alone or over a tank top as a shirt jacket.  I made a test garment of this pattern and did not like the fit at all.  Shoulders too wide, sleeve too large, dart too low.


I did like the way the sleeve hem and the hem on the bottom of the StyleArc (SA) shirt were done. I also loved the collar.  It is not a typical shirt collar with a stand; it is more like a camp shirt collar that is open, which would be cooler for summer.  But, it has a shaped piece at the back of the collar that helps the collar stand up. I really liked this feature, as it makes the collar a better fit for my short neck.  So, I could either 1) spend lots of time drafting a new pattern with these features, or 2) do a mash-up with a pattern that would require less effort.  I chose the second option.

Enter Vogue 1033.  Another Today’s Fit pattern by Sandra Betzina.  I haven’t made this before, but knowing the Sandra’s pattern fit works for me, I decided to use this as a base for a shirt and add the Style Arc features that I mentioned above.


I added a little length to the bottom so I could create the slits and wide hem.  I used the sleeve without the cuff and cut it the same length as the SA pattern sleeve.  There is a deep hem on the sleeve too, so I can leave it longer, or turn it up as a cuff creating a 3/4 length sleeve.

The SA collar fit on the neckline of the Vogue pattern, so no alteration needed.

The collar inside and out along with the pattern pieces.

Outside of collar


Inside collar

Collar pattern pieces

A better picture of the front embroidery:

Front embroidery

I added a small embroidery to the back of the blouse.

Back of blouse

The back of the blouse is a little big, but comfy for the summer.

Next:  Travel tips from my vacation!