Just A Pinch

It has been a while since I posted, but I have been sewing a number of items.  I have been working on UFOs (Unfinished Objects).  UFOs exist because I have a great idea, start to execute it and then the next shiny idea comes along, so I start that too.  Before long I have several UFOs.  During the process of working on some of them I have learned a few things.  Take better notes, save all the scraps until you finish the project and store everything together in a “project box”.  For me, a project box is a plastic 12×12 inch box normally used to save scrapbooking paper.  Or a plastic zippered pouch that I have saved from purchasing sheet sets.  So let’s move on to a completed project.

This project really wasn’t a UFO for long.  I have been thinking about changing the styles I wear.  Even though I work full time from home, I was still hanging onto the old ‘professional style’ clothes and mindset.  So this item starts getting me out of that box.

Cutting Line Designs is a pattern line by Louise Cutting.  She is an icon in the sewing world and provides fabulous instructions in her patterns.  She and her partner Sandra Miller (who writes the instructions) test everything and provide great drawings for what you need to do.  Her techniques can be used on garments from any pattern company.

I have made a few of her patterns before but struggled with the fit in certain areas.  I really wanted this one to work because it is a style I really like.  And I wanted to wear it to Pattern Review weekend in June.  I love vests and this one has unique style lines.  It is called Just a Pinch and has both a shirt and vest view.  The collars on each are different, but are interchangeable.  Louise does all her own pattern envelope drawings and stories – she is extremely talented.

Just a Pinch pattern cover

I made the vest with the double collar.

I was planning to use a linen for the vest and knew I needed to make a mock-up.  Since I have a huge stash of fabric, which contains a number of fabrics that are not the right color for me, I selected a linen from my stash for the mock-up.  I added a bust dart based on issues experienced in other dartless garments (the front hiked up meaning more length was needed for my bust).  I followed Louise’s instructions for adding a bust dart to a dartless garment.

Those instructions are in her Industry Insider Techniques Vol 3 video.  There are 8 videos with techniques.  I have several of them.  They are available for purchase on Louise’s website and on the Taunton website (Taunton owns Threads Magazine – Louise is a contributing editor to Threads).

I also did a round back adjustment and added a center back seam.  I have a very short neck so I narrowed the collar slightly.  The mock-up fit very well, so I moved forward to the good fabric.

Fabric was purchased from JoAnn Fabrics in 2012 (yes, I keep track of fabric,  purchase location and date).  This was a linen with slight stretch.  The bit of lycra keeps the linen from wrinkling.  The buttons were a lucky find in my resource center.  They match perfectly and have a slight design on them that almost looks like the leaves on the fabric.

Just a Pinch Vest 1

I am very happy with the fit and wearability of this vest.  And I have worn it several times.  I think part of the success of this fit is that the shoulder seam is at the shoulder.  When there is a ‘dropped’ shoulder (meaning there is no seam at the shoulder and the sleeve is connected farther down the arm) I have not been as successful with the patterns.  I plan to make at least one more for the upcoming fall/winter season.  I styled this with a brown t-shirt and narrow ponte pants.  It is a comfortable and stylish outfit.  I even have a green necklace that goes well with the look.

UFO Completed

This blouse was cut out and set aside over 2 years ago.  That definitely qualifies it as a UFO (Unfinished Object). Sometimes it is just more fun to cut and sew something new than go back to something you never finished. But, I really don’t want UFOs sitting around; too many other projects swirling in my brain.

But…You cut out an item at a sewing retreat.  Then you come home, unpack from the retreat, set the item on the shelf in a ‘project box’, then the next time you start to work on something, those items in the project box are forgotten.  You start something new!  A system for UFOs is a separate blog post, but I do now have one.

Given the amount of time that passed since it was cut out, and the fact that I have learned a lot more about fitting my body since then, I wasn’t sure it would even fit me. I think I used my sloper as a basis to make sure it would fit. But I didn’t keep many notes.  I quickly basted the shoulder and side seams; tried on the blouse to see if it was worth finishing.

I have been on this fitting journey for a few years, so I wasn’t quite sure where my mind was when this was cut. Lo and behold – the blouse was going to fit…and look pretty good. No round back problem, enough circumference…ok…let’s get this thing done. The bust dart was rotated to a tuck in shoulder seam, so I rotated my dart there as well.  I initally selected this pattern because of the neckline. My neck is short, so a V-neck looks best on me. Amazingly the blouse fit fine.  So, I decided to finish the blouse and along the way I made a few adjustments.

Pattern Number:  McCalls 6564 (A Palmer/Pletsch style).  These patterns are great because they do have a lot of fitting information.  But I used my sloper to make my changes.  This pattern is out of print, but available on the McCall’s pattern website.  Probably available on EBay and/or Etsy as well.

Fabric:  A stretch rayon print, purchased from Fabric Mart in May, 2011.  Yes, it has aged.  And I have another piece of this is a slightly more melon colorway.

Finished Blouse:

McCalls 6564

Changes made:  As you can see from the line drawing there is a belt that goes around the waist and ties on the side.  I had the belt on, but the blouse was too short to keep the belt.  It just didn’t flatter me.  I should have made the longer version in the pattern.  If I add 2-3 inches to the top next time, I could keep the belt.  So, I removed the belt and shorted one end of it into a tab.  I put a button hole on the tab, then attached a button to the dart where the previous belt had been.  I also put a snap on the side right to keep the left side in place when buttoned.

I also faced the hem rather than turning up a hem because the blouse was too short.  I probably could have placed the white flowers a little better, but it isn’t noticeable in wearing. This dress form is not exactly my shape

All in all, I think this will be a good blouse for summer.  I plan to wear it with beige crops or ankle pants.


Twist Front Top – V1477

Continuing on with my Vogue Today’s Fit items, I recently completed two versions of Sandra’s twist front top.



When I was at the retreat, I asked for Sandra’s advice.  I knew the top would be too low-cut for me in the bust area, based on experience with other patterns such as Burda.  I am a little short between shoulder and underarm.  I was glad that Sandra showed me where to shorten the pattern, as the front is oddly shaped.  Below is a picture of the front pattern piece.  Her suggestion was to write “side” and “shoulder” on the pattern piece.  The arrow on the left (pointing up) is the side and the arrow on the right (pointing to the right) is the shoulder.  The right side of the pattern piece with the gentle curve is the center front.

V1477 Pattern

Next picture is a close-up of the shoulder.  A tuck was taken in the pattern at 2 spots below the shoulder in order to shorten the neckline.  Each tuck is about 1/2″ at the neck/center front edge and goes to nothing at the armhole (left side of the picture).  Since I needed a 1″ reduction in the length of the front, Sandra removed 1/2″ from two places.

V1477 Pattern_shoulder

Here is a picture of the pattern piece on a dress form to better illustrate the tucks.

V1477 Shoulder on form

The first top was made from a rayon/spandex blend fabric from FabricMart.  This is a wearable muslin.  I wanted to be sure it would not be too low in front, and that it fit.  It fits and is very wearable.  (My hips are a bit larger than this form, so this fits me a little closer in the tummy area than it shows here).

V1477 Print

The 2nd version is the one I really wanted; made from a poly knit purchased at Mulberry Silks during the retreat.  This is red and black with the red being glittery.  This fabric is a little thicker than the test fabric.  It is less clingy and just skims my body.  I like it very much and it washes like a dream.  With the glitter aspect, this is good for evening, but can also be worn during the day with a jacket or vest.

V1477 Red

A few tips:

  • Read the directions carefully for the twist.  It is a little confusing, but if you lay the front out as Sandra shows in the directions and follow her “twisting” method, you will get it right the first time.
  • Some sewists have commented that the twist accentuates the bust.  The more drapey fabric does do that, so I just wear a 3rd layer.  I have a brown faux leather vest that looks great with the print top.  The red/black top does not accentuate the bust because the fabric is not as thin.
  • Sandra made the longer version and sewed up the slits on the sides to turn it into a dress.  I don’t wear dresses often, but I think that would look good a bit shorter, with leggings.  The sides hang slightly differently and it looks very nice.


Retreat with Sandra Betzina

Sandra Betzina is a long time sewing teacher and pattern designer for Vogue Patterns.  Her pattern line is Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina.  Her patterns are a different sizing than the typical Vogue patterns; sized more for a real body.  I have many (most) of her patterns. I have made a few, but mostly collected them because I had been obsessed with fitting and getting slopers. She also has a website called Power Sewing .  She has over 210 videos (as of this writing)  and her subscription is well worth the price.  She has a video for many of her patterns and includes a variety of tips for sewing them, often beyond what is in the pattern guide sheet.

I have several of Sandra’s books and they are go-to resources for me.  I saw her in person many years ago in Novi, Michigan at the Sewing Expo.  Sandra let everyone know she is retiring this year from traveling and doing her retreats in San Francisco.  Therefore, I moved her retreats up on my bucket list.  I found out she would be at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro, NC last November so I signed up immediately when I received the registration.  Much closer to Central VA than San Francisco!  The event was worth the travel and the cost.  I learned so much from her and the others in the group.  Almost all of the attendees were ‘repeats’ so that allowed me to ask Sandra and others lots of questions about the patterns, fitting, fabrics. Alas, I didn’t take any pictures of the event – I was so wrapped up in what was going on it just didn’t occur to me.  If I was a more focused blogger/tracker of what I am doing, I would remember to take pictures of everything!

Sandra had a complete trunk show and brought garments made from her current patterns.  She willingly let the group try them on and look at the construction.  She was generous with her garments, her knowledge and her time.  She also had the samples of her two newest patterns for early spring that just came out. Vogue 1530 and Vogue 1540.

Vogue 1530


Vogue 1540

I did some preparation before I went, because I had goals.  I wanted to figure out what fitting issues I might have with her patterns and what her suggestions would be for handling them.  I made a mock-up of an OOP t-shirt pattern (Vogue 1363) and of the pants pattern used in her Craftsy Class, Pant Fitting Techniques (Vogue 2948).  As you know from previous posts, I have been unable to find a pants pattern that can fit me the way I like pants to fit. Armed with my mock-ups, all my Today’s Fit patterns and retreat sewing supplies, I was off and running.  Well, driving south anyway.

Vogue Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina sewing pattern V2948 misses pants


I learned that I have to make very few changes to her top (including jackets & dresses) patterns.  I made a mock-up of  while there and it also required few changes.

Vogue 1510

What did I learn?  For her patterns, in addition to my round back adjustment, I use 1 size for front and back shoulders and upper front chest.  I use the next larger size for the front bust and hips, and for the back below the shoulders.  I do need to measure the sleeves for each pattern. My bicep and lower arm is not as large as the pattern for the sizes I use.  I often need to go to a smaller size for sleeve and still take in more below the elbow. Compared to using other pattern lines, these are extremely minor and pretty easy changes.

If there is a next time (crossing fingers she might still come back to Mulberry Silks this year), I will be talking my fabric swatches to get advice.  She put together some great matches for pattern, fabric and trim for other attendees.

I am very excited to be sewing again and not just fitting.  Next post will show all the garments I have completed since the retreat.