Adventures in bodice-fitting Part 1: Shoulder Princess Seams

Since summers here can be a hot, sticky, rage-inducing hell, I’ve decided that I need more blouses. For whatever reason, a woven cotton shirt is cooler (relative term, obviously) than a t-shirt, so I wanted to make up some blouses that I could keep cool in this summer while still being semi-professional in case I should need to meet up with any of my husband’s customers. In light of that, I decided that I should try my hand at fine-tuning bodice fit, and being a fairly busty gal, I thought I could share my experience with others and help them out.

You’ve already seen the finished Burda JJ that I tweaked to fit me, but I decided that I would go ahead and show the alterations I made in case they help someone else. Plus, lots of people seem to really like the step-by-steps to go with the end result. This will be a multi-part series to save your brain from boredom overload and as I post them I will link them back and forth so you can find the one you want easily. There will also be some copy/pasting of similar steps to save me some time, so if you’re reading through and feel some deja vu, that’s why.

  • Part 1: Shoulder Princess Seams
  • Part 2: Armscye Princess Seams (with bonus conversion from darted blouse)
  • Part 3: Darted Blouse??
  • Empire Waist Edition
  1. Choose a size (I recommend tracing). I discovered that if I cut a size that was between my full bust size and my high bust size I could skip the FBA (and obviously grade in/out for waist/hips if you’d like). BUT!!!!!! You’ll want the full 5/8th seam allowances for this (at least to start with). And the reason for that is that you will be using that 5/8ths to play around with the bust fit instead of an FBA. (Note: There is a 9″ difference between my underbust and full bust measurements, if you are bigger than this, it may not work, but it’s still worth a try!) One thing to keep in mind is that if you are grading, be sure to copy the armscye portion directly from the pattern so that you don’t mess up the fit of your sleeve–you are more than welcome to grade out once you are below that as needed. Of course, if you are confident and have a lot of sleeve ease or are planning to use a larger size sleeve, you might be able to fudge this a bit.
  2. Cut out the traced pieces and the muslin.
  3. Baste the main seams together using the 5/8th seam allowance. It’s going to be tricky, but you can do it! Just go slowly and DON’T use pins–they prevent the fabric from easing. Don’t use your IDT or walking foot either for the same reason.
  4. Check your fit in the mirror and see where you want to take in/let out. For me, I wanted to take in across the front shoulders, let out over the bust, take in immediately under the bust, and leave alone through the waist/hips.
  5. Mark each area that needs changed with some chalk and make some notes (mental or on paper) about how much you want to take in/let out, remembering that you still plan to eat/chase small children/breathe/etc. whilst wearing this thing.
  6. Leaving in your old basting, re-baste your seam curving gently in/out between your marks. (This way you don’t have to worry about puckers, pinning, slippage, and all that other jazz.)
  7. Pick out your original basting stitches and check your new fit–you should be good at this point–remember, too much isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just too much. We’re not going for sausage casings here. But if you want to take in an area a bit more or perhaps didn’t quite let out enough, re-baste just those areas and check the fit again.
  8. Once you’re happy, then take your colored chalk (in a different color if at all possible) and trace down your stitches (the ones you plan to keep, obv.) so that you can pick out the stitches and see exactly where your new seamline will be.
  9. Transfer those changes to your pattern pieces, adding and subtracting seams allowances as needed or desired–nothing says you have to keep using 5/8th’s seam allowances, but if you change them, be sure to change them everywhere or otherwise make note of it or you’ll have a not-so-fun surprise in the end. Not that I would know that from experience or anything…. 😉 I just laid the tissue pieces that I had traced off over the muslin pieces and gently traced the stitching line with a pencil, added more paper where necessary, and cut off the excess paper where necessary. Your pieces will probably look deformed and you’ll question whether you are some sort of mutant, but ignore that and focus on the fact that you looked HAWT in that blouse muslin a minute ago.
  10. If you’re concerned, check the fit of the sleeves, maybe attach a collar to your muslin to try it out in case you haven’t made one before (or just in a long time), and then you’re ready for the real thing! Now sew up several blouses, because you can never have too many, and no one will have to know you used the same pattern over and over because most blouse variation is in the fabric and the sleeves. 🙂

Now I realize that looks like a lot of steps just to skip an FBA, but I found that it actually took less time than hacking into the pattern pieces using the the slash/spread method, and then still having to cut/sew a muslin. Plus, I’m just not a lover of darts, sorry, not sorry. And one of the things I really like about the Burda block (which is what this tutorial is based on) is that it has high, small armscyes which helps me avoid the weird gaping that I sometimes get there.

And if you are a more visual learner, the gallery below should help clarify some of the wordyness from above. And feel free to ask questions in the comments if I need to clarify something or made a glaring mistake (I am a tired momma, after all!) Good luck and happy sewing! 🙂

Red, Camo, and Blue

So, I know that our flag is red, white, and blue, but sometimes I just feel like I live in the land of camo. So, I rose to the occasion. 😉

Camo undies; for whenever you want your hubby to feel like a manly hunter? Or for when you don’t feel like faking a headache? 😉

I love making my own undies. They’re just such a great way to use up scraps of random knits that you have leftover from other projects. I think I may have mentioned this before. 😉 I do have one suggestion that I learned while making these though; if you are using a thicker cotton knit, don’t double the lining–it makes it significantly harder to put on foldover elastic.

Oh! I also came up with a new technique for sewing on the fold over elastic, which saves a ton of time and futzing. Sew the elastic on flat using a narrow zig-zag, (you do this by lining up the edge of your fabric with the center fold) then sew the side seams (including the unfolded elastic), fold the elastic over, and then do the triple zig-zag. I always tried before to put my FOE in the round using just the triple zig-zag, and it was fiddly, took forever, and after washing I’d discover I’d not quite caught the fabric in a small spot. This way is much faster, and much less fussy, even with the extra set of stitches. Best of all? Minimal pinning and no missed fabric! Hooray!

I hope that helps someone with their elastic endeavors! Let me know if you absolutely can’t get it though, and I’ll try to make up another pair and get some pictures of the process. Not like I don’t plan to make up a few more pairs in the near future anyway. 😉

Hubby’s Christmas gift

Hubby, stop reading. Now. You don’t want to ruin the surprise, right?

OK, now that he’s gone, I’m pretty excited. I’m working on another KS men’s shirt for him, this time in a very pale yellow with blue and white stripes. I started this on….oh….Tuesday, so it’s been a bit of a rush, but I think I’m going to make it. I am using the Pro-woven interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, and wow! It’s kind of stiff, hopefully it will work out in the end though. One word of advice though–don’t use starch to make the shirting easier to cut–apparently even the miniscule amount of starch made the interfacing not want to stick very well. I have had to “reapply” it about 3 times. Hopefully a good press after it’s washed will make it stick once and for all. If nothing else, I guess it makes a good sew-in interfacing, right? I hope so.

We open presents tomorrow evening, so I’ll plan to take some finished pictures (fingers crossed!!) then–perhaps even modeled!! But mainly I wanted to share the two tutorials I used to make the sleeve plackets because 1) I wanted record of them for future reference, & 2) you guys need to use this method if you aren’t already. It worked like a charm, though I will confess that my first placket wasn’t nearly as pretty as my second one for some reason. No one but me would likely notice though, so I’m just going to go with it. Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect and all that.

Anyway, there’s the quickie pictorial version that you can find here, and the more elaborate variation of same here. I really liked the more elaborate version this time so that I knew a bit more about what I was doing, but the pictorial version will probably be sufficient in the future. 🙂

Well, I suppose that’s it for now, I should probably head back to my little sweatshop and put the collar and cuffs on. Then it’s just hem, snaps, and done! 🙂 As of 10 p.m., I just need to do the collar and the snaps. I can see the end of the tunnel! 😉


She may not know it yet, but the lovely gal over at Lazy Stitching inspired me to try a croquis. I had my husband (who giggled like a schoolgirl the whole time 🙄 😉 ) take pictures of the front/side/back views needed. Obviously, I’m not posting them on here until they are outlines, and probably not even then…because all I can think is OH. MY. GOD. do I really look like that?! *sob*        OK, cry over, it is what it is, and I am working on making it better. The main reason I wanted to do it is because I thought it would be an excellent way of determining what will look good on me before I spend the time sewing it up. Sort of like trying things on at the store, but without the hassle of whining kiddo (or whining husband). If you follow the link above, you’ll see how Alana from Lazy Stitching does it because she was gracious enough to make a tutorial.

I’m off to find a good method for tracing these things off, without a light table, since I don’t have one….yet.

I probably won’t be posting anything until after Christmas, so I’ll take this time to wish you a very Merry Christmas with much love and good cheer!

Who knew?

There is sewing going on here, I promise, it’s just that I didn’t realize how tricky picking up a UFO would be. It’s requiring some fitting adjustments that I’ve never had the nerve to tackle before, so it’s slow going. I’m going to try and redraft and then recut the sleeves tomorrow. I’ve got muscular upper arms that are kind of throwing things through a loop. Fortunately, I found a cool resource for doing this that I’m rather excited about, because it’ll possibly give me a bit of a forward shoulder adjustment that will help the shirt hang better as well as fit my upper arms a little less snugly. Ah the internet. You really can find pretty much anything you’d ever need on here. 🙂

On a really happy note, I’m down about 3 more lbs. Progress! Yay! Slow and steady means it’ll stay off, right?

Have a great day! 🙂

Jalie jeans finished!!

I told you the other day that they were really close to done, and being the horrible blogger that I am, I forgot (and have been busy!) to post the finished pictures for around 3 days. 😳

A couple of notes for me and anyone else that might find them useful.

    * This pattern has way too much hip curve for my rectangle shape. I swung the side seams out two sizes, and for the next pair I will straighten them even more–they don’t need swung out, just straightened–I has no curves. 😛

    * I used the Debbie Cook method of zipper fly insertion over the one provided in the Jalie pattern. It worked great, but I missed the edge I was supposed to catch when I stitched the “J” the first time which caused some funky pulling and was extremely difficult to fix by the time I noticed it (which was after I tried them on the first time).

    * I had added length, but think I should take it out for the next pair(s), because there is plenty of length.

    * I used non-stretch denim for these, but my next pairs will have a minimal amount of stretch…I’m trying to decide if I should make them smaller to compensate or not. Nothing worse than having to pull up my pants all the time. 😡 Especially since I’m not really a huge fan of belts.

    * I have a little of the gaping at the center back. I think I’ll just take bigger seam allowances on the CB yoke on the next pair, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the yoke.

    * Straight waistbands are perfect for my rectangle shape. As a bonus, they are much easier to cut and sew with my fabric scrimping ways. 😉

    * The high waisted version is the perfect height! I couldn’t have made this a more perfect height if I’d have drafted them myself. 🙂

So yeah, I love these things, and will probably live in them for the next few months, and then hopefully they’ll be too big. 😉 But, I’m sure that you really just want to see the pictures, and I’m even modeling them! 😀

Hubby says my butt looks really good in these, better than is represented by the odd angle of the picture. LOL! This was WAYYYYYY better than his first attempts though–those made my look like my hips were way bigger than they are….

OK, I’m actually too embarrassed to post those pics after all, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 😉

Bra-making mini tutorial

So the hardest part of making a bra for me was the channeling (it holds the underwire) and how to best apply it. I came up with this method, and while it’s kinda more for my personal reference, I thought I’d share with you!

The pattern I’m using is KS3300, if you are curious. 😉

So, um, yeah….you need to be at the point where you are supposed to apply the channeling, and have it cut to the required length. Then you’ll want some twill tape–I’d suggest 4 pieces around 1″ long.

Pin your piece of twill tape BETWEEN the channeling and the bra seam allowance (because for the first stitching, you’ll only be stitching to the seam allowance and nothing else!)

I found it helpful to pin the channeling on with the stitching to the right edge of your sewing machine and then stitch in the ditch of that seam to maintain a straight line. Be sure not to catch your cups in these stitches or you’ll be ripping them out and swearing the whole time! Once you’ve stitched in the ditch on the seam allowance, your channeling will kind of want to flip up towards the bra cup–let it, pin it carefully in place, making sure to fold the twill tape under itself and over the channeling (this will keep the wires from poking through the channeling later on in your bra’s lifespan). You can kind of see what I’m referencing in the image above. Stitch in the same ditch again, and then go carefully down the other side. This works really well if you have the needle position thing, and these handy little red marks on the presser feet like mine (this image also shows a closeup of the “ditch” you should be stitching in as well as how the channeling should look after you flip it up):

I ran the edge of the channeling along the right red mark and my needle position was 1 notch away from that–on my Pfaff that was needle position 6.5, but your machine may be different. Just be sure to leave enough room to run the wire through, you don’t have to be perfect though–the wires are pretty small. Here’s a little hint on which way the wires go–mine have little sparkly ends on the side that goes to the center and white ends on the side by your armpits, like this:

After you’ve stitched the channeling on, and hopefully you left the twill tape loose on at least one end of each cup (I recommend leaving the centers open even though I didn’t in this picture), you’ll need to check your wires to make sure that they fit through the channeling, and more importantly, THAT THEY ARE THE CORRECT SIZE! Seriously. You can do all that work, but if the wire is the wrong size/shape, your bra isn’t going to be comfortable. Be sure to have a few spares that are in a similar size range to the one you think and see which one works best. You’ll have to do this after the bra is completely assembled though for an accurate test, which is why you’ll want to leave the centers open to insert the wires.

After you’ve got the wires inserted, flip your remaining twill tape down like you did on the other end(s) and sew down the sides. DO NOT sew across the tape! Only sew in the same stitching lines as the channeling. Otherwise, you’ll render your twill tape useless because the wires won’t be able to reach it. You could probably stitch this by hand if you are having trouble getting it under your machine.

So anyway, I know it seems silly to some of the more seasoned bra-makers out there, but I just know that next time I start one I’ll be glad I made this. Hopefully, it will help you too! 🙂

Randomness Tuesday

Way back when, I posted that I really liked the t-shirt with the little lumpy bits. Turns out, Adrianna from Crafterhours posted a tutorial. Yay! So someday, I’ll be able to make one of them for myself, and you can make one for yourself in the meantime. 🙂

My son starts pre-K next week. *sniff sniff* It’s kind of funny…he went to preschool last year, and I was a bit sad at first, but then I got to where I loved having those 3 hours to myself two days a week (and was having withdrawls some this summer, when he didn’t have school :oops:). This year he goes for 3 hours 3 days a week, and while I’m sad, I’m also looking forward to the “free time”. Kind of makes me feel like a bad mom, but then, sometimes you just need to get away, so maybe I shouldn’t stress over it.

Do you ever lose something that you’ve sworn that you just saw *somewhere* not so very long ago? Right now we’ve been turning our house upside down and inside out to find a silly book that we don’t want to pay the $30 to replace. So far, no dice. 😦 Grrr. It’s probably hiding out with one of my Kwik Sew patterns that I somehow managed to lose about 6 months ago. If they could giggle, they’d probably be giggling together about how brilliant they are at hiding. 🙄

Freaking Out

My hubby says that I am freaking out. I’ve read several books which all pretty much say the same thing about making pants, and by now I should be able to reiterate the steps to him from memory. He’s probably right. *sigh* I just am scared about them looking “homemade”. I do know one thing though–if you’ve read one book on tailoring pants, you’ve pretty much read them all. So pick one, and stick with it. If there’s one aspect that isn’t explained very well in the book you have, there’s probably a YouTube video or Blog Tutorial on it, just run a search. I suppose I should get to work, instead of stalling out of fear.

Painting Tips

Yay! I got some more priming done today! In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned via the school of hard knocks. 😉

  1. Buy a good paintbrush–you’ll save time on cleanup, and they last longer (making you actually spend LESS in the long run.) The good quality brushes are also more precise on things like edges, which could save you some money on all that silly blue tape you planned to purchase.
  2. Never skimp on the quality of your primer–primer is the backbone of your paint job. Quality is the key to success.
  3. Handy Paint Cup: you need one, they are convenient as heck, and ridiculously cheap. I wash mine to re-use, even though they say they are “disposable”.
  4. Ask a pro. There are people that work @ the Lowe’s/Home Depot type stores that know their paint, but they are few and far between. It’s one thing to go there and get the teensy “test” can of paint (which I do all the time), but you really want someone who knows what they are doing to help you choose coordinating colors, determine your best primer option (quality-wise, as well as whether to tint it and what color to tint it), and for other questions about techniques and such you may have.
  5. Did I mention the importance of a good quality brush? 😉
  6. Definitely practice your technique on a setup similar (i.e. a mockup of a window frame) to what you will be working on to perfect your technique before going all out on your actual project. You aren’t doing yourself any favors if you purchase all the supplies and then have to call in a pro (or buy more supplies) to fix your screwups–because you will have screwups–especially if you don’t practice first.
  7. Corners, especially inside ones are harder than they look, and if you are a gal, think of what happens if you get a big, thick wad of nail polish on your nail–it’s the first part to peel off–your paint job will do pretty much the same thing if you don’t practice and know what you are doing. Especially on those silly inside corners…ask me how I know! 😛

So anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Later on this evening I’ll post an update on the back door, since it’ll be completely finished today. Yay! 🙂