A t-shirt that fits!

I’ve cracked one pattern!!!

flowery cowl t-shirt

(Excuse the look on my face. That kid doesn’t warn me.)

Last year I noted that I like this kind of drapey cowl neck (see this post). I recently discovered a pattern that had that kind of cowl. And then Simplifi put the Lillistoffe fabric on sale one weeked and …

The pattern is from Pattydoo a German company that does PDF patterns and tutorials. They come in English as well as German. I decided to go for the short sleeves.

I chose size H based on my high bust measurement so it fits through the shoulders. On the back I graded out to the J at the hips. These patterns are not easy to grade between sizes because the sizes are offset but it more or less works with the back piece.

P1030663On the front I went with a variation on a vertical only FBA that I’d read about. I didn’t use her method because you only need the extra length at the centre front so if you add it all the way across you then have to get rid of it in the sideseam. So I just changed the hemline. I may have added too much but because of the way the collar falls, it might be that I can pull more of the fabric up above the bust into the neckline. I also changed the waist shaping because, while I have a waist, it isn’t as shapely as the pattern measurements suggested. Since all the adjustments were below the armhole I used the size H sleeve.


This knit fabric is pretty stretchy so I figured there was room to be imprecise (which is good; precision is not my thing). Also, I went with some negative ease. And then I miscalculated how to use the marked seam allowance measurements on my machine with the stitch I was using so the shoulder and armhole seams are ⅜” rather than ¼”. It all seems to have worked out well.

I don’t have a serger so I used the knit stitches on my regular machine. I didn’t use a twin needle for the hems but I think I need to learn how to do that.

All in all I’m happy with this. I like the style and the adjustments worked. I may make more of these, including long sleeved ones for winter.


A new sewing project

A while ago I bought some cotton knits on sale.


Today I thought I’d make a Renfrew top with that one in the front. I had hesitated to buy this pattern because the largest size has a bust measurement smaller than mine. However, I now know that I should select a size based on the measurement above my bust (under the arms) and adjust the bust to fit so the size 16 is the size I’d choose. I decided to make a short sleeved v-neck and to forego the band on the bottom, extending the length instead.

As I was doing this step of extending the length, I noticed that the waist curve was really high compared to mine. So I added the 3 inches at the “lengthen or shorten here” line, figured out where MY waist should go and redrew the curve. The photo is of the front piece after adjustment.

adding 3 inches to front piece

I poked around on the internet for a while to see how others had adjusted this pattern and came up with a couple of useful blog posts about doing a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) without adding a dart. I mostly used this one (which is not specifically about Renfrew). I misread it the first time and took a long detour but basically, when you get to the section “Dart Manipulation”, just follow what she describes in the first 2 paragraphs and ignore the rest. Really.

I adjusted that tutorial a bit based on this other FBA tutorial (for a woven shirt with a dart). What I took from this one is that you don’t have to add the width all the way down. You can isolate the bodice. I didn’t need more width in the front hips.

I’ll walk you through my process (without the unnecessary detour of dart manipulation).

Isolating bodice of front

I started by isolating the bodice. I measured on my body and figured out that my bust line is about 2.5″ below my armhole and drew that line in. Then I cut the bodice off about 3″ below that line.


Then I drew in slash lines for the FBA.

Next I slashed, spread to add 1″ (I need 2″ or so extra. I decided to err on the negative ease side since it’s a knit.)


I also added extra length to the centre front to make that line straight. The bust curve requires both extra width and length.

Next, I rejoined the bottom part. (The unnecessary detour involved slicing this in half so I had to tape it back together. Those bits of tape are unnecessary to the process.)

I used my French curve to draw a smooth curve from the new bust to the waist. And then I measured the side seam length of both front and back by putting my tape measure on it’s edge. The adjustment was more than just the width of the dart because that new curve is a different length. I took that much off the bottom, drawing a smooth curve along the bottom edge.

Bottom added back; side curve adjustedThat looks a bit weird but will be fine on my body because my body is not flat like a pattern piece. 🙂

I do need extra width in the hips. I know from experience that I need that in the back which is where my hip curves are located. After lengthening the back piece I measured up about 5″ (based on a rough measurement of where the curve is) and drew a vertical line about a third of the way in from the edge. I slashed there and spread it out about 1″ at the hem. This increases the side seam curve. I then straightened the bottom edge.

Adding width in the hips of backI didn’t get any further than this because I then realized that there isn’t enough of the fabric I was going to use. I’m contemplating that really bright one though it’s stretchier than the pattern calls for.


Planning a holiday

In the early years of our relationship Mat and I used to go camping, walking/hiking, and bird watching. Not that we are super serious birders but we’d go to a reserve or whatever. And then we had Freya. And moved to Ottawa. And I don’t exactly know how those activities stopped but they did. I have almost zero desire to camp these days but more walking and some birds would not be a bad thing.

Since we moved to the farm, of course, it’s been harder for all of us to go away together because we need someone to look after the house and animals. Now that Freya is grown up and has a driving license, she said she could do this if we wanted to go away. And Mat is going to a conference in PEI at the end of May and has never been to the Maritimes before so….

Road trip!

We decided to take one ages ago but only started planning the details today barely 3 weeks before we leave.

Key items on the agenda: Visit Andrea & Ron in Fredericton and get to Charlottetown in time for the conference. I know Andrea takes Fridays off so I decided we should aim to arrive there Thursday night and spend Friday hanging out with her and whoever else is around maybe having some dinner, too. That created edges to the whole thing.

While I was at choir practice last night Mat did a bit of searching on the internet about hiking and birds in the Bay of Fundy area (both sides) and came up with some spots we might include. Another friend had suggested a few spots, including a good hike that didn’t come up in Mat’s search. Today we looked at maps and tried to figure out what would make sense in the time available.

The plan is Fredericton, then drive to St John and take the ferry to Digby. Drive up the Annapolis valley to the Wolfville area, possibly stopping to see stuff or taking a bit of a scenic route. Stay 2 nights there, spending one day doing the Cape Split hike and another half day at Blomidon provincial park staring at birds and scenery. We may also have dinner with someone we know in the are. Then drive (probably scenic route at least partly) to Amherst to stay another 2 nights there. Take in the national migratory bird sanctuary and possibly the fossil cliffs at Joggins. Then on to PEI.

I still need to figure out what I am doing in PEI while Mat is conferencing but I’m pretty confident I’ll figure something out even if it is sitting in a nice sheltered spot knitting for hours.

We will drive back straight, stopping for one night somewhere along the way (probably Edmunston) because Mat has to be back for something.

New home … for the blog

I know I’ve not been fantastic about updating this blog but Andrea and Ron have decided to close homeschooljournal.net so I had to move what I had and decided I wanted it to still exist.

So here it is. Complete with new header.

I kept the old name because now that F is old enough to be thinking about moving out and the sheep have all been killed (not by me, predator), the topics are likely to revert to the knitting, quilting and sewing realm. I’ll try to keep you posted.

Why I hate “layering”

It is that time of year when it is often very cool in the morning and quite warm later in the day. For many the answer to this problem is layering. I find that that isn't any kind of answer.

I have no aesthetic objection to sweaters over shirts or anything like that. The problem, for me, is that a shirt that looks good with a sweater or a vest over it may not look good when you get rid of that top element. I don't like the look of high necklines (on me) for example but that's the kind of top I wear under things.

Furthermore, if it's the right temperature for a particular sweater, wearing that sweater with something under it makes it too warm. Several days last week it was cold enough in the morning (and in the house because, let's face it, no one puts the heat on in September if they can help it) to wear a chunky sweater. Later in the day it was too hot, especially outside in the sun. Because I tend to only get dressed once, I just suffered. (In the winter, I would have worn that sweater all day and then put a coat over it to go outside.)

Often for this kind of cool but not cold weather the best option is to add some kind of thing under-layer. Getting rid of that layer later in the day is also kind of problematic, especially if you are not at home. It's not like taking off a cardigan.

This only really becomes problematic when I'm buying/making new clothes. Neckline choices depend on how I'm going to wear something.

I recently bought some long sleeved t-shirts. If I was just going to wear them alone, I'd go for a scoop or v-neck. But that limits the season in which I can wear them rather a lot. Realistically, most of the winter, I'm going to put a vest or a cardigan over that t-shirt and keep it on all day. That means the scoop or v-neck is in the vest/cardigan and I need a neckline on the t-shirt that complements that. Turtlenecks and crew necks are what I bought.

Of course then I felt like I still didn't have anything to wear in those very short periods of the year when I want one light long-sleeved layer.

patterned fabric and cowl necks

This post is part of a personal blog project to Find My Style. Please read the first post for an overview of what I’m trying to do and what kinds of comments I’d like. Thanks.

The photo of this top surprised me. This is another find at Eddie Bauer and it is really comfortable. I wear it with black dress pants for occasions that require being a bit dressed up and the only thing I really don’t like about it is the fact that the cowl neck edge isn’t really finished so it’s hard to get it to drape without the inside of the fabric showing.

It has a lot of things I like: lower neckline, 3/4 sleeves, hem at a good spot for me. It’s super comfy fabric (a light cotton knit). And the print isn’t too girly.

When I took the photo my first thought was that the pattern distracted from the shape. And I started to realize that I really should have tried the smaller size. The top fits VERY loosely. It’s not awful but I need to think about those things when I buy stuff.

This is part of a pattern with me. I’m worried about stuff being too tight, so I end up with too loose. This is a knit so the wider hip thing might not have been a problem.

Things to take away from what I like about this top: cowl neck. Seriously. They were popular in the late ’70s/early 80s when I was in high school and I never figured out how to wear them and didn’t like them much. But this neckline I like.

Other things to remember: Andrea S is right. Patterned fabric can be tricksy. Her rule of thumb is only use it when you LOVE the pattern.

I’ve found some things that might help me with that:

A tutorial for a draped tank

And another: I’m not as keen on the underbust folds that the author of this post seems to desire but her notes on what adjustments to make to get that neckline are food for thought.

Renfrew top has a different kind of cowl but also seems like a good basic knit top pattern. I’d been avoiding it because the top size seemed to small for me. But if I pick a size based on my upper torso measurement their 16 is close enough.

Sorbetto finished

Here’s the photo of the top I was talking about in that other post.

Pattern: Sorbetto by Colette Patterns

Fabric: silk that someone gave me many many years ago. The centre pleat and neck binding use a piece that was a paler blue that I’d done some silk painting on.

Interestingly, given the discussions about fit and so on, the back fits well below the shoulders but the shoulders are very wide. (I compared them to that purple top and at least 2″ wider.)

I’m pretty happy with this and will wear it. I love the colour. It is very comfortable. But I’m not likely to use this pattern again, or if I do, I will make a lot more adjustments.