Style Arc Sian Combo Top

Not that long ago Style Arc had a sale in their Etsy shop so I bought a couple of patterns. First up is the Sian Combo Top. A quick search reveals very few (like 3) reviews and/or images of this top. But two out of the three reviews were quite positive and the third simply felt like it wasn’t right for her.

I was drawn to this pattern as I am constantly on the lookout for tops in simple shapes where great fabric can be showcased so that multiple versions do not look too similar. And of course, offer the opportunity for colour and/or fabric blocking. Style Arc describes it as;

This great wardrobe staple features a flattering dropped shoulder and a comfortable silhouette. Create your own style using different textures or colours; knit or woven fabric. The combinations are endless. Optional contrast side panels.

So here’s my version.

Style Arc Sian Combo Top

Style Arc Sian Combo Top

I made a size 18 with no alterations in a scrap of cheap rayon and some very gorgeous Japanese spun cotton. A quick internet search reveals not much but according to, spun cotton is;

Ring-spun cotton are cotton fiber strands that are continually twisted and thinned until a fine rope of cotton fibers remains. This process makes the short hairs of cotton stand out from the rope, which makes it stronger and softer as a result.

I presume that ring-spun and just spun are the same but if anyone can shed any more light on this, I’d appreciate it.

This fabric feels divine. Because it is spun it is very soft and very light and this version has a slight sheen but not enough to call it shiney. Unfortunately, it seems to be intended as men’s shirting which means a very limited colour palette and no prints.  So I just bought some of all the blues available and some black. Which means that I bought every colour they had except for white and ivory because they are not colours that I can wear.

But back to the top. You can’t see it in this picture but I changed the back neck gathers into an inverted pleat. I am just not a gather type person. This was particularly easy to do as there is a pattern piece for a back neck guide. This is intended to ensure that the size and shape of the back neck are correct after gathering but also made changing it to a pleat very simple.


I used French seams throughout and I think this may have made it a tad smaller than it should be. Because Style Arc use 1cm seam allowances (generally speaking) those French seams need to be very accurate and I think I was a little off. Having said that I need to go up a size anyway. I cut this out weeks ago so can’t remember the details but I thought that the finished garment sizes indicated that the size 18 would be ok but it isn’t, as you can see from this very bad photo.


As you can see, there is significant pulling at the bust and the side seams are pulled forward. What you can only just see is that I didn’t do a forward shoulder adjustment and it definitely needs that. Check out that shoulder seam position. Next time I will also lengthen it, although less than it looks like it needs since if it fits properly it won’t be pulling up in the front as it is now.

I am looking forward to using this pattern again as I think it could turn into a real wardrobe staple and offers the opportunity to use lots of those not quite big enough but too big to throw out scraps.

So have you made the Sian Combo Top? Or have you used spun cotton?

Kimono Tees

I’m on a bit of a top making mission at the moment. I’ve had some success with my two pairs of Flo jeans that I just love wearing, plus the shorts that I made as first versions of both the Barbs and the Flos. And now I really want to replace a lot of my RTW tops.

As well as being cool (it’s bloody hot here already at 38 degrees), they need to be cycling friendly. I’ve been riding a lot lately, both for exercise most mornings for an hour or so (go me), but also just as transport around town.



I made the first version in local cotton, which is an ok print but has no drape at all.


Just to add some style to what is an oh so basic design, I added sleeve bands.


Just a simple rectangle added to the sleeve hems and then turned up.

The second version is from yet another piece of exceedingly cheap rayon. I love this one.


I’m really pleased with how the irregular stripe worked out, even on the shoulder seams.


Looking at these now, I think I might try a small FBA on this. It is definitely rising a little. I also need to remember to take a little bit out of the front neckline. It isn’t obvious at all in the stiffer cotton but I do notice it in the rayon. But boy, doesn’t this show just how much I am all front and no back. Speaking of back…


I added sleeve bands to this too but they are not quite as successful. This is largely due to the drape of the rayon. Although they were better when first made. I think I might press much more diligently than I iron;)  I might end up stitching them in place at the sleeve seam as they tend to fall down a bit.


Both of these also have very slightly curved hems. I’ve found the trick to sewing these is to hem first. I just run a quick line of stitching one presser foot width from the hem (because I’m precise like that)), which gives a nice line to press up the 7mm or so, then turn again and stitch. Because it is narrow it lies flat. Then I stitch the side seams starting at the hem. If I’m a couple of mm out, I can always fudge it at the sleeve end and it means that they definitely match at the hem.

It is nice to have a really basic blank canvas for some interesting fabric, that is also cool, comfortable and cycling friendly. Although unfortunately not with my absolutely favourite denim skirt, which now sadly does not get worn as often.

Now I am investigating cycle friendly dresses. Any suggestions?

Two wearable muslins AKA reverse vanity sizing

Well. I’ve made two wearable muslins for KS2627 for my Make a Garmant a Month plan.

On one hand, I can’t believe how much time I have already invested in what should be a very simple make. On the other hand, the fact that it is a simple make should make it a great choice to showcase so many of my fabulous fabrics. I also can’t quite believe how happy I have been to invest so much time in it. (Although I am expecting a significant return on investment)

So, first I checked the finished garment measurements. (see I am learning) The bust for a size L is exactly my bust measurement so I decided to cut an L through the shoulders tapered out to XL from the bust down in the front only. That is the back is a straight L.

And I’ve just spent ages looking for pics of this first wearable muslin and they are nowhere to be found. My laptop did have a catastrophic system failure last week resulting in it going in for repairs. I presume that somewhere in this I ‘lost’ the pics. Oh well….

Anyway the fact is that the first muslin was too big. So then I cut a size L everywhere. And it was still too big. So then I cut (the already cut pieces) to a size M through the shoulders and an L from the bust down. This is how it turned out.

And now it also seems that I can’t find all the pics of this top. So I really should leave this and take some more. But of course I’m not going to because this post has been brewing for days already. We’ll just go with what we have. 

EDIT I have now found some pics. yeah

So as you can see I used navy bias binding for the neckline.

And on the sleeves. Of course this was after first just machine stitching with white thread. And then doing it again with navy thread. I told you I spent a lot of time faffing about.

I also played around with the darts a bit to minimise stripe distortion.

I just machine hemmed it with navy thread. I did think about using bias binding again but decided it would make the hem too stiff and sticky-outy (now there’s a technical term).

You’ll just have to trust me that the finished item looks pretty good! I have already worn it with jeans for beer and pizza and got several compliments. Although it seems that I have unconsciously made a Geelong supporters top. Not necessarily a good thing when I’m a Saints supporter. (For all the non-AFL people out there just ignore that bit)

But you know what I found most frustrating about all this? The fact that no matter how many times I looked at the finished garment measurements and even after the first wearable muslin, I still couldn’t just cut the size M. And do you know why? Because I am not a size M. Really it is ridiculous. If this pattern had been sized smaller I would have had no hesitation going from an XL to an L. But an M just seemed wrong. I am beginning to really appreciate why many indie pattern companies (particularly) are using completely different ‘labels’ for their sizing. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have found it so difficult to cut the correct size if it was going down to an C not a D or from a size 3 to a 4. (Although I do recognise that these are ‘normal’ sizing in some markets but I’m Australian so they don’t mean that to me.)

By the way you can get this pattern here. And it’s free!

And it’s also navy so it fits with the sewcialist #bluefebruary theme.

So do any of you have trouble cutting the right size because you can’t get your head around being that ‘small’ or that ‘big’? Or is it just me? I’d really like to know I’m not alone in this so please leave your thoughts in the comments.

EDIT No.2 I knew that I had read something on one of the many sewing blogs I read about exactly this. The lovely onedabbles reminded me that it was Karen. She coined the term Reverse Vanity Sizing and I think that’s perfect!

January Make a Garment a Month Complete

This really should have been a much quicker make than it turned out to be. But that’s ok, because I made it fit properly  pretty well and learned a few things along the way. And discovered that I actually really enjoyed the whole process.

It is McCall’s M6604 view C. First up is that this pattern is really short. I added 2.5cm to both back and front and then another 5cm or so in the shaping on the front. When I make it again, which I will, I’ll add at least another 2.5cm to the back.

So the first thing to go wrong was that I cut a size 20, sewed the pleats, and shoulder seams and then tried it on. It was huge but then that’s no real surprise is it? As I mentioned once before, it is all very well to measure the pattern pieces and work out the ease, but I’m still learning how much ease I like and how a certain amount of ease looks. But anyway, I recut the size 18 and it’s much better.

I did a 2cm forward shoulder adjustment and used Heather’s fabulously easy tutorial to also adjust the sleeves. I also took 1cm off at the top of the shoulder. And then I put in the sleeves.

Looks pretty good, yeah? (Well except for the colour – this fabric photographs as a completely different colour in nearly every photo) But there is one small problem….

That is a rather large pleat in the sleeve. Talk about a generous amount of ease… I thought that a pleat might work as it would reference the front pleats. But it didn’t – it just stuck out rather awkwardly.

So I looked for tutorials on how to fix this. There are a lot. However, most of them presume (quite rightly) that you want to make an adjustment to the pattern before you cut the fabric. I, of course, needed an on the fly fix for an already cut (and hemmed) sleeve. Casey’s tutorial was just what I needed. I will also try to remember to check this on future garments BEFORE I cut them out.

After that it was all smooth sailing.

Well except for the weird ‘smile’ between my b00bs. But see it goes away when I do this

The problem is that the neckband is too long. You see I also did a straight shoulder adjustment, maybe…. Anyway I cut 1cm at the neck of both front and back shoulder seams graded out to nothing at the shoulders. But I din’t even think to shorten the neckband.  No wonder it went on so easily…

I played around with lots of options to try to fix this. In the end I added a small piece of elastic inside the neckband just above the pleats. (I also tried elastic all the way around and just from the shoulder seams forward but both of those pulled it too far forward)

This is supposed to show my excellently placed shoulder seams and pretty damn good sleeves (maybe still need a small tweak at the back) but all I can see is … b00bs. I swear they don’t stick out that far in real life.

And the obligatory back view. I do sometimes wonder if I need some kind of back adjustment. But I think I can’t need a sway back, because I have a flat bum but then I read somewhere the other day that that is precisely when you need a sway back adjustment. Can anyone shed any light on this for me?

But still I’m pretty pleased overall with this top. A couple of tweaks and it might even be a TNT. Which I do really need because when it is really hot you just can’t beat a simple woven top.

So that turned into a really long post, didn’t it? Next time I will try to do a WIP post, which is what I should have done when I spent so much time faffing about with the sleeves.

So how are your January plans going? And I would really appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have regarding achieving a better fit.

Oh and don’t forget to leave a comment on my last post to win the Plus Size Pattern Pyramid.

very late #sewgreendecember

This is just a catch up on a couple of quick, easy makes that I did finish in December but just didn’t get around to blogging.

First up is a #sewgreendecember top. Sew Green December was a sewcialists theme. For more on this and their upcoming themes have a look at their blog.

It is a constantly-work-in-progress self drafted top that started life as a copy of a RTW.

I presume the tripod was less than straight – I’m fairly sure that I hadn’t been drinking:)

I used this lovely green eyelet fabric that I bought as a remnant for about $6 for 2 meters.

Not the best pic since it is just an enlarged crop. But you can kind of see the scollaped hem. This made it a very quick make since it didn’t even need hemming and only has two seams.

The next make was another tunic length version of V8805. I had previously made this dress  but had made a mistake in my forward shoulder adjustment. Since I plan to make at least one more of these when the weather heats up, I wanted to make sure I had it right (it is now spot on). So I whipped up this

The fabric is a Thai Cotton, available in my etsy shop. I bought this for a dress for my sister and had enough left over for this top. My sister’s dress is also a V8805 so the top is like this one with the bottom band also with horizontal stripes. Sorry no pics of it.

Both of these are going to be great once the mercury starts rising.

If you are in Australia then I hope the mercury drops soon but in the meantime remember that it is important to keep your fluids up in the heat (and that G & T and beer are fluids).

Stay cool!

Make a Garment a Month January

I seem to have an awful lot of catching up to do. With everything, sewing, blogging, the etsy shop, really everything. So something simple for January….

I am going to make view C (the floral image) in this lovely Thai cotton with a textured self stripe which I bought at the fabulous Narin Fabric Supermarket in Chiang Mai for about $1.50/metre. This will be a test run of sizing etc on the simpler version before I eventually make the blue one (view B) in some lovely blue linen. But that will probably be for the sewcialists blue february.

And just for the record, I did finish my green pants for December. See, here they are

Not much of a picture I know. They do fit ok, they have been worn but no pics were taken. And since I need to iron them before this can happen, it may be a while….

Happy sewing

A quick, satisfying make NOT!!!

It was supposed to be a quick satisfying make while I worked up the nerve to start on my green pants. You know, a simple pattern – should be able to knock it together in a couple of hours. Well that isn’t quite what happened.

It started with this

How hard can it be – it only has two pattern pieces.
I chose size XL based on these measurements and finished garment size;

Bust 112 (mine is 114) Garment 123
Waist 94 (mine is 103) Garment 123
Hip 117 (mine is 113)   Garment 128

Problem number one was that I am still getting familiar with exactly how a certain amount of ease translates into a finished garment. Just what does 5cm or 10cm extra look like?

Well let me tell you I now know that this is enormous. I basically took it into a size L and there is still plenty of room. Especially given that my bust is 12cm larger, my waist is 13cm larger and my hips are 6cm larger than the pattern size.

And the fabric has no stretch whatsoever – because it is cheap (and I don’t mean inexpensive) rich, red satin. Fortunately it was inexpensive as well at only $1/mtr – even I was surprised by that. And it is a gorgeous colour – just the thing for a party top. Although more dark red that it looks here – no amount of colour manipulation helped.

Great, isn’t it? And well it should be since it took 3 days to make. And why was that? Well after the sizing debacle we then had the great bias binding disaster. I tried to make my own for the first time ever. However, this fabric did not press. At. All. But it did fray fabulously. So I ended up with manically fraying, getting smaller by the second, completely flat with no creases at all, bias binding. Ok, so we aren’t using it after all.

I thought about facings. But I have a gorgeous powder blue silk satin blouse that I had made at a tailor that has the front facing hand stitched down. They did a great job and only caught one thread with each stitch (I know, I checked) and every time I put it on those hand stitches are the ONLY thing I can see. So no facings aren’t going to work either.

So I’ll make bands (for want of a better word) and handstitch them. The sleeves went together beautifully, no problem.

Now I knew the neck would stand up a bit like a collar but I did it anyway and then threaded elastic through it and I really like how it turned out.

And that just left the hem, which I ended up handstitching two and a half times!! Originally I made a 10cm band with the intention that it would look like a design feature rather then a “thing stuck on the bottom” as MrH described it. (Obviously design feature fail). So then I reduced it to the finished size you see here.

 So why all the restitching? The first time I got half way round and realised that I hadn’t eased it or had twisted it or something. Anyway it was off. So I redid it. That was at the original large size. So then I had to redo it again when I made it smaller.

The funny thing was that I actually kind of enjoyed the hand sewing, which was a bit of a revelation and should be useful to know in future.

So here is my finished party top after all my labours….

Oh, but it looks lovely – why did she say it was cheap satin? Because of this

This fault just appeared, all on its own, ages after I had finished everything except the hem. That is, I wasn’t sewing anywhere near the shoulder. Lucky it is at the back and I have long hair.

Ever had a quick make turn into a nightmare? Spent hours only to discover a flaw in the fabric? Tell me I’m not the only one, please?

Make a garment a month muslin complete

Well I finally got photos but they’re still not pretty I’m afraid. As this is a muslin, albeit a very wearable muslin, I made a shorter version. I used the upper and middle pieces and just left off the lower piece.

Sorry, I told you the pics aren’t good. I have in fact worn this out twice but always at night and hence no pics. However, on both occasions I was really comfy wearing it and received many compliments.

I used an old (maybe 15 years old) wrap around skirt and a remnant of black cotton. Of course black is notoriously difficult to photograph, but here are some detail shots nonetheless.

Flat felled seams – everywhere. I figure if you’re going to have topstitching, you may as well….

Since this has some Asian influence in the Thai silk fabric, I decided to use a Chinese knot instead of a hook and eye.

Again apologies for the crap photos.

So how does it fit? What needs fixed?

Well, the first problem is even deciding which pattern size to use. If I had used my bust size it would have been a size 24 and then a D cup. This would have been enormous. It would give me something like 25cm of ease! So I used my upper bust instead and made the 18 with D cup. I also graded out to a 20 on the front only, based on the listed finished garment size. This was totally unnecessary.

So for the dress version, I will cut a straight 18. However, I will probably lower the neckline – it really is quite high. And I think I’m going to try my first ever forward shoulder adjustment.

So how are you all going with your challenge garments?

Make a Garment a Month Challenge

Well as you may know from an earlier post, things did not go according to plan. Do they ever? However, I do have a completed garment (and still have hopes for another before the month is out). So here it is..

What should have been a quick, simple make turned much more complicated due to my own stupidity. This simple top was inspired by this tutorial. I intended doing this right with either French or flat felled seams and everything. I started off well enough, I increased the measurements to allow for a woven fabric rather than a knit. And then I forgot to add seam allowances!!!!

So a bit of trickery was called for. I sewed the shoulders using the absolutely smallest seam allowance I could manage and then I used bias binding (where would we be without it?) to enclose the raw edges in a kind of imitation flat felled seam. That’s what you can see here in the shoulder seams.

Don’t worry the puckering pressed right out.

So far so good, although this fabric ‘grew’ at a startling rate. This is how much longer it was having only sewn the shoulder seams (and yes, I did check against the pattern and they were both cut the same length).

And as you can see it also frayed like you wouldn’t believe.

So that first fix was fine for the shoulder seams but was not going to give me enough extra room for a comfortable fit around the waist and hips. So I added  godets extra bits of fabric. Basically I just worked out how much more room I needed and then tapered it to nothing at the underarm. I don’t actually have a pic which shows it clearly but you can just see it here.

Again I realise it all looks a little puckered under the arm but that is because I am standing awkwardly.

So I did manage to save what could have been a disaster, which I am pleased with, but it would have been so much simpler to have just not fucked it up to begin with.

 And yes the neckline did stretch out because of course I forgot to staystitch it. But I can live with it.

I know I am going to be making more garments with similar fabric just because I love it. It is woven by members of a hilltribe community near the Burmese border. I bought this in Mae Sariang a few years ago and had a jacket made from it (by a tailor) and this was the leftover remnant. Photos don’t do it justice as the colours are very rich and change according to the light.

Oh and I just used a cheap cotton for the back in purple because (although you can’t really tell here) the darkest colour in the print fabric is actually a very dark purple, not black.

I have worn this already and it is really comfortable so I’ll count that as a win.

How are you going with your Make a Garment a Month garment?

Make a Garment a Month

Hi all (warning this a long read and not a lot of fun)

I really hope your sewing (for this challenge or anything else) is going better than mine. You may remember that I am making the Danielle from Burdastyle. Well, I was..

After several tissue fittings and two bodice muslins (muslin bodices?) I am conceding defeat. Well, momentary defeat. I definitely intend revisiting this in the future.

I have realised that the basic problem is that the pattern is just too small. In the front anyway – the back is great. Now I know that I could grade the pattern up – I have even read several tutorials on this. But grading it up plus adding an FBA, forward shoulder adjustment, respacing the under bust darts, etc, etc is just too difficult at this stage of my sewing journey. I really need to start with something that is a closer fit and tweak it.

I have also read  (and reread several times) this post on a Fashionable Stitch. This really resonated with me because I cannot buy patterns locally (I have never seen one here) and compared to the price of fabric here (or tailors for that matter) patterns are expensive and then of course there is the wait for them to arrive. But now I am looking at them in a slightly different light so I am happy to make the investment in some good basic patterns. So I am currently looking at the Amazing Fit range from Simplicity and now just have to choose one. So that will be my garment for next month.

“But what about this month?” I hear you ask. Never fear, I have already finished one blouse and will do a proper post on it shortly when I get some decent photos. But here is a sneak peek.

I also really want to buy the Scout woven tee from Grainline. However, I am concerned about the sizing. The largest size is too small in the bust (by 2″). Will an FBA fix this? Has anyone done one before? Am I going down a familiar path of starting with a pattern that basically doesn’t fit?

I am looking for a basic blouse pattern that I can then modify in the future. I am a very apple shape – my back waist is a full 15cm smaller than my front waist. Weird I know, but I have recently recovered from a long illness (4 years long) the cure of which involved taking steroids. This has resulted in the “potatoes on toothpicks” (Really that is what they call it) body shape often associated with taking steroids long term. There are many patterns that I love (Anna by By Hand London for example) that I just can’t see working because of my belly (which also starts just under my bust).

So do you have any suggestions? Any and all suggestions would be very welcome.

And thanks for listening to what has basically turned into a whinge…..