A Tale of Two Suttons

I have such a long blogging queue…. and such a large UFO pile. Well large for me anyway. I have usually been a one project at a time kind of sewer. I blame the work shirts. I just can’t seem to get motivated to finish them but that’s a tale for another day.

But back to the Sutton Blouses since that’s why we’re here. These are the Sutton Blouse by True Bias yet again. Along with not finishing my work shirts I have been doing some experimenting with the kind of results one might expect from experiments – that is very mixed. But I didn’t want to blog a succession of almost failures so I will get to them as I make better versions (or decide to scrap them). So because of this I also desperately needed a guaranteed good result which is what I got which is what I would have gotten had I chosen my fabric more carefully.

I used this lovely silk/cotton blend because I love the colours and wanted something more than rayon had to offer, which apparently was mainly lack of drape.


Sutton Blouse

Sorry for the strange expression but the cat was attempting to photobomb and distracted me. Obviously not nearly enough drape, which makes everything stick out awkwardly.


Even from the back those sleeves just stand straight up. And you still can’t appreciate the fabric so here’s a better shot of it.


So unfortunately basically a failure, although I must admit that I still really like the fabric so it won’t be wasted (although I am still not sure what I am going to do with it). I prewashed it in the machine (I know, but you may as well start as you intend to proceed) on delicate in cold water and line dried it with no apparent adverse effects and very minimal shrinkage.

I then went on to some more experiments, which as I said, I will come back to. And of course, after yet more experiments I again needed a guaranteed good result so yes, I made yet another Sutton. But this time I was sensible and used rayon.


Sutton Blouse by True Bias

See, isn’t that better. It will look even better with jeans, which is how I will usually wear it but it is still very hot here (I know I say that all the time) and I couldn’t face jeans in the daytime.


The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that this has lost the high-low hem of the original design and therefore the side splits. I wanted quick and easy and so just rounded the sides of the front hem and shortened the back to the same length. This means that I can finish up to the sleeves as per the pattern instructions (which are excellent) and then hem front and back before joining the side seams. I like doing it this way when I have a rounded hem as it makes it easier to get an even finish at the hemline. (And no I didn’t think to photograph it and now the camera batteries are flat.)

I did make the same size (18 if I remember correctly but definitely the biggest size) as my original Sutton Blouse but I did also remove the extra length I added the first time.

So now I should get back to those blasted work shirts, although I am now thinking I could also wear this in a pinch…. and I have a couple more rayons in the stash.

What about you? Are you a one project at a time kind of sewer? Or do you have multiple things on the go?

Lekala free blouse pattern

Hi all. I have been doing some experimenting, which has been fun, but has not resulted in many actual finished garments and even less photos of said garments. So this is just a muslin and has since gone in the charity bag.


Lekala # 5446

Ah, yes Weewan (the cat) has photobombed every shot.

This is the free Classical Blouse #5446. If you want to give Lekala a try, it is a good place to start. I did add adjustments for a low bust point and wide set breasts (I think – it was a while ago). It is very comfortable and very importantly the sleeves fit well with no restrictions on movement. The only changes I would make will be to narrow the shoulders when I make one to actually wear. Oh, and reduce the collar size a little.


The awkward stickyoutedness at the front hem is because the interfacing I used was far too stiff and heavy and the fabric wasn’t great either, just some cheap poly/cotton with limited drape.


Having had tremendous success with previous Lekala patterns, such as my still-very-much-loved denim skirt and H’s shirts, I don’t know why I have not used them more. Although I have rectified that now as I have another blouse finished awaiting pics and yet another printed taped and ready to cut which I hope to get to shortly. I have also tried the narrow shoulder adjustment on the latest one so will let you know how that goes.

I know that you are all thinking “What? She’s not blogged in weeks, talk about experimenting and comes up with this?” I have been experimenting but then that got sidelined by the need for some work appropriate shirts/blouses. For the last 3 years my work clothes have only been needed for the occasional skype/video conference but now I have a new client and will need to meet face to face a couple of times a month. So I am in dire need of new clothes.

And after all that, I am not going to be making another version of this blouse at the moment. There is nothing wrong with it and in fact I am impressed with the pattern and the fit. And I can see me using this in the future but I have also experimented with some other patterns which are much more interesting. I hope to be back with some of those soon.

Have you tried Lekala? How did it go?

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 Ask.com, 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?

Tessutti Pia

This has been a long time in the making. I first muslined the Tessuti Pia last year and realised to my horror that the XL bust size was 101cm NOT 110 cm, which is what I mistakenly saw it as. Now my bust measures 116cm so my presumed need for an extra 6cm turned into an extra 15cm (at least). So the whole idea lost its allure.

But then I was going to visit my family in Australia and somehow the idea of a Pia dress to travel in got lodged in my brain and would not be ignored. So I used this fabulous double gauze


and created this


But first I had to make a few on the fly adjustments. Somehow in my grading up and adding an FBA I ended up with significant gaping at the front armscythe. My solution was to raise the front at the shoulder and to take it in at the underarm side seam. This has fixed the gaping but has shortened it in the front and raised the neckline. I have adjusted the pattern now so it should be fine next time. I am really pleased with the back. Yeah, I know I don’t really know why either.


So how did it go as a travel dress? It was perfect. Completely comfortable for the entire 12 hour trip. It was 42 degrees when I left home but I was cool in this and then when I left (I wore it on both flights) it was about 20 degrees and I was still fine. I just took a (fake) pashmina to throw around my shoulders in case the plane got cold. And the double gauze was wrinkled but not nearly as much as I had thought and also it wrinkles in a it’s-meant-to-do-that kind of way. So it still looked good after two flights and an hour long bus trip.

I will make another one. But I’m not sure that it will be in this fabric after all


I still really love this but am thinking that perhaps a simpler pattern would let the fabric really shine. I am really drawn to the Tessutti Sophie. Check these out by Lara and Anna and Barbara – aren’t they fabulous? But again the sizing will be a problem. The largest bust measurement for the Sophie is 106cm, which is better than 101cm, but still a significant adjustment. I have spent considerable time looking but haven’t found a similar silhouette anywhere else.

Can you suggest a similar pattern? Or have you graded the Sophie? I’d love to hear from you.

A shirt and a bit of navel gazing

Sorry, this is a bit of a rambling post but I am tired of chasing thoughts around in my own head. I need to share:) So apparently I can’t sew when it’s too hot. Or at least I can only sew very slowly for a short time. Seriously, it is 40 degrees here and it is a slow process actually getting anything made. The sweat drops made the ink run on the pattern pieces as I was cutting out. And don’t talk to me about tearing pattern pieces that have become wet (more sweat) and then stick to your already sticky hands (with yes, more sweat).

I have made a Sutton blouse for both my Mum and my sister but as they are gifts no pics for now. Although I  must say that it is a great pattern for gifts as the fit is quite forgiving, which makes fitting so much easier when you live on different continents.


My Sutton blouse

Making these also gave me the opportunity to try the size 16. If you remember, when I made it for myself I was unsure about the sizing and the extra length which I added. So the size 16 is too small. It fits but would need an FBA and the 18 is better anyway I think. But the length of the 16 was also ok (not lengthened). So next time I make it, I will use the straight size 18. So that’s good to know.

I also have a shirt for H which is nearly finished but then I’ve thought it has been nearly finished for several days now. Like I said  whined earlier, it’s hard to sew in the heat. I actually cut out two shirts and chose fabrics based on the ability to use the same thread so that I could sew them production line style. We decided on these two;


Cotton/linen for shirts

Both gorgeous lightweight, cotton/linen mix. (Yes, there is similar in the shop) H is the understated type so prefers matching topstitching rather than contrast, so cream thread was good for both. From what I’ve read about production sewing, I would have these whipped up in no time. Or not. Apparently, production line sewing doesn’t work for me. Apparently I need the steady sense of accomplishment as each step is completed. Quickly, as in one shirt, not slowly as in two shirts. So now I’m just focused on getting one finished by Friday. It’s our wedding anniversary – 22 years – how is that possible already?

UPDATE: The shirt was finished on time so here it is.


Not much to say about this pattern that I haven’t said before either here or here. I did narrow the collar and stand by 3mm and will hopefully remember to narrow the front placket next time as well. I also used muslin instead of interfacing on the placket, collar and collar stand, and I must admit I will do that again. I really like it.


A very invisible pocket and a small glimpse of the sleeve cuff. Not that you can really see it. Because this fabric is nearly identical on both sides, I turned up a narrow cuff and topstitched it down. Perhaps you can see a little more in this photo.


I also changed the centre back pleat to two side pleats. I simply copied a RTW shirt for placement.


As well as not sewing, I have been spending an awful lot of time trying to decide just what I might like to sew for myself. You see I’m at something of a crossroads style wise. It has only just dawned on me, well I’ve had an inkling for a while but it has now completely hit me, that I can make anything I like. I know, for an intelligent woman, I can be awfully slow sometimes:) And then I realised that I am making bog-standard copies of bog-standard RTW because that is what I would otherwise have bought. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Except that for years my criteria has been

a) available in my size (Thailand and then enormous steroid-related weight gain) or

b) suitable for where I was living (The Middle East) or

c) covered the eczema on my arms and legs.

It has literally been years since I have thought about what I would wear if I could wear anything I wanted. And I can now wear anything I want . I’m back in Thailand, but can sew, and I am well. I still have steroid-stomach but most of the other excess weight is gone and no eczema. I repeat, I can now wear anything I want. That is both fantastically liberating and at the same time fantastically terrifying. There are now no excuses. I have to decide what I want to be wearing, how I want to present myself to the world, what look I desire, what impact am I looking to make.

With that in mind I have decided to take my time and actually work out what I want to wear. But then I shall be back with some pretty fabulous sewing. I am determined… no more boring, no more, it’ll do, definitely no more well that’s what everyone’s wearing or making. I’m looking forward to this….

UPDATE: We have finally had some thunderstorms and now it is only 36 or 37 degrees so I am sewing again! And Style Arc are having a 25% off sale until end of April in their Etsy store.  Now I really think I will be back soon with something a little more interesting.

Sutton and Flo UPDATED

UPDATED 13/2/15 Because I really shouldn’t have rushed it quite so much and left out a couple of things that I want to include.

Well that turned into a longer break than I expected. I have been doing lots of not very interesting sewing, including lots of alterations, which are most definitely not my favourite thing to do. I’ll come back to some of the not so interesting things in another post since I do want to remind myself of my thoughts on them.

But I finally made something worth a look. This is the True Bias Sutton Blouse teamed with another pair of Style Arc Flat Bottomed Flo.


And yes that is the best pic I managed to get of the front. This was the second attempt to photograph these and I’m not doing a third so this is what we have.

But back to the clothes. Thanks to Lara’s post, among others, I knew that the Sutton blouse ran large. Which is a good thing since my bust measurement is 3 cm bigger than the largest size. Of course this had to be a bit of a guess since I couldn’t find finished garment measurements anywhere. This is my pet peeve with patterns.

So I effectively went down one size and I added 3 inches since I am taller than the 5’5″ the pattern is drafted for. And I don’t know that either were the right choice.


I could definitely go smaller. Although I don’t know that I would want to go an entire size smaller in the hips. Which would then mean that I would be going from a 16 out to an 18 at the hips. Which would be weird because generally I go down a hip size compared to my bust.


And with the 3 inches added to the length, I made a deeper hem, 1 inch turned twice, instead of the recommended 5/8″ (if I remember correctly). Anyway I probably could have made it the length as drafted and it would have been fine.

I followed the instructions during construction except for two points. I used store bought bias binding instead of making my own. This was purely as I now have enough fabric left for another top so I was just being miserly with my fabric. Which I forgot to mention is rayon bought for the princely sum of just over one dollar a metre from a pop-up fabric sale. The yoke is local black cotton which is why the sleeves stand out a little.


UPDATE I thought I should include a better view if the fabric and my nearly pattern matched centre front seam. I didn’t attempt to pattern match – I don’t know why because it wouldn’t really have been that difficult.

One change I did make was to also use French seams on the side seams. The pattern has French seams everywhere else but then a ‘normal’ seam with the finish of your choice on the side seams. I presume this is because French seams are slightly more complicated with the side slits. But this pattern is listed as Intermediate so I do think they should have included French seams everywhere. It just seemed such a pity to have zigzagged side seams but I would probably feel differently if I had an overlocker.

Anyway, I used this excellent tutorial from Handmade By Carolyn. I thought I remembered that she had done this with French seams but the only one I could find  was for Flat felled seams with slits. But the principle is the same and it works well.

I know I don’t sound overly enthusiastic but I do like this. It’s exceedingly comfortable and looks good with jeans and shorts. There will be more once I ponder the sizing some more. Which brings me nicely to my jeans.


I made another pair of jeans from the Flat Bottomed Flo pattern. Not that you can see anything of them in these pictures.

This time I used black denim which is a little less stretchy than my first pair. This is a good thing. They fit really firmly when first on but soon relax and fit fabulously. The blue denim pair tend to get a little large after a couple of wears, while these hold up better. Mind you that does mean that I’ll be able to wear the blue denim pair for longer as that bit of room makes them much cooler


UPDATED A close up of the pockets and yoke topstitching. I used grey cotton thread which isn’t quite topstitching thread but works well. The pockets are smaller than my first pair but now I think they are too busy. And don’t mind the dodgy bartacks, I am going to add rivets to the top corners when I get some the right colour.

I don’t really have much to say about this pattern that I didn’t say the first time. I love it. There will be more. I am going to move the side seam back to well … the side. But only so that every pair of pants I wear don’t have this same design feature. I have more of both the blue and black denim so I’m planning on capri length or shorts depending on how much fabric I have. Then I have some bottomweight black cotton/spandex that will make a slightly dressier pair. I also thought I might use the crotch curve and flat bottom draft from the Flos on the Style Arc Barb pattern for some less fitting shorts. Again more room for air means cooler once the temps top 40 degrees.

Sorry this post is a bit of a ramble but I just need to get this posted.

So please chime in with your thoughts re the sizing on the Sutton blouse.

Flat bottomed Flos

Like many others I was very excited to see Style Arc release this pattern and I am very pleased to say that it has lived up to expectation.



First I made a pair of shorts in the same blackish denim that I used for my Barb jeans. After wearing these for a while I decided that the only change needed was to take 1.5cm from the centre front down to nothing at the side seams. (Or what would be the side seams if they weren’t moved forward as they are on the Flos.) This is not because the front crotch length is too long (that fit was great from the start) but because I am very short waisted and the waistband was creasing and folding over.

As a a comparison here are the Barbs next to the Flos so that you can see just how much less fabric there is under the bum.


I then made a full length pair of in navy cotton spandex. And they were a complete FAIL. No photos because I can hardly get them on. Completely my fault due to poor fabric choice. I thought that the navy was the same as the red cotton spandex that I used for my first Barb shorts. But it wasn’t. It was much lighter weight and with considerably less stretch. But I did not let that defeat me.

I bought some lovely very dark indigo stretch denim. It is great fabric. Really soft and black on the wrong side so that you don’t get that light look when the denim is stretched.

IMGP3442_Fotor_Fotor_CollageAnd let me just say that I love these Flo jeans. They are hands down the most comfortable jeans I’ve had in years. i think I may have said that about the Barb jeans but these are even better. My husband was like “Wow, they fit you better in the bum than other pants you’ve ever had”. Actually he said that when I first made the shorts and it was completely unprompted. It seems he is paying more attention than I perhaps give him credit for 🙂


I used gold topstitching thread on the yoke,waist seam, pockets and side seams.

Some of the topstitching on the pockets is a little dodgy. Largely because I added the pockets to the already sewn up jeans, which is not a good idea. I was so eager to confirm that these would fit that I forgot that I intended to baste the side seams and then undo the side seams and add the pockets. After realising that they fit really well I went straight to finishing the side seams. I won’t make that mistake again.



But really I know that the whole point of the pattern is the back view.


I’ve had to really overexpose these so that you can see at least some detail. On the next pairs (there will be several more) I will make the pockets smaller.


UPDATE: I’ve changed the photos to some slightly better ones. Apologies for the all round terrible photos. I’ve got a bit of a cold and wasn’t in the mood to muck around for more than 2 minutes (as you can see from my expressions in the front view). But you will be seeing these again with the new tops I’m making to go with my fab new jeans. And then you’ll be seeing the next versions of these. I have some great black denim up next and I’m planning some capri length and next summer there’ll be more shorts.

So if you’re flat bottomed I can’t recommend this enough.

Is this your fitting issue? Have you tried the Flos yet or do you plan to?