theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 29, 2017

From Susan — Sometimes a Great [Sewing] Notion

Filed under: Updates — lv2knit @ 11:31 am

As you all know, I sew as well as knit.  My sewing days don’t exactly predate my knitting days, but I did a lot more sewing early in my life.  I bought some fabric a while back because it reminded me of a picture of me from kindergarten, which of course I cannot find.  It also reminds me of a beautiful dress that my grandmother made for my mom.  Anyway, I decided to branch out and use a different shirt pattern – you know, mix it up a bit!  It went together extremely fast, but the fit just isn’t there.  The finished shirt cannot be altered, and is almost wearable, but I will need to make changes the next time around.  🙁  It feels snug in the shoulders/armholes and the sleeves are too short.  My comparisons to existing shirts obviously fell short as well!

Back to the drawing board!!  At least next time I will know what to change.  I guess sewing is like knitting after all (in that you can make a sweater fit the SECOND time you knit it!), except you can’t finish a sweater in a day…

PS:  I did attempt some minor alterations.  I replaced the cuff with one an inch wider to add an inch to the sleeves – at that time I also converted the sleeve from an overlapping cuff to a French cuff because of the extra width.  I also redid the sleeve seam right at the underarm and gained about a half inch.  It fits a little better and the sleeves are much better!  Still need a couple of buttons.

Daisy mentioned the layout of the motifs.  That was a major challenge given the odd way the fabric was printed!

The lines you see are not seams — they are printed right onto the fabric!!  Half the fabric had a more solidly printed design.  It ran the length of the fabric, and undulated from really solid flowers to more open with more white background – you can see how it abruptly stops along the center line of the fabric, running along the entire length.  I used that for the back, but had to seam it down the center to avoid the printlines.  I had to match the layout of each half so the whiter areas would align.

The other half was printed in actual blocks about a yard long.  You can see in the picture how the pattern just cuts off and completely changes!  I could fit the front on one of these panels (and also the sleeves).  There the motif went from very solidly printed to white.  That is why there is so much white at the top of the sleeves and the front – I did plan it that way.

I feel much better about the shirt now and hope it goes more smoothly the next time around!! 😉

PS2 to Connie: I have never made a muslin sample but it does seem like a good idea.  I thought I had this covered because I had two shirts I was measuring from BUT I was lazy in my comparisons and assumptions!

PS3 to Metta: I think you mean a gusset.  I thought of that but had an issue with it.  The pattern has 1/2 inch vs 5/8 inch seams.  I did a French seam along the sleeve seam but had to trim it down to do the 2nd stitching.  That leaves an in credibly small seam to work with.  I do think that getting the half inch under the arm did help and will make it wearable!!

PS4 to Nancy: I bought the fabric a couple of years ago at Treadle Yardgoods in St. Paul on Grand Avenue.  As Carol Burnett (aka, Scarlett O’Hara) would say, “I saw it in the window and I couldn’t resist it!”

PS5 and Final: I did add 6×2 inch gussets to the underarm and it worked well!  The buttons are sewn on – but I used snaps in lieu of buttonholes.  The shirt is done.  The shirt fits.  It looks great!  Thanks all for weighing in!! 🙂


  1. As Elizabeth Zimmerman said (approx.) , you’ll know who it’s for after you finish it. Someone with shorter arms evidently.

    Comment by Betty — April 29, 2017 @ 12:58 pm

  2. Too bad the fit is off. You did a wonderful job with the motifs on the fabric. The shirt is beautiful!

    Comment by Daisy — April 29, 2017 @ 1:12 pm

  3. First off, I love the fabric! It’s gorgeous, and the shirt is beautiful even if it doesn’t fit exactly as you want it to. As knitters, we don’t tend to knit a practice garment with inexpensive yarn before we knit the good stuff (or we shouldn’t anyway), but I’ve been really into sewing blogs lately, and they all seem to sew a practice pattern (AKA a muslin, but it’s not necessarily made of muslin fabric) before sewing with the good fabric. While it seems like it would add extra time to the process, the fact that we can’t always get more fabric makes this seem like a really good idea.

    Comment by Connie — April 29, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

  4. The shirt is beautiful. Love the layout. My Mom would sometimes do a muslin first, especially with expensive fabric. But she would usually cut larger than she thought she needed and would always hand baste for fit. Just pinning was not acceptable. There were frequently several hand bastings to readjust things.

    Comment by Pat — April 30, 2017 @ 9:14 am

  5. Haven’t sewn a garment for myself in decades but I think part of the problem is that as we get older our bodies just change even if we’re about the same weight and also patterns themselves probably change. All I used to have to do is shorten the bodice and hemline exactly the amount indicated by the dotted lines in the pattern. Now, I shudder to think. Sorry this happened to you! You did a beautiful job (as always). Chloe

    Comment by Chloe — April 30, 2017 @ 10:02 am

  6. Beautiful shirt! The print reminds me of a lovely dress I had as a young teen. It had roses similar to yours as a border print around the bottom of the skirt. I cannot remember how the pattern lay on the top, only that the top was sleeveless with a scoop neck in front and a V-neck in back. I loved that dress. Thanks for triggering that memory.

    Comment by technikat — April 30, 2017 @ 10:51 am

  7. What if you opened the bottom seam of the sleeve & the bottom of the armseye & stitched in an elongated diamond shaped thingy (that’s a technical term for a word I cannot think of right now . . .). It would release the armhole & probably relax the shoulder somewhat. The fabric is really beautiful – it might be worth a try.

    Comment by Metta — May 1, 2017 @ 7:27 am

  8. I love how you placed the fabric pattern so the roses creep up the color. Where did you purchase the gorgeous fabric?

    Comment by Nancy — May 1, 2017 @ 9:40 am

  9. Well I think it’s gorgeous. The pattern placement is perfect and it’s beautifully sewn, both of which make it all the more heartbreaking that you’re unhappy with the fit. From the photo it looks as though the front has a placket opening and is then unseamed to the hem. Would it be possible to convert the placket opening to a full opening so the shirt could be worn open at the front, thereby giving a little more ease and making it more like a jacket? I’m no longer a sewer, but I have an evening jacket which looks similar, but is open (no buttons) down the front and has 3/4 turn back cuff sleeves, which would take care of your sleeve length. This shirt is so lovely it needs to be WORN!

    Comment by Pru — May 1, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

  10. It’s great that you’ve been able to save it with a few changes. The fabric is gorgeous and the placement of the design is so well thought-out. It’s irritating when something you work hard on isn’t quite right, but pretend it’s store-bought and enjoy it!

    Comment by Mary Jo — May 1, 2017 @ 7:20 pm

  11. I love the print. Reminds me of some things my mother sewed for my older sister. Let’s make it wearable!
    Cut out a little 4 inch square of the fabric and sew it into the underarm seam. It is called a gusset and it is designed to adjust the fit exactly as you describe. If you google gusset you will get a lot of porn hits (I guess it is at term they use for a different meaning), but you will also get some sewing blog hits with excellent pix. They are easy to insert into a finished garment (ask me how I know) just open the seam a couple of inches each way, pin in the gusset diamond-ways and hand sew in place. One point into the side seam, the opposite point into the sleeve seam. And the other two points into the armhole seams. As you are doing it the geometry seems crazy, but the final fit is excellent. Use lots of pins, and you’ll be ok.
    Julie in San Diego

    Comment by Julie Lanner — May 1, 2017 @ 9:25 pm

  12. That’s the very word – gusset – I just could not bring that word out of my brain, but that’s the very thing that I think may be a perfect cure for the shoulder & armseye situation and let you enjoy that perfectly lovely blouse – too pretty not to enjoy!!

    Comment by Metta — May 2, 2017 @ 11:46 am

  13. Your shirt is so stunning that I think you are probably the only one that notices any issues with it. Beautiful use of the border print.

    Comment by Carolyn K — May 8, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

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