Friday, 4 November 2016

Cashmerette Concord - part 2 - and, yes, a completed garment from the toile

Part 2 for a simple tee shirt,  you ask?  I'm not a fast sewer and have other things going on, as usual, too, as you'll see. I'm not in a hurry with this. It's quite nice to be able to take my time.
Completed tee-shirt

Altering first toile

I took the original tee to my sewing bee a couple of Thursdays ago now. I took advice about the gusset insertion to the bodice. Just as well as I was going to shape the pieces like the bodice sides but I was advised to make a smoother more regular shape. The first was a bit like a chilli pepper. The second a slightly bowed triangle. I made this triangle 5cm across at the top, tapering to zero at 18cm. I then added a 1cm seam allowance all around. I carefully marked the bottom of the triangle.

I cut out one new sleeve - to minimise fabric use.

I inserted the gussets into the bodice, both sides. I was more successful with the sewing on one side than the other. I tried on the bodice at this stage, properly, and under the arm was very floppy but Lynn said I couldn't really judge until the sleeve was inserted.

So I went ahead and inserted my one sleeve. It went in beautifully. The top of the sleeve cap was smooth and gorgeous. But. You knew there was a but coming, didn't you! Yes, the sleeve was too loose and under the arm still loose and floppy. I clearly didn't need such a big biceps adjustment. I had originally measured my biceps at the widest point and added an inch for ease, as recommended in sewing books as the ease for knits and compared to the pattern. My measurements were 4.5 cms bigger than the pattern. Obviously, different stretch knits will behave differently. I can certainly see why each different knit would need a toile.

Lyn examined the tee and concluded:
  • The gusset is too wide. 1 cm would be adequate.
  • The sleeve is too wide by the same amount
A view looking from narrowed gusset up to narrowed sleeve. You can see how much I was going to remove

  • However, the sleeve cap fits beautifully, so consider just cutting off at the sides. (Considered - done) Note, of course, that this is the original sleeve cap shape as I kept that when I widened the sleeve so the original pattern sleeve cap is lovely.
I don't have a picture of the lovely sleeve cap at this stage. This is the original sleeve cap shape

This shows the bodice with gusset attached to the widened sleeve, lying on top left of photo
I have quickly re-stitched here to narrow the gusset - the dart shape is the amount the gusset is too big.
The amount between the two seam-lines is what I need.
Even restitched, the gusset is not too obvious. Here the sleeve has also been reduced in circumference

So I unpicked the gussets and the sleeve, redrew and cut out the required width of gussets and trimmed the sleeves 

I put in the new gusset to the side pieces of my original fabric tee-shirt. My sewing wasn’t perfect - I think I need to practice gusset insertion as this was my first time. Really, rather than a gusset, it’s a godet - but the sewing is the same and I haven’t done that either apart from one practice in class last year I think. I don’t think that was that good, either.
I sewed on the neckband. I realised after I had done this, that there was some puckering right at the front, so I decided it had to come out. My marking snips hadn’t worked properly and I think that I had uneven stretching. I couldn’t get the stitching out.

I sewed the bands onto the bottom of the tee. The back of the tee shirt is slightly longer than the front, which is quite nice. However, I didn't know whether I got the bands mixed up or whether I didn’t sew properly (I had lost my marks) but the front and back band didn’t end up at the same place, though they should have. I decided that for the toile this didn’t matter. I was going to sew up the sides as per instructions but then read a review where the reviewer said she’d definitely add the bands afterwards. I was going to ask in my next sewing bee but realised that despite me not having lengthened this pattern at all and me being tall, I found the length too long - more like tunic than a tee. So I decided I was going to chop the tee shorter.

I basted up the sides and tried on. Not happy. The back was too wide by quite a bit and my thought was to cut away but wasn’t sure if that would work. Then, I wasn’t sure if the sleeves would work in the new shape of armscye. The front armscye was too low and gapey. The length was too long.So I went to the last part of a sewing bee I don’t usually attend. I went because I was missing my sewing fix with all my classes being on holiday and for this advice. I don’t usually go to this sewing bee, because the evening class is on the same day (same tutor - Rory) and because until recently I had golf in the morning/early afternoon.

Rory pinned the back armscye in. I’ll try to show a photo of this if I haven’t already taken the pins out when I was transferring the changes to the pattern. The pins show the stitching line, not the cutting line. She also commented that the front armscye was too low and needed filled in.

At this stage, I still couldn’t take the neckband off and had lost patience with the project. After all, I now had to change armscyes, cut off length evenly, perhaps take bands off first and take neckband off. There’s a limit even to my patience!

Second Toile/Second and a half Toile - and completed tee-shirt

I decided to use one of the scrap pieces that I found when sorting through my fabric stash to make another toile. I wasn’t sure it would work as it’s a bulkier fabric with less stretch, and only a one-way stretch (US - two-way) rather than a two way stretch (US - four-way) like the fabric I used for the first toile. I used the fabric previously to make a Pattern Review winter street dress. I used another colourway of the same fabric to make a dress for my daughter. I’m not sure what the fabric is. (Rory says it's a Ponte Roma) I bought it from the stock of a closed down pretty high class garment manufacturer. The factory closed down 7 years before I bought the fabric and had been in storage in a church hall until it had to be sold.

For this toile, I used the altered and narrowed back and the G/H cup front, which I had altered to match the altered back, meaning that it was slightly built up at the arm. I used the medium length rather than the long curved and faced hem and I again decided to use short sleeves and cuffs.

The fabric was much nicer to cut out and I managed to get my pieces out of the very irregular piece I had left. The fabric was also much easier to sew up. I rattled on pretty quickly. Neckband on, sleeves inserted flat as per pattern instructions. I used my sewing machine for the main construction but I was considering whether to overlock just to make things look neater (I decided not to).

I decided as I was finishing off for the night to machine tack up the sides to see if I could get the top on, with the fabric being less stretchy. Yes, I could. I felt the front armhole has too much fabric and so the next version would need that changed. I guess that the armhole didn’t need built up after the cup size was changed from C/D to G/H; probably I should have gone down a further size in the upper body but remember that I was worried about negative ease. Also, I had already adjusted the sleeves which fitted the armhole beautifully and I wanted to try them out without major further alterations.

I was coming to realise that there’s no such thing as a simple project!

Update, rather than a 3rd post!

I took the top to the sewing bee this week. The sleeve needed adjusting front and back and still more width needed taken away from the back armscye - it's now less than a size 12. I've done this to the toile and finished the tee.

However, Rory pointed out that the shoulder line was in the wrong position. That I couldn't change on this toile. I vaguely remembered that someone commented on certain inbuilt adjustments to Cashmerette patterns - obviously, FBA with regular sized shoulder, but did they also mentioned sway back and forward shoulder adjustment? I couldn't find anything on the web so emailed the company directly. As before, I got a helpful and prompt reply - yes, they do have an inbuilt forward shoulder adjustment and sway back adjustments (but not high curved back adjustment). They also offered advice as to how to change this in future tries.

I don't have a forward shoulder and don't need this adjustment, so my feeling was initially that this pattern range isn't suitable for me - I don't see the point in undoing an adjustment, particularly when this also affects the sleeve and the sewing order? I'm sure someone who does need this adjustment will welcome that it had already been done in the same way as the FBA had been done. Not a criticism of the pattern or the company. Horses for courses!

Interestingly, Dan said I wasn't really a plus size (!!). When I questioned that, she justified her thinking and pointed out that my proportions are completely different even if the actual bust, waist and hip measurements are the same.

Anyway, I finished the tee shirt including the sleeve bands and all topstitching. Not at all bad, though the position of the shoulder line was further forward than is ideal and the front neck is a little higher than I would like. This surprised me as I thought the original neck was actually quite low and wide - just shows, you need to wait to see the finished article - but also the fabric is very different.

I again asked advice in class.
Me in class - quick photo. Proper shoulder line marked in yellow thread but I don't think you can see it.
It hasn't been pressed at this stage
The verdict was that the top was fine and I was being overcritical of myself (what's new there?). Rory suggested that I emphasise the position of the shoulder seam by zig-zagging over the seam allowances, which would also keep the seam allowances flat (this fabric is quite spongy). Overall, everyone felt this was a very satisfactory top, which fitted well.

I did the decorative stitching over the shoulder seam this afternoon and just managed, as it was getting dark, to get some photos

Back- there's quite a bit of fabric pooling and David feels a couple of inches too wide in higher back. He likes  it

Side - there's a fold above bust.
I hope you appreciate this is a natural photo! There are certain parts of me I prefer not to show off!

Front. I tried to stand upright without twisting. I think you can just see that the shoulder is a bit far forward. I don't like the fabric folds above the arm.
 Dan said that as long as I realise that I'll have to modify the shoulders on the flat pattern to do an anti-forward-shoulder adjustment, that the Harrison shirt would be good to try. I had thought that it was a pity that I'd bought this pattern and was considering giving it away, along with another paper pattern I'd bought

So what did I change in the pattern?

  • Actually very little - only fitting, which is always necessary
  • I did not make any changes at all to the neckline
  • I did not change the length
  • I did not change the style
  • I had to go up to the G/H cup size.
  • This meant I had to go down at least one size.
  • Originally the charts suggested 14G/H or 16 C/D (the latter being more appropriate because of my larger than pattern waist size) but because I didn't want too much negative ease over the bust I took advice to go up a size and make 18C/D.
  • There was insufficient bust coverage and armhole gaping together with a too low front armscye in my first toile.
  • My next toile was a 16G/H, but trimming has narrowed the back to around a 12. The front is not narrowed so much - it's probably between a 14 and 16.
  • I had to add a smidgen to the sleeve width but the cap had to be reduced - this, no doubt, the result of my alteration, which was only partly undone - that is, I narrowed the sleeve by taking in at the sides and this left the sleeve cap too big. At least that's what I think. I haven't asked specifically about this.
  • I will adjust the shoulder and sleeve to alter the shoulder position for next time. I'm not sure what else might be required. Do you have comments, please?
  • Of course, this fabric has less stretch than the one I actually intended to use - so that will have to be taken into account.

Jacket making

I've just done FBAs on two jacket patterns. The process doesn't scare me. I hope to go back to basic blocks and work on garments for me from there. I'm going to update my blocks with help from Dan and Rory. I'm not a designer, though, so my plan had always been to use details I find in commercial patterns on my blocks

Fabric Destashing and Cataloguing

During my enforced break from sewing classes and sewing bees (mid term holidays) I began sorting out my sewing stash. It's horrific! David keeps appearing with more… I even found some knit fabrics that would have worked well as a toile for this t-shirt so I needn't have used my good stuff, a rather nice viscose jersey, for the first toile.

My plan is to catalogue properly. Any advice on that? I don't have an iPad or iPhone so can't use a lot of the apps recommended. I started previously but didn't complete. I'm also going to get rid of (some) fabric that I'm not going to use. When I started sewing (over 3 years ago now) I bought lots of fabric that I thought would be good for practising. They are polyester and polyester suitings and I dislike them. I prefer calico for my toiles (I had never heard of these when I started). I've also realised that with all the effort I put into garments, I want good quality fabrics, with a bias towards natural fabrics which breath better. I don't like wearing a lot of the RTW knit garments because of their lack of breathability. I'm trying a viscose knit with this tee.

While sorting out my stash, I came across the remnants of fabric from previous makes. I was originally advised (incorrectly!) that prewashing was not required for some of the synthetic stretch fabrics. I didn't prewash a cotton jersey. Bad news. I find a lot, though not all, of the RTW tops shrink, presumably because they're not prewashed. I thought at first it was me putting on weight. I find that it's mainly sleeve length and sleeve tightness. I've always been able to buy RTW tops provided I didn't want full length sleeves - I have very long arms and don't often find full length sleeves long enough. If a three quarter length sleeve shrinks in length, the narrower sleeve bottom is now much further up my arm, where the arm is fuller, and more involved in the elbow, and it's tight. Of course, if that sleeve was actually intended as a full length sleeve but it's seven eighths length on me, the situation is even worse. I also hate any shrinkage in body length - I need all the length I can get. It's horrible to discard tops that I like but which don't fit anymore because of this shrinkage. I do,  however, have a very willing recipient of these!  This is one of the spurs to making my own,  and pretreating the fabric. So I'm washing (and tumble drying!) quite a bit at the moment.


  1. You are certainly putting a lot of effort into learning all that goes into making a garment. I'm not sure I would have that sort of patience for a knit garment. Woven and good quality clothes yes. And it is hopeless trying to undo knits - impossible with some stitching, and more often than not, a hole is the result.

    1. Thank you. I certainly found it was impossible to undo my stitching in the first toile! My first love will remain wovens but I do want to make some knit garments and I'm lookin for a better than generic fit so I'm okay about putting in some work as it will hopefully pay off in the end.

  2. I have to disagree with Sarah Liz because I feel it's so worth the trouble to get the fit of a basic pattern right! I just finished my seventh Concord tee and until #5 I kept tweaking the fit of shoulder and upper back. I like the fit of your shirt but I would suggest lengthening the neck band, especially when using a less stretchy knit. Did you like the neckline better before you added the band? Maybe I missed a post, but I'm not sure how you ended up with a gusset. I agree on the overall length of the pattern, but of course that's only an issue to be considered on the first toile. O, and the advice on picking a size closest to your waist size is best ignored at our age ;) It all starts with a great fit at the shoulders and bust, adding to waist and hips is a piece of cake!

    1. Thank you, Marianne. I added a gusset under the arm of my first toile to give more width - I needed more cup space and needed it to fit the expanded sleeve.
      Your comments about the neckline are spot on - however, I think, too, that much more trimming and releasing of the seams is required. I was still thinking toile.
      Yes, I agree about choosing fit. The recommendations certainly didn't work.
      I will probably have another go.

  3. Good morning! I clicked on your blog link from your comment in the Collette blog post about kryptonite. So nice to meet you. I am sleo newly retired and picking up sewing, so it was nice to read your post about your trials with the t-shirt. I hope you're feeling pleased with yourself, it certainly looks nice in the pictures. I follow a website/blig called the curvy sewing collective ( and one of the contributers is a woman who talks about aging-related adjustments she has to make, such as forward shoulder, forward neck, etc. The site might be an interesting resource if you aren't aware of it. Today I am going to sew myself a pair of pajama pants. And then I am going to tackle the pajama top, which has buttons and a collar. If it doesn't turn out, at least it's only pajamas, and as I'm going to use a pretty sheet I got at the thrift store, it won't cost me anything if it's a fail, either.

    1. Thank you, Nita. Yes, I follow the Curvy Sewing Collective. There are lots of useful resources there. They are doing shirts at the moment and posted a number of fantastic links - all in the one place, which is great. I hope to do a shirt for myself.
      Good luck with your pyjamas.


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