Finished: Beige Winterbeestjes shirt.

handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt

Finished the dress shirt. It’s wearable, yay!

Noting the problems:

I used the selvedge at the button band but now it shows at the underside:
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt

The shape at the arm hole needs to be taken a little in at the sideseam. The arm hole needs to be brought closer to the body at the underside. The sleeve then needs to be equally elongated:
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt
The steep corner at the front of the armhole isn’t actually much of a problem. Besides it being difficult to cut and difficult to sew.

Collar is a bit too wide:
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt
Probably the width I added when I thought it was too narrow.

The waistshaping is horrible:
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt
I’m converting it to a princess seam or to a panel with tucks or pleats at the underbust. Being petite with a small frame and having this proportionally big boobs just won’t make a nice fitted dress shirt with just waist shaping.

Little mistake: both sleeve plackets are the same. One closes the wrong way around. But at least they are both at the correct spot on the sleeve: the underside.
handmade outfit handspun vest mittens sewn shirt blouse skirt

Overall I’m happy. This is wearable!

Today I wear it with my fractal handspun vest.


Fitting of the Slippery Market Cotton shirt

fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
First shirt from self drafted pattern from beginnersclass Patroontekenen from Modevakschool Nationaal. Unfortunately sewn in a very slippery cotton which caused a few mistakes in addition to my inexperience with sewing and shirts and collars.

Self drafted pattern: yoke in double fabric, button bands, front facing, sleeve plackets, bust darts swiveled into waist darts at the front. Back darts.

Puckering because of the dent at the natural shoulder seam:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
Should have smoothed the dent when putting together front panel and back panel for the yoke. When I do so I should recheck the circumference of the armhole and fit it to the sleeve head.

Front button band looks good. Facings could perhaps be wider to give beter support, Off the Cuff blog is a fan of that. Collar could have a different shape, this is too docile. Should be placed higher up the body too:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
CF lies straight. The fabric lies smooth across my upper torso. A good fit.

Waist darts stop at the apex, a sewing mistake from me. They don’t stop at the apex in the pattern. Not enough waist shaping. Shirt needs more fabric at the front of the sleeve head:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted patternfitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted patternfitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern

Caused by swiveling away the little bust dart from armpit to the apex, resulting in a steep arm hole:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
It sits nice on the body though, so I opt for adjusting the sleeve head, not the arm hole.

This much additional fabric is needed at the sleeve. This will distort the smooth look of the sleeve which is a ladies’ sleeve, not a typical shirt sleeve:

fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern

Side seam is straight. But way too much fabric at the back. I have a short torso and a sway back. A petite frame:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
I will address this in the next shirt, the Beige Winterbeestjes, by having two princess seams at the back. A better solution would be a Centre Back seam that’s not a straight line. My teacher has a sway back too and all her fitted patterns need a CB seam and it isn’t straight. This may be the case with me too. But because of the slippery fabric I cannot yet say how much is sewist error in this shirt. There shouldn’t be any faults in the pattern because this is a tailormade pattern drafted to my specific measurements.

Either way I plan to explore my sway back more with other things such as a yoke at the small of my back or a bow like the Deer&Doe dress has. It’s one of my key features and it could be emphasized, I feel.

Arm length is good:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
Cuff’s too wide. Perhaps adjust width of the sleeve at the lower end too.

fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
Too much fabric in the lower half. Ugly dart endings. Should also be solved by making them into princess seams, going into the back yoke.
The yoke works nicely: good shape, well fitted. The sideseam could have way more shaping. Something to check out in the next dress shirt, which will be of a better fabric and will have front shaping done at the end, while fitting the shirt. Then we’ll know whether the side seam needs additional shaping too. For now it could be caused by just the slippery fabric, not the pattern.

Back of the armhole and the sleeve is ok:
fitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted patternfitting marktkatoen shirt Sewing self drafted pattern
Should not be smaller for even 5 mm though. To try out this pattern in stretch fabric might be nice.

Changes made to the dress shirt pattern because of this fitting:

  1. made front neck a little bit higher: 1,5 – 2 cm
  2. adjusted collar/stand accordingly. New front length is 10,5 instead of 11,5 cm. Change collar shape altogether, I misunderstood at the course. Teacher drew me a new one, using that one. Could have drafted a new one myself using tutorial
  3. placing the end points of the waist darts lower at front panel. They are at apex line now. Mistake.
  4. the vertical darts at the back panel are changed to princess seams. Still working on accommodating the sway and short back. This will need different pattern adjustments.
  5. The sleeve head front needs additional fabric. In the market-cotton-version I cut open the seam and placed a piece of fabric behind to find out what and how.
  6. The armhole has a ridiculous curve in it at the front but I’m preserving it.
  7. lessen the dent in the top of the armhole, it’s in the yoke piece at the natural shoulder seam. It caused puckering of the sleeve top.
  8. Undo additional width at side seam at the armhole. Put there to approach the length of the sleeve head better but it’s no good.
  9. Lower sleeve head to approach circumference of arm hole.
  10. make sleeve cuff less wide. It needs about 6 cm overlap now to fit my wrist. Make sleeve placket longer to accommodate this broader overlap.

Another time:

  • draft a horizontal feature at the lower back to hide/take away the extra fabric my short back doesn’t need. A “half-belt” kind of yoke. Or the bow the Deer & Doe has. Or that feature of the pink blouse at my class.
  • use stretch fabric

New side back panel with a princess seam from bottom to top:
centre Back not straight, accomodating for sway Back and short Back. Petite frame

PS this nice tutorial just landed in my inbox: 3 ways to adjust for sway back! by 


Skirt-a-long: hem, details, not finished

Hem: catch stitch on the hem which uses the selvedge edge of the fabric, blind stitch on the godets which do not. Great tutorial  showing the different stitches and how to start and end with your thread.

Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric
Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric

On the waistband I didn’t follow Inside Number 23’s tip to match the height of the band on both sides of the zipper. I just had too much going on trying to fit in the zipper and the lining and folding all the waist band pieces neatly. Lapped zipper hiding into the pocket:

Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric
I did give the base of the pocket reinforcement.

The inside:
Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric

The zipper hides the selvedge of both the lining and the fashion fabric in just one go.
I have not yet mastered how to fold in the ends of the waist band neatly while sewing. I attached the band to the skirt first, to allow for fitting, which is a different sequence than Inside Number 23 advised.

This band was too sturdy to work easily, what with the horse braid inside and this stiff canvas. I think this might be a good finish for my future sturdy skirts (which I wear a lot) though: just attach an extra piece on top to hide the edges.

The topstitching of the band didn’t work out so well, unfortunately. I love top stitching. But this one is wonky. Probably because of all the layers and mounting the bulk where the pockets meet the waist band.


Put it on!

Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

What? waist band too big! how can it be? I fitted before inserting zipper.

back of waist band is 44 cm long, front of band is 47!

91 cm in total. should be 84+wearing ease. Or just 82 at the top.

Pattern pieces are 22 each, 88 in total, and that’s a tad too wide already.

sewn waist band front is 45,5 at the top; 47 at the base.
patternpiece waist band front is 23 (46) at the top; 24,7 (49,4) at the base.

The skirt pattern from which the waist band pattern piece is derived is 22 cm at the top (including a 1 cm dart); 22,8 at the base (including a 1 mm dart)
That’s 42 at the top; 45,4 at the bottom.

The pattern piece is incorrect.
It’s 46 at the top; 49,4 at the base and it should
be 42 at the top; 45,4 at the bottom. That’s 2 x 2 cm too wide. That’s a clue which pattern piece matching just has confirmed.
When making the waist band pattern piece from the skirt pattern and folding away the darts seam allowance was added at the sideseam. But it was already in the skirt pattern.

This is how it should fit:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

Sideseams are at their proper place, it’s solely the front band that’s too wide.

This is what I have to do to make it look like that:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

This is how much I need to take out…. that’s a whopping 7 cm.
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

I’m going to see if I can fix it. This zipperside is where the solution has to be since the rest of the waist band is made too sturdy to amend:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

This is how much needs to go:
Sewing skirt, adjusting wide waist band

It’s doable but it will make the front a-symmetrical:
Sewing skirt, adjusting wide waist band

A-symmetrical but wearable.

Luckily it’s only the front of the waist band. The side seams are at their proper place. So hopefully the only awkwardness will be when I try to put both hands in my pockets and have to stand with a twisted torso. The fabric print will probably distract enough for people to notice the a-symmetry of the pockets. People do not pay attention to that sort of thing anyway.

A crazy comfortable sleeve in a small armhole.

I traced the weird thing I draped yesterday and cut a new sleeve from it. That’s one weird looking sleeve pattern:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
With the sideseams closed it is distorted:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This is because I matched the points where the ends of the sleeve cap should meet each other, at the underarm. And sleeve seams are perpendicular to the vertical centre line running down from High Point (which is no longer the highest point in my sleeve cap). Width at biceps is 35 cm, at elbow 30 cm.

(I’ll have to do second trial after this one with horizontal lines running horizontal. Letting the guide line around the biceps meet itself at the seam. Or change the direction from the central vertical line, based on where the sleeve cap edges now meet. But first run this trial.)

Into the bodice and onto the mannequin. It fits into the armhole like a glove. It’s nice not having to ease in extra fabric. Still using lots of pins and sewing over them slowly.
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

On me:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Lots of crumpled fabric in the armpit. Uncomfortable. But very easy to lift my arm. The ease of wearing is amazing.

Front shows vertical line running down from High Point (shoulder) to the front. This sleeve is rotating around my arm:


I pin away the extra fabric at the arm pit and mark where the biceps guide line now is. Also where the sleeve thinks the vertical line from High Point should run, where it to run straight down instead of coming to the front.

Picture of the sleeve cap with the pinned fabric, the new vertical line coming in diagonally and my biceps guide line which is half moon shaped. Crazy sleeve.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Opening it up again and drafting a new cap sleeve based on the pinning. Take away fabric in the left “mouse ear”, the cap part that meets the arm hole at the front:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

I keep the rest the same. There’s the vertical guide line from High Point (HP) at a diagonal angle.

Trying to match the seam points of the sleeve cap for sewing the side seam:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

This will be sleeve one (1), based on the pinnings from the previous fit. Throwing grain and common sense into the wind.

I’ll make another one (2) based on the draft from the start but now with new sideseams based on how the new vertical line running from the Highest Point runs:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 2: I’ve cut fabric away at the left part of the sleeve, adding it to the right. So width of sleeve is 35 cm at (strange half moon shaped) biceps guide line and 30 cm at elbow guide line. At a right angle to the vertical guide line from HP. If this fits at all this pattern should be redrawn on a new piece of cloth, obeying the grain of the fabric.


Sleeve 2, it’s on my right:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Sleeve 1, based on previous fit, it’s on my left:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Crazy amount of movement possible! It doesn’t drag up the shirt. I like it!

Fitting conclusions:
Sleeve 2 sits awful. Lots of fabric in my arm pit yet still there’s tightness there. My wrist doesn’t level out.
Sleeve 1, distorted as it may be, actually sits really nice. So much movement possible!
Still a few tweaks needed though. (is there more ease because it’s a bit on the bias?)

I’ll cut a new sleeve, on the grain, and put it in the bodice of my fashion fabric shirt. Just cleaning up the lines a bit, having high point and its line in check with grain.
The little tweaks I had to do where in the sleeve cap (just a little less drama in the wave at the front and just a little less flair near the end point back). They cause the perimeter of the sleeve cap to be the exact dimension of the arm hole. 20 cm from front to High Point, 21,6 cm from High Point to back.
This fills me with excitement! This sleeve will fit this arm hole perfectly. Have I drafted a sleeve that, while looking ridiculous, might work?

I’m sewing up my new version into the fashion shirt. (My muslin has been so tortured that it won’t hold another sleeve.)

Premature conclusions:
1. I may have DRAPED a sleeve, not drafted on. This method may work for me.
2. I may have forced myself into this ridiculous need because my arm hole is a bit weird (too tight).

Last fit, on the fashion fabric: nice. I can rotate my arm all around without distorting the bodice fabric.

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Needs less width on the biceps. I can live with a sleeve like this and be seen in public. I’m sure sewists will cringe when they see how my seam rotates around the sleeve.

Ideas for next time: lower the arm hole at the underside with 0,5 cm. Also 0,5 cm more inward at the front. I need a little more space to tuck all the sleeve folds away.

Last play for the day: just a little more cutting and pasting at that ridiculous shape. Try and put it into a grain grid.
3 versions of the same sleeve.
1. the sleeve I found, with the rotating sleeve seam.
2. the same but straight on the grain. Versie “A”
3. version “B” that has everything transferred onto a proper grain grid.

The found pattern, crazy and comfortable:
crazy sleeve pattern with maximum wearing comfort

Version A = previous version but cut on grain:
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

Version B, trying to match the side seams in length. Having som sort of straight line going from sleeve cap to wrist; cleaning up more lines:

crazy comfortable sleeve in small armholecrazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

end result version B::
crazy comfortable sleeve in small armhole

What do yo know, version B doesn’t look that unlike a conventional sleeve pattern after all. A sleeve block with a fairly squarish sleeve cap. (Back is left, Front is at the right of the picture).

Will have to sew these three up and try them for (final) fit. And then dare to sport crazy sleeves on my fabric shirt.



some residual notes in dutch for me:
3 versies:
1- m’n gevonden vorm. Met verdraaide achternaad. “versie krulletje”
2. deze vorm maar dan recht op de grain met z’n naad en de voornaad reechtgemaat van pols naar oksel. Wat weggeknipt is is aan de zijkant/andere naad erbij geleged en een beetje opgeschoond en ervoor gezorgd dat beide naden 59 cm lang zijn, net als de rechtgeknipte naad. “versie A”
3 “versie B” heeft de HP-polslijn recht op de grain liggen en een grid dat de grain volgt. Het voorpunt v d oksel is recht naar beneden/de pols geknipt en aan de achternaad is ruimte bijgemaakt zodat de ellebeoog 30 cm breedte krijgt en de pols 25 cm. Dit is een papieren oplossing waarvan je nog maar moet zien of het in 3D mooi wordt.

Couture Dress: fitting the muslin

I’ve fitted the muslin a couple of times. Made some changes in between. Fitted it again. Changed things. Fitted it some more. Laid it on a chair for a couple of weeks.
That’s a trusted way of proving sewing work, didn’t you know? It’s like good wine or bread dough, it has to have some time to make up its mind. * see foot note

The fitting is done. Now it’s time to take the muslin apart. I had one hour before reclining to the couch again (from where I’m writing you this)

Taking apart the muslin really is just a bit of work. The important thing is to carefully note all the changes you make. I used a green pen to draw the new sewing lines before taking them apart. Then, as soon as a seam was gone, I made sure to remove the stitching lines in black that were no longer relevant. They’d been replace by green pen lines in places.
If I don’t make very clear to myself which lines are the right ones I’ll go doubting further along in the process. Or worse: try and be smart(er).

Marking the new seam with green pen, before and after ripping the seam:

Before doing anything else: ripping out the obsolete black lines:

I am marking the new sewing lines on both sides of the fabric. I don’t know yet which side I’ll use as a template. Better be safe.
To mark a line on the right side of the fabric where you cannot see the seam I use this technique:

I’ve made small stripes across the seam, marking the fabric on both sides of it. (I’ll now flip over the fabric and trace the seam on the wrong side, on both pieces of fabric. This is easy.)
When I rip the seam the small marks will still be there when I fold open the fabric (and a small line of puncture dots. But don’t be fooled, I’ve resewn many seams while adjusting this muslin and I’ll easily loose track of which puncture dots are the line I want to mark)
The line I want will be where the small stripes have a sharp break.

I’d show you more clearly what I mean but it’s couchy time now… perhaps I have another hour tomorrow.


Here’s what really caused me to take so much time off sewing:

it was a lot of work fitting and changing the muslin, I was loosing my motivation a bit. So I sewed that bag and that skirt in between, that was fun!

In the mean time I’d been on holiday and had to recuperate from that for a couple of weeks. Meaning I couldn’t sit up long enough to sew or stand long enough to fit properly. I did a bit here and there, trying to leave myself good notes. But that didn’t work and every time I took up the muslin I had to fit it first again to understand what I was talking about.

Then, when I was a bit better I wore my working skirt for the first time, it was a Sunday morning. Suddenly a big dog came onto our terrain and chased our cat high up in a tree. I had to run outside and zipped up the skirt in a hurry, breaking the zipper in the process. The dog then jumped into our pond but came running when I bellowed for it. It pranced beside me to its owner, all the while streaking me with dirt and water.
Then we had to talk the cat down who was in shock. That’s when my broken, filthy skirt fell down to my ankles.

That’s when I lost the will to sew for a couple of weeks… Add another episode or two where my health took a blow and demanded some recuperation time en here we are, months along before I finally got my hands on the Couture Dress again.

But now I’m playing again! As soon as I have the chance I’ll work on it some more. I decided to make a practice dress first, without lining. Just so I have something to wear and something to play with. I’m a bit afraid to cut into the gnome fabric. First I want to get the pattern right.
I’m looking forward to playing and making a practice dress.

Practice dress: fittings and alterations

the fitting was not perfect. But showed a lot. (aww, it wasn’t that horrible! Still much better than the fitting of original pattern)

  • The extra length in the bodice was uneccessary, it made the waist line sag.
  • there’s not enough curve hugging around, it still looks like a sack. Need wider darts in the skirt, less ease at the waist.
  • the back is wayyyy to big. Size 16 (EU44) is a mockery, my back needs a 12 (EU38).
  • back and front are too low. It’s not that I’m modest, it’s just that I like to move without assets falling out or my adrenals catching a cold
  • the flare is still too much. Have to take more out where the side panels meet the center back and front of the skirt
  • the shoulders are too high

I slept on it. Looked again. Took the bodice apart and altered it. Made notes on the muslin. Put the bodice together again. I now use the practice dress as an exercise tool and the muslin as a notebook.

the second (or third) fitting looks promising:


getting there, getting there.

The bodice fits much better now, the waist line lies horizontal again. The funny thing is I do need to follow the pattern lines size 16 describes for the waist, just below the bust.
It needs a whole lot of more darts and all the other lines need reducing (front top, shoulders and side seams) but the line under the breasts is a good one.

more decreasing in the skirt is needed. I will do this in the darts since they can be adjusted. The seams are pretty much stable at this point. But on the muslin I’ll make notes and adjust the pieces.

I need more following of the curve of my back. Being blessed with a tummy I don’t care for much darts in the front. But my back has this caving which I quite like. Over here we call it “the little hole in the small of your back” = “het holletje van je rug”. “Holletje” is the burrow of a rabbit or small critter. It is also the cup you can make with your hand.

it’s a good thing.

My “holletje” needs more darts to emphasize it. And less flare on the buttocks. Because I don’t have much in that department but I do have slender legs and a flaring skirt obscures that fact.

a quick look at the notes I made on the bodice muslin after two fittings:


I have taken apart the bodice, once more. Drawing on it with pencil to mark what I’ve done and what I want different.

I have loosened the darts in the skirt. I will sew them a bit wider and will adjust for that difference in circumference in the sideseams of the bodice. I already took them a bit in, then straightened them (I don’t need much room at the underarm) and will skew them now because I need less circumference at the bottom but have reached the limit at the underarms.
Basically I am drafting a size 12 with a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment)

there I go, getting ticked off at Butterick sizing again. No no no, better run to the sewing machine and put this thing together. I hope the next fitting will give me acceptable pattern pieces and then I can cut and sew from the real fabric.

I only have this sewing machine today and tomorrow and I would love to leave here with a dress. Where I’m going there is another sewing machine, not as good as this one. But there’s also a garden and a weaving loom and sheep with fleeces to be processed…