Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sleeve variation on a tunic top, plus more sleeve talk

Why is it so satisfying to use a pattern multiple times? I know I'm not the only one that derives some extra sewing pleasure from pattern reuse. For my part, it mostly appeals to my thrifty side. By making another version that is perhaps one fewer new pattern purchased. Plus there is the saved time because I have already done the pattern fitting.
So what did I get my money's worth from this summer? It's the very simple but elegant New Look 6677. Which in fact cost me nothing as I found it in a grab bag of patterns that my friend Alice gave me some months ago. And used first to make her this blue eyelet top - a complete success. And then I made another version for myself.

I have neglected to share a few of the Craftsy sewing blog posts that I had published recently - I have been doing some how-to posts on sleeves and wanted to do a post on how to design a flutter sleeve. Which is not really my favorite but it is kind of useful, and looks really pretty when used on the right top or dress.

Flutter sleeve blouse example

I decided to use this New Look top pattern to make a version with the flutter sleeves. This fabric was from Joann fabrics, it is nice rayon woven, lightweight and just right for a bit of flutter in the sleeves. I loved the color and saw it there in the front on a few different visits to the store (where I go mostly to buy random stuff that I don't have, like buttons for a specific project or lining) So with a discount coupon it was around $ 8. For this fabric, using the border print was no problem, it wasn't an issue to turn the fabric sideways and cut on the cross grain. But do take note of that, sometimes there are border prints, with some stretch, but by cutting on the cross grain it has the stretch running the wrong way (which is up and down instead of around the body). I have also fallen into that trap with a solid - in this post the second jacket shown I cut with the stretch going the wrong way and it bugs me a lot!)

These woven rayons and rayon challis are really nice fabrics to sew, although they do wrinkle a bit too much for my taste. But for dresses and blouses they are vastly better than quilting cottons, the drape is perfect for a lot of styles.

A look at the flutter sleeve. Once finished I think this didn't really go with the rest of the garment. A flutter sleeve looks much better with an open neckline, so you can guess what I did later.

Here is the link to my Craftsy post on how to create the flutter sleeve. I do think it is a nice sleeve used in the right spot - some people just don't want their arms to show, or require a bit more coverage but a regular sleeve seems constricting or too casual. This is a good sleeve to try if you want to avoid doing a bicep adjustment. Basically everything in the design book that I use can look fantastic or goofy - it just depends on using each design element in the right spot. For some reason I think of these sleeves on a bias cut satin evening gown in a 1930's black and white movie with a glamorous vixen running around with a fur stole and gardenia in her hair.

Craftsy flutter sleeve post2

And here is a look at it on me. While I love the fabric I didn't like the look very much. Perhaps it is the proportion, the top might be kind of long but I was going for the tunic look. Also it would look good with white jeans but I think it was about 100˚F when we took this picture so shorts it was. It seems too covered up with that collar which works so well with the sleeveless version. As evidenced by a lot of my other posts, I am a proportion scrutinizer. I think that a part of sewing experience is being able to evaluate the shapes and proportions of a pattern or garment, not just as designed but as it looks on your own body.

flutter top on me front

You can guess what it did next. Actually since I had my doubts on the sleeves but needed to photograph for the Craftsy post, I just machine basted them on. Then I let this one marinate for a while, even putting it on one evening as I was going out to meet friends for a drink - but it just didn't feel right. So back on the dress form for some more contemplation. And finally this happened.

aqua top front v2aqua top back v2

For me so much more wearable.  And here is a terrible iPhone timer photo taken late in the day when the lighting wasn't cooperating, thus the color looks really off. I like it so much better and have already worn it a few times. Plus tomorrow it is supposed to be 100˚ here again so I am still wearing my sleeveless summer tops despite autumn being just around the corner. Proved by the number of leaves falling in my front yard and the bedraggled look of all the plants which are very tired and just waiting for some much needed rain!

blue top2

On the theme of sleeves I also did another recent post for Craftsy, on how to do the Tulip sleeve. Which is another variation that cleverly uses the existing sleeve pattern piece and is them modified. Which makes it easy to sew into the garment because you don't change the sleeve cap at all. Check it out!  And that grey dotted top pictured in the post was a test garment for a new to me New Look pattern, since I had such success with the one at the top of this post I checked out their pattern book for another and found this one, New Look 6374. Super cute pattern, hideous on the pattern envelope, and I have already made a couple of versions.

craftsy flutter sleev post2

If you are interested in sleeve fitting and sewing, I have done a number of posts on Craftsy on various sleeve-y topics. Here some of my previous ones if you want to take a look. And I have another one in progress, soon to be published, deconstructing sleeve patterns with explanations on all the various markings. Whew! sleeves are an endless supply of topics, who knew?

How to make a two-piece sleeve (very good for fitting a full bicep)

Pattern Adjustment: how to ensure your sleeve fits perfectly

How to sew sleeves in a coat or jacket

Thank you everyone for your nice comments on my previous post, on the striped and pieced Burda dress. I was looking at the BurdaStyle website and see a version that is color-blocked - that might be my favorite version by far. I am really happy with the fit of the dress so that pattern will go in the "perhaps to be sewn again next spring" category. It would a great one for color-blocking using up smallish pieces of solid color fabric. It interests me that a lot of readers often suggest adding a cardigan in a bright color. I appreciate the suggestion - but I never wear cardigans :) In fact I think I might have two? I'm just not a cardigan wearer - either it is a pullover sweater in the winter because it is chilly or I wear a sleeveless dress because it is very hot here - so cardigan weather doesn't really happen. Plus if I sewed up a nice dress then I don't want to cover it up with a cardigan! Yep we all have our wardrobe quirks.  Now jackets are another story.

Speaking of jackets - I am just starting on a wool jacket. Because I am bonkers. OK not that. I did a big closet clean out a few weeks ago, however I still have soooooo many nice wool coats and jackets. But sometimes you just get a bug in your head and have to sew something new, right?  Speaking of bugs, I have a annoying cold this weekend (when is having a cold not annoying?) so I am taking it easy, catching up on my Tivo recordings and maybe doing a bit of sewing. I went to Seattle last week to see friends and it seems like a 50-50 chance that if I fly anywhere I get a cold, usually after the return. Anyone else experience this? Oh well, enough whining...

Because it was so worth it - one of my best friends moved up to the great northwest (as I call it) about 18 years ago so I've had the opportunity to visit often. While I always prefer palm trees to pine trees it is beautiful and green, and their food/wine scene is great. My friends just bought a vacation house on San Juan Island - so we did the ferry trip over there and I got to see that, very fun. I have a feeling I will be back. They have dungeness crab almost all year round - lucky them. It's a winter treat here in NorCal and last year the season was delayed due to environmental reasons. Which is tough on the local SF fisherman and also not good for our Christmas table.

But I will always be partial to the Golden State. So I couldn't resist taking this picture out the airplane window - look at that sunshine over the Golden Gate Bridge. And you can even see the Farallon Islands, which is our benchmark for how clear the sky is over the bay area. That is tiny Alcatraz island in the middle, and then Angel island on the right, which is a state park, has ferry service and you can even camp. Although I have never been there!

the Golden Gate, September

Happy weekend sewing,



  1. It's much better on you without the flutter sleeves. This is something I would never wear since it adds width at my already large bust!
    It's also not my style as I suspect it isn't yours either. I don't think I've ever seen you in ruffles or floaty kinds of dresses. I love to be able to reuse patterns too. I make so many alterations that I really like to be able to use it more than once. I am planning on making my coat that I made in late winter again. After two muslins it will be really great to just cut and sew.

  2. I've never been able to pull off a flutter sleeve either. They add a lot of mass up top which kind of defies the dainty look they are supposed to have! I think they can look nice with a split, or caped effect, and yes - a bias 30's gown too!
    Sheryll @patternscissorscloth

  3. You really prove visually how important it is to know yourself when sewing your own wardrobe!

    Funny how a small design change can completely change the look of a garment. I tend to give away a make that has a design element that doesn't do much for me, rather than try a hack to achieve a better "fit" to my personality. But I guess it depends on how elemental the design feature is to the entire garment too. As an instructor, it's probably better to be a role model who encourages experimentation. I guess I am just trying to work through my stash! I am less inclined to try to save a make for myself if I was not crazy about the fabric from the start.

  4. I love the top on you without sleeves! It is funny how small changes make big differences. Thanks for all the posts on sleeves on Craftsy - I'll definitely check them out! :-)

  5. Right decision on removing the sleeves. It's funny cos these big sleeves are so on trend right now and I want to make...but I think it also depends where the sleeve hits you. Hmmm something to think about.

  6. No question that you absolutely rock that sleeveless version! I also find that tulip sleeves just add to visual bust width and I don't need that! :)

  7. Well, you just proved what a difference sleeve style can make. Thanks for sharing the before and after, I appreciate all the infomation you share/provide. Beautiful tunic.

  8. Wow--you're so right about proportion! The sleeveless version is wonderful.

  9. What a beautiful top! I love your fabric choice and the detail. It's a perfect job.

  10. Thank you for sharing a look that is not that nice on you (although the sleeveless is great). I think these sleeves make you look wide across the shoulders, and the overall look is one of horizontal lines that shorten you. Whereas with the bare arms we see vertical lines and you look tall and slender. Great teaching aid! (and a nice tutorial, thank you).