Style Arc Susan Top (Knit T-Shirt)

The Style Arc Susan shirt is a simple knit t-shirt pattern to sew up quickly. I chose this t-shirt pattern because Style Arc sewing patterns are apparently supposed to come in sizes that fit a real person better than the patterns from the big-4 pattern companies. So that’s a big plus for this independent sewing pattern company. Although I am a novice, I have made enough failed muslins to know that so far the big-4 patterns do not fit me AT ALL. I suspect this t-shirt pattern has to be one of the simplest designs that Style Arc makes– just what I was looking for.

Susan Top Sewing Pattern
Susan Top Sewing Pattern

I am happy to say that this pattern actually fits me. Of course since I used a stretch jersey knit fabric, the odds were in my favor. I used the cheapest knit jersey fabric I could get my hands on.

The pattern itself was great. It was printed on very nice paper, which is so much better than the awful tissue paper that regular patterns are printed on. The instructions are minimal at best. You will need some experience sewing to understand these patterns. It was a single size pattern, so don’t plan on grading between different sizes. You will need to make custom fitting adjustments on Style Arc patterns to make the sewing pattern match your measurements.

Everything would have been fine, but I faced a lot of technical difficulties that ultimately make this project a FAIL. Big surprise there! My problem was sewing this thin jersey fabric with my sewing machine. The thin jersey fabric kept getting sucked into my sewing machine despite my use of lower tension settings, my walking food, tissue paper as stabilizer, wash away stabilizer, and jersey needles. Ultimately, the fabric was beyond saving and this turned into a practice project.

Next time I suppose I will just try my serger first, and skip the sewing machine as much as possible for knit fabric. But that entails 2 hours of testing serger tension settings– boring! And then I will need a way to cleanly hem knit fabric in the future. Ugh, now I want a Coverstitch Machine. 3 Hours Past (which is affiliated with Cake Patterns) has a post all about stabilizers and sewing on knits which will hopefully help me since I don’t have a coverstitch machine!

I switched to using my serger midway through the project. Even though the tension was not perfectly balanced, it was a million times better than my sewing machine. Actually I am very happy to find a starting point for my tension settings for serging knit jersey.

  • Starting point tension settings for Brother 1034d Serger (Thin Knit Jersey): 3 thread overlock, 4, –, 5.5, 4.3 and a stitch width of 4.7.
  • I found the neckline a bit wide for my taste, which made me feel a little over exposed. I will bring it up and in next time
  • Oops, I forgot to cut the sleeves as mirror images, so one of them is sewn wrong side out. Learning experience.
  • 3 Thread Overlock tension settings: 4, --, 5.5, 4.3.
    3 Thread Overlock tension settings: 4, –, 5.5, 4.3. (That’s left needle 4, right needle not threaded, upper looper 5.5, and lower looper 4.3) (Brother 1034d serger on thin jersey fabric)
    Brother Serger 1034d Machine Settings for thin jersey. (differential feed, stitch length and stitch width).
    Brother Serger 1034d Machine Settings for thin jersey. Differential feed: 1 (default setting); Stitch length: 3 (default setting), Stitch Width/ cutting distance : 4.7.
    3 Thread overlock stitching on thin jersey
    3 Thread overlock stitching on thin jersey. Not too bad!

    I plan on making this t shirt AGAIN with a different fabric or possibly trying a fusible interfacing for the neckline, hem and wrists. Sew There Tammy made a couple of Style Arc Susan tops that she was happy with. Hopefully I will too someday soon!

New Look 6945 Button Up Top Muslin (pattern review)

New Look 69 45 Sewing Pattern. Lined button up blouse with sleeves or sleeveless.
New Look 69 45 Sewing Pattern. Lined button up blouse with sleeves or sleeveless.
New Look 6945 is a lined button up blouse sewing pattern that comes in sleeveless, short sleeved, and three-quarters sleeve options. I bought the pattern because it said “easy”, not because I loved it. The shirt is casual without a lot of separate pieces and topstitching, etc. It is short and hits just below the waist. There are a few pattern reviews online.

The pattern runs big with a large amount of ease and I had to make a lot of alterations to make this wearable (which never happened). There is a large amount of ease in this pattern. It was a huge pouffy sack with a gaping neckline without alterations.

Changes I made:

  • Went down many sizes on the front piece to try to make this awful pattern fit better
  • Removed 1 and a half inches from the upper bodice back. I guess this is a change I may make often in the future…
  • Brought the front shoulder up 1 and a half inches
  • Removed 2 inches from the hipline on the back pattern piece
  • Shortened the bust darts by 2 inches or so
  • A million other changes that didn’t pan out
new look 6945 top front view muslin
I guess the upper chest is too long?? I had to pin up wedges at the sides of the armholes/ armsyes

Overall, this sewing pattern did not fit me in the least. I went down to a size 8 in the front bodice and the shoulder straps were still superrrrr wide! I had to ad over an inch to the shoulders to make the top stay on my body. And since it was also inappropriately low cut I also had to add a ton to the upper chest or else risk being mistaken for a daytime hooker.

I made change after change to try to make this pattern fit me. In the end I had to concede defeat and give up. At least I tried. On to the next failed project!

new look 6945 top side view muslin
New Look 6945… Doesn’t fit, never will
I cut out over an inch from the upper back, and there are wrinkles in the small of the back and below it.
I cut out over an inch from the upper back, and there are wrinkles in the small of the back and below it.

Muslin Win, Pattern Fail: Vogue 8380

Vogue 8380
Very Easy Vogue 8380. Sure, the envelope makes it look like a cute summery dress, but on me it was just a maternity dress. Good for Katie, not for me!

This project was a win, even though I did not even try to make a finished project. After the poor fit of Butterick 4443, I decided that the time has come for me to start making muslins so that I can alter patterns to better suit my body. One of my problems is that I’m not very intuitive about recognizing what is causing fit problems and how to fix them. I just see that a garment doesn’t fit right and am disappointed- or worse, my lazy instincts take over and I pretend the garment looks fine and that I don’t need to deal with any problems. But, I want to learn how to make great-looking, great-fitting clothes, so I opened my copy of The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns and started studying.

The first thing I did was make a muslin in a standard size 12. I used cheap fabric I bought on sale, and used a sharpie to mark fitting indications like grainline, waist, and bust lines on the outside of the dress so they would be easy to see and adjust. I made bodices for both views, and only one bottom. I strongly suspected that I would need to shorten the dress by several inches, since I need to shorten pretty much everything. I have been doing this by just cutting length off the hem, but I have learned that this is not the best way to do it. Those “lengthen or shorten here” markings on patterns aren’t there by accident! The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns says that many fitting problems can be fixed by adjusting the length, so this is the first step in getting a nice looking garment.

Making the muslin was nice- yay not having to do interfacing, and yay just cutting off the indicated amount instead of actually having to hem!

I used view A- the scoop neck version with the side tie- for the initial fitting. The look of the dress was definitely underwhelming- it was too long, the armholes were too small (my upper arms are larger than I would like, but oh well), and it made me look pregnant when I’m not. I also tried view B (the V neck). Wow, adding that bow at the center of my chest sure is a great way for me to look dowdy and ridiculous.

I know there are clear instructions on where to adjust length, but I still wanted extra instruction on how to do it. I followed the instructions provided by Love to Sew Studioto take off 4 inches from the length. Making sure to keep the grainline straight, I folded 2 inches of paper along the length adjustment line to remove 4 inches total.

Shorteing skirt along the correct line
Shortening the skirt the correct way.

This turned out to be a bit too much, so in the final version I planned to only remove 3 inches. Hoping to get rid of the faux pregnant effect, I took the skirt off of the bodice and removed 1 1/2 inches from each side of the skirt and reattached it. Alas, I still looked pregnant.

To fix the armholes, I used my Dritz Styling Design Ruler to remove a tapered 1/2 inch deep arc from the underarm area.  This improved the fit of the top- it looked bigger and less cramped.

I’ve decided to blame this sewing fail on the artist. If you compare where the waistband hits on the two versions, you’ll notice that the one in green is considerably higher than the one in white, which hits much closer to the natural waist. In the dress itself, the natural waist should hit a few inches down in the skirt.  On my muslin, the waist was hitting nearly where it should according to the pattern, but did not look good at all- because the drawings don’t have the same silhouette! If you are making this dress, ignore the silhouette in view A and just look at view B, because that is the more accurate one.  Sure, I might have been able to fix the problem by adding length to the bodice, but at this point in my sewing career, I don’t feel confident enough to do it.  I’m abandoning this pattern for now.  Still, I learned a lot- enlarging the armholes on things is something I suspect I’ll have to do many, many times, and I am planning on making muslins for most of the dresses I make from now on.

Quilt Fail: What happens when you make the same mistake over and over

I was pretty excited about my latest project: a simple but fantastic quilt!  It would be soft and comfy, and sturdy enough to hold up to many years’ abuse. It would be first in a long line of increasingly advanced (and stunning) quilts. I bought my cotton quilting fabric and charged ahead with a downloadable pattern.

quilt fail
Quilt Fail

Instead of my perfect quilt, I now possess a quilt top so uneven that I don’t think it is at all salvageable.  Here is a fun fact:  if you continuously mess up the seam allowance, your quilt will turn into a trapezoid.
I am pretty stumped on how to fix this mess of a quilt.  I might just throw it out. I have tried trimming it to square it up, but at this point my heart isn’t in the effort. I guess I will keep it and see if I develop the skills to somehow fix it later. I am not picking out the stitches.

Where it all went wrong

Uneven Quilt
Uneven quilt/ messed up seam allowances

It all started off badly when I cut my fabric pieces the wrong size. I decided to string them together anyway, in the true spirit of quilting. Ultimately, my first quilt project failed because my seam allowances were inconsistent. Instead of always sewing the quilt pieces with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, my seam allowance got bigger over time. I needed to have a quilting foot to make sure that my seam allowance was always the same. I can’t really see the quarter inch mark on my sewing machine, so I marked it with a piece of tape. As it turns out this technique did not work for me. I did order a quarter inch foot for my sewing machine online, but it did not fit my machine. Soon I will be off to my local sewing machine store to get a foot that will definitely fit my machine.

Even though this quilt project was a complete disaster, I am excited to try again. Yes I wasted some fabric and money, but that happens with any hobby, right? I still have most of my uncut fabric for my sashing, boarder, and backing. Maybe I will have better luck next time.

Butterick B5613: Misses Skirt (View C)

Butterick 5613 Skirt and Sash Sewing Pattern
Butterick 5613 Skirt and Sash Sewing Pattern
My latest sewing project was Butterick 5613 Misses Skirt and Sash Sewing Pattern.  I have to admit, I am not one for wearing skirts a lot. That is fortunate, because I will never wear this one.

I chose to make view C, a pleated skit with a yoke and a zipper in the back. Wait, did I just say ‘zipper’? I meant gaping, jagged hole. I CANNOT SEW ZIPPERS WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???

The design of the skirt is casual and cute. On view c, the pleats give a nice flattering shape to the full skirt. I decided to sew top stitching on the pleats to give them a bit more structure. Um, the skirt has a fairly strong tennis vibe now. Overall, I like the design just fine, I was just unable to sew the zipper on correctly.


  1. Missing Pleat: Despite my best efforts at sewing the pleats (carefully tracing the lines, painstakingly pressing crisp folds) I messed up the pleats. When I had sewn all the pieces of the skirt together (pre-zipper), I looked down at my hard work and realized it was ruined. I had folded something the wrong way (or something) somewhere along the line, so there was a missing pleat. The inside of the skirt looked fine, so…maybe… I don’t know.
    Butterick 5613 Skirt
    Unhemmed, unironed...meh

    How I fixed it: I pulled out the stitches on the yoke above where the pleat should be. I then made a small fold in the main part of the skirt, essentially making a tiny pleat. I then sewed the yoke back on, and the dummy pleat looks just fine!
  2. Lining: Because I don’t want to walk around in an even slightly sheer skirt, I added the lining from view D (the Bubble Skirt). At first, like an idiot, I was pretty proud of myself for this innovation. It seemed like a smart idea! And for most people it seems like it would work. I am not most people. I think adding that extra fabric was what made it harder for me to deal with the zipper.
  3. And Finally… THE ZIPPER No matter what, I cannot sew on this zipper without a gigantic weird bubble at the end of the zipper. I have ripped off and reattached the zipper so many times. I even tried using an invisible zipper instead of a centered zipper, to no avail. Fine, Skirt. You win.

I did see a few examples of Butterick 5613 that other people made which were very successful. Adri Makes a Thing or Two made this skirt in view A. It looks good, I love the print. Sew It Make It Bake It also made this skirt, I believe in view C. She said it took her a couple of hours to make. Ha, I have been working on this FOREVER.

I used pretty cheap fabric to make this, at $4 a yard. This failure is not going to break the bank, but I am pretty disappointed. I am giving up. I am going to go sew an envelope pillow and lick my wounds.