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.

Colette Sorbetto Top: Variations

My latest project has been my “real” versions of the Colette Sorbetto Top. My Sorbetto Muslin was good practice for sewing this blouse. I am so happy I made this free download sewing pattern! The Sorbetto top is a cute (and easy!) vintage style blouse. As a beginning sewer, the Sorbetto Top is fun to sew because it was a successful project that also taught me some new sewing skills. Plus its basic design is sort of a blank slate so you can customize the top with fun variations for different looks and styles.

Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat
Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat. Sort of like piping?

I think that the Sorbetto top is my first actually wearable, non-embarrassing garment sewing project. I even customized the top with my own variations: one version has buttons and my other version has bias tape on the box pleat. My second version also has the armhole bias tape hidden inside of the blouse, since I didn’t want the top to be too busy. Both tops were made from lightweight cotton lawn or voile for a nice drape.

Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons
Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons
Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape
Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape (piping?)

This was also my first time successfully sewing buttons on anything. It was actually really easy using the zig-zag stitch setting and my satin sewing foot. I am definitely not afraid of sewing on buttons anymore. Button holes are a different matter…

Buttons Sewn on to the Colette Sorbetto Top
Variation of the Colette Sorbetto Top: Buttons!

I made my own bias tape with my new bias tape maker to sew on the button Sorbetto top because I wanted a clean, un-fussy look. I used the tutorial on Coletterie to make the custom bias tape, it it worked great! However, I did have a problem with the fabric shifting as I was trying to cut it, leading to sloppy strips of fabric. I solved this problem by making spray stabilizer using Sulky Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer Roll. The solvy spray really helped and I am glad I have it on hand now.

I even serged the inside seams for a clean and durable finish. I still have a lot to learn about serging though. The serger is so much faster than overcasting the edge! But fiddling with the tensions is annoying… I need to finish my Online Beginner Serging Class! After all, I love my exposed zipper bag!

Changes and alterations I made to the Colette Sorbetto Top:

  • I added two inches at the waist to lengthen the top.
  • I used hem tape at the bottom of the top, which also helped to lengthen the top.
  • One Sorbetto top had the bias tape for the arm holes on the inside, not showing on the outside.
  • My Sorbetto Top Variations were adding buttons and adding bias tape on the box pleat as a sort of piping detail.
  • Next time I will consider moving the bust dart down 1 inch as that may make for a better fit, according to pattern review.
  • I serged the inside seams for a clean finish.
Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern.
Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern with My Variations: Buttons and bias tape sort of piping.
colette sorbetto free sewing pattern download piping detail
I used Bias tape as an accent detail on the Colette Sorbetto Top center pleat