Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

Behold, my Colette Sorbetto Top muslin! The Sorbetto top by Colette is a free downloadable sewing pattern for a tank top blouse featuring a box pleat down the center and a bound neckline and arm holes.

OKAY YES I KNOW I sewed this shirt with an odd hodgepodge of fabrics. Struck by sensory overload at the fabric store, I picked a cotton voile that it turns out is actually incredibly ugly. Lavender flowers, bunches of purple grapes and royal blue vines, what was I thinking?? As I was standing at the cutting table I realized that this fabric was a mistake. It was probably only semi-subconsciously that I ruined half of my fabric through sloppy cutting and did not have enough fabric to make this shirt. I found some purple polyester something in my tiny fabric stash and used it to sew the front of the shirt.

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin. Sorry about the crazy fabric colors!

CHANGES I MADE to the Sorbetto Top

  • The Sorbetto top is short, in my opinion. I lengthened the shirt two inches. I added the length at the waist, not at the bottom, to avoid a flared out edge near the hips. Make sure you have enough fabric to do this if you lengthen the top.
  • The Sorbetto top seems to run big. I made a size 4, even though that is smaller than my waist measurement indicates that I should make. It seems to me that unless you have a large bust and tiny waist, this top may be a bit too billowy and oversized to be flattering, so consider making a muslin first to test the size.
  • I would like to cut a little extra room in the arm holes next time.
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

The Sorbetto sewing pattern requires bias tape binding. I couldn’t find it specified if that meant single fold bias tape or double fold bias tape. I went with single fold, and that worked. I needed a reminder on how to sew single fold bias tape binding, and the tutorial at Nothing New Treasures was very helpful. You can also make your own bias tape using the Colette Patterns tutorial for a perfect match to your fabric. A half inch Bias Tape Maker will help this process go quickly and smoothly.

The construction of this shirt actually went just fine. Even sewing on the bias tape binding went okay. The only real problem for me was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Its still hard for me to fold a small amount of fabric (a quarter of an inch) evenly. When I make the real version of this shirt, I am going to use some of the vintage hem tape I found in my grandmother’s sewing box. Stitch in my Side has a tutorial that explains how to use hem tape perfectly.

Hmm… the more I look at my mismatched shirt, the more I like it. I know that it is just a false sense of pride from having actually sewn a garment that will not immediately fall apart. I am going to make a real version of this shirt using less hideous materials.

There are some lovely examples of the Sorbetto Top that other Colette Pattern fans have made. Inspiring!

Simplicity 2418 Shirt (Its So Easy): View B

Simplicity 2418 Shirt: view B
Simplicity 2418 Shirt: view B
Ok, so far sewing has been a challenge. But I am still excited to learn how to make my own handmade clothes. I know that I will have to learn a lot in order to make anything successfully, and I continuously struggle to understand pattern instructions (which seem to be written in code). My latest project, (Its so Easy) Simplicity 2418 has been my most difficult project so far. I used a smooth polyester fabric that is supposed to resemble silk.

I made the slit front version (View B), not the cowl neck version.  I don’t do cowl necks, although Katiekadiddlehopper made a gorgeous version that suits her perfectly. Two specific parts of this pattern were difficult for me to make: the front of the shirt (the v-shaped part: step 7) and the yoke (step 12).

Step 7 (the front of the shirt) includes lots of stitches that must meet at the correct point for the shirt front to lie smooth and flat.

The yoke was a particular challenge because I had no idea what a yoke was. When I hear yoke, I think ‘oxen’. The pattern instructions for how to attach the yoke are on Step 12. Unfortunately the illustration for step 12 was created by a blind drunkard. Here I have reproduced it:

Simplicity 2418 Top Pattern
Artist's Rendition of Step 12

Thankfully, the pattern instructions explain what is going on in step 12. These instructions were very helpful. Here they are:

12.  Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue.Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum

Is that clear?

It was at this point that I realized that the pattern authors must have decided to start condensing the pattern instructions to an unreasonable degree so they did not have to include a third piece of paper in the pattern instructions.  Another piece of paper would have cut into the profits.

It took 3 full muslins for me to figure out this pattern, and it still looked terrible.  Here are my tips for help on Simplicity 2418 if you are a novice:

1. Make a muslin.  Use large baste stitches so you can try again if/when you mess up. Don’t backstitch so it is easier to pick out the stitches. You don’t need to make a full length version of the shirt, just work on the neck, yoke and top of the back.

2. For STEP 7: Remember what our friends the Ghostbusters taught us: DON’T CROSS THE SEAMS.  You will sew 3 different stitches to meet at the center low point for the shirt slit.

Simplicity 2418 Yoke
Simplicity 2418 Yoke

Have the exact point in mind where you need to stop sewing so each one of the three stitching sequences do not cross each other. Otherwise the front of the shirt won’t lie flat.

3. For STEP 12, you will be enclosing the raw edge of the back of the shirt inside of the raw edge of the yoke. The aforementioned Step 12 illustration fails to make this clear. If you are a complete yoke novice like me, remember that the yoke is not spread open in the shirt.  It is folded wrong sides together, so you have the right side of the fabric both facing outward and also against your back (just in the yoke portion) in the final completed version of the shirt. I noticed that Miss P mentioned that the yoke instructions were confusing, so if an experienced seamstress feels that way then I don’t feel too bad about being a bit lost.

Here are some details on how to attach the yoke, in case anyone else needs help with step 12. There is probably a better way to do this, but at least this will get the shirt made.

  1. Simplicity 2418 Yoke Help
    Start by enclosing the back of the shirt in the Yoke, aligning the raw edges

    Start by opening up the two pieces of fabric that make up the yoke. Place it wrong side up. You should have already folded up and pressed 5/8 of an inch of the yoke’s raw edges. Place the back of the shirt so that the raw edge of the back of the shirt is aligned with the right side of the yoke flap. Pin and sew, as the directions state.







  2. The directions state to attach the font of the shirt to the shoulder of the yoke. I think you can finish attaching the back of the shirt to the yoke (my step 3) first, but in the end it doesn’t seem to matter as either way will work.
  3. Simplicity 2418 View B Yoke
    Simplicity 2418 View B Yoke

    The Yoke is now partially attached to the back of the shirt. Fold the yoke closed so that the wrong sides of the two pieces of the fabric are together. Align the pressed folded edge of the yoke so that it aligns with the back of the shirt, covering up the raw edge and creating a neat line. Pin and sew as in the directions.









  4. Simplicity 2418 Shirt Pattern View B
    Simplicity 2418 Shirt Pattern View B

    After you have completed Step 12 and attached the front of the shirt to the shoulder portion of the yoke, you will have a nice even neck hole, pleats at the front of the shoulders, and gathering at the center of the back. You are ready to complete the arm holes and sew up the sides of the shirt next.

Ultimately, the sleeves on this shirt don’t suit me, and the shirt looks a bit shapeless even though I made a size smaller. The sleeves stick out too far as the edges are stiff, when they should drape down my shoulders and my arms. This makes the shirt unwearable.

I thin I might have a bit more luck with this pattern after I have a bit more sewing experience.

Christmas Aprons: Simplicity 1971 (Featuring Linear Fabric)

Simplicity 1971 Apron Pattern
Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron

Since I started sewing, I had a couple of requests for aprons as Christmas presents. I will again be using the Sew Simple Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron Pattern. Since I have made this pattern before, I feel comfortable giving it as a gift.  I have managed to successfully sew the neck ties, side ties and pockets, so I have definitely made some progress in sewing.  But to my horror, one of these requests was for a black and white checkered apron, which means… GEOMETRIC FABRIC!  Thus far, my entire sewing repertoire has revolved around abstract, non-directional fabrics which don’t show errors in cutting and placement.  Cutting accuracy is not one of my strong points. I can’t seem to fold selvage to selvage properly, which puts me at a frustrating disadvantage.

Sew Simple Simplicity 1971 Apron
All Hail Hypno Apron

Since I am an extremely slow sewer, I had to get started on these aprons right away! For my first apron, I started straightaway with the only checkered fabric I could find.  Its a basic quilting cotton.  I am a little worried about the stark black and white showing every little bit of cooking mess, but oh well.  I tried to stay true to the checkered fabric request on the front side of the reversible apron. I bought plenty of fabric so I had enough fabric to recut the contrast sections to help get a better alignment.

I rotated the fabric 90 degrees for the contrast trim on the pocket and the contrast trim on the apron band.  I tried to align the pocket print with the main fabric,and I am pretty pleased with the result.  Yes, if you are looking for errors in the fabric alignment you will find plenty.  I am hoping that the hypnotic quality of the checkered print will lull viewers into a state of mute compliance, so they won’t criticize the quality of the construction.

Simplicity 1971 Apron
watch out, I am a photoshop expert

My second apron was also intended as a gift… unfortunately I was not happy with how it turned out so I will be keeping it.  I accidentally twisted the neck strap, so it does not lie flat.  The fabric is a fun bright pink, but I think that other people might prefer a more traditional apron.  The size is a bit big for me, but I am happy to keep it and wear it to clean and do dishes.

I was still determined to make one more apron as a gift.  After what seemed like hours of wandering the fabric store, I finally found some apron-appropriate fabric that coordinates.  If the fabric store stocks mainly quilting cotton, then why does none of it coordinate?

A major benefit to my checkered apron was that it introduced me to geometric fabric.  Although that apron didn’t turn out perfect, it wasn’t the huge disaster that I had been expecting.  This gave me the confidence to consider buying another linear fabric pattern for the next apron, thus expanding my fabric choices by a lot! I settled on a blue/red/orange fruit pattern with a coordinating blue rectangle pattern. I am happy to say that though going slow and careful measurements, this apron turned out to be acceptable for a gift!

Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron (Sew Simple)
Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron (Sew Simple)

Simplicity Sew Simple 1989 Dress… shortened to a top

Sewing success at last!

Simplicity 1989 Dress Pattern Shortened to a Shirt
Simplicity 1989 Dress Hemmed to a Top with Lisette Fabric

I am basically overjoyed to say that my most ambitious sewing project to date was not an abject failure!  My Simplicity Sew Simple 1989 dress pattern took many long hours, and yes I did bleed at one point, but I now have a piece of clothing that I made myself! Instead of a shift dress, I shortened the pattern to a long top.  I saw this dress on Sew My and since it looked great and featured a simple design I wanted to try to make it. I decided to make a shirt instead of a dress because I don’t wear dresses too often. For a top, I needed 2 yards of fabric. I used my new brown floral Lisette cotton sateen fabric. I had just enough… If you are tall or are making a larger size, buy more fabric.

I did make a practice version/ muslin before making this shift dress using better fabric.  I used some quilting cotton fabric I had to test out the construction process and the new techniques. Because this dress pattern features an extremely simple skirt and waist (with nothing to do but straightforward sewing and hemming), I only used the muslin to practice on the top half of the dress.  My muslin sewing practice was to try out three different sewing techniques I had never tried before.  I learned how to sew bias tape for the neckline, how to make bust darts, and how to sew sleeves.  I am super glad I made the muslin, because it helped me work out the kinks on the difficult parts (especially attaching the sleeves) and let me see that my chosen size would fit just fine. I did not slipstich anything because I don’t know how to do that and I was feeling overwhelmed.

How to Sew Bias Tape

Bias Tape
My bias tape application was not perfect but I am learning

Using bias tape for the dress neckline definitely had me confused.  The purpose of the bias tape on the neckline is to create a simple neckline hem that is not bulky or awkward. The single-fold bias tape also gives the neckline substance and structure so it stays up and in  place when you are wearing it.  This would be especially important for slippery or flimsy fabrics such as satin or polyester. As it is, the neck is quite wide so I am glad for this extra structure.

The tutorial on how to sew bias tape (single fold) by craftstylish.com really helped me.  I basically had no idea what bias tape was or how to sew it, and the Simplicity pattern instructions do not say. Thanks to this sewing project, I now feel pretty comfortable sewing on single-fold bias tape.  I even added extra bias tape to the project, as I sewed it on the sleeves too.

Easing in the Shirt Sleeves

Simplicity 1989 Sew Simple Dress Pattern
Look! Clothing!

I can’t lie. Attaching the sleeves to the shirt was a horrible horrible process.  Because the sleeves on this shirt have a wider circumference than the armhole opening (apparently those in the know call this the armscye) you have to slide the fabric of the arm along baste stitching in order to evenly distribute the extra length along the shoulder portion of the arm fabric.  In this way you are supposed to shorten the circumference of the sleeve where it attaches to the body (especially the shoulder), without creating puckers and tucks.  Once you have created evenly distributed tension, and you can’t see any weird tucks, you are ready to sew.  This is called easing in sleeves.  It is not easy at all.  It should be called difficulting in the sleeves.  (Ok, yes I know what ease means).

My sleeves didn’t turn out perfect, despite my best efforts.  Oh well. At least I jumped right in to a project that has sleeves, so I don’t have to be afraid to try it again. I wish I had seen this tutorial on setting in sleeves on Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing… next time I have to try easing in sleeves I will check here for tips.

Sewing Bust Darts

The bust seems didn’t come out perfectly even, but they are fine.  I don’t look misshapen or anything.  I think the large scale print of the fabric will hide a slight imperfection in this case.

And of course this dress (shirt) is quite loose fitting, so the bust darts aren’t on display.  They do give the dress some much needed shape though. Sewing a straight dart is straightforward, though my accuracy can’t be counted on at this point.  Coletterie.com has a dart tutorial that was clear and helpful.

And in conclusion…

I would definitely make this pattern again. I like the Simplicity Sew Simple pattern line, and I am going to look for an actual blouse pattern. Using this pattern to make a casual summer shirt would be perfect. I would love to sew the actual 1989 shift dress some time, but for now I will concentrate on shirts. I saw this dress on Sew Much Style, and I love the idea of using this dress pattern to make a little black dress– always a good standby.

New Easy to Sew Patterns and Muslin Fabric

Well. I’ve been a little down about my recent sewing failures. Of course I am not giving up, and I think I found my solution.  First of all, I ordered the cheap muslin fabric I need in order to be able too feel like I can try new sewing projects without being afraid of failing. The fabric was $1.39 a yard (on sale) from Hancock Fabrics.

Cotton Muslin Fabric from Hancock Fabrics
15 Yard of Sewing Practice

Its a simple, white, 100% cotton “Classic Muslin”. I checked around at the local fabric stores, and couldn’t find anything to compare with this price.  This is my first online order of fabric… too bad it is so boring.

Using this fabric, I can try the Sew Everything Workshop projects that will help me learn the sewing skills I need to know before I can try other sewing pattens or sewing projects.  That’s the plan anyway. My resolution to make a muslin is underway.  I suppose this isn’t a technical muslin but I don’t care.

I also ordered some patterns online.  I ordered from Simplicity.  Unfortunately it seems that their website doesn’t easily accept orders from Macs.  What??? Who designed that website and who made that decision?  After a few emails back and forth from customer service, they finally deigned to take my money. You really have to be persistent if you want to place an order with them, apparently.

Anyway, this is what I ordered:

  1. Simplicity 1989 Pattern
    Simplicity 1989 Sew Simple Dress Pattern

    Simplicity 1989 Sew Simple Dress.  This dress looks like it has a ton of potential.  A straight cut dress can suit me if the hips are cut close enough.  I hope that making the muslin first will let me make the size adjustments that will make this dress flattering. Ultimately I think that a casual stretch jersey would work with this dress pattern. Or maybe a cute cotton eyelet for summer, though eyelet fabric might be better suited to something with more structure. It seems like there are many possibilities for this casual dress once I can figure out how to sew it. SewMy made Simplicity 1989 and it looks great.

  2. Simplicity 2418 Top Its So Easy Sewing Pattern
    One day I WILL sew this top!

    Simplicity 2418 Its So Easy Top.  This shirt looks super cute.  Portia of Miss P made this top, and I can only hope mine comes out half as good as hers.  It looks like there are no separate sleeves, so construction is kept simple. I don’t wear cowl necks, but the scoop and cutout neckline looks like something I would definitely buy in a store.There seems to be some gathering, so I will need to learn about sewing that. I am hoping that with a close enough cut this can actually look good enough on me for me to at least wear it around the house when no one else is home…

  3. New Look 6945 Sewing Pattern
    New Look 6945 Sewing Pattern

    New Look 6945 Easy Top.  This top has several design options, including sleeveless and with sleeves.  I admit that the construction looks a little ambitious for my level of sewing skills (i.e. none).  Also, I am not in love with the design but I still want to try it. Maybe I will get lucky, and learn something new along the way.  Pattern Review has several informative comments on this pattern. The new muslin fabric is definitely going to be used when I try to make this shirt.

  4. New Look 6032 Sewing Pattern for Easy Skirt and T-Shirt
    A future failed sewing project

    New Look 6032 Easy Skirt and T-Shirt.  This sewing pattern looks a little too complicated I suppose.  I am hoping that I can at least do the t-shirt.  As Right and I have mentioned  before, its impossible to find good t-shirts lately, because it seems like t-shirt quality is bad. The skirt looks like it could be a nice basic, but since it has a complicated waistband I may find I am in over my head. Shannon of Mushywear used this pattern to make an adorable skirt.  Let’s see how I do on my attempt…