Tank Top Dreams and Gout


Tank top from Pattern Master Boutique. No Darts. Mistake was that I put two backs together.

I had some great summer sewing plans, but as sometimes  happens life gets in the way. More about that below.

Using Pattern Master Boutique, I wanted to perfect the fit of a tank top and also test other tank top patterns I had. I had been so inspired by the Sorbetto Top  This top is free to download if you want to experiment .

I drafted a tank top, with no darts and a curved  hem. After doing this I learned that when you draft a tank top in PMB the bust darts are rotated to the armhole. My major complaint with most tank top patterns and ready to wear tank tops are baggy armholes.  With the tank above, I should’ve realized I wasn’t feeling well enough to sew. I actually sewed two backs together.  I didn’t realize it till I I tried it on and couldn’t get it over my head. I just took a pair of scissors and scooped the neckline out.  I used the gathering foot at the armhole and neckline to ease out the excess fabric.  I did this with all of the tank tops on the armholes. Both of these were made using my Bernina 830E for the main construction.

Great to use for easing larger amount of fabric to a smaller area

The  photo was before the hem. I used a rolled hem on my Babylock Evolve Wave for the hem because it was fast and easy. I also love using the thicker decorative threads I have in the looper.

Rolled hem with Babylock Evolve and Superior Brand Halo thread in upper and lower loopers

I used self made bias for the armholes and neck

Betty Boop tank. Drafted using Pattern Master Boutique v5


Rolled Hem with YLI Designer 6 Rayon in upper and lower looper on Babylock Evolve Wave

The final tank top I made was from Kwik Sew 3254. I made this one the traditional way with regular neck and armhole facings. I only had to gather the armholes a bit with the gathering foot.   For the neck and arm facings, I referred to Louise Cuttings video on perfectly smooth facings and as you can see, they look pretty darn professional.  I got my newly repaired Pfaff 2034 back from repair and it ran like a champ.

Kwik Sew 3254. Used Louise Cutting method with the facings.

As I am writing this, it is October 1, 2012. It’s supposed to get up into the 90’s today in Santa Cruz. I had these completed just in time.


The next few paragraphs I’m going to speak about my experience with a severe episode of gout. If you are only here for the sewing stuff, stop reading now.

Gout is a type of arthritis that consists of uric acid crystals in the blood that congregate by a foot joint. In the past it was thought to be a ‘Kings Disease’ from eating rich foods. My Rheumatologist assures me though, that it happens to all kinds of people. It is extremely painful and caused swelling of the involved joints.

In 2007 I came down with my first gout attack. It lasted about 7 days and was controlled with Indocin a non steroid anti-inflammatory medication. On and off since then, I’ve had some minor attacks, always responding to NSAID‘s and not lasting a very long time.  In the  second week of July  2012, I came down with a pretty bad flu.  The week after that while the flu was gone my right foot became very painful, red and swollen. In the past the gout had attacked my left foot and was always located in the big toe. This time, the whole area by my toes was swollen and the pain was excruciating. NSAIDS were ineffective in relieving the pain

Went for X-Rays and even after 2 courses of steroids, these symptoms continued. It would get a little better during the highest doses of the steroids and then come back with a vengeance.  This lasted 2 months. Finally, I’m happy to say that it is subsiding. It had been so bad, I couldn’t even wear shoes.  This gout will now be controlled by Allopurinol 300 mg daily and a diet low in purines.

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Vogue 1291 Sandra Betzina’s Todays Fit


Vogue 1291 Sandra Betzina's Todays Fit

These blouses are wonderful. I fell in love with the pattern and ordered it immediately. I have a few pieces of rayon and silk with wonderful drape and I thought this would be the perfect pattern for them. As per usual when I make a pattern, I scour Pattern Review so I can see how others have interpreted this pattern. First there was the lovely Bernie Gee who loved the pattern and as you can see, she looks so elegant in it. Here is her review of the pattern.   The beautiful Cenncetta of the Mahogany Stylist blog, also created this pattern.  I want to thank them both for the help with this pattern when I became confused. After thirty years of sewing, I couldn’t figure out how this went together.  The directions are well written with lots of hints and tips from Sandra.  In the middle of assembling this pattern, I did get sick. I also was distracted trying to make my pants sloper from Pattern Master Boutique.  Finally, I just put it away for a few weeks and went back to it. Something clicked and I was able to finish the wearable muslin.

The first blouse is made up in a stable knit with not a lot of stretch. It also has less drape then this blouse needed. It is wearable. The neckline can be tricky and Sandra gives some tips for making the neckline lay flat. In this instance, I stitched it to the neckline as Sandra instructs then topstitched the seam allowance to the body of the blouse. This seemed to snug up the neckline so the band would lay flat.

Wearable Muslin of Vogue 1291

The second blouse, I made out of a rib knit for the body and a very soft drape rayon for the sleeves.  This blouse was easy to assemble, but the neckline went bad. I probably should have used the rayon for the  neckline instead of the the knit. The neckline stretched out beyond repair. I tried the same treatment of stitching down the seam allowance but that only made it worse. Then I tried to turn the neckband to the inside like a facing and that was a mess also. I was honestly about to throw the whole thing in the garbage when I had an idea. I jacked the differential up in my Evolve and set it to a 2 thread overlock. I then shaved off the neckline with the band. I then folded the  neckline to the wrong side about 3/4 inch and threaded 1/2 inch elastic through it. I was able to live with that.

Completed Vogue 1291


Close up of the neck

One final word….. Be sure to look at the completed measurements that are written on the pattern. In certain fabrics, this pattern could be too tight. In the directions, Sandra even accounts for that saying that if it’s too snug around the belly you can put in a gusset. I would rather cut a larger size in advance.


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SuperFantastic Shirt #2


Completed Challis SuperFantastic Shirt

My second Hot Patterns Superfantasic Shirt is now complete. I started the second one in a rayon challis (that feels delicious) and sadly the front was terribly off grain. I managed to get a second piece and salvage the collar, cuffs, sleeves from the first shirt. I just needed to cut out a new front, yoke, collar stands and interfacing.  The collar stand application was making me crazy. I finally fudged it by hand-sewing the stand facing down. The  side seams were sewn and finished on the Babylock Evolve and the hem is sewn with the CoverStitch on the Evolve.


close shot of the collar and buttons

The buttonholes are so easy to do on the Bernina 830E and it’s kind of cool that I can sew on the buttons by machine also. Most zig-zag machines will sew on buttons if you’re able to drop the feed dogs. I was playing with the 50’s Rocketeer and was able to sew buttons with that also. (Love those old machines, but that is another post)

I was reading a post Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and she wrote how she seemed to make the same dress over and over. That really made me think and suddenly I remembered how in 2003, I made almost the exact same shirt in the exact same fabric!


Click image to see more views and photo of Kwik-Sew Pattern. Embroidery pack was OESD Sunflowers and the green is the exact same shade as the current blouse, but the photo is not true to color.


A trip to the storage unit revealed all kinds of goodies. I found more of my fabric stash and brought home a bunch of older sewing books and older Burda Mags I’d been looking for.


V1291    This is Sandra Betzina’s Today’s Fit  V 1291. I found some beautiful lavender floral georgette in my stash that this will be perfect for. In the directions, Sandra recommends making in a knit first to get an accurate fit. I have a blue/white floral with will also be perfect. This is my next project.. But first..

I plan to make a simple tank from PatternMaster Boutique 5 just in case we get a real summer here!

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Sometimes a Great Notion

Hotpatterns Superfantastic Shirt

No, not the movie. It’s not out on DVD yet. With my new blouse I created using Hot Patterns Superfantastic Shirt, I found two super notions that made my task easier. In addition I will share sources I have found to complete a perfect collar and an encased yoke.

First, I want to talk about this pattern. I believe that Trudy from Hotpatterns uses the Wild Ginger engine to draft her patterns. This pattern fit me perfectly (I needed to shorten the sleeves as I do with all of my patterns) I also had to shorten the bust darts as in the wearable muslin they past the bust point. These are french darts which are oh so flattering.   The first shirt I made to be a wearable muslin from inexpensive fabric I got from Fabric.com  a few years ago. I’ve been sewing for thirty years plus, so I admit I’m rather cocky sometimes about my skills. When I do not use PatternMaster Boutique, I use one of the major pattern company’s  patterns and over the years have become spoiled with being spoon fed every step of the instructions, i.e. sew side seam, press seam open, etc.   I’m not putting such comprehensive instructions down; I learned how to sew with these instructions and  have nothing but admiration and respect for the people that take the time to write them.  Today though, we have such a plethora of resources in books, blogs and Youtube videos.  I also can’t tell you  how long ago I put in an enclosed yoke or neckband and did a sleeve placket, and I had to relearn these skills.

I love the collar tutorial on this blog.  This is Nancy Zieman‘s technique, but

described beautifully by Bunny.  Another technique I’ve learned from Nancy Zieman to sew perfect darts is to make a clip in each dart leg and just mark the point. Close the dart; take a few stitches leaving a very long tail. Then pull the thread tail to the point using the thread as a guide.  Both of these techniques are shown on a wonderful DVD from Nancy Zeiman called “Nancy’s 25 Favorite Sewing Techniques.”

Stitch Guides

Slips through the holes on the back of the Bernina Presser Foot

This is the kind (above) I used when I made the tote bag. It worked well and allows you to sets stitch lines 6 inches from the needle if desired.

With the #10 foot, you just have to move the needle as far from the fabric as you want and guide the fabric by the lip of the foot. This type of foot available for many machines.

Another option is the 1/4 inch foot. The Bernina 1/4 inch foot (with guide) lets you lift up the guide so you can line up to another stitching line.

Peter Lapin from the wonderful Male Pattern Boldness blog has a great video on topstitching using older machines

Another great article on topstitching is on Carolyn’s Blog called Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.

This is the wearable muslin made out of a cotton lawn from fabric.com that I got for 3.99 a yard a few years ago. The only pattern alteration I made was to shorten the dart and shorten the sleeves.

Here is a close-up of the collar/stand and button placket which is the basis of the soft tuck down the front. Very flattering blouse.

And now for my sad tale of woe….

As I was making the challis shirt, the front was poorly off-grain. I didn’t realize this till I put the ‘PERFECT COLLAR’ on and it was crooked compared to the placket. Soooo I have to start all over again with a new front piece..

To quote the  beleaguered New York Mets announcer today: Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. SPLAT.

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