Vacation = Must Sew

Butterick 6101As I write this post, it’s 32° outside and the snow is falling. We’re slated to accumulate about three inches today. So why am I sewing summer clothes and wearing sandals? Because next week is vacation in Mexico—yippee!!

For me, vacation has always meant new clothes. I don’t know why. And when I have drawers full of perfectly suitable clothes, I always feel I need something new. Okay, truth: I want something new.

Everytime Marcy Tilton and Katherine Tilton design new garment patterns for Vogue and Butterick, I snatch them up. I had picked up Katherine’s Butterick 6101 the moment it hit my inbox – so many possibilities.

B6101-backThe fabric came from the Bernina Store in Twinsburg, OH. When the owner went to quilt market in Pittsburgh last year, a jobber said “psst!” to her outside his truck in the parking lot of the hall, and she bought a small stash of apparel fabric for her quilting store. I’ve picked up a few of them, and this gray print with mauve undertones was one. I believe it’s a rayon/lycra blend, but with purchases like this, you can’t really be sure.

The pants were snagged up when Naturals Inc. in Oregon had an after-Christmas sale and sent me a coupon for an extra 25% off. How could I resist? I don’t love shorts and I do love Eileen Fisher, so these slim capris became mine. But when they arrived, I immediately thought, “I have nothing to go with that silver.” So I went shopping in my stash and this is what happened.

Here’s the review:

B6101-sidePattern Description: From the pattern back: Loose fitting pullover tunics have collar, left side pocket detail, sleeve variations, hem band and top stitching. C: contrast right front, left front, left front and back pocket, armhole facing, hem band, left pocket and right inside pocket. D:contrast collar, right sleeve, left front, back pocket and right inside pocket. I made version A.
Designed for lightweight woven and stable knit fabrics.

Pattern Sizing: Y(XSmall-Small-Medium), ZZ(Large-XLarge-XXLarge)
I made a Large. I usually add 2″-3″ to the torso or length of Katherine’s designs, but cut this one as printed.

B6101-bigpocketDid it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Some of the instructions were a struggle. In talking to various friends who are designers, I understand that pattern companies have their own ways to express things and sometimes what the designer writes as instructions doesn’t make it into the pattern.

That said, I found the hems challenging. The illustrations were made to look like you could just put a binding on it – specifically the Lower Left Back and Lower Left Front. This insert is not straight across the bottom (as indicated in the illustration), but looks more like a large shallow scallop. I ended up turning up the hem edge 5/8″ and then top-stitching with a double needle.

There were times I had to read the instructions for a step several times and then stop and try to picture it in my head before proceeding.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Like: Another lovely Katherine Tilton top.
Dislikes: 1) That funky little pocket on the left side. Gotta figure out how to omit that next time. 2) The hem problems.

Little pocket, in center of photo

Little pocket, in center of photo

(And after trying the top on with designated slacks and tank to take pictures for the blog, I find I love the funky little pocket. Will not be omitting!!)

Fabric Used: This is a mystery from a jobber, but I think it’s rayon/lycra. It’s a very lightweight, almost meshy fabric that flows nicely.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I interfaced all the hems and the back shoulder seams with a tricot interfacing. I learned this from Marcy Tilton and use that tip on every knit top to stabilize the shoulders and to make the hems so much easier to turn and double-needle topstitch.

IMG_8819On the right side seam, the illustration shows opening up the basted hem and sewing to the bottom, then turning up the hem. As with my comments about the left side seam, the right side is not straight across. It’s a shallow scallop (for lack of a better explanation). I left the hem turned up, then sewed to the bottom, then topstitched along the top of the hem allowance across those folded edges to hold in place. Then I double-needle stitched all the way around the hem. (Please leave a comment if this doesn’t make sense to you. I’ll also put a close-up picture on my blog to better illustrate.)

B6101-armholeWould you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Probably, with some changes. I think I’ll make a regular facing for the Lower Left Back/Front rather than trying to bind or just turn up. I’d be much happier with that finished result, I imagine. Also need to tweak the pattern to decrease the size of the armhole—too much gapage.

Conclusion: Another unique top from Katherine Tilton. Very flowing and flattering. Great for next week’s snow-fleeing vacation in Mexico.


I think this is one of those tops that I’m going to grow to love more and more as I wear it. The fabric is very comfortable, and I think I’ll be happy I have it as we’re walking around Tulum next week.

Take care of the snow until we return. 🙂

About Jan

Musician and geek and Juris Doctor; lover of fine art and fine craft; mother and grandmother and significant other and friend. Passionate about sewing.

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8 Responses to Vacation = Must Sew

  1. Ann Sprunger says:

    I like your recent Katherine Tilton top and I hope you have a wonderful trip to Mexico.
    My question is: where to buy fabric. My daughter is living in Cleveland Hts, OH. We just drove through Twinsburg on saturday and I didn’t realize they had a fabric store or I would have stopped. I sew garments and quilt, so any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Ann,

      I love Cleveland Heights and have a couple of friends who live there. I sang with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for five years, so spent lots of time driving around and through that beautiful neighborhood.

      The Bernina Store and Sew Much More is in Twinsburg. It’s owned by Joyce Martin, who also has a store in Boardman (Youngstown), where I worked for five months until two weeks ago. The fashion fabric is in the Twinsburg store. I don’t know if Joyce will continue stocking fashion fabric. It was a rather random purchase when she went to the quilt market in Pittsburgh last year and some guy (jobber) called her over to his truck in the parking lot and enticed her to buy some of what she saw there. I bought four pieces from that stash. If you go south on 271 toward Akron, then take the 480 exit marked Youngstown, you’ll go past the Rt. 82 exit and get off at the Rt. 91 exit. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left onto 91, go under the interstate, then turn left in the plaza where you’ll see Mavis Winkle’s and Panera. Straight ahead you’ll see “Bernina Store and Sew Much More”. Joyce stocks great, high quality quilting fabric and a bit of fashion fabric.

      In Cleveland, Schindler’s is also fun and a real treat. They have upholstery, leathers, batiks, a lot of random stuff. It’s worth the trip just to pet it all, even if you don’t find anything you need. http://www.schindlersfabrics.com/

      There’s a quilt shop north of Beachwood Mall a couple of miles named JEllen’s. I’ve never been there, but follow their blog and site, and they have a lot of heart. http://www.jellenshouseoffabric.com/

      Several friends have told me about Bolt & Spool in Little Italy, not far from your daughter’s place. I haven’t been there, but want to make a trip when the weather turns nicer. http://www.boltandspool.com/

      Janie’s Sewing Corner is on the west side, not far off 77, not far from the zoo, if I remember correctly. Janie is wishing to retire, so looking for a buyer. I don’t know how long it will be there. I’ve been once, but it’s out of the way for me, coming from Youngstown. http://www.janiessewingcorner.com/

      If either of you knits, there are a number of very good yarn shops around. Fine Points on Larchmere is great. Also Ewes d’Bleu on Chagrin about a mile east of Trader Joe’s.

      Honestly, I buy most everything online. I shop primarily at marcytilton.com, but also at gorgeousfabrics.com and emmaonesock.com, with occasional forays into Mood.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck. Cleveland is such a lovely little city. I hope your daughter is enjoying her life there.

      • Ann Sprunger says:

        Wow. Thanks for all of these great leads! My daughter has been working with Bolt and Spool. It’s a small store with very limited selection. But she wanted to learn to sew and someone there offered to help her with individual classes she pays for by the hour. It’s boosted her morale and now she has a few small projects completed and is excited about more. Unfortunately am not a good teacher for her but can help her trouble shoot.
        Thanks again and good luck with future projects!

  2. Paula says:

    Hi Jan
    I just made this top on the weekend. I cut out between a Small and Medium. I was wondering how did you find the front of the top and the neckline. Mine is a bit droopy. Did you interface the collar? I too found the arms to be a bit low and did not like the instructions for the heming/binding. Will change that next time. Have a nice vacation.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Paula,

      I agree that the neckline treatment was a little droopy. I’m a 38DD—I think if I had done a FBA on the Medium, I would have been fine – so long as I put sleeves in. I hesitate to mess with a FBA, but really need to just dive in there and not let it intimidate me!

      Re interfacing the collar – I didn’t. I have a blog post in my head showing three different versions of Butterick 5961 (another Katherine top) and the different collar treatments. (Glance through the pictures in the posts after the first one on this list: ) The neckline treatment was totally different depending on the fabric. I tried interfacing one with a tricot interfacing, and I don’t like it at all. The first one of those I made—almost dress-length—was my favorite, but the neck is awful. I have two different scarves that match it, so I grab one and throw it on to hide the floppy neckline. (Yes, I should take it apart and redo it ….) The hemp/cotton stripe is the best neck, because I offset the neck binding.

      Have you made Katherine’s Butterick 5925? Blog post This is the one with the offset collar band. The notches don’t align but are, instead, about 1″ or so skewed. When you fold the band to match the two long sides, you have to slide one side over, left or right, to meet its notch-mate. When I used that technique with one of the 5961s, I was very pleased with the result.

      Yesterday I made Meg McElwee’s “Tank + Maxi Dress” in a Kauffman cotton jersey. I got the kit from Craftsy. The tank is so easy and so professional looking in its finish – really an excellent pattern. But the armholes. Oh, my. In fact, if you look at the picture above showing the saggy armhole, you can see the saggy tank armhole in the picture also. Bra/saggy tank/saggy top. Sad face! The kit came with enough cotton jersey to make both the tank and the maxi. I think I’m going to keep making the tank until I get it right. I probably have enough fabric for about four tanks. I need to go back and read Marcy’s Threads article about fitting t-shirt patterns.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Martha says:

    This is so stinking cute and great for a vacation south! Have a terrific time. I hope that Katherine weighs in on the instructions – maybe on her blog. I love that little pocket and would love to know how she intended it to be sewn, along with that cool hem.

  4. Pdx says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for the tutorial. Coincidently, I’m working on this pattern right now. Any advice regarding how to insert the left pocket? I’m struggling with this part.

  5. Jan says:

    Hi Abby,
    Honestly, all I remember about this is that I just read and re-read the instructions and studied the illustration and then blindly followed. It’s a strange little pocket, and it doesn’t act like you think a pocket should. But it’s a cutie!

    Keep at it and good luck.
    Best,
    Jan

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