Who Needs NYDJ?

DenimPantsSideWhen you’ve got an incredible pair of skinny jeans that fit like they were made for you (oh, wait …), why would you lay out $120 for a pair of pull-your-tummy-in jeans that include so much architecture that you have to wear a loose top to look good?

These are my new stretch denim jeans that will be perfect for all but the hottest two weeks of summer. The pattern is Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8859. This is my third take on this pattern (Take 1; Take 2). If you only knew how many pairs of pants I have made over the years in a futile attempt to get something I liked, you would understand how thrilled I am with this pattern. I think Marcy was looking at a photo of me when she designed these pants!

DenimPantsFabricAnd the fabric. Oh my gosh, the fabric! Ann Steves of Gorgeous Fabrics hit the ball out of the park when she found this lightweight stretch denim. (I’m very sad to tell you this fabric is sold out, but the description to the right is a very similar fabric. Go to GorgeousFabrics.com and search on “stretch denim” to see if she has more. If the description says “5 oz.”, you’re in luck!)DenimPantsLabel

DenimPantsBackWhat do I love about these pants? Several things:

  1. Easy and well-placed back patch pockets. They are placed and sized such that they don’t call attention to one’s rear end. (“Do these pockets make my butt look big?” No, they don’t!)
  2. The knee ease in the front pattern piece. March has strategically placed some pleats that give you room to move. I have to admit to having arthritic knees, and these pants do not make me feel hampered at all. I have room to bend the knees and no constriction on my movement.
  3. The elastic application at the waist. Brilliant! You know how tacky elastic-waist pants normally look? Old lady, right? Not these. Marcy designed the waist such that the front is flat, even though it’s elastic. The majority of the give is in the back waist and the front could—by the look—very easily be a waistband application. No tacky old lady pants, these!
  4. The fit. Already described – wonderful!

I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen the last of this pattern on these pages. I’m hooked on the comfort and style.

And they didn’t cost me $120!!

Every Musician Needs a [Pure] White Top

WhiteCowlTop1WhiteCowlTopDetailIf you read my earlier review of Vogue 8837, you saw the new top I made to accompany that skirt for performances with The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus.

For any woman who is a) endowed, and b) lacking in Full Bust Adjustment skills, Vogue 8831 is One Fabulous Top. And when I slipped it on today with my Eileen Fisher washable stretch crepe straight-leg pants and a wide belt for today’s Fun With Opera performance at YSU’s Dana School of Music, I realized I had hit the jackpot with this top. It will be worn again and again.

(Click on any photo to view larger version.)

Pattern Description: Close-fitting, pullover top and tunic have double-layered, draped collar, side front/side back seams and stitched hems. C: narrow hem, back longer than front (wrong side shows). A, B, C, D: cup sizes. I made View C. (I have previously made View A with a collar band, and View A with an abbreviated cowl).

Pattern Sizing: 6-22, cup sizes A-D. I cut 16 and D.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Love the two-piece sleeves—very comfortable, very flattering. The neckline is a smidge cleavage-revealing.

Fabric Used: White knit; 95% rayon, 5% spandex, from Jo-Ann’s. I typically buy fabric online from fabric specialty stores, but I waited until the last minute to make this top and was balancing sewing time with music preparation and rehearsal time, and didn’t leave time to order anything. Hence, a run to Jo-Ann’s. In retrospect, this fabric is too lightweight for this top. I would love the top in the 11 oz. rayon jersey with 4-way stretch that Linda Podietz sells at EmmaOneSock.com. But this will do, especially if I make a drapey vest that will hide the visible seam allowances at the bust.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Raised the center front neckline 1″.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, yes, yes!

Conclusion: Vogue has hit the mark with their line of Custom Fit patterns. And this pattern hangs right in there with the rest. This will be a Tried ‘N’ True (TNT) pattern for me for years to come. Thanks, Vogue!

Pants: Eileen Fisher straight-leg Washable stretch crepe. Worth every dollar. Despite being pocketless (can’t carry anything in my pockets, but the pants have a smoother line), these are in my suitcase for every trip and every vacation. They’ve been all over Ireland, France, and Italy, and show no wear. They’ve sat on piano benches throughout Northeast Ohio, and show no wrinkles. They are, simply, the best!

Shoes: Naot again—these are “Afrodita.” Bought these for our vacation in Italy last year, and wore them all over France this year. Naot makes the most comfortable shoes.

Katherine Tilton’s Easy-Peasy Skirt

KatherineSkirtMusicians can never have too many black garments, right? I already own four black skirts. Two fit me. None please me. V8837SkirtSo for my Blossom Music Center performance last weekend with The Cleveland Orchestra and the Blossom Festival Chorus, I wanted a new skirt. I wanted it to be easy to create. And it had to be washable.

Ever since making a couple pair of Marcy Tilton’s fast and easy pants (Vogue 8859 – take 1, take 2), I’ve been wanting to try Katherine TIlton’s pants and skirt pattern, Vogue 8837. It looked like it would go together quickly and be very comfortable for standing and sitting on stage for an hour.

(Click on any photo to view larger version.)

Pattern Description: Skirt has self-lined yoke, overlapped side seams, and narrow hem. Close-fitting, elastic waist, and topstitching.

Pattern Sizing: XS – XXL. I agonized over this. In Marcy’s pants, the size 16 looks like it was made for me. I thought about cutting a L, but was afraid it would be too small. I cut XL, and it’s extra-large on me. (Duh!) When one is working with a knit, tissue-fitting the pattern just doesn’t get it – y’know?! I did not recut or take it in to a Large as this will be fine and ultra comfortable for on stage. I won’t wear it “in public” and will order more fabric to make one in size Large for wearing out to dinner with friends.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Love the ease of construction. Love the yoked waist. Dislike the overlapped side seams.

ClothMerchantsskirtFabric Used: Great lightweight Poly-Rayon-Spandex ponte from The Cloth Merchants site. I will be buying more of this fabric!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I do not believe one can fold and stitch the hem first, then do an overlapped seam and get a clean, smooth finish. My logical, programmer’s brain objects. KatherineSkirtHeelsI didn’t like this method, with all due respect to Katherine. I tried different methods on each side seam, knowing I would always be standing at the back of the chorus when wearing this skirt, so no one would see the seams. (The perfectionist in me is cringing.)

Here’s what I will do next time, and what I recommend for a nice clean finish: I would press the hems in from lower dot to lower dot, side to side. I would then stitch the side seams, right sides together from the waist to the lower dot, and press open. Then I would either baste or fuse the hems. Then I’d topstitch with a single needle on the front from waist, down around hem, and back up the other side to the waist on both front and back, and ditto on the back. This first row of stitching would be frac14;” from the seam and from the edge of the hem. I would then do a second row of stitching ⅛” away, duplicating that first row. On the inside, I’d trim the seam allowance to the second row of stitching. I’d also add some sort of reinforcing stitching at bottom of the side seam so an extra long gait wouldn’t rip that opening.

I love the elastic waist with the elastic attached with one row of stitching inside the yoke. This is very similar to my favorite Eileen Fisher elastic waist pants. I don’t know what type of elastic EF uses on those pants—when mine get worn enough, I’ll cut the yoke open and see. Katherine’s pattern calls for ¼” clear elastic. If you rely upon Jo-Ann’s for your notions, you’re out of luck. They no longer carry the ¼”, only a ⅜” elastic. But that worked fine for me. The skirt—even in my oversized version—feels very secure and very comfortable and very easy to walk in when climbing stairs from the rehearsal hall and processing onto the stage.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Absolutely yes and absolutely yes. And the pants in this pattern, also!

Conclusion: Highly recommended skirt and pant pattern from the brilliant Katherine Tilton. Try it; you’ll like it!

Okay, the top picture is frumpy. But when you’re of a certain age and have arthritic knees, you wear frumpy shoes. These Naots are frumpy and absolutely the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had on my feet. There are four of us in the chorus who wear these shoes. They are not cheap, and they’re worth every penny. I’ve worn them all over Europe on three trips, and wouldn’t trade them for the world.

And I posted a second picture for you showing the skirt with heels. Isn’t it lovely? No frump involved! If I were twenty years younger, I would wear these pumps for performances. Alas.

Thanks, Katherine, for this great design!

Would you like to know how the orchestra and chorus did last weekend?
Review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Review at ClevelandClassical.com

Another Summery Top in a Southwestern Print

SouthwesternTopWhen ordering several pieces of fabric for tops recently from Emma One Sock, I fell in love with this print. The EOS site describes it as “a soft and buttery, very lightweight rayon/spandex jersey.” Buttery. Absolutely. There’s a sheen to this fabric makes me think it’s silk and spandex, not rayon and spandex. Soft. AzruelKnitLike buttah!

I decided to make it in Vogue 8831, which allows me to fit for cup size. I chose View A for the cap sleeves, and decided to just to a neck band rather than the voluminous cowl. V8831I had just made this pattern (not yet blogged) in View B, with long sleeves, out of a rayon/lycra blend I picked up at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I needed wanted a new top for the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus performance at Blossom last Sunday, and had a Jo-Ann’s coupon to make it an inexpensive top. However, the cowl was overwhelming. I pfitzed with that cowl all day in the heat and humidity. The size of the cowl and inherent heaviness (with that amount of fabric) make it not ideal for a lightweight fabric.

For the neckline, I cut the pattern an inch higher at center front, then curved out to the sides of the neckline. I measured the neck opening and consulted Marcy Tilton’s excellent Threads Magazine article, “Not Your Ordinary T-Shirt,” to determine how long to make the neck band. I cut the band on the cross-grain to pick up a row of green figures in the print. Marcy says to cut ¾ to ⅞ of the neck measurement. I took into account the lack of stretch on the crosswise cut, and—for a 33.5″ opening—cut 27 or 27.5″, which comes out to about 82%. I seamed it, folded it in half, and sewed it to the right side of the opening, then turned and top-stitched from the outside at about ¼”.

SouthwesternNeckbandThe lightweight fabric was rather delicate to work with. I sewed all the seams slowly and carefully, then zipped through the second row of stitching. (The instructions call for double-stitched seams.)

The more I touched the fabric during construction, the more anxious I was to finish the top. I left DSO sitting in the upstairs family room after dinner last night while I stitched the hems. Then I raced upstairs to slip it on, and immediately began frowning. It looked awful on me!!! This from a pattern I’d made, now, three times and with whose fit I was very happy.

SouthwesternCloseupEvidently this particular knit has more stretch than the cotton and rayon pieces I’d used for the previous tops. (Number 1) I needed to remove an inch on the front and back of each side seam—a decrease of a total of 4″ around the body.

After running lots of errands today, I came home, removed some topstitching, and resewed the sides, starting at the seamline at the waist and tapering in to the 1″ mark at the armhole.

Run to the mirror. Slip the top on. Very. Big. Smile.


This fabric calls out to be all sorts of things, not the least of which would be the yummiest sleepwear you can imagine. I’m so sad it’s sold out! I’ll keep watching the EOS site to find a similar lightweight knit. It will be worth the weight!

The pants in the picture are an Eileen Fisher washable stretch crepe similar to this. However, the elastic in the waist is about ½” rather than 2″ as in the description in the link.

The shoes are Mephisto Uldina, in their Mobils collection. Ultra comfortable to walk in.

The quilt on the wall behind me is by my friend, ultra-talented fiber artist Mary Lou Alexander.


LimeCollarLast weekend the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus (of which I am a member) performed “Porgy & Bess” highlights at Blossom Music Center in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I loved every minute of rehearsal and performance. Northeast Ohio has been inundated with rain, heat and humidity this summer—this is my fifth year here and the worst summer in my experience. So we were all dripping with perspiration while rehearsing and performing on the outdoor stage. Two weeks of sitting in hot rehearsal rooms, culminating with an extra-hot stage, made me want cool clothes!

When I stopped at Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville’s Biltmore Village on my way to Hendersonville for my mother’s 100th birthday party, I found a wonderful knit to use for a summertime top. (Smooth segue, huh?!) I decided to make the sleeveless version of Marcy Tilton’s versatile top, Vogue 8582.

This is my fourth take on this pattern, but the first at the sleeveless version.
Previously I made View C, then View C with cowl variation, and View C with neckline band.

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted asymmetrical pullover tops A, B, C. A: contrast neck and armhole bands. B: neck band and unfinished three-quarter length sleeves. Wrong side of fabric will show on all bands. C: cowl “twisted” collar and long sleeves.

Pattern Sizing:Misses 8-22; I believe I cut a 16.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the unusual collar variations. I don’t love the asymmetrical hem (I refer to it as that thing hanging down), but that’s just my personal preference. Actually, I tried on one version that a friend had made and think I’ll make the extended hem on the next one I make.

Fabric Used: A cotton-Lycra blend, very lightweight, almost tissue weight. Lovely for summer. From Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville, NC. Out of stock.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The fabric I chose is printed on one side. On my version #2, when I tried to make the extended hem on a similar fabric, I learned I don’t like the unprinted side showing. This collar treatment on views A and B is designed so that the wrong side of the fabric shows.

I wanted the twisted collar, but didn’t want the wrong side, so I pondered for about five days. What I ended up doing was cutting two bands and layering them wrong sides together. That way, when I twisted the collar band, I still had the printed side showing. It was tough to do, as that collar band ended up being double the weight of the rest of the top. And keeping the two bands together for turning and stitching was tricky. I guess I could have basted them together before sewing, but I didn’t. When I finished the collar band, I was frustrated with the trickiness, so decided to just put a flat band on the armholes. It’s okay, but—after several wearings and many compliments—I really do love the look of that twisted collar. So my next version will be a fabric that’s solid color or somehow printed on the back side. (Oooh, an opportunity for screen printing or stenciling on the wrong side!)

I’m dissatisfied with the way I turn corners on double needle hems. That’s a challenge I’ll be working on for a while until I come up with a better technique.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This is my fourth!

Conclusion: Lovely, flattering, summery top. One of my favorites to sew. You’ll be seeing more of these on my blog.

The pants pictured are Eileen Fisher pique crops from about ten years ago. The slides are my fave Walking Cradles Women’s Alva Slide in White Leather.

Two closeup views of the neck and armhole band treaments — left front, then right front. Click any photo for a close-up.