Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse detail

Wardrobe Architect Project: Cap Sleeve Blouse

The final garment to sew for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project was going to be the Simplicity 1693 blouse in a blue-and-white striped fabric. But I took a detour after:

  1. reading that the sleeve on that top was rather voluminous
  2. re-watching the One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses class and feeling inspired to draft my own custom design
  3. drafting my own  blouse from my sloper from that class, including cap sleeves
  4. sewing a muslin from said self-drafted pattern and getting totally stuck because the cap sleeves did NOT behave as I wanted (they were far too tight across my arm no matter what I did to try to remedy it)

So. I switched up my plan and instead went back to a commercial pattern. And I didn’t think that the raglan-style sleeve in that pattern would look very good with my original striped fabric choice (awkward things might happen where the angled sleeve joins the bodice), and instead subbed in a tissue-thin fabric of blue pinstripe plaid.


Simplicity 1202 cap sleeve blouse

Project features

  • raglan sleeves
  • keyhole opening with center back seam
  • baby French facing neckline finish

Process notes

  • skipped the muslin
  • made size 10, view A
  • replaced the facing instructions in the pattern with the baby French facing technique from Crafty’s Sewing on the Edge: Finishing Techniques class, with bias pieces cut 1 1/2 inches wide, joined, and folded in half
  • after trying the top on for fitting, took the underarm and side seam in by 1 inch (1/2 inch from each piece) and re-finished the seams/hems
  • removed the button tab because the neckline is large enough to fit without needing to unbutton it; stitched on a decorative button to hold the keyhole opening closed


I just can’t win with sizing on commercial patterns! It’s becoming kind of a joke. This top is rather billowy on me, including arm holes that went down too low on my sides. I could have made the size 8.

Blue plaid woven cap sleeve blouse Simplicity 1202

Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse

While I love the idea of pullover woven blouses, I’m struggling with them on my particular shape. My back sways in, and my hips and shoulders are the same measurements with my waist being smaller. By the time the top fits my hips and pulls over my shoulders, it’s gotten pretty boxy and isn’t flattering for my shape. I could belt this one, but I don’t like the way sitting with a belted top makes it puff out in front and pull at the back. I’m fussy that way.

Maybe shaping it along the back seam and side seams and adding a side zipper to pull it over my shoulders would help. Or that might just make a stiff, uncomfortable side seam. Not sure the solution, but I’m not quite ready to give up on casual woven tops all together.

I’m really happy with the construction (all of those School of Sewing projects paid off!). The baby French facing is a great technique, although I wish I had made the fabric 2 or 2 1/4 inches wide. It was really narrow by the time it was stitched to the neckline. After stretch pressing it I had to stretch it wider again so it wasn’t too narrow.

After sewing all of these garments I’m learning that I wear fabrics with stretch SO MUCH more happily than fabrics without stretch. Whether they’re stretch wovens, or knits, they’re more wearable in my life. I’d like to focus on those types of projects next.

Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

Wardrobe Architect Project: Linen Drawstring Shorts

My Summer 2015 wardrobe project originally include a chambray gathered skirt. But my test muslin was far from flattering, so I called an audible and switched it to a pair of linen shorts.

Linen drawstring shorts next to the original ready to wear pair
My linen shorts on the left, with the original off-the-rack knit pair on the right


I drafted my own pattern from a pair of knit drawstring shorts using the skills I learned in Steffani Lincecum’s fantastic Craftsy class Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear.

Project features

  • self-drafted pattern
  • drawstring with casing
  • front patch pockets
  • bartacks

Process notes

  • traced the pattern pieces using Steffani’s techniques
  • before making the muslin, added to the side seams to accommodate a woven fabric (the original shorts are knit), and adjusted the shape of the crotch seam to be more like an “L” than a long shallow curve, based on Kathy Ruddy’s One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants class
  • after making the muslin, increased the length of the back center seam by raising the waistline at the center back and smoothing to the side seams to accommodate the shorter length between the legs (this was a problem I ran into on my olive ankle pants and didn’t realize it until I started wearing them and they rode down in back and pulled at the front when I sat down)
  • made the drawstring from lightweight chambray, double-folding and stitching down the length, making clean finishes at the ends (I use this clean-ends bag strap method all the time)
  • the single buttonhole for the drawstring didn’t work — the chambray strap didn’t slide when I tried to cinch it closed because the linen had no flexibility like the knit casing does — so after assembling the shorts I ended up cutting two slots next to the center buttonhole and dabbed some fray block on them (I’m not entirely optimistic that this will keep the holes from fraying though, but I wasn’t about to rip out the finished waist band and do it again)


The construction went very well (except for that drawstring buttonhole) and I’m really happy with how they look. The fit is good, although they’re a little bit loose around my body and I didn’t need to add as much to the side seams as I did. When I cinch the drawstring around my waist, there’s a bit of extra bunching up with the fabric requiring some shuffling around to even things out. But they are comfy, which is one of my priorities.

Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

I love the pockets! The stitching came out nice and even, and they help add interest and functionality. Without them I think these shorts would be quite dull.

I want to try this pattern with knit fabric, too. Especially since the original pair I bought is starting to fray apart because I wear them so much.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants

Wardrobe Architect Project: Olive Ankle Pants

Next up for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the olive ankle pants.


Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit Pants

Project features

  • front zip fly with bar tack
  • hook closure
  • mock welt pockets
  • waistline facing
  • 4-piece waistband for fitting
  • slip-stitched hem

Process notes

  • made size 12 average fit
  • made a fitting muslin, then took quite a bit off of the crotch/inseam on the pack piece and lowered the front waistline a little
  • used a 100% cotton twill (no stretch)
  • omitted front pockets
  • omitted carriers (belt loops)
  • finished waistband facing with serger instead of bias binding


I’m so glad I started with a fitting muslin on these pants, because it would have been really frustrating to make all of the changes necessary on the final fabric. On my first muslin there was a lot of fabric pooling under the “bum” as Kathy Ruddy puts it. I’m also really glad I had One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants to guide me through fitting. Even though it’s not a pants fitting class, Kathy provides excellent information on getting pants to fit well. I was able to use her instruction for seat fullness adjustments and for the crescent leg adjustment at the thigh. The pattern instructions for fine-tuning the fit would not have gotten me the fit I was after (or the fitted look as described on the pattern).

At a certain point I had to accept that this project was going to be slow-going. After spending pretty much a whole weekend on fit, it took me a couple of weeks to get through the final construction, sewn in little bits here and there. In the end, it was probably good to go slow because if I’d tried to power through making this pattern for the first time it could have led to frustration and exhaustion. Or a half-made-pants bonfire in the back yard.

I’m super happy with the final construction. Since I didn’t rush, stitching is clean and even, even where I had to stitch in the ditch around the waistband. The front zip fly took me a LONG time to get through, but it’s my first and it turned out well so I can’t complain. However, it’s awkward to zip them up using my left hand — the fly overlaps from right to left, but I apparently prefer pants that overlap from left to right.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants waistband and fly


Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants mock welt pockets
I sure hope those needle marks in the center back come out after washing…

My hope is that these pants soften and mold to my body over time. Right now they’re heavier and stiffer that I’d like or am used to. I really like pants with stretch, but I wanted to experiment with this twill to see how it went.

Adjustments for next time:

  • switch fly from right to left
  • lengthen the crotch depth on the back piece
  • use the lightweight stretch denim in my fabric stash
  • use a softer cotton for the waistband facing
  • continue fiddling with the fit of the back upper thigh area
  • finish the raw edges of the mock welt pocket flap

I’m also considering what it would take to turn this into my pants block, and using the fly installation technique from One Pattern. Many Looks: Pants.

City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double Cloth

Wardrobe Architect Project: City Gym Shorts

Since it’s ultra-hot here, the next priority for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the City Gym Shorts.


City Gym Shorts from the Purl Bee

Project features

  • bias binding
  • elastic waist

Process notes

  • made the 35–37-inch hip size
  • used Robert Kaufman Double Cloth in chambray and plaid
  • made the double fold bias tape by hand instead of with the 18mm bias tape maker
  • used 1-inch knit elastic instead of braided elastic
  • separated the double cloth and only used the plaid piece for the binding and waistband


City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double ClothThis is such a fun, retro pair of shorts to wear — I can definitely see making another pair of these. The waistband is a few inches below the natural waistline, making them fall in the perfect place for me. And I was nervous about making the 35-37 size because my hip measurement is actually 37 1/2, but they fit great with no pattern adjustments.



Warm grey scoop neck tee detail

Wardrobe Architect Project: Fitted Scoop Neck Tee

For my first item in my Summer 2015 wardrobe project, I chose the fitted scoop neck tee with elbow-length sleeves.


Scoop neck tee from Crafty’s Sewing with Knits: 5 Wardrobe Essentials class + banding technique from Sewing on the Edge: Finishing Techniques

Project features

  • working with slinky knit
  • fusible tricot and stay stitching around neckline
  • clean join on neck band
  • twin needle topstitching

Process notes

  • made size small, with elbow-length sleeves
  • curved in at the waistline, roughly following the Coco shaping
  • 3/8 in. wide band of fusible tricot cut the same shape as the neckline
  • 2 1/4 in. wide strip of fabric for neckline banding, about 4 in. longer than needed for neckline
  • used the default settings for lightning stitch to sew in the sleeves
  • for twin needle, set thread tension to 8 with 3.0 stitch length using straight stitch
  • 3/4 in. hem on bottom


Warm grey scoop neck tee

I’m happy with my construction of this tee, but there are several things I don’t like about it:

  • the lightweight slinky knit isn’t great for a fitted tee because every little thing that isn’t smooth (like a bra for example) shows up more than I’d like
  • the fabric is too tight in the back and my shoulders are pulling on it
  • the arm holes are too small and the fabric is pulling there
  • there’s a lump at the upper back sleeve where the sleeve cap is too sharply curved

I love the clean join on the neck band. Waiting until after the banding is applied to finish the length seems was a nice experience, but the band was pulled a little too much and flops open a teeny bit. And stabilizing the neckline with tricot was an extra step but I do think it made the whole neckline process go more smoothly and the result is quite refined.

I’m still working on shoulder fit and am considering next steps. My two thoughts that I’m deciding between are:

  • go up a pattern size from the underarm to shoulder seam
  • or add 1/4 in. to the back armscye and sleeve back, adding 1 in. total to the finished back width, a forward shoulder adjustment, flatten out the curve at the upper back sleeve, sharpen the curve at the upper front of the sleeve

I also want to add 1/4 in. to back armscye and sleeve on the Coco size 3.

I’m determined to make this pattern work for me as a close-fitting knit torso sloper — after wearing it for a day, it was so comfortable and the neckline is really flattering.

Exposed bias facing on the Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns

Wardrobe Architect Project

The list of garments I want to sew for myself keeps growing, making it tough to prioritize. I’m just so excited to try all kinds of new things, inspired by my Craftsy classes (especially One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses and One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants). To help me sort through my list, I decided to follow the Wardrobe Architect series that ran on The Coletterie blog in 2014.
The Wardrobe Architect

It’s a series of 14 topics that include exercises and real-world examples, and as someone who prefers structure I’ve found it very useful. I already had clarity on my personal style from reading I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks a few years ago, but walking through the Wardrobe Architect exercises uncovered some new things:

  • I prefer dark colors and cool-weather styles like longer sleeves and ankle-length pants. But the summers in the Southwest make these preferences challenging. One of my goals is to achieve harmony between what I like best and what the 110° summers require.
  • Comfort is my number one priority, because if it’s not comfortable I won’t wear it. Also, the intersection of polished and effortless is my ideal style.
  • My style icons (think Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O.) appeal to me because in addition to their classic, subtle style, they paid attention to their appearance without seeking attention.
  • I really like elbow-length and 3/4-length sleeves, and regular short sleeves don’t do much for me.

My favorite aspect of the series is recognizing the garment shapes I like most, and how to combine them into silhouettes. After identifying some desirable silhouettes, I selected these for my Summer 2015 mini wardrobe:

  • gathered skirt + semi-fitted scoop neck elbow sleeve top
  • shorts + semi-fitted (variety of sleeve lengths) boatneck top
  • somewhat fitted ankle length trousers + somewhat loose cap sleeve tee
  • shorts + somewhat loose tee
  • shorts + semi-fitted elbow sleeve top

I also liked the color palette exercises. Navy is my go-to color, but I want to add a bit more variety:

wardrobe color palette

My favorite fabric prints (plus a cheat: chunky knitted cables):

favorite fabric prints

Based on all of this, I created my Summer 2015 goals:

wardrobe color palette summer 2015

Garments to sew:

  1. olive ankle pants — done!
  2. chambray gathered skirt linen drawstring shorts — done!
  3. city gym shorts in chambray or another neutral woven — done!
  4. fitted tee with elbow sleeves in grey/green knit (pattern from Sewing with Knits Craftsy class) — done!
  5. cap sleeve blouse in thin blue and white stripes cap sleeve blouse in tiny plaid — done!

One of the great things about this plan is that it allows me to focus on creating the things seasonally, pushing those cool-weather items on my list down the road a bit.