Not so successful pattern hacking: Stylearc’s Adeline dress as a top

I know it’s hardly pattern hacking when all you do is make a top from a dress pattern.

But it didn’t turn out very well. Partly due to fabric choice but mainly due to my inexpert hacking.

I need to document that!

The main issue is the uneven hem. I know. I know, Why didn’t I think about how the front needs more fabric to get to the same point at the high hip than a back because it has to go over a bust?

The Adeline dress has a high low hem, but that’s deliberate! This wasn’t…

The other issue is the fabric. This is a Japanese ‘technical’ fabric I picked up at the @adelaidesews fabric swap, originally from Tessuti. I’ve made other garments from this type of fabric and its delightfully silky.

The softness of the fabric really does not suit this style. Much more body is need to make the cuffs look sharp. Mine just look wrinkly!

To avoid this on the hem I faced it with super wide pre-made white bias binding. This, at least, worked!

The startled and wooden look of someone unused to selfies! But it does show the neck well

I matched the neck facing to the bodice so there wouldn’t be show through of a black square under a white one. This also worked- I almost have an invisible facing.

You can’t win them all! And this top will probably work quite well under a jacket, so it hasn’t gone to a better home yet…

In The Folds Ruffle sleeve top

The In The Folds ruffle sleeve top is another pattern I’ve recently made two of.

This pattern was first published in Peppermint magazine and is available as a free download on the In The Folds website. I’m probably the last sewist left who hadn’t already made it.

My first version was in Liberty Tana lawn leftover from making a Kalle shirt for Felicity back in 2018. It’s an almost monochrome astrological print.

I wasn’t sure of my size in an In The Folds pattern so I went with a size G with 1.5 cm added to the length. And sewed the whole thing up, facings, hem and all, before I tried it on. What was I thinking! The shoulders were good but it turned out way too wide from the bust down/ I could have found that out much earlier if I’d been more sensible!

So some retrofitting was required.

I lengthened the bust darts by 2.5 cm, took in the side seams and top of the sleeve seam by 1 cm, tapering to zero at the hips, made a 3 cm tuck at the centre front tapering to zero cm at the base of the V neck, and did the same at centre back, tapering to zero at a point level with the armscye. This removed a total of 12 cm in width through the hip and between 4 and 5 cm through the bust.

Now it’s wearable. Luckily the very busy print meant the extra centre front and back seams are not noticeable.

Another change I made was intentional right from cutting out – to draft and use a simpler neck facing than the designer included. Theirs was a deep facing that extended to and under the armscye- as you can see in the sewing instruction diagram below giving an inside out view of the garment st the hemming stage.

This would certainly stop your facing from flipping out, but I didn’t want to use that much fabric just to finish the neck!

I like the top and I’ve worn it quite a bit this summer so I transferred my changes to the pattern in case I decided to make another version. I mad e anothe ne.

And the photos are evidence of the time progression – we move from the verandah floor sanded ready for repainting, to actually repainted!

The second version came about when I had leftover coordinating viscose from the Fernbird dress and decided that lining the sleeve ruffle with a coordinating fabric could be fun.

It was!

I also used the coordinating print on the neck facing (and modified the facing again so that the back neck facing extended below the front necks lowest point – to look as pretty as possible!).

I love this special detail that I get to see when I pull this out of the wardrobe!

Interestingly, the viscose version is looser than the cotton lawn one. I don’t think I cut it out any bigger. I might have. I’m presuming it is more likely due to fabric difference. The rayon is a looser weave than the cotton lawn.

I’m happy with this second version too. Given the changes I had to make to the pattern I’m unlikely to make other In The Folds designs – it seems they draft for figure types with much narrower shoulder than me.

Shirtdress mashup: Burdastyle 05/2004 #129 and 07/2004 #135

Mashing up patterns? What could possibly go wrong?

Luckily for me, this turned out much better than expected!

The patterns:

Burdastyle 05/2004 #129 (below left) and 07/2004 #135 (below right). The links go to and the images are reproduced from the Russian Burdastyle site because they’re from so long ago that’s the only one that still lists them

I’ve always liked #129, the green one, but never got around to sewing it. Until now. Nineteen years later.

I’m not in this size range anymore. But that didn’t stop me. I’ve already made #135, the red one, in my size (46 bust 48 hips) so I mashed them up.

My starting pattern had a bust dart so I rotated that to the yoke seam and then converted it into gathering. That was the easy it of the mash up!

I marked up the panels on my front dress pattern piece and then drafted new pieces with extra width at the top for the gathering, using the 05/2004 #129 pieces as a guide.

You can see from the pattern pieces that the gathering isn’t additive – the top of the piece is gathered in but the bottom of the piece is back to what would be the regular width of the base pattern. I replicated this on my pattern pieces. The gathering is modest – about 1.2 times the width of the straight piece it’s sewn onto.

I lined the yoke with white batiste. When my fabric is doubled up, the black shows through the other colours a bit and dulls them down. The white makes them pop.

The gathered and then restrained-back-in panels give the dress a cocoon shape feel – which is a silhouette I love.

Grey hair don’t care

I added pockets – because pockets are always a good idea – and used white batiste for the pocket pieces facing the outer fabric. For the same reason.

Smug sewist because she added pockets

I used the pockets drafted for the Cloud dress. They’re fabulously large.

The lovely fabric I used is a Japanese woven cotton from The Fabric Store. Wonderful to sew and gorgeous to wear.

Such a happy dress!

Basics – a Burda pencil skirt and a Forget-me-not Patterns Vera top

This is one of those boring posts about basics. Great for blogs that are mainly personal journals, like mine. Not so good for blogs that other people actually read.

And to make it worse, this post comes with not so great photos of creased garments and tired faces because the photography was done at the end of a day of sitting at a desk. At least I am wearing yellow snakeskin ankle boots. That’s got to count for something!

Feel free to move on to something more interesting and with better images.

Basic 1: The Camel Pencil Skirt.

Camel is supposed to be one of those excellent basics. So are pencil skirts. I’m a fan of pencil skirts. And I’m very taken with pencil skirts that have a teeny bit more interest than normal. Like this one with its horizontal darts.

I used this pattern for one of my gorgeous Linton tweeds but it was not a resounding success. The tweed version may have stretched out, or been traced too big. Whatever.

So this pattern needed a second chance. And what better fabric to use than one I picked up at a fabric swap! This polyester twill fabric was from my dear friend M of Nonsuch, who had already offered her large remnant to me. I didn’t recognize its potential until I saw it again at the fabric swap.

This skirt turned out so much better than the Linton Tweed version.

Changes I made were minimal – I took 5 cm off the length (still plenty long enough for that retro look) and shaved about 1 cm of the side seams above the hips (making this a sort of size 47 waist, I should have just gone to a straight size 46 because its still loose).

Its lined with a lovely bemsilk from the stash, and I love the way my aqua label really pops.

Basic #2: a Black Knit Top.

This is Vera, a free PDF pattern from Forget-me-not Patterns

This pattern is also elevated above basic with its sleeves and subtle high low hem

The V-neck is nicely proportioned, and the instructions for achieving a nice finish for the V neck are terrific.

My first version was a size 42 in a red fine merino wool, and it was a bit too big. I wanted to make the next version in a black merino/nylon blend. The black knit is much firmer than the red 100% merino knit. I also knew that I’d made both into a Papercut rise turtleneck in the same size and the black one was almost too tight whereas the red one was just right.

So, with all that in mind, I went ahead with the firmer black knit cut out in the same size as the red one, but sewed it up with a seam allowance of 10 mm rather than 6 mm.

It worked well! either the fabric difference or the larger seam allowance, or both..

The sleeves really are quite lovely – here’s the red one at work (I made this first version wearable by shortening the shoulder seam by 8 mm and reattaching the sleeves and reducing width through the body of the top about the same).

Lesson (re)learned- stretch and drape and weight matters with knits!

A coatigan to remind me of my grandma’s carpet: Burda 12/2011 #114

I was lucky enough to get 2 yards of this totally glorious fabric from emmaonesock last year. It looks like a fabulous vintage carpet.

It’s a wool fleece with raised areas, a brushed texture, and decorative selvedges. The design seems to be knitted in as you can see below on the reverse.

The fabric arrived and I petted it. A lot. And then it sat in my stash. You know. That too precious to cut into fabric. I had a Pinterest board dedicated to it. Searching for the perfect pattern. Surely what I did with something similar to this fabric several years ago was too simple and wouldn’t be good enough?

Winter passed, before I was smart enough to realise that it was more than good enough. I still wear the coatigan I made in 2013 a lot. It’s the ideal pattern for this fabric.

So I bit the bullet and cut it out.

This is Burda 12/2011 #114 and I made a 44.

For my version there’s no zip, no petersham ribbon trim, no hip length seam or pockets, no lining, just a neck facing and I lengthened the sleeves to be full length.

The hem is simple turned up and stitched by hand. No finishing treatments – it doesn’t fray.

Sometimes simple is best!

I adore my carpet coatigan!

Monochrome floral tunic: BurdaStyle 08/2020 #125

Experimental sewing. Wearable, but getting close to a wadder. I guess we’ve all been there.

I wouldn’t have said this when this top was fresh off the sewing machine, but subsequent episodes of wearing have led me to conclude that its not quite the right fabric for this pattern.

What is this pattern I hear you say?

BurdaStyle 08/2020 #125 in a size 46 bust and waist and six 48 hips.

Recommended fabrics are light weight blouse fabrics like viscose-rayon crepe

The fabric I used was not the recommended types but is actually quite lovely – a sophisticated monochrome panel print in a fine stretch cotton woven. With a beautiful multi coloured striped selvedge. And it has those special souvenir fabric vibes – bought in Bordeaux, France in between meetings on a work trip, back in the day when that was a thing I did.

I knew the pattern would be better in a drapey fabric, but I thought I would give it a try anyway. Experimental. Did I say that already?

It sewed up beautifully. Lovely fabric.

The interesting faux button V neck thing is good- not too deep but deep enough to be not frumpy. The lack of depth of colour on the underside of my fabric shows though- because there is no button band just a narrow turnback of the fabric edge to finish it. It’s not terrible, or even very noticeable to anyone else, but it irritates me.

The three quarter sleeves are nice but I had the unwelcome discovery that my forearms are larger than the pattern was drafted for. The cuffs only just meet. No chance of an overlap and buttons.

So instead I have ribbon tie cuffs. Design feature? Maybe! And an easy thang to fix for next time.

I used the burrito method for the yoke. It always seems like magic! And I couldn’t help myself with the label. That multi-striped selvedge needed to be seen – even if only by me. The native American blanket vibes are incongruous, but it makes me smile!

So what don’t I like about the top ( apart from the wrong side showing at the neck edge)?

It sticks out – it doesn’t drape. Of course it does. It’s a cotton with body. All operator fault in matching fabric to pattern.

I’ll keep on wearing the top before I judge it better donated, and I haven’t given up on the pattern. I just need to select a drapier fabric.

This photo is not very convincing is it? Its good to acknowledge that not all sewing results in garments you love. All part of the rich tapestry of life….