Difficult duo

A few months ago I was lucky enough to pick up about a yard and a quarter of some silk chiffon. I thought it would work for a sleeveless top to wear with one or two of my “dress-up” skirts. I also picked up an older New Look pattern, which included a simple top.

I decided to make it first in some linen, left over from making a pair of pants a few years ago. When I studied the pattern instructions, I figured it would be a snap. And it would have been, if the size bore any relation to the measurements indicated. I took this thing in. And took it in again. And again. What started as a size 14 is now about a 10, at least through the armhole and sides.


I also had to re-angle the bust darts to lower the points. The thing is still too big across the top of the chest. This I don’t understand. Usually something with a shallow oval neckline hangs nicely on me and looks good. I slapped a pocket on (possibly crooked!) to break up the vast expanse. The top is alright — I’ll wear it because it’s simple and I love the linen. I like the bottom shirttail-like hem. And I learned a new to me technique about facings. The facings encompass both armholes and neck. The instructions were to attach the front facing to the front, and then to slip that between the back facing and the back. When sewing the back facing to the back, you also sew all four shoulder seams together. The result is that the shoulder seams are hidden in the facings. Pretty cool that.

The silk chiffon presented a whole new set of challenges. After I finished cutting out the front, with a slightly dull rotary cutter, and discovered the fabric would not lie still, I almost ditched the whole thing.


I decided to press fusible interfacing to the facings before cutting them, and that worked. And scissors seemed to work better than the rotary cutter. I did manage very nice rolled hems, following instructions I had read on another blog just a week earlier. In fact, I would have to say my sewing machine loved the fabric. The only real problem was cutting it.

So now I have at least two new outfits.


I don’t know if I’ll use this pattern again. I like an oval neckline, and I like the side slits and the bottom. Also, there’s a slight curve in the centre back seam, which is nice. But I don’t like how it fits across my upper chest. How can something so simple, not hang properly from the shoulders??


9 thoughts on “Difficult duo”

  1. PS/However, both versions look very good, and you’re braver than I to have sewn that sort of silk! (So what’s the reference for that rolled hem info, in case I get braver!)
    Ya did GOOD, Babe!


  2. Some time ago, I was reading a blog post by a sewist who saved her gaping neckline top by stitching in three tiny darts that radiated outward from the neck. She chose to fold the darts outward as a design feature, but they could also have been folded in (probably my choice). In the process of trying to find that post for you (not successful, sorry) I came upon a couple of other resources about gaping neckline/too big upper chest issue.

    See http://www.studiofaro.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?PostID=521828&A=SearchResult&SearchID=72289630&ObjectID=521828&ObjectType=55 and http://katrinakaycreations.com/how-to-fix-a-gaping-neckline/.

    Your top pattern is already a winner, and worth a little tweaking. You are right, it is a great look for you.

    (I’m also an older babe sewing in the Salish Sea area (Seattle) and I enjoy your blog, starting with the first post. I’m trying to become a little more *arty* in my wardrobe, and you are inspiring, e.g., love the linen pants with the tucked legs.)


    1. Thanks for your post, Silver. I watched that video, and it’s great! It’s nice to have contact with a sewist living relatively nearby. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a vacuum here. Good luck with your wardrobe — I’m trying for the same thing, more arty and interesting and unique.


  3. Perhaps the upper chest fitting issue is more noticeable to you than in pictures? But it seems like you have already done a lot of adjustment work on this pattern so if you turn out to like wearing it why not more? A border print, maybe, or a scrap of the silk peeking out under some top fabric – I have all kinds of ideas for other people to work on!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘How can something so simple not hang properly from the shoulders?’ – I’ve been finding that, too, and I think it must be about the startling realisation that the older woman’s shape is really changed from younger days (when I would run up any old pattern and it always seemed to hang well). Like you, I now have to move the bust darts down, and maybe that bosom ‘pull’ is creating different dynamics in fabric across the upper chest and shoulders. Really useful references above to some instructions about how to modify the pattern. I love the colour of both tops on you!


    1. Thank you Catherine. It feels like the pattern maker assumes a woman’s breasts sit at about the mid armhole level. Maybe for a young woman in a push-up bra ? 🙂 I’m considering modifying the pattern as per the instructions in the video, though, just to see how that changes things.


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