Flare bear

I was on a major flare high after making denim trousers, and was certain that a pair of flared jeans would be just the thing. So I made them out of this fantastically thick no-stretch denim I found at SCRAP and… meh. They’re fine but they’re just not the 70s jeans of my dreams. I wear them about once every two weeks.

crabandbee.com | flared jeans

I’m not really sure why they feel so underwhelming! They’re technically the best pair of jeans I’ve ever managed to sew. They fit really nicely. I just feel a bit frumpy when I wear them. Maybe it’s the thickness of the fabric? I also added a total of 1/2″ of ease to the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch* (and took them in a bit when I fit them), so it’s possible they’re more relaxed than I was intending?

crabandbee.com | flared jeans


They also don’t seem to work well with any of my shirts, most of which were sewn to partner with other jeans. Any suggestions on what to pair with these flares? Please? Help?


Let’s move on from my frumpy pants to wedding sewing, shall we?

Since finishing the wedding bra (pic at the bottom of that post), I’ve been building the dress bodice. On a lark, I tried inserting the molded sew-in cups I used on the wedding bra into the bodice directly, and they worked on their own! So, after all that, we’ll be skipping the bra. It’s a little bit sad, but it will prevent me the worry of having to secure the bodice to it. And, my sis has a completely custom super-sturdy white foundation piece to do with as she pleases.

crabandbee.com | wedding separates bodice

“Dress” is actually a misnomer now – I lobbied successfully for wedding separates instead of a dress, hoping my sis could repurpose the pieces more easily and maybe even dye the skirt. I lengthened the bodice into more of a bustier top that could be worn with skirts or even pants. Next, I’ll be draping the lace bodice overlay with the expertise of my friend Casey – who finally has his own blog!

* Edit: I completely forgot to include pattern info for the flares! They’re based off my moderate-stretch jeans block, which I used most recently here. I added width at the bottom, reducing to nothing at the knees. Like I mentioned above, I added a total of 1/2″ ease per leg at the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch. Thanks to Emma Jayne for asking!

Bossing myself

You may recognize this pattern – it’s Vogue 8926, and I sent it off to Sally for our Sew Bossy exchange. I was more than a little envious of her final piece and had meant to sew one up for myself ever since I laid eyes on hers!

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926

Based on my own fit quirks, I made the following adjustments to fit my broad/square shoulders and small bust:

  • small bust adjustment, removing 2″ total from the bust
  • square shoulder adjustment

I also lengthened the ties by nearly double and finished the sleeve hems by hand.

The fabric was a gift from Sanae and I made my own binding. I waffled between white and grey binding more than I’d care to admit. Grey won, as per usual!

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 detail

What I like, nay, love about this top is it’s a very simple sew (aside from two pivoted seams) with high style impact. I haven’t seen too many other patterns out there like this one and wouldn’t mind having one or two more of these in my wardrobe. Wouldn’t it be great in white as an alternative to a classic buttoned shirt?

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926

I made this top about a month ago, before I cut myself off from any more non-wedding sewing. In a series of escalating (sewing) dares, I found myself making a bra/corset contraption for my sister. My sister possesses a similar figure to mine – broad upper back, smaller bust and rib cage – all of which make strapless designs creep towards the waist. After extensive shopping, all she could find were strapless bras that unflatteringly squeezed her back in order to stay up. I decided to create her undergarment as a time-saving device so we could continue fitting the bodice. I converted the dress bodice pattern, which is bustier-style, into a bra pattern and reduced the ease dramatically as I was using powernet.

As someone who is completely satisfied with bralettes, I was grateful for the bra-making craze that’s swept through the blogging community. I surprised myself by having a basic knowledge of the supplies – I must have absorbed that by osmosis! Big thanks to Cloth Habit’s fantastic bra-making sewalong, too.

crabandbee.com | bridal undergarment

There’s lots of things I would do differently now that I’ve tried my hand at it, like make it longer, lowering the bridge, using sheet foam instead of molded cups, etc, but I think it’s going to work for our purposes.

Next up, constructing the bodice. Wish me luck!

Something different: a two-piece dressy set

I’ve been working hard to focus on my sister’s wedding dress, but quite a few so-called palate cleanser projects have sneaked their way in. One was directly influenced by my sister’s dress – I’ll be attaching Sewaholic’s glorious Gabriola skirt pattern onto the bodice.

I sewed the skirt in muslin and couldn’t resist trying it on myself. I rarely wear skirts these days, but the instant I put it on, I fell hard for this design. I’d always admired it but just couldn’t imagine myself looking like, well, myself, in it. The muslin was convincing enough to lead me to believe that I should sew up a practice version in appropriately flowing fabric to use during bodice fittings that I could ultimately keep for myself.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

Who was I to argue?

After combing the internet and local fabric shops for an interesting viscose print, I surprised myself by settling on a loud floral print. The color wasn’t quite what I’d hoped so I dyed over it with a lovely blue and used the wrong side.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

There have been a lot of these gorgeous skirts shared on other blogs, so I’ll just give you my construction bullet points:

  • I changed the front waistband from a rectangle to a curve
  • I did a lapped zipper (stabilized by a silk organza strip) and made the button tab overlap longer
  • I wish I’d stabilized the front and back chevron panels because they distorted over time. The skirt is heavy in viscose and you can still see that those panels can’t fully support the weight of the skirt.
  • Even after grading down a size in the hips, I still had to take some extra width out – perhaps due to the distortion mentioned above
  • By reducing the flare at the bottom of the skirt by a few inches, I was able to sew my skirt on 2.5 yards of 55″ fabric instead of the recommended 3.5 yards.

How could I not put that extra yard to use in a matching top?

I used my sloper and my trusty ol’ Helen Joseph-Armstrong textbook and made a bias-cut cowl-neck top. I love how the dark floral motif looks like a big dramatic necklace.

crabandbee.com | cowl neck top based on sloper

crabandbee.com | cowl neck top based on sloper

I think this getup (and maybe even the skirt on its own?) is just a *smidge* too dressy for work so I’m eagerly awaiting the first opportunity to bust it out. Wearing yards of viscose from head to toe is like being swathed in a fluffy dream cloud – certainly something to look forward to.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

My sewing recently has been quite practical – coat, jeans, shirts, blue, white, grey. Everything about this project took me by surprise… and I liked it.

Further adventures with shoulder fitting

Goodness, it’s been awhile! Since I last blogged in late February, I started a new job. It’s actually with the same company and team that I left when I wrote this post, but it feels very different and exciting. Nathan and I are working hard to practice what we enjoyed so much when we were both not working – cooking for ourselves, getting enough exercise, and being mindful while I embrace this new, decidedly full-time job.

I’ve been sewing steadily (if a little less frequently) over the past couple of months. Shortly before my post on shoulders, I had started experimenting with fit on a buttoned shirt pattern I’d made a couple of times in 2011 and 2012, McCall’s 6436. Armed with a working diagnosis of my shoulder fit – rather broad, a few degrees shy of completely square, and slightly forward – I decided to revisit it.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

You saw this first iteration a couple of times in my post about jeans – a sleeveless swiss-dot shirt. When I made it, I was trying out a couple of theories: that I could trace one pattern size as long as I made a major SBA, and that I could adjust for my square, forward shoulders by adding 1/2″ to the outside of the back shoulder seam. It was pretty flattering but I found myself taking shocking amounts of ease from the side seams. (I use the finished measurements when I work with patterns, so normally I’m not surprised by the amount of ease.)

After some wear, I realized the neck was huge – an issue I’d never encountered.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

Well, I went back to fix my pattern and realized I’d forgotten to subtract out some seam allowance when I converted it into French(ish) placket. The horror! I did take a little more width from the bust, but not nearly as much as I thought I needed to. For my second try, I wanted to try a new variation with a bias-bound neckline. I also cautiously threw sleeves into the mix and cut into some lovely cotton-linen from Sanae.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

I have very nascent understanding about how sleeves are drafted (although Ikat Bag’s post – holy cow, what a revelation – and the Fit For Real People book have been helping). After removing some width from the bust and raising the arm scye, the sleeves were much too upright and tight (probably also due to the fact that the bodice of this pattern is supposed to work with sleeves and without and I made some adjustments based on the sleeveless version). I used FFRP’s “Very Large Arms” adjustment and it worked perfectly. I’m actually ambivalent on the appearance of the sleeves, but I think they fit pretty well for a first try. And just look at this shoulder seam! Never have I beheld its like on my person.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436

So overall, mistakes aside, I’m excited to say that the fit adjustments I made on this shirt have become my new standards – at least until I learn enough to become dissatisfied with them! (Isn’t that just the way it is with sewing? I love it.) I’ve also started adding 1″ wide seam allowance to any shoulder seams just for good measure; it’s so little fabric but it can make such a huge difference to the fit for me.

I did muslin a bodice for my matron (!) of honor dress using these adjustments and the fit was nearly perfect. Yes, I was shocked. I’m still not sure I believe Fit For Real People when they say that all Big 4, Simplicity and Burda blocks are exactly the same, but I will say that I’ve had success with my two-pattern sample. I did find it surprising that I was able to use one pattern size to get the shoulder fit I wanted, especially after seeing I would need to go up many sizes in the two pattern brands that provide shoulder fit information – Marfy and Style Arc.

How are your fit experiments coming along? Any revelations about fitting shoulders or any other body parts?

Pants progress

My last post dealt with shoulder fit, but I’d like to take a detour to Pants Land (or Trouser Town, if you’re British?)

Last year I made my first two pairs of jeans. The first one was the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d ever worn, and an undefinable and wonderful (to me) style: fitted but not tight, tapered but not skin-tight, ankle-length. They bagged out a little bit with wear, however, especially after I put them on damp.

crabandbee.com | jeans
The original fit

On the second pair, I got overzealous and took 1/4″ out of the out-seams and tightened up the waistband. They looked good but, creature of comfort that I am, I really didn’t want to put them on. They stayed a dark indigo blue while the first pair earned that oh-so-delightful fading.

Over the year, the first pair started to feel more like the tight pair. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it, too – I was outgrowing my jeans. Then I held up the first pair to the tight pair, and they were the same size! The denim had shrunk with washings and (very occasional) dryings.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1367
The shrunken fit

Both pairs were lovingly folded up and given to my sister, who they fit as originally intended.

After giving the jeans away and a full Marie Kondo wardrobe sort, I was left with two pairs of everyday pants – a lackluster pair of thrifted jeans and my khaki pleated trousers. Right around this time, I’d been casting about for a project after finishing my coat but nothing sounded like fun until the idea of revisiting my jeans pattern occurred to me.

I may have called that pattern “self-drafted” at the time I wrote that post, but “self-cobbled” is more accurate. Now that I’m older and wiser/have read more Helen Joseph-Armstrong, I know that converting a pleated trouser pattern into jeans was nothing short of major pattern surgery! According to HJ-A, jeans have a higher back rise and lower front rise, which I did not take into account in my first two pairs. In fact, I’d reduced the back rise for the trousers. Add my ample rump into the mix and there’s just too much booty.

For this iteration, I added a full inch to the back rise, grading to nothing all the way to center front. I also added 1/4″ of ease to the front and back outseams to guard against future denim shrinking, which can apparently happen over the course of many washings. (I did wash and dry my denim twice this time but who knows if it was enough! I used the leftovers from my other two pairs so I’m suspicious that it’s waiting to do me an ill turn.)

Anyway. I love them.

crabandbee.com | jeans

crabandbee.com | jeans

I was inspired by Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong to use pocket stays, which are amazing because of the extra room for my hands and the cozy stability across the entire front.

crabandbee.com | jeans detail

I was bolstered up by my success, enough to do some more pattern cobbling, and made a pair of stretch-denim flares with back darts instead of a yoke. I added 4″ length and about 4″ of flare on both sides of the legs.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Flares. Flares! Why did I ever stop wearing this wonderful silhouette?

I changed the pockets to a slant instead of jeans-style pockets.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

And I got terribly lazy and left off back pockets (which are universally credited for “breaking up the expanse” of rump.) I had every intention of making some nice welt pockets, but my fabric was quite thin and I thought the visible outline of pocket bags might be equally distracting. I may still add some sort of classy patch pocket, if such a thing is possible on pants. There is some wrinkling on the back, but it may just be from sitting? I don’t know. This fabric is probably best suited to dresses and the like.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

I would love to try my new flares pattern in another thicker fabric, possibly as jeans with a yoke. As-is, they have filled a wardrobe gap for me, which is nicer work wear (with a longer top, of course). I’d add another inch of length, too.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Hope you enjoyed this detour to Trouser Town! They’ve been a nice simpler sew while I muddle over the fit and design of my sister’s wedding dress… I’m documenting the process but I can’t decide whether to post as I go or plan to summarize at the end, in case it all goes to $hit and we have to buy a dress!

Hey, I finished my coat!

crabandbee.com | Named Clothing Yona coat

I finished my coat last Sunday (!!!) to, well, no fanfare. Sewing projects are like that to me – I hoot and holler when a pile of fabric finally starts to look like a garment, but sewing on the final button never feels like the party it should. What I did feel was a huge sense of accomplishment and a burning desire to wear it immediately.

My coat took over two months and took many twists and turns so I’m a little unsure of where to start. Maybe starting with the fabric makes the most sense. I first spotted it in the summer at Nancy’s Sewing Basket. I texted pictures of it to my sister, I cradled it in my arms and carried it around the shop, and then I wistfully put it back on the shelf. It’s a gorgeous wool, a little loosely woven, with a geometric/lattice motif. I knew I wanted to make a coat, but I didn’t even have a pattern yet.


Enter Yona. Named Clothing contacted me to see if I’d be interested in one trying one of their patterns. I initially said no, that I was too busy with all of my planned sewing, which included a winter coat. While I’ve always been intrigued by their designs, I tend to stick with $5.99 sale Vogues; I love 1-2 designs per collection, I’m familiar with the fit, notations and instructions, and, well, the price is right.

I ended up cruising their site on a slow day at work and found Yona. I had overlooked the pattern until I saw the line drawings – it was my dream coat. (I pride myself on being able to see beyond styling and fabric choice, but wow, the fringe and contrast lapel facings really fooled me!) I’d also heard they draft for taller, broader-shouldered figures, so I went ahead with it after making sure our expectations were the same: I would muslin the pattern, but if the muslin didn’t work there was no expectation I would sew a finished coat. This post is by no means intended to be a straight product review, for two reasons: 1, I altered the pattern quite a bit and completely disregarded the instructions because I wanted to construct my coat using traditional tailoring techniques (my guess is that the instructions would be closer to RTW tailoring) and 2, I think it’s tough to review something objectively you received for free. Andrea has an awesome post on this topic.

Anyhoodles, here’s my disclosure! I received this pattern for free from Named Clothing in exchange for trying the pattern.


crabandbee.com | Named Clothing Yona coat

The design changes I made were as follows:

  • 1″ wider lapels and collar
  • 1″ wider front overlap & adjusted roll line
  • 3″ longer width
  • Combined collar stand and collar since I would be hand-tailoring it
  • Button closure instead of a wrap
  • Welt pockets

Oh, the welt pockets… I had every intention of using the patch pockets included in the pattern. I generally prefer welt pockets but my head was already exploding with all of the steps in the coat and I had happily resigned myself to patch pockets. I waited until I’d sewn the shell to the lining so I could try the coat on. And guess what? the extra inch in the overlap crowded them out; welt pockets it was. I spent two days stewing and making best friends with Claire Schaeffer’s welt pocket instructions in Couture Sewing Techniques. Cutting into a coat front that you’ve underlined, interfaced, tailored, taped and catch-stitched is not for the faint of heart.

crabandbee.com | Winter coat welt pocket

Fit-wise, the design was pretty close for me and the changes were what I might have expected: small bust adjustment, broad/square shoulder adjustment and some futzing wit the back arm scye. All these were made very interesting by the simple fact this coat has raglan sleeves. There is significantly less information available for fitting raglans! There’s still somethin’ happening at the back raglan seams, but hey – I have a full range of motion in a coat, for the first time in my life.

crabandbee.com | Named Clothing Yona coat

I cut out my coat and started sewing before I’d translated all of my design and fit changes to the facings and lining. I had to, or I would have lost the will to make this coat. Still, I was cursing my past self when it came to the lining, and frantically paging through my Joseph-Armstrong textbook  where I once again encountered the dearth of information about raglan coats! Whatever I did – and I really could not tell you what it was – turned out fine.

crabandbee.com | Named Clothing Yona coat lining

I constructed most of this coat using  the “custom” or traditional tailoring methods from Tailoring: Sewing the Perfect Jacket, with one exception – I machine-sewed most of the lining to the front and neck facings. Even though the hems are sewn in by hand, I just couldn’t imagine hand-sewing in my fantastically slippery, heavy lining all the way around. Next time, maybe.

crabandbee.com | hand worked buttonhole

And that anti-climactic finishing step: the buttonhole. I don’t care for bound buttonholes for some reason, so I attempted the hand-worked variety. I found that a couple of days’ practice got me to a buttonhole that was totally fine – it wouldn’t win prizes but it also wouldn’t catch my eye when I was wearing the coat and make me regret not practicing more.

crabandbee.com | Named Clothing Yona coat

I could go on and on about what this coat asked, nay, demanded of me, but I’ll be sharing a brain-dump post later this week with detailed lists of resources I used and my order of operations for construction… so I remember what I did…

About halfway through the coat, I started getting fantasies about other sewing projects: blouses, jeans, quilts, anything and everything. I thought I’d be blowing through quick projects at this point but now that I’ve finished, I haven’t done much other than clean up my sewing space and muslin a blouse. After a two-month project, I guess there’s no rush!

Raglan progression

Like many, I’ve been taken with the raglan-sleeved sweatshirt trend. I had a vintage 1980s pattern in my stash, which turned out to be disastrously large through the armpits, chest and sleeves. (Every time I’m facing extensive pattern changes, there seems to be a McCall’s/Butterick/Vogue sale and a pattern that promises to save me from my fit issues.)

I bought McCall’s 6992 and tried it out using a thrifted jersey sheet. I used my hip size all around, but the bust came out huge. And my sister, bless her heart, tried to hide the wrinkles by pulling the shirt down before taking a picture. I felt like a cat with a coat on.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 | thrifted sheet sewing

Here I am, trying to get that blouson feeling back.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 | thrifted sheet sewing

And here’s the usual swayback scene.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 | thrifted sheet sewing

For Version 2, I traced a smaller size up top graded to the larger one through the hips. I used some organic cotton French terry and honest-to-goodness RIBBING! And please enjoy a liberal dose of wrinkles, because I’ve been living and sleeping in this sweatshirt.

One element that wasn’t clear to me from my research or the pattern art is that the one-piece sleeve has a shoulder dart. At first I was irritated to sew a dart into knit fabric, but it really improves the shape.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992

Satisfied with the fit, I began working on what was my ultimate goal: a raglan-sleeved sweater-knit dress. The only initial change I made was extending the hem. I also underlined the front and back (with cotton-hemp jersey from a failed dye experiment) because the fabric was scratchy. It was supposedly a wool/acetate blend and felt a good deal cheaper / a lot less wooly than its price tag led me to believe.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 dress

After basting together the pieces, I trimmed down the arm/side seam multiple times. I also added a hem band at the bottom and finished the neck and sleeve hems using – surprise! – this tutorial – which adapted quite nicely to my sweater knit.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 dress

I hated every minute of sewing this fabric, but I like the dress quite a bit; it’s warm and easy to wear. There might be some room for improvement in the fit of the back raglan seams, but it’s comfortable.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6992 dress

And speaking of raglans, my coat progress continues. I figured out the main problem with the back fit and added a whopping 3/4″ to the back shoulder seam. Everything fell into place!

crabandbee.com | Named Patterns Yona muslin

I still have some work to do on my lining pattern pieces, but I was starting to feel scattered and kind of hopeless I’d never get to start sewing with my real fabric. So, I’ve begun constructing the shell! I began with the back, just to get my bearings with the fabric and underlining on a simpler piece.

So the verdict after all this raglan-ing? I’m not sure the raglan is the best design for me, as my shoulders are supremely broad and square, but I appear to be riding this silhouette until the wheels fall off.

See you next spring, jacket

One of my big, big sewing focuses right now is sewing myself some outerwear. It’s a challenge, and a very timely one. My winter arsenal consist of a 5-year old puffy down coat and a woefully drafty, short, thrifted Banana Republic thing. My light-weight jacket situation is a little better and includes Minoru, Mini-ru and a thrifted jeans jacket that’s debilitatingly tight across the back. Even though I need winter coats more, starting with a fall jacket seemed prudent and still-useful.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

I downloaded this Burda pattern in May with the best of intentions to start my jacket early, and promptly buried myself in fluffy summer sewing. It didn’t help that the instructions looked like they’d been crammed through an online translator without proofing (how does Burda manage to get all of those weird a’s with carats sprinkled throughout their instructions?). When the weather got chillier in early September, my sense of urgency overcame my mild fear/irritation, and I started my muslin.

What my pattern lacked for in instructions was made up for by (what I then thought was) a perfect fit. The fact that the pattern, chosen for my bust/waist/hip measurements, fit my broad shoulders and upper back should serve as a warning for all you normal- and narrow-shouldered folks!

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

My only fit adjustment was to correct for my swayback. (Now, of course, I see some wrinkles that may have been worth investigating!)

Other deviations from the pattern were as follows:

  • Different, simpler cuffs – the floppy zippered cuffs looked like a nightmare to me
  • Adding a full lining, with an action pleat
  • Underlining the front and back shell pieces
  • Catch-stitching the shell seam allowances
  • Completely ignoring the instructions

My muslin was a black mystery woven with some drape, and my final fabric was a hemp and recycled cotton canvas. Some issues I hadn’t spotted in my muslin showed up in the garment, namely some weirdness through the bust.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

This is me explaining the importance of documenting my side-wrinkles to my photographer/sister. It looks just like a dart, doesn’t it? I love dartless flat-front styles, but they often leave me yearning for easier fitting solutions.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

My favorite element by far is the contrasting bias binding I added to cover the zipper and finish the neckline. Sanae, a connoisseur of tasteful linens, gave me a gorgeous striped specimen that I made bias strips from.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

The jacket doesn’t call for a  lining, but I wanted to get some practice in, and not have to finish my shell seams in a pretty way. I used the very last scraps of a thrifted rayon, first seen here.

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket

I could have spent more time on the fit, in retrospect, but this jacket will be worn next spring. And I feel more prepared to dig into my coat project. I’ve started the muslin process and have been sharing a few in-process photos/soliciting fit advice on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 6.45.11 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 6.44.00 PM

So far, the takeaway has been that my upper back is at least two full sizes larger than my bust. Oh, fitting! Outerwear, onwards!

Late to the (clown) party

crabandbee.com | Pierrot clown costume

Hello, hello! I missed Halloween festivities this year due to a plague that blew through my husband’s family. Ironically, my symptoms came on just as I’d sewn up the last rosette. (Last year, I was still sewing up my tiger costume minutes before I left for my friend’s party; I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t scrambling to get a costume together the day of Halloween!)

Anyway. I have a hard time picking costumes because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get into character. Anyone who’s ever heard me try to speak with a fake accent knows that this concern isn’t unfounded. A clown, I decided, would be perfect – I can make exaggerated faces and hop around silently as well as anybody.

crabandbee.com | Pierrot clown costume

The foundation of my Pierrot-style costume was a billowy white 80’s pajama shirt pattern. I love a full gathered sleeve, costume or not, and I would have welcomed more puffiness. Still, I’m tempted to see if I can integrate it into my daily wardrobe. And really, how different is it from this? The neck and leg ruffles are from a linen sheet gifted from my friend (and cosplay whiz) Meris, and the edges are finished on my serger with a very short stitch length. The rosettes are scraps from this top.

crabandbee.com | Pierrot clown costume

Is there a socially acceptable way to wear a neck ruff in daily life? Should I just do it? I love how it looks.

crabandbee.com | Pierrot clown costume

After getting gussied up for a mini-shoot with my sis, I couldn’t resist running outside to freak Nathan out from his office window. Happy belated Halloween from this clown.


Further adventures in shirtmaking

It’s good to be talking shirts again. The last one I finished was over a year ago! The inspiration for this one was certainly the fabric, a plaid cotton-linen blend I bought this summer with every intention of making something for myself. I was holding the fabric up to my face, using the mirror in Nathan’s office, and pondering what I should make when his eyes lit up and he complimented… the fabric. There is a world of difference between “that’s an awesome fabric” and “that fabric looks awesome on you.” Begrudgingly, I held the fabric up to his face and it looked so much better on him that the decision was made.

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

(The plaids match because I spent what felt like hours making sure – looks like they’re a bit askew in this pic!)

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about plaid placement, spending a little bit of time each day over a week. I drew lines on my pattern where I wanted the dark horizontal stripes to land, pondered the benefits of a yoke on the grain vs. on the bias, sorted out how to continue the line across the sleeve… all efforts that paid off in the end. You can’t just cut into a plaid without a plan, especially when you work with it as infrequently as I do. I believe the last time I touched a plaid was in 2011, on a shirt for myself that has long since been donated to the Goodwill.

I also used this shirt as an opportunity to make the following changes to the McCall’s 6044 pattern:

  • Reduced the sleeve fullness at the bottom by slashing and closing
  • Made what I understand to be a modified French placket
  • Widened the placket to 1.25″
  • Removed 1/8″ from the undercollar and inner collar band seam allowance
  • Added a back yoke (same as black shirt)
  • Graded from a large in the shoulders/arm scye to a medium through the waist (same as both previous versions)

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

Semi-scientific sleeve fullness comparison.

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

I decided to use a French placket with stitching – is there a proper name for this? – because I thought it would both look nicer and be easier to sew. Instead of using the placket piece included in the pattern, I extended the shirt front and folded it over twice and edge- and top-stitched. I love it – how often does “easier” and “better-looking” intersect? Both of the other shirts look puckered where the shirt front and placket were stitched together after going through the wash.

I also used Andrea’s order of operations for sewing on a collar – highly recommended. Instead of fusible interfacing, I used a stiff cotton lawn for my collar and collar band; with the smaller undercollar and inner collar band, the collar curves ever so slightly and is really well-behaved. Still working on the perfect points, though – they’re not as sharp as they look in the image above.


I forgot for a second time that I need to reduce the upper back width; I hackily removed 3/8″ from the back arm scye, grading to nothing at the shoulder, but I think there’s about 3/4″ or more of excess on either side. Unlike me, I think Nathan is broader in the front and may not need the larger size in the back. A pattern-making puzzle to consider; what does that do to the sleeve pattern?

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

This shirt has quickly overtaken the other two as Nathan’s favorite. How gratifying is that? While I’d like to claim that using this gorgeous fabric on something for Nathan is selfless, I really can’t – I get to see him wearing it all the time.


I started the shirt after a post-Scraptember dress break and have since started a jacket I’ve meant to sew since May! If you could see the instructions, you’d know why it never sounded good to start. Why yes, it is a Burda pattern – how did you guess? But it’s almost finished and I’m loving the results. Even if my welt pocket has a pucker in the corner…

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket