Tag Archive | weight

Derek The Dimetrodon

Do you remember yarn dye lots? If you do, you might be as old as a dinosaur! (Pun Intended)IMG_3391

But, seriously, I remember the phrase “and make sure it is the same dye lot” from my childhood. Every time I was sent to the store to buy yarn for my mother or grandmother this phase was spoken to me, and I took it seriously and made sure to purchase the same dye lots if I could.

I remember the matching issues my mother and grandmother faced when they ran out of a color of yarn of a specific dye lot in the middle of a project. It was a real problem back in the day, and it took a lot of thought in designing and matching yarns to complete a project when they ran out of a color of a specific dye lot.

IMG_3906For my younger readers, let me quickly explain what a dye lot is. 15 years or so ago yarn manufacturers would dye or color a specific batch of yarn in a specific factory and they would give that batch a specific dye lot number indicating that all those skeins were dyed together and so the color variations would be little to nonexistent.

The next batch they made in that color would have a different dye lot number, and although they would dye with the same dye formula, there might be a slightly different coloration of the yarn depending on how the yarn took the dye. The batches would basically be using the same color but the yarns color would come out different enough that if used in the same project you could see the differences.

IMG_3904Today, because of more modern manufacturing processes, the manufacturers of yarn have the yarn color dyeing process more perfected and so there is really no need to give each color batch a lot number. Because of that, the variations in todays dyed batches of yarn colors is not really noticeable when making something and skeins from different batches are used in the same project.

So, today when you purchase a skein of Red Heart “Buff” brown yarn on Monday and another skein from a different store on Monday five years from now, you don’t have to worry about when these skeins were dyed or if they can be used in the same project. They can. Unless you are using very old yarn that still has dye lots listed on the labels anyway.
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So, what does all this have to do with my latest amigurumi project, Derek the dimetrodon? You see, when I started to crochet the pieces for Derek, rather than digging through my box of green yarn for a new skein of Red Heart Spring Green, I simple grabbed the remainder of a skein from my yarn basket and got crocheting.

I was able to crochet all of Derek’s pieces with this partial skein except for one foot.

No problem. Since there should not be a worry about dye lots, I simply went to my box of green yarn, pulled out another skein of Spring Green and crocheted the last foot.
IMG_3392But as I started to sew Derek’s pieces together, I noticed right away that the fourth leg from the new skein was smaller in size than the other legs.

Had I possibly pulled my tensions tighter as I crocheted the last leg? I decided to crochet another leg and see what size it turned out.

Upon completing the leg, it measured the same size as the 4th leg I had crocheted from the same skein of yarn. So, even though I did not have to worry about the color of the yarn, i.e. the dye lot, the yarn from the two skeins were different somehow and they were crocheting differently.

DSCN4302That is very Interesting I thought to myself. I guess that in using some older yarn and some newer yarn together in the same project together they had been manufactured in slightly different widths or perhaps a slightly tighter twist? I guess that is another question to figure out at a later time. In any case I will do some testing on a few future projects to find out what went wrong.

DSCN4304Luckily, this was a quick fix that did not take a lot of thought or redesigning or matching. I simply used the two smaller legs as the front legs and the two larger legs as the hind legs.

Once all the legs were sewn to the body, it was hard to see the different sizes. Unfortunately, I now have one extra leg from this project. Does anyone out there need a spare dimetrodon leg? If so I have one!

In the end Derek the dimetrodon turned out very cute, even with his smaller front legs. Derek is now looking for a good home and a good friend to play with him!

Until then, crochet forth and dye lot on!

Applying The Lessons Learned

IMG_0016After being so pleased with the construction process of the dinosaur vest, and then so flustered by the construction of the ant jar vest, I wanted to make another vest. And in the process I wanted to apply the lessons that I had learned and to end the vest making process on a more positive note.

So, I grabbed some more bottom weight scraps from my pile and some monkey printed flannel and I got started! As I laid out the fabric to cut, I spied some pleather that I had waiting to make its way it to the stash. Oh yes! I would give this vest a pleather collar and welt pleather pockets to step up the style!

DSCN3956With the design completed, I started to cut out the fabric. Because I was working with scraps, I did not have a single piece big enough to cut the back of the vest on the fold, so I would need to add a back seam to this vest. A back seam would not affect the wear or the construction of the vest so I saw no problems in having a back seam. Applying the lessons learned from the previous vest constructions, I remembered to cut the extra inch for the buttons on the fronts of both the top fabric and the lining. I also remembered that I wanted to add some interfacing to the pleather the next time I used it. Soon, I had all the pieces cut out, interfaced, and I was ready to start sewing.

DSCN3957The first step in the sewing process was the embroidering of the monkey design. Remembering the lessons learned from before about placement, I thought long and hard about the placement of the embroidery design versus the size of the design and the collar before I finally hooped the fabric and stitched the design. When the design was completed, I saw that I was not going to have an issue with the collar covering the design. If fact, I had over compensated and I was wishing that the design was a little higher than it was. Even though, the monkey design is the best placed embroidery design I have done on these vests, I still have a few placement lessons left to learn.

DSCN3700The next step was to sew the pleather welted pockets. As I debated about the placement of the welts, the husband peaked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. When I showed him the pleather welts, he said no, that I should make patch pockets like on the dinosaur vest from the pleather. I explained to him that I already had the welt pockets cut out and interfacing applied to the pleather welts, but he insisted that I should cut new patch pockets from the pleather instead. Since I know that the husband has a good eye for design I followed his lead and cut out some new patch pockets from the pleather and sewed them on the front of the vest. The pockets came out great! The pleather was easy to sew and the pockets look very good on the front of the vest. Plus, the monkey embroidery design sits at the top of the pockets so it is now not too low.

DSCN3702When it came to the pleather collar and the pockets, I remembered lessons learned about using a press cloth to iron the pleather. I top stitched the edge of the collar so that it would match the stitching on the pleather patch pockets. The rest of the sewing process went smoothly, even the stitch in the ditch seam of the band.

When it came time for the buttons and buttonholes, I applied the lessons learned from the previous vest’s buttons and buttonholes. I decided not to have a button at the top of the vest, but to place the first button so the vest was open as I expected the vest to be worn. I then spaced the other buttons appropriately. The buttons looked like they were in the right place and there was no seam issues when sewing the buttonholes.

DSCN3963I am super pleased with the end results of this vest! It is just adorable!

And as much as I hate to say it, the husband was right and I just love the pleather patch pockets!

The pleather patch pockets are just perfect with the monkey embroidery design and the pleather collar.

Plus, I am super pleased with myself for remembering and applying the lessons learned from previous sewing projects.

I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing this vest as much as I have enjoyed making it. With the success of this vest, I am ready to more on from vest construction to other sewing projects, but I will happily make more vests at anytime.

Until then, sew forth and apply your lessons learned on!

Ode To My White Pants

white-pants

Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
Oh how I love you so!
I wish you would last forever,
But then I’d have nothing to sew!
Oh white work pants, oh white work pants,
I will miss you so!

Each year as Labor Day draws near, I weep. Besides the end of summer, Labor Day means it is time to return my beloved white pants to their rightful spot in the closet for another winter season. And as this Labor Day approaches, I weep even more for this is the last year I will wear this particular pair of white pants. They have been a tried and true friend for many a summer now, but they are starting to show their age and it is now time for them to go to the old clothes heaven in the sky. Or maybe just goodwill.

Some 15 years ago, I decided that my wardrobe needed some white pants. Now, I am very particular about the fabric that I use to make my pants with. Not just any old white fabric would work for these pants. I wanted them made in white denim. And it had to be “white” denim, not cream or egg shell, or an off white color. Also it could not have too much lycra in it. And it had to be strong enough to withstand the day to day wear and tear of work, but still not be stiff and heavy. It had to wash easily and well, because as you know white attracts everything. It had to be thick enough not to show any unmentionables that may be worn under it, but not so thick that it wouldn’t breath well on the hot summer days. After a great deal of shopping, I found my white denim fabric.

Basic_Baggy_White_Chef_Pants_11I washed and dried my white denim fabric throughly as I knew it would shrink. Using my good old pants sloper pattern, I made my white pants. And they were a dream! I loved them the first day I wore them. I felt and looked good in them.

After the first summer of wearing my white pants, I carefully cleaned them, and put them away to wear again the next year. Each Memorial Day, I pulled my precious white pants from the closet and wore them every chance I got through the summer months until Labor Day, when they again returned to their winter home safe in my closet.

After a couple of years, on one particular Memorial Day, I pulled the white pants from their resting place, only to find that the winter had been especially harsh to me. My lovely white pants no longer fit so well. Due to a little weight gain, the pants legs were now too high off the ground and were high waters. I let the healthy hem they had out and re-hemmed them with the shortest hem I could. The new hem was only about 1/4 inch, but this new hem allowed me to wear my white pants for that year.

4102_10914_Khakicargo_frontOver the years as my weight has waxed and waned, my white pants have hung in there. Some years they fit better than other years but I could always wear them each summer. On the years that I was waxing, I refused to dry my white pants in the dryer and often accused the husband of washing them in hot water. On the waning years, I did not pay as much attention to how they were laundered. I wore them through thick and thin.

As I have worn my gorgeous white pants this summer season, I have noticed that they are showing signs of wear. I was truly saddened by this but what could I have expected after 15 or so years of wear? The tiny hem they have is fraying. The white denim is thinning especially in the seat area from friction wear and the seams are starting to split out.

Throughout the summer, I have mended them several times, hoping that they will make it just one more day, and bless them, they have. I have worn them faithfully all summer long. But as I washed them for the last time this summer, I see that images-3it is time for them to be retired. There is no need on packing them away for another 9 months until next summer. They will not make it through another season. It is finally time to let them go.

Luckily, I am a fabriholic. When I found this perfect piece of white denim and turned it into such fabulous pants so many years ago, I quickly returned to the fabric store and bought enough for a few more pairs of pants. This fabric has been hiding out in the stash ever since then just patiently awaiting its turn to be my next beloved pair of white pants.

Now, I have my work cut out for me. I have just one short winter to get another pair of perfect white pants made before next summer arrives!

Wish me luck!

Until next time, sew forth and white pant on!

I’m an Avocado, and your a Peach!

2840100105001For many years now I have read the fashion design books and web sites about body shape, and for all my life I have been an apple shape, round all the way around and even red after climbing a flight of stairs. Now that I have lost some weight, I am becoming more of a pear shape because of how I am losing the weight. I have lost most of the weight so far in my arms, legs, bust and neck areas. I have even lost weight in my wrists, fingers and toes.

For pete’s sake!

Now all of my watches, bracelets and rings are all too big and will have to be resized. And I guess I am not as big boned as I always thought I was after all, because I now have much thinner wrists and fingers.

Darn!

It’s not all good new though, since my weight around my middle is not departing as nicely or as quickly as I would have liked. But since I have more weight to lose all over during the next year or so, I can’t yet say what my final shape will be in the end, but for now I am calling myself an avocado. So, with that shape in mind, I pulled out my next sloper pattern, a v-neck, button up the front, no collar shirt, to be altered for my current size.

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P1030439To start out, I took a few measurements off of my recently altered t-shirt patterns, some measurements from my current shirts that fit ok, and some new measurements of myself. The first alteration I made was take 1/2 inch out of the shoulders at the neck and tapered the shoulder seam to the armscye on both the front and the back of the shirt. This took 2 inches out of the neck in total. This in turn helped to bring the shirt back up around my neck, shortened the shoulder seams, brought the sleeve up more onto the shoulder and reduced the amount of cleavage that wanted to show. Wow, you wouldn’t think that small of a change would make so much difference, but it did. The next alteration I made was to take 1 inch off of each side seam.

After looking at the new cut line and my measurements and remembering my new avocado shape, I decided to taper the side seams and add the inch back into the hips. This gave the shirt a “A” shape. I was concerned that this was going to make the final shirt look too blousey at the bottom, but since P1030433this is just a trial shirt I decided to leave the “A” shape alone for now. Taking an inch off the sides meant that the bottom of the armscye was higher and that the armscye was now smaller so I had to take an inch off the sides of the sleeves too.

I did decide to leave the shirt the same length for now, because I figured I would be sewing a good sized hem on it because of my bust being smaller now. I did remember to do the final alteration needed and take the 1/2 inch off the shoulders of the facings just like I did with the shoulder seams so that the facing and shirt would match. With this all done, I was ready to cut out the fabric and sew it up.

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P1030436Since this was just a trial for the newly modified pattern, I picked a fabric that wasn’t my favorite but yet was nicer than my last trial shirt and could be worn to work. After washing, drying and ironing the fabric, I got to the cutting table. Because I did not know if my new alterations were correct, I did not want to just chop up my old sloper pattern, so I made slits in the pattern and folded the old pattern to my alterations lines to make the new cuts. This way if I need to adjust something later on the pattern was still usable. Later on, I would learn that this was a very wise move on my part.

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The sewing of the shirt went smoothly except for the interfacings. I don’t believe I will live long enough to completely master interfacing fabric. I had been using a sew in interfacing that sewed in just fine but now that it is attached to the fabric is too heavy. Maybe it will soften up with a few washings. One can hope I guess. Once again, since this is just a trial shirt, I just chalked the wrong type of interfacing up to a lesson learned. After finishing the shirt, I decided that the design and color of the fabric was just too busy for an embroidery design so I declared the shirt finished. Now it was time for the most important part, the wear test.

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P1030369I have wore this shirt a couple of times and although there is nothing wrong with the shirt and it is very wearable, I am going to make some more alterations in my pattern for my next shirt. Whie standing the shirt is fine, but when sitting the shirt presents some problems. I need a little room put back in the bust. I am ok with this because it will get rid of the “A” shape of the shirt which did turn out to be more blousey than I wanted at the bottom in my last trial shirt. I will have to add the same amount back in to the sleeves as well so I may need to lift the armscye up a bit so that I don’t lose that alteration when I add it back to the side seams. I also need to adjust the length of the next shirt trial, especially in the slits in the sides. The slits are there to help give you some extra room in the hips when you sit down, but the slits in this shirt are not high enough to do their job properly, so some adjusting is needed there.

The shoulder seam alterations seem to be good though and I like the fit around the neck. And after a couple of washings, the interfacing has softened up a little, but I am still very unpleased with the interfacing in this shirt. But that has nothing to do with my alterations. Yet, it was another good sewing lesson learned. Practice and patience is the key to all sewing, you know.

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I was, of course, hoping that this shirt, like the t-shirt, would be a good fit after the alterations but I knew not having the stretch of the knit to help the fit that my first try with it would not be perfect. And with that in mind, instead of moving on to my next sloper pattern, I have decided to do the right thing and make the new alterations to this pattern now and make another shirt from the newly altered pattern to get it right. As much as I want to say “Ok, that’s done.” I know that this is going to be a long process and I have to do it right. So its back to the drawing board for a few more revisions until I am happy with it.

The Long and Winding Road

941656_515344308514980_1754325710_nAnd so it begins. So in the last 18 months I have been able to loose some weight and keep it off. I’m pretty proud of myself. Although this is great news, it has caused a couple of sewing issues to arise. Namely all of my clothes are fitting me like plastic garbage bags and all my basic sloper patterns now need to be adjusted before I can start sewing myself some new clothes. Altering clothes and patterns is not one of my strong suits. I really hate to unpick seams. I am just lazy at heart. When I make something that needs to be taken in or let out, I take the easy way out and say that I will just adjust it the next time I make the pattern.

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P1020785This dilemma would have happened sooner, except I am like most women and I have a stash of clothes that I have out-fatted over the years but just could not bare to part with. And just knowing that someday I would drop those extra pounds and be able to wear those clothes again. And recently I have been wearing those clothes, but I am being teased about my ’80s shoulder pads and I can’t wear my ’90s grunge to work, so it is time to break down and either alter my recently made clothes or alter my patterns and make new clothes.

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Because of my hatred of unpicking seams, I decided to start out by altering my sloper patterns. While wearing one of my favorite ’80s shoulder pad shirts, I remembered that years ago my mom helped me to take a pattern from this shirt. Was there any chance I still had this pattern hiding in the back of my pattern box? This would be a great starting point if I did still have this pattern. Luckily, being the pack rat I am, I did still have that pattern.

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P1020787I decided to start this pattern altering journey with my t-shirt pattern. With the help of the old ’80s pattern and some new measurements, I cut out a current sized t-shirt for me. And I picked a fabric that I have a lots of, and am not the fondest of, to give this new sloper pattern a try. The sewing part of the t-shirt was pretty standard fare. I did try the shirt on a couple of times during the sewing process just to make sure I was on the right track.

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With the sewing of the t-shirt completed and the fit seeming to be good, I decided to do some embroidery on the shirt. When I started this project, I was not going to embroider a design on this shirt. Why would I waste the time and thread on a pattern fitting trial project? But, I was pleased enough with the fit of the final shirt to embroider on it so I did. I picked the Pig Pen design because I really like it and have always wanted a shirt with Pig Pen on it and I just hadn’t got around to it. You see lots of shirts with other peanuts characters on them but not usually Pig Pen alone. Plus, he looks good with the green stripe on the fabric, and since it is a casual shirt, he fits in on it quite well.

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P1020793As I was digging in the closet for the ’80s pattern, I found this black, white and grey striped t-shirt that I had made for myself about 5 years ago. It did not fit very well at the time I made it because the stripes are painted on the knit fabric and the paint took all the stretch out of the fabric. So, it was tucked into the closet for some later day project and that some day was now. It now fits me much better so as long as I had the embroidery thread and stabilizer out, I decided to add a design to this shirt as well and have another better fitting wearable shirt.

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P1020794Now for the biggest test of this whole project. The wear test. And after having wore both shirts a few times, the Pig Pen shirt fits pretty good and is very comfortable to wear but I believe that is due to the knit fabric. If I did not have the stretch of the knit would my alterations be correct? So, I am not saying that I have officially completely altered my t-shirt basic sloper pattern to its new size, but I am getting very close to it. And I am not going to be tracing a new final pattern from the mishmash of the two patterns just yet. But I am using those as a base to use on my next sloper pattern, my v neck no collar pattern, and that will be made from a woven cotton fabric. By the time that one is made and wear tested I should have a completely new pattern with the correct sets of adjustments that I can use for some future sewing projects for myself.

Bugs and Bunnies and Hearts, oh my!

P1030086Happy Valentines Day!

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I wonder what I should get for my valentine this year? A card? Perhaps some candy? How about a love bug or a love bunny?

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While I was surfing on Ravelry.com recently, I found several fun patterns for Valentine’s Day and so I decided to try a couple of them out. The first was a bunny pattern. It looked just like a giant gummy bear bunny! In PINK no less! The picture on the pattern was so cute, I knew that this might be a possible gift for my valentine. And so I promptly ignored the instructions on the pattern as to the size of hook and yarn that I should use, and instead I picked up my size G hook and Red Heart yarn and started to crochet it. I have done this before and the project has turned out just fine if not great, I thought to myself as I P1030084was remembering my previous project of escargot the snail. Well, this time I was not to be so lucky. As I crocheted, the bunny just kept getting bigger and bigger. All of the cuteness was draining from the bunny with each stitch I took, but still I continued to crochet it anyway. When the 4 pieces of the bunny were all crocheted up, I did not like the size it had turned out at all. I debated about not spending the time or stuffing to stitch him together, but I decided to continue on hoping that after being stuffed and stitched some of the cuteness would return. But it didn’t. I then stitched in the bunnies face in black yarn, but it looked so harsh on the pink that I took it out and stitched it again in brown. Compared to the picture, this bunny was just not the cute little love bunny I wanted to give to my valentine. I debated about making another bunny with the correct size of hook and yarn that the pattern called for, but I was tired of the pattern already and I just wanted to move on.

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P1030087With that decision past me, I decided to give the love bug pattern I had found along with the bunny a try next. It called for a size G hook and red and pink yarn and that is what I already had handy, so I was all set. It’s four parts crocheted up quickly. I thought I would have a problem with the heart wings but they were quite easy to make. I could tell as soon as the parts were crocheted that this little love bug was going to be just as cute as the picture had shown it, and it would be a fine gift for my valentine. The details of the bugs details with the pipe cleaner antennas and the placement of the heart wings, took some time to decide on, but were well worth the time and it turned out very cute. Once my first love bug was done, I thought it was just adorable and so fun to make that I decided to make another. For the second one I used a size F hook and different colors, just to see what I got. The results were just as cute as the first. The size of the hook used did not seem to make much of a difference. And it was fun to make the pattern again. Because the detail decisions had already been made on the first bug, the second love bug in white, worked up very quickly. I did not crochet the stripes in the white love bugs body as I had the first one, and when he was done, he was so white that I went ahead and added the dashed lines of red to his body. I like the look of it and it breaks up the solid white body nicely.

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P1020879I wanted both the bunny and the bugs to stand up by themselves so I added some pony beads to the bottom of their bodies to give them some bottom weight before I stuffed them. The bunny was going to need a lot of beads for weight to stand up, so I made a little pouch first to hold the beads together in the bottom and to hide the color of the beads. I did not really worry about matching the size of the bottom too closely or how round or neat the pouch looked since no one would ever see it but me, so the pouch was simple and quick to make. And it worked out great! Because the pouch of beads worked so well in the bunny, I made another pouch for the beads in the pink bug too. It worked just as well as the bunny’s pouch had. On the white bug though I just added the beads to the bottom of the bug without a pouch. There is only about 10 beads in the bottom of the bugs so I wanted to see if it made a difference, pouch or no pouch. I also had white colored beads so I did not have to worry about the color of them showing through the yarn on the white bug. I don’t really see much difference between the two bugs as far as the weight goes. This has led me to concluded that if the amigurumi is small, it doesn’t matter if the weights are in a pouch or not, but I believe that the bunny due to its larger size is better off with its beads in a pouch so they stay in place in it’s bottom.

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And now that  my gifts are all ready for my valentines this year, will you, will you be mine?

 

More Leftovers

There is always good news and bad news in people’s daily lives on this planet. Mine is no different. The good news is that the husband has lost some weight, and the bad news is that his shirts that I previously made him no longer fit well. And, the terrible news at least for me anyway, is that I needed to alter his basic sloper shirt pattern to fit him better at his current weight. And as much as I didn’t want to mess with his sloper pattern, his collars and necks are looking so big and sloppy that I had to take action now.

I knew that altering his pattern would have a cascade effect. Making the neck opening smaller would change the curve of the yoke which would have to be redone, and then the tab adjusted along with it. And that would also end up making the shoulder seam longer which really needs to be shorter as it is. And then that would mess with the armscye and so on and so on.

Wow! Perhaps it would be easier to just throw away his current sloper pattern and start fresh?

After a lot of thought, a simpler answer occured to me. Luckily the neck opening is big all the way around the neck so, if I took some out of the top of the shoulders, that would make the neck opening smaller without affecting the curve of the neck so it would not end up affecting the yoke or tab. And taking some out of the shoulders would also make the shoulder seam a little smaller without affecting the armscye. This sounded like the answer.

I decided to be conservative and only take 1/2 inch out the the seam, front and back, to total 1 inch on each side. And I just folded the pattern down the 1/2 inch so in case this was the wrong path, I had not chopped up the original sloper pattern. I then cut the fabric out and sewed the shoulder seam to test my theory, and then I had the husband try it on. It looked good so far. Taking the 1/2 inch out brought the neck opening back up to where I wanted it to be.

Next I continued on with the construction of the shirt. And I had the husband try it on frequently throughout the process to make sure it was all was fitting well along the way. I did end up cutting the back curve of the neck opening down just a little, maybe 1/8 inch before I sewed the collar on and I did have to cut 1/2 inch off the top of each yoke to match what I had removed from the shoulders. When the collar was finished I had the husband try it on once again and it all looked good still.

After some other alterations to the side seams, I noticed that I had plenty of scraps left over from the cutting out the husband’s shirt. Even though this fabric is just a single knit, it was easy to sew so I decided to make some kids shirts from the scraps I had left. I was able to cut a size 1 and 2 t-shirt from the scraps. These shirts sewed up quickly and easily. Picking out and embroidering the dinosaurs on them was a lot of fun. Plus there will be no scraps returning to the stash. I ended up using all the fabric I had left over.

I don’t know yet if the alterations I made to the husband’s sloper were the correct ones yet. The shirt will need to pass the wear test to see if the fits as good as it looked when it was tried on. At this point the shirt has been washed and ironed and is hanging in the closet waiting for its turn to be worn. So, I will know soon if the changes I made will work out for now.