B6134: the Ponte Version

Well, the ponte version of Butterick 6134 (last week’s shirt) revealed new fitting issues.  I’ll continue to play around with this “muslin” though I hadn’t intended it to be a muslin.  The rayon ponte is from Marcy Tilton – she does carry great knits!

Early morning bathroom selfies:

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What I didn’t notice on the version from last week was the placement of the princess seams. Note that they are way to the outside of the bust apex.  This pattern piece is essentially the same for all sizes in the envelop (size 6-14).  And if it’s too wide on me, running between a size 12/14, imagine the fit on a narrower gal. I’m also a B cup, which is who the big 4 design for.  This has the affect of making me look flat chested.

You can also see other issue areas.  I have pulling now in the sleeve that I didn’t have before… I should mention that I folded out 1/2 inch in front and back on that middle piece, right above the point where the princess seam meets the sleeve to deal with the hollow chest.  I also have some pulling toward the stomach (more planks, less wine?).  And though you can’t see it well, the neck collapses/has too much fabric. What you see in the photo isn’t simply because my arm is raised.  Better picture here:

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I cant rescue this version. I hadn’t noticed the princess seams on last weeks version, so when I did them here, I serged – I have no fabric to play with.  I can still play around with the sleeve and neck.

In any case I’m entertaining suggestions. Right now it’s really not working for me, but I love the lines on this enough I’d like to get to right!

And, if you’re wondering about my long string of failures… I have plenty of clothes (well enough) that I’m moving outside of my comfort zone. I’m trying new styles and new fabrics (too me).  But I’m also finally tackling my most difficult area to fit – tops/shirts. I’ve been avoiding shirts, especially semi-fitted/fitted for a long time.  I need to figure this out – as I have noticed that I have the same problem with dresses.

 

 

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A UFO no more: Butterick 6134

A cute combination of raglan sleeves and princess seams, I chose Butterick 6134 early this summer as a great wardrobe basic.  It’s an easy pattern, but I fell into trouble with it – fabric choice and fitting!

IMG_3604I’ve been cleaning out things around home (including donating 7 amazing RTW designer suits from my suit days to charity and 20 yards of fabric to the art program at my son’s school).  I came across this project I abandoned over the summer and decided to finish it for the lessons learned.  And, voila it works.  While this version is just okay, I have high hopes for the next version!

The pattern:  Butterick 6134, released 2014.  Fitted top with raised neckline.  I chose view B, but with view C’s short sleeves.

The fabric:  The pattern calls for faille, challis, or crepe.  Crisp and architectural or soft and drapey?  I chose a soft white tiny pique cotton woven I bought from Sawyer Brook at least 5 or 6 years ago.  Spoiler:  the fabric doesn’t really work.

Construction: Nothing complicated here.  Except the fit. I cut and stitched a 14 through to adding the sleeves (a 14 – how’d that happen?).  I basted in the raglan sleeves and tried it on.  I thought I was being generous cutting a 14 … but … my midsection …  too tight.  In a fit, I took it off and threw it in the sewing closet where it stayed until I found it last week.

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I tried it on again, now that I soberly realize that I need to fit the body I have, not the body I once had, or think I’ll get with exercise.  It wasn’t so bad.  I let out all the seams in the front and sides (where I needed room), and re-stitched with 1/2 inch seams up until the first darts, where I eased back to 5/8ths.  It fits. I added about 1 inch doing so.

I also noticed when I finished the top that I need to think about one more fitting measure (at least).  I had marked the bust point with tailors tacks, and I noted that the bust point was low.  I pinched out the fabric above the bust between the sleeve seams (but not in the back), and the fit was much better.  I’ve noticed “saggy extra fabric”  in this area before, which leads me to believe that I need to muslin all my tops to check for the hollow chest adjustment.

Would I make it again and what would I change?  Yes, but I would change the fabric (and fit adjustments).  This fabric wrinkles too much, and it’s not “firm” enough.  It doesn’t have the body it needs to look just right. It’s very fitted, so I’d recommend a stable knit (like a ponte).  My next version will be in a grey rayon ponte remnant I picked up from Marcy Tilton.  This version is fine as a layering piece, but I’m not thrilled with it as a stand alone.

In the details (Rebecca Taylor V 1199)

I realized I have a few items I’ve made recently that I haven’t blogged. It’s because somehow, I messed up the fit on these items (or didn’t like the style).  So, a few more mistakes, but for all three, I’m definitely going to do them again!!

IMG_3578A skirt!  Should be simple, right?  That’s what I thought when I decided to make this Rebecca Taylor skirt (V1199) last August.  Done in a day? Sure!  I didn’t pay attention the details at that moment.  The details make this skirt special.  Most I like (but not the fitting detail).

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This skirt has tiny little single welt pockets, a wrap around the waist tab, raised waist with notch detail at the back waist, and is vented.  One detail I missed is the grosgrain edging on the tabs (and ended up not doing, as I didn’t like the match with the grosgrain I bought).

 

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The fabric?  All cotton windowpane plaid from Philip Lim, that I purchased at Emma One Sock as a remnant. I love the fabric, but it does fray.  Next time I tackle welts with this type fabric, I must remember fray check.  I lined the skirt in black silk crepe de chine.

This wasn’t hard, and I managed decent looking welt pockets.  The directions were solid.

The final detail I missed?  This skirt narrows from the hips.  I did my typical fitting adjustments for a skirt, not taking into account that narrowing.  I need more girth through the buttocks and thighs.  So, as much as I love the skirt, I’m going to be donating it.

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I will make it again, but I will need to make those adjustments!

Oh, and did I tell you that I despise working with chiffon?  The vampire dress will be sleeveless.  It’s still in the 80s here anyway.

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The big, crisp, white shirt (V1526)

I love a crisp white shirt.  I reach for one regularly, so I knew it was time to make one.  When I was in NYC this summer, I deemed my wardrobe was in for an upgrade – it needed more style, a little edge.  Enter the Paco Peralto big white shirt (Vogue 1526).

Vogue 1526, Paco Peralta, from Vogue’s website.

The shirt has an interesting rolled collar, fun placement for the pocket, and opportunities to learn/practice tailoring skills.  I need more work on collars, flat-felled seams, and button holes.  I really enjoyed making this shirt.  (Note on pictures:  I re-pressed after these pictures.)

The silhouette? I’m really not sure. In looking at a few of my recent shirt makes, it’s all been about fit and ease.  This shirt is not described as “very loose”,  “loose”, or any of the other clues that Vogue gives about the silhouette.  Judging from the model and the line drawing, I judged it loose fitting – or having a lot of ease.  Even though I think a fitted style is more flattering on me, I once again chose a loose shirt.  This has everything to do with living in a hot, humid, location.

But this shirt is BIG.  I cut a size 12, and didn’t add anything for length.  The sleeves on the model appear 3/4 length, but are closer to 7/8ths or even-full length (no clarification on the pattern description).   Once again, I did not make a muslin, but this was more about learning the techniques than worrying about the fit.  I’m not sure about it, it may grow on me.  I still LOVE the collar, and did enjoy making it.  But I think I’m going to go for a more fitted/semi-fitted shape next.

 

The pattern:  Vogue 1526, by Paco Peralta c 2016.  I made view B, the shirt.  “Shirt has dropped shoulder and long sleeves with cuff.”  End description.  I do plan to make the jacket and pants, but I never had any plans to pair it with the shirt.

The fabric:  an all cotton poplin from Marcy Tilton I bought last year. It’s crisp, and a little difficult to iron – I washed, damp-dried, and pressed with starch the final version of the shirt. I used less fabric than the pattern called for, even with the rolled collar on the bias.  The only interfacing is in the collar – I used the crisp shirt interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, but I’m not sure I thoroughly fused it to the poplin.

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The instructions: are fine.  Definitely baste every time suggested, and more.  You definitely want to baste the placement and seam lines for the shoulder and sleeve seams. I ended up pulling out my first attempt on the shoulders and redoing for not doing so.  Step 22 (slip-stitching the cuff) shows the incorrect drawing:  You should have a right-sided (folded over) cuff slip-stitched to the wrong side of the sleeve seam.  The drawing shows only right-sides.

Will I make it again?  I don’t know.  I think I will scale it back.  Looking at these pictures, it’s almost 80s oversized on me. Perhaps if I wear it untucked, belted. (The angles below de-emphasize the looseness!)

 

Vintage Ralph Lauren tank in silk (V1724)

For most, summer is almost over.  Here, in North Florida, our version of fall will come soon too: its crowning distinction isn’t cooler temperatures, but drier air and no thunderstorms!  (77 days this summer with severe thunderstorms).  That means I can still sew summer-like items.  Unfortunately, this tank failed for me.  Of course, if I had toiled it, I could have made adjustments to prevent the problem.

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Vogue 1724:  I should have taken note of the under arm gap in the photo.

But first, the details:

The pattern:  Vogue American Designer pattern 1724, Ralph Lauren tops c1986. I made view A, the tank, buttoning at the top shoulder.  Absolutely nothing complicated about this one.

The fabric:  a devine 3 ply silk crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Construction notes: nothing of note, really, as this is a simple top.  I did change the button top (I couldn’t find two teeny 1/4in buttons) to snaps, and added a button for decoration.  I used french seams on the side seams, and finished the facing edges with the serger.

The problem? The armsyce is shaped funny and gaps. In the pattern, at the point of the gapping, there are instructions to ease fashion fabric to the facing – but they fit together without the need to ease.  I blithely sewed til completion and was met with disappointment.  I don’t know how to save this at this point, as the armsyce is already rather revealing. The seam has been sewn, understitched, and clipped. I have no scraps left either (though I do have some in off white).  I attempted to snug it up with some narrow clear elastic, but you can see from the photos that it only introduced more problems.

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Here’s what happened when I tried to add narrow clear elastic to tighten it up.

 

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The other side, sans elastic.

What to do?  For the moment, Ralph hangs on the dress form.  I’ve begun a serious weight loss/exercise program, and usually lose in the bust first.  I’d like to see how it hangs after that (at a size 12, it was just a bit too close and pulls some, and the gapping tends to occur above the bust point).

Yes, I’m disappointed.  I had hoped to wear this to work yesterday with a new pair of those fantastic Paco Peralto pants I keep making – this time in a pale pink linen.

Basic, but oh so wardrobe friendly (McCall 7121)

Today, I would have arrived in Ukraine for a few days.  I’m a child of the cold war, coming of age in “West Germany,” graduating from an American military high school in West Germany the same year Chernobyl melted down.  I grew up with Realpolitik and understanding NATO and the Warsaw Pact far better than the US governmental system.  In college, I studied all things Soviet and Russian (and Ukrainian) – politics, language, culture, literature, history, geography.  Even though that world fell shortly after my college graduation, East of the Iron Curtain still fascinates me.  I was excited about Kyiv.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel at the last minute.

This is one of the dresses I made for the trip.  Simple – easy to accessorize with jewelry, hats, jackets/sweaters, scarves.   Modest, because visiting Ukrainian churches requires women to cover knees, shoulders and heads (men have restrictions too).  I like it, and it makes me feel better about my figure (yes, I still have a waistline).  I have some adjustments to do on the fit, but this will be a versatile piece in my wardrobe.

Sometimes, we focus on the fun and funky to blog and forget the everyday.  Well, here’s to the everyday.

From McCall’s website, M7121, view C.

The pattern:  McCall 7121.  This is a basic a-line dress, in three lengths, with options for color blocking or placing stripes on the bias.  Most of the reviews I saw were of the maxi-length, with the bias stripes.  That’s why I originally bought the pattern, but never made it.  I made view C, the just below the knee length, but changed the back. I made a 14, adding two inches to the length at the waist.  After wearing it, I think the shoulders through bust point should be a 12, and I should only have added 1.5 inches (I didn’t account for the slight blousing from the elastic).

The fabric:  a black rayon blend doubleknit from the new Gorgeous Fabrics.  Ann’s out of the black, but she does have it in other colorways.

What I did differently:

  1. I didn’t add the elastic, since I intend to wear this with a belt.  But the rayon is heavy enough that it needs the support of the elastic if you don’t belt it.
  2. The neckline, armholes and hem are the typical narrow hem: fold and press 5/8, open, then fold to the pressed line, top stitch.  This would be bulky in the doubleknit.  I used the lightest interfacing I had (Fashion Sewing Supply, Couture weight) to add 5/8″ strips to all of these edges.  I then serged these edges, trimming off 1/4 inch.  Then, I pressed under 3/8″, and top-stitched.  Cleaner, smoother, less bulk.
  3. I changed the back.  I didn’t want racer back, and I didn’t want a v-back either.  So I meshed together the pattern pieces for view A and view C to fill in the v-neck.

Final thoughts: I like this, but need to continue working to get the best fit.  When I sat in the car, the dress slumped in the front.  I didn’t do it so much at the restaurant (my posture is far better at a table than in a car, obviously).  But I still need to take the shoulders up a bit.  It’s also slightly big in the armhole above the bustline (in front and back).  I’ll make this again, perhaps in a fun print and shorter length, if I find the right fabric.  (Oh, and those front and back center seams – they aren’t straight or on the grainline, so cheating by using the fold line won’t save you time.  They add shape.)

 

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Fitting via Text (3 more McCalls 7079)

Last fall my niece asked kindly for some new skirts and a dress for her bunny.  She lives several states away, so I asked my sister for some new measurements.  I also asked her what my niece wore in RTW for her favorite dress.  Comparing the measurements, I determined that a size 14 (girls) would be the right size, so started on McCalls 7079.

Well, the dress hangs on her and the bunny dress would not button shut.  Fortunately, the dress fit her American Girl doll.  We’re doing this fitting via text message.

I cut out another dress for each and made some adjustments.  A size 12, plus raising the neckline another 1/2 inch (it’s far larger than the envelop shows).  And I added 4 inches to the bunny dress.  I got them there in time for Christmas, and voila!  Perfect.  I immediately cut out two more dresses, thinking I could send them in time for Christmas, but only made them this weekend.

The black and pink floral is a poly ponte from Gorgeous Fabrics.  The brown floral is poly ITY from Gorgeous Fabrics.   The green velvet (Marcy Tilton) is the same velvet I used for my shirt. I didn’t get a new picture of the bunny dress.

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Hope she likes them. I’m partial to the brown floral.

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My experience with McCalls 7542

Apparently, McCall 7542 is one of the most popular patterns of all time.  A simple boxy shirt with sleeve variations.  It’s the sleeve that draws you in and they are ever so popular right now.

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My first try did not please me, however.  I had misgivings from the beginning – mostly about my fabric choice.  I wish I had done a muslin.  Consider this a muslin, but not wearable.

The fabric is a nice crisp red shirting fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I really like it, but it’s better suited to the Donna Karan shirt from Vogue 1440.  I knew this and proceeded anyway, after watching the little vignette on FB from McCalls that structured fabrics work well.  It’s my fault for continuing though.

Since the fabric is super crisp, I went with view C, the pleated sleeves.  I lengthened it the top, as the cropped version would not work for me.  I spent a great deal of time basting to get perfect pleats (and I got them).

Generally speaking this is an easy pattern.  Here is where I encountered problems:

  1.  The neckline.  It doesn’t call for stay-stitching, but I couldn’t get the facing to lie flat without lots of clipping, so stay stitching is a must.  It still doesn’t look great though it’s hard to see in the photo. IMG_2886
  2. The sleeves, part 1.  As I noted above, I took a  great deal of time basting, and executing those pleats perfectly.  I didn’t miss.  But the lower sleeve is smaller in circumference than the upper sleeve by about 3/4 of an inch.  Others have mentioned the need to ease here, and I did need some of that to ease the two, but I did take in the underarm sleeve about 1/4 inch first.
  3. The sleeves, part 2.  Even after taking out 1/4 inch in the armscye by bringing in the underarm sleeve, I couldn’t ease this sleeve cap properly.  Multiple tries yielded terrible results. I don’t think it’s because there is too much ease (I think it’s probably right), but here is where my fabric choice failed me – this fabric is difficult to ease.  Keep that in mind when you choose the fabric.  The photo shows my basting stitches as well.IMG_2887
  4. Fit – You can see on the model that the top doesn’t fit her well in the upper chest.  Mine doesn’t either, even though I’m narrow and shallow there.  I get pulling on the sleeve (not the bust – but above it).  The bust dart ends in the wrong place too (too low for me).  I think these are specific to me – I usually make a 12 (often a 10 in shoulders) without issues. I’m not really sure how to fix these issues – I may experiment with changing the shape of the armscye.  None of my fitting books seem to address this, except that that Vogue Sewing suggests making the changes to the bodice, not the sleeve.  It’s as if I need more width across the upper chest.  Hard to describe, and I could not get a good picture.  In the photo, on my dress form, it looks perfectly fine (though you can see the bust dart is too low).  On me, it pulls at about the point where the ease dot would be.  Note it pulls to the hip – I didn’t add circumference when I added length.  Another thing to fix. IMG_2888

I like the top enough to work on the problems, and to look for a more suitable fabric.  For now, this top is finished, while I turn to finishing another project.

Style Arc Skye Top

img_2466I’ve been working on improving my wardrobe, both everyday and work.  It turns out, finding a good top pattern for wovens, that also works for my body and personality, is really challenging.  I’ve been perusing Nordstrom, and with their liberal return policy, getting a sense of what works beyond the basic blouse, but still trying new things with patterns and fabrics.  Personally, knits don’t work well in this climate – too clingy – and fitted designs don’t work as well with my middle-aged weight gain (and clingy in humidity).

I originally bought this gorgeous blue and white stripe stretch cotton sateen (from Gorgeous Fabrics), with Nicola Fineti’s crop top in mind (Vogue 1486).  I knew from the outset it would be too short, and that the oh-so-trendy crop top wouldn’t work for me right out of the envelope.  But given the construction,  I had a minimum number of seams to match.  Spoiler – it didn’t work.  The muslin showed it to be much shorter than it looks!  As in, 4 inches above the navel!  Granted, I’m long waisted,  but…  And something was weird about the neckline, ‘sleeves’, and bust darts.  Oh, I will play around with the muslin eventually, but I’ve set that aside.

img_2461I turned to the Style Arc Skye top.  This is a really cute top and I like it when I don’t raise my arms and have the right bottoms (I’m wearing the Style Arc Anna pants). I love the fabric’s weight, stripes, and colorway. (Check out that matching!)

I didn’t make a muslin, but I wish I did.  It’s shorter than you would think.  The front hits be about one inch below the navel, so it’s also slightly cropped. And it turns out, I don’t really like crop tops.  I will make this again, but I’m going to be adding two inches to the midsection.  One inch will be between the armcyse and the bust dart (which is too high) and one in the midsection proper. Why? Where the top joins at the sides, with its cute shirt-tail curved hem, is far too high up for my comfort… though with a high-waisted skirt or pants it would work.  I can’t tuck this in, so it’s a boxy silhouette.

The baimg_2469ck has a keyhole neckline, but it turns out that I don’t need it to pull the top on – I always forget to unbutton when I change.

Construction-wise, this is easy.  Based on the website, I chose size 10, though the fit seems a bit off, perhaps a size smaller, especially if a drapier fabric? Tips:  neaten (serge/overlock) your edges prior to sewing, complete the arm “hem” after the side seams.  I also went a bit narrower than the recommendation for the top-stitching.

As always, photography is not my forte, so forgive me.  These pictures were taken after wearing several times and are wrinkled from wear.

 

 

Hot weather comfort: Style Arc Anna Pant + McCall’s 7411

I’ve been away for a while, at 8000 feet, with no humidity.  I’m back in Florida, and not only is my sewing mojo in full swing, it says: comfort clothes, please; nothing too tight!  So, flowing  linen pants paired with a loose cotton voile top was my choice.  I’ve had the Style Arc Anna pant on the docket for a while, and decided to pair it with View C of McCall’s 7411 tank.  The navy stretch linen and the printed cotton voile are both from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I love the fabrics absolutely and both were very easy to work with.  The Style Arc Anna pants are fantastic, the top doesn’t pass the wearability test.

As always, photography is not my strong suit, the pictures are barely adequate.

Style Arc Anna: This is a straight leg pant, with a drawstring.  This pattern is super easy to make and goes together well.  If I make it again, however, I will purchase the pattern, rather than use the PDF.  I had a lot of trouble with lining everything up, and I’m pretty sure the pants are slightly off grain as a result.  I’ve used many other PDFs before, but this is my first Style Arc attempt – it may be my printer.

From the Style Arc website:Anna Pant - Straight leg drawstring pant, casual & sporty

I really love my Lily Pulitzer beach pants, but not the $180 price tag that comes with them. I wear the medium in Lily; here I sewed the 10 with only one modification.  The crotch curve (more of an L than a J) and rise match the Lily pant perfectly.  However, I wanted to make sure that the leg had enough ease to swish – and my thighs measure 23″ at their fullest point (hey, I run). So, I added 1/4 inch to the outside front and back seams, for a total 1/2 inch each leg.  Perfect – not tight when I sit, and the right amount of flowy beach swish when I sit.

The lily pant has three inches of ribbing for a lower rise pant, and the drawstring is merely decorative.  I didn’t have ribbing, so I constructed the fold-over waistband as directed.  I did switch out the fabric drawstring for navy 1/2 inch twill tape (much more comfortable, less bulky) and used 1/4 inch eyelets instead of button holes.

Last, an important improvement over the white Lily pants; – the 31.5 inch inseam is perfect to wear with flats/flip-flops.  The Lily pants are longer, requiring 3 inch heels, hemming, or rolling up.

This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I like it enough to try another, especially in pants.  I also love these pants and can see myself wearing these regularly.

McCall’s 7411 Layered Tank:

From McCall’s webpage, view C

I chose this pattern, but wasn’t thrilled with it.  The line drawings showed potential, even though I didn’t like the way it fit the model. I thought it was simply a lack of effort from the manufacturer, especially since the pressing job was less than adequate.  I also thought the neckline was boring.  I thought I could improve on this one, but I was wrong.

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There is a lot of ease here.  I mean a lot.  I wear a 12, but sized down to the small (8-10).  The finished measurements for the medium are 41″ (bust), 44″ (waist) and 37.5″ (bust) and 40.5″ for the small.

I decided that I wanted to add piping to the neckline and armholes, though I considered other options.  I made my own piping using the facings from view A as a guideline (cut on the bias) with 1/4″ piping.  This decision led me to abandon the order of construction.

I had never made my own piping before, nor added it to a neckline.  I referenced a few sources, but none that I found quickly suggested how to do it sandwiched this way.  I found, after doing the neckline, that the piping foot did not give me a tight “pipe” or abutment to the fabric edge.  I used a traditional zipper foot and was far more successful in getting the look I wanted. You can see the piping in the pictures below, and the rearview problems as well.

For the neck, I made the piping, stay-stitched the edges, then basted it to the overlay.  I then added the base layer and stitched.  I closed the back opening as directed at this point in the directions.  I did the same thing with piping the armsyce, except this time I stitched the piping to the overlay, pressed and then hand stitched the base layer in place (I couldn’t figure out how to turn things otherwise).

I was surprised at how comfortable the fabric is, but how terribly this wears.  I took great pains with the pressing, yet I still end up with the wrinkles and pulls in the chest and “sleeves” as in the model.  I also get gaping at the back opening, and it’s not just from the pose.  The darts are all wrong – two short, wrong angle.  I thought, okay, fine for grocery shopping.  But all the fit/pressing issues only got worse in real life.  So, this shirt is for the charitable pile.  I love the fabric, though and will be re-ordering it, but I doubt I’ll make the top again.