Friday, April 17, 2009
We have been having somewhat unseasonably cold weather in DC the past couple weeks. I am trying to transmute my bitterness about it into excitement about one last chance to wear my favorite Fall/Winter clothes before they go into the closet for the season. I made this blouse late in the season (January or February, I can't quite recall now) and only had a few opportunities to wear it, so I wore it yesterday. I still love it!
You may remember the hilarity of BWOF's helicopter photo shoot for this one. Despite the more ludicrous than usual photo styling, I totally loved the blouse and lots of people made really cute versions of it so it went on my someday list. When sort of planning a sort of mini wardrobe centered around my thrift store Bennetton jacket and Simplicity 5419 skirt, I definitely wanted to include a blouse or two. I found this fabric in December on the $2.97/yd table at G Street and I can never leave shirtings behind. It goes well with the skirt, though the giant sleeves are a little too uncomfortable underneath a jacket.
My dumb move on this project was not clearing the pieces out of the way while I was still cutting, as a consequence of which I clipped into the hem of the front pieces. Dumb. I fixed the clip by carefully lining up the cut edges and fusing interfacing to the back side and then doing a narrow zigzag/satin stitch over the clip. The fix was almost completely invisible.
When I was planning this project, Cidell warned me that the sleeve pleats hadn't really worked for her--they were too narrow and the sleeve was not as fitted to the arm as pictured. I first put in the pleats as drafted and I think there is a misprint in the pattern. The drafted pleats are about 1/4" and even though there are many many (many) of them, they barely make a dent in the sleeve volume. I went through and doubled the width to 1/2" and that created the look shown in the magazine. The sleeve is not too tight in any way--though it is rather stiff with all the pleats--and the poof at the sleeve cap and above the wrist look just right.
I made my first sleeve vents on this project! BWOF does blouses as the illustrated sewing course often enough that I had read the directions on how to do them many times. Since this poofy sleeve doesn't require the vent to lie flat or look perfect, I decided it was time to try a new technique. I clipped into the sleeve (deliberately this time!), worked my magic with some bias strips, sewed the little "dart" at the top of the binding, and voila! They are not perfect--nothing like Karen's amazing shirt-tailoring skills--but they are not half bad either. I don't think I'm ready to take this technique to prime time, aka a blouse with a traditional sleeve that is supposed to sit flat, but I'm glad I took a stab at it.
There wasn't too much tricky about this blouse, although I had a bit of a time with the length. I still have not figured out the ideal length for a woven blouse, but since I have a relatively long torso I generally lengthen to give me room to maneuver when it comes to hemming. This blouse has a curved hem at the center front, which is formed with the front facing, which extends along the hem to the front dart. So to lengthen the blouse I had to add length not only to the body but also to the facing. I found that I had lengthened it too much at the end and had to cut and overlap the facing, so it's a bit ugly on the inside but doesn't affect how it looks on the outside.
I made this before I had my conversion to "I must add a center back seam to anything fitted for a swayback adjustment and that's all there is to it." So the original back was pretty bad--if you click on the photo to enlarge you will see that there are not just wrinkles but an actual fold of fabric along the swayback. I went in and added a second set of darts to the inside of the first. This improved the fit, but did not eliminate all wrinkles.
This is designed to use snaps; the right front has an underlay and the two edges of the placket are supposed to meet instead of overlapping. I have not had consistent success installing snaps and didn't want to risk it on a blouse. I was going to sew the buttons to the underlay, but then it turned out to be just large enough that I needed to overlap a little to get it to fit well. This sort of defeated the purpose and difficulty of that curved center front hem, alas.
It has BWOF's usual low neckline. My small bust, while creating fitting challenges, has the benefit that I don't really need to worry about that because there's nothing to show. If you have something you want to keep under wraps, you'll need to raise the neckline.
I think this blouse is really cool. The sleeves are totally crazy and outrageous, but the rest of it is pretty normal so the sleeves don't look unprofessional. Made in a sober, traditional shirting it is completely work-appropriate (dressier than my usual work attire, even) but still expresses my personality. It's too late in the year for most of us (Southern Hemisphere excluded!) to get started on this blouse, but don't forget about it! This is another pattern well over a year old that is aging very well.
All photos are here and the review is here.