Melissa first brought the BurdaStyle Alexander Blouse to my attention. I don't go to BurdaStyle very often and I rely on other people to filter the content for me. Of course, now that Burda proper no longer exists as a website, assuming they ever actually transfer the archives over to BurdaStyle I suppose I'll visit more frequently. It is SO annoying that Burda did that. Ugh.
One of the great things about BurdaStyle is that the patterns come in a large range of sizes--34 to 44 for this one. The other great thing is that anyone in the world can instantly get the pattern for about the same price. Burda is now selling magazine patterns there; they are more expensive (they all appear to be $5.40) and come in the more limited magazine range of sizes. This price per pattern seems quite high, as I pay about $6.67 per issue--only slightly more than a single pattern with no personal expenditure for ink and paper.
As suggested by Melissa, I added a wedge of tissue to the sleeve where the front and back join to ensure that both were on straight of grain. I also added 5/8 inch in width to the front opening edge (or so I thought). The pattern is designed so that the front (and back, if you use the button back--I didn't, just put in a seam) edges abut each other and button with a loop and shank button. The pattern doesn't call for an underlap, but I would certainly have added one if I hadn't extended the front edge. My additional width allows the front edges to overlap so no skin shows through the front button openings, which would not be office appropriate.
When I pinned the facing on, the front facing was mysteriously about an inch and a half too short. The cursing coming from the sewing room drew interest from my boyfriend, who had brought his computer over and was working in the other room. He came in to see what was going on and I explained that something had gone wrong with my project. He glanced over at my wall of fabric and said, very deadpan, "Oh no, and you are almost out of material." Ha ha, very funny.
I walked the pattern pieces and they matched perfectly. I was stumped. It wasn't until I was going to sleep that night that I had my A Ha moment. I had placed the front/back piece on the fabric upside down (with the writing face down) and added my 5/8 inch additional "front" button space to the back, and in sewing had treated the front as the back and vice versa. The front and back are quite similar but not identical; the front has a lower neckline and thus a shorter facing length.
To remedy, I matched the lower facing edge to the lower front edge--leaving the excess overhanging at the neck--and hand-stitched and eased the facing into place, then machine stitched and trimmed away the excess at the neck. At that point, I also shaved off about half an inch from each vertical upper edge so the neckline would open up in a pleasing way. It worked pretty well. The back neck is a little low, but I don't think it's an obvious mistake.
I have been on an inside finish kick lately. For the peplum, I finished the lower edges with a rolled hem. My trick for using the rolled hem foot is to zigzag the edges first to give the foot something to grab onto. I finished each lower peplum edge separately, then sewed them together with a serger French seam. First, sew wrong sides together with the serger, as shown at left. Press the serged seam to one side, then fold over and press the seam flat, right sides together. Then take the second pass with the sewing machine, enclosing your serged seam. Your lower hem will look better at the seams if you do it after making the French seam, but a rolled hem foot is too fussy to accept the bulk of a French seam so I accept a little ugliness there.
Rather than do a Hong Kong Finish underlining with a wider underlining than fashion fabric to roll over the seam allowance throughout the garment, I underlined with batiste, cutting the underlining to the same size as the fashion fabric. I stitched fashion fabric and underlining right sides together for all vertical seams except center front, as that was to be faced. I had intended to hem the sleeve after finishing it with underlining, but my lovely crisp cotton lawn (purchased from Kashi) sticks out a bit rather than flowing at the sleeve edge and I didn't want to make it any stiffer. At the waist seam, I trimmed away the seam allowance of the bodice with the serger and then rolled the upper peplum seam allowance over it for a flat fell finish.
I normally save the list of changes for the pattern review, but since I changed this significantly I'll list them here: -Add wedge of tissue in taping front and back pattern pieces together to preserve grain -Add 5/8" to center front opening for over/underlap at buttons -Shave 1/2" off the upper vertical edge of center front so the neckline falls open a bit (to see what happens when you don't, see this photo from my Vogue 8196 blouse) -Four front buttons -Center back seam rather than buttons -Change back released pleats to darts (I just can't get into a puffy back) -Underline, French seams
Would change if made again: -Lengthen bodice a smidge -Reduce pleat width of bodice back as there is weirdness above the darts (keep in mind that I had the front as the back but on measurement the drafted front is not significantly wider than the drafted back despite the whole bust situation)
Despite the challenges posed by this project, I totally love the final result. It has a lot of interesting design and it's flattering and fun to wear (it needs the belt, in my opinion). This is part of my "endless combinations." You can see it goes with my green skirt and it was my segue into making a red skirt (or skirts, as it turned out, when the first one didn't work out so well).
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.