Hello all! Boy, that was one busy July. We had some Kids Camps and then there was the Renegade Craft Fair - which was awesome - and of course all our classes and people who wanted to buy some fabric. August is shaping up to be a bit more mellow, so we'll get a little R & R before September hits. And since Sew Liberated just released a brand new pattern - the Sunday Picnic Blouse - we can be cute, comfortable and stylish while relaxing!
This blouse is great for an intermediate sewist, and it is cut on the bias so it drapes beautifully. There were a few fitting changes I had to make (along with a design decision) and there is one more fitting change that still needs to be made before I dive into my "real" fabric. The bias cut makes the construction a bit more challenging, but it's not a difficult pattern especially if you have had a class with a facing. I LOVE that the blouse is finished with hem facings instead of a folded hem. It makes the blouse very luxurious - I can't wait to make it up out of Trios in navy - one of the new Alexander Henry lawns! The faux wrap design is really ingenious - elastic is what holds the under-wrap side closed so you just slide it on over your head and tie it shut. Amazing!
Everyone knows that we here at Sew L.A. love and support small companies and designers. Sometimes these small companies do things their own way and that is the case here, with no measurements on the outside of the pattern envelope to help you figure out your size. There is a size chart on the inside at the beginning of the instructions, and it's pretty comprehensive. I do love that they give you two hip measurements, one for high hip and one for low. So, for the record, here are the body measurements for the sizes at the bust:
2/4: 32 - 33"
6/8: 34 - 35"
10/12: 36 - 37 1/2" - that's me!
14/16: 39 - 40 1/2"
18/20: 42 1/2 - 44 1/2"
And everyone is welcome to pull the instructions out at the shop to look at the rest of them.
You can pick a medium weight cotton (especially to try the pattern for the first time) or something a little more lightweight. Besides lawn, the Anna Maria Horner voiles or our Radiance silk/cotton would look incredible! I chose one of our iridescent chambrays in "moth" - green and pink woven together for a little shimmer. Remember - no directional prints or they will be at a 45 degree angle!
The Design Decision: I am not a Huge Bow person. Some people are, and I love them, but it's not for me. So I chopped 10 inches off the ties. I like it for this blouse - I might chop even more off the next time.
The cutting took up some space, so if you can push two tables together or sweep your floor & grab some kneepads! Place your fabric flat (one layer) RIGHT SIDE UP to pin & cut. Do not pin pattern pieces with the printing facing down. All of the bias grainlines are clearly marked, so use your ruler to place them correctly on the fabric. You can also use your tape measure to reach the pieces in the middle of your fabric.
Seam allowances are only 1 cm (3/8") so you can mark your notches with chalk instead of snipping if you like. I used every one of the notches they give you. Make sure to mark the large & small dots on the Right Bodice:
I used fusible knit interfacing because the chambray is very lightweight. You could choose the cotton woven fusible if you were using a more medium weight fabric. Pin & cut your interfacing with THE GLUE DOTS FACING UP! This is really important to make sure the interfacing will match the fabric piece. 1/2 a yard was just enough - larger sizes may want to get 5/8 or 3/4 yards. When fusing, match the fabric pieces to the interfacing as it will be more stable.
Don't forget to staystitch the neckline and arm edges! Bias stretches out of shape very easily and the staystitching will keep it in place.
Some terminology is a bit different in the instructions - I finally figured out that when she asks us to topstitch the facing she's actually asking us to understitch.
Also, I just used my 3-step zig zag stitch to finish all the raw edges of the fabric & facings.
And I graded all of my facings before clipping the curves and understitching.
Assembling the back bodice was quick & painless. After sewing on both Waistbands, you may want to machine stitch the Skirt Back to the outer Waistband, then fold the raw edge of the inner waistband up to pin, press & handsew. The instructions ask you to topstitch through all the layers and I just didn't like the way it ended up looking - I'll handstitch next time.
The Left Bodice has two pleats and a dart, which is what makes it fit so nicely. Here's a picture of my dart, sewn & pressed, and the two pleats pinned in.
Pay attention to the seam allowances in the instructions - in step 7 there is a 3/4" SA and some of the finishing is done with 1/2" - 7/8" folds.
When it comes time to sew the front to the back at the shoulder seams, open out the facings to pin the blouse front to the blouse back, and the facing front to the facing back - right sides together. Use the seam as a notch to help you line them up, and this is also where you want to pivot as you sew. Finish each edge separately, trim off the seam allowance on the facing side, press the seams open and then fold the facings back in place to tack them down.
Once I got the shoulder seams sewn, I basted up the side seams to check the fit. Whooee! I needed to take in the sides a centimeter each (adding up to 4cm or 1 1/2") and I took the whole thing up 1" at the shoulder seams. On me, this raised the neckline, the arm edges and the waistband. I am short-waisted so this will be different on everyone. I recommend pinning the shoulders and basing the side seams so it can be tried on then custom fit. Mark any changes you have made on your pattern for future reference!
I ended up needing to trim the Right Bodice facing a little as it joined up with it's self-tie. So I moved the zig zagging in a bit, trimmed off the extra and handsewed to tack it down.
The glorious hem facings were a breeze to work with. Treat them like any other facing - grade the seam allowance, press it towards the facing and understitch, then press it all to the wrong side. Turn the raw edge under 1" or so to create the hem, press & sew.
I finished the whole blouse by hand, tacking down the facings and hemming, also I decided to hemstitch the bottom edge of the Right Bodice to really keep it in place. You can see now that the waistband is in the right place for me, just above my natural waist:
The last thing I'll have to fix wasn't apparent till I put the finished blouse on. The left bodice works great, the pleats and the dart give it plenty of room for me. But the right bodice is just not wide enough - I'll need to extend the edge about an inch where the two sides overlap for it to be wrapped in the center of my body. I'll do this right on the pattern by adding some paper and tapering it out to the shoulder seam at the top and to the edge of the facing on the bottom. I'll also have to change the right bodice facing piece to match before making it again. Totally worth it!
A big thanks to Meg of Sew Liberated for diving in and creating more clothing patterns. It's a tough, tough job and this is a fantastic pattern!