This is another project from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. Here is the picture of the Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing (the model is also wearing the head scarf from the book).
This is only my second project that I’ve ever done that involves sleeves, which always seems to intimidate me. After perusing a couple other sites/blogs for errors, this is what I learned:
- There are no basting markings on the sleeves (they were omitted from the pattern)
- The placket plunges really low, only to be mostly sewn back up
- The neckline runs impossibly high
- The hem runs impossibly short
- The sleeves are either way too long, or just right
- The bias tape requirements are incorrect
- The top runs big, and if you’re not careful, will produce the “when are you due” questions
I’m still learning, and a part of that is learning what modifications can be made after you begin sewing (like shortening a hem), and what modifications have to be made before you cut the pattern (like lengthening). This is why it has been so helpful to read blogs about these projects. Right away I knew had to at least lengthen my pattern before cutting. The other modifiations could be made after I cut the fabric (though this results in some waste of fabric, since the pattern would be altered after I was finished, it would not waste fabric for future creations of this blouse).
I think the biggest thing I learned from this project is that sometimes a fabric that you have that you had no idea what it could be used for might just be waiting for the right project. And so it was with this fabric. Let me start by saying I love ladybugs. When I first started quilting, I collected any and every ladybug fabric, in the hopes of making an ultimate ladybug quilt. That was over 9 years ago. Have I made a ladybug quilt…no. I’ve made a few ladybug quilt squares, but that’s as far as I’ve gone. As a result, I have lots of ladybug fabric. In a recent attempt to thin out my collection, I started going through my ladybug stacks, looking for fabric that, while it had ladybugs on it, didn’t hold much appeal for me, or didn’t really go with the rest of fabrics. Such was the case with this fabric, which I had with an orange background and with a green background. I don’t remember where or when I got it, or, even why, as it is a bit odd, even for ladybug fabric. It features ladybugs, flowers, and bumblebees, 3 things common to many ladybug fabrics. But, it also features carrots, ears of corn, and apples. Now that just makes no sense. The fabric is also very lightweight, almost sheer. I had pulled this fabric out, and was very close to selling it on Etsy. Then, I decided to make the Summer Blouse. I had thought this blouse would be perfect for some of my whimsical ladybug fabrics, but which ones? Then, I saw this fabric, and it clicked.
It’s whimsical and lightweight, and a flattering color. And, since I was going to sell it, I probably wouldn’t mind if it got ruined and turned out horrible. I decided to go with the peach color for the shirt.
I decided to make my own bias tape. I first used the peach fabric, and I originally cut it so that the final size after all the folding was ½”. Once I did that, I realized that it looked much wider then in the picture. After scrutinizing the picture closer, it looked like the bias tape should be more like ¼”. I then made the decision to use the green fabric for the placket and bias tape. I didn’t use a bias tape maker, so the folding was done by hand. Not too difficult, though I “steamed” my fingers a few times in the pressing process.
Once I had cut out the front and the back, and sewn the shoulders together, I started making adjustments to how low the neckline was in the front and back. I trimmed the back by about ¾”, and the front by a few inches (I really don’t like high necklines). I also figured about how low I’d like the placket to go (I didn’t want to have to cut it and sew it up), and shortened the placket by at least 3-4 inches.
I didn’t have too much trouble attaching the bias tape (which was not exactly cut on the bias). The button loop was a nightmare and ultimate failure for me. I had even bought a loop turner, but despite several attempts, could not get the fabric to turn right side out. I tried using a smaller seam allowance, but after 3 failed tries, decided to make a loop out of the bias tape, since it was about the right size anyway. That actually turned out fine. I used a ladybug button from my stash of ladybug buttons (yes, I have a stash of just ladybug buttons – did I mention I like ladybugs?). Sewing the button on was fine., though, like others who have made this shirt, I doubt I will ever wear it buttoned. Even with all my trimming an alterations, it is still a bit high.
For the sleeves, I decided to see if I could attach them without doing the basting step, since one blog mentioned that the basting made the sleeves look “puffy,” and I definitely wasn’t going for the puffy shirt look.
To be on the safe side, I added about 4 inches to the hem. In elongating the pattern, I must have done something incorrectly (maybe I didn’t account for the fact that making the bust darts would make the front shorter). As a result, when I finished sewing both side seems, the back was about an inch longer then the front. However, that was easily remedied before I hemmed the bottom. I just trimmed the back to match the front length.
With the sides sewed, but the bottom unhemmed, I was able to see that the shirt was really wide, and flared out quite a bit. I didn’t want to add any extra darts, and thought I could remedy this by trimming in the side seams. I could not take in the sides evenly, so I tapered the seams in, taking in towards the bottom about 1 ½ inches, but not taking in much at the bust. That seemed to remedy the maternity look of the top.
Since I had extra bias tape leftover, I decided to trim the sleeves with the contrasting bias tape. I think it looked really nice, even though my sewing wasn’t precise. I like my sleeves long, and to drape over my hands. Even so, I probably had to trim at least 1″ off the sleeves. For the bottom hem, once I had evened it out, I decided I liked it the longer length, and didn’t trim any of the length. I made a ¼” double folded hem, as I didn’t think I’d like the look of a wide hem. I did not use the contrasting bias tape for the bottom hem, as I thought it would not be as flattering.
I even had enough fabric leftover to make a matching head scarf (another pattern from the book).
The end result turned out much better then I expected. I think it helped that I had the perfect pair or orange jeans to go with it.