Shirtless in Seattle

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I’m bottom heavy.

I’m not referring to my behind. That is practically non-existent as I’ve inherited flat-ass-itis from my father.

I’m referring to my wardrobe. I have more than enough bottoms, especially with my recent skirt making spree. But I’m pretty sparse on tops, specifically warm weather tops.

As a knitter I have more than enough sweaters for fall/winter, but my summer wardrobe mainly consists of tanks and t-shirts. I’m ready to graduate to a more stylish look.

My real motivation though is I booked a trip to Seattle this fall to visit my son and want cute clothes to wear. Temperatures range anywhere from 50-70 degrees there so I’m thinking layers and blouses.

This forced me to address a part of my stash I’ve been avoiding – those silky, drapey, pain-in-the-ass-to-sew fabrics.

After perusing my Pinterest board I decided to step my toe in the water with a pattern I already own.

I think this is a good option because it’s a basic pattern that I can use as a jumping point for other designs. It also has several sleeve and bodice options. I decided to make view B but substitute the short sleeve.

I traced off the pattern size I wanted. I haven’t always done this but I want to make it a regular practice to preserve the pattern pieces in case I need a different size or for the next person who uses this pattern.

There’s a lot to break down with this project so let’s dive right in.

There are several elements that make up a satisfying sewing experience – having the right tools, the right materials and a good pattern. As for tools, make sure you have the proper pins (I used silk pins, which are thinner than the quilting pins I usually use), the correct needle size (mine was a 70 universal) and an iron with adjustable settings (I almost melted my fabric so lesson learned).

As for the fabric, I chose a polyester acetate (I think) from my stash. The only good thing about this fabric is the color, which is a deep, rich eggplant (the picture does not do it justice). It was gifted to me and after working with it, I think it’s a lining fabric because it’s a bit stiff. In its defense, it wasn’t hard to cut out or sew with. On the other hand, weird stains/water marks magically appeared as I was working on it. I have no idea how they got there but I’ll give it a wash and see if they come out because I really do love the color.

The pattern actually fits me perfectly, which was a bit of a surprise. It’s a good basic with or without the bow. The construction/instruction for the neckline seemed clumsy to me. The bow is attached and then a bias strip is used to cover the raw edges but I don’t think they got the miter right for the V-neck. It could have been my error but I rechecked my fabric piece against the pattern and it matched. I followed their directions to the letter yet it turned out a bit sloppy. Luckily I will be the only one who knows since it’s on the inside of the blouse.

Having done a run through on the pattern and actually liking it, I picked a better fabric from my stash (unfortunately I think it’s still a polyester but it has a much better drape) that would go perfectly with my brown pants.

And here’s where it gets interesting…

This pattern is cut on the bias. Which is great when using a woven because it has a bit more give and nice drape. However, I am not used to working with slippery fabrics. I cut out my pieces, marked them and as I was unpinning I casually picked the piece up for the bow from one end and it GREW! I quickly realized you have to handle these pieces carefully because being on the bias, they’ll stretch. I didn’t have this problem with my the other fabric as it still had some stiffness to it.

Another consideration when working with slippery fabrics on the bias – do not stretch or pull them when you are sewing. And because long rectangular pieces, like bindings and in this pattern, the bow, will grow, you’ll need to manage it by easing those pieces in. Let the feed dogs do what they were designed to do and put those pieces on the bottom. Another helpful hint for dealing with its tendency to stretch is to use a lot of pins to keep the fabric from shifting around.

This is a pretty straightforward pattern except for the neckline and I toyed with the idea of changing it up. I was going to try a cotton bias binding but decided to give their way one more try. The directions have you sew the pointed ends together to get the mitered edge for the V-neck. The problem is, they don’t have you sew it far enough. When I made that slight correction, I found the bias strip worked just fine. The neckline was still a bit fiddly but I took it slow and it was a big improvement over my first attempt.

I’m quite pleased with this blouse. I had pretty low expectations going into this project, expecting it to be more of a learning lesson as opposed to getting anything wearable out of it. But as it turns out, if the stains come out of my first one, I will have two nice additions to my wardrobe. The experience gave me the confidence to tackle the more delicate fabrics in my stash because they really aren’t as hard to work with as I had built up in my mind.

And isn’t that the case with most things in life?

2 responses »

  1. You are such an inspiration, Lynn! I am beginning to think about sewing again because the clothes that look best on me are the 1940’s and 50’s styles which can’t be found or bought anymore. This brown blouse is reminiscent of those styles – it’s fabulous! Great job!
    XO Donna

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