Tuesday, February 21, 2012

building a blouse, pt. 1

Sewing is a skill that I list in my repertoire.  However, once you know anything about sewing, you know that there are a lot of different kinds of sewing.  There's quilting, a sometimes complicated and frequently time-consuming skill (with many different variations in and of itself), there's hand-sewing (which I do NOT list in my repertoire), and of course, there's garment sewing.  The latter, I have not counted as one of my skills in quite some time.

I guess now I'll have to.

As I've been sewing more frequently (Farmer's Wife blocks with Leslie), I've been thinking more and more about how to make things that are useful in my life and more and more those ideas have branched out away from the small items that I love for how fast they can be whipped up and therefore produce a sense of accomplishment in me.  I've been the sewer of small things for quite some time-- cloth napkins, zipper bags, wrist rests, bunting.  And I've been the incomplete sewer of large things (how many quilts do I 'owe' as Christmas gifts from years past?).  So, I've been seeking something intermediate.  Enter, the cotton blouse.

I love cotton blouses that can be worn under cardigans.  The knits are covered in my wardrobe, for the most part-- camisoles and t-shirts in every color-- but the sleeveless cotton blouse?  The loose, yet fitted, breathable tank?  It's hard to find those at Target.

My first attempt was pattern-free.  I used the instructions and tutorial from Made by Rae, posted on Sew, Mama, Sew. Because I wanted a blouse that could be worn to work, I did not include the ruffle.  Because I wanted a blouse that could be finished faster, I did not include the pockets!
No pockets, but I did make a two-inch wide hem at the bottom.  It works because I've got a short torso.

My variation was made from this awesome orange polka dot fabric (DS Quilts for Joann's), that I envisioned with a bright blue cardigan or even a fuschia one.  After finishing all the steps save the bottom hem, I realized I wasn't really happy with the tent-ness of this bouse on me.  The back was not only not fitted, it was enormously baggy!  I extended the pleats in the back from 2" (front) to 8", which seemed to help.

2" pleats in the front
8" pleats in the back!
If I were to make this blouse again, I would definitely do the optional under-arm divots.  I would also deviate from the instructions when cutting the back piece- I think the back doesn't need pleats and could be made, fitted, with far less fabric.

While the top fits, and I still love the fabric, I'll have to keep hunting for a perfect Spring/Summer blouse that will be a wardrobe staple. I'm sure there's a pattern/blouse out there for me that I'll be able to happily make in ten differently patterned cottons for a new Spring/Summer wardrobe!

Stay tuned for 'building a blouse, pt. 2' (and maybe 3, 4, 5... until I find the perfect one!)

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