Ginghaaam, Girl

I’m not enough of a completist/lover of free stuff (though I do love free stuff) to sew every Peppermint Magazine pattern, but this wrap blouse is the fifth one I’ve tried.

I often buy only one or maybe two patterns from a given small designer, so that’s legacy-indie numbers for me (we’re talking yer Grainlines, yer True Biases), and in fact the only designer I’ve sewn more from is – Megan Nielsen?!

That count is a bit disingenuous because Peppermint collaborates with different designers – this blouse is by In The Folds – but I was still surprised at the numbers. (Also, by the way, really surprised that MN is my top indie. I associate her with a lighthearted warm-weather feminine aesthetic, but I guess I’m not the chilly functionista I thought I was.) So this was really my introduction to In The Folds patterns, and my first impression was that they overdid the notches. So I omitted some, went ahead and cut cut cut, etc., and then sat down to sew this blouse.

Only to discover that the instructions called for French seams but didn’t actually give the seam allowance. You can see where this is going, right? I resentfully downloaded an In The Folds ebook about seam allowances, but they didn’t mention specific measurements either. Thanks to some angry Googling, I discovered Diary of the Chainstitcher’s review of this pattern, and she cited the same issue. Solidarity! Rise up, my people! Burn baby burn! And then she pointed out that, actually, the seam allowances are marked by the notches.

Ooooh.

Yah got me. I’m responsible. 24601!! I still think the instructions could have said to use a total seam allowance of ½” though. It wouldn’t take much space. Just a wee little corner by the fireplace, and a crumb to keep it! Anyway, the benefit of this searching is that I also (a la Fiona) decided to scoop my neckline 1″ at center front, blending the scoop to nothing at the tie, and to widen the neckline 1/4″ at the shoulder. I had already decided to shorten the sleeves, so they have a finished underarm length of 2.5”, with a 1” deep double-fold hem.

Otherwise I sewed a straightforward size E.

In the end, I also recut the waist ties, replacing the straight ties with long teardrops folded in half to give the bow a little more oomph. These aren’t perfect, but the first set was too skinny! Mangia, mangia! Since I was adding them after the fact I folded under the seam allowances of each tie’s short end into a little pocket and tucked the shirt inside, topstitching to capture all the layers. Not the height of elegance, but an improvement.

I had purchased the exact fabric requirement for an E (1 ¾ yards) but even after recutting the ties I had 1/3 yard leftover, because, it will probably not surprise you to learn because this fabric has been everywhere and also you can see it with your whole own eyes, my gingham is ✧double-sided✧. I knew I wanted to make this pattern in gingham because I misremembered this outfit by Caro Made This (attempted imitation is also pretty sincere!), and I wanted that gingham to be fairly large, fairly soft, and in the yellow-brown family. So I went to Gather Here to check out their Atelier Brunette gingham double gauze BUT I WAS JUST GOING TO LOOK AT IT (also I linked to Rust just there, my runner-up choice, because my actual Ochre is sold out).

At one point in the store I was one of three women walking around with one of three bolts of this fabric in our three preferred colors and we kept seeing each other and asking with our eyes if we were going for it (read: $$$). And then I said “I don’t know if I want this enough!” with my mouth this time and one of the other women said “I DO” with hers and I was swept away on the gingham tide. And generally I think it was the right choice. This was pleasant to sew, comfortable to wear, and I got to play with the two scales of check to my heart’s content. I hemmed everything inside-out to change scale as much as possible.

I also wanted to sew the back facing on the outside of the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to do so and keep the clean finish. Too bad, because it would have balanced the small-check sleeve nicely.

I struggled folding under the seam allowances of the tie-opening side and stitching them down in a way that looked neat outside, so I called it sushi and let them be raw.

I would feel worse about how this will impact the top’s longevity if the other side seam – which experiences no unusual stress, by the way, and which is French-seamed – hadn’t instantly started doing this.

Yikes, right? That’s not surviving too many wash-and-wears. I’m not super upset, though. I’ve had a few good wears out of this shirt already, and I’ve discovered that as cool as it is, temperature-wise, and as adaptable as the color is in my wardrobe, the ties are a little too fussy for me.

It sits a little better if I tie it deliberately a little too loose, but arranging the ties nicely is still a pain, and it all sort of bunches up my hips no matter what. I don’t hate it – it definitely did its job on hot days – so I think this is going to be a “use it up, wear it out” top, and frankly I don’t think it’s going to take that long. I do like the deep V, though, so if nothing else it’s a reminder to get some sun on my upper slopes!

See you soon!

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine wrap blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: E, scooped neckline 1″ at center front, blended scoop to nothing at the tie, widened neckline 1/4″ at shoulder; shortened sleeve (unhemmed, 5.5″); recut new wider folded ties

Supplies: 1 3/4 yards of Atelier Brunette gingham off-white ochre double gauze, $42.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $42.00

Wrap Crop

It would be too bombastic to say I’ve gotten into drafting, but I have had fun experimenting with pattern manipulation lately. And when looking at the Peppermint pocket skirt pattern page, I got interested in the top that model wears. My foggy memories of their styling showed the skirt paired with the Peppermint wrap top, but that’s incorrect; actually, it’s this RTW wrap top, and it’s lovely and hemp-y and the RTW website also sells womb balm, which I saw a sale banner for but did not interrogate further (how do you get the balm onto the womb though?!).

Anyway, I considered following this clever how-to for a cropped wrap top. Actually, I did follow it – I took my measurements and drew out the traditional Sarah Kirsten Morning Glory top and this variation in Illustrator, but I changed my mind before printing. I might want to make one of those someday soon, but this time around I wanted sleeves.  

So I ended up at this youTube tutorial. I’m not here to dunk on free videos, but it’s pretty incomplete. For some reason I stopped looking after that though (satisficer!) and just made guesses about the parts she elides over – most importantly, I completely winged the shape of the armscyce. I ended up back at Sarah Kirsten after that and followed her sleeve drafting tutorial, which is terrific, by the way! I still lacked faith in my armscye curve, though, probably because I had drawn it based on what looked kinda normal and no actual, you know, data.

So then I downloaded the Peppermint wrap top and grafted on their armsyce (size E) as much as possible onto my smaller piece, added a little more ease to the body of my design because I was nervous that the Peppermint one in my size was so much larger, and shortened the sleeve cap to accommodate my shortened armscye curve. I also shortened the Peppermint sleeve to 6” and straightened the edges to make the sleeve wider. Then I added seam allowances, printed my pattern, and cut out the fabric.

Phew.

If that’s a confusing sequence of events, it’s because I had no idea what was I doing. But I found this soft, not-too-light bone-colored cotton at Sewfisticated and paid $3.99 for one yard, so I figured I had learned all I could from theoreticals and might as well jump right in. Potential outcomes included:

The probable – this pattern/garment would comprehensively fail, but I’d learn something from it.

The possible – this pattern/garment would be unsuccessful, but in obvious ways that I could adjust the existing pattern to improve.

The improbable – this pattern/garment would work on the first try.

The impossible – two shirts.

Right off the bat, I spotted an error (own goal). When I had lowered the back armscye curve I failed to add that length back into the side seam, so the front was a healthy inch longer than the back, and there was already no long-ness to spare. I cut one more piece, a waistband/cuff-type piece for the back only, to make up for the missing length. This turned out to be a case of failing up. I didn’t have a clear plan for hemming the back because of the darts, and now I didn’t have to figure it out. And as a nice bonus the wrap ties cover the extra seam.

I also read the Peppermint wrap top instructions to see how they handled the side seam with a tie opening. I don’t know if it has an official name, but I’d call it like a self-finishing open seam? You press the seam allowances open, fold under the raw edges, and topstitch the folded edge through all layers. I applied this to both side seams, the sleeve seams (though not the armscye), and the shoulder seams, for practice and because I thought it was pretty!

I used self bias binding on the neck edge.

The ties are long rectangles folded in half hot-dog-style, with the seam rolled to the center of one side. Once again I didn’t have a clear plan to attach these, so I just kind of jammed them under a fold at the front piece edges to contain all the raw edges.

At a first try-on the wrap ties wouldn’t stay on the body of the shirt. They slipped under the back hem and the shirt stuck out instead. “Oh well what the hell” sang McWatt; and I threw on some rouleau loops.

You can tell at this point I expected the probable outcome, educational failure.

Actually, looking at these photos, I was surprised to see this top looks alright! It’s not the easy breezy womb balmy vision I saw above, but it’s fine. Wearable, even. But ultimately it’s not really to my taste. Having learned that, it’s not important to work this out, but it also has one mysterious issue: no matter how tightly I pull on the wrap ties, I can’t convince the fronts to tack to my body. Theories??

I’m trying to get comfortable with the higher rate of missteps that goes with a higher rate of experimentation. Growing pains, I hope!

Pattern: NA

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 37.75” bust, 32” waist

Supplies: 1 yard of bone cotton,$3.99, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.49, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $6.48

Embroidered Top

I’m going to need a new spreadsheet category, I think. Right now I separate items into keep/giveaway/gift, and ‘giveaway’, let’s be real, is polite for ‘flop’. However, this year I’ve occasionally sewed stuff not so much as gifts (unless I’m grandiosely making gifts FOR THE UNIVERSE (I am not)) or even as muslins, but just ’cause. Usually it’s scrapbusting or to make something unwearable into something wearable, but not by me. And this top fits into that new trial category.

I got this shift from a clothing swap.

It had made the rounds and been owned by a bunch of different swap participants, and was bought secondhand by the originator in the first place. It had clearly been used enough to wear out this underarm, but it was also fairly casually sewn in the first place.

The seams were sewn once and left unfinished (not even pinked). At some point what I assume was an attached belt was snipped off.

It was still darn cute, but the fabric was stained in a couple places and wearing out in others, and nobody wanted it in its current iteration, so I brought it home to remake.

I haven’t done of a lot of refashioning, but I wanted to try the elasticized square-neck raglan thing again, this time with a woven instead of a knit. It seemed like a good fit because there wasn’t actually a ton of fabric in this garment, and using that neckline meant I could shorten all the pattern pieces by a good 4 or 5 inches from the top. I began by unpicking the whole shift (it didn’t take long) and pressing the seam allowances flat.

I chose the True Bias Roscoe pattern as my base; it fit almost perfectly on the resulting narrow panels. I sew a size 0, by the way, which I continue to find staggering.

I knew I couldn’t make the new top full length, but that was okay. I folded over the top of my Roscoe pattern pieces at the height of the front sleeve notch, perpendicular to the grainline, and played around with placement until I found one that allowed me to save two of the embroidery motifs without sacrificing too much finished shirt length or smacking the flowers directly over my committee members. The finished side seams are 12” long. I saved the scraps with leftover embroidery for some murky and mysterious future.

I definitely didn’t have enough fabric for Roscoe’s usual sleeves, so I copied the sleeve hem curve of the original garment. I traced the armscye curve, again stopping at the height of the front notch, then marked straight across, and finally added 1.5” to the top for a double-fold elastic casing over the shoulder. I didn’t have space to add any fullness to this piece, but the Roscoe sleeve is pretty full already. Partly because of fabric limitations and partly to copy the original garment, my finished sleeve seam is only 1.25” long.

I cut the elastic casings for the front and back of the shirt separately. This was a bit silly. I could have cut them continuously, but I was operating on auto. It requires a smidge more math to make the height of an added casing match that of a sewn-on casing, but nothing too complicated.

Sewing the shirt was a snap. I used French seams on the shoulders and sides. The casings are 5/8” wide, for ½” elastic. I treated this fabric like a cotton and it probably is!

I wasn’t sure how long my finished elastic would be, so I basted together the underarms, stopping just short of the casings, and then inserted elastic cut a little long. I attached one end of each piece firmly and then stood in front of a mirror and pulled on the loose end of all 4 elastic pieces until I was happy with the fit. I was able to reach the front chest piece effortlessly, and I made sure to leave the front end of the shoulder elastics loose for adjustment, but I needed Professor Boyfriend’s help with the back. Ultimately, though, it turned out I liked it at the same length as the front. The final body pieces are 11” long, and the sleeve casing pieces are 12” long.

I had planned to sew the underarm seams with French seams as well, but the layers of elastic at the neck made that too bulky. The seam is pretty dimensional even with the finishing I eventually landed on, which is just bias binding with a scrap of cotton.

You can kinda see it from the outside so it’s nice that it looks nice!

I really enjoyed myself with this project. The final shirt is pretty cute. The inside is tidy. I know that doesn’t impact the function, but dang it, I like it. The sleeves want to slide off my shoulders sometimes, but it fundamentally works, and if I ever wanted to make another I could correct that by cutting an inch or so above the front notch instead of at it (which would bring the top edges of the sleeves closer to the center of the wearer’s body).

I popped this right back in the swap box, but gladly. I don’t have a new passion for refashioning, but I liked getting this back into circulation! Hopefully someone will enjoy wearing this new version of an old garment.

Happy about-to-be summer!

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe (kinda)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 0 (kinda)

Supplies: embroidered shift; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 1.5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Mint Patina

If it’s safe & wise to travel this summer, then we’re going to England so Professor Boyfriend can finally, officially, graduate (he successfully defended his thesis in 2020, which required two early-March trans-Atlantic flights – fun, right?). In the meantime, I’m making this event an opportunity to re-re-rematch against a fabric with undeniable charisma (the drape, the weight, the colors!) and the price point to match: tencel twill.

Once upon a pre-blog I made a couple pairs of tencel twill trousers that looked like shiny wrinkly garbanzo. But that was then. This is now. Since I’m not really a dressy-dresser, I thought it could be the perfect fabric to elevate a separates combo if I chose the right pattern, and sewed smarter.

So I turned to the Patina blouse. With its simple silhouette and girly touches, I thought it would be ideal. I decided to omit the Chelsea collar both to make the finished top lessy faddy but also because I wasn’t sure about topstitching curves on tencel twill.

I also made sure to staystitch every edge immediately after cutting the pattern pieces. That defensive sewing mindset lasted…exactly that long. 

I used a Microtex needle (80/12) and a lonely cone of minty serger thread, because it matched well and it saved me buying a spool of all-purpose. The needle was a good choice, but using the cone was a mistake. I hand-wound some thread onto an empty spool first and then used the machine to wind a bobbin off that spool, so the bottom thread was okay; but for my top thread, I balanced the cone on the bobbin winding pole thingie and sewed directly from that. The cone overbalanced and fell over (both loudly AND frequently), but more importantly the tension was wrong. When I sewed over more than two layers, I got a ton of skipped stitches. For some reason I carried on like that, for like, the whole time, even though sewing the buttonholes was a skipped-stitch nightmare ballet and I knew I’d be joining two layers of French seams when I sewed the sleeves in the round. I went for it anyway, possibly because it was my last step and I was getting antsy.

After setting in the first sleeve – twice, because of the French part, but also more than twice because I wanted to reinforced the skipped areas – I realized I had done it backwards. My armscye seam was on the right side. I had gotten tunnel-vision when focusing on the skipped stitches and managed to sew SEVERAL times around the armscye without realizing my French seam was reversed. On the plus side I had also forgotten to shorten my stitch length after sewing the gathering stitches. Yay?

Obviously this could not abide, so after I unpicked the second line of stitching, I was left with a decision: would I unpick the remaining line, switch which side the sleeve was on, and use the scanty 1/8” seam allowances I had left myself going forward? Unpick etc. and take larger seam allowances? Or, since my first sleeve was already set in correctly, just with less SA, should I take the full remaining seam allowance and serge the raw edges to finish?

I serged ’em. I did the second sleeve the same way, immediately hated it, then threw this shirt on my giveaway pile and entered GIVEAWAY REASON: QUALITY OF WORK into my sewing spreadsheet, which is the spreadsheet equivalent of a temper tantrum. Later that day I pulled the shirt out again.

I unpicked the serger threads and the sleeve cap, rearranged the gathers to be neater, resewed the armscye with a spool of mismatched all-purpose thread with all stitches present and accounted for, and then pinked the seam allowances. Then a week after that I pulled it out a second time and added bias binding.

There’s plenty of imperfections still – one side of the neckline has draglines, one doesn’t (I increased the facing width slightly, by the way – 1/4” on the vertical area, ½” on the curve). I have one lightly poofy shoulder and one IMELDA MARCOS BLAMMO shoulder. The topmost buttonhole is frankly odd. Also, despite taking the same side seam allowances I did the other two times I made this shirt, this iteration came up a bit snug on my hips.

None of that would matter if I really liked it, but I don’t. This is an important note to self: just because some desirable fabrics are expensive and finicky to sew, doesn’t mean every finicky and expensive fabric is desirable, charisma be damned. I’m not excited to wear this top, so it’s not fit to purpose, since ideally dressing up for an occasion means that the clothes are part of the treat. Not exactly an astounding comeback tour for tencel twill!

Annoyingly, also, I have a full selvedge-to-selvedge 18” left, so I could have bought a single yard of this pricey fabric instead of 1.5 yards and saved like $13.50! Hmm. I do have one completely unregretted purchase – I got my Microtex needle from a Schmetz cosplay pack (#1851), which I am frankly tickled by but is also full of useful needles. If the only thing preventing you from trying cosplay is heterogeneous needle acquisition, then brother, have I got two thumbs and some good news for you.

The question remains: what am I going to wear?? What comfortable dressy not-dress that packs well and accommodates weather that might be 60°F or might be 90°F would you?

Good luck with your upcoming projects!

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M, lower neckline; widened facing 1/4″ on the vertical, 1/2″ on the curved section

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of tencel twill in Mojito, $40.50, Gather Here; buttons, $2.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $42.50

Ube Adrienne

Because I like to sew repeat, practical garments in workaday fabrics, I don’t take too many chances to stretch my sewing skills. I’ve lately been craving some skill building though so I think this will appear in two ways: first, more finicky fabrics; and second, using the little grey cells instead of a pattern. Basically, when I see a garment that I probably could work out on my own or cobble together from already-owned patterns, I want to at least give that the ol’ college try instead of defaulting to buying. This is a fancy way to say: I’ve started copying stuff.

My not-a-Field bag was the gateway to the slippery slope of the domino effect (actual purchasable pattern found here). Next and now, my not-an-Adrienne blouse (real deal found here)! A.k.a. an Adrian top???

I scrolled by this pattern any number of times without feeling particularly tempted until I saw it on Crafty Clyde. She dresses with a quirky, sassy edge and I thought if she was feeling good in it maybe it didn’t have to be straightforwardly romantic.

I also thought this was a good candidate to copy because everyone mentions it has just the two pattern pieces – the identical front/back and the sleeve. And since it’s an untailored stretchy sleeve I could probably make the sleeve and the body symmetrical, so that’s two *half* pieces! Surely I could come up with two half pieces! I didn’t know if I would like it, but I really wanted to see if I could do it.

I studied the finished top and it suddenly clicked that the Adrienne is a raglan tee with extra pizzazz. Oddly, I don’t own a fitted raglan top pattern, just a loose one. But I preferred a fitted body to balance the big sleeves, so I went poking around the internet and found a couple free ones – Life Sew Savory and It’s Always Autumn both look pretty good. Actually though I followed the It’s Always Autumn DIY raglan directions to modify my CC Nettie pattern. I don’t know what size this ended up being, but it has 2” of negative ease at the bust and 1” of negative ease at the hip, which I find fitted but comfortable.

I gave the sleeve vertical side seams and a horizontal bottom edge because it wouldn’t need to fit anywhere but the shoulder. Basically the sleeve piece is a box with a sleeve cap on top.

There was a hot second about a year ago where I thought I might want to wear more off-the-shoulder stuff. I never saw that through, but I remembered this tutorial, also for the Nettie. I followed that to trim the top of my pieces off. I love that it left my sleeve with a flat top edge to make an elastic casing easy to fold and sew, while I added a barely-scooped curve to the body neckline to mimic what I saw on the real pattern.

Because the sleeve was now basically a rectangle with bites taken out of two corners, it was simple to split it vertically and add a bunch of width. The final sleeve piece I made is about 20” wide by 18” long at its most extreme dimensions. Unfortunately this places the finished sleeve bottom edge annoyingly right in the crook of my elbow. I thought it was going to land a few inches above my wrist; the only reason I can think of for my confusion is that the flat top edge tricked me into judging its length as though it were a dropped sleeve, which it really isn’t!

Next time I would increase the length by a good 5” or 6”, and the width by maybe 2”. It’s as easy as extending straight lines.

Both top and bottom of the sleeve are simply folded over once at ¾” and sewn with a straight stitch at 5/8” to make casings. I used ½” elastic. I cut each shoulder elastic to 8”, but pulled out some on either side to make it easier to tack in place; the finished length is probably more like 7”, which feels pretty good to me. I cut my sleeve elastic at 11”, based on the measurement of my forearm, where the sleeve…isn’t. Looser would have been better at the elbow, but it’s not too tight to be comfortable. Just a little annoying!

I considered cutting a single casing to go across the shoulders, front, and back, à la the linked Nettie tutorial, but I thought the shoulders might end up at a right angle to the front and back necks and I didn’t want bunching (plus I was copy-catting), so I banded the front and back separately.

I think my bands are a little too skinny. I should have aimed for a finished width of 5/8” so the neck and shoulder stitching would feel more continuous. The back band (or what I decided would forever be the back band) wanted to flip, so I popped a little topstitching right in the center to discourage it.

The fabric is a simple no-name cotton jersey from Sewfisticated – I thought it was grey in the store but it’s definitely chromatic. Since I don’t really like purple (which some folks might say this is. Who’s saying that?!) I’m calling it ube peel! It was easy and cooperative to sew; they stock it in a couple colors, and I would happily buy it again, especially at $5.00/yard. I bought 1.5 yards and have 1/3 yard remaining. Kind of an awkward scrap. I might have to start sewing underwear. Phooey.

My finished top doesn’t have all the glamour and personality of the original, but I like it! I might make another one with more sleeve! This is probably one of those cases where a positive sewing experience is influencing my feelings about the final garment, too – it just felt good to stretch my figuring-out muscles, and I want to do more of that. I’m never giving up my pattern collection though. You can bury me with it. I mean, if it’s good enough for Pharaohs…

See you soon!

Pattern: copycatted Adrienne blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 34” bust, 43” hip

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of 95% cotton/5% Lycra, Sewfiscated, $7.49; packet of ½” elastic, Sewfisticated, $2.49

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $9.98

Ivory Patina

As per my plan, I’ve made the short-sleeve view of the Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse.

But this isn’t the slubby rich recycled mahogany silk I had my eye on at all! It’s old rayon!

Ah, old rayon. As shifty as new rayon, but with that classic I-lived-in-your-scrap-box-for-four-years flavor. We’re still without a washer; I was fine casually pre-washing my first Patina blouse’s poplin in the bathroom but my respect for silk might cross the line into fear of silk, and I just couldn’t see myself throwing it into the tub and hoping for the best. So I raided my scraps for something! Anything! pre-washed to sew, which is how I ended up using such an unfavorite fabric here (the unfavorite-ness is also why the scraps have lasted this long).  

This was made from two different rayons – one length was leftover from a blouse I made from fabric purchased at Walthamstow in 2017, and the other length *may* have come from a fabric swap around the same time. They’re not a perfect match, but they’re not bad. The yoke and the undercollar are a slightly brighter shade of ivory, but I can live with that, especially for the price tag (my favorite, the bubble).  

I’d mentioned wanting to take pictures of an alternate facing/yoke construction, but in white fabric without an obvious wrong side, that seemed like a fool’s quest. Luckily it turns out Peter of Male Pattern Boldness has already done it! The neckline of the Negroni shown there is a different shape, but it’s the exact same technique. Here’s the first part, assembling the shirt body and inner yoke/facing unit; and the second part, putting it all together with some very fun and satisfying burrito sewing. I left the small part that I couldn’t sew by machine unsewn, so you can see how small it really is.

See that fingertip-sized gap next to the facing/yoke seam? That’s it.

And using this technique means no visible topstitching on the yoke, though it’s ordinarily covered by the collar anyway.

I absolutely prefer this method. It’s easy to reshape the facing pattern piece, too; just overlay with the shirt front and trim as shown, below.

That little leftover can go right into the recycle bin. Huzzah.

This is the ‘lowered neckline’ variation, 1” lower than the standard draft. I find this depth a little more becoming than the standard. The pattern also has instructions for lowering another inch, or raising the ‘v’ neck higher, but this is about right for me. The collar is wobbly though! Oh woe! It’s not the draft, it’s the rayon. I interlined it with white linen, but that was shifty and grow-y too, and even though I moved the collar pieces carefully and sewed them first, the long outer curved edge stretched out pretty badly.

There was a ruffly clown-collar vibe to the finished shirt. Based on hope, not science, I plugged in my iron and chuffed steam at the collar in hopes of shrinking the edge. I don’t use the chuffer often though so I actually just sprayed the whole thing with surprise brown spots. WHAT FUN. Since a new washing machine didn’t magically appear as soon as I flavor-blasted a white shirt, I stuck it under a cold shower with some dish soap then threw it in the dryer. And, um, something along the line there worked, because the collar is definitely improved. I feel like a very lucky bunny.

The dart is a little low. Also, I realize now, the tip needs pressing. Next time my ironing board is out I’ll gather my courage, roll up a towel, and go for it.

I forgot to take pictures of my first version untucked, but here’s some of this one. Wrinkly, because my go-to is tucking in, and also because I’m tireless in my quest for gritty realism or something. The untucked silhouette is actually not too godawful!

I’m feeling good; I got to sew, and I got some aged fabric into use, even though it was kind of a pain in my neck. The rayon really can’t support the weight of the collar that well, even with my interfaced v-neckline, but it does gather nicely. And you can’t go too far wrong with a white blouse! After all that monkey business with the steam, I like it. It’s a bit everyday-pirate, but that’s not necessarily a problem.

If I kind of blur my eyes and blend the collar into the shirt, the Patina looks like a decent plain v-neck woven blouse base. I bought it for its slight costume-y elements, but I might keep making it for relentlessly sensible reasons. Two steps forward, one step back!

We took these pictures on an unseasonably warm day in November, by the way – it feels like another universe now. I don’t do much Christmas-specific sewing, but Christmas BAKING is very much on. Cinnamon & chocolate! See you soon!

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M, lower neckline

Supplies: scraps of rayon, from stash; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $2.39

Common Quail

Heyyy, I actually sewed a new pattern while it was still new! I really enjoyed dressing as a vaguely interwar pseudo-intellectual for Halloween, to the point where I’ve decided to start layering some more vintage-inspired pieces into my wardrobe. When I saw the Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse I pretty much went “that’ll work!” and mashed the buy button.

This was my first time sewing a Friday Pattern Company pattern. You’d have to force me kicking and screaming into their breakout hit gown but I’ve only heard good things in general. I was surprised, though, that this pattern used 3/8” seam allowances throughout, since this is a blouse that calls for fine lightweight fabrics. I added ¼” to the side seams and shoulder seams, so I could French seam those later, but otherwise cut a straight size M.

Right off the bat I was impressed by the accuracy of the fabric requirements! I like that it didn’t overspend my money or generate much waste. I needed every inch, as in I had about a fingernail-clipping’s worth of excess length after laying out all my pieces. The layout would have been a little more flexible if I hadn’t increased the seam allowance, but no regrets. My only scraps are funny shapes and sizes. I spent more than I intended to on fabric, by the way; I went looking for quilting cotton to make a wearable muslin before investing in cotton lawn, and came home with this gorgeous organic poplin. Oops not oops.

Ch-ch-changes: I staystitched the front neck as directed, but also applied this tricot interfacing along the edge. I wanted to make sure it would support the weight of the collar. I’m in love with that 1” roll; it makes it so much easier to do the right thing.    

However, instead of using interfacing in the collar, I cut another layer of fabric from my scraps. I pinned it to the wrong side of the top collar and treated them as one piece until it was attached to the bottom collar. Then I trimmed the extra layer of fabric ‘interfacing’ to right beside the stitching line. When turning right-side-out, that teeny-tiny overhang of fabric helps push the seam to roll to the underside. That’s my theory, anyway. 

By the way, I placed the cost of my free-floating button purchase on this make, because I ended up really liking them together. These are the same buttons that saved my bacon when mending my Halloween skirt. I’m learning all the wrong lessons about buying notions without a plan!

I also removed about 5/8” of fullness from the sleeve at the front shoulder.

Doesn’t that sound wonderfully deliberate and official? Actually what happened is that I traced the sleeve piece the same way twice, but luckily caught my mistake before cutting. I retraced one of them flipped over and was still congratulating myself on my perspicacity when I cut on my new line to the shoulder point and on my old line away from the shoulder point. Yeeks. I noticed before I got to the single front notch, so I was able to compensate slightly, and my mess-up would (hopefully) be hidden in the gathers. I cut the second sleeve the same wrong way because I thought it was important that they match.

It’s a full sleeve, so it’s still perfectly comfortable to wear, but if it looks off at all that’s why. I can’t really tell. There’s one strange function of this shirt which is that my sufficiently long, loose sleeves ride up to my elbows at the slightest movement; possibly because of my front shoulder ‘adjustment’?

Also, the universe decided I should eat my words on the subject of continuously bound plackets, since this pattern calls for them. Plus I don’t mind not doing a thing, but I don’t like feeling like I can’t do a thing.

I was a little confused by the official directions, which tell you to press under both edges of the bias piece, but then only show one edge pressed, so I turned to the internet. I followed this Sewaholic tutorial and uhhh…I think I made this kind of placket into a boogeyman. At least in crisp, stable cotton, they’re actually fine.

I think I even have them opening the right way (50/50 chance)! I’m calling that a win!

In general the way the directions are expressed and the accompanying illustrations are good and clear and easy to follow. (The encouraging clip-art on the pattern pieces gave me a jolt though. “WHAT IS THAT PATTERN PIECE FOR?! Oh it’s a cartoon sewing machine.”) However, I sometimes disagree with what the directions actually say to do. Most notably, I hate the facing finish on the back neck. It’s hard to sew well and I firmly believe there’s a better way. If/when I sew another Patina blouse I want to try using the Negroni directions, which join the front facings to the inner back yoke. I’ll try to take pictures if I do.

The drafting, however, seems spot-on. My collar is sitting a little higher than the sample because I thought I was sooo smart and I understitched the curved part of the neckline seam, instead of just the straight vertical parts as directed, so it’s being tugged up a little. But the collar still curves really nicely. And most impressively to my mind, this shirt stays put! I can raise my arm parallel to the floor before the hem even starts to rise. And the neckline doesn’t budge. It doesn’t gape at the back, it doesn’t pull to the front. It parks! I’m impressed. 

I’m not really sure what era this top hails from, style-wise – the 70s do the 30s? But I dig it. I wouldn’t mind giving that deeper neckline a whirl. There’s some $$$ recycled silk I’ve had my eye on for a while, and though I don’t think I’m owed a new holiday outfit every year, it would be pretty ideal.

I’ve been making fewer items this year, so while my cost-per-item is definitely up (gosh this blouse cost a bit), my overall spending is down. Which sounds like a possible excuse for silk to me…

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: $11.20

Size: M

Supplies: 2.25 yards of Charley Harper organic poplin in Sierra Range, California Quail, Gather Here, $37.15; buttons, Etsy; thread, Michael’s, $11.86

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $60.21

Pink Ice Cream

After years of min-maxing my sewing stats, it’s not totally surprising that I like most of the pants I sew, while shirts are hit and miss. This one is a wearable miss. It checks off the essentials; it is a shirt, I think it’s reasonably well-made, I like the fabric, it fits my body. But if my list of its qualities starts with ‘it is a shirt’ you can probably tell it’s not a love match.  

This is a Seamwork Natalie blouse which in retrospect I shouldn’t have sized up. Alternatively, I should have sized up way, way more. This is a 12, one size up from my recommended 10, and instead of feeling breezy and effortless it’s just a bit big. Camp collars, y’all. I was aiming for safari style; I landed in the service sector. I’m basically dressed as the top 50% of the waitress in this Bleachers video (the irony being that I’d rather dress like Jack Antonoff and I have nobody to blame but myself!!).    

I only made tiny changes to the pattern, by adding a pocket and straightening the sleeve hems. I also used cream quilting cotton instead of interfacing. I’m not convinced I’ve been attaching interfacing well enough, as I’ve had some bubbling in the wash lately, and since most of the facing is freely moving within the shirt, I didn’t want to risk it. It made the facing a bit thick and independent-minded – hopefully it’ll get washed and worn into submission. I invisibly tacked down each side underneath the centermost corner of the pockets, but they still have occasional fits of exuberance and try to roll free. No. Stop it. Conform.

 I almost ditched the chest pockets halfway through. They kept squashing out of shape regardless of staystitching, pressing, etc., so the only iron-on interfacing is on the back of the pockets, with the seam allowances removed, to keep them on the rectangular-and-symmetrical path. It was that or throw them in the scrap box. Even though I’m not convinced they add much, I grudgingly allow that they are not too bulky, despite the double-folded box pleat at the top hem. Originally I planned to place the pleat intake on the inside but I was worried that any deep breaths would make it look like my boobs were talking and/or blinking. Nightmare averted?

I borrowed the pocket placement from my Sewaholic Granville pattern. I was surprised to see it didn’t cover the Natalie dart end – the Granville dart extends further – but for once my bust darts seem to be pointing in the right direction, and I wasn’t going to rock the boat.

I edgestitched the facings but found my stitching line upsettingly wobbly (this fabric was happy to meet an iron and it eased nicely, but it was squishier than most cotton/linens, not to mention it frayed like a sonofagun – actually, it was kind of a hot jerk) so I unpicked that sewing and replaced it with short horizontal lines.

In a partially-successful attempt to keep the facing at the back neck in place, I added a little stitched box where the collar would hide it.

You can see the fabric pretty well there; it’s a new-to-me version of Kaufman’s cotton/linen, Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed. It’s a pretty icy pink and I love speckles, but I mostly bought it because I pointed it out to Professor Boyfriend at the store and said “Look! Pink ice cream!” before realizing the actual name was “Gelato”. It was destiny. “Pink ice cream” is a reference to a monumental temper tantrum I had at age three. I screamed for ice cream for hours, one for each year of my life (I got it, too – I tell my students this story with the moral “if you scream long enough…”). As near as I can guess pink ice cream was strawberry, which continues to be one of my favorite-ever flavors, so there yah go.

I had a heck of a time choosing buttons for it; dark buttons looked objectively nice but the high contrast kind of summoned a Pink Lady energy, mother-of-pearl was too feminine for me, the wood option was too big, etc.. I bought these buttons, unsure if I would use them but convinced I just needed to get something, to add a little chocolate and vanilla to the strawberry ice cream – Neapolitan buttons.

This is a reasonably breezy blend but eh. I did not achieve the summer safari sensation I wanted. I’ve mostly been wearing this blouse open over a tank for sun protection, but I’m just unenthusiastic! I know some people lose interest in dressing for fun in winter, but that’s me in summer. I don’t have a ‘character’ for summer, just a repeatedly thwarted urge to pass myself off as an extra in The Mummy. If you’ve got a go-to pattern for breezy summer button-ups, I’d love to see it.

Stay hydrated, Northern Hemisphere! Southern Hemisphere – you have my envy.

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed Gelato cotton/linen, $26.96, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $4.20; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $32.55

Roscoe Rescue

A while back I made a True Bias Roscoe blouse from some lovely hemp/tencel shirting. I added sleeve slits in the style of the neck slit, but eventually the “V” corners of all three burst into frayed, thread-y chaos. I unpicked the shirt and saved the fabric, and it sat in my scrap box, untouched, until recently. Then I had an epiphany. What’s the most efficient use of the fabric salvaged from a Roscoe blouse? Ta-da: another, trivially smaller Roscoe blouse!   

This is truly a beginner-friendly pattern. Straightforward to fit, cut, and sew, and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t warp out of shape, or if it does it doesn’t matter (these pieces got HANDLED). My original was sewn with French seams, which I had trimmed. I lost about ¼” per seam – 1/8” each from the raglan sleeve and front bodice on the right side, same on the left, and so on – but I wasn’t concerned about reducing the circumference by an inch or so.

It’s still not small! I’m pretty sure I started at the smallest available size, too. I should have sewn something between a 6 and an 8, based on my chest measurement, but this is probably a -1, and it’s fine.

Because of the simple shape and the loose cut, my remake differs from its parent blouse in only one obvious way – the sleeve length.

I cut above my frayed sleeve slits, following the curve at the end of the sleeve pattern. I then had 4 pieces of useable scrap fabric, each half as wide as one sleeve and about 6” tall, to cut everything I needed. The original cuffs and bindings sadly hadn’t survived unpicking. So, from scraps, that’s:

  1. Sleeve cuffs. Mine are pieced (once on the left, twice on the right), and about 3” longer than drafted. My new sleeve hem hit right about at my elbow and I needed room to bend, so the sleeves are also less gathered.
  2. A neck binding – for best results, cut on, ahem, the true bias. Mine is more like 60°.
  3. A neck facing, which I made longer and wider than the pattern called for. Longer was a necessity – I had to sew past where my first slit had frayed. Wider was a choice – I found it easier to press and sew.

I had some cotton lawn in an almost identical color on standby but I just squeaked out everything I needed!

The only sewing challenge was facing the neck with the slit already slit…ted. Slitted. Slite? I whip-stitched it shut and added a small square of interfacing over my new “cut to here” point, something I had failed to do the first time. I should have interfaced the facing piece, too, but I forgot! I sewed with the shirt side up, pivoting 1” past the original cut point, and then treated it exactly as usual.

It’s deeper and wider than the original draft but I’ve got the space! As per Shakira, you’re not going to confuse dem thangs with mountains.

The neck binding doesn’t curve as smoothly as should if it were cut at 45°, but I worked with what I had. I hand-sewed the second edge of it and of the sleeve cuffs; the gathering conceals my stitches that strayed through the outer fabric. Thanks, gathers, you’re a pal. I don’t like sewing you (I JUST DON’T) but I like wearing you just fine!

I miss the full pirate glamour of the longer sleeves but a wearable blouse is better than none. And fun fact: the sleeve cuffs are a little bulky, because the sleeves are hemmed inside. They’re actually baby-hemmed because I thought I would skip the gathering for a different silhouette, but I later changed my mind, and just gathered the hemmed ends and shoved them into cuffs. It’s a completely reversible decision. Secret baby hems! I never actually unpicked the shirt’s original baby hem either, so I got to salvage that from my first version, whoop whoop!

I recently read an old detective novel where a dame is described as cool and sweet and remote. That may be my color palette here, but I am actively sweating in all of these pictures, more than a little. The Roscoe is a great summer blouse because a) it doesn’t cling to my human Gatorade and b) it reduces my need for sunscreen, especially on hard-to-reach wing meat.

I’m so glad I was able to reuse this fabric! It’s cooperative, opaque, drapey, and soft as buttah. And I love moving fabric from my scrap pile to the closet. I *am*, however, running out of scraps to shop. I’m going to need an infusion of fresh fabric soon…

And some nice juicy planning. Although hopefully, I will be less juicy at the time.

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: -1?

Supplies: Scraps of hemp/tencel shirting, thread from stash

Total time: 4.75

Total cost: $0.00

M7360 Sleeveless

I took a break from enthusiastically sewing pants to squeak out a little something to wear on my top half. I say little because it required very little fabric – I used the last odds and ends of a piece of chambray I’ve had for at least 5 years. Until now I hadn’t tried a pattern that would fit on the scraps, but this one did!

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The pattern is M7360, and it’s also been sitting in my house for years. I think the spirits were in a good mood when I rediscovered it. I had just decided that I shouldn’t buy any more patterns before either trying or donating my unused ones, so I recycled a stack of assembled PDFs that were no longer my size or style, and moved paper packets into my sewing drawer for later sorting. Separately, I looked over my clothing Pinterest board for general inspiration. I saw a shirt I liked, wondered which of my existing patterns would be easiest to adapt to match, opened the drawer, and found this on top!

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A great place to start, right? I traced a size 12 with a few changes. I combined views, using the cropped length (view A), but without side vents. Instead of cutting a single front with a separate popover placket, I cut two mirrored fronts with grown-on plackets (I measured the finished width of the placket, doubled it and added 1 seam allowance). I also drafted 3” deep hem facings and omitted the pocket.

I did a quick and dirty layout on my chambray and decided with some grainline hanky-panky the pattern pieces would all fit! I put the traced pattern and the fabric into a Ziplock bag and left it there for weeks. You know, to marinate. And judge me.

Anyway, then my city locked down!

My crisis management skills were apparently all learned from Molly the American Girl Doll, so the immediate effect of what I’ve heard described as reasonable panic is that I stopped wasting things. I wasn’t particularly profligate before (absolutely I will reuse tin foil), but I went into, like, a scrap fugue, and spent a week dawn-to-dusk stashbusting with “USE IT UP WEAR IT OUT MAKE IT DO OR DO WITHOUT” echoing in my brain. (Also, I planted a container garden (Jade Cross Brussels sprouts and raspberries so far – this spring is cold, but tomatoes are next!)). The result: masks on masks on masks, my Perse-phonies, and thou this top.   

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The shirt mostly came together smoothly. It’s a coupla bust darts, some short seams, and a lot of straight lines. I think the bust dart is just about right; fabric catches above my bust when I raise my arms, but when I tug it down, it sits correctly. Maybe I could use more space, or maybe it’s a fabric/friction thing?

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I big-time flubbed the collar, though. The collar pattern piece is essentially the letter “C”; the resulting collar has a much shorter top edge than bottom edge, so it lies flat and close to the garment wearer’s neck.

I couldn’t sew the dang thing. I tried my now-usual technique, which attaches the collar stand to itself before the shirt neck, and it was bulky and weird and bad. I couldn’t get the opposing curves to meet, despite clipping aggressively. And I didn’t have nearly enough fabric to try again. The only ‘spare’ fabric I had, in fact, was my hem facings.

Hence the double-fold hem!

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The hem facing pieces were JUST long enough to recut the collar, but not as a “C” – instead I used the collar stand piece from the Thread Theory Fairfield, lengthened slightly. This I can sew. I skipped the interfacing (I blame fugue!), so my collar is floppy and fancy-free, and it flippy-floppies in or out according to the breeze.  

I added topstitching to the long edges, so it doesn’t collapse completely, but I’d like to learn to sew the collar as drafted. Any tips? It stumped me completely. (Also, today I’m not so much accessorized as I am garnished.)

By the way, if you were wondering, my city does have a mask recommendation. Luckily taking blogging pictures is great practice in finding and remembering unpopulated nooks, but I wear it to and from locations (and I kept it tucked in my fanny pack for quick retrieval if needed).  

I’m hoping to give up this particular accessory someday, but happy to wear it in the meantime!

Anyway, this is a nice little pattern – simple (collar excepted), adaptable, a bit of subtle shaping, and it works with small amounts of friendly fabrics. I hope you find some pattern gems buried in your stashes, too!

Pattern: M7360

Pattern cost: $5.00 (best guess)

Size: 12

Supplies: chambray from stash; thread, Michael’s, $1.79

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $6.79