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

Lilac in Spring

One of the few patterns I bought instantly and sewed instanter was the Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs. They haven’t appeared on the blog despite being one of my favorite things, because I made them exactly as written; I even used the Jungle green Essex cotton/linen that’s shown in the sample. They might still show up someday because they’re terrific and make me feel like a small-town florist in a musical about a small-town florist, but it took me years to make a second pair! And as soon as I had, mere moments to wear them!

It’s spring, and I’ve decided to start dressing like it. I’ve been dressing defensively lately – as Northern hemisphere winter was replaced by global and personal uncertainty – and that’s meant dark colors, heavy fabrics, lots of wrapping up and absolutely no chance of seeing of my own toes (it reminds me of Liz Lemon flipping through her closet in that one episode of 30 Rock – “Grey, maroon, navy – am I depressed?! Later!”). But I can keep what makes me feel secure in those choices (sturdy fabrics! Pants so wide that they socially distance for you!) and add some breeziness and color.  

I’ve historically avoided purple but I had a yen for a spring pair of Bibs and this just-right shade of purple (called “Lilac”) edged out mint green and sunshine yellow. Dang, now I want those too – I could dress like a package of Peeps! I arranged my paper pattern pieces in my secret weapon, a.k.a. my front hall. My hallway has one area that’s about 45” wide, which then widens to about 54”, so it’s ideal for laying out pattern pieces and calculating yardage on different fabric widths. I knew I wanted to use Essex cotton/linen again, for the structure, and gambled that I could get away with 3 yards instead of the 3 5/8ths called for.

These are the cropped view, no darts! I just made it!

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I had to cut both front bibs on the crossgrain, as well as the waistbands, but I’m pretty jazzed at how little fabric was left over AND that I could save some spondoolies. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend this for directional fabric. I made one minor change to this version; instead of sewing the front pockets as patch pockets (I wasn’t happy with the neatness of the curved edge on my first pair), I sewed them as single-layer slash pockets. I’m not convinced this was the right choice, as it diminishes their visual impact. However, they are neat! And it’s easy to use the existing pieces to make this change (patch pocket above, single-layer pocket below). The pocket facing stays the same.

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I topstitched the pocket bag edge twice to anchor it. Everything else got one line. And liked it!

I did the fold-and-topstitch technique for the long straps because you’re going to have to lock down my region a whooole lot longer before I think it sounds fun to turn a long skinny tube right-side-out. For some reason my brain went pbbt when it was time to make the belt loops, though, and I folded them in thirds instead of quarters (the fabric selvage is the outside third, but still). It would be nice if they were stronger, especially the outermost loops, as those see the most stress.

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I’m saving my scraps, though, and if I need to replace them, I will!

Sewing this went very smoothly. It’s not just straight lines, but really nothing challenging; it’s a lovely relaxing sew that zips right along, and I think a beginner who was enthusiastic about topstitching could make a beautiful pair. I only had one little wrinkle, when I needed to ease the inner bib’s bottom edge to match the outer bib. I hand-basted the layers together, and used those stitches to gather the inner bib edge slightly, too. Topstitching holds everything in place and any literal little wrinkles are hidden on the inside.  

Fit is sort of beside the point with the wide legs and the cinched waist. I sewed a 14, no zipper. I could lose 4” in width without dire consequences but I like the extra extra fabric, it makes the gathering more dramatic!

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These Burnsides are worn over a Roscoe blouse, by the way, which I sewed in April 2018. Still not blogged, but someday! For now it’s enough to say: I sewed the smallest size (!!!), and it was the star of my latest late-night closet fashion show, so I’ve been wearing it a lot lately.    

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I like its neckline, I like the curved bib neckline, I like ‘em together.

I’m really pleased to have added a second pair of Burnside Bibs to my wardrobe – the only thing slowing me down was choosing a color, and I’m in the mood for all sorts of colors right now. The witch hazel is blooming, so is the forsythia, and I’m pretending to know which is which. It’s a weird spring, but it’s spring, baby.

I hope you’re keeping well, and if you feel like sewing, I hope you’re sewing something that makes you happy! Zum Wohl!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 14, dartless view, curved bib, cropped

Supplies: 3 yards Essex linen/cotton in Lilac, $34.46, fabric.com; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $37.78

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: XS

Supplies: 2 yards Treasured Kermes rayon in Crimson, $23.73, Red Beauty Textiles; thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $23.73