Monday, April 18, 2011

Towards a personal blouse pattern

For a while now I've had the sewing goal of trying to work up a set of basic patterns that I can use for altering commercial patterns and drafting my own designs. I worked on this basic pencil skirt pattern a few months ago, and next up was figuring out a basic princess seam top.

I'm sure I'm not the first one to post this lament on the internetz, but as a short and reasonably busty woman button down shirts rarely-to-never fit me properly. Usually they're some combination of too tight/gappy at the bust, too big in the shoulders and too long in the arms. I've used various tricks to overcome these problems over the years, like rolling up the sleeves, wearing shirts partially unbuttoned over camis, or stitching down part of the front so that it can't gape. But, I think I have enough fitting knowledge now that I can actually make something that fits properly, and this is my first attempt at that.

This shirt is actually a remake of a shirt I made some time ago, one of my first blouse attempts:

I loved the idea, but the blouse suffered from a few issues that made it uncomfortable to wear, namely: too big in the shoulders and gaping neckline, not big enough in the waist so it was tight when I sat down, and I used crappy quality quilting cotton (terrible beginner's mistake, I know) which made it stiff. Despite all of the time spent carefully piping this bad boy, I gave it away when the SO and I moved in the summer.

This attempt is made from a bit of a frankenpattern, which combines the bodice of the JJ pattern, the sleeves of the Ute pattern, and a self-drafted collar. The first item of clothing that I ever made from a pattern was a JJ blouse, and looking back at it the fit was remarkably good for a first attempt (I still have that blouse, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to post it on the internetz. It's also in quilting cotton!). I started with a 40 bodice and did a FBA, adding to both the side and front panel to try to get that seam right over the bust. Since the piping attracts a lot of attention to the seam line, I wanted to make sure I got the placement right. In retrospect, I wish I'd done armhole princess seams, because I think that the shape would have been even more flattering with the white piping.

I was originally planning to modify the Ute collar, but after fiddling with it I decided to just draft my own. I really wanted to make sure that this shirt would end up being work appropriate (i.e., not too low cut), and I just wasn't trusting that Burda neckline! Once again, this vintage sewing guide proved very helpful. The little trick about adding 1/8 inch to the neck seam to get a nice roll on the collar worked perfectly for me. Other finicky details: I made all of the piping by hand with 1/16 inch poly cord (it was pretty time consuming!) because I wanted a nice thin piping to go with the small dots, and to get practice in making piping for my next project. It's this kind of stuff that makes sewing go so slowly for me!

Here's some views from the side and back:

Looks pretty good from the side, I would say, but the fit does look a bit blousy in the back. In general the top feels pretty loose around the middle when I'm standing, but I was reluctant to take it in because it isn't all that loose when I'm sitting. My waist changes shape enough when I'm in a seated position that I think I have to deal with the extra room when standing in order to be comfortable sitting. I'll wear it to work for a day before giving the pattern a final verdict, just to see if it becomes uncomfortable at some point in the day. If you're stopping by and have any other fit suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

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