I made the first Deer and Doe Mélilot as a project for the Sewstripes theme month for the Sewcialists community blog and I love it. It gets regular wear and I knew I’d want to repeat the process and sew some more. As I mentioned in that blog post, I felt I’d done a good job on fitting the front, with a full bust adjustment, but that the back needed to be taken care of next. Well, there’s no time like the present, so I decided to tackle my back fit issues with this next iteration.
I know I get that all-too-familiar pooling of fabric at the base of my back with any fitted blouse or dress and this is something I needed to tackle. I was working on a base case assumption of having a swayback issue, but before I made that adjustment, I did a little reading around the subject. It turns out that the fabric excess can also be caused by an erect back, a full front (bust), a generous bum, just to mention a few issues. Since the problem is basically that the length of your back piece is too long – somewhere – these all make sense.
So I know I have a full front, but I think I took care of that with the FBA, so hopefully there isn’t too much pulling there. An erect back – hmm. Well, my mum has always described my posture as “very erect” so it’s a possibility I suppose. I don’t think I have an overly generous bum, but I definitely do have a hip tilt, which is more pronounced since childbirth. The problem is that most advice I’ve read is to tackle any other issues before a swayback adjustment. Ayayay. In the end, I decided to just go ahead and try the swayback and see how that turned out, since I was fairly sure that was at least one of the causes.
My ever-suffering husband (or so he likes to think) pinched out the excess from my first Melilot shirt and clipped/pinned it at the back. It measured around 3/4″ from what I could tell, so I doubled it to 1.5″ and created a wedge on the pattern with the centre back measuring that largest reduction of 1.5 inches. This adjustment then tapers towards the side seam so you don’t actually lose any length there.
After truing and levelling the seams, I went ahead and cut the shirt pieces out of my treasured Nani Iro double gauze. I’ve had this piece of fabric for a long time and I knew as soon as I made the striped Melilot that this would be a great pattern to showcase this stunning design. It is also one of the pieces I put in my little capsule wardrobe for Design Your Wardrobe. The double gauze is so light and airy to wear, I figured it would be very practical in the summer running around during the day – and of course it will get softer and softer with washing, making it an ever-greater pleasure to wear! It is rather difficult to photograph well though – the real contrast is between light blue and white pastel dots (rather Monet lilies-like as someone pointed out) and the metallic pink dots that have a little sparkle. I love it.
I constructed the shirt in exactly the same way as last time. I had none of the issues I had last time, but I did have one new one. The sleeves sewed up almost perfectly this time, and I think I did reverse the order of whether the cuff was on the outside of the shirt body or not. I did exactly as the instructions indicated, so perhaps that was the difference. I felt the hips a little tight last time, but I’ve lost at least an inch or so from my hips over the last month, so that wasn’t an issue this time.
The only problem I had was finishing the collar stand edges where they meet the front. It all looked good when I pinned it, but came up short after sewing. This means the ends are a bit raggedy – I tried to fix them by handsewing those bits down and applying some fray check. They’re not great, but I can live with it. If it frays badly, I’ll take another look.
I finished the hem with binding last time, but on this occasion I already knew I liked the length, so I went ahead and finished the hem by turning and sewing at the point suggested in the instructions. This seems very early compared to most construction processes, but, it is SO much easier to do it here. For anyone who was wondering the same thing, there is a good reason to have the hemming this early – if it’s your first time making the shirt and you want to hold off to see how it fits, I’d recommend binding to get round those curves.
The resulting fit at the back is much better now, so I think I only have a few little issues still to tackle. Firstly, I do think I have a bit of an erect back and so need a little off the general length as well as the sway back issue. Secondly are the creases around the armholes. I had a little discussion on this with other sewists at out last #seattlesews meetup and I do think it’s partly a function of the kimono sleeves, and partly the very rounded shape of the shoulders. But perhaps there’s something else I can do there. It feels comfortable to wear at any rate.
I chose little clear buttons this time, so as to avoid detracting from the fabric. The buttonholes are a little tight actually, but I think the fray check has something to do with that, and that they’ll loosen up quickly.
Overall, this blouse was always going to be a winner, given that I like the pattern and I love the fabric. I’m happy I made it and it’s going to get regular rotation in my wardrobe!