The first thing you will notice about this project is that yes, I am wearing a shirt made from that fabric. It is of course the Crowded Faces poplin from Lady McElroy and I bought mine at La Mercerie (currently sold out) a little while back after lusting after it for some time. I’ve seen a few makes pop up using both the white and this black version of the fabric and must say I’m quite tickled to be using an “in” fabric. I feel positively fashionista-like – the glow of which is probably the reason I was mad enough to take pictures in Seattle’s current “Snowmageddon”. That, and the fact that black is so hard to photograph – unless it’s SNOWING.
Anyway, enough about that. Quite a few of the other shirts I’ve seen using this fabric are Closet Case Files Kalle shirts, which is a sound pattern choice for this fabric. I, on the other hand, decided to use it for an Ottobre pattern, which is from the 02/2018 magazine, and is called the Terese blouse. It’s a beautiful blouse, from a retro edition of the magazine, and has big drapey sleeves with a bit of length as well as volume. The suggested fabric is rayon challis or similar, which is very logical and I swear I knew this. I knew it. I washed up the poplin and it washed up a little stiffer than it appeared before and I shouldn’t have used it, but I did. I’ll come back to that later, but you will already have noticed in the pics, you eagle-eyed sewists you, that I am not sporting any sort of drapey 40s sleeve.
Alright, so in case you didn’t know, Ottobre magazine has a Burda-style set-up of nested patterns, which do not include seam allowance. You have to add those yourself. It also features very good, but VERY concise instructions. I always approach one of these patterns knowing that everything I need to know is there – I just need to decipher it. I don’t mind at all, because I always end up improving my skills when I make an Ottobre (or Style Arc or Burda) pattern – I won’t lie though, there are some nights when I lie awake trying to puzzle the problem out in my head. But – oh – how satisfying when you work it out!
In this particular case, the main issue was the button placket. I have made a few before, although not for a while, but I have never made a hidden button placket. It always takes a bit of research to do something new, but in this case adding the seam allowance really complicated matters. If you’ve made them before I’m sure you will understand what’s going on, but just in case you haven’t and you fancy trying out this pattern, I’m going to explain a little what you’re supposed to do, as I finally understood it.
First, you need to create two separate pattern pieces, one for the front left body piece, and one for the right front. The right front is the bigger piece as it has the overlapping placket. So first you trace out the two pieces from the same Ottobre piece: 7. The difference is that for the right side you trace the whole pattern piece with four placket lines at centre front. For the left piece you stop where the little pencil indicates, so you only have two placket lines at centre front. Now the extra-special part: you then need to add seam allowance to both parts at centre front. Seriously people, this took me so long to figure out. I had done it originally, then thought it wasn’t necessary and then painstakingly realized it was – after I cut out my front pieces. ARGH. (I said something a little more rude at the time). If you do it correctly, you will end up with the above pattern pieces. You will also want to mark lines I and II on each your pattern as I’ve done. Okay!
Let’s do the easy left front first. Pics from the left show: 1. Fold in and press your seam allowance. 2. Fold and press along Line II, wrong sides together 3. Stitch and press.
Now for the right front: the first part is the same, the only difference being you fold along Line I, which bisects two slightly thinner strips. You then fold the whole thing along the second fold Line II and then fold that part back on itself to form a double accordion-style fold. Press.
You want to neaten up that edge though, so now you flip out the seam allowance where it’s tucked away and fold it over the whole double fold. You will end up with a double fold, where one fold is slightly thinner than the other (last picture). Hurrah! Stitch and press.
Whew! Once I’d cracked that part, the rest was reasonably straightforward. Next was stitching the bust darts. I both lowered the bust dart by an inch and added a one-inch full bust adjustment onto the shirt. I should have mentioned already that I made the 46. As it turns out, I didn’t lower it quite enough, so will lower the dart another inch next time I make this shirt.
Then it was time for the sleeves. Interestingly, you attach these sleeves flat, after gathering the sleeve head. I was surprised at that, but then I suppose you’re not really trying to ease the sleeve in the round as the gathers are totally visible. In any case I did what they said and it worked very well. The sleeves and sides are sewn in one go as you would do for a knit tee, and the sleeve came out great. Well, the stitching did. At this point I had a bit of a sinking feeling and tried the shirt on.
The first pic is the sleeve on its side. As you can see, it makes a beautiful 3D structure, but that is definitely not the effect you want in a gentle 40s blouse, haha. I am not averse to a dramatic sleeve, but this was just wrong, wrong, wrong.
The next part proved to me that I have matured a little as a seamstress. I would probably have given up at this point a year ago and written it off as a bad choice. But this time I immediately started considering all the different options I had to save the shirt. I won’t bore you with the details, but in the end I remembered there was another blouse in the Ottobre magazine with a straighter sleeve, but similar body, and decided to go for a straight swap, fingers crossed.
Here’s a pic (above) with one old sleeve and one new. In a still picture, the old sleeve doesn’t even look that bad, but believe me, in real life, that bugger doesn’t move. It’s incredibly puffy like an Elizabethan sleeve and stiff as an Elvis quiff. Fortunately the new sleeve was a very good fit and I proceeded with Plan B: Graft-on-new-sleeves.
The collar went on well and without incident and I quite enjoyed refreshing my memory on the process. I watched a couple of YouTube videos and was really pleased with my collar finish. It’s my best one so far, no doubt. It’s a bit of a shame that you can’t see it too well with such a busy print, but I really like the size of it. Finally, I added some buttons and took the new sleeve hem up quite a bit to a length I liked. It’s still fairly long, but the proportions seem pretty good to me. The buttons and buttonholes went in fine for once, but I do need to add another as there aren’t enough for my geometrical requirements.
Wowsers. I really enjoyed making this blouse, and it’s amazing what a different feel it has with a slightly different fabric and sleeve shape. I do really love the finished outcome – it’s very “me” to be honest. I also think it has much more of a menswear feel, which is brilliant, because I now have another garment for Menswear month over at the Sewcialists. Ha!
Having said that, I have the perfecttttt crepe (really this time) to make up the blouse as originally intended and I’m going to do just that this month with a bit of luck. I do have a couple of changes to make: lower the bust dart as I mentioned, and also to grade down the shoulders. I noticed when I looked at the line drawing again that the shoulder seamline for Terese sits a little higher than actual shoulder, allowing the fabric to drape over the shoulder, rather than from it. I’m going to see if I can produce the same effect.
That was a very long post, but I hope the details are helpful for someone else, even if it’s only me when I make it next. I’ve already forgotten half the hidden placket procedure! Talk to you soon and enjoy the snow if you have it too!