I’m one of the hosts for the May edition of Sew My Style and this month the theme is button-ups – one of my favourites. I decided to make the Novelista shirt by Blank Slate. Being a curvier gal with a large bust, the princess lines really appealed to me and I’d heard good things from other gals blessed with maximum mammaries.
The Novelista shirt is quite a classic shirt, with a two-piece collar and a larger collar than that of, say, the Melilot or the Perkins, which is the type of collar I’ve been encountering recently. It looks quite 70s to me when it’s open, (which is not necessarily a bad thing!) but took me a minute to get used to. I also wasn’t sure it would look very good buttoned up, but actually I like it! It has a choice of long or short sleeves and two different backs: a regular shirttail back and a crossover back, which is a little more unusual. I went for the short sleeves and the regular back as my fabric has a little crispness and I felt the crossback halves might not sit too flat.
And, of course, the fabric was one that I didn’t want to make a mistake with. It’s a Nani Iro Sazanami Pocho lawn that I bought from Miss Matatabi a few years ago (sadly unavailable but she has lots of other luscious Nani Iro fabrics). If you haven’t had the pleasure of sewing with a Nani Iro fabric before, let me tell you it is 120% worth getting hold of some. This lawn has a little of a lawn’s feature crispness, but somehow manages to be incredibly soft at the same time. It is very fine with a high threadcount I guess, and the colours are SO saturated. You can see it pop in the photos, but it’s even more vibrant in real life. Dreamy, dreamy. Actually, my only worry with this was that all the primary colours would make the shirt feel a little clown-like, but I’m glad the end result doesn’t feel at all childish.
I took a good long look at the sizing chart, which is a little unusual because it includes the high bust measurement, which is also the measurement you’re encouraged to use. This is a GOOD thing imo, but it did confuse me for a second as I’m so used to working it out using the full bust and final measurement numbers. I was double-guessing the designer and myself – “did she already take into account the adjustments I will make?”, etc. In the end though, I got hold of myself and did it my normal way, which is to make the size which corresponds to my high bust measurement so I get a good shoulder fit. I have a full bust measurement of 43″ and a high bust of 40″. So I cut the size L and made a 1.5″ full bust adjustment.
I’m very happy with that decision as I got a really great fit at the shoulders and upper half. My other measurements were closer to XL than L, so I then graded the waist and hips to the XL below the bust. Ta-da! As you can see in the full-body pics, there is a nice amount of ease in this shirt – and particularly around the hips, so I think I could have gotten away with just making the L. But there’s nothing wrong with having a shirt with a bit more room, so all in all I’m happy with the fit and I can really recommend it as a shirt for curves ( and I’m sure for other figures too, but I can’t judge those).
The FBA meant that I added 3/4″ onto the length of the front piece, so I then made sure I added that length onto placket so it matched. I mentioned this in the button tips and tricks post I did for this month’s challenge, so if the thought of sewing buttonholes fills you with dread, check it out.
The instructions for the Novelista are generally very good. The illustrations are clear and comprehensive – and I thought the explanation for the burrito rolling method for the yoke was particularly clear for a beginner. A couple of notes I made:
- The full bust adjustment (FBA) illustrations are for a shirt with armhole princess seams, whereas the Novelista is designed as a shirt with shoulder princess seams. The principle is exactly the same, so some sewists will be perfectly happy with that, but as someone who’s fairly inexperienced with FBAs on a garment with princess seams, I found it a bit headscratching, especially when figuring out where to add the hinge to rotate the dart back out. I did figure it out and then noticed that my “Fit for Real People” book by Palmer Pletsch has both variations illustrated, so if you have that, it might be worth a look.
- I made my pockets exactly per the instructions the first time, but found them really small and the flap was wider than the pocket. This was probably my own inaccuracy, but I stitched the folded edges at 1/4″ not 1/2″ in Step 7 of the pocket instructions and found it worked much better. Personal preference, of course.
- If you have an older pdf pattern (pre-May 2019), the yardage requirement might be off on your pattern. For a 45″ width fabric, the yardage requirement is larger for the shirt-sleeved shirt than the long-sleeved. I would look at the chart on the website here as it’s been corrected and I wouldn’t want you to get a short yardage. Blank Slate have since updated the pdf pattern, so any new versions will have the updated chart.
These are all small issues though and I really thought the construction was pretty straightforward. And I love the end result! As I mentioned above, it’s a very comfortable shirt and I know I will reach for it on a regular basis. The fabric will fit very well in my wardrobe (it’s part of my spring/summer wardrobe plan) and I would definitely make it again! Here’s an outtake for you: