Friday, 9 August 2013

I Sewed a Blouse

The last time I sewed clothes for myself, was an evening dress I made for my brother's wedding about 15 years ago.  I love craft sewing, but clothes sewing can be so frustrating.  Supplies have become so expensive (patterns, fabrics, buttons, etc) and several times I've made something, and then decided I don't like how it looked.  How many times have you picked up a shirt in a shop, tried it on, and realised it just doesn't suit you?  It's even worse when you've bought all the supplies, spent days sewing it carefully, then put it on and realised it doesn't suit you.

I found this adorable pattern on Tilly and the Buttons.

After having a look in her makers' gallery, and seeing how nice it looked in different fabrics, I decided I would have a go at making it for myself.  The pattern was really affordable and, once purchased, downloaded straight to my computer.  I printed all the pieces, then used my guillotine to trim the paper and my double-sided tape to join all the pieces together.  This process is a little time consuming, but you end up with a pattern on nice, sturdy copy paper, rather than the thin tissue paper of commercial patterns.

I found a beautiful Liberty fabric at Desai in Cricklewood Lane, West Hampstead, London.  I think it's a Tana Lawn, but I couldn't find it online.  I love Desai.  You can by really beautiful fabrics at much better prices than any other source I've found.  This Liberty print was only £12 per metre.  They usually sell for about £22 at Liberty.

I decided to set myself an extra challenge when making this shirt.  I wanted to sew it using flat felled seams (like the seams on a mens business shirt), but in the end I faked it.  This is how a proper flat felled seam should look.

Image from The Fabled Needle (click for link to tutorial)
I sewed french seams instead, then edge stitched them down.  They look beautiful, but don't have the extra row of stitching on the outside.  I did all the seams this way, except I chickened out on the sleeve.  With all the gathering into the shoulder seam, I was worried I would mess it up and ruin all my hard work.  I just did a regular seam, and used the overlocker to trim and seal the edge.  Here's the finished blouse.

This is probably the neatest sewing I have ever done.  I took my time to sew every pleat, seam and button hole as perfectly as I could.  The finish is absolutely lovely, and it is so comfortable and light to wear.  I think I should have used smaller buttons, but I just couldn't find exactly the right colour and texture in a smaller size.  All up, this was a lovely blouse to sew.  There are incredibly detailed step-by-step instructions on Tilly's website (complete with loads of photographs), so you just can't go wrong.

What would I do differently next time?  After looking at Tilly's makers' gallery, I think I would take some volume out of the sleeves next time I make this blouse.  One pattern in particular reduced the width of the lower sleeve by 4" and it looked lovely.  I think I'd also like to try shaping the back a little bit more, so would probably put in some back darts next time.  Finally, a chance to use my carefully drafted bodice block to adjust a commercial pattern.