Sewing a Foreign Language: Patrones Blouse #9

Remember this blouse? It’s from Patrones 290, #9, I promised a how-to and here it is.

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The first thing I always do when working without instructions is get my head around the pattern pieces. Here they are nicely laid out and labeled.

Because this blouse has princess seams both front and back we have two front pieces and two back pieces (with the center back cut on the fold). The center front is self-faced and there is also a back neck facing, the pattern piece for this was traced from the center back pattern piece (see the blue curve at the top). Then we have two different rectangles, one for the ruffles and the other is to become self bias-binding for the armholes, these pieces are given as dimensions in the instructions.

Preparing the pieces: There’s not a lot to be done to these pieces, there are no darts or pleats or gathers, just the front self-facing and the back neck facing. For the front I folded the facing to the outside, right sides facing and pinned the neck edge then stitched along the curved edge only, neaten and turn.

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Here is a close up of the neck edge, after turning I decided to topstitch it to keep it in place but after the next step I realized I needed to attach to the neck facing first so I had to unpick it. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.

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Place the neck facing onto the center back piece, right sides facing, lining up with the curve of the neck. Pin, stitch along the neck curve, neaten and turn.

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This is the step that caused me to undo my top stitching. I realised that when I sew my shoulder seams I can also sew my facings together at the same time.

It’s hard to see in the photo but you fold out the front facings on the front pieces and fold up the neck facing on the back piece. Now you can pin the front and back pieces together at the shoulders and across where the facings meet as well.

I hope that makes sense, in the photo you can see the seams are pinned and then I have opened the whole thing out, I have tried to label each piece.

Turn the facings back to the inside and now if you want you can either under stitch or topstitch them. I chose to do this since my silk is slippery and I want to keep the facings in place.

Now for the ruffles: I neatened all edges of the ruffle rectangles then created a narrow hew along one long side and both short ends then along the other long edge I ran two lines of gathering stitch (longest stitch length 4.0 on a low tension)…and here is where I discovered a problem with the pattern.

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What you can see in the photo above are the blouse pieces lying open at the shoulder seam and the finished ruffle rectangle lying beside it. You can see the two orange headed pins in the blouse body, they mark where the ruffle is to be attached and even un-gathered the rectangle is barely long enough to span between them.

Frustrated I checked my measurements and no problems there so it must be a typo in the magazine. I was loath to re-cut them since I have plans for the tiny bit of left over silk that remains so I re-cut two more rectangles and joined them together at the short edge. This extra seam will be in-line with the shoulder seam and since it is gathered I’m sure it will be almost invisible so I stopped stressing and got on with it.

Here you can see one newly lengthened and gathered ruffle pined in place beside an un-gathered one. Doubling the length was perfect and I am wondering if the instruction/diagram was meant to show it cut on the fold. Gather each ruffle to match the length between the pins/markings, pin in place right sides together and stitch.

Attaching the ruffles

Here is the blouse, with ruffles attached laid out. Excuse the lazy Photoshop stitch attempt – I couldn’t get high enough in my room to snap the entire blouse:

Side seams are stitched next, and then I hemmed the bottom of the blouse. You can turn the self facings out as you hem to make really neat, sharp corners at the bottom.

Scarlett models the almost finished blouse

Mark the buttons holes next. I have always had a problem with gaping at the bust on my blouses so I have started ignoring the button hole markings on the patterns and instead I mark one button hole at the largest part of my bust and then space my buttons evenly around this hole, usually one above and then the rest below.

I use this Simflex Expanding Gauge to mark even spaces, it’s a great tool that I use all the time and you can use it for pleats as well.

To reinforce the silk I used some rectangles of interfacing behind the button-holes, under the facing and again behind the buttons.

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I’m always a bit nervous sewing buttons holes, they feel so final and permanent.

My machine has a 1-step button hole, I set the dial and stitch length to suit the fabric and use this special foot, which expands to take one of the buttons an sets the overall button hole length. A pull down guide catches some thinga-ma-jig near the back and makes the machine return at the end of each hole.

Always make a test button hole on a scrap piece of fabric and fold it over on itself to mimic the final thickness of fabric you’ll be sewing your real button holes on. Adjust your tension and stitch length until you are happy with your practice hole.

The most common problem I have with button holes is forgetting to reset the machine after each one is complete.

The most important switch

And there you are: one button hole. I prefer to pull the threads to the back and knot them off rather than cutting them at the front.

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Now for buttons: I bought this foot when I first bought my machine, it’s amazing! I never sew buttons on by hand (well flat buttons anyway). You could probably use a satin stitch foot for this but the rubber tip and back edge of the foot helps keep the button in place.

To use this foot you need to be able to adjust your machines zig-zag width. For extra slippery button/fabric combinations I quickly hand tack each button in place before slipping it under the machines foot. Set your machine to a wide zig-zag and stitch length to zero. Hand-turn the wheel and adjust the zig-zag width so that the needle clears each button hole then put your foot down for a few stitches and move onto the next button. I always hand-wheel the first stitch for each button first to test position otherwise you risk snapping a needle and damaging the button. I have been told you can just snip the threads off flush with the button but I prefer to pull them both to the back and knot them off.

I was a bit unsure of how to finish the armholes. I think you are supposed make self bias-binding from one of the rectangles given in the instructions and encase the raw edge but this can only be done to the lower half otherwise you end up catching part of the ruffle so I turned in the ends and worked the bias around the lover half of the hole then just overlocked the upper half as you can see. I don’t think this is entirely correct but it works.

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And that’s it. I really love the silk that I use, I bought it from the Joveeba closing down sale about a year ago, both the colour and pattern of it and how it feels to wear. I’ve never owned a silk item before (lame huh?) and even though I have to hand wash it I can see many more silk items in my future.

 

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4 thoughts on “Sewing a Foreign Language: Patrones Blouse #9

    • Thanks! It was pretty easy and it’s quite versatile :) I like that it doesn’t have a serious blousey collar, so I can wear it quite casual or dress it up for work.

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