My blouse is finished

This is my blouse now that it's been washed and pressed. Now, I know the fit is off, but I found out why: when I fitted the sleeve I didn't finish altering the pattern and then when I was cutting the blouse fabric, I didn't notice the notes I had made on the pattern to change it later. There's another reason to make a toile.

Next time I make a blouse I will of course make sure the sleeve fits right. I ought also to underline or "back" it. And press as I go because somehow, the collar still isn't quite right at the back.

I don't remember if I mentioned it last time, but I have added sleeve heads. I think I may have to stitch them down somewhere because the left one keeps coming out of place. Next time I may make them wider.

Still, it's a nice blouse and a good first try, don't you think?

Muslin Vs. Toile

And while we're briefly on the subject of toiles (or as the Americans call them, "muslins") let's clear up the issue of which fabric to use. Given that the Americans publish far more sewing literature than we British do, we often read of making a muslin. That can be confusing because we would naturally assume that a muslin ought to be made of muslin. Not so.

In England, we call muslins "toiles" (a French word, pronounced "twals") and we make them out of calico or cheap cotton. Muslin fabric as we know it is for face cloths and cloth-nappy linings. It's far too sheer for making test garments when we are going to make the real garment out of an ordinary fabric.

In America, they call calico "muslin" and make their test garments out of calico, just a we do (or ought to do). I don't know what they call muslin fabric.

I hope that has cleared the matter up for people. It will certainly help me now that I know. But what am I going to do with the 6 metres of muslin that's sitting on my sewing desk?

This week I have been studying pattern-making

And I have been looking at BurdaStyle magazine. I have only one issue: October 2010 (our nearest WHSmiths is a bus-ride away and I haven't another reason to go to town). Two of the reasons I got it are that there are Jackie O. styles and Career clothes (I started learning about Power Dressing when I was about twelve.)

I was browsing though the instructions when I noticed the shape of the collar pattern for blouse style 130. It's not shaped like a standard convertible collar: it's curved. I thought they must have drafted an exceptionally well-engineered collar pattern, and they may have, but as it turns out, it's not a convertible collar as the photo might have you think -- it's a small notched collar. It does say this in the caption, but it hadn't really sunk in until I noticed the pattern piece's shape. 
Please ignore the blue lines on the technical drawing - I added those.

(As a side note, they also suggest that we use a bias strip as a back-neck facing. I would have just turned the raw edge in and stitched invisibly by hand. The buttons are invisible in this blouse - the buttonholes are on the facing only, not the outside. How unusual!)

Here's a photo of inside Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich. I think the BurdaStyle blouse must have been drafted like style 19 - the Standard Rever - with a collar with a low stand. It's the curved shape of the collar that tipped me off. The standard rever collar is drafted like the Gent's collar (notched collar) but is rounder at the neckline and, in this example, can be shaped more. I suppose the Gent's collar could shaped in the same way. It would just result in a lower "stand".

To find out how much the collar pattern had been slashed and spread, I traced it, tore up to neckline (I didn't have my scissors handy) and overlapped until it was more or less straight. There was a 1cm overlap, which means that they had inserted 2cm, which is how much is in the Metric Pattern Cutting collar with stand. I assumed that Burda, being European, most likely use the metric pattern cutting method, rather than the American one. As an extra clue, their measurements are not the same as other companies, and they are known for their cut.

So that's what I've been doing this week. I hope you found it interesting. You know, when I started to learn to sew, I wanted to be able to make whatever style I wanted, having designed clothes for years, but not been able to make them. It's only now that I can really start to do that because I am learn pattern-making. I didn't adapt patterns beyond not cutting holes at the neckline (if you can call that adapting a pattern). Isn't it great that things are usually really very simple, once you get the basic idea?!

Until next week, happy sewing (and possibly pattern-making!)
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner


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