Category Archives: Techniques

Golden Apricot Blouse from Basic Block

I have in mind a 3-piece blouse set. It will comprise of (one each) long-sleeve, quarter-sleeve and sleeveless tops. This combination will serve me through late spring, summer and parts of fall.  I hope it travels well because such a set is invaluable for both long and short trips.

I feel bruised by the dark side. Like I ventured into dangerous territory (pants fitting and Indy patterns) and came out lucky to have my life.  I’ve decided to work more with my basic blocks at least for the time being, because fitting should be quick which allows me more time to work with the things I love i.e beautiful fabrics and embellishments. At the same time, I’m not sure I want to make the basic bodice 3 different times.  What variety can I insert without getting too far from basic?  I allowed myself to be inspired by HSN and this casual top:

I rush to repeat, this is an inspiration. I will take elements from; I will not copy exactly.

  • I will be making layers.
  • My blouse will have a floaty feel.
  • My garment will have a set-in sleeve
  • and pull-over the head.
  • My fabrics are all woven.

But otherwise my garment varies so greatly, you may not detect the inspiration in the final.

I selected a print fabric for the long sleeve blouse (yet to be sewn); then selected coordinating colors for the short-sleeve and sleeveless versions.  I like working like this i.e. creating a set and coordinating colors by use of a print. Color is my nemesis. I’m assured of a final color grouping I like when I start with a printed fabric I love. Fabric for this short sleeve blouse is a golden apricot silk. Actually, 2 silks both purchased at garage sales.  The darker is a pongee silk. I’m using that as my lower layer and hoping that’s not a mistake.  The pongee has a nap. I’ve positioned the nap running down, towards the floor and hoping it does not want to creep upwards.  The upper layer is a plain weave but very nice silk. (I like silk no matter if it’s good or cheap.)  Both are translucent but not transparent. Pairing them in this fashion, layers, assures my modesty.  Not that I”m terribly or religiously modest just that I don’t care  for underwear showing and I prefer a little mystery about my actual body shape.

Did I mention I wanted to test my basic block again.  I’ve been away from it for a while only use it as a test for circumference and length. I’ve learned I can’t simply copy the slope and armscye to a new pattern. Sorry Peggy, I have the wadders to prove that.

This is one of those places  I think Peggy makes sweeping statements when she should be more specific. Perhaps it really does work to transfer armscye and sleeve between several of her patterns. I know I’ve been able to transfer sleeves if the caps could be walked along the intended armscye. But not every armscye can be transferred to every pattern. It’s not an automatic win.

I cut the darker fabric straight from my basic block Connie Crawford 1201. Stitched the darts and shoulder seams before basting side seams and checking fit.  I just never know if something is going to fit or not. Fabric plays a huge factor and absolutely can ruin a perfectly good pattern if I start copying the effects of the fabric to the pattern.  I slipped in shoulder pads, because my block was developed for shoulder pads. Gave a huge sigh of relief when the initial fit was near perfect.

For the upper layer,  I copied my basic block, trimmed 5″ above the hem and then rotated back shoulder and front bust dart to the hem.  I’m leaving the vertical waist darts unsewn. I want a floaty appearance. That requires ease. I marked my desired neckline. My block is marked with  the highest neckline comfortable for me.  I know anywhere about 6″ deeper  and an inch wider is comfortable for me.  I marked my neckline 3″ deeper and 1/2″ wider on the front. 1/2″ deeper and wider on the back and trimmed the excess.  I stitched the shoulder seams together then placed lighter/shorter layer inside with RS to WS of the darker/longer layer. I serged the neckline; then under stitched and flipped to the outside.  It’s really an old technique for neatly sewing and finishing a neckline at the same time. Then I basted the side seams of the upper layer and tried it on.

I didn’t want quite this much fullness

I was checking for proportions and over all effect. I realized quickly my plan the hem the lower level 1.25″ would ruin the look of the layers. But this is silk which responds well to roll hemming. I would roll hem both layers at my serger.  Next issue was how floating the upper layer actually was. I knew that rotating the bust dart would add fullness to the hem. I wanted that. It was the whole purpose of my rotating the dart. I didn’t expect baby-doll pajama fullness. Given the outcome of this tank blog post Aug 2015, I really should have known better.  Maybe I didn’t remember because  my tanks have been packed away for months. I really don’t understand how to rotate the dart and control the fullness. Without ruining the fit. I’m good at ruining fit.  Could I have trimmed some fullness from the side seam?  I didn’t and still don’t know. What I did was to finish the sleeves, side seams and hem and start basting in pin tucks.

I played with length, position and number of pin tucks.

I’m not sure I’m settled upon 4 front and 4 back, 1/8″ tucks.  Tucks removed about 1″ ease from the front and again from the back. There is a point at which the number of tucks start causing drag lines running from bust to side seam.

The drag lines disappear when some tucks are removed. I’d rather have a little more-than-planned hem-fullness than drag lines.

I also played with sleeve length. I folded up the hem and tried to decide if that effected proportions. I didn’t see an improvement.

Compare my right sleeves (left in the pic). The 2nd pic has rolled up the hem about an inch.

I spent much too much time on this blouse. I made 8 fittings.  OK, not fittings try-ons. But I was never frustrated. I was in the mode of test-and-observe. It felt like fun time rather than crunch time. AND I ended paused at a point of having a proud-to-wear blouse.  I worked on this blouse concurrent with the Gold Silk Tank which busted my chops. I can only wish all my sewing were as  interesting as this Golden Apricot Blouse.

I think, 8 tucks (total) controls some of the fullness while keeping the initial floaty feel. I like the proportion of top to bottom layer better in the back than the front but don’t plan to change either even if I add more tucks.  The neckline will be comfortable for all but the hottest summer days — in which case I will be inside and won’t notice the heat. I can still hem the sleeve, if that’s recommended.  To my surprise, I’ve created a midriff look that I will wear. I thought those were a style of my past. The top layer just covers my waist. OTOH, my ego has definitely been massaged. having completed this blouse, I feel so much more confident and I’m fired up to do more.