Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Tale of Rose Red, Part 4

The blouse is finished!

(Reference photo)

Last night was a magical night on the sewing front. I called a friend to ask if I could raid her elastic supply since I needed elastic to proceed and I didn't feel like driving all the way to the nearest place I could get some.

She brought some 1/4" and 1/8" samples. Sandry has a cool stitch that allows me to zig zag elastic straight onto a gather without having to worry about casing and the like, and I'd already practiced using it some weeks earlier. So after a quick trial run with the crinkle chiffon fabric I was able to finish off the garment in the following steps:

(1) I narrow hem serged the edges of the cuffs.
(2) Gathered the cuffs and sewed down the elastic.
(3) Assembled the four pieces of the peasant blouse (back, front, two sleeves). I believe I may have mentioned in an earlier post about how much I adore the simplicity of this shirt's construction. Or maybe that was just on Facebook.
(4) Narrow hem serged the edge of the neckline and hem.
(5) Did a test gather of the neckline and a fitting.

Now, here is where the turn of events took me by surprise. My game plan has always been up to this point to build a casing for the neck, make a drawstring, and finish off the shirt in that way (see reference photo). But as soon as I put the shirt on it became apparent that even were I to do all that, it wouldn't really resemble Red's blouse exactly because her shirt is much more gathered than mine will ever be. I needed about twice the shirt.

What I did have was lovely and "close enough". I also felt emboldened by my success with the elastic on the cuffs so instead of bothering with casing and all that extra work, I just took the rest of the 1/8" elastic and did the same thing to the neckline. The result is what you see at the top of this post.

(If you squint you can kinda sorta see the zig zag stitches that attach the elastic to the fabric)

Technically, I still have to add a faux bow to "complete" the shirt, but that's an afterthought.

So after probably four complete days' worth of work testing the sleeves, practicing special stitches on my new machine, and learning new techniques on my serger, all my hard work came together in one surprisingly productive evening and a finished garment.

The even better news? I chose starting with the blouse because I knew all this learning and trial and error would probably make it the most difficult of all of Red's ensemble for me. So, theoretically, it's all downhill from here!

Let's check the to-do list:

I. Blouse
II. Vest
III. Skirt
IV. Cape
V. Petticoat
VI. Boots, Gloves
VII. Hair, Basket, etc.
So I'll be eagerly working on the vest, next, which is #2 in intimidation factor because of the Very Special and Expensive fabric that I bought. It's also my first time using boning as called for by a pattern, but that doesn't really worry me. 

First, though, I'll work up a summary reference post on how I made the blouse (including specific adjustments, etc), should anyone wish to emulate my take on it.


  1. Lovely blouse!

    Boning isn't that hard to work with, especially if it's the plasticy stuff that's at basically every average fabric store. I'm actually finishing up a dress now where I used it pretty heavily in the bodice. So feel free to ask if you have any questions! (My one bit of advice I'll give you is that if your vest has a lining, you may want to consider sewing the boning to that, since if you make a serious mistake, it'll be easier to replace lining than Very Special and Expensive Fabric. ;)

  2. Do you ever take costume commissions?

  3. Anonymous - I'm sorry, I don't. Sewing wouldn't be enjoyable for me if it became and obligation. I have to devote my "official work" energies to my day job and my writing. But I am very flattered you think so highly of my work, thank you. :-)


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