Friday, 24 May 2013

Wrap blouse

So, rather late, but I'm catching up on my Burda challenge for April. I have to say April's Burda magazine isn't terribly exciting (and May is even worse), but there were a couple of patterns that caught my eye. One was this wrap blouse: I need more separates, and this looked to add variety to my wardrobe, as well as being a shorter length that is more suitable to wear with skirts (I prefer hip-length tops with trousers/jeans, but this can look an odd proportion with a skirt).

Pattern description

BurdaStyle Magazine 04/2013/113: Wrap blouse with front pleats, low-cut V-neck and short puff sleeves.

Pattern sizing

34-44. I cut the 42 at the shoulders/bust and blended to a 44 at the hip. (Woo! I've lost weight!)

Fabric used

Cotton lawn purchased many years ago at Abakhan Fabrics, on a shopping trip with my mother-in-law! It's very lightweight, with a smooth finish and a slight sheen.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope/sketch/idea when you were done?

Mostly. Mine isn't as close-fitting around the mid-section as in the photograph on the model, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

I thought the instructions were fairly good for this pattern. The steps were clearly explained and there wasn't anything missed out or glossed over. The only thing that isn't explicitly explained and you might need to think about is the way the button loops and tie are sandwiched between the bodice and facings, so that they end up the right way around (i.e. sticking out the edge rather than inside the garment!).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I'm not a huge fan of puff sleeves, but I actually quite like the sleeves here. The gathering into the sleeve band is not too much, and the excess at the top is taken out with pleats rather than more gathering, meaning the sleeves don't end up being too saccharine.

For me, this top is very short. I lengthened it here by 2cm, but I found that was only just enough (I ended up taking a narrow hem allowance, meaning I effectively lengthened the top by a total of 3cm). The top really is very low cut too, which combined with the wrap design and woven fabric means that it's a little flashy. And not in a good way... I also found the pleats sat very oddly, although this is also as much (if not more) from poor fitting rather than poor drafting (I did a rather slapdash adjustment for a full bust).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I made a muslin to roughly check the fit (without the sleeves or facings), and found it fit in terms of ease across my bust, but the neckline gaped horribly. I pinched out the excess into a dart pointing toward the bust point, then transferred this to the paper pattern. The excess was then rotated out into the pleats, the neckline smoothed, and the the facing re-drawn. This seemed to work fine for the muslin, but I think a slightly less rough and ready fitting over the bust would have been a bit more flattering. Amazingly, the back fits pretty well without any changes at all (it's not actually as wrinkly as the picture would imply, I think it's a bit caught up, or the way I'm standing).

I did my usual forward shoulder adjustment on the shoulder seam and sleeve head. I didn't reshape the armscye at all, but I think scooping a little at the front armscye would have improved the fit a bit, as there's a bit of excess bunching there, which isn't helping the slightly odd pleats.

As mentioned above, I also lengthened the top in the pattern piece by 2cm, although the actual top ended up being 3cm longer as I took a narrower hem. I also drafted the sleeve bands 1cm longer so they weren't so tight on my upper arms.

Construction details

This was mostly constructed on my regular machine, with exposed seams finished on my serger. Instead of using fusible interfacing on the facing and sleeve bands, I used an extra layer of self fabric, and stabilised the neckline (as well as the armscyes and shoulders) with Vilene bias tape. Using self fabric also meant I could easily finish the facing edge neatly (by sewing right sides together along the outside edge and flipping the right way out before attaching to the main part of the bodice).

Rather than stitch in the ditch as suggested to finish the inside of the sleeve bands, I slipstitched this down by hand, as for me this was faster and neater. I did however use the machine to sew the facing to the shoulder seams, the facing to the hem, and the inside tie to the side seam, following previous lines of stitching in each case to hide the stitches.

As it's very thin fabric, I stabilised behind where the buttons were sewn on with small pieces of self fabric (sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this). I also added a snap at the neckline. I actually need to lower the snap placement a little, but wasn't in the mood to fix this earlier as I'd already sewn the buttons on three times before I was happy with the placement.

By the way, when the instructions say to baste pleats etc, I highly recommend doing so; it makes the pieces much easier to handle and put together accurately. It's also helpful to baste or otherwise mark along the seam lines at the corner of the front bodice pieces when attaching the tie and button loops so that placement is easier.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others

I'm unlikely to sew this again, although I may reuse the sleeves and the back bodice. To be honest, I don't think I would recommend this, at least for ladies with a fuller bust. I think it may well work better and be more flattering on a smaller chest, as it would remove a lot of the fitting issues. To my eyes, this top also has a slight whiff of maternity wear on me, I think because the fastening is above the waistline, and this effect would also be lessened with a smaller bust.


This top was pretty quick to make, and isn't terrible, but there's something a bit off about the fit that means I'm constantly having to adjust it whilst wearing it. I will wear this to see how I actually like it (after altering the snap). This is unlikely to make it into my regular wardrobe, but I can see it being useful as maybe a cover up when I'm off to the lake to swim, and it's also useful to know a style for me to avoid too! And it's another month done in my Burda challenge. (Speaking of Burda, the June edition appeared in my postbox today, and it looks great - so much better than the last couple of months... Can't wait to get sewing!)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Me-Made-May '13 round-up: days 13-19

Day 13

Sadly I didn't wear anything me-made on this day, although I did wash plenty of me-made things: it was laundry day after the trip to the UK!

Day 14

Top: me-made, but not yet blogged (modified Sorbetto) | Skirt: me-made (self-drafted) | Necklace: Accessorise | Sandals: Hush Puppies

Worn: to go for drinks and dinner with friends. It was a lovely sunny day, but I was a bit overenthusiastic with the bare legs as it was actually rather nippy in the evening. This is the fifth version of the Sorbetto I've made, although I haven't yet blogged about it. It's lovely and cool to wear (it's rayon challis), but I think I might take it in a bit at the waist on the CB seam and maybe the side seams too as it's a bit shapeless as it currently is. You can my previous Sorbettos here, here, here and here).

Day 15

Top: me-made (self-drafted) | Apron: me-made, but never blogged (a free online pattern that seems to have disappeared)

Worn: around the house, and to do a bit of sewing - I've made a start on April's Burda challenge! I actually wear this apron nearly every time I cook, so I've realised this is also a very well-used me-made item.

Day 16

Top: me-made (Sorbetto) | Vest top and jeans: H&M | Necklace: eBay (I think?)

Worn: to do shopping and prep for a dinner party the next night.

Day 17

Top: me-made (Sorbetto) | Vest top and jeans: H&M | Earrings: Accessorise | Limoncello: courtesy of Matteo, and delicious...

Worn: for dinner and drinks with friends. Lots of drinks. I invited two other couples round for dinner, nominally to say thank you for cat-sitting, but really to try some of our friend's homemade limoncello (made with proper Amalfi coast lemons!). I can happily report that the limoncello was very very very good. We had a super fun night, I made vast quantities of curries and chutneys. I can also happily report that there was some left over so it's been a curry-tastic weekend here. This should have been the theme Friday (hats), but I've postponed my participation - I have a plan but it involves going into town, and I spent all of this day in the kitchen...

Day 18

I didn't actually get dressed this day (did I mention the drinks?), so nothing me-made. Oops.

Day 19

Forgot to take a photo as I was just hanging around the house watching MotoGP and IPL, but I wore my leopard print batwing top, never blogged properly, but seen here.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Me-Made-May '13 round-up: days 1-12

Right, I'm finally back at home and looking forward to catching up with my sewing, gardening and housework (well, maybe not looking forward so much to that last one...). Sewing-wise, the first thing is to catch up on documenting Me-Made-May '13, and the next thing will be to do my April (and May) Burda challenge.

Day 1

Pyjama shorts: me-made

Worn: to go to bed. I was spending the day packing and tidying the house before 10 days in the UK, and ended up not wearing anything me-made during the day. Then I remembered I still had these pyjama shorts hanging around, so I was able to sleep in a me-made style!

Day 2

Necklace: me-made (and rather wonky in the photo!) | Top, cardie and jeans (!): Uniqlo | Bag: Kipling

Worn: to fly to Liverpool. I still love this necklace, it goes with a surprising range of outfits, and I'm pleased that it didn't end up looking too "craftsy" or homemade. I'm wondering here if I remembered to pay for my parking. Then remembering that I arrived by aeroplane.

Day 3

Top: me-made (self-drafted) | Jeans and jacket: H&M | Necklace: local shop in Hammersmith, London | Bag: Kipling | Shoes: Pesaro

Worn: for an afternoon out in Liverpool, then to see friends in Birkenhead. Today was Theme Friday: water! Here I am by the Albert Docks in Liverpool, with the Three Graces (the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building) and the Museum of Liverpool in the background.

Day 4

Top: me-made (modified Sorbetto) | Cardie: Uniqlo | Jeans: H&M | Shoes: Pesaro

Worn: for a day out in Chester with a friend and her children. These are her new chickens - they are adorable, and have fluffy tails that look like beehive hairdos. I've finally got around to redoing the yoke and sleeves of this top, and it's now completely wearable. I am sure to be wearing this again soon, so when I do I will take a picture to show the alterations.

Days 5 & 6

I didn't wear anything me-made on 5 or 6 May unfortunately. 5 May I was at a wedding, where I had intended to wear my birthday dress. Sadly I ran out of time after coming back from holiday to have it dry-cleaned and do the alterations needed, so wore RTW instead. 6 May was a day of travelling from the Wirral to Sussex (via an ice cream in the sunshine by the Dee in Chester), and I ended up not wearing me-made again.

Day 7

Top: me-made, never blogged (self-drafted) | Skirt: me-made (self-drafted) | Shoes: Pesaro | Sunglasses: prescription from Alan Afflelou | Book: Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen

Worn: to chill in the garden during the day, then out for a pub dinner with my parents in the evening (although I changed into jeans for the evening as it was a little chilly). This top is rather on its last legs: there is a small hole and weird stain at the front of the neckline, the grain has gone twisty, and it's generally sagged a bit all over. However it's still very comfortable to wear when I don't need to be too smart. The skirt is also rather worn now and the stretch denim has gone a little odd at stress points. However, this has probably been my most worn item ever, and I'm thinking about making a replacement soon - I just need to decide on the style.

Day 8

Top: me-made (self-drafted), never blogged properly, but seen here | Cardie: Uniqlo | Trousers: C&A | Shoes: Pesaro

Worn: to harass the cat during the day, then to travel back to London and eat curry in the evening. This is one of the cats I grew up with. He's now 17, but fortunately still in pretty good health.

Day 9

Top: me-made (BurdaStyle magazine) 02/2013/127 | Jacket: H&M | Necklace: local shop in Hammersmith, London | Bag: Kipling

Worn: to a lunchtime cello recital at LSO St Luke's.

Day 10

Top (just seen): me-made (modified Sorbetto) | Jacket and scarf: H&M | Jeans: Uniqlo | Shoes: Bata | Bag: Kipling

Worn: to do a little bit of shopping, and to snooze in St James's Park. The second Theme Friday: sewing spaces. I was away from home, but was going to the wonderful MacCulloch and Wallis to stock up on some notions whilst in London, so thought this was an appropriate interpretation! I will do a photo in my own sewing space at some point soon now I'm back home...

Day 11

Necklace: me-made (only just seen, you'll have to take my word for it that it's there!) | Jacket and scarf: H&M

Worn: to travel back home to Switzerland. I used to come and watch planes at Gatwick with my uncle, and I still find the monorail just as exciting as when I was seven (I once spent over an hour riding back and forth on it with my nan). Although, nowadays, it also makes me think of this.

Day 12

As it's the first day in weeks where I don't have to get up and dressed and go out and do things, I am spending the day in my me-made pyjama shorts, a vest top and my dressing gown. And no, you're not getting a photo of that!