Tuesday, 26 February 2019

A hastily finished shirt for GBSB Sew-a-long

I have too many things on the go at the moment. I want to get them finished before I start anything else. That’s the theory. 

One of the things was a blouse cut out before Christmas, using McCall's 7575 version D (I mentioned it in my blog in October!) and pushed aside as my sewing room turned back into a dining room. Although that transformation is temporary and short lived, it takes far longer to recreate my sewing space. So, I’m a long way from being organised even as well as I was before Christmas (and that wasn’t well!)
I chose view D

I have been sewing and doing things - I even have some blog posts written but keep coming up against blocks of various kinds. I will post separately about the knit tank I am making to match the test Blackwood cardigan, which I also altered. I also made a skirt toile and sent it off to Helen. More of that elsewhere.

I watched the first episode of series 5 of The Great British Sewing Bee. I enjoyed it. In many ways, it’s entirely unrepresentative of my sewing as I’m slow. However, alongside GBSB, @sewisfaction is running a sew-a-long each week, with the same theme as the episode. The theme of the first week’s GBSB was cotton - and so too was the theme of the sew-a-long. Sew anything in cotton. It can have been started already. It must be posted online by 3pm GMT on Tuesday (19th February).

This gave me a push towards the shirt/blouse I was going to make before Christmas, but I just didn’t get around to it. The pattern was already altered and the cotton chambray fabric cut out and toiled. I usually do a calico toile but on this occasion decided not to, as I was originally trying to finish before Christmas and was in a hurry. The main reason I put it aside was that I ran into a problem with interfacing. I really liked an interfacing I had, and had used for Helen’s silk dress, and tried to order more online. My order didn't appear. Nor did the replacement order. This was before Christmas, in the Christmas rush, and I gave up at that stage.

I bought some interfacing of the same number from Centre Front Studio (CFS). Here’s the strange thing - it wasn’t the same interfacing at all!! The interfacing from CFS is clearly labelled along the selvedge - and matches the interfacing in the sample book and interfacing I’ve seen since. 
The new interfacing with the correct number on the selvedge

The rather nice original interfacing wrongly labelled (no number on edge)

Packet interfacing came in

My original interfacing came in a branded and labelled packet but is dissimilar. Rory feels that my packet had the wrong interfacing originally but that what I had was much nicer and more expensive. I decided to use the new interfacing.

My sewing room chaos unfortunately led to me having lost two pattern pieces, already cut out, I think, though I can’t be sure. However, these are for the cuff and for the sleeve tabs I can grade up as I have the pattern pieces still for the smaller size range. You never know though - I might still find them!! Fortunately, I have enough fabric left that I can cut out new cuffs and tabs. The other problem I had with waiting was that my marks for the wrong side of fabric had worn off, as had crucial placement dots.

Before the sewing bee on Tuesday, I had already sewn the darts in back and front.

On Wednesday, I cut out the interfacing and fused (except for the cuffs; which had to wait.) and started construction of the burrito yokes. Dan helped me tell which side of the blouse I had deemed ‘right side’

Thursday, in class with Lyn, I continued with the blouse - I started it with her originally, before Christmas.

I think I’ve said before that I like to try to keep projects separate between Dan/Rory and Lyn but it has become quite confusing with too many projects - and when I have a time constraint it isn't possible.

I asked Lyn to advise me on a number of things including hem, bands and collar stand. I wasn't able to actually do the collar in class as things had to be done in the right order before the collar and I didn’t get them done within the class period. However, I got a fair idea of how to move ahead and planned to finish over the weekend. I managed to sew on bands to allow Lyn to demonstrate how the collar stand should go. I was a little worried about this as a) many of my marks faded and b) my neckline isn’t beautifully smooth. I sewed the collar but wasn’t absolutely happy with the curved edges, which Lyn had advised I use a template for. I did try but actually didn’t have the correct materials there so decided to redo at home.

The pattern suggests slip stitching the bands but with Lyn, I decided I would topstitch on both sides of the band. I also decided to topstitch/edgestitch the collar in place.

I tried on the blouse as it was and the fit seemed fine.

Friday - not much time due to other commitments. I folded up the blouse hem using the technique advised in the instructions. Previously I've used overlocking, turn and stitch but this is done the ‘proper’ way. For the ⅝” hem, loosely stitch at ¼”, turn hem to ⅝”  and fold under the ¼” with the stitching to guide, having pulled up the stitching to allow the hem to lie flat. This was the bit that concerned me and why I’ve done the overlocking in the past. Anyway, I managed. I then topstitched - I found this a bit tricky, to follow the distinct curves, and I missed a couple of bits on the inside - a quick slip stitch sorted them.

I finished the bottom and top of the bands. Lyn had given me a better way to do - but I couldn’t quite remember so these are as I’ve done before. I decided to topstitch both sides of the band - or, rather, edgestitch. I think it looks pretty good and wondered whether I should have put top stitching across the yoke - I still could at that stage but decided not to. I also wondered about poppets instead of buttons, thinking that would look good. I’ll have to think about that one. It would make the blouse a lot more casual - and casual is what I have in mind here. Not for today

Again only a little sewing. Though this blouse is labelled a three hour blouse so I should've made a whole wardrobe of them by now!

I cut out and interfaced the pieces I didn't have - the tabs and the cuffs. Completed the sewing of the neckband, using a template for the edges

I had originally thought the sleeves were fine but when I tried on the toile, way back before Christmas, I felt they were a little tight. I therefore decided to sew up the sleeves with a slightly narrower hem - ½” instead of ⅝” at the underarm seam. I’ve also lost a little weight so thought that might help. However, these are two piece sleeves. I decided to follow the instructions but do the under seam at ½” but the final seam at the full ⅝” because this was the seam with the placket and button band and I didn’t feel capable of making big changes.

I remember that when I sewed up the toile, I had a machine malfunction and was completely unable to loosen the screw holding my needle in place. I ended up continuing to use the stretch needle that was already in place. I didn't realise at the time, but this did lead to a problem with fabric pulls. I've taken the worst ones to the back. David was able to sort out the problem with the machine at home.

I started all the steps for the sleeves and got as far as putting a button hole in the sleeve tab - and couldn't. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Just sew in place? That's possible.

Update - I don’t like the sleeve tabs as the fabric rolled up for the sleeve is bulky and the wrong side show. The fabric was too thick for any kind of French seaming. I think I will remove the sleeve tabs altogether if I decide to do anything further to this shirt.


Again, not much stitching. I was beginning to think I might not get it finished.

Further sleeve issues – sleeve head ease.

Before the sleeve is fully stitched together, the cuff, placket and sleeve tab are added. No problem with this. I think my cuff looks pretty good. I still hadn’t managed to get a button hole in the sleeve tab but managed fine on the cuffs. I had added an extra layer of interfacing to the cuffs and I think that helped.

Now to put in place.

The amount of ease in the sleeve head is enormous!!  I ended up easing the sleeve cap all the way from notch to notches - the pattern uses much less. Even so, I had quite a battle getting them in place. I nearly considered using a tuck or pleats at the top but decided against that. I finished the sleeve and finished the raw seam allowances. I don’t like the finish at all. The sleeve head clearly has far too much fabric – it hasn’t eased in nicely at all. There aren’t any puckers – it’s just the sheer volume of fabric.

Say no more!!

Try on

I’m thinking I don’t like it. David thinks it’s rather long and feels it would look better shorter. I agree though the length was intentional and as per pattern; I would definitely have preferred the shorter length. I find the style somehow too formal yet the fabric is informal. Again I found myself thinking about poppets - I didn’t have enough left to consider using  for the GBSB challenge.


Time to attach the collar.

There’s something decidedly funny about the neckline. Surely not because I decided to do the burrito yoke construction method! However, having used that method and having attached the sleeves meant I was in no big hurry to take apart at the shoulders. Looking at the shirt on  my body at this stage, I wanted to grab approximately ¾” of the shoulder seam on each side of my neck.

The shirt neckline circumference was much too long for the collar. So, although the pattern suggested I’d need to clip the neckline, my problem was quite the opposite. I had a bit of a time with this but finally managed to install the collar stand - my pattern doesn’t have a collar, just the stand. I don’t know why this happened - I had staystitched everything but perhaps that wasn’t enough or perhaps I made an error in cutting? There is a clear excess of fabric and deep wrinkles leading to the neckline.

I’m not sure how to sort this but imagine it’s to do with shoulder angle.

I edge stitched the collar in place (I should just have abandoned at this stage – well, I didn’t). Time to consider buttonholes. No!! I decided against them though not before testing out a buttonhole of the collar stand. I decided I would leave the shirt open, like a duster jacket. When I looked at buttoning it up, I just felt trussed up and didn’t like it at all. Too much shirt! I think the shirt is my colour, but the style just didn’t fit in with my style recipe.

Look at those dreadful wrinkles!

Sorry - taken on my phone in the dark. Taken to show sleeve rolled up

I then realised that to roll up the sleeve for use with the sleeve tabs would show the wrong side of the fabric - no great issue since the sides are practically identical - but there are two overlocked seams - not a nice look. Also, a long sleeve like this one has to be rolled up a lot and I didn’t like the bulk.  I could take out the stitching attaching the sleeve tab to the sleeve and just forget about it but decided against that at the time, anyway. I did cut open the buttonholes on the cuffs and sew on a suitable button.

Another photo taken quickly on my phone

I decided I wasn’t doing anything else to this shirt. Tuesday was now free simply to take a photo.

‘Finished’ shirt

I’m unhappy with the sleeves and with the shoulder line and collar stand. They do not lie nicely. I mentioned earlier the problems I had with the collar and the excess ease in the sleeve head. I still want to pinch that excess at each side of the neckline - it made the shirt lie much better but doesn’t improve the sleeves.

I also think the shirt is a little large for me. I am losing weight at present. It doesn’t seem to have affected my other clothes though I can get comfortably into things that were tight - but nothing else drowns me. And this was fitted on me. I think it’s a combination of style, fabric and weight loss.
This is how I'll wear it for the time being

I think I constructed the shirt fairly well. I like my sleeve construction and the cuffs. My sleeve tabs look good. My front bands are lovely. The collar stand is nice but not the right size for the shirt - or rather the shirt is too big for the collar stand. I thought I had managed the burrito yoke construction okay but perhaps that was the start of my problems? No! It doesn’t in any way account for the excess ease in the sleeve cap.

Bottom of band
I may deconstruct. Not sure yet - and it won’t be for a while. In the meantime, I’ll wear as an over layer with a tee shirt at home.

Lessons learned

One thing I would definitely change for next time  - I think that my interfacing was too soft and that’s what led to the problems with buttonholes. I’ve ordered a button foot leveller to see if that will help, too. I’ve had problems with buttonholes on collars and waistbands before but thought that was due to unevenness and bulk on one side.

I didn’t try to make buttonholes on the front bands. The bands feel fairly firm but I used the same soft interfacing.

Don’t move on to the next step if it’s clear the last step is unsatisfactory. You’d think I would have learned that one previously!

There is no point in rushing something. Festina lente!

Will I make this shirt again? No. I don’t like the style on me. I won’t put a review on Pattern Review as I suspect the issues are more user error than the pattern. I may at a later date if it seems that the problems are contributed to by pattern issues.

Second GBSB sew-a-long

The theme @Sewisfaction’s second week GBSB sew-a-long was children's wear and I decided not to participate. I only participated in the first one as I had already started the shirt. Maybe I rushed it a bit too much trying to get it ready. I certainly shouldn’t have ‘finished’ it when I was so unhappy with the results.

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