After my 'curtain culottes' DISASTER (said in a Craig Revel Horwood voice) I got a bit disillusioned with the sewing lark. But I knew that I had fabric burning a hole in my stash and two WIPs still to finish, so I thought the only way to get over it was to start something new and get my mojo back. The problem is, I think my sewing mojo has run for the hills after this project...
So this was the second of the two patterns I bought myself for completing 'no sugar lent' - the Blaire shirt and dress.
Style Arc is an Australian brand and I've only ever found a small selection of their pattens on Amazon. I loved the boxy nature of the top and the styling options with the cut. The fabric was a very drapey cotton mix from Lichfield Market, only £2.99pm if I remember correctly. And I thought I could do something fancy with the pattern as seen in the shirt above.
I ironed the fabric and lay it out on my mat. I needed 1.5m and had plenty of space to play with so I cut the bottom front panels on the diagonal to change the direction of the pattern, I'm just not sure that's terribly obvious though.
When I came to cut out the notches and transfer markings I found that some of the pieces hadn't cut very well and had to re-cut them. I think this was a problem with the fabric, it moved around too much while cutting.
I was a little nervous about the lack of instructions - one page and they were minimal to say the least. There were a few diagrams on the other page but the pattern definitely expects you to be a bit more experienced. I read through the instructions before I started and they seemed straight forward. Items 1-14 on the photo below are for the top; as I said, minimal!
Then I started putting the top together. The pattern is either a top or longer dress with pockets. First you make up the collar and attach to the collar stand. All good. No problems with that. Then I attached the front to back at shoulder and side seams. Then put in the sleeve cuffs. I'm always nervous of sleeves but these went in very nicely.
Then the bottom half of the top is put together. It has a 3-piece underlay and a 3-piece overlay which have to be tacked together then sewn to the top half. Again, no problems here. It was quite nice having straight lies to stitch.
But then came the issues...
I now had to attach the button hole tab to the front centre. I followed the (minimal) instructions and thought it was all going well... UNTIL... I had one side done and decided to try it against the collar to check it all lined up neatly. Unfortunately the collar was too short or the shirt neck line was too long. I couldn't see what I'd done wrong. The seam allowances were all correct. The pieces had been cut out right. I was confused and frustrated. At this point it was late at night so I left it to look afresh in the morning. But before bed I googled 'problems with the Blaire top collar'. There are very few blog posts about this top and no one else seemed to have any issues. I sent a message to Style Arc on Facebook and Instagram and have had a response asking me to email them directly.
The next day I looked at it all again and re-read the instructions. I couldn't think what to do and thought my only option was to try another way of attaching the button tab. In the mean time I hemmed the bottom of the underlay and overlay which was another nightmare since the overlay had many curves to deal with and came out really wrinkly, even after a good pressing.
I did lots of research on button bands, watched some youtube videos and looked very closely at photos! Then I came up with the idea of cutting the front centre fabric back by the amount I was over and then reattaching as I had done the first time. I ran my theory past hubby who said it made sense! I worked out that I was 4cm over so measured a new seam line 4cm back into the shirt and reattached the band after A LOT of unpicking. IT WORKED!!! Hallelujah! I then did the same with the opposite side but the underlay got all wrinkled up in the stitching so unpicking had to be done. Then when that bit of stitching was replaced I checked to see if the collar lined up. It was 1cm out so the whole thing was unpicked again and moved. Finally it was good enough and I attached the collar. The top stitching on the outside of the collar isn't great but it will do! At this point I was just glad to have something that looked relatively finished!
In all the stress of the button bands I forgot to check if the bottom hems matched up... they didn't. But I think it would look messy if I tried to fix it now.
The last little job was the button holes and then the buttons (sat on the sofa with a much needed glass of wine!). No problems here. I love sewing button holes!
Sp here is the final shirt in all it's wonky glory!
Sorry about the weird angle - my son took the photo!
After all the drama during the make I feel disappointed with the instructions given, it wouldn't have taken much more effort to clarify a couple of things and it would have made the experience much more pleasent. I know the packaging describes the difficulty as 'medium to challenging' but my only issue was with the lining up of the collar and button band. I was about 7cm out in total which is WAY TO MUCH to just be missing my seam allowance. I will be emailing them directly to ask if they can advise on my issues.
So... will I try this pattern again? Definitely because I love the style so much and want to try the dress version, but maybe not for a while. And I'll maybe not use a heavily patterned fabric! I think the experience of having already made one will help and I have a few ideas of how I could make it better...
- use a different fabric, something more stable
- cut out VERY CAREFULLY
- try bias binding for the overlay curved hem line
- hem overlay and underlay before attaching to the top
- interface both button tabs
- check the hems!
I think I need to have a break from sewing for a while. I've got an exciting crochet project I want to work on anyway.