Friday, May 31, 2013

FREE Shirred Denim Blouse Pattern And Tutorial

Today is a bit sad. It's the last day of school which means my kiddos are going to be going off to spend the summer with their dad (through no choice of my own). It also means that the next time school commences, my littlest one (the oops-I-have-another-kid....haha) will be starting Kindergarten. His brother would be starting junior high too, but alas, he was held back....

Other things have been growing and changing too in a bit more shocking ways. :/

I am helping to raise my grandson now. He's 2 1/2 months old. Everyone calls him chunky, fluffy, big for his age, and butterball. I think these strangers are nuts. I just see a tiny kid with one tiny, red curl on his head! I guess it's because my sister had a 9 pound baby and all of my kids minus two were much chunkier.

His mom is still nursing him (another reason for me not believing the kid could possibly be overweight). And, her "wardrobe" lacks much least to the elderly Catholic ladies at the mission the other day, to me, to my church, my husband, and most people over 30 in public. The only ones who do approve of her wardrobe are my preteen son (flies are beginning to collect in his gaping mouth....he really likes boobs no matter who they are attached too!), all males, sackers at the grocery store, and the mechanics at the oil changing place. :(

I informed her, much to her protesting, that as devoted members of the ultra-conservative, orthodox Church of Christ faith, she would be required to cover up at least when she is around us. She informed us that we were old hags. I reminded her that we aren't nearly as bad as my mom and sisters who are Mennonite or Amish. (I tease them so much, I am afraid they will bury me in one of their clothes....after all, dad was buried in a ugly ass suit mom hated).

To help her realize the concept of self respect while maintaining fashion forward sense, I made her a lovely blouse. And no, it's definitely NOT inspired by Amish Women Magazine. :P

You'll notice that even with a sway back and still having some baby weight, she looks pretty awesome and it flatters her quite well. I have a little experience with making clothing for large breasted women like my daughter by "abusing" the neighbor (who became my impromptu guinea pig! haha.). I find myself feeding her son on a regular basis so I guess she feels compelled to come to my creepy lair and get fitted for plus size women's clothing....boohahahahahha. :P

Armed with that valuable experience and her input on what would fit better, look better, etc., I sought out using my daughter for a new seamstress challenge: the impossibly tiny (she's 91 pounds!), freakishly short (she's 4"8...the exact same height as my 10 yr old), large breasted woman. My daughter had zero confidence she would like my blouse. :( Love you too kid.

I measured her bust (36 inches) and multiplied by two. That would give me extra yardage to shirr her blouse's bodice.(if you don't know how to shirr, I highly suggest you to watch this short video....

I also measured the length (vertical measurement) the bodice would need to be.
This meant measuring from armpit to the bottom-undergirth-of her breasts. As she is nursing,
I knew when her breasts are full the bodice would ride up. Many large breasted women, I've learned, find
this a problem too. Thus, I measured across her breast instead of the side portion from armpit to bottom of breast. 

The material I am using is heavyweight stretch denim. If you use lightweight material, which I highly recommend,
your bodice will shirr easier and more quickly and with less hassle. My "intended victim" would
be better covered with thicker material. :D

Here I am showing you the backside of the shirring process of the denim. My elastic thread kept breaking.
I am sure yours won't and everything will go smoothly for you! I also ensured that the bodice wouldn't
gape and boobies would fly out and knock someone out cold by putting a casing for 1/2 inch elastic around the top hem.
This turned out to be a great idea because young mommies bend over A LOT.

Another thing I want to mention is that if you put your iron on at the highest temp and press the steam option, hold the iron slightly above the fabric, the finished bodice that's now elasticized will bunch up and shrink like desired without any pulling of threads at the sides of the bodice or having to mess with the bodice's gathering. So easy and looks great too!

The measurement under her bust (the rib cage) is 29 inches which is incidentally mine too. Her hips measure 34 inches (which I think was my hip measurement when I was 10!). I folded over the denim fabric and drew a line with a fabric pencil that was 14 1/2 inches long.....the 29 inches cut in half as we are cutting on the fold. I wanted this blouse to be a little long (which is easy to do since my subject is the height of a 10 year old). From the bottom of her chest to her hip bone was 8 1/2 inches. So, I measured 8 1/2 inches down from that line I just drew. Cutting the hip measurement of 34 inches in half, I got 17 inches. I drew a line that long. I grabbed something straight (my son's art ruler in my case) and joined the two lines together. You see this somewhat triangular shape above if you look closely. I didn't pay attention to geometry in school but I think my son calls this a trapezoidal triangle. :P

I call this a somewhat Aline skirt piece!

 My model had a baby 9 weeks ago. So, I decided to practice on pleating with her outfit because pleats are figure flattering. (for pleating tutorials, you can watch this great video: You can't do this to a customer's outfit, not can you sell a "practice outfit". My former pleating practicing looked like deformed stretch marks on a morbidly obese person. :( However, these pleats turned out perfect....I was so stoked about it!
 If you can see past the blurry photos, you may be able to make out my center pleat (a total of 3 will be made.). The center pleat is 3/4 inches. The one on each side of the center pleat is 1/4 inches. The asymmetry would drive my mom bat-crap-crazy. But she's already gotten her Amish blouse from me with perfect sameness throughout. So, she will survive. I like things like pleats being different. It gives visual interest.

 Once pinned, I sewed down the sides of each pleat. You can see the pin still in position above.
 This is the shot before ironing and me basting the top edge of the skirt panel (right above the pleats).

After ironing and basting the top edge, here is the view from the wrong side of the fabric. Note how beautiful it is. Take a moment to admire my work. :D You don't have to baste your edge before attaching it to the bodice, but my 69 year old best friend who used to be a home ec teacher for 31 years says it makes your outfit look more professional. One needs to do the basting to armholes too before attaching set in sleeves.

 Grab your fabulous bodice and trim any crooked or extra fabric at the bottom before attaching it to the skirt panel. Having a straight edge makes attachment a breeze. Note my bodice has one seam and I want it to be in the back.
 Note how wonderful those pleats look with the attached attached bodice..... :P (this is the view from the backside)
Here my bodice and skirt panel (front side) has been serged/overlocked, top stitched, and ironed. I have no clue why the fabric looks gray. The denim is so dark in real life that my daughter thought it was black.

 I was so excited about my pleats and how this blouse was turning out, I forgot to take pics of the rest. I did take a few pics.....above is the 3/8 narrow bottom hem of the skirt. I was so happy with the hem I may ditch my usual 1/4 hemming I've gotten in the habit of doing!
I just ordered some lace from China. It came in convenient timing to use it on this blouse....though it wasn't the original plan to use it for this project.

 I also made tie straps for the shoulders. I knew my daughter would grimace (and she did!) at the straps but I wanted to be doubly sure this blouse stayed on her and didn't let us be shocked with more peekaboo scenes! I basically cut four strips of 3 inches by 8 inches and folded them in half and then half again, sewed them in contrasting white thread along the side edges and waalah! Tie straps were sewn to the bodice towards the sides for a more grown up feel.

I knew my tomboy daughter who likes to look like a vampire to boot wouldn't tie the straps in a bow like above. but we can dream can't we? Aren't they so cute?! +Squeal+

Do share your dress with me below. I'd love to see links to your lovely creations!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The One Yard Wonder Blouse That Takes 2 Hours To Make!

Is it a Dolman blouse? Is it a Kaftan top? Maybe this is one of the million scarves-to-blouse tutorials on the Internet. :(
Surprise! While those blouses are beautiful in their own right, this is not a blouse that a monkey could make. At the same time though, it doesn't require a jillion pattern pieces that take fah-evah to put together...inevitably entertaining your husband with endless source of amusement. :(

This One Yard Wonder Blouse is for a size small....and I don't claim to be the best teacher with tutorials either. If you haven't made a top before, this is probably not the tutorial for you. If you are a larger gal, you may need more than a yard of fabric too.

Recently I made my mom a blouse for an early birthday gift (see post here: I could imagine her going on many,many dates in that blouse. Here is me modeling it. It is definitely her, NOT me! 

I gave her a cross between butterfly sleeves and batwing sleeves. She was truly impressed and thrilled. I barely had enough (one yard) to make her size small blouse and those sleeves! However, I knew my mom would NOT wear anything that exposed her shoulders and upper arms even though she is tiny and youthful looking. Mom is stuck in the 60's too so even though I gave her the peasant top style (which has made a huge insurgence in popularity as of late) I made her come into the milinium with those sleeves. :D You're welcome mom.

Onto me and my blouse! So, I have no problem showing my shoulders and my arms even though I am ghost white, burn easily, and my arms aren't as tiny as mom's. I also couldn't see myself wearing a "boxy" top and the all over blue was more mom than me. I got the "cousins" of that fabric as well. I am normally not an orange or a green fan either but the "cousins" fabrics were so pretty!

For me, I wanted a cap sleeved blouse, a slight scoop in the neckline, and I also wanted to try out the tie sleeves method. It was better to do so on something I would own than a customer pays for!

I only had a knit blouse to go off on. The fabric I would be using is cotton. I gave myself some extra seam allowance because the fabric wouldn't stretch like knit of course.

The bottom picture shows what the blouse looks like if turned right side out. I got the fabric, folded it twice, and put half of my blouse on the fold (so I would have TWO symmetrical pieces of my blouse....front and back.) As you see below, there was a space on the shoulders that remained folded and uncut on both the front and back. I had a reason for this as I will show you later.

I also wanted to experiment with color blocking. I realize this is not a new idea. It's just new to me. I got some white jersey knit and cut out two rectangles 17 inches by 3 inches. I pined these right sides of fabric together to each side of the blouse. This would give me just a bit of stretch, a little more room, but the tailored/fitted look I wanted as well.

Because of the knit, i wouldn't need to serge or overlock the seams. But I am also working with cotton too. I love the look I get from stitch #18 and #19 on my sewing machine. I find that my mom, friends, and family and customers all love the seams being finished with those seams too.
I like to hem my sleeves before finishing the sides, or in this case, the shoulders. It gives me more room to work with.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to put elastic in the hems of the sleeves. I decided against it after I saw how awesome the shoulders came out later.
Now it's time to sew up the shoulders that are only halfway open.....
I pinned the space that is opened....

Here I am showing you that one could easily turn down the edges where the shoulder
splits open, hem them, and have a split drape sleeves that begin at the shoulders.
That wasn't the look I was going for though. 
Here is the blouse right side out, ironed but not top stitched yet, and the neckline and bottom hem have
 not been done yet.

I tucked the side panel of knit on either side while ironing.
When worn, it will lay flat or opened out. 
 So far everything has been straightforward and easy peasy. Sew up sides, finish hems, blah, blah, blah. Here comes the "fun" part. It's not really hard, it's just tricky to explain (at least for me!). Above you will see me measuring only the part of the shoulder that had to be hemmed, NOT the portion that was folded but not cut during the cutting out pattern pieces stage at the beginning. I am going to make a rectangular casing out of the same fabric as the blouse on the top of the shoulders. I could make this casing go the entire length of the shoulders. But, I didn't want the shoulders cinched up that much. I wanted the shoulder/sleeve to cap or round itself over my shoulder bone--more flattering in my opinion. This rectangular piece for my blouse was 5 inches by 3 inches. After the seams were finished (before placing it on the blouse), the casing was 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches.
 I also ironed the rectangles length or long ways. This visible crease will be helpful later on. You can also mark your rectangle with a fabric marker down the center if you prefer. That just seemed too much trouble to me plus I didn't want to mark up my pretty fabric even if temporarily.
ONLY SEW THE LENGTHWISE OR LONG WAYS OF THE RECTANGLE. DO NOT  SEW THE SHORT ENDS! (I am pointing to one of the short ends in the above picture).

Is it just me or does these rectangular casings remind you of dorky high school band uniforms with those gaudy appliques or decorations on the shoulders?! You see the same decorations or rectangular thingies on high ranking military officers' uniforms. Even old men think they are too cool with their outdated dress up shirts with rectangular loopy things on the tops of the shoulders! I bet if I were to raid my mom's boyfriend's closet, there would be PLENTY of those shirts hanging in there! :D

Don't worry, the blouse won't remain in this state. :P

Remember that ironed crease down the length of the rectangle (shown
here with my beautiful nail file)? Sew straight down the middle of the rectangle
following that crease.

Ta da! You now have two pockets or casings as shown here with my
super cool fabric pencil and nail file :P

Measure your ribbon, cord, or in my case, bias tape enough to go through the casings and
be able to tie in a bow at the end that faces the sleeves (not the neck). I did not cut my bias tape in two
pieces. I left it as one and looped in through.
How stinkin' pretty is this?! (I had to use a safety pin to feed it through
because my casings were narrow). No more old man shirt/dorky band uniform

Admire your work for a second....or two...or three. Then text your friend about how much of a genius you are. :P
I loved the bias trim so much that I measured the neckline
and remaining trim and determined I had enough to
use it on the neckline.....

Since I wasn't finishing a raw fabric edge, I wouldn't need my go-to
stitch. I used #4 stitch instead.

I was thrilled with the end results!
I was so impressed with my blouse so far that I even pretended
the seam in the very middle of this picture WASN'T wonky....
a certain 4 year old bumped my arm to steal a quick
hug and kiss while sewing the neckline!

I'm always bewildered at how people can get their young kids to take afternoon naps.
My kids would literally have to be on their death beds to nap!
But I bet they would still drag a bunch of cans out of the pantry
and assemble them in Stonehenge type configurations just for grins!

I was so enthralled with the narrow bias trim that out of curiousity I measured how much was left and compared that to my bottom hem measurement. To my shock and delight I had barely enough.
 When I mean barely, I wasn't kidding! I didn't even have enough to fold over the end seam! However, a little cute zig zagging stitches over that part and no one will notice a thing. I mean, no one should be staring at your butt or hips anyway right?
And it looks fine to me after it was all said and done! See?

Show off pictures...... :D
(Crappy pictures don't do the blouse justice given I was in a huge rush to get to my son's school)

I'll have my hubby take better pictures later!

.....I'm so happy with my blouse I am going to wear it to my Bible Study I teach at the jail tonight!

++If you don't have the time to make yourself a blouse, I will be selling a similar one in my shop later this week. I promise the one that the customer gets WILL have enough bias tape and WILL NOT have the evidence of an affectionate 4 yr old bumping me while sewing! haha.++