mccalls 6172 progress

I managed to make solid¬†progress on my blazer last week (Mccalls 6172), and I’m pretty thrilled with how it is turning out! There is very little in the pattern I’ve felt the need to change or improve upon, so if you’re in the market for a blazer pattern, this one is a winner. I especially love that it will work in a variety of fabrics (structured or not) and there are options for different lengths (cropped to hip length). Also, it has a lot of built in lines for pattern alterations and instructions for many common adjustments. Very handy! As per usual, there are only directions for FBAs and not SBAs… but whatever. ūüėõ

I spent what felt like an eternity fusing the jacket pieces. I used weft interfacing on the entire front, collar, facing, then partially fused the back pieces and the sleeves. I also added fusible horsehair on the lapel, upper chest, and the stand area of the undercollar. I had such a hard time with the fusible, and encountered near disaster. First off, the fusing leeched through and stuck to my press cloth so badly that I ended up using parchment paper under my iron. I don’t have an organza press cloth, I was just using muslin, so I don’t know if that would have made a difference.

Then, after fusing, I went to transfer my pattern markings only to find that my pieces had shrunk quite significantly (vertically). I had a mini¬†panic attack and contemplated my options. my longest pieces had shrunk by a solid 3/8″ vertically. Now, I had pre-shrunk my wool, twice actually. I sent it through the dryer on high with a wet towel, then I took our garment¬†steamer to it. I spent quite a bit of time doing this, so I was perplexed as to what had happened. Turns out, it was the fusible that shrunk. Yeah, thanks Pellon. Next time I’ll be ordering from Fashion Sewing Supply. Should I have block fused? Maybe… but to be honest I’m not sure that’s 100% the way to go either. Plus it’s really hard to do well with my current ironing board setup.

Anyways, I had two options: (1.)¬†Sew as if nothing happened. (2.)¬†Go back to my pattern pieces and reduce all the SA’s and re-cut my fabric.

I thought about it for a while and decided that from shoulder to hem, 3/8″ isn’t all that much for a loosely fitted blazer. I had considered shortening the armhole depth, but in the end didn’t, so if I lost 1/8″ there, no big deal. Also, my waist sits high, so a little more length lost there, no big deal. All the fused pieces that had shrunk were going to be sewn to other shrunk fused pieces, so most everything would match up as is.

Okay, freak out over, I started sewing and everything has worked¬†out just fine. Big sigh of relief! As it stands I have the entire shell and facing complete. I should note that I did add a back neck facing piece. It always bugs me when patterns don’t have them, and it’s no work at all to draft.

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I’m very happy with the fit alterations I made from my muslin, everything seems to be working out as expected. I cut a 10 at the shoulder/bust, grading out to a 12 at the hip (for reference, my measurements are: bust 34″, waist 29″, hip 39″). From there I made the following fit adjustments:

  • 1″ SBA (small bust)
  • 1/4″ FSA (forward shoulder)
  • added 1/2″ to the lower part of the back of the armhole (you can check out my pattern alteration¬†in my last post)
  • narrowed the sleeves by 3/8″
  • decreased my SA by 1/8″ from waist to hemline on all the back pieces and the side seams, giving me an extra 1 1/4″ for le booty.

One last thing I need to do is add pockets to the front. I’ve decided to go with patch pockets since, well, I like patch pockets on blazers. I also think I’ll be doing an interior welt pocket. I put¬†one in¬†the winter coat I made two years ago and it’s super handy for phone stashing.

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I finally¬†picked up some lining the other day, so now I’ve got everything I need to finish this baby up. May not get there¬†by the end of November, but it’ll be close!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

blazer | mccalls 6172

Life has been pretty hectic around these parts… unfortunately my sewing time, not to mention blogging time, has been virtually¬†non-existent. So, so sad… I actually had decent Halloween costumes made up for the kiddos this year, but I never got around to getting good photos, so… oh well. They’re up on IG if you’re interested.

Instead of trying to post all the unblogged things, I’ll just jump ahead to what I’m working on now. Namely, a blazer! I’ve been wanting to make a blazer for a long time, so¬†I jumped in when Gail and Shar teamed up on IG and were all like “Yeah! We’re sewing blazers! Wooooooo!” Andrea joined up as well, and we were all pretty gung-ho for a couple of days. So… that was the end of Septemeber, and we aimed to be done by the end of October-ish. Oh what, it’s mid-November now? Heh heh… oops.

I’m making view B, but will add patch pockets

I muslined the blazer (what seems like) ages ago but only this week did I transfer my alterations to my pattern and got cutting. I’m going for a relaxed fit, so I tried to keep my fitting low key. I stuck to my usual changes and did a 1″ SBA, a 1/4″ FSA (I didn’t mess with the sleeve cap, I figure it will be easier to just make some small adjustments when I set the sleeves), and took a small tuck out of the lapel. The only thing left troubling me was some restriction in arm movement. In the past I’ve shortened the depth of the armhole to gain more movement, but when i fiddled with the seam line on my muslin it left the back of the armhole looking kinda funny.¬†Then by chance, I read Idle Fancy’s post with a ton of fitting links, including this one from A Fashionable Stitch. BINGO. That’s exactly what I needed. I don’t have broad shoulders, but I think perhaps my forward shoulder makes the standard armhole placement a little off? Or maybe it’s something else altogether… who knows!

The change was fairly straightforward. I simply straightened out the curve on the back of the jacket, and added a little extra in the same part on the sleeve. Things got a little dicey when I was altering the sleeve since this has a two-piece sleeve and the adjustment crossed between the two pattern pieces, but I think I’m in a good place. Basting will be my friend when I get to the sleeves.

I feel the need to apologize for the terribly lit iPhone photos… it’s a dark and dreary day!

The fabric¬†I’m using is a very nice Pendelton wool that was gifted to me by one of my husband’s aunts. A few months ago¬†she sent me a box of five¬†cuts of wool (with receipt dated from 1992!) and the pink is just the right shade of bold without being obnoxious.¬†Now that my fabric is cut, I need to get to fusing. The fabric has nice¬†weight to it, so I’m using¬†a weft fusible, reinforced with a little hair canvas fusible on the back collar, front lapel, and upper chest.

I’m pretty excited to get going now that my schedule has eased a bit and I have some momentum behind me. Who knows, I may finish it by the end of November… only a month late!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

P.S. If you’re really interested in seeing our slow progress, just search #bourbonandblazers on IG

mccalls 6833 | pattern review

our¬†little excursion to NYC has come and gone already… what a whirlwind! capped by a long drive home, stuck in friday¬†must get out of the city!!! east coast traffic. i had planned to give a mid-construction update on mccalls 6833, but the end of the school year busyness totally got in the way. anyways, here’s the deets!

(p.s. navy is really hard to photograph)

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after my initial muslin i¬†took all the lady curves out of the bodice so it better resembled a rectangle, and ended up with a decent fit. my waist measurement puts me in a size 14-16 (whut??) while my bust is more like an 8. so i traced off a 10 bodice, but added 4″ all around to the waist. this pattern doesn’t seem to have as much ease as i’m used to in big 4 (could it be that they’ve heard our complaints?) so i paid close attention to the finished garment measurements.¬†after a second muslin, i ended up going back and tracing off the upper bodice in a¬†size 8 and doing another SBA, plus a forward shoulder adjustment and some lower armhole fiddling. i was reasonably confident that would work out so i was off to cut my fabric.

i did have¬†to scrap some of my initial plans¬†of making the bustier underneath the fuller coverage bodice. that was me high on ALL THE IDEAS!!! and low on the thinking it through part. no worries, i’m perfectly happy with what i ended up with. the only thing i changed from the pattern was to create a V shape in the back. the pattern has the back piece coming all the way up to the base of the neck, and that was feeling a little too covered up. plus, i’m all about the lower back necklines these days.

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i decided that even though this is a limited use dress, i would take the time to do some hand stitching. on the bodice, i hand-basted my underlining, catch stitched the bodice SA’s, etc. it was time well spent as i could work on the dress while thinking through how i wanted to construct certain things. i did leave my side and shoulder SA’s free in case i needed to make any adjustments once i was farther along. i ended up bringing up the shoulders a bit and taking in the waist¬†by an inch, so thank goodness for that! nothing is worse than needing to rip out your hand stitching.

for the skirt, i cut the size 12 and adjusted the pleats to fit the bodice. i changed up the construction order by sewing the skirt front and back to the bodice separately so i could easier adjust the side seam. it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how the bodice will sit before¬†the weight of the skirt is there to pull it down.

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i fully lined the dress with rayon bemberg. that stuff is such a pain in the ass to cut and nearly impossible to keep on grain! it does tear from selvedge to selvedge, so i did that to true up the edges and then i taped it down to my table to give me the best chance of getting a good cut. unfortunately… i failed to triple check that my selvedges were completely lined up and had a little mishap with one of the skirt lining pieces. at that point there was no point in getting upset over it, so in a very zen fashion (a-typical of me, don’t be fooled) i cut a strip of lining, patched it on, and called it a day. the skirt lining now has a huge¬†“scar” running down the back, but eh… that’s the charm of handmade, right?

i hand stitched the hem in place (did i mention i lengthened the skirt by 1″? cuz i did), and hemmed the lining with horsehair braid‚ÄĒa technique gertie had just posted about. i should mention that the lining is actually a separate pattern piece. it’s cut as a circle skirt, so if you aren’t keen on the pleats, you could use the lining for a different look. anyways, the pattern has you sew a wide length of gathered tulle part way up the lining to give the dress some oomph. i was short on time at this point and didn’t feel like messing with tulle, which is why i opted for the horsehair. i’m just so/so on the result. the horsehair is really¬†too stiff for the bemberg and it flops awkwardly. if i have occasion to pull this dress¬†out again, i may re-do this per the pattern directions.

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overall, i think this pattern is pretty great! there are a whole range of options for¬†mixing and matching. however, getting a good fit for a small-busted gal like myself was more challenging that i had anticipated. the dart intake at the bust is in the ballpark of 2 1/2″, whereas i need closer to 1 1/2″. you almost have to drape it on yourself to figure out the shape for that piece… however that’s pretty hard to do on your body! i’ve since gone back and fiddled with the bust dart and upper bodice length¬†because i’ve started working on the strap-y version with a gathered skirt for heather b’s #sewsundress sew-a-long! more on that later, since i have a few dresses planned…

as you can see above, i made a last minute clutch following a¬†tutorial by skirt as top… who happened to post about it the day before the event i needed it for. it was super easy, and even though i’ve never made a zippered bag before, it only took about 45 minutes. win!

last thing, this pattern is rated EASY on the front. i whole-heartedly disagree. getting the front bodice pieces sewn accurately so everything lines up as it should was definitely challenging,¬†and i can only imagine a newbie trying to work that out! and fitting… unless you tend to fit straight out of the envelope, it’s not for the faint of heart (or short on time).

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i have to say, it was fun to set aside the t-shirts and basics sewing to make this dress. and it actually does fill a hole in my wardrobe, since i didn’t have a special occasion dress prior to this! now let’s just hope a few more special occasions come up so i can wear it again. ūüėČ

‚ÄĒlisa g.

fancy dress time

so here is an¬†exciting project i have to get working on very soon! my husband and i have been invited to a charity dinner in NYC (on his company’s dime) that takes place in just a few weeks. it’s a “black tie optional” type deal at the Grand Hyatt. and ya’ll know what that means…

I’M MAKING A FANCY DRESS

i’ve put all of my usual practical sewing oh hold (except for one summer dress i’m finishing up). i really do love the practical sewing i usually do, but i’ll gladly shelve it all for something more exciting! i agonized for a few days as to what kind of dress i should make‚ÄĒsilk bias cut? over the top chiffon gathers? short? floor-length? too many options! i had a few silhouettes in mind when i headed out to the fabric store the other day and decided to go with something structured.¬†then last night i browsed mccalls patterns and this grabbed me immediately:

gorgeous! it will work perfectly with my fabrics and should keep me plenty comfortable. plus fitting shouldn’t be too much of a hassle (famous last words…).

so here are¬†the fabrics i’ve chosen…

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this is a poly/rayon burnout that will overlay a navy cotton sateen. then the dress will be fully lined in navy bemberg. since my overlay fabric has a nice sheen to it i nixed the idea of splurging on silks or compromising with poly satin. when confronted with $8/yd vs. $40/yd… well ya’ll know me too well. plus i could buy extra fabric for insurance without breaking the bank.

here you can see the burnout pattern

here you can see the burnout pattern

i’ll be doing the full skirt, and as for bodice… perhaps both.¬†i haven’t pulled out the pattern pieces yet, but i think i’ll make the strap-y bodice from the sateen, then overlay the top portion with my burnout using the v-neck fuller coverage pattern pieces (minus any of the lace trim). i’ll have to sort out how that’ll work, but i think the idea has¬†promise.

i already bought some sparkly new shoes, the only missing piece is a clutch of some sort… that’ll probably be a last minute detail.

guys, i am totes excited for our trip because… i’ll have plenty of time to work in some NYC¬†fabric shopping! it’s kinda sad that we only live 3 hours away, and yet this will be my first real visit. of course i’ll visit the venerable mood fabrics, but what other shops should be on my must visit list? do tell!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

knit shift dress | renfrew meets mccalls 6559 meets laurel

if me made may teaches me anything, it’s that my sewing is seriously out of sync with my blogging. and instagram is just an enabler since my makes are almost always seen there first. but, i have a several project backlog of¬†photographed makes, so there does stand the chance that i’ll actually get them on ye olde blog soon-ish.

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a couple weeks ago i had a rare evening out with a group of moms from my daughter’s kindergarten class. naturally i needed to make something new for the occasion… you know how it is. but i should back up… i’ve been itching to add some flowy knit maxi skirts to my wardrobe, and i had a 2 yard piece of black cotton/lycra and thought that would be perfect. i drafted out a 1/4 circle skirt, but alas i was about 1/2 a yard short. i decided to try anyways and make an a-line maxi. chalked it out on my fabric, cut it out, sewed up the side seams and… well it was okay, but it just didn’t totally feel right. it was too fitted from waist to hip and would probably end up not worn very often.

awkward arm pose...

awkward arm pose…

i was bummed, but then i remembered the dinner outing and thought maybe i could get a shift dress even if i had to piece it together. well turns out that a failed maxi skirt is the¬†exact amount of fabric required for a shift dress‚ÄĒno piecing necessary! i cut sleeves and binding from my remaining fabric (which i still had a good chunk of) and had a new dress hours later.

photo 1

so let’s talk about my pattern. you may recall last december that i made a shift dress for christmas out of a heavy sweater knit. i wore that dress a lot, so i knew i’d be making it again. i had hacked it by combining my sewaholic renfrew for the top with mccalls 6559¬†for the bottom. for this dress, i¬†also narrowed the skirt hem, using my colette patterns laurel as a guide. (side note: why didn’t i just use my laurel‚ÄĒminus darts‚ÄĒfor this dress? i had intended to, actually, but i pulled out my renfrew for comparison and i was afraid it would take some serious tweaking to get right. with my renfrew/shift previously¬†hacked, the bulk¬†of the work was already¬†done.) basically all i did was¬†line¬†up the waist marking on¬†the mccalls pattern with where my waist hits on the renfrew. line those two up and you’re ready to go! okay, mostly.

photo 2

one thing that has bugged me on my chevron dress is some excess fabric in the back, and little bit of pulling on the front causing the back to look like it’s sagging. to fix all that, i retraced, narrowing the back piece in quite a bit at the waist. then to address the pulling at the front i added in some bust room by slashing at the bust line and adding 3/8″. this excess i simply eased in¬†when i sewed the side seams, keeping the excess concentrated from the armhole to just under the bust. i would tell you that adding in the extra¬†room was my brilliant idea, but that’s how the mccalls pattern is drafted so i figured it was legit. just note that if you have a striped fabric, start your stripe matching under the bust, not at the armhole!

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i finished the neckline with a binding facing, rather than a neck¬†band for a nice clean look. i serged a strip of fabric to the front, then turned it to the inside and top stitched with my cover hem. oh yeah… i bought a cover hem (!!!). we’re just getting acquainted, so i’ll hopefully¬†post more on that later!

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and that’s about it! i can see this dress covering all the bases¬†from a casual day dress to an accessorized date night dress for almost¬†any season. versatility at it’s finest!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

chevron shift

not long ago i found this ah-mazing fabric from fabric basement (local). i was browsing the sweater knits for my coppelia cardi, when i came across this ultra soft chevron sweater knit. you know how so many sweater knits are super thin and nearly unusable? and/or 100% poly? this is the opposite of that. it’s nice and beefy, stable, opaque, and rayon. at $8/yd it was a no-brainer. in fact, i would have happily paid twice that! folks, this fabric is so soft, i can’t adequately describe it. the only problem is, however much i love the fabric, the chevron seriously messes with my vision. i’m prone to migraines, and this fabric tricks my brain into thinking it’s experiencing the visual aura associated with them. if you’ve experienced this, you know what i’m talking about! the fabric, coupled with really bright sunlight actually triggered a migraine when i started making this. the things i endure for sewing…

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i bought a yard and a half because initially i was going to use it for my daughter, mostly because i thought the chevron might be a bit cray cray for my own use. however, i got it in my head that i could probably squeeze out a shift dress for myself, so i ordered her a different fabric to make up for it (yet to be sewn). i put out a plea on instagram for recommended shift dress patterns and while there were some great suggestions (HERE, HERE, HERE, and soon to be released T & TB coco) i decided i wanted to go with a pattern i had experience with. or rather, patterns‚ÄĒthe renfrew and mccalls 6559.

now i hadn’t mashed these two before, but it was pretty easy to do. i simply marked the waistline on my renfrew and lined that up with the waistline on the mccalls. i wanted less shaping than those patterns have, so i cut it relatively straight from bust to hip. the mccalls dress is more fitted in the hips, so i added an inch to the side seams, giving me an extra 4″ all around.

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i wanted a higher neckline, and i planned to do a binding instead of an added on band, so i cut the neckline accordingly. i tried out a few methods of binding on scraps and finally came up with the following: i measured around the neckline and cut a 2″ strip to that exact length. then i sewed it into a circle with a 1/4″ SA (making the strip 1/2″ shorter than the neckline). i pinned it RST around the neck, stretching it slightly around the curves. then employing my walking foot, i sewed it on with a zig zag stitch to retain stretch. i aimed to have the leftmost swing of the zig zag at 5/8″, because that is how wide i wanted my binding. i trimmed down a little of the binding ¬†to reduce bulk, then i pressed it up, careful not to pull too hard, and pinned it to the inside. then i used my twin needle to topstitch the binding in place. on the inside i went back and trimmed off the excess binding.

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sorry i don’t have any step by step pics, but it’s basically the same as this method, only wider. since my fabric was so beefy and doesn’t have a ton of stretch, this was ideal. a regular renfrew-esque neck band just wouldn’t have worked. i have to say, i am pleased as punch with the binding‚ÄĒit looks so legit! then i finished the sleeves and hem with a simple turn and twin needle. this fabric was so easy to work with it gave me no problems whatsoever.

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the shift dress is really a new shape for me, and i’ve quickly fallen in love with it. way back when colette patterns released the laurel, my thought was eh… great for a toothpick, not so much for my pear shape. however, this fabric spoke to me and suddenly i thought i’d try this shift business out. lo and behold, i’m really loving it! i’m as self-conscious as the next gal about those mushy tummy bits, and this completely avoids cling in that area. it’s cute for christmas mass, yet cozy enough to spend the whole day in. and EAT in. hello christmas cookies, caramels, and fudge!

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hope you all have a wonderful christmas!

‚ÄĒlisa g.

orange silk blouse | mccalls 6793

my last post was of a scout tee in silk, but this blouse is actually the first one i made, and my first real foray into the world of floaty silks! natch, it comes with a convoluted narrative, so bear with me…

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last winter i entered the sewing for children pattern review contest and came in second for the coat i made my daughter. my prize was a $50 gift certificate to sewitup.com. truthfully, most of what they sell isn’t really my thing (haven’t looked recently though), but they do have a small selection of fabrics. i ended up treating myself to two yards of a silk crepe de chine. the price tag was a whopping $23/yd, so i crossed my fingers that it would live up to my expectations. at the time i didn’t know my¬†chine from my¬†charmeuse and had hoped to use it as a fancy jacket lining, but duh it’s totally the wrong type of silk for that. so… it sat in my sewing room for months and i kinda forgot about it until recently.

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i decided to make a blouse (though i wasn’t completely convinced that orange would look good on me) but in typical i’m afraid to ruin this fabric mode, i agonized over the details. for weeks. you know how it is… the longer you hold onto a nice cut of fabric, the harder it gets to use… then on a whim i decided to use mccalls 6793 and make the bow blouse with the peplum gathers and blouse-y sleeves (i love those sleeves!!), but as it turned out, i didn’t have quite enough fabric for that version. however, it led me to trying out the pattern on much less expensive fabric, specifically the bow blouse i made recently. i’m glad i did because i realized i really don’t need many bow blouses in my wardrobe. also, it was perfect to test the fit so i could confidently cut into my precious fabric. since i had the fit worked out, i decided to make some design changes. i browsed a ton of blouses online and decided to do the following:

  • raise the neckline to be more scooped
  • add a front button placket
  • bias bind the neckline
  • add a back yoke
  • add 2″ to CB of lower back piece for light gathers
  • add 1″ to back length, curve hem up at the sides

from my last version, i only tweaked the sizing a tad. i cut a straight S on the back piece (but added 2″ width at CB gathered to the yoke). on the front i also cut a straight S, but slashed and spread from the waist to swing the width out to a M at the hemline (just as i did for my last scout). anymore i prefer the “slash and spread/overlap” instead of grading between sizes because it feels more accurate and it’s more obvious what pattern changes i’m making to get the fit i need.

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even though i had all the details worked out in my head, i still procrastinated starting my project because i had about zero experience on dealing with silk. after a bit of online research and some swatch testing, i felt pretty confident that my fabric would not fall apart if i machine washed it, so in it went on the cold/handwash cycle. i threw in a color catcher sheet for good measure. after washing i line dried it, and that was it!

construction was slow, but all went well. the first thing i did was make the front button placket, and let’s just say i’m glad that i’m very comfortable with this process otherwise it would have been a nightmare. it’s still not perfect; even though i was using a microtex needle, it had a hard time piercing the layers. i encased the yoke seams as i would a regular button up, and french seamed the sides. the armholes i trimmed way down and serged.

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i realized i haven’t done a proper bias bound neckline in… i can’t even remember when, if ever! it’s a bit nerve-wrecking since you have to chop off the whole seam allowance. no turning back once you choose to go that route. fortunately it turned out pretty darn good. in the future, i think i need to “pre-stretch” the binding before cutting it to the right width. as in, cut bias strips wider than needed and actually stretch them out, then cut to the width i need. i think that would have made the bias tape more stable and easier to bind. if anyone has thoughts or experience, feel free to chime in on that one!

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i love these feminine bloused sleeves. they have a continuous binding placket and bias bound cuff/hem. if i had to do over again i wouldn’t bother with cutting the cuff on the bias (per the directions); the bias made it extremely difficult to sew since my fabric is cray cray stretchy on the bias. i had to meticulously measure the cuff as i gathered the sleeve to it to make sure it ended up the right length.

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anyways, i’m glad i finally got over my fear of silk, and i’m glad i fretted over every detail. even though i had the difficulty ramped up in my head, i would have regretted skimping on the details. i think the hardest part sewing wise was getting used to the feel, or lack thereof, of the fabric. the stuff is so thin and floaty that it almost disappears under your fingertips. other than that, it was pretty well behaved. and oh yeah… i love my blouse!

‚ÄĒlisa g.