The Better Late Than Never Summer Blouse in the Autumn

Due to last weekend, I sort of have a lot of hard feelings for twill. But, I refuse to let a weekend of failure keep me down. Therefore let me introduce you to a new sewing rule to which I plan to always adhere:

Whenever a sewing project fails you, always follow it with a project at which you know you will succeed.

The last garment on my Summer Sewing List of Randomness was New look 6808. I chose view C because I loved the collar and the bow. Because I had already made a muslin, I knew my final product would fit properly.

Also, at the time, I was watching the Sassy Librarian Blouse class on Craftsy and had learned some really useful tips I could apply to the darts and the collar.

Since the fabric I used, a cotton Swiss dot, was so lightweight, I thought it would be a good time to give French seams a try.

My recently acquired tailor’s ham made pressing the darts so much easier–they turned out very smooth for once!

I also got to use my new cotton interfacing.

All of these elements added up to a really satisfying sewing experience–something I haven’t had for a long while. I was particularly pleased with my French seams (where I could use them–more on that later) especially around the armscye. The cap sleeves really turned out well even though sleeves tend to be my least favorite part of the construction.

If you do make this pattern, here are a couple of things to watch out for:

1. The facings. There was something off about the facings. The inner ring that gets attached to the neckline was perfect. But, the outer ring turned out way too big–I have a big ruffle in one spot. Perhaps when you sew the front facing to the back facing, you need to angle your seam inwards a bit. OR, maybe the facings had too much of a curve. I should go back and double check this.

2. The zipper. I just don’t even know what is going on with the zipper. The pattern calls for a lapped side zipper that zips from about an inch or so under the arm all the way down to the hem. First, it’s completely unnecessary for the zipper to be upside-down like that. It would make a lot more sense to sew a normal seam at the top and the bottom, center the zipper in between, and let it be right side up. Unless you’re making your hem really, really fitted around your hips, you shouldn’t have a problem getting the blouse on and off. Also, per the instructions, you have to sew your hem before inserting the zipper. And that just feels wrong. Unless I read the instructions wrong, there’s no mention of how to finish that hem so the seam allowance isn’t peeking out. You could also opt for an invisible zip which would be much easier to finish at the hem. I’d recommend you insert it before doing the sleeve.

It’s considered classy to include as many shots of the hanger as possible, right?

I’m going to go back and check those instructions again. I have a tendency to think I know what I’m supposed to do next and off I go! I could have missed something.

***Update: This is what I missed:

Apparently, you’re supposed to fold the ends of the zipper tape up over the seam allowance. I don’t see how that actually solves the problem, though. . .

Also, if your fabric is as lightweight as mine, you most definitely want to interface your zipper. I did not and really wish I did.

3. The sleeves. Most everything about the sleeves is pretty standard and simple. You cut out four sleeve pieces, sew two together wrong sides facing, flip them inside out (this means you don’t have to hem!), and baste the raw edges together. That’s all normal. What’s not normal is that you don’t sew an underarm seam. Instead, the instructions say to overlap the two ends at the underarm seam and then sew your sleeve like normal.

I simply could not wrap my brain around this idea. And the accompanying picture. . .

. . . did not help.

But, I blindly followed along and to my great surprise, it worked!

This is the outside. . .

And this is the inside.

Let’s chat about French seams for a bit.

First, they are the best things ever. Seam finishes done that quickly and neatly?? Yes, please! Why haven’t I been doing these all along??? Also, I had no idea they were so simple! I was, for some unknown reason, under the impression that you really have to know what you’re doing before attempting a French seam. Not so! Even “Frenching” the set-in sleeve was soooo easy! No wonder I’m feeling so accomplished today.

I know this isn’t that huge of a deal, but I’m still super pleased with this accomplishment.

I did run into a sticky bit with all my French seaming. I wasn’t sure how to finish off my zipper and accompanying seam allowance in keeping with all the rest of the French. I asked the Google and discovered the Hong Kong seam. Apparently, a Hong Kong seam is done by sandwiching your seam allowance in a narrow strip of fabric similar to bias tape. It seems that French seamers prefer this method to finish their zippers.

But this got me thinking: What if instead of cutting those extra strips to cover the seam allowance and zipper tape, you simply made your seam allowances wider and folded them up over your zipper tape and stitched them down? Has anyone ever done this? Or heard of it? Obviously, it’s something that requires prior consideration and planning.

I’m thinking that the next time I have to finish a zipper without a lining, I’m going to add an inch to each seam allowance and use the extra to encase the zipper tape. As with normal French seams, you wouldn’t want to try this with weightier fabrics as that would produce lots of bulk.

I’ll experiment with that and let you know how it goes.

Well, it’s official–my summer sewing is done! Better late than never, I suppose.

It’s time to move on to fall–hurray!

Shhh. . . Neville is hiding.


16 thoughts on “The Better Late Than Never Summer Blouse in the Autumn

  1. this is so cute!!! I tried a french seam the other day! so great! I think because they are called “french” it makes me think i have to be all proper and elegant before attempting them. lol. Thanks for all the hints on this make. Love the top so may invest in it for next summer!

    • Ha ha–that’s EXACTLY what I thought! I tend to be anything BUT proper while I sew 🙂 The pattern has six variations, so it could be a good wardrobe builder!

  2. I LOVE French seams! But you kinda have to do a muslin first since you can’t tinker with the fit after you’ve done them…

    This looks way cute, btw! Are you going to post photos of you wearing it?

    • I actually enjoy doing muslins–my sewing nerdiness coming out, I guess 🙂 I’ve been exploring alternate seam finishes lately because I’ve gotten really, really tired of using my overcasting foot on my machine. It takes AGES! I’m happy to find other finishes that are faster and neater!

      I’m working on scheduling some pictures–hopefully soon. Thanks 🙂

  3. What a super cute top – and thanks for the detailed review!
    I love French seams, and I’m impressed even the sleeve has been French seamed! What a great finish 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m always happy to share my opinions 😉

      I am super pleased with French seams in general, but I was absolutely amazed when the sleeves turned out okay! Having a tailor’s ham definitely helped.

  4. Having attempted a muslin of this over the last few days (not blogged yet) I was glad to hear that the things I stumbled on were also the same rogues that you mention. I’m contemplating a buttoned side instead of a zip… since you’ve made the whole thing to success, do you think it could work?

I'm done. Now, YOU can talk :)

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