Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Cotton Laurel Blouse for my Mum

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

Today I've got a completed garment to share from last year which for once isn't for me to wear! When I made my polka dot blouse version of Colette Pattern's Laurel back in June last year my Mum spotted it and decided she quite liked the simple lines of it for herself which I wasn't surprised about as I had thought it was just her sort of top! I really love the proportions of it and particularly the shape of the neckline and length of the sleeves. A few weeks later she popped in to see me when I was taking part in the John Lewis Sewing Bee and while she was in the store chose fabric for her own version. It's a quilting weight cotton from the Heritage Collection they released for their 100 year anniversary and I only needed just over a metre even with cutting the pieces to line up the coloured stripes. I don't usually sew with this sort of cotton as I prefer to wear drapier fashion fabrics so it was a bit of a treat for me to work with a fabric which is so straightforward to cut, sew and press!


Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns


The main reason I don't usually sew garments for other people is because I am nervous about achieving a good fit, particularly when that person isn't around to try it on throughout the construction process. However, with this I felt fairly confident as my Mum is a very similar size, shape and height to me and tried on my top for me! It was a good fit so I cut the same size 2 for her; the only issue she had was the same as mine which was feeling a bit restricted above the bust. (I made this before my Black Laurel Dress and so before I discovered the strange difference in the drafting of the armholes!) I made the adjustment I was planning on doing for my next version for myself to add a bit of width at this point. I simply taped a scrap of paper behind this part of the pattern piece and drew in a new curve at the point where the armscye dips in, adding about 1/2" at the narrowest point and smoothly blending it back into the original line. I just did this to the front pattern piece as the back fit beautifully. I did however measure the length of the total armhole (subtracting the seam allowances) and check that it was still roughly the same as the length of the sleeve head so I didn't end up with too little or too much to ease in when setting the sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

In general the stripe matching wasn't too tricky on this as there are not many pattern pieces to match (just side seams and a centre back seam) and the bold bands of colour are quite wide. The only thing which bothered me for a while is that the bands are made up of a series of smaller stripes which kind of wiggle across the fabric and this means the widths of the bands vary at different points. After a bit of thought I decided there was no way to conquer this irregularity and I just had to accept that the widths of the bands may be slightly different where they met at the side seams. I'm really happy with how the placement of the pattern works with the darts and how that orange stripe appears to curve down over the bust. I won't lie...that was a happy accident!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns


Because of the irregular widths of the bands I wasn't too bothered about any exact matching at the armholes but I did know I needed to consider the placement of the stripes on the sleeves to avoid it looking like a hot mess where things intersected and also to keep the design of the top looking balanced. Once I had cut my front pattern pieces I marked on the tissue where the bands of colour began and ended then used this to roughly work out where I wanted the orange and green bands to lie on the sleeve head, using the notches as a guide to match things up. I drew this onto the sleeve pattern pieces so it was super simple to cut. I was really happy to have the paper version of the pattern opposed to the PDF at this point as I could see straight through the tissue! I'm really pleased with how the sleeves turned out as when Mum's arms are by her sides the colours appear to run straight across the garment, through the body and sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I again used a facing I drafted myself to finish the neckline rather than using the bias tape recommended in the pattern instructions as I found this really tricky to manage around the tight curves at the shoulder seams. As with my original Laurel blouse and subsequent versions I still had real trouble getting the neckline to lay flat, particularly in this crisper cotton despite vigorous pressing. I clipped the seam allowances right up to the stitching line every half inch or so and then under stitched all the way round. Once the edges of the facing were then tacked down by hand at the shoulder seams and centre back I was happy with the finish. On my polka dot version I had to resort to topstitching to stop the facing flipping out to the right side and I really didn't want to have to do that on this one as it would have been much more obvious crossing the various colours.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

The only other change I made this time was to turn and press a small hem on the sleeves rather than using bias tape. It is a lovely clean finish which worked well in this weight of cotton but I might revert back to using a bias tape on future versions. On my polka dot blouse I used a lovely soft inch wide rayon binding which makes the sleeve edge really comfortable and also the width of it seems to help the sleeve sit nicely against the arm.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I finished all my seams on the overlocker and turned the hem up twice before machine stitching which turned out beautifully in this lovely cotton. The insides look really clean and tidy and you get a really nice crisp edge when pressing.

After seeing the things that I have been sewing Mum has been tempted recently to buy herself a sewing machine; all I need to do now is persuade her that she'll love sewing as much as I do and she can make herself some more blouses!

11 comments:

  1. I really like this! It's such a great print and this shape is perfect for it. I thought they were music notes at first... super cool! And I hope your mum does decide to start sewing- it's so fun when you inspire someone to start! My mom has just gotten back into sewing after a long, long gap, and my brother getting a sewing machine was a real highlight of last year!

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    1. Your brother?! That's awesome! You must have inspired them all! I'm going to keep working on my mum because I think she'd love it. At first glance I thought they were music notes too! I think because they are scattered over those stripes!

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  2. I bet your mum loved this one! It is really charming and you matched the stripes so well, all in all. It is a delightful project; and one anyone would enjoy wearing or making.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm really pleased with how the print worked with the pattern. I'm thinking I might make myself a plaid one next!

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  3. How fun! Great patten matching!

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    1. Thanks! I like to be really accurate about things like that so it was quite a challenge for me to deal with the irregularity of the stripes!

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    1. Thanks Bryanna! It's a great pattern to showcase prints

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  5. I love your mums choice of fabric, the print is so interesting!

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    1. It's lovely isn't it?! Really unusual and great combination of colours

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  6. What a fun print! Your mum has good taste in fabrics. Great job and it's exciting to hear the sewing bug might be spreading.

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!