I've got a handful of projects from the last couple of months ready to blog and show you but I love my most recent completed garment so much that it's jumping the queue and getting on here first! Megan Nielsen released the Dove Blouse last month and contacted me to see if I would like a copy. I usually don't take designers up on such and offer unless I'm certain I'm going to make it in the near future and this was one of those moments. I'm really enjoying the seventies trend that seems to be hitting the high street this season and the big sleeves of the Dove had me at hello.
I believe I printed this pattern out the night before the Handmade Fair and I had my eyes peeled in the shopping tents for the perfect fabric to pair with it. I found it in the form of this lovely bold chrysanthemum viscose from Til The Sun Goes Down. I'm not really a floral kind of girl but the scale of the print and the black background give it enough of an edge to be a bit more me. I was initially drawn to the print but it was the beautiful smooth hand and drape that sold it to me; it's the perfect weight for the blouse. To be honest every time I take a look at their shop I fall in love with pretty much every fabric they have to offer but I haven't bought any so far as I find them quite expensive. The fabrics are top quality and they do stock vintage inspired and genuine vintage prints which are pretty much impossible to find elsewhere so you probably are getting value for your money but most of the time I just can't justify it. My choice was probably the cheapest on the stall at £11/m and I only needed 1.5 metres for the blouse. Worth every penny in my opinion as it's such a delight to wear.
The fabric presented a few challenges in that there are a fair few seam lines on this design and it could have ended up looking a hot mess with those glorious big flowers cut in half all over the place. I would have needed a lot more fabric if I was going to try and accurately pattern match the blooms but Alison (who I bumped into at the fair and spent most of the day with) gave me the inspiration for what I could do to keep things looking neat. I cut all my pattern pieces out in a single layer and tried to ensure that the majority of seamlines ran through predominately black areas. I concentrated my efforts on the front, shoulder and cuff seams as I figured the side seams wouldn't show so much. It is possible to just omit the centre front seam but I found with the amount of fabric I had I would get better pattern matching results elsewhere if I left it in.
I cut the size XS and am really pleased with the fit across the shoulders and the ease though the body feels just right. I could probably do with a very slight FBA as it pulls a little in this area as I move about and the neckline gets distorted because of it. Despite being on the short side I kept the length as it is; it's pretty long at the back in particular but I really like it that way! I did take 1" off the length of the cuffs as they were going to get in the way of my hands otherwise. I made version 2 with the flared sleeves and although I was sorely tempted by the drama of the big bell sleeve and thought it would look amazing in this print I'm happy I opted out. I think the sleeves of version 3 would get in the way slightly on a day to day basis and I'm getting a lot more wear out of this more practical choice. A more dramatic version for special occasions is definitely on the winter sewing wish list though!
It was my first time using a PDF from Megan and I liked that it is clear about which pages you need to print for which version so you aren't printing out alternative cuff pieces unnecessarily. However one thing to be careful of when printing is that the numbers don't include the explanation page that comes before the pattern pieces themselves. So when it says to print 1-21 you're actually printing 2-22 on the print options.
There is so much to like about this pattern and I have had so much enjoyment out of both sewing and wearing it. My favourite part if probably the hem facing. It's the first time I have used one and I adore the clean, neat edge you get. It is also probably one of very few times that facings have given me no trouble and stayed exactly where I want them too. This is probably a combination of the under-stitching and the fact that my fabric was very well behaved and holds a nice crisp press. This also made turning up the curved edges of the cuffs a doddle and Megan's instructions for this are top notch. I'm also really pleased with the neckline, it's the perfect depth and shape for me and I think it really balances out the loose tunic style fit to have a bit of skin exposed here. Do be careful about that neckline edge stretching out when you handle it though as you need it to sit nice and flat.
This would definitely be a good project for a beginner who wants to try a couple more techniques. Dealing with the curved edges would be a nice challenge but the instructions are thorough enough to guid you through. The most challenging part is probably getting the point of the v neckline crisp and even and setting in those sleeves which I've personally never enjoyed! My only regret about this project is that I'm working away from home at the moment and staying in a hotel I haven't been able to get it washed and back on my back as many times as I would like! Definitely a staple in my autumn wardrobe and one fit for any occasion.