Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Broderie Anglaise Coeli Blouse

I was drawn to the Coeli Blouse from Pauline Alice when it was first released last year. It was the sleeves which hooked me! I love the big balloon shape combined with the beautiful tuck detail. But two things delayed me from sewing this up. Firstly I wasn't sure about the high neck collar in combination with this voluminous style on me; it felt like it could potentially be a bit overwhelming and I might get a bit lost in it. Secondly I had a hard time deciding what fabric to use. You obviously don't want anything too thick and bulky with all that gathering but I wanted something with enough body to really amp up the drama of the sleeves. I didn't want to use a print and loose the tucks in it but I also felt like the fabric needed a bit of texture or something going on in it to break up the expanse of fabric. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

I hit upon the perfect thing when Simply Fabrics offered to send me a fabric of my choice to review - broderie anglaise! It is lightweight and breezy but has a bit of crispness and also interesting detail running across without being too busy. Broderie seems to be having a bit of a moment in RTW too, I'm particularly enjoying the way Sezane have been using it recently. I was slightly nervous about choosing a broderie online as some poly blend ones can have a thin synthetic feel and starchy hand but I needn't have worried as the base of this is so gorgeously soft. It is 100% cotton and has a fine weave like a lawn. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

You will notice my solution being unsure about the collar - I got rid of it and hacked the neckline! I saw a few versions on Instagram which had omitted the collar but I decided to take it a step further and get a bit more collar bone on show with a lower square neckline. I took the size of my neckline from my Tudor blouse; I believe it was 22cm across and 14cm deep. I think should have made it a little smaller but it works! I kept height in the rear neckline (just squared it off to match) to help to shoulders stay on but as much front square neckline is quite deep and wide and the top doesn't have a close fit around the armholes it does want to shift around a bit. Obviously in the original design the collar keeps everything securely in place. To keep everything sitting neatly I added a couple of little loops and poppers to attach around my bra straps.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

To finish the new neckline neatly I opted to line the entire front and back yoke with a very fine cotton lawn from my stash. Doing this also enabled me to omit the binding which finishes the centre back opening as I used the lining to cleanly finish this edge. I changed the spacing of the ties at the centre back so that one was right at the top as I wasn't going to have the fastening on the collar. Once I had attached the lining around the neckline and centre back and turned it through to the right side I basted the two layers together around the remaining raw edges so I could treat them as one moving forward.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

After lining the yoke I went back and forth about whether to line the lower portion of the bodice for modesty. Broderie anglaise has sections cut away from inside the embroidered motifs. The holes are very small in the fabric I was using and because this lower portion is gathered up quite densely I thought I could probably get away with it. Then I changed my mind and cut lining pieces out of the lawn...then I changed my mind again as I thought that it would add too much bulk to an already very voluminous top! I didn't want to lose the soft delicacy of the broderie in all that fabric. In the end I constructed the sleeves first (which I knew I wanted unlined) to see how it looked. I loved that without lining it the tuck detail really stood out as a bold stripe of white against the finer single layer of sleeve so opted to do that for the body too. I'm really pleased with that decision as I love how it looks and it doesn't feel immodest at all.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

I'd now actually recommend a semi-sheer fabric to make this so you can really see the tucks. Also a fabric which has a bit of crispness so those delightful sleeves stand out and don't collapse in on themselves. Though perhaps something with a fluid drape could be equally beautiful in a different way. Now I can see a sand-washed silk version in my head which I may have to make a reality! 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

I cut the size 38 and definitely think I could have got away with a 36. If I made it again I'd probably make my pattern pieces for the lower portion of the bodice a little narrower so there was less gathered into the yoke too. Aside from wanting to change the neckline the one concern I had with this pattern was where the gathering line hits right across the bust. I'm short with some curves and generally like styles which emphasise the waist so I felt like fabric gathered across and hanging from the bust might not be great for my proportions. It does feel maybe a touch maternity and I think I could have benefited from making it a slight bit shorter to balance out all that volume but I like it anyway! I might play around with going back in and adding another tuck to reduce the length. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

Despite the cotton being very fine I used a size 80 universal needle as I felt like it might need a bit of strength to get through the areas of dense embroidery. I was slightly concerned about bulk where seams intersected the embroidery, particularly in areas where it was gathered up, but I had no trouble with it at all. It pressed beautifully. The pattern instructs you to use french seams throughout which I did in the most part but some seams I just overlocked as the embroidered areas of the fabric were quite thick to achieve french seams in. The broderie has a fairly wide plain border down the selvedge so I used this to make the ties.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

The buttons on the cuffs are fastened with thread loops rather than buttonholes which is great for a fabric like broderie which can be tricky to make buttonholes in. Thread loops and chains are one of my favourite sewing techniques, I find them really satisfying and therapeutic to make.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Coeli Blouse in Broderie Anglaise from Simply Fabrics

As I knew they would be, my favourite part is definitely the sleeves! I love that they have real drama but are still quite practical to wear as they are cuffed so don't get in the way. All in all it is a top which isn't perfect but one I will be getting a lot of wear out of anyway. I think so often as sewists we become real perfectionists when it comes to every little detail of a garment but actually if we look at the RTW clothes we wear and wore before we sewed there are many more imperfections and problems with fit. I learnt a lot from sewing this and enjoyed the process and am on the whole pleased with the finished top so am counting that as a success!

6 comments:

  1. I love reading your posts. You are so talented and such an inspiration. When I see what you have created, it motivates me to start a new project.

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    1. Thank you so much! Comments like that really motivate me to blog more and share more sewing details
      Happy sewing!

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  2. I find it hard to get a good fit with a square neckline. Yours looks great. Very cute top.

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    1. Yes it is really tricky isn’t it as the body is anything but straight lines and square shapes!
      I’d like to play around with this one a bit more but the bra strap loops are definitely helping

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  3. This turned out so well for you! I'm short and curvy in the same way you are and have the same hesitancys about this type of voluminous style but it looks smashing on you and I do think dropping the collar and squaring it off like you did was part of why this did work. I have the same fabric in my stash too and also wondered about the lining vs no lining. I'm going to try Peppermint's Ruffle Top hacked with the Peplum Top using my fabric and now feel better about lining the bodice with lawn but will keep the sleeve ruffle and the peplum unlined. Always enjoy your blog!

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    1. If it is a fine lawn I think it works great as a lining without adding too much bulk, but definitely best to leave it unlined where possible. I haven’t tried either of those peppermint patterns yet but have had my eye on both! Great choices for a broderie
      I was really wary of this style on my proportions but couldn’t resist the style. I think I’ve got better at judging how it make patterns work for my body as I’ve sewn more. I think this could definitely do with being a touch shorter though

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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!