When I was organizing my pattern magazines and tracings, I came across this top that I had traced off last summer and never got around to making up. I wear a lot of knit tops and am always on the lookout for new and interesting styles. Naturally, I fell in love with these sleeves.
The fabric is rayon/lycra that I bought from Sawyer Brook a few years ago. I’ve pulled it out quite a few times but never had just the right project for it until now. I started with my usual size 34 but found this pattern baggy through the torso. Either the Power Circuit Training DVDs are finally paying off or my fabric has too much stretch. Not only did I skip the FBA, I took it in about 1/2″ on each side (for a total of 2″).
I changed the neckline from a V-neck to a scoop neck and bound the edge. Instead of coverstitching the hems, I used my blindstitch machine for a dressier look.
Seriously, how freaking adorable are these sleeves? I know some people cut the sleeve apart into four pieces to make gathering easier but I had no difficulty making them as per the pattern. To make your corners really nice and crisp overlock across the gathered section only, then fold the seam allowance up (towards the cap) and overlock each side seam (sort of like a wrapped corner collar).
I made this pattern just over a year ago and it has become a favorite. It’s one of those blouses that, every time I put it on, I wonder why I only have one. I had pulled the pattern out a few months ago in hopes of making myself another one so, when I needed a project to recover from my recent disaster, there it was! Not one to let myself off the hook too easily, I did choose to make it in (drumroll, please) silk charmeuse! This is another Golden Oldie from Maggi’s For Fine Fabrics.
I used my 1.25″ right-angle binder to make quick work of the neckline and ties. I had to piece the binding at the CB but the seam went through the binder without a hitch. I made sure to press and trim the seam well and you can barely see the join.
I will probably make one more quick item before I return to the Milly blouse. I’ve leaning toward the red charmeuse but the chiffon I bought yesterday isn’t the greatest match so I have one more place to check before I get started. I’ve put Sunday’s disaster behind me and am movin’ on! As Debbie said, do I really want to be bothered with a blouse that stains so easily? Uh, no.
Or, When Disaster Strikes. I was just working away on the blouse yesterday, anxious to finish it. Because this fabric mars or stains every time you look at it funny, I was constantly washing my hands and cleaning my work area so as not to damage the blouse. Frankly, a week of that was enough for me so I was happy to see the finish line.
Now, normally, I am a very solitary sewer. I hole myself up in my sewing room and completely lose myself in the project at hand. Enter sewing room visitors in the way of my honey (who usually just silently pokes his head in), Winnie Whiskers and No No Bad Dog. NNBD has already learned that Winnie’s claws are painful so he generally ignores her. If she makes her Yoda face and growls, he runs away or hides behind the nearest human. Well, not yesterday. The dog was barking, the cat was hissing, you get the idea. During all of this chaos, I was attempting to restitch and smooth out the outer band seam (that little hitchydoo in the photo) and inadvertently caught the outer band in my stitching. No big deal except that you cannot, never ever, get pin holes out of silk charmeuse. No can do. So, I’m already upset but think that maybe I will do some channel stitching on the band and cuffs to cover up this mistake. And that’s when I see the stain. Yes, a stain! Don’t ask me how this happened when I must have washed my hands a dozen times yesterday. The cleaners could probably deal with the stain but then I still have the matter of the holes.
Needless to say, I am really upset and at a standstill. I have enough fabric for new bands but the seam has already been trimmed and graded. The very thought of ripping it all out when I have miniscule seam allowances in some areas gives me nightmares. What I’d like to do is toss the whole thing out and start with a fresh piece of charmeuse (because I really want this blouse!) but I don’t think I have any more solid pieces in my stash. Grrrr. I think I will set everything aside and work on a quickie project today just to clear my mind and put me in a better mood. Worst case scenario is that I’ll buy some new charmeuse but I’m too mad to think about that right now.
ETA: Apparently, my stash knows no bounds because I discovered not one, but two, pieces of solid silk charmeuse. I had forgotten about these but discovered them as I was looking through my fabric catalogue. I have 5 yards of the red (which is a very pretty lipstick red) and ten yards of the pale taupe (my silver sample is in the center). Which one I choose will depend on what I can get in the way of chiffon. Okay, deep breath. I will do some fun sewing today and then tackle this project anew as soon as I have a few uninterrupted sewing days in a row. And buy a baby gate to keep the dog out of my room.
I am whittling away at the blouse. The cuffs are on and I will work on the neckband today. This morning I felt like doing something fun so I played around a bit with the front ruffle. I want the ruffle to be removable for cleaning so I’m planning on backing it with a piece of ribbon and using small snaps to attach it to the placket. Keep in mind that these are just test samples so they’re not very tidy!
I started with a 2″ wide piece of bias chiffon. I’m using polyester because a) it has much more body than silk and b) should I ever have to wash it, the pleats will hold their shape. I used two layers of chiffon for the first sample (on the left) and found it too poofy. The second sample is one layer only (on the right) and is exactly what I was looking for. Polyester chiffon doesn’t fray out at the edges as easily as silk so I just ran my fingernails over the edges to roughen them up a bit. I’m really happy with the effect!
Here’s the ruffle with the crystal beads that I originally purchased. Meh, just not enough sparkle for me. I mean, it’s okay but it doesn’t wow me. I’ll reserve these beads for something else.
These crystals, on the other hand, are perfect! I was only able to get 16 from this particular seller but I found a few more on Etsy this week. Even if I don’t need them it’ll be good to have a few spares in case I ever lose one. I don’t know how long this ruffle will be yet, I’ll decide that after I finish the blouse. Have I mentioned lately how much I love sewing? Love, love, LOVE.
I completed the front closure today, finally. If you remember, the original blouse has a hidden button placket. This detail is quite easy to add to any existing pattern. In my case, all I had to do was add two more button extensions and a seam allowance to turn under. I only interfaced the bottom extension to give some support to the buttonholes. You can see how I did that here on the pattern (I had to rotate the pattern because WordPress always cuts off a little on the right side):
Here is the placket open, showing the buttonholes. It’s easiest to make the buttonholes at this point, before the neckband has been attached. I’m using grey MOP shirt buttons but any flat, plain button will do. On the cuffs I am planning to use these big rhinestone buttons.
Here’s what it looks like from the inside.
Sad to say, I accomplished nothing this weekend! It was a big football weekend, which ordinarily would mean loads of ME time but, due to a series of unfortunate events, it didn’t work out that way.
Now, it’s Monday and I’m back on track! After wearing the test blouse, I decided that I’d like to lower the neckline about 1″. I figured 1″ would give me enough “breathing room” without compromising the look I’m after. If you go to the Milly site, you can see that the original neckline is pretty high. Mine’s going to be a lot lower so I may have to shorten the ruffle, which is okay with me.
Here is how I altered the neckband:
I drew a vertical (red) line just to the outside the shoulder seam and marked a match point across the line (also in red). I then slashed the pattern apart, marked another line 1″ below the match point (2nd red line) and slid the CF section down and trued the curves.
Here’s how the new and original pieces compare:
Tomorrow, I will alter the bodice front and then sew up a quick test garment to check my alterations. I also need to add the hidden placket. Then, it’s cutting time!
My new crystals arrived today! I lucked into these beautiful square Swarovski sew-on crystals at a really good price on Etsy. Unfortunately, the seller only had 16 but I think I can make that work. If not, I’ll save them for something else and use the crystal beads I already have.
The test blouse is done and I’m really pleased with it. I made a straight 8 with no alterations except my usual sleeve-shortening. When does that ever happen?
This fabric is extremely difficult to photograph from afar. After taking photo after photo, I almost decided to not even post it but I thought you might rather see a bad photo than none at all. The blouse looks really voluminous on the dressform but it’s not overwhelming in the least on the body.
I will probably always wear it tucked in but I thought I’d try it with a hip belt just to see how it looked.
The cuff with crystal button. For a little sheen, I used machine embroidery thread for all of my buttonholes.
To reduce bulk around the neckline I used a Hong Kong finish (with silk chiffon) around the facing instead of turning it under.
I also wanted to keep the hem very flowy (in case I ever want to wear it untucked) so I bound it as well and hand stitched with silk thread.
I’m going to give this a test drive tonight to see if there are any changes I might want to make to the final garment. Hopefully, I can get both the grey charmeuse and the brocade jacket cut out this weekend!
This evening I did all the gathering and attached the outer band. I don’t know about you, but I would say that gathering is the one sewing task that I do not enjoy at all. At least this pattern has loads of notches and dots to make it easy and a bit less tedious.
Look at how high the armscye is in this blouse. That was a really big (and nice!) surprise as blouses with this much fullness generally have pretty low armholes.
I popped into JoAnn’s yesterday morning and, it’s official, the majority of their buttons really stink. Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to put a cheap plastic button on a charmeuse blouse. Luckily, I had a job interview near Cynthia’s and was able to get buttons worthy of this fabric: beautiful black Swarovski crystal, yum.
A misnomer, really. I am actually still in the hunting and gathering phase of the Milly blouse. I knew I had some champagne silk charmeuse in the stash and I found it (with matching chiffon!) but, alas, not enough for the blouse. I found a ton of bronze silk charmeuse but it’s not my best color (someone gave it to me) so I had set it aside for nightwear (I wear a sleep mask so I don’t care what color my jammies are).
While I was hunting, I came across this beautiful leopard silk charmeuse still wrapped in tissue in the original bag from Cynthia’s. For shame! From the graphics on the shopping bag, Cynthia dated it at six years old, at least. Immediately, I thought “test garment” and that’s what I’m doing with it.
I’ve already come pretty far, the back fronts and sleeves have been joined in French seams and the armscyes have been sewn. I was going to serge them and then I thought, why not bind them with the champagne silk chiffon? I used a 1″ binder but cut my strips 1.5″ wide because silk chiffon narrows so much on the bias.
I think this gives the inside of the blouse a really nice look.
I did finally settle on a charmeuse for the Milly blouse, this silver grey which was purchased at Judy’s Fabrics a very, very long time ago.
The crystals were a bit more challenging. I did find the ones I really wanted at MJ Trimmings but, sigh , $$. I found these crystal beads locally. They cost me about $30 (about half of the ones at MJ) and they are big (12mm) and flat. I think they will work just fine. Cynthia has the perfect grey chiffon for the front ruffle which I’ll pick up on Monday night when I have my beginner’s class.
I was looking through the September issue of People Style Watch (I know, but I do love it!) and this gorgeous Milly “Francine” blouse caught my eye. I had to laugh because it’s on the “guilt free” shopping page – at $325.
And will you look what we have in the pattern collection:
There’s no date on this pattern but I’m guessing it’s from 1976-78. I have a couple of pieces of charmeuse in my stash but I’m not sure if I have any chiffon for that front ruffle, I’ll have to check. The best part is that I have a reason (finally) to buy some big honkin’ crystals! As my friends would say, I’m such a girl. 😉