Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mini-wardrobe: Tops (Ottobre 02-2013-02, Ottobre 02-2013-16, Pauline Alice Carme)

Part 2 of 3 of my mini-wardrobe. This time, the three tops I made. I am reserving most space to talk about making the Pauline Alice Carme blouse at the end.

Ottobre 02-2013-02 (again!) in white and black polka dot
If I had very little to say about making the white shorts, I have almost nothing at all to say about making the black and white polka dot top. This is Ottobre 02-2013-02, and it is my ninth iteration of the pattern. In fact, I made a version of it last week (my paintbrush top). (I did update my official review if you're interested). The reason I make this pattern so often is that, well, for one I really like wearing these tees, but also because it requires pretty much exactly 1m of fabric with little wastage, so it's very economical. This fabric is from Tissu. It's a viscose/cotton/lycra mix and it has a very nice texture. Total cost of this tee: £8.50.
Ottobre 02-2013-16 "Duo" in white jersey and white stretch poly satin

You might be thinking to yourself: why is this a different pattern number? Is that not the same t-shirt? And yes, it mainly is, except Ottobre gave this version, which has a whole two extra lines of stitching (plus a pocket, which I didn't use because I don't like pockets on tees) a different pattern number and a different name. I made my version in a scrap of white jersey left over from my blue and white raglan tee from earlier this summer and some stretch white poly satin also from Tissu. As usual my only major pattern alteration was to add 5cm cuffs to the sleeves. This time I made them in the satin fabric for that extra bit of contrast.

This was quite a problematic make for all that it's my tenth version of this very basic tee. The first iteration, I decided to change the position of the upper/lower bodice line a little as otherwise it was going to bisect my bust more or less at the apex, which is not such a great look. However, I lowered it too far and the proportions looked just a little bit off. Then I didn't get the stretchiness/width ratio right on the lower section in the (not very stretchy) stretch satin, and it was rather tight across my hips. Also, my overlocker went mad as I was stitching the horizontal body seams so I had a couple of places where the stitches were too loose and almost visible. This was the point where I was like, eh, this is not working, and hastily made the polka dot top.

However, once I decided that I didn't want to make a completely different sixth thing, the challenge became to make this top work, to paraphrase Tim Gunn. Luckily, I still had half of the 1m of stretch satin I'd bought, and all the problems I had had a single easy solution. The white jersey section was too long, so I just cut off a bit of it plus the lower satin section and tossed it, recut and re-sewed a new satin section and sewed them together. It took about 20 minutes and hey presto, the actual top that I had planned on and that I really like. Although on Flossie here it looks like a straight tee, it actually just catches on my hips and puddles the way the polka dot version does. Cost: £5 (for the stretch satin, basically, since the white jersey was in my scrap bag and therefore notionally "free" in my head).

And finally, the top I am most excited to have made for this competition, the Pauline Alice Carme. I've reviewed this properly on PR, so here I'll just mindlessly blather.

Pauline Alice Carme in black cotton lawn
The Carme is my first step towards my Ultimate Goal of making a million woven collared, button shirts/blouses of all descriptions. Well, not a MILLION, but a lot, anyway. I am going to blather MORE about my shirt-making intentions some time this month because I have decided that August should be the Month of Shirt-Making. This Ultimate Goal is actually one of the main reasons I got into garment sewing in the first place. Historically, shirts and blouses have been a huge problem for me to buy RTW. In short: RTW shirts and blouses are terrible and their manufacturers should feel terrible. On the other hand, the reason I haven't ventured into this is that shirt-making is FINICKY. There are so many details (collars, cuffs, button-holes, etc) and so many of them are really front and centre obvious if you get them wrong. However, I suddenly kind of realized I wasn't going to get any better at any of those details by never working on them, or by waiting forever and ever to see if my weight/size will stabilize. At about the same time, I stumbled across the Carme blouse and immediately bought it.

Pintuck yoke newly cut out from prepared fabric, and in situ in the blouse
What attracted me to the pattern was the pintuck section, which reminded me strongly of a blouse I still have in my sewing room for future copying purposes after I wore it to the point of death and beyond. Actually making the pintuck section was surprisingly enjoyable. The pattern has you make a simple pintucked rectangle and then you cut out the yoke section once it is done. It's a lot of running back and forth from the iron to the machine, but I found I really enjoyed the process of creating it. However, I am not sure I 100% love the proportions of the yoke section on my body. It definitely looks better on the (petite, slim) pattern creator and many of the smaller busted pattern users I've seen on the internet. I don't hate it, though!

Back of blouse
Other things I really like: the shaped hem, the fancy button placket (MUCH easier than I thought it would be and although the outcome isn't quite as perfect as I would have liked it is good enough for me to be happy), my simple black star buttons, my amazingly perfect set-in sleeves (I am getting GOOD at setting in sleeves!).

Sleeves rolled up with tab, shaped hem more visible from the side view
Details that didn't work out quite as well as hoped, though: the collar and cuffs, the button-holes and the fit. Fit-wise, I used my Ottobre woven tee pattern to help me pick a size and adjust the pattern. Ostensibly I am a 42 shoulder and a 42 hip for this pattern but uh, no. I made a 44 after comparing and still didn't feel like it was an overly generous pattern. I did an FBA and lowered the dart SUBSTANTIALLY (it's up around your underarm as written and I don't think my bust apex was EVER quite that high). I also added 2.5cm of width to the bicep and 2cm to the width of the cuff (it turns out I have huge wrists! WHO KNEW). If I made it again, I'd add a smidgeon more width to the bicep and also some additional space through the upper back since I find the fit to be tight. I'd also lengthen the sleeves CONSIDERABLY. I thought I'd done a good job of measuring the sleeves/cuffs to get them to come out the right length on me, but no, actually, I did a terrible job and these sleeves are just as annoyingly short on me as many a RTW blouse. Clearly, that is something I am going to have to work on figuring out. In this particular case, I am not too massively upset about the too-short sleeves since I fully intend to wear them rolled up with the button up tabs 99% of the time.

Sleeves rolled up, buttons undone -- more realistically how I will wear it 90% of the time
As far as the other less successful details, some of it was inexperience (especially the button-holes, it took me a while to figure out how to get a good result from my buttonhole foot/sensor thingy, etc) and some of it I am pretty sure is that the instructions for this pattern don't use a method conducive to an A+ finish. I am going to do some reading on getting better results for cuffs and collars because eh, no, I'm going to have to do better that this for me to be happy with shirt-making outcomes. My finishing on this is totally unremarkable -- I swapped out my overlocker thread for black and overlocked all the seams, including the yoke seam. I was going to do French seams on the body at least but when it came down to it I decided not to bother. I'm not sure how you could finish the yoke/body seam any other way that overlocking, actually.

Fabric-wise, I needed 1.8m of this plain black cotton lawn for this top. On the one hand, using 100% cotton lawn was a great idea from a "novice shirt sewer" perspective. It was super well-behaved, could be ironed into perfect pintucks, and was very easy to sew. On the other hand, it's a little bit stiff so it tends to stand away from the body, which I don't prefer from a wear perspective. I do tend to like my tops a little drapier and body-skimming. There are drapier cotton lawns, and I would probably want to find one if I were going to make this again (or use a blend with more drape) even though it would make wrestling with the details of the pattern that much more complex.

My fabric was from eBay and set me back £5.50/m, so about £10 in total. The buttons were from the Cork Button Company and were stupidly expensive (everything on the internet in Ireland is stupidly expensive). So, around £15-ish probably altogether. I also bought the Pauline Alice pattern as a PDF for €8, of course, although I generally don't track pattern costs in my overall costs (for no very good reason, other than that I used a lot of magazines which makes it difficult to apportion cost).

Overall, I'm really pleased with the outcome of making the Carme blouse. It looks just like I imagined with the skirt and shorts, and it was a really good way to dip a toe into shirt-making.

Up next, my final mini-wardrobe post will be my outfit photos :D


  1. This is a gorgeous top! I love the pintucks and am always down for rolled sleeves with tabs!

    Very well done!

    1. Thanks! I'm pleased with it as a first blouse type project, and I do love the pintuck yoke, definitely adds a bit of interest to an otherwise kind of boring black top. :D

  2. Great tops. Love the pin tucks

    1. Thanks! The way the pattern had you put together the pintucked section was really nice and simple, definitely a high point of making that top.

  3. Your mini wardrobe is coming along nicely. I love how you have combined a couple of simple basics with the more complicated shirt and the interesting patterned skirt. They will all be winners.

    1. Thank you! I am really happy with how it's all turned out. :D

  4. I echo Janine's comment. Pairing basics with the pintuck shirt and patterned skirt is classic. Nice job!

    1. Thank you! :D I'm pleased with what I sewed!

  5. Look at that gorgeous yoke, and shirt in general! Makes me feel so mini wardrobe behind, taking in all of your finished pieces.

    1. I am really proud of that yoke, I have to admit :D But as for the rest, all my patterns bar the blouse were so easy, it was the only way I could finish so quickly! I am sure yours will be much more interesting & very successful.