Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I'm back, and with a finished object as well! (Ottobre 05-2012-07)

I am back! I had an unplanned fortnight hiatus from almost everything sewing related for reasons of illness, having loads of other stuff to do and also MOVING IN. Yes, I am finally in my new house, a mere 8 weeks behind schedule. I moved in on Saturday and the ten days before that were just really busy, so I haven't really done much sewing at all. In fact I haven't really been more than skimming the sewing blogs or forums that I normally read daily, so if I normally read and comment on your blog, I'm sorry if I missed anything really exciting that I would normally exclaim with you over!

The last two days I finally had some breathing space and I returned to my on-going WIP, a button front, collared shirt, Ottobre 05-2012-07. I've mentioned this several times already, and here it is, finally! I am overall really pleased with it, even though it has SO MANY little imperfections and problems. This version is kind of a test garment. I really just wanted to see how the pattern came out and have a go at the things I had never done before, such as the collar, flat-felled seams and so on. Accordingly, I used a very well-behaved but also inexpensive fabric (a lightweight 100% cotton sateen in dark navy -- the photo on me is a more accurate colour rendition -- that I got from Tissu for about £3/m). Not that I don't like this version, and I'll definitely wear it, but it's only version 1, for sure.

Ottobre 05-2012-07 as modelled by Flossie and yours truly

The actual pattern is a really great basic of the sort that Ottobre seem to do really well.
Technical drawing 05-2012-07
The original in the magazine colour-blocked which, I have to be honest, is not my thing at all. However, when I was looking for a nice basic collared shirt this pattern really jumped out at me for several reasons: it uses bust darts, which was where I wanted to start with blouse/shirt making; it has a two part collar, which I prefer from a wearing perspective; and in the technical drawing at least it has a nice shape to it, rather than the blockier shirts that I have from other magazines/envelopes. As you have to trace Ottobre patterns anyway and the pieces that are colour-blocked were a single pattern piece on the pattern sheet, it was very easy to simply omit that detail. I also left off the pockets, because I dislike shirts with details over the bust.

I traced a size 44 for this first version of the shirt, and then adjusted it using the bodice of Ottobre 02-2014-05, the woven tee I made a couple of times earlier this year. Basically, those adjustments amounted to: larger bust dart and lower the bust dart. I also did a square shoulder adjustment, and added a LOT, about 6cm total, to the width of the sleeves, as my biceps are like 2-3 sizes bigger than the rest of me in Ottobre sizes, and I also lengthened the sleeves (a little too much, in fact).

Magazine image Ottobre 05-2012-07
Fit-wise, I am very happy with some things and less happy with others. For reference, I have a 10cm (4") difference between upper and full bust, and 15cm (6") difference between full and under bust, with makes me a G or H cup, normally. Like many large busted women my number one pet hate with buttoned blouses is tightness/gaping at the bust apex. Again, like anyone else with this kind of body shape, my only answer in RTW is to buy the size that fits my bust and live with shoulder seams that are halfway down my arms and, because I am mildly inverted triangle shaped, much too much fabric at the hips.

This particular blouse fits really well at the shoulders -- so much so that initially I was like "this is too narrow at the shoulder!" until I realized, no, this is just what a blouse that FITS at the shoulder feels like. It fits well enough at the bust that even when I flap my arms around a lot it doesn't seem to pull or gape in an unattractive way. However, as you can see in the photo, I do have some drag lines that indicate a need for a bit more room at the bust. I am inclined to put this down to a few pounds of weight gain since I last used my bodice piece from the woven tee. I am probably less concerned about the drag lines than a fit purist would be, just because my weight IS always in flux and I know that what fits/doesn't fit one month may be fine or even entirely unwearable the next. If this were a special occasion thing and the first wear was the most important, I'd worry more, but for something I'm going to wash and wear a lot of times while my weight potentially goes up and down, eh, whatever, it's good enough for now.

I do feel like there is some small adjustment I need to make in the back bodice right about at shoulder blade level. I have no idea what it is or how I would do it, but I definitely need just a smidgeon more ease right at that point to be totally comfortable. Also, I normally wear a 42 at the hip in Ottobre and I just traced out a 44 from top to bottom. I probably could shave a little bit off the hip width on this pattern, but I feel like this fit is actually quite nice over jeans -- it's loose without being tent-like.

Horrible sleeve problems -- you can see the puckers on the left
My BIGGEST fit problems are with the sleeves. I made them too long this time, after both my Carme blouses were too short in the sleeves, which is annoying. The revised fit at the bicep is good, but I absolutely HATE the shoulder cap. It pokes up when I raise my arm, and I had an absolute NIGHTMARE easing the sleeve into the armscye. The first sleeve I unpicked and re-sewed at least 6 times, and I still couldn't ease it in without puckers. I had such a nightmare with it that I ended up setting the whole project aside for nearly a week because I was so fed up with it. In the end I decided I would live with whatever happened when I sewed it again, and I would only put the second sleeve in once. Both sides have ugly puckers in the back armscye and the sleeves twist a tiny bit. I am not totally certain what to do for the best with this. I feel like maybe the best thing to do is to find a sleeve and armscye that fits really well and just trace that onto every shirt I make forever and ever, like I have with knit tops, but I need to find that perfect sleeve/armscye pattern first! All I know for sure right now is that this is Definitely Not It. 
Collar. Points are not pointy enough, but the top-stitching turned out OK

I did a bunch of new things with this shirt. I flat-felled all the seams, which went really well except for causing me to burn my fingers a million times when I was pressing folds into the seams before stitching. I made a collar, which was moderately successful although I need to work on getting my points pointier and the place where the collar stand and button band at the front meet is an absolute pig's ear on the inside, ugh. However, having done sleeve vents twice on my Carme blouses, my cuffs on this shirt came out really well, so I am going to assume it's all a matter of practice. Also good were the button-holes and button placement generally -- I feel like I have definitely got the hang of my machine's automatic buttonholer, which is pleasing. I also did a better-than-usual job on (some of) the top-stitching, although it's a bit wonky in a few places.

Disastrous interior shot at the edge of the collar band
Most of that, of course, is in the "invisible from 1 metre away" category of critique, but I really do aspire to turn out beautifully finished items. For this attempt I just stuck to exactly what the instructions said (with some changes in construction order because I was flat-felling my seams and didn't want to set the sleeves in flat as a result). Next time I make a shirt I want to employ some of the methods described in Shirtmaking and some tutorials I've found online and see if I can get any better finish.

I am really glad I made this shirt, but I have to say, shirt making overall does feel time consuming and it's really finicky. Like, you don't just whizz up a seam and call a sleeve done -- you have to put in the vent, and the pleat and the cuff and the button-hole and the button and blah blah blah, it's a TON of work and at the end of it all you've done is ONE SLEEVE. I am sure I will make the second shirt more quickly than this first one, and so on, but it's always going to be quite a time-consuming project. I'd really like to make sure that if I'm spending time on this sort of thing that the outcome is really beautiful and well-fitted. Oh, and that the fabric is great. I really liked making this 100% cotton blouse from a fabric perspective, especially after my last 100% polyester monstrosity. The fabric wasn't expensive, but it was a nice quality and easy to work. I'm damned if I am spending these kind of hours making a really nice shirt and using polyester or polycotton though!

Not that my next project is a shirt. Partly because I'm burned out on this pattern right now, but also for fitting reasons, I am not going to do ANYTHING further with this pattern until I've worn the shirt for an entire day, or maybe even twice. More and more I'm finding that I don't get a really good impression of the things I've made until I've worn and washed them a couple of times in normal, day-to-day circumstances. I definitely want to experience how this shirt feels when worn out in the real world before I make the pattern up for the second time.

So, what next? Well, I COULD make a start on one of my many BIG SCARY outerwear projects, but honestly, I haven't got the patience for that right now. So I'm going to take a little break from complicated projects and make some PJ trousers. More cotton, long straight seams, and elasticated waist bands. Just the chaser I need after this shirt! And also, now it's getting cold at night I'm not warm enough in PJ shorts any more, and I threw away a pile of really disreputable old PJs before I moved. So, urgently required as well! :D

Gosh, that got long. I had a lot to say about shirt-making! How are you all and what exciting things have been happening for you all in September? :D


  1. Mmmmmm. Sewing cotton. :)

    I think you did an excellent job sewing it. Look at that collar stand! :) I believe you have to lower your sleevecap (and flatten it?). I should really keep track of where I read cool sewing tips so I can link up! Gah.

    1. I do like sewing with cotton more than any other fabric (except maybe silk, but a girl can only dream of frequently sewing with silk!)

      Thank you! I definitely need to do SOMETHING with that sleeve cap and from casual experimentation on the finished thing, I agree that it needs flattening. I will have to think about it before I make a second.

  2. I agree with Nakisha--it sounds like there's too much ease in the sleeve cap. It sounds like an "it's not you, it's the pattern" issue. It's been a while, but I know that I've found tutorials online to fix that problem.

    1. Yeah, I need to look up how to fix it, I don't want to make another with the same problem.

  3. Looks great!!
    I heart this method for reducing sleeve cap:

    1. This was EXTREMELY USEFUL! Thank you so much for linking me to it. I have adjusted my pattern using it and am hoping the next version isn't so painful from a sleeve-setting perspective. :D