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Swimming in Stripes

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My dim childhood memories of hot summer days growing up in the ’90s are largely populated by fresh rayon dresses in dark floral prints. The fabric seemed like magic; soft, pretty, and inexplicably cool even in the most miserable weather. Styles changed, as they always do, and at some point what I can now identify as rayon challis pretty much disappeared from my sphere of experience. I’m not certain when this happened, and it certainly didn’t overly concern me as a child, but I do remember vaguely wondering what happened to the magically cool summer fabric.

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Decades later (now I feel old), rayon dresses are everywhere in stores again because 90s fashion is somehow coming back into style (and I feel even older!). Two delightful consequences of this change are that rayon is back on my radar and that it is easy to obtain in all sorts of whimsical prints. The print on the fabric used in this project is very whimsical indeed. I stumbled onto it while looking for something else on fabric.com and was completely charmed by the goldfishes swimming on an otherwise demure background of blue and white stripes. The fabric is a rayon twill from Telio, the listing for which can be found here though it has since sold out. I ordered the fabric before I knew what I wanted to do with it, because as far as I’m concerned, it just doesn’t get better than playful orange fishes swimming in stripes.

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When the fabric came in, I was pleased to find that it has the soft drape typical of a nice rayon and that it was opaque enough for an unlined blouse. After much dithering, I decided to use the Datura pattern again, this time with the collar option. The version with the collar requires less careful precision while cutting and sewing than the version with the neckline cut-outs. Given the slipperiness of this rayon fabric, the slightly more forgiving pattern option was a relief! To adapt to the rayon, I ended up hand stitching the shoulder seams to finish, as well as the bodice lining. The hem is a narrow, machine stitched one instead of the bias tape hem recommended in the pattern directions.

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This blouse has been grand fun to sew and to wear. I find myself smiling every time I look at this fabric, and it has proven wonderfully cool to wear in hot weather. It also traveled with me to Portugal and actually didn’t wrinkle as miserably as expected! I’m not finished with this fabric yet, so keep an eye out for goldfish swimming in stripes on the next blog post too!

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Pink Datura Blouse

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Last May, in many ways, seems as if it happened a very long time ago. This past year has involved completing my doctorate, a flurry of job applications, a new job, a new apartment, travel to a new country, and an engagement! It has been quite the year.

In light of all these developments, minor adventures in sewing, like finally making it to Old Town Alexandria and discovering the Stitch Sew Shop, seem rather insignificant. It is a delightful shop, and on my visit there last May I picked up the Datura blouse pattern from Deer and Doe. While the project got somewhat lost in the shuffle and then didn’t get blogged for months, it is a well-designed pattern, and I am very happy with the results.

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Given that I have been impressed by other Deer and Doe patterns in the past, I have kept an eye on their pattern line and had seen the Datura Blouse online. Even though the construction looked interesting, I never would have pursued it without seeing the pattern in person in Alexandria. The design of the neckline cut-outs is clever and clean, and the easy fit enables the blouse to function without closures. And of course, given that it is sleeveless, this one earns a 10 out of 10 on the arm mobility index!

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The cut outs at the neckline are achieved by lining the upper bodice to create a finished, zig-zag neckline and then connecting the points with a double folded bias binding. It requires some careful stitching, but this approach creates a really cool effect and a clean finish. For this project, I used a mystery, watermelon-colored twill fabric which I bought for a dollar a yard on a massive roll at a now defunct fabric warehouse in Lancaster, PA. It has a nice drape for a mid-weight fabric and has plenty of body to support the unusual neckline, but after months of wearing the blouse, I think it is somewhat heavy for this pattern.

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Stay tuned for another Datura blouse in the near future made in a lighter fabric with a more fluid drape. I have quite a backlog of projects to record on the blog and some free time for blogging, so you can expect the usual flurry of summer blog posts in the weeks ahead.

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