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Plaid Pavot Jacket Part Two

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The plaid jacket is finished! And you cannot convince me that it is not the most beautiful jacket in existence. I am feeling ridiculously smug about this project, fair warning. It’s red! and plaid! and my obsessive compulsive heart is so happy that the plaid matches all over the place.

Plaid Pavot Lamp post

The pattern is the delightful Pavot Jacket from Deer and Doe, a small French pattern company. I was excited for a practical application for my French reading skills, but it turns out that sewing related terminology forms a tragic gap  in my French vocabulary. Fortunately, the instructions also come in English, though  I found them largely unnecessary. The construction is very straightforward, especially when compared to the concentration required to cut out the pattern so the plaids all match up.

Plaid Pavot Bridge

As for the design and fit of the pattern itself, the Pavot Jacket is practically perfect in every way (yes, even Mary Poppins endorses it). The jacket fit me well straight from the pattern, no adjustments. The jacket design is fitted without being binding; there is plenty of shoulder room; the pieces all ease together with no difficulty, and the design is flattering and feminine. My head is already mulling over all sorts of variations (collarless? winter weight? shorter? A DRESS?).

Plaid Pavot Shoulder

Do you see that sleeve cap? I usually hate any visible gathering at the shoulder, but it is subtle enough here that I don’t mind it. There were no real problems setting the sleeves in, but I am in no rush to ease sleeve caps made of canvas again anytime soon. I used three lines of basting when making the gathers, which gives you more control and I think makes all the difference.

Plaid Pavot Pocket

And there are well-placed, usefully spacious pockets! And did I mention the plaids matching? The plaids match on the side, and I didn’t even mean to do that. While I can abstractly recognize that I might be unreasonably excited about this development, sewing a side seam in which the bands of color suddenly all align is rather startling.

Plaid Pavot Back

This project is the first time I have used seam binding to finish the edges of my fabric, and I love it. Seam binding is a very lightweight ribbon material, about half an inch wide, which is folded over the raw edge of your fabric and stitched in place. Because it is so thin and flexible, it doesn’t add any bulk to the seam, and any edges that might fray are encased in the seam binding. The finish is so much cleaner and professional-looking than any finishing method I have used before, except for maybe french seams. There is a bit of a learning curve. I found the application tiresome and fussy at first, but once you get a feel for it, the seam binding goes on quickly.

Plaid Pavot Front

Still, this jacket was not without its challenges. Covered buttons were new to me, but they were really the only option here. How on earth would I find buttons that don’t clash with this fabric? The little button-covering kits are simple to use, but I had to resort to a hammer to get the back of the buttons to snap into place. Any sewing project that requires a hammer gets bonus points, right?

The greatest source of frustration here was the buttonholes, not the buttons themselves. The Babylock buttonhole function and I still aren’t seeing eye to eye (One-Step Buttonholes! cue the manic laughter). I dutifully pulled out the handbook, followed the directions precisely, and ended up with a massive, frightening knot of thread. Reread directions, repeat attempt, repeat results, etc. Through stubbornness and much trial and lots of error, I managed to turn out buttonholes by completely ignoring the directions. I’m not thrilled with the results, but they are serviceable. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see where I managed to rip the top of a buttonhole, which I then hand-stitched so it looks like an extra-large buttonhole. The fact that this mending made me start thinking I should just hand sew all my buttonholes suggests the full scope of my buttonhole frustrations.

Plaid Pavot Collar

I refuse to hand-sew all of my buttonholes from here on out. Back away from the crazy.

Many thanks to my parents for our picture-taking break during the visit to Frederick, MD. Have you ever been? It is definitely worth a visit. The morning was really much too cold and windy to be wearing a jacket this lightweight, but some excellent tea and my new jacket giddiness kept me warm. Don’t even talk to me about the six inches of snow that fell last night. Spring, where are you?


Bow Blouse One: the experiment

Why hello there blog! I have missed you so. First August happened, and then the semester kept happening, but now is the time to talk of making things. It might be nearly Christmas, but here comes some opposite-season sewing.

My first year living in DC has made me recognize a need for some recalibration to my wardrobe. Significantly more of the year is spent with the temperature above 50 degrees outside. Translated into an office setting, this meant a glaring hole in my grown-up clothing wardrobe. Short-sleeved options were limited to handful of t-shirts and one, lonely blouse which got worn to near death. None of this is bad… just rather boring. And why do boring?

Blue Tie Blouse 3 New Look 6107

I was rather picky about deciding on a pattern to work with. While there are plenty of decent blouse patterns out there, most of them inevitably incorporate some detail that has annoyed me in blouses I’ve previously worn. If I’m going to put in the effort to make a blouse, it’s not going to be one that I know will annoy me at the outset. I decided to try the blouse from New Look 6107 . It includes a number of the features I enjoy in a blouse. I’m a big fan of a separate pattern piece for the back yoke because I think they fit my shoulders better. I like the gathering at the front shoulders. And of course, the tie closure at the neck is what sold me on the pattern entirely.

One of the coolest features of this pattern is the placket that extends behind the button loops. When buttoned, it lies flat and unnoticable behind the slight gap were the two sides of the blouse meet. It is literally impossible to accidentally flash somebody, and you don’t even have to wear layers to avoid it. Brilliant. Also, have I mentioned how adorable those little button loops are? They are very straightforward to make. The mint green buttons came off a card of vintage buttons I found here in DC.


One thing about the pattern that I did not like was the fullness in the sleeve cap which would have given the blouse puff sleeves. I really, really don’t like puff sleeves. When I sew them, I feel like I’ve somehow put the sleeve in wrong, and when I wear them, I feel like a six year old. Sleeve cap ease is something that I want to research more thoroughly, especially as it relates to sewing. I’ve been messing around with sleeve caps in my knitting for years, but woven fabric is less forgiving. On a whim, I decided to try swapping out the sleeve pattern piece from this blouse with the sleeve pattern piece from Simplicity 1882 that I love so much. I only did a single layer, so they are hemmed, but they eased in nicely.

You might recognize the lovely lightweight chambray here. Why yes, that is dark blue fabric from the duvet! It is such a lovely weight to work with for summer clothes, and it’s cheapness makes it perfect for testing out a new pattern.

As has come to be the trend, most of my fitting issues were resolved by taking out two inches at the center back. Cut straight from the pattern, I was swimming in this blouse, and I had nightmarish visions of trying to tackle all the fit problems. Fortunately, adding a seam at the center back to remove a generous two inches of extra fabric resolved everything. I would think I’m making the wrong size if the fit didn’t otherwise resolve itself perfectly. Perhaps in the future I might try cutting out any back pieces one size smaller.

Blue Tie blouse 1

Since this test run turned out better than I had any right to hope, I got some good wear out of it during the summer. The tie works well at keeping the neckline in place for the most part, but it does gape a bit. With this in mind, and now painfully aware of how obnoxious it is to sew a super-long skinny tube and then turn it inside-out so the seam is on the inside, the next iteration of this blouse has a wider tie. Otherwise, I am happy with the pattern as it is.

Cap sleeves, Sleeve caps, Broad shoulders and Narrow backs

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The first version of the Pastille Dress I made is still waiting to be transformed into an adorably wearable sleeveless dress. It has been waiting for a while because I’ve gone off and made three different garments out of 3 yards of red fake-linen. I’m still scratching my head over how I pulled that off.

The first project I made out of the red fake-linen was another Pastille Dress. After doing some research, I managed to figure out that the fit issue in the back was a result of a narrow back and thus could be corrected by a narrow back adjustment. I followed the helpful directions in the Threads tutorial found here. This involved scissors, paper, ruler, and tape which automatically means interesting and mildly  horrifying. It all came out fine, so I gave it a try with the red fake-linen.

I’m afraid there are no photos commemorating the strange results. It pulled the already too narrow cap sleeves in even more, so they just perched rather oddly halfway off my shoulders. Suffice it to say that it made the awkwardness of the first pastille dress shoulders look conservative. I wrestled with the problem, tried altering the seam line of the cap sleeve, fussed with the darn thing very patiently. Until finally, I lost my head a bit and just cut the cap sleeve off entirely. Yeah.

This kind of rash response to a long term puzzle is not unusual for me. I stood there for a bit looking at the now mutilated shoulder area and all I could think was, “but I don’t WANT a sleeveless dress.” Ever so helpful, that. My solution? I cut out a sleeve from a different pattern that I happened to have lying about and crossed my fingers that it would work. I used the sleeve from Simplicity 2211, the Lisette Market blouse. Defying all sense, everything I know about sleeve caps from knitting and the laws of trigonometry, the sleeve set-in and fit perfectly.

So, I ended up with this darling red dress. The fit is a bit Mad Men, so I’m not inclined to wear it on a day when I do a lot of sitting in the office, but otherwise it is charming and very, very red.

As you can see, the sleeves fit properly, if set in a bit too far because of my reckless cap sleeve removal. The narrower back fits correctly without a strangely wide seam allowance around the zipper, too. Hurrah!

 Stay tuned for further adventures with the red fake-linen.

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