Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lovely Liberty Laurel

Gotta love that alliteration again! :)

My subheading for this post is: Best Sleeves Ever! You will find out why.

I did it! I made my Laurel yesterday. Too late to take part in the competition, but, as previously discussed, that's OK!

I love this pattern! It is so straightforward and goes together beautifully. It took me most of the day, but I am a slow sewer and if I'd used shop bought bias binding, it would probably have taken me about 2 hours less - seriously, am I the only one who finds making bias binding extremely painful?

I mentioned yesterday that I'd made a muslin and made some alterations. I cut a 4, which is slightly smaller than my bust measurement but the finished garment measurements indicated there would still be a fair amount of ease. My experience in Colette patterns is that they are large on me, so I thought it couldn't hurt to size down slightly. I was pretty much correct. The front looked fine, even the darts looked OK. The back had excess fabric, however. I took the back seam in a further 1.4cm (5/8th inches), and tapered this at the back to 2.6cm (just over an inch), as even with the first adjustment, the neck still gaped. I started the tapering about 9cm from the neckline. I must have quite a rounded back at the top. This worked and I can just still fit the garment over my head! I was happy with this, so proceeded to make it up in my lovely Liberty tana lawn, which was a bargain at just £9.99 a metre! I bought about 1.5m as per the instructions but I only used about 90cm and even then didn't need the full width. So this blouse has real stash-busting potential! Although thinking about it, I used a little more for the bias binding, so now can't remember if that was included within the 90cm or not...
Really should have brushed my hair before taking these!
The blouse came together perfectly. I used French seams for the shoulder, CB and side seams and it looks lovely inside. French seams are my new favourite things.

I always struggle with sleeves and the final episode of the Great British Sewing Bee, where they described the setting in of sleeves on the men's shirt as to have "no puckers or tucks", I wailed at the TV "but mine always have puckers and tucks!". The sleeve seams on my Joan dress are just one big mess! So I set myself the objective of getting these sleeves as neat as possible. I very carefully spread the gathers out. I hand basted the sleeve head into the armsyce and then I sewed very, very slowly and carefully. I took care to maintain my 5/8" seam allowance (much easier when not needing to remove pins at the same time), and if I needed to, I stopped to readjust my gathers. This sleeve is still far from perfect. I did manage to get a small tuck in the bodice, which I removed by unpicking the section around it and easing it back in. I still have some way to go, but for the first time, I'm pleased with a sleeve I have set in. Sorry, make that 2 sleeves! Given my issues in this area, I didn't dare attempt French seams and instead I used my machine's overlocking stitch, set to a really small stitch to give a really neat finish. Again, it's not quite the same as an actual overlocker, but it gives a good, professional looking finish, which satisfys me greatly!

Now the blouse perfect is still not quite right. It is now quite tight across the front of the armhole. Not uncomfortably so, and I have full movement, but I do notice it. I have noticed that by removing the excess from the CB seam, my side seams do not hang straight down and I realise that I should really have distributed the excess across the CB and the side seams too. I think this might be what is causing the tight feeling at the armholes. Also, the actual sleeves are quite tight at the cuff. I'd love to say this is due to my Madonna like biceps, however sadly it's more likely to be emerging bingo wings... The sleeves again, are not uncomfortable, but they ride up and stay up (if you know what I mean?). Next time I think I'll add another cm or 2 here.

I see from this that the back of the sleeve has some wrinkles.
But overall, this is a blouse I am really pleased with! The fabric is beautiful and I love the print. The colours are quite autumnal, but they are bright enough to be summery too. The blouse looks great with my red denim Kelly, but as I managed to drop a succession of dressing covered salad items on my skirt last night, you are not getting to see that combo just now. You can bet your granny that you will see it before the end of May though!

It even goes with my nail varnish!
Pattern round up:

What I liked
Nice, easy to use pattern with clear instructions. Lovely, very wearable blouse as a result! Love the shape.

What I didn't like
I bought the PDF forgetting how much I hate sticking those things together!
Making bias binding, but I always like the result, so this is just a grumble.
Oh, and the bust darts are a bit pointy. Not sure how you get round this though.

Any alterations to fit?
Took CB in by 1.4cm, tapering to 2.6cm at neckline. Tapering started about 9cm from neckline.

Did I change anything?
Nope, this is straight out the packet stuff.

Did I try anything new?

What would I do differently next time?
I think maybe a contrast binding would have been nice on this, so something to think about next time. 
I may look at redistributing the excess I removed to see if this provides a better fit and will make the lower sleeve a bit wider.
See if I could make bust darts a bit less pointy?

Will I make it again?

Definitely! And I'll make the dress version at some point too.



  1. I love your top, the fabric is gorgeous!


  2. I think its gorgeous! I love the fabric - such pretty colours. Congrats! X

  3. I think its gorgeous! I love the fabric - such pretty colours. Congrats! X

  4. I really like this top and knowing how you change up patterns I'm sure we'll get to see more variations on it! Great tips about the basting (sometimes I get lazy and skip that step) and setting the overlocking stitch to a smaller size (I never thought of that). Bingo wings - I've never heard that phrase before - too funny!

    1. I usually hate hand basting, but sometimes it's worth spending the time doing something properly!

      Bingo wings is not a phrase I can take credit for! :)

  5. Your Laurel is Lovely! Gorgeous fabric choice. Congratulations on overcoming the sleeve issues - look forward to seeing the next one.

  6. Such beautiful fabric! A perfect match for Laurel :) And those French seams look amazing! You've done such a lovely job, and it looks like this'll be a faithful wardrobe friend - the best kind of makes!


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