Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Polka Dot Laurel Blouse

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

Today I've got a make to share with you which I briefly mentioned in my round up of Me-Made-May. I finished this project at the start of the final week and it's such a success that I wore it twice before the end of the month and it's been on at least once again since then!

It's the blouse variation of Colette's Laurel shift pattern which my wonderful Dad treated me to for Christmas last year. I nudged him in that direction as I loved the style of it despite the reservations I had about how it might work on me as I've tried on many an unflattering shift dress in the past. However, despite the lack of waist darts I don't at all feel like I'm wearing a sack and I am absolutely delighted with the result! 

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

The only other Colette pattern I have made up for myself is their free Sorbetto Blouse which I had some real fit issues with. For this make I cut the size 2 and overall was pretty delighted with it straight out of the envelope. It's very slightly tight above the bust when I move about so I might adjust this on my next version but apart from that it's a real winner and has definitely made me want to try out some more Colette patterns. The only other thing I have to say about the fit is that I feel this is a perfect length on me at 5ft3" so if you are taller I would consider whether you need to lengthen the bodice and/or sleeves.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I love the chic figure skimming fit of the blouse, which is largely created by a pair of double ended darts in the back. It was my first time sewing this type of dart but it was very straightforward, not much different to a normal one! I think this is a great pattern for a beginner seamstress as it's not too involved and includes a couple of different techniques like these darts and the bias tape finishings which are well explained and illustrated in the instructions.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns


The only change I made in terms of construction was the finishing of the neckline. The instructions call for you to use bias tape on the edges which worked perfectly on the cuffs (I did cheat and machine stitch it down rather than slipstitch by hand as it barely shows on the dark crepe). However when it came to the lovely shape of that neckline I could not get the bias tape to sit nice and flat for the life of me. I think to finish it that way I would have needed very narrow bias tape and I was unsure about how neat I would be able to make it. I know opinions about facings vary quite widely but I personally love them so I decided to unpick my binding and draft my own for Laurel. This is very easy to do and Colette actually have a fab tutorial on it here (using another of their patterns to show it but it's exactly the same thing!).

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

This worked out so much better than the binding but despite clipping seam allowances and under stitching (which also stops the facing flipping out to the right side) still the neckline was not quite flat! I felt with this style of neckline and shape of top this was really important so just bit the bullet and topstitched it very close to the edge. You can actually hardly see the stitching and it 100% solved the problem so I'm happy with that solution. I think it would have been less of an issue in a fabric which doesn't have as much body.

All of the seams and the edge of the facing I finished on the overlocker which worked fantastically with the weight of the fabric; I'm super proud of my professional looking insides!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I used a polyester crepe which I picked up in John Lewis's January sale. I was a little apprehensive about the poly but it felt so lovely with great thickness and weight to it that I took the plunge anyway. I'm glad I did as it doesn't feel particularly synthetic at all and was fantastic to work with. I initially picked this up with the intention of making a La Sylphide Blouse (after seeing Lauren's gorgeous polka dot version for the sew-along) but at the last minute before cutting I decided that maybe I should go for a simpler silhouette and make something more easily wearable. I still couldn't resist a little bit of extra something though so cut out the 1960s style gathered cuffs which were eventually vetoed, I need to learn that sometimes plain and simple is the way to go! Discounting the cuffs but including my extra facings I could get the pieces for this out of just 90cm of 150cm wide fabric.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Polka Dot Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

It's exactly the kind of garment that I need to be making as it's something I will get a huge amount of wear out of: I feel comfortable yet pulled together in it whether it's paired with jeans for work or with a pencil skirt for dinner/drinks. I'm really looking forward to making up one of the dress variations too so expect to see a lot of this little pattern around here!

24 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, Fiona! I agree that a simple silhouette is the best sometimes, especially with such beautiful fabric to show off. Glad to hear you've been getting a lot of wear out of it already. I feel the same way about poly - usually I avoid it, but sometimes you find an interesting fabric worth trying. I guess you never know until you sew it up!

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    1. I absolutely agree with you about the poly! Sometimes it feels awful and sometimes it feels so great you almost can't believe it is polyester! I wouldn't ever buy it online but if you think it feels good I always say go for it! I'm really loving this silhouette at the moment

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  2. Really cute top that suits your figure very well. You look very elegant. That was a great idea to go out of your confort zone with that shape.

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    1. Thank you so much Sabine! I've really struggled to find RTW garments in this shape that suit my body but it must all be about the fit as the Laurel is a definite winner for me!

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  3. I love this whole outfit on you!!! Great work on the blouse, I have the Sewaholic Pendrell which I am yet to make up. I kow that a blouse will (should??) take half the time of a dress, but for some reason continue making dresses haha.
    Next time, how will you adjust the above-the-bust tightness? FBA? I'd love to see a detailed post on that, if you make this blouse again :)

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    1. Thank you! The Pendrell has a lovely cut as well so I look forward to seeing that on you! As for the above bust tightness I'm not sure as yet, need to do a bit of research! Probably won't do an FBA as across the bust is fine it's right high on my chest, almost as high as the collarbone that's tight. Might just add a bit of width where I need it by redrafting the armholes. I'll keep you posted!

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  4. Not only this blouse is beautiful but also a great wardrobe staple! As I entered a stage of my sewing adventure where I reflect on the practical side of my hand-made garments, such a blouse would jump directly to the very top of my list!

    So far I've made only one Colette pattern and added a lot of length to the bodice. But since Sarai drafts patterns for herself this is be expected.

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    1. Yes I was surprised that the length of this was ok on me as I'm short in the body, you'll definitely need to add a bit! This is definitely a wardrobe staple that I highly recommend, I've even got it on now!

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  5. Really lovely blouse! That silhouette is perfect on you.

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    1. Thank you so much! I think te shift may be my silohuette for summer! Plus I really love the neckline now I've got it to lay flat!

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  6. I'm pretty sure I bought a similar poly from JL earlier this summer with red and blue dots and was pleasantly surprised when it was as easy to handle as cotton! The slight puff to the sleeves stop it looking too boxy which is really lovely. Weirdly I bought my fabric for the same kind of blouse as Lauren then changed my mind as well (but still made a tie at the neck...

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    1. You are so right about the sleeves! I hadn't picked up on it but I think that's definitely one of the things that makes me like it more than the RTW tops I've tried. I'm glad I didn't make the la sylphide with this fabric as I think it would have had too much body for all the flouncy bits!

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  7. This is my favourite kind of top: simple to sew but looks totally elegant. I think you'll get a lot if wear out of it Fiona, it's lovely! I've also had bias binding misbehaving itself at necklines, so your comment about the width of it made perfect sense. Next time I'll try with a narrower width.....or bite the bullet and add a facing! x

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    1. I can so see you in this Jane! You are right to love the shape, I want about a hundred more now! The facings really did not take long at all, super easy to draft and assemble. It probably took less time than faffing about with the binding!

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  8. This is so cute on you! I'm glad you tried this- the shift top shape really suits you!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I was a little apprehensive about it hiding any shape I might have but it's cut so flatteringly I'm inclined to agree!

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  9. Very sweet. I love just-above-elbow sleeves, they look so chic. I bought some of this fabric too, it was marked as normal but scanned at half price! I used it to make a rather similar blouse but kimono-sleeved.

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    1. It looks like this fabric is a popular choice for John Lewis! Perfect choice for a kimono sleeved blouse! I'm an above the elbow sleeve convert now, although I really want to try the variation with the gathered cuff too

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  10. Great blouse - great match with the fabric. And I'm totally with you on how great it is to get nicely finished insides.

    Elena x

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    1. Thanks Elena! I love putting time into making the insides pretty!

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  11. This blouse is both cute and classy, and the fit is great! I don't think I'd be brave enought to draft my own facings, but I love the finish it gives to the blouse, it looks so professional!

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    1. O you don't need to be brave to draft your own facings! It's so much more simple than you might think and the Colette tutorial is excellent. I think it's actual easier than using binding!

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    1. Thanks Amy! I'm starting to learn that a sewing project doesn't need to have lots of complicated bits and pieces to feel like a success!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!