First the back. I thought the sleeves were a particular strength and better than typical. Namely, they appear to be shaped to hang on the front of the body (that is where your arms are, they aren’t on the sides of your body) and to sit forward in the front armhole. I say this because you can see folds radiating vertically from the sleeve cap down just past the back elbow dart. Imagine if you will, the sleeves on a body with the arms in a normal position (slightly forward) and those folds would disappear. The other reason I think the sleeves are cut forward on the body is due to the little back wrinkle showing the horizontal back spread is cut for range of motion. Still, there is no sure way to know unless the garment can be seen on the body for which it is intended to fit.
The left center back side of the seam was bubbling the tiniest bit. I couldn’t tell if it was a pressing or a cutting issue. I did ask Claudine if those were selvages at the CB but I gave her my analysis at the same time. Namely that pressure on opposing selvages aren’t equal so one side will buckle slightly if joined to the other. If you want to use selvages (they are handy) that will be joined together, distortion can be minimized by cutting the pieces from the same selvage side rather than its opposite. Otherwise, you have to cut them off. Claudine did confirm those were selvages and that she didn’t know opposing selvages behaved differently.
I thought the sewing was pretty solid with little to quarrel with but there’s something about overlocking that front seam that left me ill at ease and I was at a loss to define it. The front seam did require finishing so I understand why the front seam was overlocked but overlocking with the facings presented a bit of a problem at the fold-over where the two sides join. If this seam had not been overlocked, there might have been less of a bump. Several visitors also mentioned a bump at the “Y” of the neckline. The only alternative would be to overlock the edges of each side before seaming them together.
I would have modified the front facings a bit. I like that they are one piece with the front (clever and less work too). I would have pivoted out that dooptey doop of the facing near the armhole and also made the two sides match. One visitor advised the exact opposite, that the facings should exactly match the shell they folded back onto but I suspect this is what Claudine did. Keep ID and OD in mind. Pieces that turn to the inside should be slightly smaller than the piece they’re intended to reinforce. I don’t know what pattern books say about it but I seem to recall that whatever I learned from (Koch and Rohr) mentioned cutting the facings slightly smaller at the shoulder line. Barb had a great idea, that of making the facings longer (past the bust point) but we all know that may not be an option due to cost. If this blouse cost $100 more, I would think that implementing her suggestion would be mandatory.
I wasn’t sure if the blouse had any fusibles in it but I suspected not. If it were me, I’d put in some whisper thin at the hems (sleeve too, they’ll wear longer) and crossing the fold line of the facings and entire facing. Actually, I would want to be certain that shoulder point where front and back come together is solidly reinforced. Several visitors also mentioned fusing the hems with lightweight fusible.
Claudine later confirmed there were no fusibles, that she uses them sparingly after having learned from a teacher at FIT who didn’t like them (he had been a high end manufacturer in the 50’s and 60’s). I told her that I understood the teacher being anti-fusible (I’d probably be anti-fusible too if I were 20 years older). He was anti-fusible because when they came onto the market, the technology wasn’t all there yet. Since then, it has matured beautifully. Just avoid fusibles from the fabric store. Pam Erny has some wonderful products.
The only major-ish thing I noticed were the front gathers. Assuming this should fit this form more or less, I would raise the gathers a bit (see photo above). I would also take out some fullness, maybe that last third (gathers that lie just below the bottom arrow). Again I could be off because those gathers would be good on a fuller busted gal (Claudine’s dimensions are 38″ bust, 35″ waist, 41″ sweep) but taking out the lower gathers would get them off the tummy which may help slim the figure a bit. Several visitors also mentioned the gathers. Quincunx mentioned (with caveats) that the side french dart might need adjusting away from the apex but I think the issue here is that the dress form is significantly smaller than the body this blouse is designed to fit.
I also wondered if a bit of width(1/8″-1/4″) could have been taken out of the gathered side (straight down the middle of it). I thought it might have been slightly too large because the neckline on that side was sagging the tiniest bit. Again though, it is pretty impossible to make qualified suggestions like that because it needs to be on the right body and the form is not that. I wasn’t going to include this in my post but thought I would anyway because it may help some of you who may be grappling with a similar problem in the future.
Finally, nearly everyone mentioned the need of hem pressing. Suggestions for improvement varied widely, ranging from lightweight fusible, a narrow rolled hem, blind stitching or even a hem facing. The ideal solution was debated just as vigorously on the forum.
I had two thoughts about the hem. First that it needed a deeper allowance (2″). I don’t think Claudine wanted a crisp hem line -and with which I agree. Just my opinion but a hard line (rolled hem etc) is more of a sportswear look and this style is dressier. Optimally, the blouse should have been blown (on a blow up pressing dummy) but few of us have those. I suggested a hand held steamer might work too and of course, a light fusible to full out that fold line. My last idea was that she consider using a soft press hem technique before stitching the hem; I think it is a lovely dressy finish. Claudine said she will be pressing the hems but I’m not certain which of the suggestions she’ll be following but suspect it won’t be mine. Wah.
Did I miss anything? Thanks everyone, I appreciate the time and thoughts you put into this. I also thank Claudine for her bravery and generosity. If you’d like to see more of her work, visit her blog or Etsy shop. To read in depth discussion of the techniques and analysis in this entry, see the forum thread.