Monday, May 11, 2020


Hi ladies,

I'm continuing my posts about The Blouse Perfected.  It's such a useful pattern that I thought it was worth the time and effort.  It can be made as a casual shirt like the one I just finished in the linen stripe.  I've also made it in denim as a casual shirt.  However, it's a classic in silk, and I've done that as well.  

I have to confess that I bought a shirt just about like it in a woven silk stripe, and I've made it in silk chiffon.  That one was a challenge!

Anyway, a casual version like the one I made for my summer wardrobe is a great one to start with.  You have a chance to practice the techniques and end up with something wearable, even if it's a bit less than perfect.  Then you can go on to something more challenging.  I'm really looking forward to making a white shirt from this pattern.


So today I'll talk a bit about constructing the collar on this shirt.  The first thing you'll need to do is interface it.  (Do browse the exquisite interfacings on the website.  All lightweight and fusible.)

I have a specific method for applying interfacing, and the instructions are in the patterns.  But it could be helpful to see some photos of how it's done.  

Here's what you need:  a piece of parchment paper (from the grocery; it's what you bake cookies on.)  A press cloth, preferably silk organza so you can see through it.  And your iron, of course.

So put the parchment paper on the ironing board with the fabric Collar piece wrong side up.  My next step is to lay the interfacing on top, glue side down.  (In the instructions, the order is a bit different--either way works fine.)  Finally, lay the pattern piece on top.  

The idea is that you want the fabric collar shape to exactly match the shape of the pattern piece.  It's easy to skew the shape and not realize it, so check it with the pattern piece.  Otherwise, you can be fusing your collar into the wrong shape and it will never look right when you have finished your shirt.  Here's what you want to watch out for:

Can you tell that I've been using this piece of parchment paper for a while!!?  Anyway, this collar might never be right.  Let's look at one that's correct.

OK.  So now you remove the pattern tissue and put your press cloth on top.  (The collar is long--you may have to do one half at a time.)

Put your iron straight down at the center of the collar, shoot a bit of steam, and count for several seconds.  Then lift the iron to another section and repeat.  Don't slide the iron across the collar unless you like wadded up interfacing glued to your collar!!  Ask me how I know!

Follow the instructions to sew the short ends of the collar together, trim, and press.  Progress to pinning the upper edge of the collar, paying attention to the clips.  

Now for the thing I saw Louise do one day.  I got a bruise from slapping my forehead over this one.  I'll show you in pictures.  Put the collar on your machine as normal, but about 1/2" from the folded end.  Put the needle down into the fabric.

Lift the presser foot and turn the collar around.  Shorten your stitch length to 2.0 and stitch to the edge.  Here, I'm about to stitch to the folded edge.

When you've reached the exact edge, turn the whole collar back around and stitch (at 2.5 stitch length) all the way to the other end. In this photo, I've turned and am ready to stitch all the way across the top.  Stitch a mirror image at the other end (turning and stitching back for 1/2" at 2.0).

So one of the things that always bothers me is that little dent I get when I backstitch.  The tension changes when backstitching and pulls the end of the seam too tight.  It's especially troublesome at the corner of a collar because it makes the corner even tighter and harder to turn nicely.  By always stitching forward as illustrated above, the problem is eliminated.  Give it a try.

Again, follow the instructions for the sequence of steps.  You'll grade the seam allowances.  One thing you might not have thought about doing is pressing the seam allowances open.  It's a crucial step.  I explain it by saying that it teaches the fabric where to fold, so when the collar is right side out, it's so much easier to fold that upper edge precisely.

Once all is pressed in accordance with the instructions, you'll need to edgestitch the collar.  (Look back at previous blogs about the set-up.)  The corners will be tricky, but we cover that in the instructions.  Read the steps carefully.  Here's what you'll do at the corner.  Begin at the bottom of the collar, edgestitching one folded end.  When you reach the corner, put the needle down and raise the presser foot.  Grasp the loose end and bring it to the back of the presser foot, laying it underneath against that folded edge.  Now the machine no longer thinks it's going uphill, and you can start stitching with no problem.

This has been a lot of text for a few steps, but I wanted to give the reasoning behind what we've said in the instructions.  I know that some sewers have skipped over these steps, thinking that they were overly fussy.  However, they definitely give a better result.  I would rather do something accurately once than do it quickly and have to unsew it and do it again (sometimes more than once!).  

I should mention that this edgestitching is much easier and better looking if you have the correct needle.  For nearly all fabrics, Louise and I use size 75/11 quilting needles (they're on the website).  We prefer them because they are so sharp.  They penetrate the fabric in a straighter line than needles that are more rounded.  

There have been some questions about sleeves on the Facebook Forum, so I'll give you some info about sleeves in the next Stitch to Style.  See you then!