Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sewing from a Suitcase

Yes, that is what I did last week while at of out of town, work related training course. The class location was a drivable distance, so I took along my sewing machine and packed sewing projects in my suitcase. A blouse, with the pattern pieces cut out, the interfacing, buttons, and threads. Pants, cut out, with thread and zipper. I forgot the interfacing for the pants waistband, a different type of interfacing than for the blouse, so I didn’t get as far on them as I had planned. I did finish the blouse.


I wanted to make a blouse to go with the pants in my last post. BurdaStyle and the retail web sites are showing a lot of flowy, lightweight blouses with pants for fall.  I really liked the bouse on the right in the Fall 2011 Lutterloh fashion supplement (pamphlet of patterns).


 But as I am still a Lutterloh pattern neophyte and not familiar with the fit and built in ease of these patterns. I decided to use a pattern brand I was more comfortable with.  This BurdaStyle blouse, from the 9/2010 issue, pattern 102 is almost an exact replica of the Lutterloh blouse including the stand collar, though it is hidden behind stiff, bias cut, double thickness, gathered ruffles.


I drafted my own pattern for the small cascading ruffle that was sewn on the one side of the button placket on the Lutterloh blouse.

Drafting the ruffle:



1. Determine the length and width of the ruffle strip. Length was the distance from the neck seam to the waist. Width was about 1.5 “(no seam allowances included at this time) Cut a rectangle of pattern paper to this size. Label the neck, center front on the pattern piece.

2. Cut slashes from the outer edge to the center front edge, at even increments, leaving a hinge of paper on the center front edge.

3. Open up each slash the same amount to form a curve. The number, location, and open area  of the slashed determine how the ruffle looks and hangs. Fewer slashes, fewer and bigger waves. More slashes, more gentle waves.

4. Trace new ruffle shape onto a new piece of pattern paper, smoothing out the curves. Round off the outside corner bottom edge. Label center front edge and neck on pattern.

5. Cut out ruffle, adding seam allowances to neck and center front edges, and hem allowance to long curved edge.

6. Finish curved edge by desired method.

I did the narrow hem on the edge of the ruffle by hand, while watching Project Runway. Twice, because I turned the hem to the wrong side the first time I did it, distracted by the TV. That helped me empathize with the frustration some of the designers had executing their designs that night, and I got extra practice on narrow hemming.

The fabric is a silk chiffon remnant purchased at the Vogue Fabrics sewing expo booth. I was determined to use silk chiffon for this blouse. It has the most divine lightness and drape, which cannot be duplicated in rayon or poly, IMHO. But silk chiffon is my sewing nemesis, especially keeping the fabric flat and on grain while cutting out the pattern.

This time I did two things that improved the process. I ripped the fabric into shorter lengths, corresponded to the length needed for the bodice pieces, so I had smaller pieces of fabric to square up. And I used a layer of paper under the silk in the pattern cutting out process. I have heard of  this before, but never tried it. I used newspaper because it was handy (I checked for ink rub off first). In hind sight I could have used tissue paper, which I buy at the dollar store for gift wrapping. I am a convert to using the paper! It is easy to pin the fabric to the edge of the paper to keep it on grain. And the cutting, oh my! The fabric does not shift or push up in front of the scissor because of the paper's stiffness. And my scissors cut the paper/fabric together much cleaner and easier than the  chiffon fabric by itself.

Other construction details - I used skin tone silk organza as the interfacing for the front band cuffs, yoke and collar. And French seams to neatly finish inside seams. The cuffs are standard rectangular shirt cuff. The pattern used is from the other, tie neck version, of this blouse in the same issue.
I am pleased with how this turned out. It looks nice with the pants and also worn with jeans as an over blouse. It can also be worn with gray pants and jackets I have in my wardrobe.




That is Ms. Ashley trying to get into the picture. Speaking of cats. I just found out about a book called Crafting with Cat Fur Yes, it is about using your cat's fur in crafting projects like felting. Ms. Ashley is a long haired cat and a prodigious spring time shedder. I have no desire to use her hair for crafts. But I thought some other members of my family, with a potentially large supply of that raw material, might be interested.

21 comments:

Sigrid said...

Gorgeous blouse! Sewing from your suitcase, how special.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Absolutely stunning! Thanks for all of the background info on the making of the blouse.

MaryMM said...

This is so lovely. I especially like it worn out and belted. Thanks for the sewer's delight details on your construction.

Irene said...

Your blouse is gorgeous! Definitely worth the finicky work of sewing with chiffon. There really is nothing quite like silk chiffon - or silk anything, for that matter.

Sharon said...

Beautiful!

kbenco said...

What a gorgeous blouse. I particularly like it worn out in the second photo too. The colours and print are beautiful, and your ruffle is just perfect. Your tips for working with the chiffon are almost tempting me to get some out. I am sure it sits in my cupboard thinking "she's chicken, he, he, he..." (it would be right about that)

Shannon said...

This is a great looking blouse. I love the print and the ruffle looks fabulous.

Jane M said...

What a fabulous blouse and terrific outfit with your new pants. And what a hoot about cat fur crafts. Yes, I have a few friends with mutiple cat households who could find a use for that resource.

Gail said...

Your work is always so beautiful and inspired. Love the blouse and your commentary on reworking the pattern is really instructive.

gwensews said...

That's very pretty. How organized you are to sew out of a suitcase!

Lynneb said...

It's perfectly lovely, Audrey! And sewing on the road? I may have to remember that!

Rosy said...

So beautiful! It really was worth all the work and time spent on this blouse, it's just wonderful.

Vicki said...

So lovely. I can imagine how lovely it must feel to wear. thanks for the tips too. I am about to embark on a silk chiffon dress for my daughter. I haven't worked with it before.

j.kaori said...

Beautiful blouse! It looks great both ways -- belted and tucked in. Your helpful tips and gorgeousness of your finished product are tempting me to try my hand at sewing chiffon, but I have to say, even thinking about handling chiffon makes me nervous!

Far said...

I agree with everyone, it's so pretty and you wore it beautifully. I especially like the 2nd look :)

Jacquie said...

Wow! That is the most gorgeous blouse. The fabric and style are both beautiful.

Diana said...

Sounds like a lot of work but very worth it. Your shirt is lovely. Love those purple shoes too!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

You are always so inspiring! Love this blouse. Burda keeps showing these chiffon blouses but they are completely shapeless so I pass them over, but it looks great as you've styled it.

SEWN said...

Wow, this blouse is just gorgeous. I love your ruffle and the print. Beautiful.

Lisette M said...

Beautiful blouse Audrey!

Sew on Trend said...

I love the way you styled this blouse untucked and belted a lot. Great colours !