Sewaholic’s Belcarra Blouse is a winner

After all the alterations (I needed to do two muslins of the front bodice piece), I cut and sewed Sewaholic’s Belcarra Blouse in a day.

I love it!

Here’s the completed top on Gene:

Simple lines and easy to make. A great basic top.

Simple lines and easy to make. A great basic top.

It’s an easy-to-sew top that has nice details and is very comfortable. I was hoping I could substitute tops made from Belcarra for the cheap knit Target tops I buy every year, and I think I can.

But the sewing wasn’t smooth sailing all the way through.

The neckline is finished with a bias band that is folded wrong sides together the long way, then sewn to the right side of the neckline, flipped to the wrong side and sewed down. Somehow, I REALLY goofed this up. The band piece ends up 1-inch wide when folded, and you’re supposed to use a 5/8-inch seam allowance. That would leave a 3/8-inch flap to turn to the wrong side all the way around. I used my 5/8-seam allowance pressure foot and still ended up with an uneven flap. It varied from 3/8 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch. Rather than rip it out and start again, I trimmed the seam allowance close, folded the flap to the wrong side, and used a decorative topstitch on the right side that would be sure to anchor the flap down no matter what the width.

It looked OK.

Until I attached the sleeve bands. Here’s how one looks:

These look nice and clean.

The pattern refers to this as a cuff, but I’d call it a band. The fabric is more interesting up close. You can really see the detail of the fluffy pindots here.

The bands looked so clean and nice that I decided I hated the topstitching. HATED IT.

So I ripped out all the topstitching and attempted to rip out the neck band seam. Well, I had trimmed the seam allowance so close that I was just ripping the edge of the neckline.

So I cut it all off as close as I could. Ugh.

I had some single-fold bias tape in my stash, and I’ve always liked the clean look that makes when used on a casual neckline, so I sewed right sides together, flipped it to the wrong side and sewed it down. Here it is, inside and out:

This looks SO much better than the topstitch I had before.

This looks SO much better than the topstitch I had before.

Nice and tidy inside.

Nice and tidy inside.

Clean and pretty. And still done in a day.

Eliminating the neck band would reduce the fabric needed by a decent amount, so I may skip it in the future and just use bias tape. Or, I might see if I can actually execute the neck band properly. I think I’d take a smaller seam allowance next time.

Here’s the completed top on me:

Bel

It’s very comfortable, and I’m happy the fluffy dots are straight across the fabric. The dart looks a little droopy. I think that’s because it’s a smidge too low. Perhaps I should press my darts up instead of down. (Photo by teenage daughter Maddie.)

As well as this fits, I will make a few adjustments next time around:

  • I’ll raise the darts another 1/2 inch.
  • I’ll lengthen the top 1 inch so I can do a more substantial 1 1/4-inch hem instead of a 5/8-inch double fold hem.
  • I’ll straighten the side seams. I don’t need hip room. At all.

With these adjustments, I’ll have a perfect top that sews up quick. I’ll keep it in mind for any nice cottons I see at Jo-Ann’s. I’ll be looking to the great Belcarra Blouses I saw on Sewaholic’s site (I particularly like the ones in eyelet) for inspiration on other ways to use this pattern.

It’s so satisfying to sew up a quick project here and there. Now I want to make a full denim or chambray skirt to wear with this top.

 

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RIP Lauren Bacall

More than a dozen years ago, I learned that my friend Charlene collects autographs — by mail. I had never heard of this, but she offered to show me how to do it.

Being a big classic movie fan, I told her that there was no one left alive whose autograph I wanted, “Well, except for Lauren Bacall.”

So, she tracked down Lauren Bacall’s address for fans and instructed me to buy an 8 x 10 photo and mail it to her with a letter requesting an autograph and to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope in which to return the photo.

I did, and a few days later, I received this back:

I purposely bought a more recent photo of her because I thought it would be insulting to ask her to sign one from the 1940s or 1950s.

I purposely bought a more recent photo of her because I thought it would be insulting to ask her to sign one from the 1940s or 1950s.

As much as we all love her dramas from the 1940s (particularly with Humphrey Bogart, of course), it’s her comedies from the 1950s that I watch over and over again. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and I just watched my “Designing Woman” DVD two weeks ago.

RIP Lauren Bacall.

And thanks, Charlene.

Vintage 1940s hair pins

After seeing a sweet little vintage card of hair pins in a roundup post of fun Etsy finds on the Swing Fashionista blog, I fell in love.

I tried not to buy it. Really I did.

Oh well.

Here it is:

I think you can see why I couldn't resist them. The image on the card is gorgeous!

I think you can see why I couldn’t resist it. The image on the card is gorgeous 1940s goodness.

Now it lives on the dressing table-like area of my bathroom, with a couple of other vintage goodies.

Apparently, I now have a collection of vintage dressing table items. The talc on the left is empty. The one on the right is full be sealed shut by rust.

Apparently, I now have a collection of vintage dressing table items. The talc container on the left is empty. The one on the right is full but sealed shut by rust. The hair pins have some rust, so I consider everything you see here purely decorative.

I got the card from the Covetable Curiosities shop on Etsy. Mine was listed as “1 available,” but the store has another one up for sale, also listed as “1 available.” With a quick Google search, a few more show up on eBay as ended or current. It doesn’t seem to be terribly rare, but it is awfully pretty.

 

Full-bust adjustment on Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse

The Sewaholic line of patterns is specifically designed to fit and flatter pear-shaped woman.

I am pretty much the opposite of a pear-shaped woman.

My bust is my largest measurement, then my hips, with my waist not much smaller.

But the great results a variety of women are getting from the Belcarra Blouse pattern looked too good to resist, so I jumped in the fray.

Then came the pattern adjustments.

I started by making a muslin of the pattern as it was. It seemed to fit everywhere but the bust. Here is the result, after some slashing to accommodate my figure:

I marked my bust point, then made slashes typical of full-bust adjustments, so I could see how much room to add.

I marked my bust point, then made slashes typical of full-bust adjustments, so I could see how much room to add.

Obviously, I had work to do on the pattern. I made a typical full-bust adjustment, so the front bodice pattern looked like this:

Here you can see the full bust adjustment. Width is added across the bust, length is added to the center front, and a dart is added to the side.

For a typical full bust adjustment, width is added across the bust, length is added to the center front, and a dart is added to the side.

After trying that on, I realized that the bust point needed to be raised. I guess this is pretty common. The way the full-bust adjustment is done ends up creating a dart that does NOT point toward the apex of the bust. You often have to move it, but it’s impossible to know exactly how much to move it until you’ve done the adjustment. From this pattern alteration, I cut a new front bodice piece and replaced the slashed one.

As you can see, the muslin fits Gene much better, but the bust dart needed to be adjusted and the hips are way too wide.

As you can see, the muslin fits Gene much better. However, the bust dart needed to be adjusted and the hips are way too wide. I have them pinned in an inch on each side, for a total of four inches.

To accommodate these changes, I altered the pattern again.

Here, I raised the bust point, then narrowed the hips. I almost made them straight but settled on a gentle curve.

Here, I raised the bust point, then narrowed the hips. I almost made them straight but settled on a gentle curve.

Now, I think I’m ready to cut out my fashion fabric.

Taking a simple blouse pattern made for a pear and altering it for an apple is a lot of effort, but I think it’s going to be worth it. I had forgotten how nicely raglan sleeves sit on my shoulders, and this is a quick basic pattern. Once I have this pattern perfected, I can sew up a bunch of these basic tops. I’m hoping they will make a good substitute for the cheap knit tops I always buy at Target.