A couple of weeks ago I finally broke my sewing fast and pulled my sewing machine & serger out of the closet. My goal was to make some comfy, cool tunic type tops (and an interview dress, which I’ll blog about another time). Last week I showed you the result of the first blouse I tried. This week I’m going to show you the second.

This is the Alice top from Tessuti. I love the look of Tessuti patterns and I own several, but this is the first one I’ve made. I chose it because it met the following criteria:

  1. I like the way it looks
  2. It looks like it would be comfortable in 100°+ weather
  3. There are a ton of pattern reviews available for it online
  4. 100% of the reviews I read said how easy and fast it was to make
  5. I have fabric in my stash I can use to make it
  6. The pattern was already printed out (copy shop version)

Decision having been made, I chose a red cotton chambray from my stash. This fabric is lightweight and has a reasonable drape. I expected it to be easier to work with than the rayon challis I attempted last week, and it certainly was.

layout

This time, I decided to stop messing around. I committed myself to perfection in the instruction and pattern cutting departments. There would be no “oops” stiching that was not unpicked, no “I’ll pick whatever seam allowance is easiest for me to sew” goofiness. Fully expecting those rules to make this a very slow and somewhat more nerve wracking experience (especially given the multiple seam allowances in this pattern), I proceeded slowly.

In fact, my commitment to following the instructions actually helped overcome a lot of the stress I normally encounter when I’m sewing. There is something so counterintuitive about cutting up a piece of fabric you love when you know you have no natural talent for sewing.

unpicking

Everything went well until I attached the gathered bottom to the bodice. It didn’t turn out so well and so, despite already having serged the finished seam, I patiently unpicked every stitch, ironed out the wrinkles, and started over. I regathered the fabric (and it went much, much better the 2nd time around), and the sewing was straight, the gathers were even, and I was happy with the finished result.

pinned-sleeve

Next came setting the sleeves. I spent two days attempting to do this without any puckers, most of the time with such great failure that I ended up posting a plea for help / ideas to my Facebook page. In the end I followed a friend’s advice to take it very slow, be very sure of my 3/8″ seam allowance, and really work the sleeve into place. I ended up with exactly two tiny pleats in each sleeve. They aren’t supposed to exist, but I tried to at least mirror them on each side. Alas, two pleats on the front on one sleeve and two pleats on the back on the other sleeve. Oh well.

front-sleeve

No other review mentioned a single thing about difficulty setting the sleeves. I believe the difference may be that, because this pattern runs large, every other reviewer chose to sew the xs, or s size of this top. I chose the xl size because I thought of this top as a muslin, and xl is what I almost always end up needing in patterns, regardless of the sizing on the back of the envelope. Perhaps the sleeves for the xl simply do not match up as nicely as the smaller sizes. Not sure. Something just wasn’t right, there.

hem

Once the sleeves were in I knew I was going to want to bring the length up to mid-hip. I don’t mind a long, gathered tunic, but this style (no high/low in this hem, the gathers in front and back) was not flattering at a longer length. I turned under 3″ and then turned under again, losing a whopping 6 inches of length in the hem. I chose a basting zig zag rather than a hem stitch, because by that time I already knew I was going to have to redo the whole top before I ever wear it.

arm-hole

It’s so large that the bottom of the arm hole hangs down near the top of my waistband. The bodice is too wide (even for my very wide shoulders and bust), and the sleeves stick out like a 1950’s B movie space suit (thank goodness I didn’t use the optional interfacing in them).

I don’t know that I’ll go to the trouble to attempt to fix this version of this blouse. It will probably go to Goodwill. The blouse itself is fine, it’s just too big for me – but for a taller, larger busted lady it will probably work quite well.

I will make this top again, though in a much softer fabric with much more drape (and a smaller size).

Now I’m on to what I hope will be a pretty nightgown. I have a vintage Butterick sundress pattern I think will give me more experience with my gathers while being simple enough that I can actually finish it – and, in addition to more cool summer tops, I can definitely use some new cool summer nighties. Additionally, I’ve downloaded several other simple patterns to try for both tops and bottoms, and I’m looking forward to diving in to them.

I would never have imagined I could be so caught up in a hobby that I am so bad at. I love everything about every single material used in sewing: the machines, the tools, the patterns, the notions, the fabric. I love sticking things together. I love using my hands to make things. I hope I start to improve sometime soon. It would be a shame to be so addicted to (and invested in) something I never get good at.

Weirdly, my badness does not discourage me in the least. Happiness abounds around my sewing in some fundamental, absorbing, wonderful way.

Onwards to the nightgown department!