This is my second post about a blouse I have made which is a copy of a shop-bought top. The first post is here.
I’ve now finished my top and I’ll be wearing it for the first time tomorrow. I’m rather proud of this top, but not for the usual reasons. We’re all feel excited when we’ve made a new garment that looks good, but this time I feel that not only is it good, but it’s better than the original top which I copied. The main reason I think it’s an improvement is that I revised the way it was made. I discovered that when I took the top apart to create my pattern there were lots of raw edges just covered with trim. To me that just seemed like a shameful short-cut and I decided to attach the yoke to the front of the blouse by folding the raw edges under and then covering with the trim. Yes, it was still covered by the trim, but I have to wear this top and I need to know that it’s constructed well!
Unfortunately, my deviation from original construction has meant that the front of the blouse is slightly shorter than it should be because I didn’t add in the extra seam allowance needed by the yoke. I don’t think it is a critical problem though, but I’ll change my pattern to make sure that is now correct.
I have noticed that shop-bought clothes have excessive amounts of trim. In fact, the original top, is a good example of this. There are three different types of trim used – a ruffle around the yoke opening, ribbon used around the edge of the front and back yokes and oodles of grosgrain ribbon around the collar and dangling down the front of the blouse. When I came to making the copy of the top, I was sure that I didn’t need that much trim and I limited myself to the using a grey velvet ribbon around the front yoke and along the bottom of the back yoke and a ruffle along the yoke opening. The ribbon around the collar and the dangling bow just seemed completely unnecessary to me. In fact, I’m not even sure that the ruffle is really needed either. It is a trend I have seen with many RTW items. I’ve often wondered whether the bling dazzles us and hides the lack of quality in the garment.
Another observation about the original blouse concerns the sleeves. Traditional sleeves (i.e. ones with sleeve caps that you ease into the garment) generally are not symmetrical. The front half of the sleeve varies in its shape to the back half of the sleeve. However, in this blouse the sleeves seem to be symmetrical. I guess it doesn’t matter too much they are fairly loose sleeves, but I do think that perhaps the sleeve should have been cut better.
I have learned a new technique too. I finished the bottom of the blouse and the sleeves with a rolled hem using my overlocker. I have used my overlocker for finishing raw edges and for knit fabrics, but until now I hadn’t been brave enough to fiddle much with the settings. (Let’s face it I haven’t been too keen on changing the thread colour, it usually involves bringing out the manual, because that method of just knotting the new threads onto the old and running them through just doesn’t seem to work well and I usually get a thread break). I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to set up though. I took out one of the needles so that I was using just the right needle and three threads. I then increased the tension on the looper threads and switched the setting to “R” (for rolled) and hey presto! I fiddled a little with the tension on the loopers to get the width of hem just right, but that didn’t take long. This is a finish that is simple and easy to do, but I do think it is far more popular in RTW clothes. I certainly don’t often read about in on sewing blogs. What do you think, do you think this is an interesting finish or a RTW short-cut that lacks finesse?
Overall, I think that this top has provided me with some good lesson. I think that it has shown that I shouldn’t slavishly follow instructions or copy and that branching out is often a good approach when we feel it could improve the garment. The blouse I’ve made actually has a very different vibe to its original. I think my copy has a crisper finish and is less casual. Perhaps my choice of ribbons and construction has accounted for that.
I think I would like to make this blouse again, and really break away from the original, perhaps using a cotton lawn in a darker colour or with a print. I would like to draft different sleeves, some 3/4 length sleeves would suit this top too.
August 1, 2016 at 6:26 am
Very interesting, I have a couple tops that this could would for when they get bit a more tatty, it’s an undarted but fitted top that I can’t seem to create without cutting it up. It also has a yoke/ placket similar to yours. Hope you make many more versions.
August 2, 2016 at 6:24 pm
I’m glad I chopped mine up – it was so interesting to see how this top was put together. It made me realise that they had done everything in a very cheap way – it makes me feel superior when I recognise that I can actually improve on an RTW garment!
August 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm
I like this version and I think it will look very good in a darker lawn. I haven’t got an overlocker but sometimes I do use the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine – it’s easier to do with a zigzag and looks ok but I like it with a straight stitch.
Very interesting post with lots to think about.
August 2, 2016 at 6:27 pm
Thanks. I’ve always wanted to try the rolled hem foot on my machine. Unfortunately, my old Singer was inherited and the feet bar one got lost somewhere. I’ve a few replacements, but I’ve never found a rolled hem foot. I think my Mum has one and I might try to borrow it – she has an old Singer too.
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August 10, 2016 at 10:58 am
Well done with the new top! I agree that ‘bling’ can hide lack of quality in both design and construction and now that you’re aware of it, I’m sure you’ll continue to notice it! A symmetrical sleeve cap suggests to me that the original pattern might have been designed for knit fabric which requires little to no ease, therefore not requiring the same shaping a sleeve pattern normally has but I’m not an expert so I could be well off the mark there. Your rolled hem looks fine in the photograph and if you later decide that you don’t like it, you can always finish it differently by hand or sewing machine. Looking forward to seeing what you make next!
August 10, 2016 at 9:37 pm
Interesting thoughts about the sleeve cap. I can well believe that a symmetrical sleeve cap could have been designed for a knit fabric. Think that may be another RTW cheat since it could make it easier to attach the sleeves. Certainly, I always spend time checking that I have got the sleeves orientated correctly when I make a top / blouse – with these sleeves there isn’t any need to check at all. I’m actually quite happy with my rolled hems. I have worn the top a couple of times now and they are staying!
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