Well, I said I was going to post about a letdown dress, but I can't help myself. I made a blouse in less than 24 hours and can't wait to share. The loser dress will have to wait.
The Pattern Review Knock-off contest got my wheels spinning and I decided to attempt this gorgeous Kate Spade blouse I stumbled upon last week. I had some polka dot silk habotai from several years ago at Gorgeous Fabrics, and even though the colors are reversed and it's a smaller scale, I'm all about stash-busting this year.
My neck ruffle is slightly smaller in scale (mostly because I used up every last scrap of fabric), but pretty much everything else is the same. I don't believe the original has any darts at all but mine has triangular bust darts for a little shape. I used New Look 6849 and just didn't make the back vertical darts. I can slip it over my head easily without a zipper (and without those back darts).
How I made this top:
Start with the basic shell (I used French seams for all of the seams), and cut a slit center front almost to the level of the bottom of the armholes.
To finish the slit, I used a strip of fabric that bordered on the selvage to avoid turning under a fiddly little allowance on the inside. Stitch the strip, cut edge even with the slit edge, with a 1/4" seam.
I've recently come to appreciate hand basting. While I used to abhor hand-stitching of any kind, I completely see the appeal now. The control you get is unmatched with pins, and if you count extra time you'd spend fixing mistakes, it takes no longer than pinning. Anyway, I pressed and folded the selvage edge behind and basted everything in place.
Edge-stitch on the right side, very close to the fold, catching the selvage on the inside. Remove basting stitches.
For the thin band around the outside of the neck, I used a strip of Steam-A-Seam for sturdiness and to ensure a perfectly uniform strip. The length of the SAS matches the measurement for the neck edge of my blouse. Again, I used the selvage. I ironed my strip of SAS close to the selvage, then cut out my rectangle around it.
Here's the beauty of the Steam-A-Seam: Just fold over the allowances on the long edges, putting the selvage side on top, and iron down. It gets top-stitched on to the neck in a bit.
Two parts I didn't photograph were making the ruffle for the neck and the ties. The ties are just narrow tubes turned right-side-out and attached on the inside of the neck edges at the very end. The ruffle is just a rectangle of fabric. Original dimensions of the rectangle are twice as high as the finished ruffle height by 1.5 times as long as the neck edge (plus seam allowances on all edges). Fold in half lengthwise and stitch around to make a tube, leaving one short end open. Turn and finish raw edge by turning them to the inside a bit. I didn't even stitch this closed since it's held in place by the gathering stitches in the middle, but you could hand-sew the end shut. Gather through the middle with a running or machine stitch and adjust to fit the neck edge. Baste onto the neckline.
Pin (or hand-baste) the center strip on top of the ruffle's gathering and basting stitches, turning raw edges under. Edge-stitch all the way around. Stitch ties on underside of neck edges.
To finish, hem armholes and bottom with a narrow hem. Side note: this is the best my narrow hems have ever turned out. No waves or puckers. Practice does indeed make perfect.
≈I'm SOOOOO pleased with how this came out and entered my pattern review in the contest. :-) I plan to wear it with white linen pants to a baby shower next weekend.