I’m back with another project from She Wears the Pants, this time the Velour Blouse, No 5. Now, let me get something off my chest right away: this blouse is a total FAIL. I’ve seen too many sewists blame themselves for failed projects when there was clearly something wrong with the pattern, but this time it was really all my fault. I didn’t make a muslin (the horror!), I used a woven when the pattern is specifically designed for knits, I used a lining that was too stiff, and I chose a design feature (cap sleeves) that never, ever works for me. WHY did I do this, you ask? It was a little sewing experiment, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the little voice inside my head. Lesson learned – that voice is there for a reason. 🙂
With that said, I actually enjoyed sewing this blouse, and I continue to be impressed with the professional finishing techniques in this pattern book. I already have plans to fix this top and may even make a knit version. The pattern is good; I was just a little reckless with my choices on this project!
Pattern: Velour Blouse, No. 5, from She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada. The pattern is a boxy knit top, fully lined, with cap sleeves and contrast trim on the collar facing and hem. I made a size L.
Fabric: Art Gallery cotton voile for the shell and lining (I cut off my selvedges and can’t find the name of this print online, sorry!), with Bemberg rayon for the contrast. I bought 1.5 yards of the voile and used every last bit.
Modifications: Added 3/4 inch in length between the shoulder and bust, a typical alteration for me. This lowers the armholes and prevents them from bunching up in my armpits. I also deviated a bit from the instructions in terms of construction, which I’ll explain below.
Level of crafty satisfaction: This blouse isn’t wearable in its current state, but I’m hopeful that I can fix it. I like the fabric combination and am planning to turn in into a tank top. Stay tuned.
So, let’s talk about what went wrong with this project…
The blouse doesn’t look bad from the front and back. It’s cut pretty wide across the shoulders with a wide neckline, both of which actually work in my favor. For once, were my broad shoulders actually a fitting advantage? I can see this top falling off the shoulders of more petite women, but it seems to be working for me in that respect.
The side view, however, is a little clown-like. This top is a tent! I blame my fabric choice: the double layer of voile was too stiff for this pattern, which is supposed to fall and drape nicely from the shoulders. A lightweight knit — as suggested by the pattern — would have been a much better choice.
The other major issue for me is the cap sleeves. I just don’t like wearing them. I always feel restricted at the shoulders, and the non-stretch nature of this fabric isn’t helping. There is no way I could sit at my desk at work all day in this top, since my arms have to reach forward to type. Total sewing fail, womp womp! You can also see from the photo above that the armhole is way too far away from my body, which further restricts movement and is just plain awkward to wear.
Here’s how I’m planning to fix things:
- Completely cut off the cap sleeves and turn this into a sleeveless tank.
- Pinch out about an inch (or more) from each side seam, which should bring the armholes closer to my body and help reduce the tent-like silhouette a bit. It’ll still be a boxy top, which is fine by me, but at least it won’t be quite so wide in this relatively stiff fabric combo.
Since the top is fully lined and nicely finished on the inside, the book recommends simply ironing the neckline and armholes to neaten them after stitching. Since I like a little more security in my garments to keep their shape through many washes, I ran a line of topstitching around the neckline and armholes about 1/8 inch from the edge. I also skipped the fusible interfacing on the collar facing. I thought the extra stiffness might interfere with the collar folding over.
Cutting this blouse out of 1.5 yards of voile was a really tight squeeze! I had to piece the lining at the CF and CB, and I had to cut the back lining on the cross grain. Not a big deal, but make sure to buy more yardage if you plan to make the shell and lining out of the same fabric.
The only part of construction that I blatantly ignored was attaching the hem band. The book recommends serging all 4 layers together (shell, folded hem band, and lining) and pressing the seam to one side. Instead, I opted to fully enclose all the raw edges by sandwiching the hem band between the shell and lining. I’m not sure why this wasn’t suggested in the instructions – it seems like a no-brainer to me! The photo above is a little washed out, but hopefully you can see the clean finish both inside and outside.
Another note on the hem band: I believe there is an error in the pattern. On the pattern sheets, the hem band is two pieces – one front and one back. The front piece is about 1/4 inch longer than the back piece. However, the instructions describe the hem band as one long piece that wraps around the entire blouse, and I’m pretty sure the front and back pieces should be the same length. I just eased in the excess for this top, but next time I’ll chop off the extra 1/4 inch.
Here’s an entire outfit from She Wears the Pants: Velour Blouse + Sarrouel Trousers. I’m not convinced this is a great look, but I guess it’s a moot point since this blouse is about to hit my cutting table again. Goodbye, cap sleeves! I won’t miss you!
And please remind me to consider the pattern’s fabric recommendations next time. 🙂