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r (attempts to) sew a button down blouse for curvy people

 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:

Make a "ironing board cover" to fit your table.  

That just about describes the cotton covered, cotton filled "silence" cloth I edged for my table. It used to be easy to get that sort of quilted material by the yard/meter, but now it's really hard to find cotton - it gone all artificial.
 
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I agree with Joylynn about covering the table, but I just put a non-polyester blanket on the table, with a sheet over it. Works well. I don't have a dedicated cover. I don't need to iron huge things that often, I am not an ironing person in general, only when I sew, or dye silks.
 
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The old fashioned way to iron and not scorch, which I still do because my hard water breaks the steam setting on irons and I am impatient and distractable, is a press cloth. Find an old antique smooth linen tea towel (linen handles heat better), dampen it well and put it on top of the fabric you are ironing. Re dampen as it dries.  I think in 5 years of my teenaged self ironing weekly, I scorched one tea towel, and didn't scorch any clothes or the starch I was using. Before I got into that habit and just used the steam setting? Oops. No one will notice that off white spot, right? I also use a press cloth by for anything that is polyester or fine. Not great for careful seam pressing, but great for flattening large areas or making folds/creases.

I also ironed with no ironing board, just a sheet and a thin cotton towel on my desk or kitchen table for all of university. Works great and far less likely to knock it over than an ironing board.
 
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Mom always just used a clean towel with a clean sheet on top.
 
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Ideas for finishing the seam where the sleeve joins to the body?

I'm trying bias tape for my mockup.  But I suspect that my bias tape maker makes tape too large for this.
 
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Seams that are on or close to the grain tend to fray easily. Sleeves and where they attach tend to be cut across the grain in constantly changing direction. If you're using about a 1/2" seam allowance, they may not need finishing unless the fabric you're using is really delicate. Some patterns have you stitch a second row 1/4" away from the first in the underarm area, but that would mostly be for outerwear, not a blouse. If I felt it really needed it, that would be the spot I'd do a blanket stitch by hand.
 
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When I get my mockup finished, is there some way to take the pattern and make a tank top pattern?  

I'm really liking the princess seams.
 
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r ranson wrote:When I get my mockup finished, is there some way to take the pattern and make a tank top pattern?  
I'm really liking the princess seams.

Absolutely, so long as your version of a "tank top" has buttons down the front! Harder if you want to avoid that, although I think I could manage buttons down one side from the armpit to the hem (decent size flat buttons for ease in doing them up). Short side zippers opening from the hem up to the bust line might also work! The nice thing about using a machine basting stitch on a scrap-fabric "mock-up" version is that we can try the option that sounds best to you, and try again with a different option if you don't like the results.
 
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I do princess line tank tops, and my favorite one (that I didn't make) has a zipper down one side from bust to hem. I think that design will lay better with 2 zippers (or two lines of buttons, or snaps, or something) to make it hang right.

If you start with the pattern you have, the thing to watch for is how big you need the arm holes to be. Shirts with sleeves generally have bigger armholes than you want a tank top to have (if you want to cover your bra!) if you have a non-stretchy tank top, that's easiest to use for an arm hole gauge. A stretchy one will at least give you a ball park to look at. Other choice is to make the arm hole MUCH smaller than you think it needs to be, and start trimming it SLIGHTLY at a time, tiny shreds make a lot of hole (pi is a bastard there, you aren't taking off 1 inch, you are taking off pi times the radius etc...) Don't forget to account for the seams... a mock up is your friend here. Arm hole that comes out too big can be trimmed with a ribbon, or have small darts taken in it to take it in or shape it.
:D
 
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Regarding pins: I've been trying to find sharp, sewing pins for years and have been completely unsuccessful. One fabric store told me that it has been a problem across the board and they recommended I search antique or thrift shops in hopes that an old sewing kit might be found. I still have some old pins from when I was young and they glide through fabric easily, but the newer ones usually bend as I try to push them in. Very irritating.
 
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Barb Morris wrote:Regarding pins: I've been trying to find sharp, sewing pins for years and have been completely unsuccessful. One fabric store told me that it has been a problem across the board and they recommended I search antique or thrift shops in hopes that an old sewing kit might be found. I still have some old pins from when I was young and they glide through fabric easily, but the newer ones usually bend as I try to push them in. Very irritating.


Have you tried the bar of soap pincusion trick?
 
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A bit late to the game, but painter's tape works really well for assembling printed patterns. You can readjust without tearing the paper, and it's paper - not plastic.
 
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I took a few days off to sew another of those Merchant & Mills vests.  Now I'm back to the mock-up.

I'm kind of having trouble getting going with this because more and more, I worry that the bust room isn't generous enough and I choose the wrong size.  Which means I have to make yet another mockup.  I had hoped to be wearing my first shirt by the end of the month but this is turning into a big ordeal.  I'm having trouble getting motivated to keep going.  
 
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Hi R. If you are (almost) certain it isn't the right size, my advice would be: stop immediately with this mockup.
Start doing some more measuring. Measure your own bust size (again) and measure the pattern parts (at bust). Count the sizes of the pattern parts together to see if there's going to be enough width at the bust.
Maybe you have to choose another size pattern. But if all other sizes of this pattern are right, and the larger size will be too long, you'll have to change the pattern you are using to make the bust wider.
https://mellysews.com/make-sewing-pattern-bigger-smaller/

 
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I agree with Inge. Stop. Pin, staple, or tape your mock up together as much as you can and try it on. It needs to be close to how you want it to fit. depending on how precise you are being, flattening down the curved seams, etc, it might be fitting differently than the final will, but it should be close. If not, make a new one. Do JUST the curved seams and enough to hold it together just enough that you can try it on, (no sleeves etc) and check it. Just the front curves, any side pieces, and the back panel. This is what mock ups are for. You could also just cut them, and pin, staple or tape them into position, and try it on. It does not have to be sewed to let you see how it fits. I often staple, no pins to stab you. And it's a mock up, doesn't matter if the staples rip it a bit when you remove them.

Keep thinking "when I get this finished, I'll have a great pattern that fits perfectly!!" It IS worth doing!! :D
Think less on the one shirt, and more on the long term goal. You aren't making a blouse, you are making a pattern you can customize at will that will fit you exactly as you want it to

:D

 
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r ranson wrote:

I'm kind of having trouble getting going with this because more and more, I worry that the bust room isn't generous enough and I choose the wrong size.


First, hang in there - I hear your frustration, but there are several options for fixing without making an entire new mock-up.

1. Where exactly are you on this project. Is the paper pattern assembled? Is it transferred to test fabric? Has *any* sewing happened yet? I'm not clear where you've stalled, from your words.

2. You say "wrong size", but in your case, size is too global a word. Let's break it down:
If someone holds up the pattern of the "back" (with the pieces roughly pinned together) Does the back "fit" or does it seem under or over-sized? Consider both the lenght and the width.
Does the measurement of all the pieces around at the bottom seam, minus the seam allowances, go around your upper hips (where the shirt will end while you're wearing it) with an inch or two to spare for "give"?
Does the length of the sleeves seem "about right" - again, it needs some give so you can bend your elbow, but you shouldn't feel that the sleeves will hang past your hands by a significant margin.
If all these parts of the pattern seem "about right" or in particular, bigger than they should be, the issue is making the bust area larger yet, not getting a larger pattern which will make everything into a sack!

ETA: Congratulations on making another vest!

3. If it appears that most of the measurements are OK, what are your options for adjusting the pattern before you even start to sew? The front is made of 3 panels - I'll call them "side panel, middle panel and button panel. The goal would be to widen those panels *just* where your breast is, but not at either the top or the bottom and I would try to do that at the two edges between the "side" and "middle" panels because that is actually where you want the space. Darts give you depth between your side seam and your nipples which is where you need the space.  Adding matching wide curves to those two edges will give the same effect - but it will take fiddling after you have "enough space" to get the two curves to match each other nicely. A permie with more experience with that step might be able to help. (I'm thinking Pearl Sutton, as she's made corsets - well it looks like she just arrived while I was typing!)

Clearly Pearl is convinced you can do this, and I'm convinced, so we just have to figure out what step you're on, and see what needs to come next!
 
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According to the measurements and the pattern, this SHOULD be the right size.

I've got one more seam to sew then I can try it on and see.  
 
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mockup has sleves on it and side seams are sewn.
I think I'm going to have to put the button band on to be sure, but yeh, it's not feeling like there's enough ease in the bust.  

I'm going to have to put a cuff on one sleeve to get the idea if it's long enough.  But the sleeves are feeling a bit tight in the elbow, so maybe I should just scrap this size and remeasure myself.  I do change size a bit from day to day due to health.  Sometimes by a couple of inches.  

 
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r ranson wrote:

I think I'm going to have to put the button band on to be sure, but yeh, it's not feeling like there's enough ease in the bust.

OK, can you tell if you need more depth from the side seam to the front, or if you need more width across the front? The former is most likely and will require widening the adjacent sides of the right and middle pieces that make up the front of the shirt.
And wrote:

But the sleeves are feeling a bit tight in the elbow

How does it feel across the back and around the armhole? If the first two are good, I'd consider widening the sleeve first, before making everything bigger.
And wrote:

I do change size a bit from day to day due to health.  Sometimes by a couple of inches.

That's a tough one. Is there any predictability? Does it change a lot within a day? Is it worth having "two wardrobes" one for the larger size and one for smaller? It does sound as if you need to measure yourself when you feel you're having a "big" day, and compare those measurements with the pattern?

It's awesome that you've got this far. If you decide that moving up a size is the best choice, I'm hoping you will find it going easier the second time!
 
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across the bottom of the shoulder blades is tight.

Size change depends on what I ate, but I haven't found which foods do what yet since it's a few days apart from the eating.  The size change can take place in less than an hour depending on where in the gut the food is.  
 
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Do you know how much is the wearing ease for the shirt? Maybe you can increase it from a semi-fitted 4" to a loose fitting 6-7" or any way you like.

I would not worry about edge finishing for the 1st muslin, just put the pieces together with long basting stitch and check the general fitting. Also muslin tends to have large seam allowance like 1". If the neck and shoulder area fit alright and only certain part is feeling tight, just let out the seams for quick adjustment. For example adding a couple inches in the back to accommodate broad back.
 
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I had some help remeasuring myself.  I got all the measurements right except the bust. My body is 2.5" larger than I had measured.  sigh

printed out the larger bust size and am going to do a blend between size 16 and 18.  Size 16 for the hips, and 18 everywhere else.  
 
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That 2.5" difference explains a LOT!! A 1" difference can completely screw up thre proportions, on a pattern - especially if it happens more than once. It's better that you got help, and found out, now!
 
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I printed the pattern and taped it together.
Now is time to decide if I'm going to alter it.  To fit my bust and my waist, I have to do a size 18 G/H cup.  But my hips are between a size 14 and 16.

When I printed out the pattern I printed both 16 and 18.  So all I need to do is draw a line to make the bottom smaller.  

Trying to decide if I want to and if so, to work up the courage.  
 
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r ranson wrote:I printed the pattern and taped it together.
Now is time to decide if I'm going to alter it.  To fit my bust and my waist, I have to do a size 18 G/H cup.  But my hips are between a size 14 and 16.

When I printed out the pattern I printed both 16 and 18.  So all I need to do is draw a line to make the bottom smaller.  

Trying to decide if I want to and if so, to work up the courage.  

If you make your "practice" shirt the large size, how easy would it be to just unpick from the bust down, draw and cut it smaller and re-sew? That way you could decide how much smaller you really want it, and possibly *where* you want it smaller. You might decide to just make the two front panels smaller, or just the 4 side panels - you'd have several options.
 
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I ended up just taking off a bit on the side seams front and back.  So 1/4 inch per piece, 1 inch total.  This feels like a good starting place.
 
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Started seaming together my second mockup.  I'm not cutting out all the bits unless I need to, I just want to get a good idea of the bodice.

In other news, here's a class on Craftsy by the same person who made this blouse pattern and did the Harrison top class.  https://www.craftsy.com/class/full-bust-adjustment-for-any-pattern/

I like her enthusiasm and joy in her voice.
 
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The second mockup is good enough that it looks better than any pre-made top I've ever bought.  I'm going to start making one with good fabric just as soon as I can dig up some courage and energy.  
 
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first real seam!
sewing-a-princess-seam-on-antique-singer.jpg
sewing a princess seam on antique singer
sewing a princess seam on antique singer
 
r ranson
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Update:  One sleeve is on.  I declare I'm halfway done this first shirt.  

I used the pinking shears on the sleeve seem because I couldn't figure out how to enclose it nicely.  

It's been an emotional rollercoaster but mostly because finding the time at the same time of day I have enough concentration has been tricky.

I'm getting a bit worried about the weather as I need something long-sleeved to wear and there is a nip in the air.  I honestly expected to have this completed back in the middle of Aug.  It's now the end of Sep.  I might just have to put the music on loud and dedicate a day to getting it done.  
 
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finally

FINALLY


I'm finally at the buttonhole stage... and do you know what the one thing I cannot find after renovating my studio is?  That's right, the buttonholer.  

For crying out loud!  Can this project have any more struggles!?!  I just want it done so I can clean up and move to the next thing.  

 
Carla Burke
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Switch to snaps?
 
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Do the old-fashioned by hand buttonholes - someone posted a great tutorial on the proper way to do those which was quite cool! (Probably r ranson come to think about it...)
 
Jay Angler
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Or depending on the fabric, make home-made Chinese knotted buttons and loops:
http://www.free-macrame-patterns.com/chinese-button-knot.html

https://www.lucyneatby.com/extras/freebies/pdfs/Frogs.pdf

 
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How did your shirt turn out?

I have a suggestion for button placement on shirts for people with ...elevated frontage: plan a button dead center of the ... bustline.  Set another button Mark at the top edge of the neckline or wherever you want the top button. Set remaining spacing evenly divided to within two inches or so of the hemline. This is where your handy dandy button spacer comes into play.

One of my pet peeves with RTW clothing is that button placement seems to always be above and below the fullest point of the bust leading to the dreaded gaposis of buttondowns.

PS I’ve tried really hard to avoid any references to mountain peaks. You are welcome.
 
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r ranson wrote:finally

FINALLY


I'm finally at the buttonhole stage... and do you know what the one thing I cannot find after renovating my studio is?  That's right, the buttonholer.  

For crying out loud!  Can this project have any more struggles!?!  I just want it done so I can clean up and move to the next thing.  


Totally possible to make buttonholes with your sewing machine with the attachment. Mark your buttonhole. 1) Set zigzag on widest width, zero length— set 3-5 stitches. 2) Change to very narrow zigzag and very short length. Stitch up one side of buttonhole. Repeat 1. Then back to beginning with 2. Cut a long tail of thread pulling to wrong side. Tie ends and trim close. Set a pin at one end of your new buttonhole. Open buttonhole carefully using a seam ripper, or buttonhole scissors, or a buttonhole chisel. Now admire your work.

 
r ranson
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my sewing machine does not have zig zag stitch.  It's too old for that.  

I think I know where it is.  If not, I have a spare buttonholer that just needs a bit of fixing.  

Shouldn't be long now.  At least I hope not.  The weather is getting chilly.  
 
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finishing touches.
buttons.JPG
sewing a button on
sewing a button on
 
Carla Burke
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I can't wait to see the finished product!!
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