Nothing new to see here: this is the same blouse as in my Bishop Sleeves post.
But there are some brutally frank close-ups of the loop and button closure, the less than perfect collar as well as pintucks.
The idea was ‘to upgrade, with ambition’ the Stylearc Faith Top I made earlier this year out of lawn and judged to be wearable but a bit simple. I fear it’s one of those garments you suspect makes people think ‘you spent hours and hours sewing, just to make that?’ The pintucks were wide and the back-of-neck gathers too crude. But I thought it had potential.
This garment has more interesting details, the fabric is silk and I will enjoy the feeling of luxury every time I fiddle with the loops and covered buttons while getting it on and off. It’s not precise enough in execution to save for special occasions. This will be an everyday blouse worn over a tight vest to give me warmth and decent coverage throughout our too cold summers.
In the process I made two mistakes which led me to learn a couple of important lessons. The first relates to sewing sheer fabric where the seams show through. This doesn’t look good. It doesn’t so much matter on the side seams but the original bodice front had a centre seam which in the sheer version looked ugly, despite my using French seam to keep raw edges hidden. So I had to discard attempt number one (after all the pintucks were made – 🙄 ) and started again, creating a single front piece which was then slit at the neckline with a very narrow facing to which the rouleau strip loops were attached. In short, Lesson One: re-design your pattern to reduce the number of seams.
The second hard lesson was first chronologically and is more relevant in that it relates to pintucks. I decided to begin by making the back first to give me practice of pintucks in the less visible area (in the Faith pattern, this area is gathered). But despite careful calculations (or so I thought), the finished piece ended up too narrow to fit my shoulders. I’d already widened the shoulders to eliminate the raglan sleeves but it was nowhere enough so I had to chuck that away and start again, this time making longer than required pintucks on a rectangular piece and when they were finished cutting out the pattern piece so that the pintucked area would fit the neck piece.
Pintucks are not for everyone; they require so much time that you have to be a bit of a fan to think it’s worth it. Here are some tips if you want to give them a go:
- On woven fabrics, where the grain of a fabric is visible, or where there’s a visible pattern like on this striped chiffon, you can use the lines as a guide to the placement of pintucks and their width.
- Some use a double needle to make them, I used a pintuck foot. .
- Press each side of pintuck after it’s formed to sink in stitches, then press to one side.
- I used a basting stitch, later removed, to mark the end points of each pintuck so to know exactly where to stop stitching. (Chalk lines turned to dust and disappeared under all the pressing and jumping from machine to ironing board.)
- You cannot backstitch at the ends: it looks unattractive. Instead, pass each thread to the wrong side, using a hand sewing needle (yes, lots of time-consuming threading) and tie into a secure knot, taking care not to ‘choke’ the pintuck.
And two very important points:
- Stiffen your fabric to make it easier to handle if your pintucks are fine. You can use starch on cotton. I used gelatine.
- If you don’t want to risk making your pattern pieces too small by adding pintucks, make them on separate sections of fabric then add to the garment. Many RTW garments tend to have them applied in sections, as in this JCrew top (quite similar in colour to mine.)
This post looks at pintucks from a historical sewing angle and was very helpful in my research. It shows something that had completely escaped me in my focus on sewing the garment I’d envisaged: that pintucks are often horizontal. (As the post suggests, use the straightgrain or crossgrain but never bias as it’s too stretchy).
You could put a few rows of horizontal ones on a little girl’s dress and unpick them as she grows out of the length. On coloured fabric, there’d emerge an interesting colour difference due to fading. Just don’t forget to make them first and then cut your pattern piece.
Here’s a great denim dress with what look like horizontal pintucks…. I may just copy it someday.
Have you ever been potty about pintucks?!