Monday 11 May 2020

Throwback: The Andrea blouse and pattern

This dates back to the era of BurdaStyle as a website for OpenSource patterns, and BurdaStyle as a sewing community. Digging back, it seems I made this blouse in 2008? Definitely finished it in 2008. It predates this blog, and was actually one of the first items of clothing I ever made for myself... preceded by a "medieval" (ha-ha) dress and an evening dress! I always had a habit of jumping headfirst into sewing projects without regard for the order of their perceived difficulty ratings. :D

In retrospect, it's absolutely no wonder I've developed the sewing persona and habits I have if, out of the first three garments I ever made for myself, one was drafted based on a scaled draft, one was made from a heavily altered pattern, and one was a completely new design drafted from a basic sloper! There's no way I was ever going to end up the sort of sewist who buys and has to try all the newest patterns! :D

 Old photos demonstrating that my habit of wearing headscarves is already more than ten years old... and that my problem of finding well-fitting RTW trousers is a lifelong one.

That era of BurdaStyle as a sewing community is now definitively gone. Just like the blouse.

The physical object no longer fit me, and was worn and the colours washed out... so recently I cut it up and am in the process of turning it into patchwork pillowcases for my sister. Well, technically, I would be far more in the process of if the project were not currently 180 kms away...

(I wasn't even in the habit of visiting the BurdaStyle site for the past couple of years, so I was surprised to find out it was completely remade when I ventured there recently - I'm not sure when the change happened. But everything is gone. It's truly and fully nothing but a shop now, and as you can guess from the previous paragraphs, I definitely don't need it.)

This blouse was my first pattern of my own, drafted from a basic sloper (provided back then by BurdaStyle user JJ), based on my own design, my own idea, and so it will always be special.

The original idea counted on colour blocking or at least several colours / patterns of fabric, which I eventually scrapped in part because I did not have that many coordinating fabrics of the same type. I also played with the idea of back lacing which I think was quite "in" at the time (also, hey, I've always loved historical costumes), and scrapped that because, well, back lacing isn't very practical.

Also I named it after the little girl who was baptised the day I finished it, so even though I'm not sure how many times I've even met her after that, it is a rather specially named pattern that way.

 And as you can see, I eventually adjusted the back seams to echo the front more. It's much better balanced that way! And more fun! I dislike patterns that have inventive designs in the front and boring standard seam / dart configurations in the back.

The blouse used to have a record on the BurdaStyle site, including a single-size PDF download of the pattern, but as I said, that is now gone, and the record only lives on in the Wayback Machine  - without the PDF (and including my early confusion concerning invisible zippers if you go further back in history :D - it was a regular one). Plus there's my old Czech blog post - now picture-less. ETA: Actually, now that blog is gone, too (the platform is gone), and only lives on in the Wayback Machine.

I forgot to take more photos than these original ones before I took it apart. So you only have my word for all the beginner mistakes I made... such as trimming the seam allowances too fine as I zig-zagged them (together, too, I suspect - you can kind of see that it even affects the fit in the back), before I even tried it on properly. It wasn't that a big problem with this piece, but it's not a habit you want to maintain in general. :D

There's also the matter of my not knowing anything about understitching - so I topstitched around the neckline instead. Again, not a big problem with this casual blouse but not a habit you want to get into in general!

And somewhere between my forgetting some details from the drafting tutorial, the block I used having come without sleeves, and my generally not yet knowing the wisdom of measuring patterns against my own measurements, the sleeves originally ended up a tad too tight - so the underarm gusset was a necessity. One I fell in love with, though. :D

Looking at these photos now, and remembering how I did things compared to what I now know about my usual adjustments, I think I probably should have lengthened it in the upper part / lowered the bust point / raised the shoulder seam, too... I suspect that was also part of the reason the sleeves originally ended up too tight. Not having done that, however, does make the resulting pattern a bit more usable as a general pattern. :-)

... I kind of forgot about my old Czech blog; I don't use it anymore because that old Czech platform is pretty clunky. I now found out there that the thrifted pillowcase from which I made the blouse cost only 5 CZK (!!!), and that the yellow fabric I used for the teeny piping along the sleeves cost 10 CZK (and it cycles back to today because I think I have now used some of that fabric for face masks...).

That blog post is also a bit cringe-worthy because I had frankly no idea what I was doing or how to write about these things in a logical manner. :D


I retained my habit of drafting patterns on newsprint ads for many years after. I don't do it anymore, in part because we don't end up with them in the mailbox anymore (or only rarely maybe?). But it's actually not such a bad habit - if you don't mind drafting on already printed things and having to peer closely to see your lines! :D (I would always do the final markings in a black pen.) Re-using useless stuff isn't a bad thing to do; these days I still have a habit of e.g. taping together office papers printed from one side...

Here's the original pattern, as-is: Drafted at Burda size 38 in the bust (88 cm), c. size 36 in the waist (66 cm), widening back to size 38 (94 cm) or even 40 (98 cm) for the hips; the bodice lengthened in the waist to fit my long torso, and pretty narrow sleeves. No seam allowances.

Download original Andrea blouse pattern

I have an ambition of turning it into a more standard-size multi-sized one - but I'll leave that for the future (because it would hopefully also involve sewing a new version for myself and doing some sort of tutorial!).

Sunday 10 May 2020

A simple trick for clipping / notching seam allowances

It's another thing I learnt from Bilikis. She doesn't even describe it; she just does it whenever she notches seam allowances (so it usually ends up being sped up!).

When you have a curved seam that needs to have the seam allowance clipped into / notched, it can be a tedious and slightly perilous job. But if you fold your piece at the spot where you need to clip, and cut into your seam allowance along the fold, both sides of the triangular notch at once like this...

 ... it goes much faster and it's much easier to ensure you don't snip all the way into your seam (without needing to bring a craft knife into your sewing room and move your project to a cutting mat!)

Really simple, eh? :-) It barely rates the name of tutorial but... it's supremely helpful, and clearly isn't common knowledge, so let's tag it with that, too.