Pattern Review’s Sewing Bee Round 2: Sleeves!

This year, I’m participating for the first time in Pattern Review‘s online Sewing Bee. My Beyonce-inspired skirt was good enough to get me through to round 2! Wahoo!

There are 60 contestants in this round and there will be about 25 after the eliminations. I really love the top I sewed for this round and hope it is good enough to get me into round 3. Fingers crossed!

The challenge for round 2 was to create a garment with dramatic sleeves. I’ve made a few statement sleeves recently (reviews here and here and here). Clearly, this is a trend I like!

Since I have some dramatic sleeve sewing experience, I decided to design my own statement sleeves. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.

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Here is the official contest entry review submitted to Pattern Review:

Pattern Description: I LOVE the dramatic sleeves that have dominated RTW this spring and summer and, like many other Sewing Bee contestants, was excited to see dramatic sleeves were the challenge this round. After intensive Pinterest and fashion magazine research, I decided to go rogue and design my own over-the-top sleeves.

My aim was a bright and happy top that I could wear confidently to brunch with my love and coffee with my girls. My mark was over-the-top, but wearable.

For a starting point, I pulled Vogue 9243, a pattern I have used and reviewed on Pattern Review once before, from my stash. In my first version, I sewed up view F and made no changes to the pattern with the exception of narrowing the side seams to allow for a bit more hip room. This time, I created what I have dubbed “view Bridget.” View Bridget includes lace at the top of the sleeves, lanterns at the bottom of the sleeves, and a button band back. I also added grosgrain ribbon bows at the elbows.

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Pattern Sizing: This pattern is a missus sizing. I sewed up the size 12 which corresponds with my bust measurement, but is a little too skinny in the waist for me. I graded out to almost a 14 at the waist and hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Sort of. The front bodice is unchanged. I liked the fit of the princess seams, so I left them alone. The sleeves and back look pretty different from the pattern envelope.

Were the instructions easy to follow? As far as I followed them- yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This is a solid pattern with a flattering fit.

Fabric Used: I often have a plan and then walk into a fabric store and toss the plan out the window. That is what happened when I went to purchase fabric at one of my local fabric shops in the D.C. area, G Street Fabrics. This store stocks a decent selection of shirting fabrics and lace, so it was my go-to for this project. Gingham, or any sort of print, wasn’t part of the plan. Luckily, I was not wed to my plan because a bolt of red and white gingham sitting on top of the cotton shirting fabrics table called to me like a cheery beacon. I tossed my plan, grabbed the bolt, found some red non-stretch lace, and headed towards the cutting table.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made several modifications to this pattern.

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  1. Like my first version, I widened the waist and hip by sewing a very narrow side seam. The result was just a smidge less width across the waist and hip than grading out to a size 14.
  2. I created bias tape from the gingham fabric to finish the neckline.
  3. My first version of the blouse felt a tiny bit too long as I wore it into the wild, so I decided to shorten this version. I chopped off 2 1/4 inches from the bottom and sewed a 1 inch hem.
  4. The lace sections of the sleeve are based on the original pattern pieces; however, I shortened them by 3 inches so that the lantern would begin just above my elbow.
  5. The lace sections of the sleeves are finished with french seams (side seams and sleeve heads).
  6. I drafted lantern sleeves.
  7. I also drafted cuffs for the bottom of the lantern sleeves.
  8. I created thread loops for the buttons at the sleeve cuffs.
  9. Inspired by Brandon Kee’s dress on last week’s Project Runway, I added long grosgrain ribbons to the sleeves just above the lantern poof. The ribbons are attached via topstitching and tie in a bow.
  10. The pattern calls for a zipper in the back. I found the zipper a bit boring for such an extravagant blouse. Instead, I created a button band down the back of the blouse by adding 2 inches of width to the center back pattern pieces. Creating the button placket was a little tricky as the center back seam of the blouse was slightly curved. I secured both button plackets with tiny (and nearly invisible) handsewn stitches. The back closure is finished with seven red buttons.

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Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This pattern is great as drafted and was so much fun to modify in order to create my own dramatic sleeves.

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Conclusion: I am so pleased with how this top turned out. Everytime I look at it, I can’t help but smile. How can you not smile at gingham, lace, and bows? It’s a perfect blouse trifecta!

If you haven’t done so yet, go check out the other round 2 contestants. Creativity and serious sewing skill are on display. I have stiff competition!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: Burda Magazine Flounce Sleeve Blouse 2017-7-119

The Burda Style Magazine for July 2017 contained several patterns that caught my eye. I shared a few of them on my IG Story and, with help from some IG friends, determined my monthly make should be theĀ ruffled sleeve top, style #119.

Burda Style top
Image from BurdaStyle.com

Since I have a healthy stash, I didn’t want to purchase fabric for this top. I figured something I already owned should do the trick. After debating several options, I settled on a printed swiss dot I purchased at Joann Fabrics early in my sewing career, probably about five years ago.

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Light, with a gentle drape, this fabric has more body than the examples in the magazine. I was worried it might turn out too stiff, but, after spending some time this weekend in Georgetown boutiques and seeing one cotton ruffled and flounced top after another, I decided cotton was on trend for this type of top and would look fine.

 

The pattern is very simple. It consists of only six pieces and is pulled on over the wearer’s head without any zips or button bands. According to the Burda Magazine ratings, this is an intermediate pattern. I agree. While not a particularly difficult sew in a well-behaved cotton fabric, the sparseness of directions required significant sewing know-how to complete this project.

Version 3
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The trickiest bit was the sleeves. I read the directions over and over. They could have been in the original German… I have no idea what they wanted me to do. The incomprehensibility of the directions was impressive. I have followed dozens of sewing pattern instructions over the years, spent over a decade teaching people how to read and write, and hold advanced degrees in English, but I could not figure out those sleeve instructions. No clue.

I finally figured it out by pinning the sleeves onto the bodice and fiddling with them on my dress form until they looked right. (Unfortunately, I was so in the sewing zone that I failed to take photos as I went. Sorry about that!) After much pinning, I decided to fold the sleeves back along the shoulder seam. At the dart in the sleeve, I folded the sleeve back over itself, lining it up again with the shoulder seam and allowing the excess fabric to drape down. This created the sleeve flounce. I basted the shoulder seam, now three pieces of fabric thick, together. For the back sleeve, I folded the fabric back over the shoulder seam and continued the fold around half of the back neckline. At the sleeve dart, I folded the sleeve back over itself and basted all three pieces of fabric as one. The shoulder seams were then sewn together. Each shoulder seam consisted of six layers of fabric! Luckily, with this light cotton, thickness wasn’t a problem and it sewed up easily.

After spending ages scratching my head over the sleeves, I was in no mood to fuss with the fabric loop for the front closure. I found a piece of thin black satin ribbon that I decided would do the job. When sewing the facing to the neckline, I pinned it into place between the two layers of fabric. I positioned the loop facing away from the neck opening. Once sewn together, I turned the facing right side out and the loop was in the perfect spot. The directions for attaching the loop are poor. They tell you to attach it, but don’t describe how. This sewing knowledge is assumed. I strayed from the directions by understitching the facing. This resulted in a crisp facing fold at the neckline.

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Directions on how to construct the bottom of the flutter sleeves were given but, I ignored them. The directions suggest folding over the fabric once and securing the fold with a short zigzag stitch. I worried this would produce a messy finish. Instead, I serged the hem of the sleeves. Then, I folded the serged ends to the inside and secured them with a straight stitch. I think my method produced a neater finish than the recommended method. A rolled hem would also look nice.

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I am wearing a navy camisole under the top due to the depth of the open neck. I think I can get away without it for casual wear.

The finished top was too long on me. This wasn’t surprising as I am shorter that the measurements Burda uses to create patterns. I cut 1.5 inches off the bottom length. I thought a deep hem might balance the heft of the sleeves, so I folded and pressed the hem by 1/2 inch. Then, I folded it over again by 2 inches and sewed it down. This produced a wide 2 inch hem and provided the visual balance I was seeking.

Version 3

 

I finished this make with a round pearl-white button at the neck.

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I like the final shirt so much that I forgive Burda for the poor directions.

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Did you sew a style from the July issue? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO