I have however managed to get a little sewing in each night, and last night I finished a portrait blouse, the first pattern that I've tried from my copy of Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.
It it also the first garment I've made where I've done a FBA. I traced the pattern in a size 6 (rather than a size 8 as suggested by my full bust) and then did a 1" FBA to add back the ease lost by going down a size (since there is 2" between each size).
I also traced the longest length, as she mentions that it's a short blouse and I figured it would be easier to shorten than lengthen at the muslin stage. I ended up keeping it at that length as I liked it. So if you plan to make the blouse bear that in mind, especially since I'm 5"4 with a relatively short body.
After the FBA I made a muslin, from which I made the following alterations:
- I added 5/8" onto both the front and back side seams
- I removed some length from the shoulder seams - about 1/2" at the front and about 1 1/2" from the back
- I then redrew the armholes so they were approximately the original size
- I lengthened the back by about 1" at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams
- I lengthened the bust dart slightly
Having now worn the finished thing, the only changes I'd make to any future versions would be to scoop out the back of the armhole slightly, and maybe make the neckline very slightly higher. But that's just me being super picky really.
The fabric is a Silk Crepe de Chine that I bought waaaay back at the beginning of 2010 from Tessuti. I was intending to make a Sencha blouse from it, but that never happened, so when I was hunting in the stash for fabric that might be suitable for a pattern from Gertie's book it was an obvious choice.
Now, please bear the date of purchase in mind when you compare it to the example blouse in the book - it is a complete coincidence and I did not intentionally copy Gertie's version! Besides, her spots are bigger and if you read the text hers is a silk charmeuse, not crepe de chine (although my fabric knowledge isn't great enough to know if there's any real difference there!)
The silk was super slippery and slidey, so I used my rotary cutter (brand new blade!) and awesome super large cutting mat to cut out the pieces.
With regards to the contruction of the blouse I made three changes from the suggested construction in the book.
The first was omiting the facings and instead finishing the neckline and arm holes with self-bias tape. I used the method Tasia uses for the Pendrell blouse to make and attach the bias binding (cutting strips 2" wide) as I really liked the method when I used it on my Chiffon Pendrell and thought it'd be good for this fabric, as the crepe de chine was fiddly to sew. I initially did this because I find facings annoying, both to sew and to wear, but I have since realised that it was a good call as the fabric is slightly sheer, so the facings would have been super obvious.
The second was not sewing the vertical darts all the way down to the hem (see below). At the front I stopped around about where the hem line would have been for the size 6 (I think), and at the back about 1 1/4" higher than that point. I preferred the way it looked this way, and also meant that I didn't need to add any extra width for my hips!
The last change was omitting the zip in the side seam suggested in the book.
I wore this blouse (tucked into my grey jenny skirt, as in the top photos) all day at work today and it was really comfy! (which also explains it being slightly crumpled). However, after changing into jeans to take some untucked photos I think it would also be great worn like that more casually. A big success I'd say! If this is an indication of what the rest of the patterns in the book will be like then I'm even more excited about it!