Before we start
Take a moment and check that you’ve marked your fabric with all the symbols on the pattern, like the small circles, squares or notches with your marking tool of choice.
I like to leave the pattern pinned to the fabric until I need to use the specific piece so that I can remember which rectangle is the sleeve and which is the front. Alternatively you can write the pattern piece’s name or number onto a piece of painter’s tape and stick it to the fabric. This is really helpful if you add an arrow pointing ‘up’ so that you don’t accidentally sew anything in upside down.
What you’ll need
- Fabric pieces from part 2
- either muslin or good fabric, depending on if you’re doing a mock-up first
- lightweight interfacing
- thread to match your fabric
- pinking shears *
- chalk pencil or other marking tool
- Helper Cat *
Let’s Get to it!
Since this pattern is a lot of rectangles and the fabric is white, I’ll be making use of the shitty MS Paint diagrams to help show any more confusing parts of putting this shirt together. But, if you’ve installed the front collar facing in part 2, you’ve already put the most difficult part behind you!
1 – Shoulder seams
The instructions are fairly clear, but already we’re seeing the importance of our pattern markings as we need to stay stitch and then gather along the top edges of both the front and the back pieces of our shirt.
Since I’m using cotton gauze, I decided to use the old ‘long stitch, high tension’ trick to gather along the top edge of our blouse pieces. I made the stitch length as long as possible, and then adjusted the tension to medium (while normal seams it was on low).
The result was a nice gather that let me adjust how tightly the gathering was by sliding the fabric along the thread. This came in handy later on, when I added the collar.
the best tension for your stitch varies according to the weight of the fabric! Always test out the stitch on a piece of scrap if you’re not sure the settings are right. It saves you time and prevents stitch ripping out mistakes.
Once that’s done, reset your stitch length and tension to normal and sew the shoulder seams with the right sides of your front and back pieces together. Done? Time to press those seams.
Since we’re in the middle of a heatwave, I didn’t even need to turn on my iron.
Pressing your seams flat will help prevent the dreaded wrinkled seam, and also make it easier for the next step, which is to stitch along either side of the seam so the seam lays flat.
This is a step meant for heavier fabrics, to help keep the seam flat, but in the spirit of the sew-a-long, I …. well… followed along.
Forgive the blurry image, The cat was either head-butting the phone or I had one too many coffees that day.
Honestly, it was probably both of those things.
2 – Sleeves!
Take your sleeve-rectangles and carefully pin the long edges together (reference the pattern’s symbols and notches!) making sure the right side of the fabric is together. Then sew along the edge From the symbol to the…other symbol. You should have a tube like thing that looks a little like this:
Press the seam open. Next we’re going to roll the raw edge of the open ‘v’ at the Cuff side of the sleeve-tube. Again, this is where it’s important to check the symbols and make sure you don’t actually roll over the edges of the armscye by accident.
Start by folding the rough edge over once, the width of the final rolled hem/edge. Pin in place and press with your iron.
Then, using the first fold as a guide, fold the edge over again and press flat (again).
Then stitch along the outer edge of the rolled edge to keep in place. I stitched in a ‘u’ shape down one side, across the long seam to reinforce it, then up the other.
The part where the rolled edge meets the long seam won’t be perfectly flat, but pressing or topstitching along the seam will help reduce any bulk. The volume of the sleeve should help hide any remaining awkwardness of that part of the seam.
Speaking of voluminous sleeves, gather along the rough cuff-edge of the sleeve like we did on the shoulder/collar/area/thing of the front and back pieces of our shirt. I used the stitch length and tension trick again. If you’re a perfectionist, you can always write down the settings on a notepad, but I just… guestimate. (I can hear half of you cringing right now, and it sustains me.)
Your sleeve tube should now look like this:
3 – Cuffs n’ Stuffs!
The cuffs and the collar both have similar steps so I’m going to gloss over a bit here, and it’s worth noting that I ditched the extra ruffles on both, which changed how I cut and attached the collar and cuffs. (Also I hate stuff rubbing on the front of my throat, so that tight collar had to go).
I highly recommend reading the instructions, they’re nice and clear and basically you make fabric sandwiches.
So, cut and iron on interfacing for each cuff and the collar. Next, because I’ll be making a fabric taco instead of a fabric sandwich, I pressed under each side of the cuff and collar so that when I stitch it closed around the gathered edges, it will look nice, clean and topstitched.
So I carefully pinned the gathered raw edge into the ‘taco’ of the cuff, making sure that the rough edge was pushed all the way to the fold of the cuff so that the sleeve wouldn’t be different lengths at different points.
Then, I top-stitched around the cuff’s folded edges, closing off the raw edge into the fold of the cuff.
Repeat the process on the other cuff and then on the collar.
4 – It’s the Pits
Itttttss Gusset time! In order to allow you to lift your hands up over your head, and like, reach forward, we need to add a gusset into the armscye. That’s that last rectangle we’ve got floating around.
With the right sides together, sew down along the sides of your front and back pieces from the double notch mark do the next symbol which I forget and don’t have the fabric with me right now. The one that tells you to stop, because the hips need that slit to fit.
Next, Pin in the gusset, right sides still together, and matching notches and symbols. It’s tricky because it looks like it should be a square, but there is actually a slightly longer side.
Sew in the gusset, and then top stitch the seam flat. Repeat on the other side.
5 – Sleeves part 2
Sew on the sleeves, matching the marks and edges and ensuring that the right sides of the fabric are together. I find it easiest to turn the sleeve right-side out, then slip it up inside the ‘vest’ of the shirt so that it looks something like this:
The point of the gusset lines up with the notch of the ‘v’ at the top of the sleeve’s seam. (See the red arrows)and the corner of the sleeve top lines up with the ‘v’ where the gusset meets the arm. Sew the seam and flat-stitch it if you’d like.
Repeat on the other side, all that’s left is to hem your shirt and add the notions to close the cuffs and collar.
I did a rolled hem along the bottom of the shirt and up the hip-slashes, like we did on the slash of the sleeve in step 2.
6 – Getting Closure(s)
Depending on how you chose to do your cuffs and collar, you might follow the pattern directly, or you might choose alternate methods. Because my wrists and hands are stupidly small for my size, I have to take in the cuffs or the shirt just… slides off. So I’ll be adding small snaps in the correct place so that the cuff stays on my wrist, where it’s supposed to.
For the collar, because I made the collar shorter, I decided to add eyelets to the front facing/slash.
Instead of using metal eyelets, I wanted to try out using a sewing method that wouldn’t tear any of the fabric fibres. Since gauze is so thin, I figured that metal eyelets out wear through the fabric too easily.
Using an awl I poke through the fabric, wiggling it around until I have a circle shaped hole between the threads. Then, using a needle and thread, I whip-stitched around the circle to hold the circle open.
It actually doesn’t take that long, and it’s much, much quieter for anyone around you, compared to banging a hammer onto an eyelet setter.
That’s it, that’s all! You are now the proud owner of a THIRST blouse.
I’ll have a photo or two of the finished blouse soon, but if you use this sew-a-long for any projects of your own, I would love to see them!