Birch Floral Robe

Let’s just gloss over the fact that I haven’t used this blog in literally years, and get straight to the point.

This robe. It’s a bit special, as it’s an example of extremely rare (for me) selfless sewing. I made it for my little sister for Christmas– I’ve been promising to sew her something for ages– and she seemed really happy with it.

The pattern is M6659 from McCall’s Patterns, sewn up in lovely Rifle Paper Co rayon, printed by Cotton + Steel. The print is Birch Floral in Crimson, bought from fabric.com.

The fabric is everything I wanted it to be. Vivid color, lovely drape. Just perfect for a cool, summery robe. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Cotton + Steel Rayon again, I can’t think how it could be any better. In fact, I’ve got three more cuts of the stuff in different prints, waiting to be turned into more robes.

The pattern was not everything I wanted it to be, although it got the job done.

I modified it to add ties instead of a belt (much less prone to slipping open), a loop at the back neck for hanging on a hook, and pockets. It drives me nuts how many patterns don’t include pockets– why on earth would anyone want to go without them! It seems so simple for the designers to just include them, and saves the person sewing the hassle of figuring out where to place them. I firmly believe pockets should just be standard. I love all three of these modifications, and will definitely make sure that any robe I sew has them.

I also made some minor fit alterations. My sister is B37.5″, W30.3, H41.5″. The size 16 size chart measurements are 38-30-40, so I went with that. She was closer to a size 18 (42″) in the hips, but due to the loose fit there, it was fine. The only alterations I made were sleeve length and hem length– the sleeves were ridiculously long, while the robe itself was excessively short. I took off 2″ at the sleeve hems, and added 2″ to the robe length. My sister is quite tall, so I imagine that most people would need to shorten the sleeves. As for length, well, if you want to lounge comfortably without putting on a show, a bit of extra length is definitely a good idea! I did make the shorter variation of the robe, the longer variation is probably about mid calf length. On the pattern the short version is shown being worn over pajama pants, but I prefer to wear robes on their own. My sister has been wearing hers over her swimsuit, by the pool.

The biggest point of dissatisfaction I have about this pattern is that the armholes/upper sleeves are a bit tight. Tighter than you’d want for a casual robe (are formal robes a thing?). My sister has relatively slim arms, so it’s still definitely wearable, but it’s still slightly tighter than I’d like. I read this in the reviews before making the pattern, so seems i’m not the only one who has found this issue. If you make this pattern for someone whose arms aren’t relatively slim, keep in mind that you may need to do some alterations there.

Another issue was that I was unable to fit all the pieces on my fabric. The pattern called for 4 3/8 yards of 45″ wide fabric, for both the robe and belt. I had 4 1/2 yards of 44″ wide fabric, and it wasn’t enough. I should have laid out the pieces according to the instructions, to see if that 1″ really made the difference– I kind of doubt it, but I didn’t check. The problem may have been that I lengthened the robe 2″, but I’m not sure. In the end, I had to cut each neck band in two pieces. The fanric is busy enough, fortunately, that the seam isn’t visible.

My next sewing project will be a robe for my mum. I’m worried about the sleeve/armhole fit, and I can’t be bothered to fuss with major alterations on something like this, so I’m planning to abandon ship on this pattern and try out the Suki Kimono pattern by Helen’s closet. It seems pretty popular, and I’m eager to compare. I think I’ll use that for a robe for myself, too– will post about how that goes.

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Monochromatic Clover

Papercut Patterns Clover Blouse

Papercut Patterns Clover Blouse

Hello!

Today I’m sharing my version of the Papercut Patterns Clover Blouse, the second most recent thing I’ve sewn. I just finished it two days ago, although I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of sewing lately, and there are some other projects I’ve yet to blog (or put finishing touches on).

I really didn’t think I would love this blouse as much as I do, but it turned out a lot better than expected. I was actually resenting it a little before the fabric was even cut, because I’d made a few weak fitting attempts a few months ago before chucking it aside. I’m so glad I decided to give it another go.

The main fabric is a viscose rayon from Dongdaemun Market in Seoul. I say that as if I know what I’m talking about, but I don’t really, I’m just guessing that’s what it is because it feels a lot like a viscose in my stash. Dongdaemun market is absolutely amazing for this type of fabric, the top floor of one of the buildings has a couple stalls with a lot of different prints, all for about US $3 a yard. I’m leaving Korea for good in a week, but I’m seriously considering heading to Dongdaemun to stock up some more– cheaper to buy it here and ship it home than to buy it on Australia!

The fabric behaved pretty well, I had heard that sewing with rayon is difficult but it seems that the things I fear most in sewing always turn out to be not that difficult after all (ahem, buttonholes.) I had to slow down, be a bit more careful, use some extra pins, but it really wasn’t that bad. It left me feeling confident about sewing with rayon (…and then my next project with rayon challis totally dashed that confidence. Rayon challis is officially on my bitch list. But that is a story for another day). The bust inset is made with aforementioned rayon challis, but those pieces are small so didn’t cause excessive grief.

In terms of construction, things didn’t go completely smoothly. Because I just can’t resist making things harder for myself (and really, because boobs), I did a full bust adjustment. This is what was behind those two unsuccessful muslins a few months ago.

Random slightly related note: why does my smartphone still correct muslins to Muslims? I feel like if it’s so smart it should have picked up that I don’t spend all my time making Muslims… Wouldn’t even know where to start.


I originally made a size XL muslin but I didn’t like the fit around the shoulders, so I used a size L with a 2″ fba (for a total of 4″ added). According to the chart, size L is for a 41 1/2″ chest and 34″ waist. I’m currently more like 47″ and 35″, but there’s a lot of ease so with the FBA there was plenty of chest room. It was the right amount to add but I had to guess at where the apex would be. I guessed wrong, and my darts ended up pointing down to imaginary tits which are far saggier than mine. At least the shoulder fit was really improved so I knew I was on the right track.

This time, I redid the FBA with a different bust point, and then split the rather chunky dart that resulted into two smaller darts. Remember what I said about making things difficult for myself? Yeah. Took a no-dart bodice and turned it into a 4-dart bodice. Typical.

When I made it up, I realized the dart tips were far too close together, causing some puffiness at the points. I extended the darts longer, and that helped. They’re still a bit long, and not as smooth as I’d like, but thanks to the print it’s not very noticeable. Next version, the dart points will be further apart! They should also probably be a bit lower, went a bit too far in moving them up.

 

Detail of bust inset, before neck binding

There WAS one major drama involved in constructing this top– that infamous bust inset. I’d read online everywhere, and experienced with my muslin, that it’s too long. I thought I would just line it up from the outside in, and trim it off at the centre front– this did not work out at all. After a very frustrating hour of trying to pick tiny and nearly invisible stitches out of the rayon, and stretching it out of place, I admitted defeat and ended up re-cutting the entire front.

My advice to anyone making this top is to very carefully pin the bust inset to the other front pieces outwards starting from the centre front. Also, be careful to align along the stitch line, not the cut edges. Mark the stitch line in with a pen or chalk, or do lines of stitching as a guide if your fabric is robust enough, to help you line them up. It bugs me to no end that the inset point wasn’t trimmed off on the pattern pieces so you could simply line it up with the cut edge. (Does anyone know why some designers don’t do this– is there any advantage to it?) After your pieces are stitched together, if the inset is too long, you can simply trim it off along the shoulder edge.

 

The bust inset came up longer on one side than the other, because I used a line of stitching on one of the black pieces as a guide, and it gathered the fabric up slightly. Once everything was sewed together, I trimmed off the excess at the outer edges.

 
Tl;dr: pin from the centre front outwards, NOT from the shoulder edge inwards, then trim the excess.

Anyways, once I’d moved past the trauma with the bust-insets, things went pretty smoothly. I didn’t follow the hemming instructions, but instead zigzagged the raw edges, ran a long of stitching 1cm from the edges as a guide, and folded it along that line and then again to totally enclose the raw edges. I think it’s neater than just turning it up once, as the instructions would have you do.

I mostly made this top as a trial to see whether the bust inset would sit too low on me to do it in lace (it doesn’t!). In the end, I  love this top– I love the curved side seams, and how the rayon drapes perfectly. The top may be loose around the waist, but it’s not a tent. Rayon is really the perfect fabric for this pattern. I

‘m so happy with this top that I’ve already gone ahead and made myself another, which I finished this morning– will blog it as soon as I can get some good pics!