Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ottobre Polka Dot Blouse or Mama-to-Daughter Refashion

My apologies for some blurry photos. I was unaware of the problem until I downloaded them.  Oops!

I've been cleaning out my fabric stash slowly but surely, when I realized I made my daughter a jumper for which she had no coordinating shirt. Mom to the rescue! I dug through the rag/refashion box and found an old red shirt of mine that would match, browsed through one of my trusty Ottobre magazines and found this super simple "Polka Dot" Blouse in the Spring 08 issue. I adapted it slightly to take advantage of a finished seam and easy knit fabric. Here's how you can do it too:

Trace pattern! Yuck. This is my only complaint with Ottobre patterns, they squeeze so many sizes and pieces on to one page and trying to sort out the lines is crazy. My favorite method is to lay tranfer paper (found in the notions department) over my paper (dollar store wrapping paper) and under the pattern sheet. I use a smooth tracing wheel and trace around the size I need.

Check to make sure all the pattern pieces will fit on the available fabric. I guestimate, but if I notice that the grain is wonky sometimes I'll trace the pieces out using a disappearing fabric marker to double check. The sleeves can be the trickiest!

Remove the collar and cut open all of the seams on the shirt. Then iron...if the shirt is a lightweight jersey that curls consider using a fabric conditioner or startch.

While the shirt pieces cool, cut the strips of fabric that will serve as the binding.

Fold the front/back shirt panel on the grain. Lay the front/back pattern piece so that the bottom hemline on the pattern lines up with the bottom hemline of the actual shirt. This will save you one step while sewing! :-)

Layout the arm panels from the shirt. Carefully line up the grain as designated on the pattern piece. If it fits and you like the look, you can use the finished hem on the sleeve just like you did with the shirt front/back. I preferred to make my own. I don't recommend cutting two layers because it is harder to line up the grain.

Pin the sleeve pieces to the front and the back shirt pieces. Be sure to mark the shoulder notch.

Using a straight stitch, sew up the sleeves, front, and backs together. Do not finish the seam with the notch because this will be the slit at the shoulder where the bow ties. Trim seam allowance and finish with a zig-zag stitch or serge.

Iron the seam with the notch open. Sew around the outside of the slit with small zig-zag stitch.

Cut the strips for the binding around the neck and sleeve edge. Pre-iron the strips into a double-fold tape (like bias tape, but not on the bias). Do this by folding the strip in half, iron, and open again. Use the resulting center line to fold the two outer edges toward the center. Fold in half again, then iron and allow to cool. Re transfer pattern markings to the binding if they've faded.


1/2" in from the edges of the neckline and sleeve hem, sew a machine basting stitch (approx. 4mm). Then stitch a row 1/4" in from the edge. Gather by holding the bobbin stitched firm and gently sliding the fabric until it is gathered slightly more than the binding.

Now tie off a set of threads on one side. Adjust the gathering until it is exactly the length of the binding (for the neckline, you will use the pattern markings that indicate the position of the slit, shoulder, center front & center back). When you have the gather adjusted just the way you like it, tie the other set of threads. This will prevent the gathering from loosening or sliding out. Pin the binding to the sleeve and neckline. Use a medium size (3.0mm x 3.0mm) zig-zag stitch to stitch in place. For the neckline, start at the edge of the binding to avoid having to finish the ties later.

I used a contrasting thread color of thread, but if you are worried about the stitches looking uneven you can use a matching thread. The purpose of using a zig-zag is so the threads don't snap if the fabric is stretched while dressing and undressing.

Pin the front & back of the shirt body and sleeves to one another. In case there has been any discrepancies pin the hemline, cuff, and arm seams first; then pin every few inches between your three points. If there is a small difference in length, you can gently stretch the shorter fabric layer as you sew to ensure the three points match. Straight stitch and then use a zig-zag to finish the seam.

Voila! You're done:

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