Stylish Cat Lady Shirt (Burda 6909)

To celebrate the end of a stressful period I bought two funny fabrics, for fun blouses. With it I bought the Burda pattern 6909.

Blouse with princess lines front and back, long sleeves and a collar.

WHAT SIZE? GRADING.
First I wanted to grade the pattern.
For this I had to re-acquaintance myself with wearing ease (and designer ease) that each pattern company incorporates in their sizes. Judging from the pattern cover I should be a 42 at the bust (+ do an FBA), a 38 at the waist and a 36 at the hip. But these are their fashion sizes, it says nothing about the actual measurements of the pattern.

I’ve been burned before, with my first dress ever, a Vogue pattern two years ago, that needed a whopping 4 inches/ 10 cm to be taken away. So I’m nowhere near marking a line on the pattern pieces, let alone cutting in fabric. Not until I find out more about how Burda works with ease.

Looking online, mainly at the sewists’ site Pattern Review.com, it seems that it’s mainly the big four pattern companies (Butterick, Vogue, Simplicity and that-other-one) which add ridiculous amounts of ease to their patterns.

Here’s a post by Glenda Sparling from Sure-Fit DesignsTM about what wearing ease actual should be and what designer ease often is:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 16.24.05

The experienced people on the forum at PR say that Burda doesn’t add ridiculous amounts of wearing ease. Alright, I’ll mark the pattern pieces going from size 42 to 38 to 36 (bust – waist – hip) and I’ll put my measuring tape to these places to see what the resulting measurements will be from the garment.
If I think it sounds reasonable I’ll cut the fabric. There still will be fitting and pinning afterwards anyway.

The lines I followed on the paper pieces and blended from one to the next:

  • size 38 at the waist
  • size 36 at the hips
  • size 36 at the upper back
  • size 42 at the front bust
  • size 36 at the upper front/”shoulder straps” (but with the length/height of size 42)

added 1,5 cm seam allowance since Burda doesn’t do those.
added 4 cm seam allowance at the hem and cuffs

Before cutting I shorted the bodice by 4 cm because the pattern is for 41 cm from nape neck to waist and I only run 37 cm. However, Burda self says there’s only two cm difference between a person of 1.68 cm and 1.60 cm.They advice to take out 7 mm at the upper part and 13 mm at the waist.
I’ll have to see if my 4 cm is too much… if it is I cannot magically grow more fabric…

CUTTING THE FABRIC
The fabric has been washed to deal with shrinking. I didn’t iron it because it dried on the washing line outside and ironing might stretch the fabric. You might also think I’m lazy and I confess that is in my nature (although I prefer the term “efficient”) but that’s not the case here. Instead of laziness it was perfectionism preventing me from ironing.
Had I ironed this fabric things would have gotten too serious and I’d grown ambitious, wanting to sew a perfect blouse. With this funny fabric remaining un-ironed things stayed playful. Fact is that I have been sewing the blouse for days now with many things getting unpicked and re-sewn without it ever getting really frustrating.

I cut the fabric. Precisely.
– Had the grain of the fabric run the same as the lines on the pattern pieces.
– Took care that no cats or dots were positioned right at the apex.
– Made sure all pattern pieces have cats going the right side up.
(For the collar this means cutting one piece right side up and the other one right side down OR sewing both pieces the same way up. I need to see them interacting first before I know for sure. Leave some fabric to cut another collar if I have it wrong.)

STAYSTITCHING
staystitching: 1 cm from the edge (per Tilly and the Buttons’ advice)
1 cm = 3/8″
1,5 cm = 5/8″

Run the machine of the fabric and allow for some thread:

Don’t forget to even out the stitches after you’ve sewn a line (that’s where that extra thread at the corners is for). The sewed line must be as relaxed as the fabric. No crumpling allowed of either allowed:

Here’s a good overall tutorial about the why and how of staystitching: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/36859/sew-better-with-staystitching-fundamentals/page/all

staystitched everything, with black thread.

SEWING

Sewed together all princesslines and the sideseams. Shoulderseams too.
Didn’t press, cut or treat the seam allowances.

I reaped benefit from having cut the fabric very precisely. I inserted my seam ripper to show you how neat the two pieces line up. Much easy sewing.

I also used the distance-tool my sewing machine has. First I used it for the 1 cm staystitching and now for the 1,5 cm seam. You just glide the edge of the fabric along the guide.

FIRST FITTING
First fitting: not bad!
The pattern has quite a bit of ease around the torso but the shoulders are ok and the bust too. There’s a lack of shaping under the bust and in the back.

I pin this and sew new lines over the old ones. Looking good. Added a little bustdart too, sideways towards the sleeve. This will shorten the armhole (armscye) a bit.
But the silhouet from the front is so much better with those extra creases tucked away!

I transferred all changes to the paper pattern pieces, to use for the next blouse. The one with the funny winter deer.

SLEEVES
Confident that I’ve brought the bodice to its best fit for me I now sewed in the sleeves.
Bad result. It was way too tight over the biceps! I couldn’t raise my arm at all.

What does Burda expect me to do, stand around all day with my arms hanging down? Well… that is what the models are doing in the picture… looking more closely at it, she’s actually not able to raise her arms any higher than this:


Ugh.

I was so disgusted with how it all felt that I didn’t even take a picture. Instead I delved into the internet and learned that the problem of tightness over the biceps is more a question of the position of the armhole and how it’s shaped than it is of ease at the sleeve or ease at the shoulder cap. Pattern makers could do so much better. Very interesting stuff I read.

A BETTER ARMHOLE/ ARMSCYE

Based on the new knowledge I followed a new line in the armhole to stitch my sleeve to, here traced in orange.

Front:

Back:

I brought the armhole more to the front, shortened the shoulder seam and at the back I stitched as close to the edge as I dared. I also took out even more curve in the back princess line.

Then I sewed in the sleeve following the orange stitching lines, swerving in and out of the seam allowance. The result was good

Still not much allowance for movement but much better than it was. This is almost acceptable for daily wear. I started telling myself I can get used to this (annoyance).

So I sewed in the second sleeve the same as the first. Not so well:

A strange pucker at the top. Not the nice pleat the other shoulder has. Fold in the front.
Caused by my lack of experience of easing in a sleeve.

I took it apart and sewed it back in. A bit better.

I took it apart again and sewed it back in. Worse! Should have kept it the way it was.

Then it was time for bed, it was the second or third day of sewing.
The next morning I woke up and tried on the blouse. I then knew that even if I managed to sew in the second sleeve as ok-ish as the first, I would never wear this shirt with pleasure, the sleeves would always be restricting and annoying me throughout out the day.

I would never use Burda 6909 to sew something with sleeves again either.

So I took the pattern pieces to the table and set out to redesign the armhole and the sleeve. I’ll show you the how and what in a next post but here’s the end result after I redesigned the sleeve for Burda 6909 and put it in the existing armhole (following the orange threaded sewing line):

On the right the original ok-ish sleeve, on the left my new sleeve:

Nicer lines, better silhouet, no straining around the arms.

Here are two new sleeves and where the blouse is now:

This is ok. I’ll wear this.
Now it’s time to press the seams, grade them, notch and clip them,pink them. Put in the facing and the closing of the front. Add collar. Sew hems.
Then I should have a new blouse!

Then I’ll go and cut the deer fabric with the totally amended pattern for Blouse 6909 I have now.:

My lines in yellow with black. Explanation about the armhole and sleeve in a new post or you can go read this excellent post by Ikat Bag

———-Dutch tutorial for sewing a neat collar: https://pionikko.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/kraag-met-staander-naaien/

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