While mulling over the layout for the pinwheel quilt, I got antsy for new clothes. I was having a hard time lately finding what I wanted in the stores, especially since doing some personal style assessments (which could be another post all on its own). Labor Day sales at the fabric stores, here I come.
McCall’s, Butterick, and Vogue patterns were all on sale. They go on sale regularly so unless you’re absolutely dying to sew one of them right NOW, just look at the most recent flyer and see when the pattern you want is on sale. I got a slew of patterns all in the styles I want. I’m terrible at buying 3 when 1 will do, but I find that I like to cross some of the style lines. Or I’ll open up the pattern and realize what it’s actually going to turn out like and decide to change it.
First up is McCall’s M7126, a peplum blouse sewn out of a knit stretchy enough to not need a zipper. Bonus. I love that while it’s a knit, it also has princess seams to give it additional shaping, so it’s less likely to feel like a Tshirt and more likely to feel like a fancy top from BCBG. I picked a heavy weight poly knit labeled “scuba” on the bolt. I like that it has great stretch, but also great elasticity and recovery, so it’s likely to keep its shape well and not stretch out through the course of the day. (Or nursing.) It should be fairly easy care and washable too, which is another huge plus these days with Gumball Baby.
1 3/8 heavy knit fabric
1 yard of 1/4″ elastic
Before cutting into fabric, I always measure the pattern first to help me check sizing and fitting. I like knits to be made with no ease, which is the term for how much extra fabric is allowed in a garment for style and to make it comfortable to wear. Knits stretch and will often look baggy if you make them larger than your actual size, or can look distorted if you make it smaller than your size (negative ease). You can pick your favorite knit shirt and measure the bust and waist to get an idea of how much ease you prefer in your clothes. This pattern is marked with finished sizing at the bust and waist, making it easy to pick a corresponding size.
I hold up the pattern to my body to check the lengthwise placements as well. Draw the seamline on the shoulder and find the center front so you can pin it to your shirt in those locations. Check that the bust mark and the waist marks are where you want them to be, and adjust as necessary. I usually have to shorten up the shoulder in my case, but this looked perfect, so I went ahead into fabric. I did also measure the lengths on a few peplum shirts that I own, and decided I wanted it to finish a bit longer, so I just added length when I cut.
I made the circle cut peplum, the short sleeves, and a jewel neckline. I used the cut lines for the notch front, placed the pattern on the fold instead of having a center front seam, and just extended the neckline instead of cutting a notch.
Modifications and Instructions:
I tend to read the pattern instructions through and then change what I want. I didn’t change a ton of the order of stitching. I used a stretch needle and a slightly longer stitch than usual, and stretched as I went slightly. If you have a stretch stitch feel free to use it. You don’t need to go as far as using a zigzag, which is what I normally do when I sew knits. In this case, most of the seams are lengthwise down the body, which don’t need to stretch as much as circumference seams.
Started off by sewing the princess seams on the front and back first, but press to the sides instead of open. This will lend a more finished and ready to wear looking product. I then stitched the side and shoulder seams, and pressed to the back.
Tried it on to make sure I liked how it was fitting. I’m surprised this pattern fits so wonderfully as I usually need adjustments at this point, but I didn’t! Took it off and kept going. I serged all the seam allowances together and down to a scant 3/8″ like you would see on a ready made blouse.
On to the sleeves. I sewed and serged the back seam and pressed to the front. Usually I would press all side and sleeve seams to the back, but in this bulky knit, I’m taking advantage of quilters’ pressing tricks, and making my seam allowances alternate to keep the bulk down. I then hemmed at 5/8″ by just turning up and stitching, stretching slightly. You could use a twin needle, a coverstitch, or a zigzag here for more stretch if you want. In my case, it seems to stretch and recover nicely, so I’m just going with a plain stitch. I then set the sleeves just by pinning together at the marks, and stretching as I sewed, as I knew the fabric would recover. If you’re using a lighter weight knit or a cotton, it won’t fully rebound after this much stretch, and I would use an ease stitch as the pattern suggests. Again, serge it down to 3/8″ after sewing.
Peplum time. I stitched and serged, pressing to the front again so the seams would lock. After working with this fabric for a bit, I truly don’t think it will ravel, and I want the peplum to stay fluid, so I opted not to hem. I evened up any wonky cut bits with a rotary cutter to give a smooth edge. I then folded the seam allowance in and tucked the corner and tacked so it won’t show. Sewed it to the blouse as the pattern has you do, first at 5/8″ and then again at 1/4″ to make a casing for elastic. Threaded it through, tried it on for size, and closed it up. I hadn’t seen a peplum shirt with this before, and after wear, I really like how it keeps the waist seam actually at the waist. Pretty clever.
Neckline. The pattern has you line the front, which in a lighter weight knit I could see. But mine is so heavy, and I didn’t want the seam allowances “fighting” down the princess seams every time I wore it. So I opted to put a neckband on similar to a Tshirt instead. I cut off the 5/8″ seam allowance, as I wanted the neckband to finish right at the original finished edge. I measured the pattern pieces along this 5/8″ line, remembering to subtract the shoulder seam allowances. (For a size 12 for reference, I got 11″ in the back and 15″ in the front.) To keep it snugging in, you cut neckbands at a percentage smaller than what the actual measurement is. I used a pretty sturdy knit, so I’m only took it down to 90%. I cut my neckband 11 + 15 = 25; 25 x .9= 23.5; 23.5 plus 1″ for seam allowance = 24.5 cut length. I cut mine 1.5″ wide to allow for 3/8″ stitching plus 3/8″ finished showing x 2, since I folded in half.
Fold in half and press. Stitch the seam at 1/2″ and press open. Then mark off where the other shoulder should be. (Take 90% of the back neckline and 90% of the front neckline to find how long each side should be.) Then find the middles. Fold the shirt in half to find the middle of the front and back as well. Pin on the neckline at these points, and stitch at 3/8″. Stretch as you go to get them to fit together. Serge it together. Then open up the neckband, pressing the seam allowance toward the body of the garment, and edgestitch to tack it into place. On my machine, there’s an awesome little notch in the foot where I could run the seamline to place my stitchline a nice even distance away.
Done! This went together so fast and fit so well, I may end up doing a few more with the other neckline variations. It looks so much nicer than my stretched out Tshirts from Target, and wears just as comfortably. Yay for new clothes!
Love from Wisco,