Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Under the Big Top

Sometimes I get an idea and I cannot let it go until it has run its course. Such was this case with this blouse.

It started with my wanting to try to be more eco-friendly in my sewing by using fabric from the thrift shop. By *fabric*, I mean used clothing to cut apart to use in a new pattern.

Finally I made it to the thrift store and exited with 3 large men's shirts, all cotton, and 2 silk ties. Because the investment was small, I did not even try to unsew these shirts. I just cut away the seams and tossed the pieces that were too heavily interfaced to use. So for each shirt, I had a back, two sleeves without cuffs, and two fronts. Later I had to dig a few pieces back out of the trash though!

Cutting Line Designs recently issued an interesting blouse and vest pattern called Just A Pinch (JAP). I wanted to see how I like it, compared to the Sewing Workshop Liberty shirt, an all-time favorite pattern.

Just A Pinch - I omitted the *pinches*

JAP has a wide back piece that wraps, with forward side seams. This creates nice vertical lines on the front of the shirt. It also creates an interesting hem, something that can camouflage hip fluff. The details of the forward side seam are different from TSW's Liberty blouse, where the grain of the fabric shifts dramatically. I like them both. Next I want to make the vest.

The Sewing Workshop's Liberty blouse. The forward side seams shift the grainline quite a lot.

Just A Pinch did create a challenge with my pieces of *fabric,* because no single piece of shirting was as wide as that back piece. I started slicing and splicing.

Then I noticed that both front pieces were flawed. I used harvested pockets from the other shirts to cover the blemishes. That's when I realized that I was definitely in clown territory.

Above you can see the two pockets covering the small flaws in the fabric, as well as the front band I added with buttonholes. The sleeves include the original plackets with the cuffs removed. I added the striped bias binding to the sleeve hems, as well as to the neckline.

I was just about to slit open the buttonholes and sew the buttons on the other side. But I stepped back and took a good long look at this shirt. No way, no how, would I wear this shirt. It belonged under the Big Top.

So I removed the machined buttonholes. Gosh, they looked terrible anyway. I changed the direction of closure from left over right, to right over left. I am not at all picky about the direction but this made the striped front placket less dominating.

Next I removed the contrasting pockets and made new ones from the very small pieces of blue fabric remaining, some of it in the trash bin.

The hem is odd but I like it. I kept the shirt tail curve in the back, and made the front hem straight across. From the side, it looks like the front is longer than the back, but the center back is about the same length as the center front.

I wore it for the first time today. I think I like it. The old fabric is soft but still pretty, I think. And it is very light weight - great for the summer heat headed my way.

Lesson learned: next time, use a pattern that is familiar with straight lines. Many of the CLD patterns would have worked better than JAP with these odd-shaped pieces. This shirt has been modified way too much to call it a version of the Just A Pinch. I think I'll make the JAP again, this time with virgin fabric.

I still have fabric from the other two shirts, so who knows?


  1. What an interesting pattern. So glad you reviewed this - so good to have an alternative approach to a shirt (I don't wear shirts per se because I don't care for collars - so I like those different seams and details).

  2. Clown territory gave me a chuckle. Not sure I agree. Final version sure does look good though.

  3. Very interesting. I think you did nice job. I like your "upcycle" and use of the Pinch pattern.

  4. Could you elaborate on the differences between JAP and Liberty? Why does the side seam grain line shift so differently--they look similar. And it looks like the collar is similar--is it? Thanks!

  5. This is fantastic Martha. Thanks for walking me though the decision making process-design decisions are so interesting.