The art of creating garments that suit not only a personality but a way of life is all but lost in our homogenous society. We at the Pattern Piece think it is time that women reclaim the lost heritage of our grandmothers and great grandmothers and celebrate the beauty of handmade garments and accessories. Whether sewn, crocheted, knitted, smocked, embroidered, or commercially purchased and embellished, the mission of the Pattern Piece is to help aid women in learning to create garments that are both modest and beautiful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Simple Peasant Blouse Construction~

Ok! Now that your blouse is cut, it's time to sew.

Note: If you are not using any lace or trim along the edge, start with the step that shows sewing armholes.

Step 1: Find your sleeves and cut a length of trim for each one. I chose an embroidered cotton trim.

Step 2: Either with a serger (as I am) or with your sewing machine, sew the trim to the edge of your sleeve. If you are using a sewing machine, follow the instructions for a flat-felled seam and when you trim, trim away the excess edging, not the sleeve fabric.

That's what you want it to look like if it's serged. Don't forget to make sure you find the right side of the trim and make it "kiss" the right side of the fabric if you are serging.

If you are flat-felling, then make sure you use the WRONG sides kissing. The right sides need to be out.

There you go.

Step 3:
Once your trim is attached, topstitch it. This is one place that I insist on topstitching. Otherwise, the trim tends to look sloppy as it flips back and shows itself.

I like my seam to be about 1/8" away from the seam edge. It can be wider or narrower, but that's the width that really looks the most polished to me.

And there you have it. A nice simple topstitched edge.

I know, it's an extraneous picture. You don't need to see it.

Think of it this way, it's just a fun way to show you that the end result is always a nice thing to look forward to!

Step 4: Here it is! The part you've been waiting for! (Follow the instructions for adding elastic to a finished garment on the peasant gown if you are hemming your blouse sleeve).

Cut two lengths of elastic to fit the arm or wrist of who will be wearing it. If you don't know, I have a generic way to do it.

For upper arms on children, I use my forearm. For upper arms on toddlers or babies, I use my wrist.

For wrists, I use my wrist but tight.

It usually works!
Step 5: Measure where you want it to go. Usually, you'll want the elastic to be a presser foot's width away from the trim seams, but I wanted a ruffle made by it for a more bohemian look. So, I did it 3" away from the seam.

First, backstitch with you sewing machine to get the edge of the elastic stitched down. I usually go back and forth two or three times.

Then, on your WIDEST zig-zag and pulling slightly on the elastic (hold the back in place so that you don't pull it away from the machine) zig zag OVER the elastic. Do not catch the elastic

with your needle once you've tacked it down. Take your time, it's not a long stretch, so don't stress. Just zig-zag over the elastic.

Pulling on it slightly does two things. First, it makes the elastic skinnier which is easier to zig zag over, but also, the elastic will be too short for the piece, so stretching it will help make it fit across. When you get near the other end, you'll likely find that there isn't enough elastic. Just put the needle down into the fabric, pull the elastic and let the parts you've sewn slide back on the elastic, and you'll have enough. It's just like a gathering thread. You slide the fabric along the elastic and keep sewing.
And there you have it.

Remember: Do not stitch down into the elastic except at the ends. Stitch with STRAIGHT stitches at each end, and then zig-zag OVER the elastic without catching the elastic in your stitches. If you catch the elastic in your stitches, it won't slide through them to create a perfect thread casing.

People have asked why I don't stitch straight through the middle like you see on some commercial garments. Well, I don't because that weakens the elastic and it ends up being completely ineffective. This method, after being washed through a few children will also go flat (elastic doesn't last forever), but you can just add more if you need to.

As you can see, it looks fine from the front too. While being worn, it's almost impossible to see the stitching.

This is truly the easiest and most direct method of stitching down 1/8" elastic on a garment.

Step 6: Ok, it's time to construct the garment! Lay down a front or back blouse piece. Then grab your sleeves. It's time to sew them down.

You must sew a sleeve to each side of the blouse piece you're working with. So, I always start on the right side. It's easier for me. I lay the right side of a sleeve on the right side of the blouse piece.

That's what you see there.

Then sew or serge. I'm serging here. (And I'm being very real. Notice the dirty machine? Time to clean up, isn't it! EEK)

Just sew around that curved part only. It's a small spot-- about 6-9" or so.

Then, when you are done...

Now, repeat for the other sleeve and the left side of the bodice. You lay the left side of the SECOND sleeve on the left side of the SAME blouse piece.

When you're done serging/sewing that curve, you'll have one bodice/blouse piece with two sleeves attached.

Then, you attatch the other sides of those sleeves to the other bodice piece keeping right sides together at all times.

What you want, when you're done sewing all four pieces together, is a circle of fabric all sewn together.

Step 7: Lay the garment out with sleeves together, bodice pieces together, and make sure you're going to have two long seams on each side. One seam will go from the edge of the sleeve and down the right side, and the other will do the same down the left. If it doesn't look like the picture on both sides (mirror image of course for the other side), then adjust until you figure it out. If you don't have trim on the edge of your sleeve, it is easy to accidentally fold bodice pieces together and leave sleeves as the bodice piece. Make sure, before you sew, that you know you're sewing sleeves together and not blouse pieces.
Tip: When you are serging the edge of something like this trim, take the tail of the serger threads and pull them toward you, serging over them as you sew. This keeps the tail from needing to be tied off or cut off.

Another Tip: When serging over stitched down elastic, make sure you DO NOT let your blade cut off your stitching or the elastic will release and you'll have to do it all over again. Keep the blade from trimming that small section where the elastic is to protect it.

Step 8:
Sew or serge from the edge of the sleeve all the way down the side of
the bodice/blouse to the bottom. Repeat for the other side.

When you're done, it should look a lot like the picture.

Isn't it pretty.

All serged and ready for me to do the other side.

Trust me, I did it. I'm not showing pictures of it, but I did it just like I told you to. I don't tell you to do what I won't do. I'm not that cruel.

And here it is all done. Isn't it looking like a perfect peasant top now? That's what you wanted wasn't it? There are only two seams left! (ok, two seams and tacking down some elastic, but that doesn't count.

At least now you have the look you wanted, right?

Now you need to make the casing for the elastic. I'm using 1/4" elastic so I made a casing that is just a bit bigger. I'll call it a "scant" 3/8". I folded 1/4" under and then folded it over 3/8". Then I stitched it down just inside the folded part. Voila. "Scant" 3/8" casing.

Leave about 5/8" open in the middle of what you want to be the back so you can insert the elastic.

Step 9: Cut your elastic the length that your pattern tells you. I think on this one it was 23.5" but don't quote me on that.

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread through the casing. Just be careful not to let the free end slip into the casing!

See the other end! All ready and sitting there saying, "Hey, stitch me together and sew up that hole in my neck." Well, that's what you do.

I like to overlap each one into a flat piece and stitch down but you can stitch them together and let them flop any way you want. Do whatever is easiest for you. Then poke them inside and stitch that hole closed.

Hint: If you aren't sure how it'll fit, save sewing that hole closed until your wearer tries it on. Once you have it adjusted how you want it, then you can sew that shut.

Step 10: Ok, hem the bottom by folding the edge up 1/4" and then folding over again. Basically, you're recreating that casing but at the bottom and you're not going to leave any of it open.

I added a little ribbon at the center of mine and voila! It's done.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but it's done! Welcome to peasant blouses! Enjoy making them!

Isn't it pretty?

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