My Material Life

Cotton Voile Curtain Blouse … From A Free Pattern!

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I recently finished sewing this blouse, and I wore it for the first time on Monday when the temperature hit 90°.  I wish I could tell you that I looked fantastic in it, but the truth is, it looks better on the hanger.  I was certainly very comfortable in it, though.  And I’m still excited to share it with you for a couple of reasons:  one – the fabric source (Cost Plus World Market; it’s a $19.99 curtain panel) and two, that you can print the pattern on your home printer for free courtesy of Martha Stewart.  Of course just because you find a curtain appealing doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear it and just because something is free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth it.  But I don’t think this is a bad little pattern at all and the curtain panel fabric is not at all unlike a Liberty fabric as my friend Monica pointed out the other day when I showed her what I was working on (she also thought the print would make a good beach cover-up and I think she has a point there).  The problem for me and this particular blouse is that the print and the volume of the top work together to give it more of a muumuu vibe than I was going for.  Not that there’s anything wrong with muumuus.

I’m going to try this pattern one more time.  I’m thinking of using a knit and making a longer sleeve (the pattern comes with three sleeve length options, but the curtain panel will only give you enough fabric for the shortest one) and even of possibly crocheting some kind of edging on the bottom.  I did make a few tweaks to the pattern for this top.  Let me tell you about them after you take a look at the following gallery of images.  The first image in the gallery shows what the 28 (!) pages of printing look like after you put them all together.  I made a pretty slapdash job of it.  I printed my pages using the fast draft setting on my printer (it is a peasant blouse after all, not a fitted garment) and I just used little bits of tape to join the pages together (you’ll receive instructions about how to align them).  The smart thing to do then would have been to use tracing paper to trace the pattern pieces I needed, but I didn’t have any, so I just cut up my pattern.  You can get tracing paper for patterns in fabric stores and also in art supply stores where you’ll want to ask for the rolls of tracing paper that are used for drafting.  By tracing your original source patterns rather than cutting them out, you can go back and trace them again for different sleeve lengths or sizes or whatever you want to change for the next time.

The changes that I made for this blouse were to extend the length on both the top and bottom edges of the front and back pattern pieces and on the top edge of the sleeves.  Usually, you lengthen a pattern by slashing it in the middle and spreading it out, but that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do here.  I lengthened at the top edge because I wanted to create a 3/8″ flange on the top of my drawstring casing, and I lengthened the bottom edge because I wanted the option of a deeper hem.  Turns out I didn’t need a deeper hem, but I did need more length for my top.

The other change I made was to make a little keyhole opening at the center front top edge.  I did this by cutting my front fabric piece 2″ down ( could have done with another 1″ probably) along the center front fold from where the finished neck edge would be.  Then I cut a 7/8″ wide piece of fabric on the bias to finish the edge.  I did that by laying the right side of the bias strip on the wrong side of the front keyhole edge (raw edges lined up together).  I stitched the two pieces with a very narrow seam allowance, than pressed the seam allowance up toward the bias strip.  Then I folded the remaining raw edge of the bias strip in and made another fold in the center of the bias strip to encase the seam I had just sewn. I pressed this and stitched close to the folded edge of the bias strip on the right side of the front.

There are some funny angles at the top of the front and sleeve edges on the pattern.  I pretty much ignored them.  Here’s something that saved me time by using the curtain panel.  I cut my drawstring from the finished edge of one of the sides of the panel. That side hem was the perfect width for a neck-edge drawstring.  I trimmed the side of the curtain very close to the hem edge and ran a narrow ziz-zag stitch on top of the raw edge.  It’s such a pain to sew drawstrings – not that I would have had to, but I wanted my drawstring to be made from the same fabric as the blouse because these are the kinds of details that make home-sewn garments look more professional.  And I used French seams.  I always recommend these where you can make them work.  You can learn how to sew them in this post.  They are so worth it.  And yes, my ironing board does look an awful lot like my blouse fabric.  I love my ironing board cover; you can see it and learn how I made it here.

Now I’ve found the most beautiful (organic!) blanket at Target.  I think it’s just the thing to use for the Bonnie Cashin Noh coat pattern that I recently rediscovered in Threads magazine number 31 from 1990.

The blanket is a full/queen size; I’m planning to shorten the coat a bit, so hopefully it will be enough.  Both of the textiles for the home I’ve shared in this post come from India; where would we be without Indian textiles?  Something to think about when you’re searching for fabric.  Cost Plus World Market, IKEA, Urban Outfitters – these can all be sources for beautiful, well-priced textiles that you can use in unexpected ways.

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