This past weekend, I was so excited about Me-Made May that I made two Sewaholic Belcarra blouses. At first, I was all despairing because it calls for 2 yards of 44″ wide fabric and I only had 1 yard cuts of shirt-appropriate fabric… but then I realized that I could squeeze a blouse out of 1 yard as long as the print is non-directional. Yay!
I had many doh moments while making these shirts! I made my first one in Bari J. Ackerman’s budquette voile, and while rummaging through my apparel stash, I finally understood the difference between lawn and voile. I could feel how voile is drapier and lawn is crisper, so now I know that I prefer voile for tops and (lined) lawn for skirts.
The last time I checked, my measurements were 32.5″ bust, 27.5″ waist, 36″ hips, so I made this voile version as a size 6 at the bust and waist, graded to size 4 at the hips (because it seemed crazy to grade to a size 0). I think in the end this made the blouse a little boxier than I liked, but I’m not sure if part of that is how voile drapes. What do you think?
I also narrowed the neckline by about 3/4″. This worked perfectly to keep my bra straps covered, but I didn’t like how squared-off the neckline looked, compared to the original Belcarra’s lovely boatneck. Instead of following Sewaholic’s neckline facing instructions (5/8″ seam allowance, 2″ bias tape), I used the Eucalypt tank‘s instructions, which calls for a 1/4″ seam allowance and 1″ bias tape. I preferred this since I noticed that some other Belcarras seemed to have necklines that didn’t quite lay flat.
On my next version, I made a straight size 4 in polyester crepe de chine. I feel like this one fits much better! I kind of wonder, though, how much of that is because the crepe de chine is drapier than the voile, and how much is because I sized down.
I didn’t alter the neckline on the size 4 (other than using the narrower seam allowance), and it mostly keeps my bra straps covered. Hooray! The last time I sewed with a similar crepe de chine, I had problems with the neckline facing pulling in a yucky way. I realized that it happened because I had pulled the bias facing taut as I sewed it to the raw edge. I’m used to pulling bias tape taut as I apply it to bags, which generally have outside curves (the corners), but necklines and armholes are inside curves, which means I should not pull the bias tape taut. doh!!!
Also, on my previous crepe de chine shirt, I made the bias tape from self fabric, and I think that these crepes in particular don’t have much bias stretch. On this crepe Belcarra, I made the bias tape from some scrap voile that had normal bias stretch.
I’m a little worried that the size 4 is slightly too small because the sleeves or armholes might be too tight. It’s not so tight that it bothers me, but when my arms are down, there are big folds in the fabric in the armpit area. Are those not supposed to be there? They don’t appear so much on my larger voile version.
On my first Belcarra, I followed the instructions for attaching the sleeve cuffs in the round. This was a big pain, so I sewed my second Belcarra in the flat. That was so much easier! Then I tacked down the underarm seam allowances at the intersections to make everything lay nicely.
I’m super happy with my two new work shirts! Also, as a big cheapie, I’m excited that I can make Belcarras out of just one yard of (non-directional) fabric. If you have any fitting advice for me, please let me know! I wish I someone more experienced would come over and measure me — I think my self-measurements might be a little off… >_<