Sunday, September 7, 2008

1930's Butterfly Blouse: Pattern Review

I truly love this pattern. I have already completed it twice, and I have fabric purchased for a third. In fact, I find myself actively restraining my urge to make it again and again and again. I think I might be happy to make at least 7 of these shirts, one for every day of the week. Why do I love it so much, you may ask? Let me count the ways: 1) It is a simple shirt to make, perfect for a beginner and a quick sew for an advanced seamstress, 2) The style is utterly vintage yet integrates very painlessly into a modern wardrobe, 3) The shirt is flattering, I imagine, for all shapes, sizes, and body types, 4) The pattern comes from Decades of Style, run by a small-business owner who is invested in resurrecting inspiring vintage patterns and making them available for ALL sewers. These are a lot of good reasons to love the pattern, and even better reasons to make multiples of this top. Below is my full pattern review.

1930's Butterfly Blouse: Pattern Review

Pattern Description:

Straight from the pattern envelope: "It is a wrap blouse with a saddle yoke at the shoulder and flowing, elbow-length sleeves. There is shirring at the shoulders in the front and ties that wrap around the back and meet at the front waist." My own ad-lib is to describe the sleeves, which are gorgeous and give the shirt its "butterfly" description. The sleeves are long (elbow-length), full, and flowy and utterly feminine and pretty.

Pattern Sizing:
The highlight of this pattern is that it comes in such a variety of sizes, from a 30" inch bust through a 46" bust. I sewed the largest size, designed for a 46" bust, 40" waist, and 49" hips. It's wrap styling allows for a flexible fit. If you like it tight, cinch the waist ties. If you like it low-cut, make a smaller size and the wrap will not overlap as much across the bust. The power is yours to create your perfect fit.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it?
Absolutely. Everything about it is dead-on, include the beautiful saddle yoke and the gathering above the bust. You must choose the right material to get the same drape as the envelope, but it is totally possible. You will want a medium to lightweight fabric with a nice drape. Silk, voile, rayon, gauze and chiffon are all great.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, including a diagram of each major step. The instructions also come in a 8.5x11 booklet form, rather than as a large multi-folded sheet like most commercial patterns, which I found easy to deal with in the midst of sewing chaos.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: I ADORE the style. The sleeves on the finished garment are so dramatic, elegant, and eye catching. I think the top is very sexy, not because it is revealing, but because it is so feminine. The voluminous sleeves hint at the shapely curves of a lady without showing a lot of skin. Plus, the deep V neckline and the waist-defining sash give shape and structure to balance the volume.

This is a unique pattern. You will not find other women wearing this style, especially not in ready to wear. And I love that the pattern is available in a variety of sizes!!! All ladies deserve to wear vintage, and this pattern is so egalitarian in its sizing.

I found the directions very clear, and overall the top was quick and simple to sew. It only involves a few pieces - 5 all together including the sashes - connect by just a couple of simple seems, so it is quick and good for an advanced beginner.

Dislikes: I am very pleased and do not have dislike.

Fabric Used:
For both versions I used a very lightweight, 100% cotton, semi-sheer fabric. The first time through was a bold floral, the second time this soft, demure yellow. Both versions are finished with 1/4 cotton bias tape to finished all edges (instead of hems). Read below for my description of the bias tape modification.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The original pattern calls for top stitching along all the bodice pieces, but after a few practice tries at top stitching, I realized I am pretty bad at straight, even, controlled top stitching and I resorted to trimming every edge with bias tape, then top stitching the bias taped finish to the edge of the other pieces. Thus, I did not have to fold a perfect 1/8 hem on the noticeable front yoke of the shirt. I am VERY pleased by the bias tape results, because I think the trim adds an extra bit of detail and sophistication.

I used tiny quarter inch biased tape, which is really, really small. It took me several feet of pinning, sewing, messing up, cursing, and starting over to devise a plan that worked better than pins. So, fellow sewers or anyone who might ever work with bias tape, here is my tip of the day: IN ORDER TO PRESERVE YOUR SANITY AND YOUR FINGERS, USE A WATER BASED GLUE STICK TO BASTE TINY BIAS TAPE ON DELICATE FABRIC. Don't use pins. Pins don't work. But glue, use it!

My yellow version of the shirt was created using significantly less fabric than the pattern calls for, so I shortened the length of each sleeve by 6 inches all around. To achieve a shortened sleeve, I traced the sleeve pattern onto a new piece of pattern paper. Using my hem gauge, I marked a dot six inches in from the pattern edge every inch or so, making sure to match the angle of the edge with my mark. I then traced the dots together, snipped the pattern shorter, and proceeded with the construction of the shirt per the standard instructions. I am pleased with the shortened sleeves, as they saved fabric and have a more "day-wear" or "work-wear" wearabilty to them, however the original long sleeves are still my favorite, and they are the way I plan to use this pattern the next time I sew it.

For the yellow version, due to lack of fabric, instead of cutting a single back piece on the fold as indicated, I converted the center back fold into a seam, added seam allowance, and cut two pieces. You can see the seem in the back photos. This worked very well, and since I used a french seam binding for my seam finish, it looks very nice in the back of the shirt. On the floral version of the shirt I cut the back as one single piece, fussy cutting to center a big floral right in the center of the back.

On my yellow shirt I also made the wrap ties extra long so they tie in back, rather than in front. Both front of back ties look great, it is nice to have variety.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, and I did. I have made two versions of the shirt, and I already have fabric chosen for teal blue knit to make a third. Plus, I am utterly convinced that somehow I can convert this into a wrap-dress... although I am not sure about how to do that yet. The sleeves the the saddle yoke are just so great, I would like to incorporate it into all of my wardrobe!

This is a fun and simple shirt from a great pattern company. I am very loyal to Decades of Style because of the extended sizing and variety of design. I recommend this pattern to all sewers, vintage enthusiasts, plus sized sewers, beginners looking for a unique project, and basically anyone who wants a dramatic and very wearable shirt.

p.s. All photographs taken by my very talented husband Sam at the Olmos Perk Coffee Shop on McCullough in San Antonio, and in the adjoining abandoned boxcar yard. It's my new favorite coffee shop in town, their espresso is rich, bold, and authentic and the vibe in the shop is relaxed, local, and hip.

The sexy and yet subtle 1930's Butterfly Blouse, I love it so much I just want to kiss it!

Saddle yoke, gathered front, bias trimmed edges, and wrap shirt front.

The saddle yoke, flutter sleeves, and shirt back.


Lesalicious said...

Hi came across your blog over at PatternReview. Love your Butterfly Blouse so cute. Well made. Great job. I will totally have to visit your blog again. Keep up the great sewing work.:)

S Sews said...

Oh it's beautiful! Darn, I had this pattern in my hands the other day and decided against it. Now it appears I must go back and purchase it because of your lovely version. I think both versions you've made so far are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Just popping over from PR - what a fantastic blouse! I think you really should make another seven or ten, because it just flatters you beautifully .(And thank you, too, for turning me on to Decades of Style, you darned enabler!)

cza said...

You have totally inspired me. I have already ordered the Butterfly blouse pattern and my daughter is looking at the Siren dress pattern. We both loved the vintage style you rock.


Tess said...

Oh Kate- this top is to die for! Love the pale yellow. When I see you in May please give me some tips advice on sewing adventures? Lol. Talk to you soon.

Myra said...

Really cute pattern & a great top for you. You should make a few more.

Twila Jean said...

totally darling.
i love good pattern reviews. thanks!

Non de Plume said...

Gorgeous! Really love it.