Once upon a time, I was a young mother in a great neighborhood in Brooklyn with a fabulous sewing store. I took classes and learned to quilt and sew simple children’s garments and I was a member of a great group of women who were my Tuesday night quilting group. It was a huge part of my life for many years. Then things got busy and complicated and I had many years during which sewing was the thing I hoped to do again some day although part of me worried that day would never come.
Well, amazingly, that day came this winter when a massive snow storm hit my town and I couldn’t go to work. I had been reading sewing blogs and planning all the things I might sew when I finally had the time, I had recently moved and had claimed a small room on the second floor that used to house linens and made it into my sewing room and that day I made a dress pretty much start to finish. The dress was a Washi by Made-by-Rae which anyone who reads sewing blogs has probably made multiple times. I call it the gateway pattern. Since that day in February, I have made 10 dresses, 2 skirts and four tops, most of them with patterns that Rae designed and they are wonderful. I have a mostly me-made summer wardrobe that I enjoy wearing thanks to Rae. I have thought about blogging since I started sewing again in order to share the pearls I have learned along my journey. When Rae announced that she was coming out with a new pattern, I decided to take the plunge. And so here is post #1 on my first attempt at the Beatrix Blouse.
My approach with the Made-By-Rai patterns I have made so far-the Washi, the Ruby and the Bianca-has been to make a medium and lengthen by 2 to 3 inches because I am tall-5’9″- and I wear most of these dresses to work and I don’t want the skirts to be too short. I always make a muslin and I try to be budget-minded and not spend money on the muslin.
My husband gave me several gently worn striped men’s dress shirts and I thought I would try to use one of those to make a sleeveless Beatrix to check the fit and have a wearable muslin. I cut the shirt apart doing my best to preserve the biggest pieces of fabric. I was easily able to cut the front bodice out using the back of the shirt. I ended up making the button placket view of the shirt-view B-because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the 2 view A back pieces and I ended up having to do some creating piecing to get enough fabric to make the shirt. It ended up being a bit of a project-not at all the simple muslin that Rae recommends! But it was a fun challenge. Probably the quilter in me. I used a madras plaid fabric scrap for the button plackets and had fun sorting through my button jar to find enough buttons. They are mismatched but I think that adds to the fun.
I used self-made bias binding on the neck, armholes and the hem. I did it quite quickly since this is going to be a wear around the house top. My original plan to lengthen the pattern fell through when I mistakenly sewed the bias binding on the wrong side of the hem-too tired much? Since this was a muslin I just took my rotary cutter and cut it off along the seam line and made new binding tape. Luckily the length ended up being fine so good to know.
The great thing about the first go at a pattern is that you flush out many of the mistakes and tricky parts so that you will be better prepared the next time. The pattern is pretty straightforward and the fit seems good, even without lengthening it. My version is shorter on the sides because I had to work within the existing lines of the shirt. I actually enjoyed the challenge of making the pattern work with the odd shapes pieces of the shirt. I pieced the back and created a short of belt effect by turning the fabric 90 degrees. I also pieced one of the lower back pieces of the bodice because I had run out of bigger pieces.
I also noticed that on me, the front neckline seems to gape a bit so I may adjust the front bodice to be slightly more narrow-perhaps half an inch-on my next version to see if that helps. I might also lower the neckline slightly. Otherwise I am very happy with it and looking forward to the Beatrix Sewalong that starts this weekend. I have found Rae’s tutorials to be really helpful and refer back to them often. She does a great job of breaking the steps down and I have had really good success with making garments I enjoy wearing.
Best thing about the Beatrix? #buttons 🙂