I finally finished my first project for the White Tree Fabrics blog.
A little while ago White Tree began to stock a range of Liberty Tana lawn fabrics and so (of course!) I jumped at the chance to try some out. I chose the Eliza print – there are a ridiculous number of beautiful prints but this one appealed to me because it isn’t a typical floral print. The colours are quite wintery and look hand-drawn – an almost inky blue against grey/brown and white. I hadn’t sewn with Liberty lawn before and it really is lovely to work with. It is lightweight but completely opaque, the colours are incredibly rich and it presses like a dream.
So – what to make? Initially I was planning a Cambie, but autumn crept up really quickly and I wasn’t sure how much I would get to wear a cotton lawn dress before next summer. I wanted something I could wear through autumn and winter and I decided to try the Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt. There have been a few examples recently that I really liked – Anna at Paunnet sewed up a version in chambray and Katie at the Creative Counselor used double gauze.
Since I was using such lovely fabric I made a muslin first to test the fit. I cut a 40 bodice, grading out to 42 at the waist. This was the same size I used when I made the Belladone dress and matched my size according to the body measurements on the packet. It would have been useful to see finished garment measurements to get an idea of the intended ease, but none are included in the pattern as far as I can see.
My first muslin came up tight at the front of the arm-scye almost cutting into my armpit. When I added the sleeves I found they were tight across the back of my shoulder and I couldn’t reach forward or raise my arms fully.
I spent a long time looking at Fit for Real People and I made a forward shoulder adjustment. It makes sense to me that I would need one as I spend all day hunched over a computer, but I have never found it necessary to try one before. It is possible I haven’t been looking closely enough at the shoulders on previous things I have made though as I know one or two dresses are a little tight at the front of the arm. The forward shoulder adjustment reduced the pressure on my arm at the front but I still couldn’t raise my arms fully or reach forward.
After considering rounded back, broad (and narrow!) shoulders and various other depressing sounding adjustments I simply recut the whole top of the bodice in a 44, grading back to 42 at the waist as before. This worked much better – so clearly its just a surprisingly big shoulders adjustment? I re-did the forward shoulder adjustment and added a small SBA for good measure! I think I could have taken a bit more out on the SBA – Deer and Doe draft for a C cup and I am an A so there is still a little bit of excess fabric at the chest but as it isn’t a fitted top I think it is OK. I also have a bit of gaping at the back of the armscye, below the shoulder. None of these are disastrous though so I was finally ready to cut into the Liberty fabric (not at all stressful!).
I really enjoyed this project – there is lots of detail you can get into. I used french seams everywhere except those seams which would be enclosed by the facings – check out my french-seamed sleeve insertion!
I was super careful about matching up my darts and pleats and other seamlines. There is a lot of scope for pieces to end up slightly mis-matched as you sew the waistband in three sections onto the bodice then join it all together. Only a very small amount of unpicking was required. This shirt looks as neat on the inside as it does on the outside which was really satisfying.
I did change the pattern piece for the plackets on the sleeve (inspired by Carolyn at Allspice Abounds and her many lovely Archers) – I used the placket pattern from Colette Hawthorn which is a single piece and produces a pointy placket after a lot of magical folding which looked very complicated but was actually not too bad! This was my first attempt at proper plackets – apart from a quick practice run – they are slightly wonky but the print hides this so overall I am pleased I put the effort in and I think it will be more hard wearing.
Overall I am so pleased with how this came out, I love the print enough to overcome my reluctance to wear floral patterns on tops (see my Belcarra!) and although I have been wearing this with jeans I think it will also work with casual skirts as well.
I totally recommend Liberty fabrics – if you like the prints (and I know not everyone does) the fabric is lovely to sew with and it really does look and feel amazing. I am looking forward to choosing another print for a Cambie when Spring comes again!
I received the fabric free of charge from White Tree Fabrics as part of their blog network. I provided pattern and notions and my own opinions.
So – anyone else with surprisingly big shoulders and clues on how to fit for them? The more I sew the more I realise I still have to learn…