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January 23

A White Violet Blouse

Last week’s challenge on Sew Weekly was based on a Buttonhole/Button theme, so I thought what better time than to try my hand (officially) on sewing some buttonholes.  By hand of course!

I decided to sew the Violet blouse from Colette Patterns for the challenge.  I have very few basic white shirts (one springtime blouse and one casual knit T), neither of which are good for layering in the winter nor good for work.  So I took to my stash and picked out a drapey, 100% cotton fabric to help boost my wardrobe and fill the huge gap that could only be filled by a white blouse.

Since I have no idea how to take good quality indoor photos yet, I went outside and suffered through the cold and snow to get semi-decent shots of this blouse.  What I wasn’t counting on was how washed out some of my images ended up being due to the bright sun and white snow; all the light was being reflected off of my violet blouse as a result.  Yikes!  (You should know even these images have been Photoshopped so that you could some details on my blouse).

I’ve heard others complain that this blouse pattern is too boxy for their tastes.  I think I really lucked out with the same fate since my fabric was quite drapey and it’s good to know for next time.  One alteration I would do for next time would be to shorten the armscye; my blouse is pulling a bit across the bust when I stretch my arms out.  I didn’t wasn’t up for making a muslin on this blouse, so I’ll just live with it for now.

I added a little ruffle around the collar to add *a little something* to my basic white top also.  I added it to the sleeve hems but later decided to remove it; I ended up looking a  bit *froo froo* which Felix also agreed on.

Let’s talk Buttonholes!

You all may recall my first attempt at the buttonhole stitch.  This time went a bit better…. Kinda.  I started by following along with Sunni’s Tutorial on hand worked buttonholes which was very good.  In her tutorial she uses a silk buttonhole twist along with some buttonhole gimp underneath to stitch her buttonholes.  Back in December I had ordered myself some white, silk YLI buttonhole twist but it hadn’t arrived in time.  I know you can’t use embroidery floss so I went and used some pearlized cotton that Sunni recommends as my backup.

Per her directions you stitch your buttonholes over the buttonhole gimp which I did on my first buttonhole (at the bottom of the blouse).  It looked bad!  My pearlized cotton thread felt really thick so I unplied it and used just one of the strands instead, which was my first mistake.  Secondly you could see the buttonhole gimp through my actual buttonhole stitches which also was not good.

Here’s my first, sad-looking buttonhole:

It’s not horrendous, but it certainly isn’t pretty.

After running back and forth from my computer to my sewing table, I went and got out one of my old sewing reference books and also found some great buttonhole directions and worked forward from there.

Here’s the page on buttonholes I thought you would all like to see:

Isn’t this a lovely image of buttonholes?!

Here’s the corresponding text:

I went back to using the whole strand of pearlized cotton, which was super thick, and omitted the buttonhole gimp since my thread was already too thick (ie additional reinforcement was necessary) and got into my buttonhole grove.

Here’s my second buttonhole:

My stitches are quite even, but you can see that the fabric seems to be pulling a bit around my stitching (mostly on the top).  I’m thinking this is due to my thick thread.  And you can also see space between each of my buttonhole stitches… This is also due to the fact that my thread was too thick; the purl stitches right along the inside are right next to each other and I couldn’t get my stitches closer together without making everything else look bad.

All of my other buttonhole stitches ended up looking exactly like my second one; no improvement but I didn’t get any worse, either.  I consider that a win.  :) I’m thinking I can only improve once I get the proper tools (ie silk thread).  I should state, if I were ever working on a garment that has a heavier weight fabric, I wouldn’t hesitate to make buttonholes with the cotton.  My blouse is just way too thin and drapey for the thickness of the thread I used.

Here’s my buttonholes in action:

Not too terrible…. I’m probably going to be the only person who even notices my buttonholes are very thick, well, me and my mother who apparently is the master-buttonhole-maker.  :)

I nearly forgot to tell you….With making my first hand stitched buttonholes I finally got to use my grandmother’s buttonhole scissors!

How they work is that you twist the screw at the inside which forces the scissors to not be able to close all of the way.  As they’re shown above, the screw is halfway up and I have the scissors closed as far as they will go.  And you can see my cut-buttonhole on the middle of the right hand side, just below the scissors.  Neat huh!!  They produce the cleanest cut without monkeying around with the seam-ripper.

So cold…

Two days after finishing up my blouse for the SewWeekly theme, guess what came in the mail!!!  You got it!  My SILK buttonhole thread.  heh

If you’d like to read more or see other images here’s my post on the SewWeekly site.

  1. Vicki Kate / Jan 23 2012

    This is such a cute shirt! I love it in pure white. And you’re a lot braver than me to hand work your button holes!

  2. paige @ luxperdiem / Jan 23 2012

    buttons holes are really intimidating to me. Your blouse looks super lovely though! You might have convinced me to buy that pattern!

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      I didn’t feel like doing any practice buttonholes first, so I just started at the bottom of the blouse and worked my way up. I figured the least conspicuous ones were at the bottom and would be tucked into my skirt anyhow.

      You should totally try out buttonholes! They really weren’t too bad once I got in the rhythm of it.

  3. Jane / Jan 23 2012

    I noticed the same thing with the Violet’s armscye, and as a result, my muslin has been languishing, buttonless, for months. Maybe I’ll make fixing that my next assignment!

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      Do you have that problem a lot with having to shorten your armscye? I know I do on most of my clothing.
      I do have to say, my violet blouse probably would have sat just like yours, unless I was forced to do this challenge from Sew Weekly.

      • Jane / Jan 24 2012

        I’ve never noticed it before (not that I’ve made THAT many things with arms)…I have zero problems with Wiksten’s Tova pattern or any Built by Wendys. I’d be interested in your modifications, since I’ve never done this kind before. I’m wondering/hoping whether I can lay my pattern pieces over one that works for me and re-draw them without doing lots of math? (This sounds wishful of me.)

        • Liz / Jan 24 2012

          I didn’t do any mods on my white violet, but I’d be happy to show you how I would do the mod since it is not as hard as it seems.

          Depending on how much your armscye is off, you may be able to get away with laying your pattern piece on top of another to compare the shoulder length/armscye length.

          Additionally if you’ve already cut your fashion fabric you would only be able to alter the armscye *so* much. For my first run on the Violet I found that since the fit is not ‘fitted’ having the armscye a bit too low wasn’t as big of an issue as if it were a fitted blouse.

          I’ll be in touch soon….

        • Jane / Jan 27 2012

          awesome, thanks! even though the blouse isn’t fitted, it still pulls awkwardly when i raise my arms. also, i just like having higher armholes in general, regardless of the style. i have a hard time with the dolman sleeve trend!

  4. Meli / Jan 23 2012

    Love it! It looks great!

  5. Elise / Jan 23 2012

    Aah this is so cute! I’m terrible at buttonholes tho, really gotta practise more! :)

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      Thanks so much Elise and Meli! :)

  6. Marie / Jan 23 2012

    Aaaw, this is such a sweet wardrobe staple! Usually I really dislike white garments, but this is so pure and cute…I love it! It looks wonderful on you and perfectly matches the snow in the background ;o)

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      The boringness of white is probably what’s kept me from having one in my wardrobe for so long… but I’m glad I have it now. I’m actually wearing it right now, too. heh

  7. Meg / Jan 23 2012

    I love the fabric you used! I definitely see that using a drapey fabric makes all the difference. Bravo on your fabulous buttonholes and braving the cold for pictures!

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      I totally lucked out on the drapey-ness of my blouse. I picked my fabric because I liked it and as it turns out it was perfect for the violet. :) Don’t you love it when that happens!

      It looks as if you braved the cold right along with me! heh

  8. Ginger / Jan 23 2012

    This looks so cute on you! What a great (not-boring) wardrobe basic! Your buttonholes look really good– you’re right, the only person who will notice your buttonholes is you. :)

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      Thanks Ginger! I’m hoping my next buttonholes will go better now that my silk thread has arrived.

  9. Shannon / Jan 23 2012

    Selfishly, I’m glad you’re doing this challenge because it means I have a new post to look forward to every week! I’m really excited to see what you do for all the upcoming themes. This blouse is lovely!

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      How funny! I do have to say, I’m surprised that I’ve been finishing so many outfits for Sew Weekly…. and it’s been stress free sewing to boot. So far its a win-win. :)

  10. Kat / Jan 23 2012

    I love love love this blouse on you! I have heard a lot of reviews about the violet being boxy so not sure it would look any good on me. You must be freezing out there in the snow! It does make for pretty pictures though.

    • Liz / Jan 23 2012

      It was quite cold… I wish I knew how to do indoor photos. :)

      I’ll probably make another violet eventually since it is a great basic pattern, but I’d love to add in some pin tucks to add shaping and more interest. Otherwise unless your fabric is drapey, it may be too boxy.

      But a nice belt to cinch the waist is perfect to help with shaping…

  11. Stacie / Jan 23 2012

    Cute blouse! I have the pattern and totally plan on copying you. Now go put on a coat!

    • Liz / Jan 24 2012

      Thanks Stacie! There’s really not too much to copy since it’s such a basic white blouse, but thanks for the sweet props. :)

  12. Annabelle / Jan 23 2012

    Liz, this really is the perfect blouse. The lace detail at the collar is just right, and I agree that having at the sleeves would be too much. Excellent editing skills! I cannot believe that you went outside for pictures – I could understand if you had make a coat or at least a sweater, but a little short-sleeve blouse? A true midwesterner you are.

    • Liz / Jan 24 2012

      Thanks Annabelle! I was hoping that the simple ruffle at the sleeves would be a touch of whimsy/romanitic-ness, but it was just bad. heh Maybe on another pattern it would look better…

      I had my coat nearby to warm up between shots… but yes it was cold. At least it wasn’t negative or anything… I think it was around 20-25 degrees out that day.

  13. Lizz / Jan 24 2012

    You do such great work! Everything looks so well constructed and you have really great taste. I love this blouse! I’m always on the lookout for a good classic with a twist and I’d imagine that this gets a lot of use.

    • Liz / Jan 24 2012

      Thanks Lizz. I feel just the same way about all of your creations. :)

  14. Couturette / Jan 25 2012

    What a great blouse. I love the ruffle detail and the handmade buttonholes and I have to say again that it’s great that you put so much effort into details.

    • Liz / Jan 25 2012

      Thanks so much Couturette!

      For me and my sewing, I do find that adding a bit of hand sewing has greatly improved many of my pieces. It takes me forever to finish things, but making good quality clothes that I can’t buy in a store is really one of the main reasons why I sew.

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