June 20, 2020
Welcome to the Sew Along for the Folkwear 211 Middy Blouse View A. Check out the prep work in Day 1 of the Sew Along. Today, we are going to get into quite a bit more detail than even the pattern instructions give, so I hope it helps you make a beautiful shirt, as well as teaches some tips and tricks to have in your sewing toolbox!
The Middy Blouse View A is a very easy blouse to make with a touch of a nautical aesthetic, which can be played up or down. The construction is really simple and the details can be made as subtle or as interesting as you like. This blouse can be made in so many creative fabric and trim combinations. Which makes View A of the Two Middies pattern, simple but surprisingly different every time you make it!
Below is an illustration of the back of View A which includes its most unique feature. The patch originally served as a protective element that could be replaced. Back in the 18th century navies, men's oily and dirty pigtails hung down their backs, staining their shirt backs. The patch protected the shirt and could be replaced when too worn out from scrubbing (or too dirty). Consider this patch a design element, to either add interest or to treat more subtly - or consider it a hearkening back to naval tradition. Have fun with it!
Trace and Prepare Your Pattern
Let's get started! First, trace and/or cut out View A pattern pieces: Front A, Back B, Patch C, Trim D & E, and Sleeve F.
So simple and so few pattern pieces!
Preparing the Pattern Pieces and Making Adjustments
Before you cut the fabric out, stop. Look at your pattern and consider if you want to make any simple adjustments. This blouse can be made with or without a shoulder seam. The length of the body and sleeves can all be changed very easily using the "lengthen or shorten here" line on the pattern pieces.
Prepare the Front & Back of Pattern
For this project I am cutting the body of the blouse in one piece, as the pattern indicate.! Prepare the body pieces of the pattern by matching up the Shoulder Line of Front A and the Shoulder Line of Back B. Instead of cutting one of the front and one of the back each on the fold, the two pieces are combined (aligned) at the shoulder line. Resulting in making just one pattern piece, that is then cut at once on the fold. Hence, there are no shoulder seams. How easy!
Match the shoulder lines on both the Front A and Back B to create one pattern piece to be cut on the fold.
Note: If you are making View A, directional prints will not work, because the front and back are cut as one piece. As a result, if you position the print to run or lay going in the right direction on the front, the problem is the design on the back of the blouse would end up being upside down. This issue can easily be remedied, by cutting the front and back separately and sewing at the shoulder like you normally would.
Align A & B on the shoulder line and tape into place to secure.
Adjusting the Sleeve
The sleeve can easily be made longer or shorter, depending on your requirements. Use the line labeled "lengthen or shorten here" for lengthening or shortening. I decided to lengthen my sleeve by 1-1/2 inches. Simply cut on the "lengthen or shorten here" line to separate the sleeve into two pieces. Then insert another piece of tracing paper behind the two original sleeve pattern pieces, to will allow for the increase. Be sure the extra tracing paper is big enough to provide enough overlap on the back side to secure to the original pattern pieces with tape. A bit of tape added to the front side will help as well. Use a hip curve or French curve to create a smooth continuous drawn line (the green line in illustration below) connecting the two separated pieces of the sleeve. Trim any access tracing paper away. Now the sleeve pattern has been lengthened and ready to use.
To shorten the sleeve length, simply fold your pattern piece up making a pleat equal to one-half the amount you wish to shorten. There is no need to cut your pattern piece, simply pin or tape it in place. Keep it in tact for future use.
This technique can be used to adjust the length of the blouse body as well. If you lengthen or shorten the body of the blouse, be sure to make the same adjustment to both Front A and Back B pattern pieces to ensure they are the same length.
View A has it's "lengthen or shorten" line at the bottom hem, so just extend the side lines/seams of the pattern down as long as you want. To shorten, move the bottom hem line up as far as you desire.
Note: If you make length or width adjustments to the pattern pieces, be sure to re-check your yardage requirements before purchasing fabric.
Cutting Out Pattern Pieces
Now, that all the pattern pieces have been adjusted, we are ready to cut out the fabric pieces using the pattern as a guide. I have decided to work with the fabric right side up and wrong side together (note: it is perfectly acceptable to work opposite, wrong sides up and right sides together) and matching selvages, pin your pattern pieces to the fabric, or hold them down with pattern weights. Pay attention to grain lines on each pattern piece and the placement of the pattern pieces to be cut on the fold.
Cut the combined Front A & Back B once on the fold (remember the two pieces are taped together). Cut one patch (Piece C). Cut two sleeves (Piece F) on the fold. And don't forget to cut out the neck trim pieces (two of Piece E, two of PieceD).
Illustration of fabric cut out using pattern pieces.
Before you remove the pinned pattern from the fabric, be sure that all notches and center points have been marked, on all the fabric pieces. Also, be sure to mark the right side of each fabric piece with a pin once the pattern piece has been removed.
A good habit is to place your marking within the seam allowance if using a pin. This can help prevent the pin from damaging your fabric depending on the delicacy of the fabric. If using a fabric that could be damaged due to using a pin, make your mark using a fine needle and contrasting thread within the seam allowance to indicate the right side.
Right sides of fabric marked using pins inside the seam allowance.
Step One: The Patch
In order to help ensure the patch has a neat and evenly turned under edge, sew a stitch line to use as a turning guide. On the right side of the patch fabric, except for the top edge (I accidentally pressed the top edge in the picture below, but you don't need to do it), stitch a long straight stitch, at the 1/2 inch seam allowance. Make the stitch all the way around the patch edges to create a guide. Do not back stitch at the beginning and end of your straight stitch lines. Only use this stitch line as a guide, later the stitch will be removed. Stitching one continuous line will make removing the stitch line more difficult, so it is fine to stitch each side separately.
Now, working on the wrong side of the patch, using the stitch line you just created, press the edges inward 1/2 inch on all the edges, except the top edge. The top edge will attach to the back neck and does not need to be turned down.
Clip the curves and corners and press all edges down firmly and cleanly. Use the stitch guide line to help you with the corner clipping too. Be sure to not clip into or beyond the stitch guide edge.
Once your edges are nicely pressed in place, the stitch line can be carefully removed, leaving a beautifully even crisp edge finish.
The patch edges all turned under and ready to be attached to the back of the blouse.
Carefully align and pin the patch in place on the back of the blouse. Be sure the top edge of the patch is laying flat. Match the notches and center line of the patch and center back of the blouse to help with alignment.
Topstitch the patch to the back of the blouse. Position your needle close to the edge of the patch, and stitch 1/16" from the edge. An edge stitch or blind hem stitch foot makes a good guide tool for this task. Remember to remove the pins as you come up on them as the blind hem presser foot does not hurdle the pins very well, which will disturb the clean finishing stitches. Topstitch slowly and pivot at the corners to secure and create a finished look. The patch is a very revealing detail, so take your time and enjoy the beautiful crafted results!
An edge stitch or blind hem stitch foot makes a great guide when topstitching along the patch edge.
Step Two: Prepare the Neck Line for the Trim
Once the patch is successfully attached, prepare the rectangle neckline of View A. Work on the right side, sew a straight stitch line at the 1/2 inch seam allowance around the neck rectangle, to help as a guide for clipping the corners and turning the edges. Just for good measure, I added another straight stitch line around the outer most edge of the rectangle (about another 1/2 inch from the first) to provide stability and to help prevent the fabric from unraveling too much.
Use the stitch line as a guide for snipping the corners and folding the edge of the fabric to the right side. Fold the edges to the right side of the fabric. Press to create a clean finish.
The trim on the neckline could be made of any number of things, like solid, embroidered, or striped ribbon, handmade or pre-made purchased bias tape, twill tape, braid, soutache, or embroidered decorative trim. No matter what you decide to use, just remember that neck details tend to draw the eye in and therefore becomes a focal point. So keep this in mind when deciding what kind of detail you want to apply.
Note: Wash and dry your trim material or ribbon before using.
The trim for this project can be cut using the pattern piece D & E. Simply turn the raw edges under the 1/4 inch as the pattern suggests, and press into place for a clean edge before applying.
Another easy method that produces the same results... but just a bit quicker... is accomplished with a tool called a bias tape maker. I have chosen to cut my trim pieces using the pattern and then use a bias tape maker, which worked great! Use an iron to press the edges as you slowly pull the tape out of the bias tape maker tool. This is a very handy tool for all your bias making needs (and Folkwear has a selection to purchase from)!
If you don't have a bias tape maker, you can use the instructions in the pattern. Just fold each long edge of Pieces D and E toward the center of the fabric and press.
The pattern recommends these neck trim pieces to be cut on the straight grain of the fabric. However, t is perfectly acceptable to use a bias cut fabric for the trim. Since the trim will not be going around curves, it is more efficient to cut on the straight grain of the fabric.
The neck of View A getting ready for applying the trim strips. Trim made with bias tape maker. Notice the folded over edges of the neck opening will be covered with the trim strips.
Attaching the Trim Strips
Apply the shorter side neck trim strips (Piece E) first. You do not need to turn under the short edges of these pieces. Pin and align the trim right up to the edge of the neck opening. The folded over raw edges of the shirt will be covered and disguised by the trim strips. This is a really nice raw edge finishing technique to remember for future projects!
Stitch the shorter trim strips down with a topstitch on the sewing machine. Stitch 1/16 inch from each edge of the trim.
Once the shorter trim strips are applied, then pin on the longer strips. Turn the raw end edges under and make sure the edges are straight and squared off neatly.
Topstitch the longer trim strips on each side of the strip, in the same manner as the shorter trim strips. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end either side of each strip to secure.
Topstitching completes the neck trim.
Step Three: Sleeves & Seams
Find the shoulder placement: Match the boxes near the bottom of the side seam. Smooth out the blouse fabric and align the bottom of the armhole (armsyce) as well. Where the shirt if folded at the top of the blouse is the top of the shoulder. It is important to locate the shoulder placement, or center point, despite not having a shoulder seam.
To find the sleeve center point, simply fold the sleeve in half.
The sleeve center point must match up to the shoulder center point. Place pins to mark the center points of the shoulder placement and the sleeves center fold to help with alignment. Work with the project right side up.
Pin indicates center point of shoulder edge.
To find where the alignment of the sleeve and blouse armhole seam allowances match up, measure out the 1/2 inch seam allowance intersection of each edge, using pins as markers then match up the pins. Be sure right sides are together.
Find the 1/2 inch seam allowance intersection on both the armhole and the sleeve pieces marking with pins to help with alignment.
With right sides together, match the center points and side edges, pin the sleeve to the body of the blouse and stitch in place using 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Sleeve pined to the body of the blouse and ready to be stitched.
If doing a flat-felled seam, press sleeve seam allowance towards the body. Or press towards the sleeve if serging or using another method of seam finishing.
See the pattern instructions for flat felled seams (we will also have a tutorial of this technique soon!).
Pressing the seam.
Sew up the Sides Seams
Now that the sleeves are attached we are ready to sew up the side seams. With right sides together, matching notches, and underarm seams. Sew the side seams together starting at the box that indicates the top opening to the side vent and back stitch. Continue sewing the side seam up towards the sleeve and finish with a back stitch at the sleeve edge. Press the side seams open to flat felled the seams. If using another seam finishing method, the seams are generally pressed towards the back of the garment.
Step Four: Finishing the Vents and Hem
With seams pressed open, starting at the vent box marking, turn the seam edge under 1/4 inch.
Turn the edge under again another 1/4 inch, for a total of the 1/2 inch seam allowance. Press and stitch close to the turned under edge, up one side, across the seam, and down the other. Back-stitch horizontally, a few times at the top of the box to help reinforce the vent opening.
Hem the Sleeves and Bottom Edge . . . and that is it!
Determine the depth of the hem you would like for both the sleeves and the bottom hem of the blouse. Turn the hem edge to the wrong side of the fabric by half the hem measurement, pin to hold in place, and press.
Then, turn half the hem measurement up again, pin to hold in place, and press.
For example: I have chosen a hem of one inch. I first turn the hem up 1/2 inch and then again 1/2 inch, for a total of one inch.
Either stitch your hem in place by using a whip stitch or edge stitch done by hand, or use a straight stitch, or top-stitch, close to the turned edge using a sewing machine.
Notice the hem stitch is close to the turned edge for a neat finish.
Finished bottom hem and side vent finish.
I hope you are as pleased with your finished Middy Blouse as I am. I am already thinking of all the other fabric and trim combinations I would like to try!
There is yet another version of this blouse to make! I hope you will join me for day three of this sew along, where we will start the construction of the iconic Middy Blouse View B.
February 14, 2024