June 21, 2020
For day three of the 211 Two Middies Sew Along, we are doing to start on View B of the pattern - cutting out the pattern, fabric, and begin on the front/back, neck and collar. Check out Day 1 and Day 2 of the Sew Along!
This much-loved Middy blouse design (View B from 211 Two Middies pattern) has become synonymous with the iconic nautical aesthetic that came into being in the early 1920's and has endured over a century later. It's popularity continues because not only of its carefree charm, but it is as practical to wear, as it is comfortable. The multiple details of this blouse add so much character to what is actually a very easy blouse to make. The well proportioned iconic collar is the initial detail that sets this blouse apart from other over-the-head-pull-on tops. The unique sleeve construction and hip band with subtle pleats, are not only easy to execute, but worthy of closer inspection.
Once you realize how easy and quick this blouse is to make, you will most likely adopt this Middy Blouse as a new staple in your wardrobe. I am very excited to be sharing the making of this blouse with you, for it is a favorite, that I make nearly every season!
Trace the pattern pieces for the front of the Middy Blouse View B.
Let's get started! For today's Sew Along, we will concentrate on the making of the front of the blouse.
First, trace and/or cut out View B pattern pieces: Front G and Back H, Front Facing I, Tab J, Pocket K, Collar (& Facing) L.
You can also cut out the other pieces to this pattern at this time: Sleeve Pieces M and N; Hip Band P; and Cuff O. We will be using these pieces in tomorrow's Sew Along installment. There are different hip band and cuffs for men's and women's sizes, so make sure you cut the one you want to use.
Pattern Pieces needed for Middy Blouse View B
Making Pattern Adjustments and Preparing Fabric for Cutting
Before pining your pattern pieces to your fabric, take a moment to consider any sizing adjustments you might like to make. While a size small fits me just fine through the bust measurement, I have decided to make a bit of an adjustment to the width of the bottom of the blouse where it joins to the hip band. A little bit more width at the bottom would allow for a tad more room, therefore easier wearing. I am going to make this adjustment to the pattern pieces I have already traced and cut out. These adjustments could just as easily be made before cutting out the traced pattern.
Pattern Grading Adjustment
This adjustment is easily accomplished with a simple technique referred to as "grading" between sizes. This simple and subtle grading technique only deals with adding a bit of width added in the side seams.
Adding a 1/4 inch seam allowance at the side seams of the blouse bottom edge (both front & back), as well on the side seam edges of the hip band will add about an inch to the width at the hips, grading the hip size to between a size Small and Medium.
When making adjustments, do so on a traced pattern. It is always a good idea to keep the original pattern intact.
Start by adding a new piece of tracing paper to the back of pattern pieces Front G and Back H. Add extra tracing paper that is large enough to make the adjustment needed. Secure the new strip of tracing paper to the pattern piece with a bit of tape on the back side. You may want to tape on the front too.
With the new strip of tracing paper securely in place, draw a horizontal line straight off the bottom edge of Front G and Back H. Then add the measurement width required depending on the size you are making. For my blouse I am adding a measurement of 1/4 inch to the bottom edge of Front G and Back H.
Using a straight edge ruler, draw a straight line connecting the arm pit curve point to the 1/4 inch measurement increase just made. The original edge of the blouse is a straight 90 degree angle, so this grading line is subtle and does not change the shape of the blouse or the drape in a noticeable manner.
Cut Pattern Pieces from the Fabric.
Note that I am only pinning the pattern pieces we are using for this portion of the Sew Along. The other pieces will be featured in the next Sew Along Day 4. Go ahead and cut all your pattern pieces at this time if you like.
You will cut one each, on the fold, of Front G and Back H; one each of Front Facing I, Pocket K, and Tab J; two each of Collar and Facing L, Sleeve pieces M & N, Hip Band P, and Cuffs O. Do not cut the slash line on the Front or Front Facing. We will do this in another step.
Your fabric pieces should look like this illustration.
Step One: The Front Of Middy Blouse B
The detail elements (pocket, tab, and front facing) on the Middy Blouse View B all have a function and add interesting charm. The Front Facing is sewn on as a re-enforcing detail that will only be seen near the collar on the front side of the blouse. The Pocket and Tab details are prepared and applied to the front before the shoulder seams of Front G and Back H are assembled.
Prepare and Add the Front Facing
To ensure a neat and clean turned under edge for the Front Facing, simply create a turning guide using a straight stitch along the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Do not back stitch at the beginning or end of the stitching as this will allow you to easily remove the stitching when finished. Turn under the side edges and curve toward the wrong side of the fabric. Clip around the curve, as needed and only to the stitching, so that the turned under fabric will lay down smoothly and flat. Press to create a smooth crisp edge. Once the edges are turned under and pressed, the stitching guide line can be removed.
With right sides together, pin the Front Facing to Front G. Match the center opening slash line and the boxes matching your size, at the bottom of the slash line.
Sew a straight stitch, 1/4 inch on either side of the slash line, tapering at the bottom to the box.
An illustration of the stitch line and slash line have been added for clarity.
With small scissors carefully cut the slash line to the box. Do not cut into or beyond, the stitch line. You may or may not want to carefully clip away a small amount of the excess seam allowance (if your fabric is loosely woven skip the clipping).
Turn the facing to the wrong side of Front G. Using your fingers to help shape the edges and the bottom curve and press.
Secure and neatly finish off the facing on the inside, or wrong side, of the blouse by hand stitching or topstitching on the sewing machine right at the edge of the facing. The stitching happens on the wrong side of the blouse, using the Front Facing edge as a guide. I have chosen to top-stitch on the sewing machine. Remember, the top-stitching will be seen on the right side, so take your time to help ensure a nice finish.
Make Tab J
To make the Tab J, fold lengthwise with right sides together. This time stitch a 1/4 inch seam allowance along the long edge and one of the short edges. Trim the seam allowance to make turning easier and eliminate bulk, then turn the tab right side out. Tuck the remaining short side raw edge under, and press.
Using the the markings on pattern piece Front G, apply the finished Tab by top-stitching down on the short edges. Be sure to back stitch a few times to secure and reinforce the tab.
Make Pocket K
Using the guide on the pattern, turn and press under 1/2 inch at the top of Pocket K. Turn under another 1/2 inch and press again for a total of a one inch. Press to create a crisp edge. Stitch a topstitch close to the pressed edge to finish the top edge of the pocket.
Fold the remaining edges under 1/2 inch and press, but do not top-stitch. The remaining top-stitching comes a bit later when the pocket is sewn to the blouse front.
Note: If adding any details or embellishments to the pocket, do so before the pocket is applied to the blouse. We will be covering embellishments on the last day of the sew along, so stay tuned if you are planning to add any details.
Add Pocket and Tab Details to the Blouse Front
Next, position and pin the pocket to the left side of Front G, as indicated on the pattern, or in the position that suits you. Be sure all the raw edges are turned under and neatly pressed. Pin the pocket to the blouse front. Top-stitch close to the pressed edge and pivot at the bottom point and corners. Back stitch at the beginning and end to secure. You can also re-enforce the top corners by stitching a small rectangle or triangle.
Position the tab according to the placement on the pattern, centering under the front slash opening, and pin into place. Secure the tab in place and re-enforce the sides by stitching the short ends of the tab several times.
Step Two: The Shoulder Seams and Collar
With all the Front G details made, the shoulder seams are sewn up next. With right sides together pin the shoulder seams, matching the notches of Front G and Back H. Stitch on the 1/2 inch seam allowance, and press the seams to the back of the blouse, and finish.
I have chosen to finish the seams together in this blouse, and therefore all seams will be pressed in one direction, which is normally to the back of the garment.
After having pressed the shoulder seams, I decided to top-stitch the seam right at the edge. This is often a prudent exercise, for the top-stitching not only holds the seam allowance towards the back of the garment. But it also creates some strength at a stress point, especially for a thin weight fabric like the handkerchief linen I am using to make View B. You can also finish the shoulder seam with a serger before stitching it down. This creates what is often called a faux flat-felled seam.
A blind hem stitch presser foot is an excellent tool for top-stitch along an edge.
The blouse is coming along, but the addition of the collar is the point where the blouse really starts to take shape.
If adding any details or embellishments to the collar, do so while the collar is two separate pieces. It is much easier to work with flat fabric and before the two collar pieces are pined and sewn together. Be sure that any embellishments or details do not fall with in the seam allowance, unless this is your intention. We will be covering embellishments in the last day of our sew along, so stay tuned!
With right sides together, pin all un-notched edges of the collar. Leaving the neck open for turning right side out. This opening in the collar is where the collar attaches to the back neck edge and the front side edges. Stitch at the 1/2 inch seam allowance, back stitch when pivoting at the corners for reinforcement. This will help maintain the corners when the seams are turned right side out. Trim the seam allowances and turn right side out. Press the edges, being sure to roll the edges slightly to the underneath side of the collar. This will create a neat finish, which is also a simple, but telling tailoring technique. This "underneath" side of the collar is called the facing (or collar facing).
Collar edges all pined and ready to be sewn up.
With right sides together, match and pin the center back notch of only the underneath side of the collar, or collar facing, to the center back neck notch of the blouse. Then pin the collar facing edge to the front edges on either side of the neck opening on the blouse. Start pinning from the center working out to the edges. Do this on the right and left side of the center back point. You will need to carefully ease the two pieces together, adjusting the pinning as you go. Stitch the collar facing and the back neck edge together, using the 1/2 inch seam allowance. Notice that the upper collar is still not attached and is waiting its turn.
The under collar pinned to the back neck edge. Notice that the upper collar is unattached at this point.
Carefully clip the curve of the neck edge to allow the fabric to spread slightly and therefore lay smoothly at the back of the neck. Make the clips into the fabric edge stopping slightly before the seam stitching. Be very careful to not clip into or beyond the seam stitching. If you do, you will be cutting into the collar and back of the neck! Be sure to leave the upper collar free. Turn under the edge of the upper collar to create the finished edge of the inside back of the neck. Use the neck stitching as a guide as where to turn the edge under (you will turn under the collar by about 1/2 inch). The turned under edge should conceal the stitching edge.
Clip the curve at the neckline before securing the upper collar.
Next we need to sew the upper collar to the back neck edge, by hand using a simple whip stitch or if you are a seasoned sewist you can use the stitch-in the-ditch method.
Here I am going to concentrate on using a hand-stitch method while rolling the neck of the collar. Despite what you might think, hand stitching is a very satisfying and relaxing task. It can also go surprisingly fast and look much better in instances like this. There are times in sewing, when the results using the sewing machine are simply not as nice as a hand sewn stitch. Hand stitching is a good option for finishing work and it allows for more control. The stitch placement and size are easily controlled if done by hand.
The most important part about hand stitching is to pin the area you need to stitch with as many pins as it takes to hold the fabric securely. The pins help to keep the edges together so you can concentrate solely on the stitching. Remove the pins one at a time as you stitch. Hand basting the collar to the neck is also a great option so that you don't prick your fingers and hands while hand stitching the collar down. Just sewing a running stitch, going in and out of the fabric every 1/2' to 1" along the seam.
Before you begin the final hand stitching of the turned under collar edge to the back of the blouse neck, it is important to note that a subtle technique should be incorporated. This technique will help to ensure a nice roll at the back of the neck. Your neck and shoulders have a roll and so should the neck edge of the blouse. The goal is not to have the collar lay completely flat against the neck and shoulders of the blouse.
To make this slight roll, hold the collar at the neck between your thump and fingers and allow the collar to drape backward over your hand. This slight roll that happen naturally when the fabric falls backward, is all that it takes to make the roll. Use a few pins to hold the roll in place.
Because the collar has rolled backward, a bit of the 1/2 inch turned under seam allowance has been consumed by the roll. You will find the 1/2 inch turned under edge you had to work with has now been reduced by as much as 1/4 inch. This is what you should expect.
First begin turning under the edge, at the outer edges of each side of the collar, being sure the folded edge lays flat and tucks under. Move the edges of the collar and the edge of the blouse opening up to each other so they meet aligning perfectly. Notice where the collar and the neck edges align in the photo below.
Turning the upper collar edge under so it tucks up and into the edge of the blouse opening.
When turning the finishing edge under, use the neck stitch line as a guide. You want to cover up the neck stitching line with the turned under edge. Pin the turned under edge in place to secure while hand stitching.
Creating the neck roll, while pinning the upper collar to the back of the neck of the blouse
The upper collar rolled and pinned into position to ready for hand-stitching.
Next begin the hand whip stitching. Keep your whip stitches evenly spaced as small as possible. When working, stitch right up to the pin, then remove the pins as you go. Whip stitch all the way across the back of the neck and secure your thread by tying a double knot. Before snipping my thread I like to put the thread back on the needle and slip the thread under a few stitched to conceal the thread tail.
Raw edge of upper collar turned under and being hand whip stitched to finish the neck edge.
Hand stitched collar edge. Notice the nice roll of the neck.
With the collar hand stitched on the front blouse details are complete.
Hope you found this portion of the Middy Blouse View B Sew Along informative and enjoyable. Join me for Day Four and we will complete View B of the Middy Blouse.