Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jareth I: Blouse

After I had decided to be Jareth for Halloween, the time came to chose patterns and fabrics for the costume.  The blouse seemed the easiest place to start, as I already had Simplicity 4077 in my embarrassingly large pattern stash.  It looks like this shirt in this outfit is silk or a thin satin; I went with satin.

To get in the Halloween mood, I put on a classic horror movie and set out to cut the pattern, only to discover I had purchased the wrong size.  (For those that don't know: patterns are usually sold in groups of sizes, usually sewing sizes 4 or 6 - 12 and 14+.  Also, sewing sizes are not the same as RTW sizes.)  My immediate response was to kick myself for my stupidity for a couple of minutes, but then I needed to do something about it.  The intelligent thing to do would to exchange the pattern for one in the correct size.   The problem with that was I couldn't tell you where or when I had bought the pattern, and I certainly had no receipt.  Well, okay, then I could just buy a new one.  Except that the fabric store had already closed for the night and the pattern was out of print, so they might not even have it in stock.  Plan C would have been to educate myself about pattern grading, a technique that allows you to scale a pattern up or down in size and something I had been meaning to do anyway.  Yes, this would have been the smart thing to do.  This was not what I did.

Featuring half-assed new markings
Readers, don't try this at home: I made up my own half-assed method.  It ended up working for me, but what a dumb idea.  Cut and spread, and other techniques, are all excellent ways of scaling the pattern.  Reading that information after the fact makes a lot of sense, actually.  Instead, what I did was take excess off at the seam.  This is really hard to explain in words, but I'll try.  I generally wear a sewing size ten, and the smallest in the envelope was fourteen (two sizes up).  I figured that the difference in bust-waist-hip measurements between the ten and the fourteen would be the same as the difference between the fourteen and the eighteen.  For example, the waist measurement of a ten is 25 inches and a fourteen's is 28, which is three inches; I figured that an eighteen's would be 31 inches, but it is actually 32.  Meh.  Again, it would have been smart to educate myself with some size charts, but I did not.

So I cut out an eighteen and then cut the fourteen out of that.  The little bits between the sizes I then cut out of the fourteen.  I told you this was hard to explain in words.

Anyway, after such a radical move (which I still kick myself over, even though the blouse turned out nicely), I wasn't going to take a gamble on the real satin, so I made a muslin, which is something I rarely do.  It actually ended up fitting rather well, with the exception of the armscye being too small.  I increased it and that was that for the muslin.

While view A has the jabot, it wasn't quite what I needed for the costume.  Jareth's jabot is made of satin with a lace trim (easy swap), has four ruffles (the pattern only has three), and the collar isn't fold-down; in fact, it is more like view D.  This ended up with me having to change how the jabot was attached.  The method the pattern uses is to sew it to ribbon and then tie it on under the collar.  My method was to sew in buttonholes under the ruffles for the first two buttons.  The last alteration I made was to increase the length of the sleeves by an inch and a half, which was still a bit too short.  (An aside, people are frequently envious of those with long legs, but long arms usually is part of the package deal there.  The sleeves of RTW clothes are nearly always too short.  And of course, pants usually aren't long enough either.  This is one of the things that led me to take up sewing.)

So despite making this project much harder than it needed to be, the sewing was pretty simple.  This could probably be tackled by a beginning sewist, but I wouldn't recommend satin to them.

Despite my inauspicious beginnings to this project, I am pretty pleased with how the blouse ended up turning out.  I think if I made this again, I would have made the ruffles on the jabot an inch or so longer so they would drape better.  This blouse will probably be entering my everyday-wear wardrobe.


  1. I actually get what you did to make it smaller. I'm usually doing the opposite though. I'm a voluptuous woman, and patterns seldom come big enough. So I eyeball it "hmm..I need to add another two inches here and smooth it out so the arm isn't for a giant."

    ...sadly, that only "kinda" works for me.

    I'm hoping to find someone who can teach me how to do alterations for a pattern.

    1. I am always surprised at what a small range of sizes that patterns come in. People on both ends of the spectrum get left out. Don't a lot of people learn to sew because RTW clothes don't fit them?

      Have you tried some of the Palmer/Pletsch courses? I never have, but I have heard a lot of people speak highly of them.

  2. I understood exactly what you were saying! Despite having taken numerous pattern drafting courses over the years, I so seldom alter a pattern anymore that I've completely forgotten how to do it, and end up resorting to your method. Should have made better notes, obviously.

    Yours turned out beautifully, and it's nice that you can use it in your everyday wardrobe so all that work wasn't only for one wearing!

    1. Thank you.

      I really need to take a course on how to alter a pants pattern, because I am completely intimidated by it. I keep saying I will, and then other things (like Halloween) get in the way. Dresses are just so much easier.

  3. I absolutely need a jabot! Was there are pattern? Can you do a DIY or tell me where to find one? I want one to make normal shirts look less boring!

    1. Yes, the jabot was included in the blouse pattern (Simplicity 4077 at, but I did alter it somewhat to get this. I made it out of satin instead of lace (I did edge it with lace though), added an extra ruffle, and attached it with buttonholes instead of ribbon. If you need more info than that, I can post more in-depth instructions.