Friday, January 24, 2014

Gertie's Portrait Blouse

I got a yard of rayon challis when I was last at Britex. This was the occasion when I bought several lengths of fabric having a general idea what I wanted to do with it but without checking the actual yardage requirements in advance. Bad idea. I really liked the colors in the rayon and thought it would make a nice blouse. When I bought the fabric I was thinking "sleeveless," but I've been trying to limit my sun exposure lately. Turns out that when you park Irish skin in a California beach town for 30 years, Bad Things can happen. So far nothing a squirt of liquid nitrogen can't fix, but it pays to be careful.

After looking through my ever-growing pattern collection, I thought the best fit for the fabric was the Portrait Blouse from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I thought I could squeeze it out of 1 yard of my narrow rayon and those cute little cap sleeves would shield my shoulders from the sun.
I've made this blouse once before, also from a small piece of rayon, in a Size 6. In that size the fit on me is loose enough that I feel like I really need to wear the top tucked in. Otherwise I have no waist and it looks like my bust is riding on my bellybutton. The good news is that the loose fit means I can wriggle in and out without needing a zipper. I like to avoid zips in blouses when I can because they often end up being a bit uncomfortable under a waistband or belt.

First rendition, Size 6
 This time I tried a Size 4, partly because that meant I wasn't overlapping my seam allowances into the selvage. Yes, my cutting layout was that tight. This version definitely needed a zip, but on the plus side, I think the fit is enough closer that I feel like I can wear it loose.

Most recent rendition, Size 4

I only got one picture of it on me that I thought was post-able. Not because of any lack of skill on the part of my favorite photographer but because in all the other shots either the blouse looked way too wrinkly or I looked way too wrinkly.

So here is my question: for my first version I bound the neck with bias tape.
Bias bound neckline
 On the second version, I hunkered down and used the facings. Even interfaced them.

Neckline with facings
I have to say I try to avoid using facings when I can because they seem to want to flip up and cause me problems. I try to be good about using interfacing and stay stitching, but the problems never seem to go away entirely. Especially because I try to avoid ironing even more that I try to avoid facings.

Don't get me wrong! I have learned from reading the excellent information available on all of your blogs that your iron is your best friend while sewing.  I am diligent about pressing seams and darts, even hems. I've even begun pressing my fabric before cutting out my pattern (wimped out on that one for years.) But once that garment is finished, it will probably never see the iron again in my house. It's sink or swim for my wardrobe. I take each item out of the dryer, give it one of those flick-of-the-wrist shakes and hang it up. Any little wrinkles that don't hang out are there for the duration.

This is what the faced neckline looked like directly after my usual shake-and-hang treatment:
Oh the horror... Maybe rayon isn't the best fabric for a lazy laundress like me
Pretty gnarly, huh? Unless I give it an intensive spit-powered finger pressing, I will be needing to iron this puppy after each wash. Which means it won't get worn that often. However, once it is ironed it looks pretty crisp and nice.

The bias-tape neckline comes out of the dryer looking fairly sweet, but not what I'd call crisp. And the fabric is already beginning to fray a bit where I trimmed the edges of the bias tape seams. Maybe I trimmed them too aggressively?

Do you prefer bias tape or facings for your necklines? And if you use both methods, how do you decide which one will work best for a particular garment?

My full review is on here.


  1. Oh its lovely to see this made up. I have Gerties book and this is the first pattern I'll day..
    Facings can be a pain. I've found that being diligent about prewashing fabric and interfacing has reduced my problems with them, or not using iron-on interfacing at all, just the fashion fabric, and understitching is also my friend. I almost always still have to iron though.

    1. I'll have to try using the fashion fabric! It would probably be just the right weight, plus one less special notion to buy. Thanks very much for the tip!