I love, love, love Louise Cutting’s Ebb (empire style on the right). This pattern absolutely fascinates me. I’ve decided that a mature, curvy woman carefully drafted this pattern and only released it after multiple tests and tweaks. Take for example the button placement. The buttons are low enough to be alluring, high enough to be modest. An event where more modesty is desirable, don’t fold the revers open. The drop sleeve? Just dropped enough to make for an easy sleeve insertion. I hate drop sleeves where the shoulder line hits the bicep. They are restricting and not the least bit flattering. This drop-sleeve shoulder-line is also figure enhancing for those of us with narrow shoulders. I imagine, and could be wrong, that the broad-shouldered person would find that it fits their shoulders pretty well. I’m a real fan of large facings. In fact, I either want BIG facings or none at all (use bias tape). I don’t like fiddling with little pieces. Not only are these facings generously sized, but Louise explains how to tack them into place. This stitching is still (the pattern is several years old) a fashionable detail as well as being a wonderful control for a floppy piece.
The empire seam astonishes me. It is perfectly placed, with only the barest minimum ease. The garment front gently covers my tummy without giving me that “preggers” look. The empire seam is not repeated on the back which also eliminates any preggers suggestion. The ease and placement of the empire is perfect. Louise has made this into a beautiful, flattering line which enhances the upper torso and bust. Add to that, the sleeve is wonderful. It is a perfect length with a neat and easy vent detail at the hem.
I’ve made this pattern in the past, but changed sizes, so a muslin, or in my case a wearable-muslin was in order. I chose to use a 100% cotton, oriental print, purchased from Fabric.com about a year ago. I loved this fabric on-screen. Adored it in person. Downside is the color. I wear very little red (or at least I did). I’ve petted this fabric often, but always put it back in my stash. I decided now was the time. If all is well, I will have a beautiful blouse for a long time. If not, well I can wear it off and on at least in the current season.
I chose to make a size medium based on the finished measurements. That’s another thing I love about CLD patterns. The finished measurements are there in black and white. I don’t have to figure out where the hip, waist and bust are in relation to pattern; measure and hope I got it right. Louise tells me the things I need to know to be sure I’m right. I did my standard alterations ( a 1″ back waist length followed by a 1″ narrow shoulder adjustment). If this pattern had been from the Big 4, I would have been measuring, measuring, measuring, trimming tissue, altering, pinning together, try on Mimie and then….. well more and more fiddling with tissue. Louise knows what it takes to make a great pattern with great fit and she drafts in all these seemingly little details that make sewing wonderful.
I think my buttons are 1960′s vintage. They are plastic and part of my inheritance when DM passed. I was amazed at how well the buttons looked with this fabric and glad to be able to use them.
I curved the hem – 1/4″ CB and CF, 2″ on the sides. I like how the hem looks but more importantly it gave me the chance to try out a particular baby-hem procedure. This baby-hem is stitched once about 1/4″ above the raw edge. (For my convenience, I stitched 1/2″ above. You know, I hate fiddly pieces.) The hem is then folded with the stitching just showing on the wrong side (aka favoring the wrong side). I pressed it into place, but don’t know if that’s required. This is followed with a 2nd line of stitching almost on top of the first. Then on the wrong side the fabric is trimmed just above the stitching. Next, the fabric is turned up minimally one more time. I turned up about 1/8″ but I think you could do even less. The hem is stitched for a third and final time right along the edge. The end result is a gorgeous narrow hem. Back:
Front (public side):
Generally, I prefer at least a 1″ hem because I like the hem to pull the fabric down and into place with its weight. I used this narrow hem here because of my curved hem. A 1″ hem can be bulky or ripple on the inside which shows on the outside. This hem worked really well on the 100% cotton. I think though that I would prefer to use it with transparent, semi-transparent or very light weight fabrics. I thought this was the perfect time to test the hem. This is a “wearable muslin”. It is the time and place to try out different things. By using the baby hem here, I can tell how difficult it is to execute, whether it is durable and how badly it flips to the outside. OK all 3 of those can change depending upon the fabric being used. But using 100% cotton give me a good baseline.
I won’t go into detail about the construction sequence. But I did want to mention how it seemed like I was sewing this little detail here and then that one and suddenly I was sewing the side seams and DONE. I really liked the instructions. I did make one other change. I stitched my buttonholes before anything else. I mean, I cut the fabric, stabilized the curves with bias tape, fused the needed interfacing and the pressed the front facing into place. Buttonholes were the first thing I stitched. This is so great. Most of the time buttonholes are the last thing stitched which means you get the whole garment done only to ruin it with this critical detail.
So how is the fit:
I’m really happy with the front and side. Just a bit disappointed that this fabric disguises the empire line and I wonder if the curved hem doesn’t look more like a hiked hem. Maybe 2″ was not enough curve. Know what? That’s what a wearable muslin is supposed to tell you (that you want to curve the hem more when it’s “for real”). I don’t have the revers folded in the pic. The blouse is more attractive on me if the revers if folded to creat a V neckline. I was checking this position and will say that if I really planned not to fold the revers, I would want to lower the front neckline about half an inch. This is a personal preference thing, not a pattern error. The height of the neckline on me is slightly irritating. I notice it while you wouldn’t — at least on me. Since I hate fussing with my garments when they are worn, I’d make the effort to fix this to my personal preference.
This picture exemplifies another way to test “your colors”. I’m not wearing any make up in these photos. Yes I washed my face, added a little moisturizer. Even brushed my hair and teeth. But I’ve made no enhancements to my coloring. Yet, I look healthy. This red give my skin a nice glow. You even see my thin lips. When I’m wearing this garment, I could possibly get away with adding nothing more than a little eye makeup. This exact red is not in my official color chart. That’s because the commercial charts put together colors that not only look good on you but look good with all the other colors in your chart. Knowing that this color looks good on me, I will buy and use it again. I know that sounds contrary but the fact is I keep basic garments in 3 colors black, brown and navy blue. I can wear this color with my basics. I just can’t wear it with every garment in my closet.
Onto a quick evaluation of the back
It’s comfortable but like the Vintage Blouse shared yesterday, today’s blouse feels just slightly tight between the shoulders and hip. I think the pic is confirming my feeling when it shows the folds of fabric in the middle of my back and above the hip. Possibly, the length is the real error. The pattern is drafted for a 2″ hem. I trimmed 1/4″ from CF and CB making this garment longer than it was designed. That was an oversight on my part. I prefer the length drafted. I’m not sure if I will change the hem on this garment or the pattern. The pattern is drafted with side vents. I didn’t think I needed them because I was curving the hem. I could be wrong. I will add 1/4-1/2″ ease across the hips. Not sure how much because it depends on how I make the alteration. If I make the alteration center back, 1/8″ will add 1/4″ ease which I think is about right. Problem is a CB alteration changes the neck and shoulder line. The facing would also need changing -a minor point IMO. I’m more concerned about how the neckline and drop-shoulder line would be effected. Alternatively I could make the change to the side seams adding 1/4″. This would add 1/2″ ease(1/4″ at each side). I would need to redraw the armscye and possible the sleeve cap. I’m OK with making changes to the armscye it is the sleeve cap that worries me. If I choose to alter at the side seam, I could also vary the amount added at the hip.(My generous seating room always appreciates this consideration.)
I’ve not decided what changes to make. But I have decided I still love the Ebb Blouse pattern.