Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finished project: Violet

When I found out about Julia Bobbin's Mad Men challenge (bonus: she's currently hosting a giveaway for some amazing deep purple silk peau de soie!), I pretty much dropped everything and obsessed over what character's dress to use as my inspiration, blah blah blah. But, then I started to feel guilty for abandoning my already cut-out Violet blouse, so, once I'd squared away my Mad Men inspiration, pattern, fabric, etc., I decided to finish up Violet. I don't think I've officially announced this, but one of my goals for the year is to produce a minimum of one piece a month - my "Good Intentions" dress was January, Violet will take care of this month, and my Mad Men dress will be March. Yay for goals!
Here she is! (Still struggling with photo lighting, but had some help from filmmaker boyfriend.)
So, if you remember, I was a little bit intimidated by some of the elements of this blouse - mainly the 7 buttonholes. In addition to the buttonholes lined up down the front of the blouse, the collar, puff sleeves, and yoke were actually all firsts for me. Oh, and working with this type of fabric - Swiss dot. All in all, this blouse was easy to sew up and the instructions were clear and simple to follow (thank you Colette Patterns!). Where I struggled was really with aspects of the project that were...well, more my fault.

Fabric choice, for instance. The Swiss dot fabric was annoying to work with. It frayed a lot, everywhere, and as soon as I'd carefully hand-tacked the back neck facing to the back of the shirt, to keep it from flipping up, the stitches tore through the thin fabric. Also, it's pretty sheer, and, being used/vintage, happens to have some areas of slight discoloration that I only noticed once I'd started sewing. Boo.

When I did start to sew, I'd thought I was being such a smarty pants by changing to the smaller needle recommended by my machine manual for such lightweight fabric, but still found that any stitches I made and removed left rather visible holes in the fabric, especially in portions that were not underlined (like the sleeves and back yoke). That's right, I did underline most of the thing, to cut down on the see-through factor, which also helped bulk up the finished blouse a bit (in a good way). Without underlining, this baby would have been a sheer, wispy sack, if you ask me. 
Tucked into a vintage green wool skirt I never seem to have anything to wear with.  (The corner of my sewing area seemed to have the best lighting.)
I also struggled a bit with getting the blue chalk marks off of the fabric once I'd sewn up the pieces, especially on the darts. Amateur issue, I'm sure.  Did I mention this fabric is see-through? Anyone have a recommendation/secret for getting chalk out of sheer (or any) fabrics? I tried some water after brushing the marks off didn't work, but to no avail. Maybe I should have used some other type of marking tool?

The dreaded buttonholes proved to be another issue. At first, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to better control where my machine stitched the holes, compared to buttonholes I've tried in the past (maybe I'm getting better?), but I still made some mistakes with how I'd marked them and ended up having to rip out two whole buttonholes and re-do 'em. Then, also due to my poor marking skillz, I managed to attach the bottom three buttons onto the placket just ever-so-slightly unevenly, so they don't quite match up with the buttonholes. This resulted in some bunchyness once I buttoned the blouse. Whatever, though, this is something I can go back and adjust later.

And my big mistake? I wasn't paying attention and sewed the buttonholes on the left side of the shirt, instead of the right, like a guys' shirt. Meh. :-/

Giggling at the cute cameraman. (Ack, I need a haircut!)
Lastly, the collar. I do love a peter pan collar. In a perfect world, though, this collar would lie flatter, but I can live with it, or try to fiddle with it later. I think there may be an issue with the fit of the neckline which causes the collar area to gap in the front a bit, in addition to just not wanting to lie flat. Maybe next time I'll try cutting a smaller size? Also, I wish I'd been able to make the shape of the collar more even, but that'll just have to wait until next time, too.

Despite all of my issues and complaining, :) I think I'd definitely sew this pattern up again - just maybe not with such thin, sheer fabric. I know some sewists out there in blogland mentioned that they found the Violet to be a bit too boxy on them, but I like the loose fit. It's comfortable (I don't have to suck in my gut, yay!) and makes it easy to tuck the top into a skirt or something. It does make for a more casual look, though.

If you're thinking of trying out Colette Patterns' Violet, here are a couple of my favorites I've noticed around the internets. (There's also a flickr group with about a million beautiful examples) Check 'em out and get inspired!


  1. Your new blouse is darling, Sue! You should be proud.

    It's funny how everything just starts to hit the fan when you're already well into a sewing project, and you just have to keep going on (or not). But when I do, and I finish my garment, when I bewail all of these mishaps and point them out to my roommate, she always looks at me blankly. She only sees the fabulous finished project and not the screwups that seem so obvious to me. She's not a good enough actor to be faking it. So there!

    Oh, have you laundered the blouse yet? The chalk marks will almost certainly come out in the wash.


    1. Thanks, Blythe! I know I'm overly critical of things I sew. I should just call this blog "confessions of an insecure, sewing-obsessed complainer," haha. It does feel better to get it all out though!

      Thanks also for the tip about the chalk. I have not laundered the blouse yet, so hopefully that'll do the trick, since plain ol' water didn't help.

  2. I love it! I still don't have this pattern for some insane reason?! Love your green skirt too Sue!

    1. Thanks - you should definitely get it! I do highly recommend Violet, despite my personal issues. ;)

  3. So cute!!!!! I'd love to break out of my comfort zone and buy some patterns for shirts. So far I have only made dresses and skirts. I struggle to find nice shirts that fit snuggly around my (tiny) bust. Maybe handmaking them is the way to go! I love your shirt, cute collars :)
    PS. Can't wait to see your finished Mad Men dress :D

    1. Thanks, Neeno! If you're looking for a shirt pattern to try (which I think you should!), I'd recommend starting with something simple. I used New Look 6808 for my first one and liked it. :)

  4. Its so cute and pretty. Its fabric is so smooth and nice. I like colour and small design of this dress.



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