First off, I have to tell you a little back story. I learned how to sew on the machine right after my oldest son was born. I wanted to make baby blankets, curtains, pillows, all the things. I took a group class upstairs in a small vacuum and sewing shop. I was the only one who showed up, so I was lucky enough to receive a one on one class from the sweetest lady. Fast forward a few years and I was making bags, more pillows and PJs along with halloween costumes for my kids.
I stumbled upon our local public television station and saw they had sewing shows! I DVR'd them all with delight, and glittery sparkles were in the air. I would wake up early Saturday morning and watch as many as I could until my kids woke up. Nancy Zieman was amongst a few others I got to know through television. Then, one day this girl with pink hair did a short segment on sewing. I can't remember what she made, but I was in awe. She was young and had pink hair and sewed!?? Whaaatt!??
I immediately googled her name and found her you tube channel. I could make things for me? I never thought of that. I assumed I would only make things for my kids and gifts for friends and family. Gretchen Hirsch a.k.a. Gertie opened my eyes and my heart. She seemed so cool and sweet.
I have all of her books, a lot of her fabric and patterns. Saying I LOVE her, is an understatement. Not in a creepy stalker way though, I promise.
I think as parents and adults, we sometimes lose ourselves. We get caught up in the day to day life and just join everyone else in robot mode. Once I discovered I could make my own pretty things, I enjoyed life and found myself again. If you feel like you're in a funk, I encourage you to find someone that you can find inspiration from. And, hopefully who radiates beauty and positivity like she does for me.
So, without further ado, I want to share my step by step process of making her Rita blouse. Oh and did I tell you I met her in person last spring? She's as beautiful in person as she is in her books and on TV. She truly is a sweet soul. I bought this pattern from her at her tea party she hosted in Las Vegas. Not brag or anything, but it's autographed. #winning
Open up the pattern envelope. If you want to lightly iron the pattern to get out the wrinkles, do it with a dry iron on low setting.
Decide which size you're going to cut based on your measurements. The envelope said I should be a size 10, but I chose to make a size 8 using the DD cup. It fit me perfectly! This top is supposed to have a form fit, so I took a gamble.
Cut out the pattern or transfer it to pattern paper. I traced mine onto freezer paper. Freezer paper is what I use to trace all my patterns, it's easy and a frugal option. Win-win!
Use your ruler to match the grain line with the pattern lines. My line isn't 100% straight, but you get the idea.
Time to cut out the pieces. Use your rotary cutter or scissors. Mark each piece with chalk or an air/water soluble marker. This blouse has quite a few pieces, it helps to mark them with their number.
Finish the edges however you prefer. Serge or use a zigzag stitch. You can also use pinking shears. Gertie says to sew from bottom to the top. So far, so good. I'm still alive at this point and am happy to report I'm tear free.
How you doing?
Time to assemble it all together. Take a deep breath, here we go.
Take pattern piece # 3 and lay it right side face down. Pin piece 4 to the right and left sides, matching notches.
Then take piece # 5 and lay it facing right side up. Pin both #6 pieces , matching notches.
Be sure to match the notches, these pieces are cut with a curve, you don't want to have to get out the nasty seam ripper.
Stitch the front to the back at the right side seam, right sides together. Again, starting from the bottom and sewing upwards to avoid distortion.
Press those lovely seams open. Don't skip this step. Pressing is what takes your garment from looking homemade to handmade. There's a difference. ;)
Your lower portion should look something like this. I left my seam allowances untrimmed.
Now it's time to make the gathers for the bust pieces.There are 2 ways to do this.
Option 1: Attach the ruffler foot. This will take a bit of time and make you want to throw your machine out the window because it will eat the fabric and we'll all be crying. This info was provided from a friend. ;)
Option 2: Increase the stitch length to 5. Sew 2 rows of parallel stitching, making sure to leave long thread tails. Pull the bobbin thread and make the gathers even. No tears.
You pick the way that works best for you.
Sew the gathers between the dots. You'll do this for both the front and back bodice pieces. An easy way to remember which is which for; 1 line of gathers on the back because you have 1 back (hopefully). 2 rows of gathers on the front because, well... you have 2.... ya know.
Right sides together, sew both upper bodice pieces together at the right side seam. Leave the left seam untouched. It's starting to look like a shirt! Woop Woop!
Sewing an invisible zipper is .... well, it's no walk in the park. I have ripped so many out and I have a serious love/hate relationship with them. But, they really do look better and when sewn correctly, spark joy. Gertie has a fabulous tutorial on her blog for sewing these suckers. You tube has a lot of videos as well. I won't even attempt to tell you how. But, it does help to do a basting stitch first- so when I rip it out 14 times, it's easier to rip out the thread with the seam ripper. Ugh!
After the zipper is successfully in and you haven't set the shirt on fire. You'll need to finish sewing up the left side seam. Gertie recommends that you leave a thin gap and do not sew straight up to the zip seam. This is the only way I don't get puckers. Seems silly and bizarre, but it's genius and works like a magical fairy dust! Cue blissful music. Yay for no puckers!! That's puckers, with a P.
Time to get those sleeves put together. This is easy peasy. Sew up the short ends right sides together. Press the seam open.
Set the sleeves into the blouse matching the seams and notches, right sides together.
Stitch and trim seam allowance. Press the seam downs. Make sure you pay attention to this. I sewed my sleeves on inside out first... Yeah, I'm special.
Houston we have sleeves! Yaaay!! Give yourself a pat on the back or take a swig of whiskey, you did it. It's all downhill from here.
Make the casings in the neckline and sleeves for the elastic. Be sure to leave enough room for the elastic in the neckline. Watch out for seams, they tend to get thick. The pattern instructions has the elastic length measurements for the size you're sewing. However, I don't consider myself to have large arms, but the length was not enough for me. I don't like tight armholes. I ended up ripping out the elastic and using a much longer length. This is just a heads up...
Use a safety pin to run the elastic through the casing.
I used clips for the neckline and sleeves. Use pins or clips, whichever you prefer. But, it did help to keep the edge folded over while I sewed them up.
After you have put the elastic through both arms and the neckline, try the blouse on. Adjust elastic lengths according to your own comfort level. I needed less in the neckline and more in the arms. Once you've found your desired length, sew the elastic ends together with a zigzag stitch. Sew the casing openings, closed.
All that's left to do now is the hem. Go outside and do a cartwheel if you want! Or, just finish that hem and carry on with life likes it's no big deal. You just made a top... #nbd
Did you find this blouse easy to make? Are you going to make 5 in every color? Yeah, me too!!
Hopefully I covered everything in this post, but if you have questions, ask in the comments and I'll respond quickly. Thanks for hanging out today.
Hi there, I'm Annette and I love eating and sewing. I usually have a cup of coffee or tea with me, but not next to my machine because I'd probably spill it. I am the reason we can't have nice things.