perfect peter pan collar...eventually

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pretty innocent-looking, right?
This is the little blouse that brought a grown woman to tears. Namely, me. After making a few skirts and simple dresses, I thought a sweet peter pan collar schoolgirl blouse would be a snap. It wasn't.
I started with a vintage pattern for a child's dress from the 1950's. I took out the darts, straightened the sides, added a shirttail hem, changed the closure from the back to the front, and made a muslin. Three muslins later, I was still having to reduce the shoulder width and increase the collar height. Proportions we so different back then!

I was excited to finally start sewing it up in the real material, an embroidered cotton lawn I bought on my shopping trip to Fabric Row in Philadelphia. I conscientiously chose a size 70/10 needle because of the fineness of the fabric. I even tested several interfacings to make sure I used just right one, not to heavy, not too wimpy.
click picture to enlarge
I gave myself a refresher course on collars by referring to my Readers Digest complete Guide to Sewing book that I used in college.
The book doesn't mentioned this, but I remember learning this sewing tip in college: Before assembling your collar, take the under collar, the piece that will receive the interfacing, and trim off a scant 1/16" from around the edge. After sewing, this will make the edge seaming roll ever so slightly toward the underside of the collar and look very clean.
I did everything right, then BAM! Collar #1 gets scorched by the iron. Collar #2 gets a smudge of grease sent up from the feed dogs of my newly-serviced machine that I don't notice until it's sewn to the body. I give soaking a try but can't get it out. RIIIIIP! Collar #3 is great, but then the placket gets scorched through the press cloth. Hmmmm, better turn down the iron, I'm crying now. DO OVER! Body #2 and collar #4 make it to the finish line. Lets just make a note: cotton lawn is not easy to work with. It gets overworked very quickly if you have to rip out anything and resew. Best to get it perfect the first time. All I can say is, buy extra fabric just in case.
Lawn is also very sheer. I decided serged side seams would show through too much, so opted for french seams. French seams give the sleekest, most professional finish, and are not hard to do. For a regular seam, I do a 1/2 allowance, so for a french seam, which is in two steps, I take just 1/4" with WRONG sides together (the opposite of what you'd usually do). Once sewn, trim the allowance down to 1/8".
The flip the garment so RIGHT sides are together now. Press your already sewn side seams flat and stitch again 1/4" from the edge. Now that raw edge is enclosed in a neat little tube that looks nice and will prevent fraying.
Whew, it's finally done and only took 3 or 4 weeks! Friends, this is one reason why I don't try out for Project Runway. If I can't finish a simple shirt in a day, how am I going to manage and evening gown or suit?

I won't even go into the mind-numbing hours spent doing the size grading. I was so very spoiled when I worked in the garment industry. We designers only worried about the sample size, and then the pattern would get sent off somewhere to be graded into sizes and made into production patterns. It cost thousands per style to have done. Now I get to do all those steps myself!

Now to determine pricing... if I give myself $20 per hour and I spent 50 hours on it... well... it would add up to a lot. I'm going to have to pick up the pace, I think.


Jasmine said...

I think I will do this for me, but i'm an adult.. Hm, the thing is that my favorite blouse just burst and because I bought it second hand I can't get a new one.. I was so happy when I found this post and saw that the shirt you made for your daughter is almost a copy of my favorite blouse! I would just like to know which designs you followed when you did the blouse? I think I get how to do the collar. I would be so thankful if you replied!

Lots of hugs,

Jasmine in sweden

Becky said...

Jasmine, I just Googled "peter pan blouse pattern" and many vintage patterns came up for sale in all different sizes. A quick browse through the modern pattern suppliers didn't have any luck. I used a vintage pattern myself for the blouse. You can also find vintage patterns on Etsy. You could also try tracing off your own pattern from the blouse that you have since you loved it so much. But that would be an advanced project.


Jasmine said...

Hi again,

Oh thank you so much for the tip. I will try my best, I'm pretty bad at sewing and so, believe me- I've tried.. But I will ask a friend of mine to help me. But thank you again, you did a great work with the blouse!

But I have to ask you something else, I just browsed around your blog and saw that you sell clothes on etsy and also the beautilful blouse. But not in my size of course- I may be thin but not like that, haha! Just have to ask you if it's a chance you would sew one of this pretty blouses in an adult size to me? I would be very interested in the future to buy one if it would be available.

Thanks again and have a great night,


Becky said...

Right now I don't have any plans to sell women's sizes. It is very time consuming to make new patterns and prototypes unfortunately.

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