Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Elsie Overshirt in Les Fleurs

I'm jumping on the Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs bandwagon with this blouse, the Style Arc Elsie Overshirt!

(So, confession: I didn't know what Rifle Paper Co. was until their fabric collaboration with Cotton + Steel. I pretty much have blinders for anything not sewing/fabric related...)

I chose to sew the Elsie after seeing the beautiful striped version that Christy at Clever Tinker made... I had visions of my own striped version out of another Cotton + Steel fabric in my stash (the black and white striped Zephyr), but I only had 2 yards and couldn't stripe match the way I wanted to. Similarly, I only had 2 yards of the Les Fleurs, but I figured the print was busy enough that I could cut the shirt out with no pattern matching. I squeezed everything out, just barely. I think it turned out fine, no blossom boob (also, just barely).

For my Elsie, I went with a size 16, which was a good choice. I feel comfy in this size. It's snug enough at the bust (bust shaping is via side seam bust darts, the points of which are camouflaged by the pockets) and fits well in the shoulders, but is loose and boxy the way it's meant to be elsewhere. Plus, I didn't have to do a full bicep adjustment on the sleeves, hooray!

Elsie has some nice details: a lovely box pleat in the back and a cute two-level split hem, patch pockets, tabs on the sleeves for rolling them up. And that neckline!!

The fabric, obviously, is rayon challis. We have a love/hate relationship, rayon challis and me. Love to wear it, but hate to sew with it. I find it difficult to cut and sew. My uninterfaced pieces stretched out a bit so the undersides of my collar are full of small gathers (the visible bits are fine). My neckline also stretched slightly because I stupidly forgot to staystitch (the instructions didn't mention staystitching, but I should have known better). I ended up having to use a basting stitch along the back neckline to ease it into the collar. That said: this Cotton and Steel rayon challis is buttery and soft, yet thick enough that it's not sheer like some of the no-name challis. Time to get myself some spray starch, folks.

Speaking of instructions, the Elsie Overshirt instructions were in keeping with Style Arc's M.O. - i.e., they were spare and occasionally wrong. In the written instructions, they somehow forgot about the split hem, which wasn't mentioned at all (although it was pictured in the technical diagram and the pattern had markings for it). But for a relatively simple shirt like this, brief instructions are fine.

I was thinking about it a bit and decided that the Style Arc instructions are equivalent to the recipes provided for the technical challenges in the Great British Bake Off, in that they assume some prior technical knowledge. In GBBO, the instructions might read "Make caramel." or "Bake jaffa cake." (WTF is a jaffa cake?! How long do I bake it? At what temperature?) or something like that. Style Arc's equivalent is "Bind the sleeve opening and stitch the tuck at the sleeve edge." That is to say: the instructions are there, but if you need/want hand-holding you'll have to run to Google for help (a luxury the GBBO bakers don't have).

Speaking of binding sleeve openings, I ended up not adding the sleeve cuffs or bias-bound sleeve placket. When I tried the shirt on halfway through, I realized the sleeves were already a bit long and I was unlikely to wear them unrolled anyway since they have the roll-up sleeve tabs (what are those called?!). I did a narrow 3/8" hem on the sleeves, same as the bodice hem. I kept the cuffs and binding, which were already cut out, with the pattern in case I change my mind later.

I think I prefer the sleeves rolled up, at least in this fabric. Somehow, between the full length sleeves and the floral print, things get a little bit pajama-y.

For closures, I opted for buttons, because I had some cute periwinkle blue ones that were a spot on match for the fabric. But I could also sewing this with no closures; sewing the two button plackets together. You don't need the closures because the blouse easily slips over your head.

The neckline is perfection... an elegant curved V-shape (low, but not too low), plus that cool notch, which Style Arc tells me is called a "revere." I had to look that up. Although a Google search for revere shows something slightly different... I dunno. Whatever it's called, I love it. Like want to immediately cut out another love it. Ok, off to do just that...