01 02 03 Miss Smartie's Sewing: January 2015 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 24 21 24 21 24 21 24 25 26 27 28 29

Miss Smartie's Sewing

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Secretary Blouse: Construction Part Two: Sewing Instructions

All seam allowances of 1,5 cm are included in the pattern if not specified all seams should measure 1.5 cm.
If your fabric frays zig zag all pieces first.
In the illustration:
white pieces = right side of fabric showing
grey pieces= wrong side of fabric showing
blue parts= interfacing


1. Pin lower collar (7) to upper collar (10) matching symbols. Match interfaced pieces with interfaced pieces and non interfaced pieces with non interfaced ones. Stitch between circle and square. Press seam open.

2. Pin the interfaced collar pieces to the non interfaced collar pieces. Match all symbols. Cut in 1.3 cm at inner corner to be able to press seam flat. Stitch over the edges, breaking stitching at the square (inner corner) to make a couple of backstitches securing this point. Trim edges, turn right side out and press.

3. Baste neck edge.


1. Finish lower edges on back facing (8) and front facing (9) (with bias, zig zag or overlock).

2. Stitch front facing (9) to back facing (8) matching symbols. Press this seam open.


1. Pin front (2) pieces to side front (3) pieces matching symbols. Stitch between circles. Unpin unstitched seam. Press to center front.

2. Stitch back (4) to side back (3) with a French seam:
      2a. Pin back to side back right sides of fabric showing. Stitch 0.5 cm from edge.
      2b. Turn wrong side out, press along seam and stitch again 1 cm from edge.

3. Stitch shoulders matching triangles and notch to French seam. Press this seam open.

4. With body spread out as shown in the illustration pin collar to body matching symbols (circles and triangles). Pin collar on fabric with the interfaced collar pieces at the bottom. Pin facing over body and collar, matching symbols and shoulder seams. Stitch making sure the layers won't get caught in stitching. (illustration is showing pinned collar only on right side and facing on left side.)

5. Trim the inner corner of front piece as sown on illustration. Trim though all layers of fabric.

6. Turn facing to inside of garment. Match with side and armhole seams. Baste facing to body of garment at 1 cm of the edge. Press the collar, right side out.

7. Close side seams.

8. Pin seam between left (when facing the garment right side out and front to back) front (2) and left side front (1) from circle down, press to the left.  Pin left edge of right front piece (2) over this seam, matching edges of fabric. Stich seam.

 9. Pin  left side of left front (2) with wrong side on right side of right front (2). Turn garment inside out. Close seam between rigt front (2) and right side front (1) replacing the pins keeping left front sandwiched between. Stitch.


1. Pin cuff (6) pieces together matching interfaced with non interfaced cuff, leaving the top open. Stitch 1.5 cm from the edge stitching over the edges. Trim, turn right side out and press.

3. Press under 1.5 cm seam allowance at the top.

4. Stitch side seam of sleeves. Cut lower edge of sleeve until circle.

5. Sandwich lower edge of sleeve between cuff. Top stitch 0.5 cm from edge of cuff.

6. Set in sleeve matching notches and circle to shoulder seam. Stitch easing in fabric at top of sleeve.


Finish with a 4 cm double folded seam: Measure off 2 cm of lower edge of garment. Press this under. press this under again. Top stitch at 1.5 cm from lower edge.

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The Secretary Blouse: construction part one: pattern, fabric, markings and interfacing.

Preparing the pattern

cutting of the white paper strip
Print the pattern using your normal settings on your regular printer. You can print in black and white to save colours.

Tape together the pattern pieces you have printed. You will have to cut off the excess blank 0.5 cm on the edge of your paper, if you only need to do this on the left and upper sides of your paper since you can overlap the remaining white spaces.

matching pattern lines while taping papers together
The pattern was deliberately made to overlap seen as many printers won't print the outer 0.5 cm that would mean losing 0,5 cm of the design. If your printer somehow does print these 0.5 cm you will still have to overlap the pattern pieces this much.

Paste everything together with tape making sure all pattern lines run continiously. You should first tape seven papers together for the first row and then continue to make a second and later a third row.

first row of largest pattern range

After taping everything together you can cut out the pattern pieces. If you are making one size cut out that size (you will recognise it by the colour and the dots in the line) as securely as possible. If you want to make adjustments for a better fit since your size was not the same at bust and waist you can find a tutorial on  how to do this here. (under construction)

Cutting out the fabric

Arrange your pieces on the fabric. The more experienced sewers can use the pattern layout above, witch I used for my fabric of  150cm wide. I did make one of the smaller sizes so that might make a difference.

If you buy 1,5 m fabric I think you will have plenty for this design in all sizes. I certainly didn't use as much but one meter would not have been enough. (In the end I used 90 cm of the full with of the fabric and a square of 60 by 60 cm for a size 2).

Fold your fabric in half from selvage to selvage with the good side of the pattern on the inside the stretch of your fabric should go horizontally. Lay out the pattern pieces as they have been drawn on the first picture above. Make sure you align the arrows perpendicular to the selvages (edges) of your fabric. Pattern pieces with arrows pointing to one straight edge have to be cut on the fold. Place these pieces on the fold you made in your fabric. If you are happy with the placement cut these pieces out, leaving the pattern attached.

Fold the remaining fabric over 30 cm with the right side in. Lay out the pattern pieces like the second drawing (bottom left). You might have to redo the fold to make sure all pieces fit. Cut these out too. Fold the remaining fabric over again, now folding over 45 cm. Cut out the remaining pattern pieces (picture bottom right).


You should use a pretty stiff interfacing for this pattern since the collar really needs to stand out. It doesn't necessarily have to be a stretch interfacing for the collar pieces (7 and 10) but I would recommend using a stretch interfacing on the cuff piece (6) since that will need to accommodate some wearing stretch when moving your arms.

Cut out interfacing as seen in the layout on the left. You will also need to cover 2 cm of the facing pieces (8 and 9) to stabilize the neckline. (this is visible in the picture as blue shaded areas) you can use scrap interfacing here if you like, putting the edge of the pattern piece on the interfacing and tracing it. You can also use two different straps for piece 9 one horizontal and one vertical if you overlap both slightly to save interfacing.

The next step is to apply the interfacing, this is mostly done by fusing (ironing) it to the fabric. Make sure you iron on the smooth side/ non shiny side, otherwise the glue will stick to your iron! You should also have mirror images of the facing for pieces 7 and 9.


Transfer all markings (circles, triangles and squares) with your preferred method. I like to use carbon paper since it's easy. I put the fabric and pattern pieces on top of the carbon paper, trace around the markings, remove the pattern, turn over the fabric (with pins still in) putting the unmarked side on top of the carbon paper and then trace around the first markings. It's important to note that all markings should be made on the wrong side of the fabric.
Cut out all notches (small triangles stuck to the edge of your pattern).

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Monday, 12 January 2015

The Secretary Blouse: measurement system

I do not like standard clothing sizes. The main reason for this is that no-one has a standard body. Society makes us uncomfortably aware of this problem. One thing I like about making your own clothes is this: I always feel that when a piece of clothing I've made doesn't fit, it's the fault of the clothing, not of the body it was made for. If a ready to wear item doesn't fit, somehow it tells us that it's the fault of our body since it's not normal/thin/long/curvy/... enough.

I also know that women tend to get attached to their 'size' and tend to believe that their size will fit them, even when switching designers or from ready made to homemade clothing.  This is not the case. All brands use a slightly different measurements system, not to mention the mess when you take into account the different systems for the different countries.

When making your own clothes it's really important to get the fit right. To customise your pattern to fit your unique body. That's why I decided not to use any regular clothing sizes. You will have to measure yourself to know witch size you are. And Yes, I have deliberately not skipped all uneven numbers, so your size will appear to be smaller than usual. Because I know how hard a lot of you will find it if you have to use a bigger size. Please believe me that the result will look better on you if you use the size your body actually has an not the size you want your body to have.

In the following table you will find the final measurements of this pattern. All measurements are given in centimetres. If your fabric is stretchy enough (10cm of it should stretch as far as 14cm) and your measurements of the bust and waist are not more than 1 size apart (you are for example either size 5 for bust and waist or you are a size 6/4 in one and a 5 in the other) you can execute this pattern as is. If your bust is more than 1 size larger than your waist (congrats by the way) I recommend that you still only scale down one size at the waist to prevent issues when putting the clothing on. You could also add a zipper in the side.

1 2 3 4 5 678910
Bust 78,4  82,4 86,5 90,5 94,7 98,8 102,9 107 111,1 115,2
Waist 56,8 60,8 64,8 68,8 72,8 76,8 80,8 84,8 88,8 92,8

If you've found your measurements download one of the following files. You will also need about 1,5m of stretch fabric for all sizes and a piece of rather stiff interfacing.

Sizes 1-5
Sizes 4-7
Sizes 6-10

When your measurements are between sizes you can follow a tutorial on how to adjust the pattern to your own measurements here (under construction). 

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Secretary Blouse

Hi there, I've made myself useful over the last few months and taught myself how to draw patterns digitally. I wanted To make some patterns that would fit Both Me and a friend so I've had to tackle grading as well. Since I fell in love with american sewing patterns, love at first use you could say, I also had to incorporate seam allowances, notches and other symbols. This was harder than I thought it would be. There were a lot of failed attempts but every time I messed up I learnt something new so I got up and went on tinkering with CAD-programs and looking for a way to make these patterns printable.

At last I think I have succeeded. A digital pattern of my own design print and share ready. I'll give a review of the Style on this page and you'll find additional pages with the pattern itself, instructions on the measurements system and on how to put everything together in the end. I've made this style for myself as a test piece (and yes discovering a couple of flaws that I had overlooked) and I'll use this for a step by step construction guide of the pattern. A small disclaimer: I'm no professional pattern designer so some notches and symbols might be of by a couple of mm. While constructing most pieces went together fine however. I'd suggest walking the pattern in your size as a precaution to make sure everything is perfect in one go. If you find any mistakes I'd be happy to correct them for later users. In the meantime, have fun sewing!

Measurement and pattern
Construction part 1
Construction part 2
Pattern adjustment tutorial


inspiration dress by pin-up couture
I've been in love with the retro jet modern designs of pin-up/rockabilly clothing for a while now. I love how they combine a very feminine look with a modern twist. I also like to look good but be comfortable in my clothes. That's when the idea of a stretch shirt first started appealing to me. The look that started it all for this pattern was the secretary dress by Pin Up Couture. I've posted a picture above. It prompted me to attempt my first high waisted skirts and I kept dreaming of a blouse that would look equally stunning. I soon realised I hadn't found this design in any shop yet and I started to wonder on how I could possibly recreate this look myself. I didn't go for an exact copy of the dress but I wanted to copy the look of the collar and cuffs.

Design specifics

design sketch of the blouse
This blouse is very fitted and features a large plunging neckline in a classic collar style. I myself like fitted blouses and I wanted something special but comfortable. That's why I chose stretchy fabric.I really liked the way the collar and cuffs stand out in the inspiration piece. I decided To Go with princess seams in the front and the back to give the garment it's shape. I love how these seams accentuate the female form.  I wanted to hide the necessary crossing of the center pieces in the front seam to give everything a more finished look. This also ensures that the garment is still modest enough.  I wanted the collar to look like a kind of halter and achieved this by making the neckline pretty  narrow in the back. This accounts for the very broad shoulderseams. I think these fit the look.
The whole thing is finished with a front and back facing, the front facing is also an armhole facing, this makes sure that the collar stays where it should be. It also allowed me to use the facing as a modesty measure to make see through fabricks opaque.

finished garment front

As I mentioned this design has been made with stretch fabrics in mind. Do not attempt do do otherwise unless you want to change the fabric. I learnt the hard way seeing that my fabric, although a stretch fabric wouldn't stretch far enough to take the garment on and of comfortably. It looks good though and feels OK while wearing it, so I just added a zipper in the side seam. To make sure the fabric for this Blouse is stretchy enough ten cm of folded fabric should be able to stretch to 14 cm.


For those who are interested I'll give a quick overview of the process I went through making this pattern. I started out by pinning the design lines that I wanted to achieve on a mannequin with woollen threads as you can see above. When I was happy with the overall result I pined some fabric paper on my mannequin and traced the lines I wanted. I achieved a first 2D pattern that way. Next I cleaned up the design lines while adding the necessary design ease. I then averaged (essentially I made sure seams that had to go together in the end matched up while flat) the design to make sure the seams would fit more nicely while sewing everything up and the result would look cleaner.
I then went into CAD and drew the pattern digitally. Since I don't have any real means of digitising I had to use good old geometry to transfer the design. I then began by adding notches, and placement marks walking and checking these again digitally. The next step was adding grading, and transferring the pattern to something printable. I've used illustrator for this purpose (since I don't own any programs that would allow me to print on an ordinary printer) and it works pretty well. The only downside is that the pattern sizes lose their formatting and some of the pattern lines and especially notches get distorted. This adds a lot of work, formatting the sizing, adding markings by hand witch then have to be walked and checked by hand again and sometimes redrawing parts of the pattern (especially the armholes and the front facing). I sincerely hope that the pattern turned out ok. I've already made up my base size (the one that fit's the mannequin) and that went pretty well. I'm going to make up a bigger size for a friend to test the grading. So far everything looks good though.

I'll finish with some extra pictures of the garment:

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