Pattern Review: StyleArc Brenda Blouse


Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website: Brenda blouse is a great wardrobe builder, suitable for the office or for a casual look. Wear it with your jeans on the weekend. Features flattering V-neck line extending into a neat collar, front gathers and a ¾ sleeve.

Sizing: 4 to 30. I started with a 10
Fabric Used: Daisy Daisy cotton print (sold out, sorry!) from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch)

Machines and Tools Used: Started with the Pfaff at home, ended with the Bernina at the office. Also used the home Juki serger.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle. Pro-Weft Interfacing and Shirt Buttons by the Scoop from Fashion Sewing Supply, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, finally.

How were the instructions? They were fine. This pattern is drafted beautifully, so it goes together with no problems.

Construction Notes: This was a fitting challenge. You can see the post about it here: Muslin for the StyleArc Brenda. I don’t think I’m the only one. The back fits like a dream, as you can see from this picture on my body-double.

Back: No changes, and it fit really well.

The shoulders fit great. The side seams sat right at my sides and ran perpendicular to the floor. All was good. But the front needed some serious surgery to make it around my ribcage. I did a FBA, and I added girth to the front (sigh) to fit properly. In the end, I may have added a bit too much in the FBA. I folded out a bit of the gathering in the pattern after the adjustment, but I could take a little more. It’s minor, and anyone who doesn’t know fit really well won’t see it. But if I do this again I’ll take out some of the gathering at the bust that I added for the FBA to make it perfect.

It’s not bad, but I kind of overcompensated

Here’s a detail shot of the bust gathering.

The only bad thing that happened during this whole process had nothing to do with the pattern. My Pfaff desperately needs service, and took it out on the (otherwise pretty darned perfect) hem. The tension has gone all wonky, and the integrated differential feed mechanism is out of alignment and catching the fabric. There’s no way I was going to trust it with my buttonholes. So I pulled out the Bernina and used that for the buttonholes. Wow – can I just say? I understand why Berninas have the reputation they do. Those buttonholes are perfect.

Likes/Dislikes: Big love – the RTW proportions on this. Here’s a funny story for you. A while back I visited my BFAM Emmett. After giving each other hugs, he looked at me and said, “Did you make that blouse?” I had, and I was proudly wearing it. It was a pattern by another company. When I said yes, he said, “That placket is too wide.”

Can you just hear the whewwww whewwww whewwww deflating sound of a Mario Brothers video game? Yeah, that’s how I felt. Only a best friend or Brother by Another Mother, both of which describe Emmett, can tell you that and you know they are right. The fact is that most pattern companies get the width of plackets completely wrong. Here’s a graphic example. This is the pattern for the shirt I was wearing that day. The placket width, from the folded edge to the stitching, is 1 ½ inches:

When you consider that a good bra on someone my size gives you 7 inches or so between bust apexes, that’s a lot of real estate for the placket.

On the other hand, this placket takes up less than an inch, and it looks really good sitting… where it does.

7/8 inch finished width. What a big difference that makes!

A Small Tip that Makes A Real Difference I’ve noticed on some blogs (no worries, I never name names) that the most wonderful sewing can be undone by itsy bitsy teeny weeny little important details. One of which is failing to trim threads in your buttonholes. I have been guilty of this venal sin in the past myself, but now that there are sites devoted to people telling you to get off their (virtual) lawns, it’s just one more thing that may bring scorn on one’s head. In the interest of keeping my readers’ heads scorn free, here’s a tip – clip them threads! Here’s a before picture of one buttonhole on this blouse. I use a chisel to cut my button holes open, which does a beautiful job, but after a few buttons in/buttons out, threads naturally start making themselves known

Looks like a radish root. Or Pinocchio’s nose. Or something

Just taking a couple of seconds to trim those threads will make a world of difference, especially if, like on my blouse, your buttons contrast with the background of your fabric.

A trimmed up buttonhole – much better!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I will definitely do it again, now that I have adjusted the pattern to fit me. And yes – I do recommend it. This pattern has great bones in general, but do make a muslin to get the fit you want. I was going to start a lecture about making muslins in general, but that’s a post for another day.

Conclusion: It took a little work, but I LOVE the results! I’ll show it on me when the weather cools down a bit, but for now you can see it on Mutt:

Now I kinda wish I had made the body double cover out of plain muslin, rather than chambray. Looks like I’m wearing a tee shirt. Oh well.

About Gorgeous Fabrics

I own an online fabric store, www.GorgeousFabrics.com. The name says it all!
This entry was posted in Emmett McCarthy, Fabrics, Reviews, StyleArc. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Pattern Review: StyleArc Brenda Blouse

  1. Rose says:

    It’s a beautiful blouse ! (but I don’t expect less from you … ). It was well worth the hassles.

    And thank you for the RTW placket info. I often feel that something is “off” in a pattern, without being able to pinpoint the offender. This kind of thing is good to know. Now why don’t pattern companies do the same ? I’d have thought that pattern drafting and its conventions are taught the same way at school, whether you choose to work for a sewing company or for RTW afterwards.

  2. Allyn says:

    Perfection!

  3. Linda L says:

    This turned out great! I am still trying to determine the best size for me with SA patterns. What size do you use with the big 4, if you don’t mine me asking? I am all over the place with my measurements and find that SA patterns seem to swallow me in the neck shoulder area.

  4. Jackie Sews says:

    This is really a great looking blouse. I might try it after I practice making a few button holes.

  5. Andrea says:

    Love the fabric, so gorgeous! Look forward to seeing the shirt modeled, as it looks pretty darn perfect on the form.

  6. Sally says:

    Interesting about the placket. I’ve noticed the proportions of some elements of most patterns – pockets collars cuff etc are too big on me. I thought it was because I am short but maybe it’s the patterns.

    • Gorgeous Fabrics says:

      Sally, I bet if you compare the measurements of those pattern pieces against the same parts of a well-fitting RTW garment, you’ll see a big difference!

  7. Catherine says:

    I went to the Fashion Sewing Supply website and they recommended to use another type of interfacing if the garment is going to be washed. Do you have this blouse dry-cleaned? I trust your expertise on sewing supplies so I won’t order till I get your answer….Thanks!

    • Gorgeous Fabrics says:

      Go with what FSS recommends for interfacing, Catherine. I always defer to the manufacturer, and Pam is the best.

      • Catherine says:

        Thanks so much for your quick response. I’ve been watching your videos and even though I’m a “seasoned” sewer, I always find I am still learning.

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