Sunday 15 March 2015

Lottie blouse sew-along week 2 - Preparation time!

As promised (and sorry for leaving it last minute - I've been struggling with a cold in the last few days), this week we will talk about all the prep. This includes printing, taping and altering the PDF pattern, and cutting your fabric. A lot to do, so let's begin!

I want to start by saying that a lot of the prep work is self-explanatory, and you probably don't need me to repeat what the instructions say. With that in mind, I wanted to dedicate this post on tips that you might find useful during the preparation process.


With the pages all printed (I assumed that you are ok with the printing), we need to tape them up. Are you a keen DIYer who happens to have stashes of masking tape everywhere?  Karen did a post a while ago on the magic of masking tape in sewing, so I wanted to link that here in case you missed it. Although she focuses on repairing pattern pieces, it would work just as well for taping these pages together.

Pattern alterations

Now I have some good news and bad news...

Good news first. As the pattern is fairly loose fitting with only one side dart, we could get away without very precise pattern alterations. Yay! Feel free to shorten or lengthen, then you are done!

But if you must do a bust adjustment - then here is a really useful tutorial for a full bust adjustment (FBA). If you need a small bust adjustment (SBA, and this may not be needed due to the fit -- I didn't need one with this pattern, and I almost always do an SBA), then replace "spread" with "overlap" in the same tutorial ;)

Now the bad news. If you need to grade the pattern up or down, or blend in different sizes, this pattern is pretty confusing! The method I tend to use is this one, and I graded the pattern down to a size 6 based on my measurements. The issue was, when I try to find a straight line connecting up the same "pressure points" from different sizes (eg, pointy bit of the dart, or the shoulder "corner"), such straight line simply didn't exist.

To my amateur eyes, this seemed to be a grading issue in the pattern. There are lines criss-crossing in and out when I am least expecting them to, and I just couldn't make sense of a lot of it. Here's a good example of what I mean.

I would expect the dart points from each size to form a neat and orderly straight line, but they are all over the place. You can see my attempt to make a straight line out of those, leaving out the outliers. In fact, this gave me so much trouble that I back ordered the hard copy of the magazine, thinking that it could be a printing issue, but they are exactly the same. My advice? Don't waste too much time trying to make sense of it all, just go ahead and tweak it based on where you think needs to be bigger/smaller. I've done that with grading down to a 6, and have made up a tester version and it didn't give me any problems in the construction or end result. 

I also tweaked the sleeves slightly. I noticed that for the smaller sizes, the tapering was less profound, and as the design was a bit too wide for my liking, I took out just over 1cm from each side at the bottom (i.e. elbow) of the sleeve patter. This is a matter of personal choice of course, so please don't feel like you have to do the same. 


We are ready to get cutting. The first issue that has been raised by a few bloggers is that the neck tie would not fit the way the instructions suggest, as the tie is over 30 inches long (to be cut on fold), and the fabric width called for is 60 inches. 

As I am working with a vintage crepe from 1920s (!), with a width of 72cm, I had to get creative with the cutting layout. With the tie, I cut it in 2 separate pieces as opposed to on fold, and added a 1cm seam allowance (consistent with the pattern) so I can sew it together at the centre back. 

There are alternative places where you could "break" the neck tie pattern piece in addition to the centre back (i.e. fold line), as long as you remember to add the seam allowances on both sides. In fact, the PDF printed pattern for this piece comes in 2 pieces anyway, so an easy thing to do would be to cut the A piece on fold (adding 1cm on the A/narrow side) , and cut 2 of the B piece with 1cm added to the B/straight side. We can then attach the 3 cut pieces together. 

Next tip for those who are working with a thin/slippery/mobile/badly-behaving fabrics. Make sure you try out this tissue trick as shared by Gertie. Need I say more? 

Finally, if you don't already use a rotary cutter, I strongly recommend that you get one. It is not absolutely necessary, but it sure transformed my cutting out - I no longer dread it! 

That's all from me this week - get prepping now as we are beginning to sew next week! Yay! 


  1. I wonder if perhaps changing the printing from 100% scaling to, say 90% (or 110%) and printing would be a way to grade the pattern more easily?

    1. It's a really nice idea, but doing that way wouldn't work very well, as grading up or down sizes involves alterations of different measurements by different amounts. For example, the armcycle would come out wrong and may not line up. If you examine a multi-sized pattern (perhaps not this one, but one from the big 4, say), you will see that the lines for different sizes aren't just enlarged/shrunk versions of the next size down/up. I hope this makes sense :)

  2. I have to figure how to print the pattern! It is set to A4 -- wondering if US legal would work and cut off excess...

    1. Woo that's a great point! I didn't quite realise that A4 is quite rare in the US! I've taken a look, and have found this post which you might find helpful. One of the comments mention legal paper, too.

  3. Hi! Is there any instructions on how the pattern pieces join up?

    1. Yep, sure. The pieces are as follows:

      A1 A2 A3
      A4 A5 A6
      A7 A8 A9
      A10 A11 A12

      B1 B2
      B3 B4
      B5 B6
      B7 B8
      B9 B10

  4. That tissue trick is just saved me lots of time and frustration! Thanks for pointing that out! I actually only needed to put tissue underneath the fabric and it worked fine. I will probably also leave it there when I start sewing, it makes the fabric much more well behaved. I should definitely look into using a rotary cutter. I have one, but only use it for rectangular pieces. Do you happen to have a good resource on that as well?

    1. Yay, I'm so glad it was of help.

      Sure, there are a couple of posts that you might find useful:

    2. Thanks a lot! Will try it next time :).

  5. Thank you so much for all the explanations about this pattern. Im making one and it seems oddly small considering I'm in between sizes and sized up. I can only think I made a mistake taping the pattern pages. Do you tape literally connecting the lines (by this I mean folding/cutting the "margins" of the paper that are left blank. Or do you just tape the paper side by side by the edges and draw/connect the bits that are blank?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Elisana, thank you for stopping by. I'm glad the explanation is of some help:)
      I always cut off the margins so that the tape connects lines on the pattern. I think the margins are there in case something printers can't go all the way to the edges.
      Hope this helps! Happy sewing!

    2. Thank you, thats what I did, too. But looking at your picture I noticed that all the darts were printed, and on mine, only the dart from the biggest size was printed (I drew my dart myself), I think it was a printer issue, because on the file I see all the darts :( oh well, will try to print again, my blouse is wearable, but not as loose as the ones I see. Thanks again!!


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