Double Peter Pan collar blouse AND my grand unified theory of sewing

So, speediness is not what you come to this blog for. It’s taken me just over six months between talking about sewing blouses and actually sewing one. What can I say, I’m a tortoise, not a hare.

Double peter pan collar blouse

It’s from the original Built by Wendy Sew U book, which was all the rage on the internet, about 5 years ago. I’ve made two versions already, and for this one I wanted to try something a bit different – drafting up a double Peter Pan collar.

Double peter pan collar

The top collar is made from left-over denim from my Beignet. The bottom collar, and main fabric, is some really beautiful shirting from Shaukat, which my mum kindly donated to me after a shopping expedition to South Kensington.

Okay, so in some ways this shirt was successful. I love the fabric, I like the way the collar turned out, and the insides are neat (I overlocked them). But in another way it was a failure – the fit. If you’ll forgive me, I’m going on a bit of a diversion here…

The Yes I Like That grand unified theory of sewing:

To my thinking the most challenging (and interesting) thing about home sewing is that you have to combine three elements, which are completely separate in your average high street garment. They are:

  1. Design. I’m using this word widely, to include: the garment style (whether you buy a pattern or draft it), the fabric and trimmings you use, and the design elements you add or take away.
  2. Fit. Including learning what good fit actually looks like (and I’m definitely still learning).
  3. Making. The actual sewing and pattern-making. All the little tips and tricks and manufacturing skills.

As a home sewer, you’re in complete control of all three. Which is liberating. But also a bit scary.

To me, 1 + 2 are the most important. I find pure technique pretty boring. I like problem solving, but I like having something nice to wear even more. I want the final product to work.

It was the second element that failed here. The first two versions I made fitted well, but the shoulders were wide. For this one I trimmed a tiny amount (honest!) off the armholes and sleeve tops. Well, that tiny amount must have added up, because this shirt was incredibly tight across the shoulders, resulting in a V-shaped wrinkle which was super obvious in the first set of photos I took:

shirt with V yoke lines

I managed to partially fix it by sewing into my armhole seam allowances and it’s not so tight now. The V-lines are still there, but not as prominent. Overall, I’m happy.

The more I make, the more I learn, but it does all seems to break down into these three elements. The hardest two are the fit and matching the right fabric to the right pattern. I’ve got gorgeous fabric sitting in boxes because I just can’t visualise the perfect garment to do it justice.

I’d be interested to know what you think. What’s the most important aspect of sewing for you? Do you think there’s more to it than just these three elements?

(P.S. one more thing! I lined the cuffs with denim as well for a little surprise…)

Denim blouse cuff


12 thoughts on “Double Peter Pan collar blouse AND my grand unified theory of sewing

  1. thesecretlifeofseams April 5, 2012 / 12:46 PM

    I love that double collar! I like the fact that it’s fairly subtle because the contrast fabric and shirt fabric are similar tonally. And it looks great with both your blue skirts.
    Totally agree with you about how exciting but intimidating wrestling with those 3 key elements is. Fit is still a real struggle for me, sometimes I can’t even put my finger on what the problem might be just that it’s ~off~.

  2. didyoumakethat April 3, 2012 / 10:28 AM

    I think one of the biggest (and most unexpected) challenges is learning about fabric. How it behaves, what it will work on (or not!), how it behaves during construction, will it launder decently etc etc. Not sure you can ever entirely know, as every fabric is different, but it’s a big part of the journey. Once upon a time, I thought cotton was cotton!

  3. Claire (aka Seemane) April 3, 2012 / 9:39 AM

    V. cute blouse 🙂 I wonder how a double-collar would look in a coat (oooh… you’ve inspired my imagination hun… I’ve just had an image in my head of a short-length bright canary yellow swing coat 60’s style with a black bottom collar + yellow top collar, with black button placket down the front + yellow self-covered button yum!).

    P.S. Do you fancy coming along to the meet-up in Walthamstow ( this Saturday 7th April hun? If you do please drop me an email at: sew[dot]incidentally[at]yahoo[dot]com
    Best wishes,

    • yesilikethat April 3, 2012 / 10:21 AM

      Claire that sounds amazing! Might be a problem with bulkiness in coat fabric I guess? I forgot to say how I finished this collar in the post (bias binding). Wish I could make the Walthamstow meet-up but can’t unfortunately, I’ve sent you an email x

  4. LolaLovesCraft April 3, 2012 / 8:29 AM

    I love this shirt and would be very proud of making it. Am I living in a dark box or is a double collar a new thing? I’ve never seen one before, think it looks fab.

    • yesilikethat April 3, 2012 / 10:20 AM

      I’ve seen a few on ASOS and the like. What really inspired it was a Peter Jensen plaid dress I saw a friend wearing about two years ago. It was patchworked and had a contrasting double collar. It was amazing.

    • LolaLovesCraft April 3, 2012 / 3:25 PM

      I must be blind but I’ll be keeping an eye out now!

  5. Nicole April 3, 2012 / 12:21 AM

    The shirt looks great – lovely choice of fabric. Don’t worry about fit, everything you make will be a learning experience. It’s taken me 30 years to work out how things should fit, and just as I think I’m getting it right, my body goes and changes! Can’t win!

  6. prttynpnk April 2, 2012 / 10:14 PM

    I really love the collar and the contrast cuffs- such great ideas and inspiration.

  7. gingermakes April 2, 2012 / 9:44 PM

    Ooh, I like the shirt! I’m sorry that it’s a bit too tight, though… that’s really frustrating. I find fit the most difficult thing to master– I’m still figuring out what the issues are with fit, let alone how to solve them correctly. It’s trial and error (with lots of error involved).

    I’m a tortoise, too, when it comes to sewing– I’d like to be a hare, but when I hear about people sewing a dress in a day, I can’t even imagine how that’s possible. Better late than never, right?

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