Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sewing Project: Class Picnic Blouse

Last week I reviewed the Class Picnic Shorts, so this week it seems fitting to talk about the Class Picnic Blouse.

Spurring me on even more is that this week the O+S Facebook page featured one of my blouses (the plaid one) from the Flickr pool! I can't quite explain how awesome it was to simply be scrolling my news feed and suddenly--"hey! that's my shirt!" Very cool!

I've made two Picnic Blouses. In my review for the shorts, I mentioned that I sized up when tracing my pattern to accommodate AB's cloth diapers. Apparently I must think she also wears them on her torso, because when I traced off the blouse, I sized it up also. And guess what. It didn't fit! It will certainly work for THIS summer, but LAST summer she was swimming in it. I made no changes to the pattern on my first shirt, and it was a great lesson on facings, if you're unfamiliar with them or with understitching. I was totally clueless until I made this shirt. Points to O+S for being so thorough with their instructions!

Cotton voile from

So in December when I was laboring over my own plaid flannel shirt, I also traced off the smallest size of the Picnic Blouse and cut pieces for it. 

I like this a lot more than my matching shirt.

You'll notice that I embellished the second shirt with two leftover yellow buttons from my shirt, which I think looks really cute. If you look closely, you'll also notice that I sort of screwed it up and sewed the buttons too high. That's because I sewed them on the yoke before I assembled the shirt (so that the threads behind the buttons would be sandwiched between the yoke and the facing) and when picking the placement I forgot about the seam allowance along the top of the yoke, where it's sewn to the facing. That's what I get for trying to be fancy.

Whoops. The buttons stick out above the yoke.

Ah well. It's still cute!

This pattern is very simple up until the elastic casings in the shoulders. I used a tutorial here and it was invaluable. After doing it once, it was easy to remember for the second shirt. The only recommendation I have is to cut the rectangle for the casing a bit bigger than the pattern piece. Especially with the smaller sizes I was making, it helped to have a bigger piece of fabric to work with when making the casing. You can always cut it down but you can't always add more!

The only change I made on the flannel shirt (besides adding buttons) was to make a cuff on the sleeve, instead of simply hemming them. 

Left, regular hemmed sleeve
Right, turned up cuff

The instructions tell you to sew the sleeve seam (RST) all the way to the end, then turn up twice to make the double hem, and topstitch to secure. To make a cuff instead, I sewed the sleeve seam as instructed, but stopped a few inches from the end (the exact amount will vary depending on which size you're making and how deep you want the cuff). Then I turned the shirt right-side out, and sewed the remainder of the sleeve WRONG SIDES together. Now you'll have a seam allowance on the right side of your garment. Double-fold the part that you sewed wrong sides together, and that encloses the seam allowance. I then hand sewed the cuff to the sleeve so the stitches wouldn't show on the outside. It was simple and a great callback to the cuffs on my grown-up shirt. And yes, as soon as they were both finished, AB and I wore our shirts on the same day!

Two notes about the pattern. Topstitching the sleeve hem by machine (as directed in the instructions) may be near impossible if you're making the two smallest sizes. I couldn't topstitch the yellow shirt (size 12-18m), I had to sew with the wrong side facing up. It's a tiny opening. I made a note to myself to either do it by hand next time, or another possibility would be to hem the sleeve while it's still flat and unattached to the shirt. You may have bulk when you sew up the side/underarm sleeve, but it might be worth it.

Secondly, the amount of elastic you'll need for the casing is supposed to vary depending on the size of your child, but both times I found that stretching it as much as I could (i.e. using as short a length as possible) worked out fine. The bulkiness of your fabric will also affect it. I found I could use a shorter length with the lightweight voile shirt than I could with the heavy flannel one.

So that's it, two lovely picnic shirts. I fell asleep the other night dreaming of another version from some blue pirate flannel I've got wasting away in my stash. Maybe with a little ric-rac or piping? Skull and crossbones buttons? That's the best thing about this pattern, the embellishment choices are endless and will keep you happy sewing it over and over again.


  1. what cute tops - I love the way you did the cuffs!

  2. When working in those teeny tiny places like shirt sleeves, cuffs, hems... even patches on the knees of jeans(!) if you turn the clothing inside out, then you can usually get to it from the right side/outside which is now the inside. Something my grandma taught me.

    I found your blog reading Colette pattern reviews. It's fun watching a beginner find her way! You are talented and brave!

    1. Wow thank you for such a sweet comment! You made my day :) I love Colette patterns, I have a Negroni for my husband just waiting for me, and I'm about to try my hand at a knit version of the Sorbetto!


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