Sorry, this is quite a long, picture-heavy post as I use my blog to remind myself of projects I’ve made, and why I did things a particular way – I have zero chance of remembering otherwise.

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, sleeves are my nemesis. I have what should be a well-drafted sleeve based on my Sure-Fit Designs bodice block, but it’s a nightmare to set in, takes ages to do & makes sewing a chore instead of a pleasure. And although the finished armscye & sleeve look pretty good, depending on the fabric the finished garment isn’t always comfortable. Well, not anymore!

I decided to try combining my bodice block with the armscye & sleeve from a commercial pattern, and spent a bit of time reading reviews of various patterns for comments. The Bonn shirt and dress has always been one which has appealed to me because of the neckline, and there were a number of comments about how easy the sleeve was to set in. It also didn’t look too voluminous (I have weedy biceps!) so I bought the pattern. As it happens, the front armscye was almost identical to that of my personal SFD block, and the back armscye wasn’t hugely different either. The sleeve did look quite different, though, you can see my sleeve block on top of the Bonn sleeve below:

I made a couple of toiles out of old fabric, using the Bonn pattern as drafted. Based on my measurements I am a D cup, between sizes 4 and 6. I started with the 6 but this was too roomy for my liking & didn’t fit particularly well on the shoulders. The 4 was better in the shoulders but I still wasn’t happy with the bodice. So my next step was to combine the Bonn armscye & sleeve with my Sure-Fit block, which took some doing & I wasn’t convinced I’d done it right. But the only way to find out was to test it.

A few months ago I attended a Zoom class with Sarah Veblen and one of the blouses she referred to I ended up calling her “Magenta” blouse. This had a yoke with princess seams starting from the yoke & I really liked the design. Although I’d never drafted a yoke before, I decided I would draft a blouse with the Bonn neckline, button band, armscye & sleeve but with a yoke & princess seams drafted from my SFD bodice block. I never make things easy for myself! Drafting the yoke turned out to be a breeze, as did the princess seams. This was my original project plan:

Construction would have been fairly simple if I’d ignored Kennis from Itch to Stitch’s instructions for the neckline. After 2 failed attempts, and recutting new collar pieces, I used this method which seems far more logical and likely to result in a good finish if you’re not an expert seamstress. I also drew a stitching line onto the interfacing, as well as hand stitching the inside collar so the 2 sides of the collar came out looking as similar as possible:

The yoke was burritoed, and I followed the Itch to Stitch instructions for the button band and cuffs. The sleeves are indeed VERY easy to set in, although the fit doesn’t look quite as good as my SFD-drafted armscye, which has evolved over the last couple of years. But I feel I’ve wasted quite enough time over the last year or two agonising over sleeves and it’s time to stop obsessing about fit & start enjoying my sewing again!

I had problems with one of the cuff buttonholes. My Janome machine has had problems with buttonholes for a long while but I’ve mostly solved that by unplugging the foot pedal and using the start/stop button when using a buttonhole stitch (yes, really!). This time the problem was that the buttonhole foot got caught up in some of the thicker fabric around the cuff edge – the cuffs are quite narrow – so I hastily raised the presser foot. I wasn’t expecting the machine to start the stitch from the beginning again, but that’s what it did. By the time I realised, the buttonhole ended up about half a centimetre away from where it should have been. Not the end of the world, but irritating. You can see the original stitching at the top of the picture:

The hem was another pain, somehow I managed to get the lengths of front & back slightly different, I’ve no idea what I did to achieve that. Now it’s finished I feel like the front & back are both a little bit too long but I’m going to wear it once or twice before I decide whether or not to re-do it. Life’s just too short, unlike this blouse!

The fabric was from Abakhan Birkenhead, it’s a viscose which cost me less the £6 from their “buy by weight” section. The buttons were from my stash. The pattern of the fabric means it’s not easy to see the style lines so here’s a picture of the inside so you can see them:

I feel as though my efforts really paid off in the end because my already well-fitting SFD bodice, combined with the Bonn sleeve, is going to be the basis for many more blouses & dresses. I’m really pleased with the finished blouse, and can see it getting a lot of wear.