I made my first New Look 6104 blouse in 2012 in anticipation of my first MeMadeMay and I finished my second one this past weekend. Keen-eyed readers might remember I proclaimed that I finished this same shirt in the final hours of the 2015 MeMadeMay, but it took me six months to tackle the buttonholes and buttons.
TL:DR – I am very happy with this shirt. The lightweight cotton/silk fabric is comfortable in a “feels like I’m not wearing clothes” kind of way. (I intended to just put it on for a mini photoshoot this morning and I’m still wearing it at the end of the day!) A few pattern alterations to the shoulder seam and pattern size improved the overall fit and I’ll likely make more New Look 6104 shirts, even if I’m not a fan of 7 buttons and buttonholes.
Pattern Review and Alterations
New Look 6104 is available only in [pattern] sizes 10 to 22. When I bought the pattern I was still learning to distinguish body measurements from finished garment measurements. Thinking that the size 10 wasn’t THAT much bigger than what the back of the envelope was telling me to sew, I forged ahead. I did not immediately realize how poorly the first version (size 10) fit and over the next three years I kept making alterations to it.
To reduce gaping at the front collar, I took in the back darts a bit more. That sorta helped. Then, I noticed that the sleeves had been restricting my arm movement and did not feel comfortable under cardigans (which are a huge wardrobe staple for me). Earlier this year I removed the sleeves and took in the shoulder seam. I was satisfied, but I suspected I could do better from the start if I worked from a smaller pattern.
So, for Version 2, I graded the pattern to a size 8 by tracing size 10, lining that up with size 12 lines, then retracing the size 10 lines to become the new size 8. I did this because it looked like all sizes increased the by same amount. Therefore the difference between 10 and 12 would be the same as the difference between 8 and 10.
This may not be the proper way to grade a pattern, but it seems to have worked.
This smaller size did not gape as much at the front, but there was a bit of a gape and the bust darts still hung too low. I took in about 1/2 inch to the shoulder seams on the front and back bodice patterns. And I redrew the back neckline so it wouldn’t be too high.
While, this new version still seems too wide across my back shoulders and neckline, the thinness of the fabrics means I don’t feel the fabric bunching under a cardigan.
Should I have made neckline darts in the back? Should I have made the piece narrower in the CB and CF by 1/2 inch? Or something else?
I’ve recently learned about small bust adjustments and big butt adjustments. I don’t know if they would have been the solution for this shirt, but I am very intrigued by these methods and I think if I can figure them out they will make my sewing and fitting so much faster.
New Look 6104 is a good pattern, but it isn’t great. I’ll never make it with sleeves. I tried to use the sleeves from View C for a costume, but it was always so tight that I could not raise my arms more than 45 degrees to the side, something I encountered with the tulip sleeves I made for my first version. I think there is a problem with the sleeve cap in the pattern. If you regularly rely on size 6 or size 8 pattern pieces, find another pattern. This is a simple enough design that it isn’t worth regrading all the pieces just to make it. I probably could have drafted a top like this just as fast.
There will always been little things to complain about and modify, so let me end this section on a high note:
Both versions, in the final form, look really good on me and I feel very good in them. I really like this pattern’s subtle shaping, without being restricting. I can move around in this, but I don’t feel like I am swimming in it. I think I probably have make one more before I feel super confident about the alterations. It is a good length, covering my pant and skirt waistbands (even low rise) but not overwhelming me.
I have had this cotton/silk blend in my stash for two years. I adopted it at a fabric swap with Crab & Bee, who made a super cute tunic dress just a few months prior. I love that she got it from someone else’s stash and then I adopted it from her.
…and I still have a yard of the cotton/silk fabric left.
I had forgotten it was a cotton/silk blend until just now – which explains so much about how well it wears. The lightweight fabric did pucker a bit along the narrow curved hem. I think pressing will resolve this. Hemming is something I want to improve in the near future.
I don’t know if the pale blue reads true in the picture, but I think the blue compliments my skin tone. If it were white and black, I think it would read too formal and stark against my skin.
I have shied away from large prints that necessitate pattern-matching. I think I did OK, except on the front placket. I lined up the center of the placket to match, and forgot the piece folded in half.
BUt what about the Buttonholes?
I was scared of the button holes. The fabric was so thin, and the rest of the garment looked so good. I was scared I would ruin the who thing with the buttonholes. That is why this sat unfinished for nearly 6 months.
This the first time I used my Bernina 1008 for making button holes. I previously depended on one of those button hole presser feet that has the center bar and slides to make sure you make the correct length. But I gave that away when I donated my old machine. The buttonhole foot I currently have looks like this:
Overall, the buttonhole settings worked just fine. It is a 6-step dial that pre-sets all of the stitch width and needle positions. The thin fabric (because I stupidly chose not to line it with interfacing) puckered and gathered a bit more than I would have liked, but it is not noticeable and it is not as bad as I feared. I am just glad that the thin fabric never got stuck inside the machine.
To make sure I didn’t sew too far past the button hole markings (none of my chalk pencil colors showed up well on this print) I places pieces of blue painters tape on the fabric to mark the limit of the buttonhole. It worked well and didn’t leave any stickiness.
The buttons came from my grandma’s button stash. They are off-white and translucent, so they basically take on the color of the shirt, without being shiny.
Better Pictures Project
Let this also be an anticipatory post. I am eagerly awaiting the Better Pictures Project to take us indoors. I bet I could have set up another light source in this room to cut down on shadows. But where to start?
Photo editing helped. To make the picture look more like I appeared to myself in a mirror I cooled off my skin tone, reduced the shiny highlights on my face, upped the midtone contrast and lightened the shadows a bit. I used Aperture (Apple), which is now no longer supported so I will eventually need to find a new editing system when I upgrade my computer.
A few things I learned about indoor photography –
- Leaning against a wall isn’t my best angle (fleshy bits get squished and smooshed)
- I have never figured out how to use the delayed flash function properly without getting a weird movement shadow.
- Get a handle on shadows and lighting – window + overhead + camera flash – it can be cool or annoying.
- Direct flash is too bright indoors, but I still need something to illuminate my face better.
- Having a room full of animal skulls and vintage decor is fun for photoshoots. Expect more.
This shirt is going to get a lot of use. I thought it would be a good summer shirt but after wearing it today, it has proved itself to be a good fall shirt as well.