Readers, I wasn't going to write about my 1944 blouse project again today, but I felt it my duty to share a few important truths about this synthetic fabric, perhaps to spare you some unnecessary headaches down the line.
1) Poly charmeuse will not ease. It will, however, pucker like nobody's business (esp. when there's spandex in the weave). I knew this going in, readers, but it's SO true. We've all encountered the sleeve cap situation where there's five or six inches of extra ease and you're like, Huh? I usually just chop the extra height off the top kind of intuitively. Well, with poly charmeuse, you don't want even an extra inch of ease because it ain't gonna ease.
My sleeve hole measured roughly 16 inches. My sleeve cap measured more than 20! I chopped, trying to retain the shape of the sleeve cap, which is not entirely symmetrical.
I had to deepen the armhole a bit as it was a little high, which widened the armhole a bit.
Believe it or not, there was still a little too much ease.
I got the sleeve on, and it doesn't look bad, but it was a headache. If you stitch the sleeve on first with a basting stitch, the seam looks puckery, but you can't start out with a tiny stitch in case you have to rip the seam out. Do you know what I'm talking about?
2) As I mentioned, my poly charmeuse has some stretch to it. When you're stitching it you must not stretch the fabric under the sewing machine or it will look puckered when it's finished. There will be the occasional appearance of puckering when the fabric stretches on the body -- I think this is very hard to avoid, particularly in an armscye.
3) The pattern called for two dart tucks at the front hem, giving the blouse a lovely hourglass shape. Unfortunately, it also made it too fitted.
I had to take those tucks out and do it without damaging the fabric. Eensy weensy stitches, too. I managed it but is wasn't fun and I'll probably need glasses soon. I'm not sure if this would have been easier or harder on real silk. Any idea?
These wrinkles pressed out completely, thankfully. I may add a very narrow dart tuck just to create the illusion of a slightly more nipped waist.
Overall, ripping seams in this rather pillowy charmeuse is a PITA and not for the faint of heart.
4. Poly charmeuse is thick and rather heavy. The sleeves have ruffles on the cuffs. The ruffle is made by folding a rectangle in half length-wise, right sides together, stitching the ends, and turning. This is then gathered (!) and stitched to the cuff. The cuffs are then stitched to a gathered sleeve.
The end result is OK, but lacks the crispness and lightness you'd get with cotton or perhaps real silk. The fabric is simply too thick for this to look elegant. And you can't really press ruffles, can you?
The band collar came out very well. But tied, it's hard to get the crisp bowtie effect you'd get with real silk, at least not without a lot of effort. It's just too slippery.
I'll have pics of the finished blouse this weekend. Overall, I love it and it's very different from anything I've made before. If I were to make this again, however, I think I'd do it in something crisper and probably a natural fiber. It has certainly been an interesting challenge though!
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!