Saturday, April 25, 2015

Camas blouses

Over the past few weeks, I have made a few quick and easy "Camas" blouses, a pattern from Thread Theory. It's very comfy and can be made with knits, or lightweight stretch wovens. I'm always drawn to mixing and matching patterns so I had fun choosing fabrics for these shirts.

For my first "muslin" I used some stuff I've had in my stash for ages, collected during sales, not for any particular purpose but I think my color choice was inspired by the lovely blouse made by Meg at Cookin' & Craftin'. The dark yoke and placket on a lighter fabric looks great to me!

The shoulder pieces and placket are a rayon challis with no stretch, which is not recommended, but worked relatively (as in wearably) well. I think might be the same fabric used for this whole shirt! The knit is a soft cotton knit with some ribbed texture from the stripes. I used a twin needle on my sewing machine for the hemming, and it is not ideal. You can see the sleeve is widened out by the poorly tensioned stitching and bottom is wavy. I used the auto-tension, but clearly, I need to do more testing.

This is size 12 shoulders, graded to 16 at the hips. Instead of buttons, I sewed down the placket a little higher than the design, as is required to cover my bust. I did not do a FBA and the result is that when worn, the gathers are fully engaged as coverage. This looks fine to me! If you want the gathers to show as decorative gathers, an FBA will be necessary.

I have only one complaint about the pattern... The instructions say to sew on one placket to the blouse first, then attach the lining piece to the first placket, then sew them both down. This was a horrible disaster for me. I had to unpick the whole thing and start over with new cut pieces. I sewed those together first, turned them right side out, pressed them and then attached them together to the blouse. The results are less than perfect, but better than a horrible disaster. I'll be even more careful with my next shirt.

Next shirt! I used a soft bamboo sweater knit for the main shirt and some leftover matte jersey for the details. Both are knit materials, so I had better luck with the placket... although it's still not perfect. When worn, the placket is straight. When hung, the different fabric weights cause some distortion.

Hemming with the soft sweater knit was a nightmare. I used "wonder tape" out of desperation and it's still wavy (but much better than before the wonder tape). I put cuffs on the sleeves to avoid hemming, but they too are big and will be replaced. Sweater knit is really tricky. I need a class in finishing techniques!

My third attempt is with two jersey knits of similar weight. Sigh. Why didn't I start this way?

The main body is a lovely stretchy Liberty of London viscose print that I stalked on until the price went down sometime last year. I ordered a lot of it, enough to make this Camas shirt out of  the leftovers from making an unblogged Moneta a few months ago.  The black fabric is a nice quality black rayon jersey from Harts.  The fabrics have matching weights which made everything go together smoothly... although I had lots of practice by this point too.

I put buttons on the plackets, sewing them together with each one instead of stitching the length. No buttonholes for me, thank you.

I put cuffs on the sleeves and tested the hemming stitch a few times before settling on an acceptable tension and stitch style.

The shirt is a little boxy for my figure, but it's easy enough to wear with a belt, or not. :)


  1. The liberty one looks great! I have made two but haven't tried belting them - looks good :)

    1. Thanks! Third time is the charm... Although I do wear the first flawed one as well. I like your sleeveless version! I might try that too now!

  2. I love your fabric combos. I had trouble with the placket instructions, too! Thanks for the shout-out, by the way!

    1. Hi Meg! Thanks! I'm really into this pattern- I will be making more but keeping the fabric weights the same, from now on. Your version is so pretty! And you take such great photos. Do you have a tripod? Or a willing participant?

  3. Sometimes with hemming a knit I find it's better to use the tape and do a zig zag with the outside against the feed dogs. Alternately just go slow with twin needling but never try to fit the sleeve over the sewing machine arm. Just turn the sleeve inside out and hem normally while keeping the fabric out of the way. That works on an otherwise wavy knit for me 90% of the time.

  4. How do I shrink my white cotton blouse?