I recently was lucky enough to test the newest pattern from Cali Faye Collection — the Valley Blouse. The women’s pattern is going to debut this week, and the corresponding girl’s pattern will be arriving right on its heels.
I get such a kick out of pattern testing. Not only do you get a sneak peek at a new pattern, but knowing the designer has put so much energy into creating a top notch design, I can’t help but feel a contagious excitement bringing the pattern to life. I personally enjoy the addition of more quality patterns for the modern sewer; so, selfishly, it also lets me feel I am “doing my part” in that regard.
The Valley Blouse is a generous, drapey peasant-style blouse with a scooped neckline featuring a keyhole detail and puffed sleeves with a cuff. It is suggested for very lightweight fabrics with a nice drape. As with other patterns from Cali Faye Collection, it works very nicely as drafted, but is also a great starting point for personalizing to your own style and taste. In fact, Sarah, the talented founder of CFC, greatly encourages such modifications; “our patterns are a skeleton of your talent.”
**I feel the need to apologize for the quality of these photos. I was using the camera on timer for the first set and lighting wasn’t great, so they’re all over-exposed in order to provide some detail of the pattern. Otherwise the shirt just looked like a dark blob against a light wall — not so good.
I sewed two versions of the pattern.
For the first attempt, I sewed up a straight size medium based on the pattern’s sizing chart, using only my chest measurement as the determining measurement, and made no modifications to the pattern. I am a pear shape and my hip measurement would have bumped me up a size, but I found the overall fit to be generous enough to allow me to size based solely on my bodice measurements. I used a linen/rayon blend in a maroon-ish color. I should receive a demerit for not following the pattern’s suggestion of sticking to a very lightweight fabric. I’ve used this particular fabric for prior projects and love the drape, but it definitely is more of a mid-weight fabric.
The pattern sewing is straight forward, nothing too tricky, and the pattern instructions and tips are helpful guides. I would suggest making a muslin of the shirt yoke before cutting into your good fabric. For this first version of the blouse, I felt like the scoop hit too low on my chest for my own personal taste, and that combined with the width across the shoulders meant I was inadvertently sporting an off-the-shoulder look at times.
I should note that the bodice in this first version is simply pinned shut for now. I want to add a button closure, but I haven’t found the perfect button yet!
For the second version, I changed things up a bit. For starters, I used one of the recommended fabrics. This second version is made from a pale blue rayon challis with small yellow polka dots, which I found at Jo-Ann’s. (Is it just me, or are they really starting to step up their apparel fabric selection?) This fabric is definitely lightweight! And while the rayon/linen blend I used above wasn’t exactly bad or wrong, sewing the pattern in this rayon challis truly felt like I was working with the right instrument! The photos below are not the best example but this fabric allows for a much softer drape and fit than the rayon/linen blend.
I also made a few modifications to the pattern to suit my personal comfort level. I shortened the shoulder slope slightly, raised the scoop neck by about an inch and cut a smaller keyhole opening, all for a bit more modesty up top. I also reduced the width of the sleeves by 1.5 inches and shortened the length by almost 3 inches; I like a shorter sleeve length on blouses. I added a button detail on the front yoke. I also enclosed the front yoke seam with a hand-sewn blind stitch, rather than machine-stitching in the ditch, for a cleaner look on the inside of the blouse.
And, by the way, apparently winter decided to stop by a couple months early. Can you see those goosebumps in the photo below?! Nothing like an outdoor photo shoot in a very lightweight blouse when it’s 33 degrees! Brrrr! I handed my husband the camera and told him he had about 1 minute to try to shoot a few decent photos — these were the best we could manage!
The rayon challis fabric is so soft and drapes so nicely, I can easily see wearing this blouse tucked in, for a completely different look. I’d also love to pair it with a mustard-y colored cardigan to draw out the yellow polka dots.
Here are some thoughts and tips for making the Valley Blouse, based on my experiences:
— the overall fit is definitely generous, so a muslin may be very helpful here to help you decide on sizing and whether to reduce any width, etc.
— I wish I’d used a bit more interfacing with the rayon challis version. Even with understitching at the back yoke, the back lining tends to roll up a bit at the neckline. I think some lightweight interfacing may have provided enough stability to keep things in place. Note: I think this is particular to the slipperiness of rayon challis; this wasn’t an issue with the rayon/linen blend version. Also, when I decided to add in the buttons and loop buttonholes, I should have added a bit more interfacing to add stability and prevent pulling — my bad.
— the keyhole feature on the blouse front will allow some skin to peek through; if you desire more modesty, shorten the length of the opening, and remember to pinch the keyhole bottom with a stitch or two (Cali Faye Collection has a short tutorial on tackling the keyhole)
— I am able to easily fit the blouse on and off without having to open the keyhole or front yoke buttons, so sewing the front yoke as one piece, may be an option for you, if you are looking for an easy modification to the blouse front
Now get sewing! You will be able to find the Valley Blouse Pattern, and all the other great Cali Faye Collection sewing patterns, here: Cali Faye Collection.