Test: Betty blouse

The Swedish pattern brand Mönsterfabriken (The Pattern Factory in English) launched their first patterns about two years ago, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Their patterns are well made with thought and consideration. So far their main body of work have centered around shirts, tops and trousers with a couple of dresses in the mix. Betty, a casual peasant style blouse with tassels, split neckline and ties on the sleeves, is one of their most recent patterns.

You may already notice that I used a different neckline than on the pattern

This is not a true test of the pattern, more a kind of review since I received it after it was published. I was very excited to be given the Betty pattern for free, but with no obligations to write about it, follow the instructions or to make it as intended. Since I always enjoy trying new patterns and get free reign, this was a real treat.

The Betty pattern is compatible with another of their patterns, the Elisabeth top from last year. Elisabeth is a great pattern for basics like tees in woven fabrics and summery tops. I’ve made many versions of Elisabeth already. They may look quite similar, but Betty has darts whereas Elisabeth has none so the fit is different. They share the same shoulder- and sleeve fit though, and the neckline is the same, so you can mix and match bodices, necklines, facings and sleeves to your heart’s content. I love the neckline of Elisabeth in particular – very simple and it sits just right on me. These twin sister patterns provide a huge variety and are fantastic starting points for your creativity. Susannah, or Frk. Wiberg, has made a fantastic version in linen just to give one example.

After giving it some thought I decided to try making a version with the Elisabeth neckline and the rest from Betty in some teal silk satin I bought in China last spring. In a fabric like this I prefer a very plain neckline, the fabric is more than enough in itself, so I went with Elisabeth there. For some reason I had bought very little yardage, so it wasn’t enough for more than a sleeveless top. However, I had bought some silk georgette in a matching color, too, so I decided to make the sleeves in a different fabric. Problem solved! Well, almost…

There are reasons why silk has a bad reputation among sewists. It is a temperamental fabric and must be handled with cation. The silk satin behaved reasonably well, but the charmeuse was very difficult. The main challenge was hemming the edges of the ties. When stitching thin and light fabric a useful tip is to sew with shorter stitches to avoid puckering. I went down to 2 mm instead of my usual 2.5 and it really helped. You have to be careful with heat and steam, and it is advisory to use a press cloth. I pressed only from the reverse side if possible. The hemmed ties still turned out a bit messy and are not up for inspection, sorry. I used a narrow hem of 3 mm, but unfortunately I forgot to reduce the seam allowance accordingly, so this was my fault entirely. Then I turned the second hem to the front instead of the back, sewed it down and cut the excess. Bah – one hour just to unpick the seam, and then way too little seam allowance to work with. Oh well, live and learn! They look pretty on a distance, perfect for social distancing then (bad joke, sorry!).

What else? I stitched the interfacing to the facing wrong sides together along the outer edge, notched the seam allowance and turned before I applied heat and glued them together for a neat finish. Originally I intended to topstitch the facing down, but I left it as it is because I preferred the neckline without visible seams. I used french seams throughout the project since don’t like the look of overlock or zigzag on delicate fabrics, and I enjoy creating nice insides most of the time. Of course you can make a blouse like this much faster and finish the seam allowances any way you like, this is just my personal preference.

A few words about the sizing: These patterns don’t have ordinary sizes, they are all categorized by measurements. However, the measurement table corresponds well with European standard sizes (92, my size, is the equivalent of EU40 or UK12). I like that you have to take your measurements before you choose a size, and I love that you also get the final garment’s measurements in the instructions to consider before you make a decision. Since I prefer my clothes to be relaxed, but not oversized, I often choose the smaller size if I’m between two sizes, but this time I didn’t because the ease is not more than it needs to be. The fit turned out great and no modifications were necessary.

After making the Betty I’m yet again convinced that the Mönsterfabriken patterns are among the best quality patterns out there. The instructions have improved a lot since the first patterns came out, and now you get the seam allowance included, too (I know many prefer this, but I don’t feel strongly about it myself). This is definitely easy enough for an adventurous beginner and if you are more experienced you could have fun with mixing the two patterns as I did.

Disclaimer: I received the pattern for free with no ties, all fabric and time is my own. More about the Elisabeth pattern here.

Pattern: Betty from Mönsterfabriken (available in English and Swedish)
Size 92
Fabric: about 2 m silk satin and silk georgette from the fabric market in Nanjing, China

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