All Feathered Up: Simplicity 1253 Blouse Pattern Review

By | March 6, 2018

So, Simplicity 1253 has me stymied.

I wrote up my review post the same day I completed the blouse, filled with self-pity and angst over how frustrating this project was and how it didn’t line up with my expectations. Then I wore it a few times. And now I kind of love it. This is not the first time this has happened.

I don’t want to sugarcoat the experience because I like to be able to look back honestly and see growth or obstacles rather than just sunny commentary. At the same time, I also don’t want to be all, “Wahhh! Woe is me,” when in the end, I have a top I’m really enjoying. Overly dramatic creative tension it is, then. On with the review!

My streak is over. (Sort of.)

I had been a roll of making things that I loved, that turned out great, and that made me think I was getting pretty okay at this whole sewing thing.

Then this thing came along.

Let’s start with the fabric. I LOVE this border print feather fabric. It’s so vibrant and fun! Everyone who sees it tends to comment on how rad it is — even my husband. So I didn’t want to screw this up, especially because I can’t get any more of it. That said, I’ve been working out of my stash and in a “sew the good stuff” mood lately, so this piece was getting stitched up, one way or another. (Sidenote: I totally fabric binged since writing this. It was a good 11-garment stash streak while it lasted!)

Technicolor feather love!

I debated a ton of different patterns. In the end, I went with Simplicity 1253 because of the simple lines. There are some neckline pleats, but that’s about it. I edited out the neckband since it wouldn’t work with the print, and I added a lining. Other than that, I made this without any changes.

As lovely as it is, this fabric is lightweight and slippery. There was no way I was going to try to execute anything complicated and overly seamed, or that required a close fit. This thin, delicate polyester fabric needed something simple and at least slightly drapey. I also knew I wanted the border to run from the top down, instead of having the border at the bottom. So, I set out!

As soon as I was done cutting, I knew my plan hadn’t done justice to the border. Without the neckband, the top was lower-cut than I realized, and a lot of the gorgeous border feathers were lost. Well, shit. No use crying over it, though — time to get sewing!

Oh my goodness, you guys — this fabric hates me. This polyester wiggled and moved and slid and slithered and was just an overall bitch and a half to cut and sew. I had to stop and sew my husband some woven cotton boxers halfway through just to have the satisfaction of working with a friendly, pressable fabric to reset and refresh myself.

When your friend gets that good angle!

It’s not just the fabric, though. I made SO MANY unforced errors while constructing this relatively simple top. Seams went wonky, I would catch additional layers in my seams, I couldn’t get the button loops turned AT ALL, and it was just sloppy all around. Of course, it wasn’t intentionally sloppy, but the amount of times I had to unpick stitching was some kind of personal record. On delicate fabric, no less. Sigh. Can I blame it on baby-induced lack of sleep? Because I’m totally going to.

I also wish I’d sized up about half a size. I cut a 10, as per usual, and it’s a little tight in the arms, shoulders, and back. In a knit, the fit would be perfect, but in a woven (which is what it’s designed for), there’s not quite enough room to move effortlessly. I was worried going to pop a seam bending over to lift the baby out of her crib, but it turns out it’s okay. I wore this a couple of times already and have been able to care for Baby JuJu and hug copious people with nary a popped stitch. Phew!

Also, I have to comment on the sleeve buttons. They are so oddly placed! Because they’re on the inside/underside of the sleeve, they don’t show up from the front, or the back, or… really… from any angle. Definitely not worth the effort of adding six loops and six buttons! Lesson learned: adding buttons to one-piece sleeves is a non-starter.

Let’s also chat about the button loops for a second. I got a lot of great advice on Instagram about how to turn the loops, but in the end, this fabric was just too delicate. That, and I didn’t have the patience. After trying several solutions and waiting for the perfect large needle to arrive and then having that plan not work, I decided to stop Wile E. Coyote-ing this thing and just move on. I substituted pre-made 1/4″ bias tape for the loops. Gotta say, I don’t recommend it. They’re way too thick, and made it difficult to stitch over them smoothly. Next time, I’ll consider ribbon, which I wish I would have thought of earlier. It would have been a lovely, seemingly intentional touch instead of a total eyesore and mismatch.

I’m seriously embarrassed by how crappy the stitching is, dudes.

That said, I really like the length of the sleeves as-is; this is going to be a great transitional item between seasons. Another thing to like about this pattern is the length. It doesn’t have the look of a long, baggy tunic, but there’s the perfect amount of coverage in the back. The back hemline curves down and offers perfect butt coverage to wear with leggings. Bonus! I did struggle with hemming the curved back hem; it came out a bit wavy. It looks dreadful in photos, but I’m guessing that it’s much less noticeable to anyone else when I’m moving around. Not worth fussing about.

The back makes much better use of the border! Argh!

In the end, I really don’t love this top. I don’t love the neckline, I don’t love the gathered sleeve caps, I don’t love the fit, I don’t love the hem, and it’s just so meh for fabric I was crazy about. I’m optimistic that I’ll still wear it. Sometimes I try to “save” my most loved garments and don’t wear them as much as I should, so hopefully this top will meet the opposite fate. (Sidenote again: After wearing this a couple of times, it’s growing on me. It’s not OMGAmazing, but it’s Quite Good, and the fabric puts me in a good mood. Still wish I would have chosen a boatneck pattern for maximum featherage.)

I also can’t say I regret cutting into my precious feathers. Fabric that sits on the shelf is mostly wasted. Even if this blouse isn’t my best work or my favorite garment, I had the pleasure (debatable in some moments…) of cutting and stitching a project, the fun of wearing it a few times, the enjoyment of photographing/writing/reflecting on the process, more space in the stash, and the affirmation that my skills and lifestyle are good enough right now to merit good fabric.

So, welcome to the closet, my Feathered Comeback Kid Blouse!

4 thoughts on “All Feathered Up: Simplicity 1253 Blouse Pattern Review

  1. Rebecca

    Sorry you had so many problems with this top. It is so lovely – so maybe it was worth all the frustration? Enjoy wearing it!!

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      You know, the frustration always seems to fade, so I think you’re right — it is totally worth it. And hey, if it were always smooth sailing, I wouldn’t be learning anything, right?

  2. Lisa G

    It’s quite lovely; I’m glad you ended up liking it more with time! Your embarrassing stitches look like my normal stitches, haha!! And that fabric is very happy and smile-inducing! 🙂

    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Thanks, Lisa — there’s nothing like smile-inducing fabric, right?


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