As much as I love dresses, I do not have the habit of wearing them to work. My life would be much easier without the need to match two or three garment pieces at 6:30 in the morning, but the truth is, tops and skirts are my work uniform. The Megan skirt from the Love at First Stitch book by Tilly and the Buttons is my to-go bottom pattern. The skirt is easy to sew, and its clean lines make it perfect to highlight a beautiful fabric. When it comes to tops, however, I am still looking for the one. I love Deer and Doe’s Plantain for T-shirts, and I recently discovered Collete’s Violet Blouse with its adorable Peter Pan collar, but I still need a simple yet fancy-looking top to add to my sewing repertoire. I think I may have found it in the Sutton Blouse by True Bias.
The Sutton is a boxy top with kimono sleeves, a back inverted pleat, side slits, and a high low hem. Its nice shape comes from the drapey fabric that is meant to be used with the pattern. The kimono sleeves mean that there is no separate pattern piece for the sleeves (yay!), the back inverted pleat gives the top a bit more shape, and the longer back hem provides nice butt coverage. The V-neckline is finished with bias tape and adds interest to the front of the top. Two yards of fabric (a little less if you are using 54” fabric), and you have an adorable, flowy blouse to pair with a skirt or pants (well, not me; my dislike of pants is well-documented).
I have been trying to add interest to a black wardrobe with fun prints or details. I hit the jackpot when I was in Rio this past summer; I found some very nice rayon with interesting textures and prints. This black rayon with pink flamingos was leftover from making the Magnolia dress (still unblogged). I had enough to make the Sutton without having to worry about patchworking the bias tape. Pressing this rayon was a challenge, but I do not even mind because… flamingos!
I read about the Sutton blouse on a number of blogs, and what I learned is that the pattern runs big. I looked at my measurements and decided to go for a size 16. I made a muslin, and the size 16 fit like a sack of potatoes. Afraid to commit to the next smaller size, I started to take a little bit from the side seams at a time until I found a shape that I liked. I could have gone straight to a size 14 without all the resizing, but better safe than sorry. I like how the size 14 version fits.
Since there is a front seam, I had to take some time to match the fabric print. I did not want to end up with some strange convergence of flamingos, so I took my time to make sure that I got a seam I could live with. I played around until I ended up with a pleasant scattering of flamingos as the front seam.
The most time-consuming aspect of the Sutton is making the bias tape. I have an amazing neighbor who gifted me a bias-making kit that includes a bias tape sewing foot, bias makers of different widths, clips, pins, and an awl. Having all the pieces together in a nice case made the process go faster. I did not have to go searching for one thing and the other.
Once the tape was made, the rest of the process was very straight-forward. I am not a huge fan of necklines finished with bias tape as I have had bad experiences before, but the rayon was stable enough, and the process went well. I did not read the instructions very carefully, and I ended up not understitching the tape. Will I pay dearly for this? Only time will tell.
The instructions suggest sewing the shoulder seams and front seams using French seams. The frenched front seam hides the ends of the bias tape, keeping everything beautiful. I serged the side seams even though they could all be finished with French seams. I was slightly concerned by the side slits; I should have not as the instructions make the process easy to be followed. The hem is sewn by folding the edge by 1/4 inch, pressing, and then folding and pressing again, this time for the final hem—a finish that makes serging the hems unnecessary.
The Sutton is as comfortable as a T-shirt but a lot more appropriate for settings where T-shirts are not welcome. It passed the test of leaning over (when you work in a school library, there is a lot of reaching up and leaning over; gotta make sure that all garments pass the tests). The final product looks a lot more complex than the pattern really is. This is a great choice for beginner sewists looking to level up.