I thought it was super cute, and it promptly went on my list of projects to sew. Recently the perfect fabric came my way, so it shot right to the top of that list. August, which is often the hottest month of the year in Colorado, is the ideal time to make and wear this light, breezy top.
The fabric I used was an amazing 100% cotton voile from Art Gallery Fabrics. I can’t believe how soft and light and smooth it is. I keep wanting to call it silky, though it really isn’t—it’s just so smooth that I want to anyway! It has a nice drape with just a touch of the traditional stiffness of cotton to give it some body. I am just head over heels in love with it.
This particular print is called Kladi Under Shadow (product number V-34606). I’m really into pale blue with pinks lately, so this caught my eye immediately. I love the dimensionality of it, and it’s busy enough that matching the print isn’t necessary. This particular print is part of the Skopelos line by Katarina Roccella. I love that the collection has a Kladi Under Light, too—a cream, gray, and pink version of the same pattern.
Every piece of the Up in Arms pattern is cut on the fold. This made me a little twitchy, because I didn’t want to cut everything out of the center of the yardage—I wanted to be as efficient with my fabric as possible. So I cut out the front/back piece, which is fairly wide, on the center fold, then I refolded so both selvages met in the middle and cut the rest of the pieces on the quarter folds to conserve fabric.
You only need four pattern pieces to make this blouse: front/back (cut 2 total), front yoke (cut 2), back yoke (cut 2) and sleeves (cut 2). A neat thing about this pattern is that it comes with a selection of sleeves—box, plain, flutter and ruffled. I chose box sleeves, which are the featured sleeves in the magazine.
The pattern itself isn’t complicated. Its required skills are very basic; you have to know how to gather, understitch and stitch in the ditch. The sleeves are a breeze because they are set in before the side seams are stitched, then the side seams and sleeve seam are stitched in one step. I love doing sleeves that way! The sleeves in this pattern required a tiny bit of easing, but it was so minor that I didn’t have to run any ease stitches; I just eased it in while pinning.
I used a regular sewing machine for most of this project. The fabric had a slight tendency to ravel, but because the top edge of the front and back and all but the armscyes on the yokes end up sealed inside the yoke lining, I wasn’t worried about finishing those seams. Just to be safe, I set in the sleeves and stitched the side seams with a serger. There were two reasons I decided on the serger—first, to keep the raw edges from raveling, and second because the fabric is a wee bit sheer and I decided I’d rather have a narrow serged hem that was unlikely to show through than a 1 1/4” wide stripe up each side seam where the fabric was doubled due to seam allowance.
A key element to successfully making this pattern is careful pressing. It’s a bit challenging at times—it really helps to have a sleeve board and a ham at certain points—but if you press carefully and well everything fits together perfectly. I lucked out in that I was working with a high-quality cotton, which pressed like a dream. That said, if I had been using a less cooperative fabric, it would have been worth it to take a little extra time on the pressing steps.
I had a lot of fun with this pattern. It’s well-designed; it went together just like a pattern should, without any weirdness or things not matching up. It’s great for wovens—I’m so used to wearing knits that I always feel like wovens are constraining or fighting me. Not so with the Up in Arms pattern. As long as the size is chosen correctly via the high bust measurement, it fits very comfortably without constraining (though that might not be as true for the plain or ruffled sleeve versions). I wore the blouse to an outdoor theater shortly after I finished it, and honestly, it was so light and airy and comfortable that I felt like I wasn’t wearing anything at all! I keep thinking I should get some more voile and extend the front/back 18” or so to make a light summer nightgown.
One more note about this pattern: it stitches up quick! All in all it took me about four hours to make my blouse, and that includes a bunch of time I spent taking pictures and setting up shots to video record my progress. I believe I could have done it in three hours or less if I had just been sewing.
I would highly recommend the Up in Arms Blouse to anyone who wants a quick, comfortable summer top—especially if it’s made with Art Gallery Fabrics’ voile! I imagine that by using heavier fabric and a longer sleeve option, it could be great for other times of the year, too.