Hello readers! I know, it’s been a while since you last heard from me. But I am SO excited about what I’ve got in the works!

Do any of you remember reading Darlene’s posts about a lovely velvet tank top from Jailyn Apparel a few years ago (here and here)? Do you remember the exciting news she shared last May about Jailyn Apparel making a comeback as a pattern company?!

Jailyn’s current PDF pattern offering is the Mandarin top. It is fantastic:

Click through to go to the Jailyn Apparel Flickr group, for more photos!

“The Mandarin shirt is a closely-tailored style with an under-bust seem that highlights your waist while allowing easy fitting of the bust area. The spread Mandarin collar drops into a V neckline. Closely spaced buttons down the center front work with the fuller bust sizing to prevent gaping across your bust line.

The sleeves sport overlapped, fold-back cuffs with sleeve length options in 3/4-length or above the elbow.

It’s a flattering casual shirt that easily transitions to the office.”

As a sewist, this pattern is so exciting to me! I love the challenge of sewing garments with a good fit. I love it even more when it comes with a pattern that’s already great to start with. I really want to share my love of sewing and PDF patterns and fitting with you – so Hourglassy will be hosting a sew-a-long blog series with the Mandarin top!

Every week, I’ll be publishing a step-by-step tutorial outlining a part of the process of making this blouse. Everything from printing/assembling your PDF pattern, making pattern adjustments and a fitting muslin, all the way down to hemming and affixing the buttons on your final garment! I’ll break it up into manageable weekly portions with photos and tips to help along the way. Jodi’s pattern instructions are phenomenal and you don’t really *need* me over here holding your hand. But making a tailored blouse can be intimidating, and it is always more fun to try new things with a friend!

If you want to join in the fun*, get your supplies ready and check back next week for pattern printing and assembly tips!

Supplies needed:

  • One copy of the Jailyn Apparel Mandarin Shirt pattern and accompanying instructions.
    • This is available for download here, on the Jailyn Apparel website, for $12.50 USD. Not much more expensive than your average paper pattern, but the instructions and fit are infinitely better! PDF patterns are my favorite!
  • Current body measurements (bust, waist, and hip) in order to select your sewing size
    • There is a regular and an “extra full” bust option for each pattern size.
    • I currently measure 39″ bust, 32″ waist, 42″ hip – which puts me solidly in a size 10 regular for the bust and a size 12 for waist and hips. I took a look at the finished garment measurements and decided to stick with a size 10, as there seemed to be enough ease for me to be comfortable without sizing up to a 12. I like my clothing to fit more snugly.
  • Fabric for your fitting Muslin
    •  When making a new tailored garment for the first time, it is HIGHLY recommended you make a fitting Muslin first! This is not something you will actually wear. You will sew it with basting stitches and possibly be unpicking and fussing with it quite a bit, in order to determine how to adjust the pattern for your body!
    • The recommended fabric for this top is a shirting with a bit of stretch to it. I checked with Jodi, the designer, and she said that a non-stretch fabric would work for a final version of this top, provided the top back piece was widened to provide more movement for the arms. Since a fitting Muslin is not going to actually be worn, it is just needed to check the fit, I opted to use a non-stretch cotton Muslin for my fitting piece (such as this fabric available at JoAnn Fabrics). This has no stretch, which means it probably won’t be comfy to wear, but it is inexpensive and will work to check the fit!
  • Fabric for your finished garment
    • To quote the website: “Medium-weight woven shirting such as broadcloth, poplin, end-on-end, pinpoint oxford, or twill with a small amount (2% to 3% of total fiber content) of spandex in addition to the other fibers.”
    • I found a solid white shirting at my local JoAnn Fabrics (boring, I know, but hopefully a solid wardrobe staple). They had a few solid colors stocked with the Sportswear fabrics in the “Apparel” section. I believe this is what I purchased: Sew Classic Bottomweight Stretch Sateen.
    • I did a quick search on Mood’s website as well, and they have so many pretty shirtings! Here is a quick search of their stretch poplin and another for stretch shirtings. Yes, you can order from them online, and I have heard their phone/chat customer service is amazing!
    • You can also check your local Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart fabric center, or online retailers such as Fabric.com. Just look for something that’s similar in weight/feel to ready-to-wear button up shirts, and has a little stretch (2-3% Spandex, elastane, or Lycra).
    • Be sure to wash and dry (or dry clean) your fabric exactly as you are going to care for it after it is sewn up! This will help minimize shrinking later. If you’re using a colorful material, pre-washing also helps it not to bleed as much after it’s sewn up.
  • 1 1/4 yards of lightweight fusible interfacing, that’s appropriate for your fabric
    • I am only using this on my final shirt, not my fitting Muslin.
  • Matching thread for your material
  • Nine buttons, approx. 1/2″ in diameter
  • Optional: basting glue or paper-backed fusible web tape for installing the collar.
  • Optional: stabilizer for reinforcing button holes.
  • Basic sewing supplies (sewing machine with straight stitch and button hole functions, pins, fabric scissors, fabric ruler, iron, etc)

* This is an “intermediate” skill level pattern – so it may not make a good first sewing project. But I firmly believe you can sew anything at any skill level as long as you have patience, follow directions, and ask for help if you get lost (I’m here to answer questions!). Don’t be afraid to try this top even if you don’t feel like you’re an intermediate sewist! My first wearable sewing project (and first experience with using a pattern) was a formal dress for a high school Homecoming dance, and it turned out great 😉 I’m trying to find photo evidence to support my claim, but it looks as if it has been lost in the depths of some unknown computer hard drive. So you’ll just have to take my word on that for now. And know that I believe in you!!! *cue confetti and cheesy power ballad*

Disclaimer: I received the Mandarin shirt pattern for review, but all opinions and experiences are my own.