achievement unlocked: teal gingham Henrietta Maria top


All right, let’s talk about this top, which is the Henrietta Maria blouse from Scroop Patterns. (Note: I’m recycling some of the photos from my last post. Sorry not sorry!) This was the very first Scroop release, & I’m not gonna lie: I had zero plans to sew it up. The line drawings made it look like an Edwardian nightshirt, which is not exactly my style jam. But I wanted a loose-fitting woven blouse of some sort to pair with my suspender skirt. I was imagining a modern riff on a dirndl, kind of, so I was looking for some kind of updated or unique twist on a peasant blouse. & I was especially looking for an indie pattern from a company I haven’t sewn before, to fit into the Indie Pattern Month “new to me” challenge.


I briefly considered the Scroop Patterns Ngaio blouse, which is a new release that I’ve been seeing on blogs a lot recently. But I just haven’t been sold on any version I’ve seen. Something about the boob situation always looks a little bit weird.


I mean, right? I think I personally just prefer a wider/lower neckline.

I really don’t know what compelled me to pull the trigger on the Henrietta Maria, given that it looks an awful lot like a maternity shirt my mom wore back when she was pregnant with me in the 70s. But I’m glad I did because the final results turned out much better than I expected while I was sewing!


I was initially going to use a yellow tiny gingham seersucker (yardage leftover from a maxidress I still need to sew). But it just wasn’t speaking to me, so I went stash-diving to see if I had anything better. I found this teal gingham seersucker that I originally bought to make a shirtdress. Perfect! The larger checks were just what I needed, & inadvertently made sewing this blouse up so fast & easy, because they served as a built-in measuring device for all those cartridge pleats.

Also, not for nothing, teal is the official awareness color of gynecological cancers, & let us not forget that I was treated for cervical cancer this past year. Layers upon layers, amirite?


This was a surprisingly quick pattern. I expected it to take me a couple of days, but the sewing went really fast. The only shaping comes from the pleats, so it was just a matter of a few seams, pressing in the facings, & then pleating. There are more than seventy pleats on this garment, & if I would have had to measure, mark, & press each one individually, it definitely would have taken a while. But since I could use the checks to estimate the measurements, that saved me a lot of time.


I did a few advance alterations. This pattern is drafted for a B-cup, so I did a 2″ slide & pivot FBA. Next time I’d add maybe another 1/2″, because it pulls ever-so-slightly across the fullest part of the bust. The directions suggested cutting the size you’d need for your full bust & adjusting the number/width of pleats to fit the shoulders if you are smaller or larger than a B-cup, but I’m really glad I went with an FBA instead. My full bust measurement is 43″, & I cut a size 38 (Scroop Patterns has a sizing chart based on bust size, so a size 38 corresponds to a 38″ bust), & it’s still pretty wide in the shoulders. I mean, it’s a wide-necked design, but still.


I also did a 2″ swayback adjustment, but I still have a lot of pooling in the lower back. Maybe that’s just inevitable to some degree for a dartless woven top? Especially one intentionally designed to be fairly loose-fitting in the waist & hips?


I also shortened the sleeves a few inches to make them elbow-length. Sewing has taught me that I loathe three-quarter sleeves. If they are touching my forearms, they need to be solidly long sleeves or else I just get mad. Plus I felt like there was already a lot happening with the color & the gingham & the pleats & the volume…I needed to rein it in somewhere.


Per the suggestions in the instructions, I finished the cut-on facings with some lovely narrow white lace. This only really works because the facings are two inches wide & integrated into the shirt via the pleating, but it’s a really pretty detail for this particular garment. It makes the blouse feel extra-feminine to me, which is kind of nice sometimes. I also added bra strap carriers, which serve the dual purpose of keeping my bra straps tucked away (not that I really care about showing my bra straps, especially considering that I sew all my own bras, so they are all pretty) & keep the neckline up on my shoulders. This top would for sure be slipping off my shoulders with every movement without the carriers. But with them, I look like a magical clothes-wearing wizard. I feel like people see me & they’re like, “HOW is she wearing such a wide-necked top with no bra straps showing & it’s not slipping off her shoulder every five seconds? Is she a WITCH?” It feels very elegant, which isn’t something I can say for pretty much anything I have ever made before.


I will say, the length of the this top leaves something to be desired. It wouldn’t really be wearable as-is without the extra length I added via the FBA. & bear in mind, I am fairly short-torsoed. I read that it was a bit short on length on Tanya’s blog, but of course I had to be a maverick & see for myself. It can be kind of hard to gauge exactly how long it’s going to be before it’s completely finished, because it is SO wide before all the pleats are sewn. Almost an entire yard of fabric (!!!) is in the neckline pleats alone! But if you decide to try this top, maybe just add an extra inch or two to the hem to be on the safe side. You can trim it off if the finished shirt is too long. I took the teeniest, narrowest hem possible, & it is just long enough that I feel I can wear it untucked, which is fortunate, because I am not much of a shirt-tucker.


My goal for the weekend is to finish my project for the “hack it” challenge. I would have finished it today while Jared & Ramona were on the Lawrence Community Bike Ride (a photo of them from a few years ago was used for the newspaper article advertising it!), but I had serger issues & then I had elastic issues…It’s so close to being done, & I think (hope) it’s going to be SO cute.


& that reminds me: I learned this morning that my Shenai dress was one of the winners of the “dresses” challenge! Amazing! I won a £100 Fabric Hamper from Minerva Crafts! Wow! I know I thought my dress was pretty terrific (I’ve been wearing it almost non-stop ever since I made it), but it’s nice that other people thought so too!

pattern: Henrietta Maria top from Scroop Patterns
size: 38
fabric: around 2 yards of teal gingham seersucker
notions: universal needle, white thread, 3.5 yards of narrow white lace, 10″ of white 3/8″ ribbon, two sew-on snaps
total cost of all supplies: around $25 (including the pattern)
alterations: 2″ slide & pivot FBA, 2″ swayback adjustment
next time: add maybe another 1″ to the length of the top, do another aggressive swayback adjustment, take another 1/2″ off the sleeve length
remarks from the public: “You look beautiful.” — Jared (In fact, he said the Henrietta Maria/Madeleine suspender skirt combo is his favorite thing I’ve ever made, but I don’t know if that’s just recency bias talking.)
photos: Ramona took the photos of me, I took the rest

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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