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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review of HP Boxy blouse

OK here it goes, with pictures.

I have to be honest with you, this pattern was a disappointment to me.

Like all disappointments this has to do with my own expectations. I was looking to add a comfortable and stylish casual, wear-around-the-house shirt to my repertoire and judging from the picture on the HP envelope this was going to do it for me. I needed something in the line-up that had camp shirt comfort but more than camp shirt style if that makes sense.

There are some definite pros to this shirt and some cons and to be fair I want to talk about both:


1. The body fit is good. I lowered the dart point by 1/2" but that's all I did, no FBA and the fit you can see in the side shot is nice. Nice enough that I may try to figure out how to make use of the body of this pattern and fix up the details I was not happy with. Yes, I know though I need to add more tummy room and am well aware that drag lines to your midsection are not a great look.

2. The shoulder and collar sit nicely in the side view.

3. The sleeves went in easily and are well-drafted in the cap. This is a comfortable shirt to wear even though it is fairly close to the body. I definitely was not looking for a sloppy shirt.


1. Collar: The wide spread collar was probably part of the decisions to dress this shirt up but I am not crazy about it. I remember collars like this from my past and they look dopey to me. I can however easily trim this down working from a more modest pattern, if I can figure out how to deal with the collar band.

2. Collar band: This is where the real disappointment lay for me. The finished dimensions of the collar band in my size (12) is 18". That is enormous on a woman's neck, anyone's really, think of men's neck measurements 15-16" being average. Obviously the larger neckline is meant to be part of the design of the big collar but it seams to me that any collar with a band is based around a band that can be buttoned around the neck and this looks terrible that way of course. If the designer wanted a big spread collar they should have just made this a blouse collar, without a band, IMO. This is just a misinterpretation of a collar on a band and will be hard to fix without drafting a whole new neckline.

2. Sleeves: OK these really made me crazy. The 3/4 sleeves with gathering look fine in the picture (when will sewers learn not to trust line drawings?) but the amount of fabric you have to gather into the band is tiny, which is why I ended up making sort of tiny pleats which I would have taken out and redone if I had liked the collar better. If you want a gathered sleeve give the sewer enough fabric to gather. 

Now of course maybe I made the band too big (the notch I was supposed to find on the pattern piece wasn't there) but you have to have a roomier band on a sleeve that ends under the elbow than say around a wrist. Flex and bend your arm and you will see what I mean. I am not making this to give a donation to the Red Cross. Someone should have thought this through.

And again the instructions annoyed me - they just weren't explicit or thoughtful enough and one full page of the three pages were spent telling me how fabulous the pattern would be and how sharp the blouse would look. I would have preferred fewer words like "groovy" and a few more things like notches.

Oh dear, I am usually not such a crab but this one really over-sold and under-delivered.


LisaB said...

Well, despite your disappointments with this pattern, the collar construction itself looks really good. What interfacing did you use this time?

May I offer one small suggestion? A nude-colored bra will likely eliminate the show-through in the first photo.

Thanks for sharing both the pros and the cons on this pattern.

Barbara said...

Good call about the nude-coloured bra, don't have one but will. And I used two layers of sewn-in woven this time in the collar. Next time I am going to add collar stays, see how that goes. I do one thing right every shirt and hope it to all add up one day to a great go to set of patterns.

sdBev-NL6538 said...

It's OK to be crabby. HP patterns are not cheap and you have a right to expect a well thought out, well drafted pattern. Persoanlly, I've passed along all my HP patterns hoping someone else could make better use of them.

kbenco said...

It is not being a crab to make a valid, well thought out critique. How disappointing that the HP blouse does not live up to its page of self praise.

a little sewing said...

You are calling it like you see it - nothing wrong with that! I do think the shirt looks good if that is any consolation.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with giving a truthful review!
It will be helpful for lots of people.
I'm disappointed it didn't work out better for you and amazed at that huge 18" collar band, for a woman
s neck. However, the blouse doesn't look awful on you at all!

Jane M said...

I feel your pain! I too love the HP ideas and au courant styling....but have been less than happy with the patterns themselves. I so want them to succeed....and I so want you to enjoy this great project. So thanks for the honest remarks.

Eugenia said...

A thoughtful and interesting review - thanks! Personally I think the shirt looks very nice but understand how annoying it is if things don't turn out how you want them to be!