Pattern Review: Cashmerette Alton Blouse
Do you commonly have to alter patterns by making full bust and/or narrow shoulder adjustments? The Alton Blouse may be for you!
The Alton has been released by Cashmerette through their subscription-based 'Club'. You can actually join for a month if you just want the current pattern release, and then un-join. If you want to get all the existing patterns (and now that includes the Alton, no longer pattern-of-the-month), you need to sign up for ongoing membership.
This pattern wasn't love at first sight. More like 'that could be a useful, low-key wardrobe piece', at third or fourth sight. The value is in the Cashmerette fit. I believe it's basically the same draft as the Montrose Top, released in 2018.
Since I last tried a Cashmerette pattern, the company has released a new size range of US 0-16 with bust options, alongside the original 12-32. I made the 12 E/F from the newer 0-12 range, without any alterations. Previously, using size 12 from the 12-32 range (Springfield Top), I needed to take out length above the bust. The 0-12 worked well 'out of the packet'. Looking at the finished garment measurements of the size 12 in both size ranges, the 12-32 is over an inch longer. So - based admittedly on a very small sample size of two patterns, one person - I'd suggest that if your sizing crosses both ranges, choose the 0-12 if you're on the shorter side, and the 12-32 if you're tall.
I fit-checked using the heaps-scientific method of holding the front bodice pattern piece up against me and looking in the mirror. Thumbs up. I skipped a muslin (gasp) and cut into a printed vintage cotton (double gasp) from my stash.
The Alton sits on my shoulders in just the right spot. No narrow shoulder adjustment, yay! The bust has an ideal amount of ease, and the darts hit where they should. It's a minor miracle.
Style-wise, the front cutout and tie adds unfussy decoration, and allows you to do amazing stuff like get your head in and out. As a low-cost 'Club' pattern, I don't expect lots of variation or elaborate detail, although there is a pleated sleeve option with more volume. The straight sleeve has a nice unobtrusive just-here-to-cover-your-arms profile and the sleeve head ease is spot on. Note, however, the lower half is too narrow to roll or push up. It's a slightly odd, constricting feeling.
I had a few minor issues:
- Stay-stitching, if you obey the instructions, is on the seam line (1/2") rather than just inside. A tiny variance of either could result in visible stay stitching. I recommend stay-stitching at around 3/8".
- The neckline binding/tie, which is a simple application of bias, seems wrong-way-around to me. I'd start on the wrong side, then wrap to the right side and topstitch.
- The sleeve pattern piece only has a tiny 1/2" angled hem allowance for a double-turned hem of 1/4"... fiddly for no reason?
- The bottom hem instructions are also for a 1/4" double turned finish. Note if you decide to turn up a deeper hem (I did, because I wanted the top a little shorter), it will be a little too wide to sit nicely inside, because the side seams keep widening a bit right to the bottom. Personally I think a deeper hem is a more attractive finish on this style of top (and less fiddly), so you'll need to straighten out the side seams, or make an angled hem allowance, if you wish to do this.
All that said, I think the Alton (or Montrose) is an excellent almost-blank canvas. As-is, it's a refreshingly fast sew.
Could I leave it 'as is' though? Of course not. I drafted a bishop sleeve for a second version, in a very subtle white-on-cream Nani Iro double gauze. I used this tutorial to alter the sleeve pattern. Then I made a nice long cuff with a couple of button loops. I should have placed the button loops closer to the hand-end of the cuffs, but I'm feeling some Prince/puffy shirt vibes that I'm not hating.
Personally one of my favourite things about this pattern is its ability to be worn under layers like overalls and pinafores, and fancy them up a bit. I've already worn both these shirts a lot. While I may not be all-the-heart-eyes for the Alton, it's a good workhorse of a pattern, well-drafted for its target market, and on balance a win.
- Jane xx