Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

Jules Woven Tunic > Dress

And now for something completely different! I have had the Jules tunic pattern by Style Arc in my stash for some time. Jules is a button through ‘V’ neck tunic featuring a shaped under-bust seam and a 7/8 th length of sleeve.

I thought it would look good in my latest purchase from Rainbow Fabrics of Khaki Green Palm Leaves printed viscose.

As I did not want to ‘waste’ the fabric in case the pattern did not turn out well, I decided to make a ‘wearable toile’ using this abstract geometric jacquard crepe de chine that has been in my stash since the year dot.

I cut out the size 22 pattern with just a couple of minor adjustments. I made my usual forward shoulder adjustment of ½ inch, reduced the sleeve length by 2 inches and added 3 ½ inches to the length of the ‘skirt’ panels. If the tunic turned out OK I still have over 1 ½ metres x 115cms of the fabric left so could add a deep frill and turn the tunic into a dress.

The overlocker and sewing machine are threaded up with Sage Green, fresh needles in place so let’s get to it!

First thing to do was fuse interfacing to the neckline facings. I had made mine a little wider (3 inches) and cut the front button/buttonhole facing level with the bottom of the bodice. If this tunic was eventually turned into a dress I did not want to have to split the frill and put buttonholes all the way through the skirt.

Having got to the stage of first fitting I found that I needed to reduce the shoulder width by 1 inch and there was sufficient ease to put the top on over my head without undoing the buttons. Next was to set in the sleeves. As is often the way – the first went in beautifully, the second was a pain! After a couple of un-pickings I finally managed to set in the sleeve. It was acceptable but only just. I finished the sleeves with a deep hem which was top-stitched to match the top stitching on the facings.

Next was to gather the ‘skirt’ panels onto the bodice. I machine basted them in place and tried on the tunic. Yet another potential ‘Galleon in Full Sail’ look! The front looked fine but the back bodice finished just at the top of my hips and with the gathers the skirt looked a little like a bustle. It is just as well that the Crepe drapes so well as otherwise the volume of the skirt would look even worse. The length of the ‘skirt’ finished just above my knees, level with the ‘podgy’ part of my leg so even with dark leggings the possibility of leaving the tunic at that length was a definite ‘no-no’. The height/width ratio was such that I looked like a large Green Box!

I cut 4 widths of the fabric x 13 inches deep to make a frill. I mean to finish the dress but have a feeling that its final destination may well be the charity shop. So much unrelieved plain Dark Sage Green is not a good look on me. However, I had noticed that the mustard viscose scarf at the neckline did look good.

I pleated the frill using my ‘ruffler’ foot with settings of stitch length 4.5 and a pleat every 6 stitches. I then attached the frill to the ‘skirt’ of the tunic and hey presto! A dress!

There were some adjustments to be made: As I had made a sway back adjustment, the back of the skirt was falling a good 2+ inches lower than the front. A simple ‘two birds with one stone’ adjustment. I took up the back skirt and reduced the length of the back bodice by 2 inches at centre back grading back to the original seam at the sides. Now the hem was level and although the back bodice was still a little too long and ‘roomy’ for my taste is was acceptable.

I completed the dress by finishing all seam allowances with the overlocker and took up a narrow double folded hem on the bottom frill which was machine top-stitched in place.

My husband is not sure about the overall look of the dress but does like the neckline and the shaping of the bodice front so I will be ‘hacking’ those features onto another dress to be made in viscose.

Project #66 completed 21st November 2020

Long sleeved Blouse

In the past when planning a wardrobe to take on holidays I had a plan. I would take a printed fabric and make a top and skirt in that print. I would add plain tops and trousers in colours from that print. This way I would have a fully coordinated set of clothing that would mix and match and be perfect for a variety of activities.

As soon as I had finished making the Jenna skirt in this beautiful printed viscose, I cut out a long sleeved blouse to go with it. The blouse took just 1½ metres of the remaining 2 metres of fabric so this blouse will have cost £7.86 for the fabric, plus a little for the thread, interfacing and buttons, all of which came from my stash, to give a total of around £10.00 – a bargain! I have the remaining ½ metre to make a nice scarf which I can either keep or give as a gift.

The pattern that I used for the blouse was my own draft based on the bodice of my TNT shirt dress. I kept the bust darts but ignored the body darts. I re-drew the side seams and added a shaped hemline that finished about 6 inches below the waistline. I added the long sleeves that have a smooth sleeve head but with lots of fullness gathered into a buttoned cuff.

The construction was straightforward as I have made this collar and lapel many times. I top stitched the collar, lapel and front facings. The side seams of the bodice and sleeve seams were French seamed. There is a narrow hem double folded before machine stitching in place.

I was a little unsure which buttons to use but finally settled on a 2-hole button in matt finish in a variety of colours. These buttons have been in my stash for about 10 years so about time that they were used!

I love this particular printed viscose from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn and now that I have a dress, a blouse and a skirt they will form the main components of a great capsule wardrobe. I already have necklace, belts, sweaters, turtle neck top, gilet and jersey trousers to include in this capsule. Now I just need to add a plain skirt or culottes.

project #62 completed 31st October 2020

Honeysuckle#3 – Fruity Blouse

After completion of the Fruity Polly #4 dress I had almost 1 metre of a 100% cotton printed with ‘fruit’ remaining. I had originally purchased 4 metres for the grand sum of £21.48 from jjtextiles of Manchester. The ability to get 2 garments from the fabric was a real bonus!

I used my Honeycomb/Saraste-style hack blouse pattern (project #46 – now referred to as ‘Honeysuckle’) for the pattern but due to lack of fabric omitted the frills. Instead to bring a little extra to the design, I added some ric-rac trim from my stash to outline the collar and part of the front button closure.

I don’t quite know how or understand why, but once cut out and basted together the blouse was much too big! I refined the size by trimming 5/8 ths from each side seam from waist to hem and on the side back and side front panels. Now it is fine.

I used some self bias binding to finish the armholes but as I took only a miniscule seam allowance I find that they are a little tight. I have amended the pattern and may well go back and re-finish the armholes with plain binding as I no longer have sufficient fabric for a self bias binding. I used 5 of the 4-hole Green buttons from my button stash. In truth the blouse could do with an additional button and buttonhole at the top but for now I am using a tiny safety pin! The final touch was top stitch the facing in place and machine a narrow hem.

The blouse will compliment several denim and linen skirts and trousers that I have in my wardrobe as well as co-ordinating with the Ponte cardigan as shown in the dress post # 50.

Project #53 completed 15th September 2020

A new style Blouse

Using yet more of the Lily of the Valley printed cotton I had a yearning for a princess seamed blouse with frills. I was inspired by the Saraste blouse by Named ‘Breaking the Pattern’ book as shown by Rachel of Stitched Up on her Instagram and You Tube vlogs.

Inspiration – the Saraste blouse by Named

First I needed to draft a pattern using my darted bodice block. This is a fairly simple hack involving some dart manipulation and within an hour I had a new set of pattern pieces.

A forward shoulder adjustment was made. Originally I had thought of making a shawl collar but eventually decided to stick to a standard revere but with rounded collar slightly smaller than the original and a rounded edge of lapel/facing. The blouse would be sleeveless as I have yet to draft a sleeve for this bodice block. I decided to make a wearable muslin first using some pretty Pink floral cotton that I picked up last August at a Sew Southampton meet up. Just as well that the print was not a one-way design as the fabric measured just 1.5m x 114 cms so not a lot to play with!

Roses printed cotton

There were several interruptions to the construction of this blouse – visits by the plumber, gardener and general day-to-day duties such as housework, laundry and cooking!

I had drafted the pattern larger than my measurements and gradually took in the seams until I had an acceptable fit. I then amended the pattern pieces accordingly. All seams were overlocked and the Princess seams were also top-stitched to help keep the frill laying in the right direction.

I am particularly pleased with the collar. I had reduced the depth and with the rounded corners I believe that it is appropriate for this style and the print used.

The hem was overlocked and machined in place. I used 5 Raspberry-coloured spotty buttons from my stash (bought in bulk from eBay) and the buttonholes stitched like a dream.

Spotty button bought from eBay

The armholes were finished with some viscose voile binding folded double and machined in place on the inside.

It took a whole week to finish the construction but I know that next time it should take only an afternoon to make this style of blouse.

Frilly blouse wearable toile front view
Frilly blouse wearable toile back view

Whilst I am very pleased with the final garment, there are a few changes that I will make for the next iteration; reduce the width of the frill and make in fabric folded double to remove the need to have a hem on the edge of the frill, extend the frill insertion to waist level at the front, extend the length of the blouse by at least 2 inches and shape with a curve front and back.

So that is the wearable toile completed. Next I should be making the blouse in the Lily of the Valley printed cotton. However, I have a backlog of beautiful viscose fabrics – the next project will be Montana #5!

Project #46 completed 7th August 2020

NHS Scrubs Set

Well that is something that I never thought I would sew! A call has gone out and ladies (and gents) throughout the land are putting their sewing skills to good use and making Scrubs for our stars in the NHS.

I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from Franklins with an offer for the pattern and a kit of suitable Polyester/cotton fabric, interfacing and twill tape for just £20. I chose the Dark Navy colour and within a couple of days the parcel arrived.

It took a few more days (well in truth – a week) for me to put together the pattern and finish the current project (yet another TNT ‘Kitty’ dress) before I could re-thread the sewing machine and overlocker in preparation of making the Scrubs.

In the end I chose to make the set using the PDF pattern supplied by Sewmesomething.

Sew me Something FREE Scrubs pattern

Sew me something state: After speaking with friends who are NHS workers we have included several features they specifically requested. The Scrubs Top has grown on sleeves to make it easier to wear and quicker to sew, the facing is stitched down so it’s not uncomfortable and there are side vents again for ease and comfort. The trousers have side pockets and a drawstring waist so you don’t have to worry about elastic sizes, and they are easier to get on and off. The patch pocket can be used on both the Top and the Trousers so again, quicker to sew and it means there are lots of handy places to tuck stuff. Polycotton is apparently better than 100% cotton, so we have some in stock to use for this pattern.

Sewing was straightforward and when in doubt I could easily tune to the Youtube tutorial prepared by Jules of SMS.

Completed Scrubs Top

As I had plenty of fabric, I elected to make the largest size XXL which comes out as a 57 inch chest on the tunic and 54 inch hip for the trousers, leg width 12 inches. A couple of sessions of sewing and the set was completed.

Although I had an address for the hospital in Southampton I also joined a facebook group based on Salisbury which is a great deal closer to my home. After some messaging I was able to arrange for the set to be collected for onward transmission to the Salisbury hospitals and health centres. I hope that whoever gets to wear them enjoys them whilst staying healthy providing the essential care and support that the NHS provides to us all.

Now that I have the pattern, if I have sufficient yardage in my stash I hope to make some smaller-sized sets in cheerful printed fabrics.

Modelling the XXL Scrubs – too big!!

When these extraordinary times are behind us, I may well make up the tunic and trousers in my husband’s and my size to wear as pyjamas!

Audrey by Sew Over It

I bought the Audrey pattern by Sew Over It not long after it was released and have been wanting to make it up for some time.

Audrey line drawings

The Audrey Top is a vintage-inspired knit top straight out of Midge Maisel’s wardrobe! A t-shirt with a difference, Audrey’s ready to give any outfit a touch of elegance. The flattering wide neckline shows off its deep neckband, which comes complete with three options. Choose from a standard flat neckband, add a cute little tie, or go big with a showstopping bow. Audrey has raglan sleeves, making sewing sleeves a dream – in fact the whole thing comes together in just a few hours! Depending on the season, choose from short, 3/4 or full length sleeves.

Designed to be sewn in light to medium weight knits, Audrey looks beautiful in cable knits and Ponte Romas for cooler weather, but sews up equally well in cotton jerseys for when the sun comes out.

The Audrey Top is an advanced beginner level sewing pattern, ideal for those who have sewn a few garments before. It’s a great pattern for those new to sewing knits.

For the Audrey Top we recommend using light to medium weight knit fabrics with some structure, such as cotton jersey, interlock knits, Ponte Roma, cable knits and stretch velvet.

I had Pink thread on the overlocker and scouted around for some Pink jersey fabric. I found 1½ metres of this pretty floral print loop back modal that I had bought from Stitchy Bee.

Loop back Modal from Stitchy Bee

Ignoring the fabric recommendations, which turned out to be a little bit of a mistake. From my 1½ metres I cut out view 1 with the bow tie and ¾ length sleeves in a size 22. This was pretty good as the instructions state that between 2.4 and 2.5 metres is required.

Construction was straightforward but due to additional stretch in the fabric I had to down-size to an 18/20 and the finished garment is not perfect. The instructions were very good and I now feel able to adapt the neckline and tie to use on other jersey tops. The changes that I made to this version were to add 3 inch double cuffs to the ¾ length sleeves and turn up 1½ inches for the hem.

Audrey in Pink Floral print Modal jersey

Conclusion: Next time use a more stable fabric such as a ponte or the cable knit jersey as shown in Lisa’s photograph. Cut a straight size 20. Reduce bodice length by 1 inch and slim down the sleeves.

Audrey in Cable Knit Ponte

This top is really comfortable to wear due to the softness and stretch of the fabric. I will definitely be making this top again.

completed Friday 3rd April 2020

Long-sleeved Pussy Bow Blouse

With the overlocker still threaded with Pink I had a quick ‘rummage’ in my fabrics to find some more fabric that would need the same colour stitching. I uncovered this Micro Satin that I bought a couple of months ago from C&H fabrics in Winchester. This fabric print fits right into my colour theme and 1.5 metres for £8.25 represents a real bargain.

Micro Satin Polyester

As the fabric is so wonderfully soft (and slippery!) I thought it would be great made up as a Pussy Bow Blouse with long full sleeves into a cuff. I retrieved my personal drafted pattern and combined it with the long sleeves used on a recent shirtwaister dress.

Fortunately there was sufficient fabric to cut out the blouse in the desired length with shaped hemline and also to have the full sleeves with gathered sleeve heads and gathered into a button cuff.

Long full sleeve gathered into button cuff

I used French Seams throughout (so did not need to use the pink threaded overlocker after all!) and machined 5 buttonholes down the front. The buttons on the cuffs are slightly different to those at the front but I think it is OK. The pussy bow tie is maybe a little narrower than I would have liked but it still makes a statement. Making the continuous lap placket in the sleeves was ‘fun’ due to the slippery nature of the fabric but I am delighted with the finished result.

Long sleeved Pussy Bow Blouse in Micro Satin Polyester

The blouse will coordinate very well with my several pairs of trousers and I am now inspired to make a plain Teal skirt as well. First though I have some Pink floral modal jersey cut out to make an Audrey top (Sew Over It) and I am really looking forward to making that.

completed 2nd April 2020

‘Mona’ stashbuster tee

Hot on the heels of the Pink Jenna cardigan and whilst the overlocker was still threaded up with Pink, I scouted around looking for more fabrics that could be sewn with pink. This very short length of floral Ponte Roma (remnant from a Sewaholic Fraser top) was displayed on my mannequin at the neckline of the Jenna cardigan. I whipped it off the mannequin and placed on the cutting board. Hmm there was not quite enough to make a top. Wait, I have a solid Pink tee shirt that I bought from Sainsburys’ and never wore as it didn’t fit very well – I used that to cut the sleeves of my ‘Mona’ tee which is a hack from the Moneta dress.

As I stitched up the tee I discovered that the back bodice was a little shorter than the front but no matter, a simple band of the plain pink jersey and problem solved. It may look a little strange but it is behind me so I don’t care!

Back view of ‘Mona’ tee showing contrast hem band

I hemmed the short sleeves by folding up one inch and overlocking so that it looks like a hem band. The hem on the body of the tee is stitched with jersey twin needles.

‘Mona’ stashbuster tee in Ponte Roma with cotton jersey sleeves

Once cut out this top takes just one hour to sew, mostly on the overlocker and is a great addition to my Spring/Summer wardrobe.

Now what other fabrics do I have that can be stitched in Pink?

completed 29th March 2020

Mint Green Jenna Cropped Cardigan

I was so pleased with my Old Gold Ponte Roma version of View A with long sleeves that I made another!

Textured Ponte Roma from Minerva

I bought a pretty textured Ponte Roma from Minerva.com at the bargain price of £2.99/metre. Prior to attending the Dorset Meet Up Sewing Day at Franklins in Salisbury I prepared two projects. One of them was a Jenna cardigan in the textured Ponte Roma.

The preparation took the form of cutting out all the pieces of fabric, marking notches and applying fusible interfacing. On the day, I managed to complete only the Lemony Libby Blouse and so the Jenna cardigan project was set aside ready for the Sewcial Retreat held at the VOCO Oxford Thames hotel.

As I had stitched the Jenna previously I was confident enough to get straight on with stitching this version. The fabric was more lightweight than I had anticipated but it worked well with this pattern. Construction was straightforward using my sewing machine and within an hour I had completed the cardigan with the exception of the front fastenings which I would apply when I got home.

Once I had returned home I gave the cardigan a good steam press and applied six pairs of KAM snaps.

Jenna #2 in lightweight Ponte Roma

Isn’t it just the way though? I had deliberately ordered this particular colour of Ponte Roma but now I can’t think why or what I had planned for the fabric. Even after I finished this project I have sufficient fabric left for another project. The cardigan does not ‘go’ with any of my current cotton print Spring/Summer dresses! Oh well, I will have to shop my stash and make a new dress……watch this space.

completed Monday 16th March 2020.

Lemony Libby Shirt

Libby by Sew Over It

I recently attended a ‘Sewing day’ at Franklins’, Salisbury that had been organised by #Dorset Meet Up’ on instagram. In anticipation of a whole day’s sewing – well at least 5 hours (!) I prepared two dressmaking projects. The first was a Libby shirt by Sew Over It and the second was a Jenna cardigan from Muse patterns.

Preparation took the form of cutting out, interfacing where required and winding bobbins so that once I settled down at a Juki sewing machine I could power ahead and get stitching.

I have made the Libby blouse twice before and on both occasions experienced some problems with the construction of the collar. I really need to review the instructions on the Sew Over It website to ensure that I follow the directions exactly. The only changes to the pattern which were cut as a size 20 were to extend the length by 3 inches. I think that next time I will extend by 4 inches as it is still a little shorter than I like.

I used French seams for the yoke and then set about making the collar. Yet again it took some finagling but I eventually achieved a good result. I think that another time I will have to change the collar or at least write my own instructions to include in the pattern envelope. Once the collar and stand has been constructed I have to admit it sits very nicely and is comfortable to wear.

I stitched French seams for the side seams which turned out to be a mistake as I should have attached the sleeve cuff as a loop. By following the instructions, I have seam allowance on the OUTside of the cuff. A good press and with the seam allowance under the armpit it is OK but I will have to remember for next time.

Libby shirt in Lemon print cotton

I am particularly pleased with how fresh this print looks and know that I have sufficient fabric to make a coordinating skirt so that when worn together it gives the illusion of a dress.

Libby shirt back view

I have had to interrupt my usual dressmaking plans to prepare for a talk and demonstration that I am giving to a local patchwork and quilting group but then I will be back to stitching in preparation for my holiday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the Coronavirus does not interfere with my travel plans!

completed 1st March 2020