Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

New Look 6731 Blouse

Having identified several pretty printed viscose fabrics, I decided to use part of a 5+metre length remnant of the ‘Golden Palm Leaves’ print viscose challis purchased from Rainbow Fabrics at a cost of £14.18 for the length. An absolute bargain!

I used a ‘new to me’ pattern – New Look 6731with a simple hack of full length sleeves with placket and gathered into a cuff. I have previously used this sleeve pattern on other blouses and dresses. I cut a 22 at the shoulders and bust, grading out to a 24 at waist and hips. Cutting out took just 1.8 metres (x 140cms wide) which still leaves a generous 3+ metres remaining to make a dress.

This project reminded me of why I prefer to use my personal bodice block and then hack different designs onto it. There were several adjustments that I had to make.

  1. Slope shoulders x ½ inch at the shoulder point which also raised the underarm.
  2. Reduced shoulder width x 1½ inches and re-draw the armscye front and back.
  3. Make a 2 inch sway back adjustment and then add 2 inches to centre front bodice (and facing) length grading to 0 at the side seams to allow for full bust.
  4. Ignore the front body darts but use shallow back body darts to insert the narrow ties.
  5. I added a full sleeve into buttoned cuff which is the type of sleeve that I prefer.

Construction of the collar and facing was straightforward and I used French seams throughout. The only other change to construction was to omit the back neck facing. I simply turned in the seam allowance at the back neck and top stitched into place.

This fabric was very fluid and that made the construction a little like ‘herding cats’ but I got there in the end. The nature of the fabric also made machining buttonholes more ‘trepidatious’ but again persistence paid off. I applied fraycheck to the reverse of each buttonhole as I could see they were very fragile.

Conclusion: Whilst I like the shaping and construction of the shawl collar I am not enamoured with the blouse itself. I intend to transfer the collar design to my TNT bodice, add the back tie feature and make a shirt-tail shaped hemline on another blouse in the future.

Project #66 completed 7th October 2021

Wearing History – Smooth Sailing Blouse

Inspired by Bobo_Bun and a few other Vintage costume lovers on Instagram I checked out the patterns on the Wearing History Patterns site. I came across a delightful blouse and trousers set.

Inspired by looks from the mid 1930s to the early 1940s this pattern is a perfect capsule wardrobe for vintage basics. These basics can easily time travel to the 1950s or modern wear. The blouse is dressy enough to pair with skirts and casual enough for jeans. It has short puffed sleeves and the cuffs are cut on the bias.

The trousers can be cuffed or uncuffed and can be dresses up or down. Cutting lines are included to make the trousers into shorts and matching playsuits with blouse and shorts in the same fabric look picture perfect for Summer vintage looks. Trousers hit at a high natural waist and have release tucks at the front and fitted to the back with darts.

For this trial run I wanted to make the blouse and used the remnants from a Superking-sized duvet cover that was originally used for two dresses. I had to play around with the direction of the stripes, cut the yoke with a centre back seam and also cut the pockets and collar in the contrast floral print. All the yoke, collar, pockets and sleeve cuffs were cut in the fashion fabric and interlined with plain White poly/cotton lawn to avoid ‘show thru’ of stripes to the top fabric.

The first changes that I made to the pattern were to round off the corners of the collar. I thought that the sharp acute angles did not suit the floral nature of the print used for the collar. To reflect this change I rounded the corners of the pockets as they were also cut in the floral print.

I had cut a size 49 for the bust grading out to 54 for the hips but quickly discovered that I did not need the extra at the hips if I removed the tucks front and back.

I stitched all the seams (including setting in the sleeves) with French seams as I wanted the blouse to reflect the sewing methods of the period. This added bulk at the lapel where the facing of the yoke joined the facing on the body of the blouse. I will be making the garment again but next time will draft a separate all-in-one front facing.

I did not use a bias strip to neaten the inside collar edge. Instead I opted for my usual method and turned in the seam allowance and top stitched in place.

I was a little disappointed in the volume of the sleeves. Mine have come up very large and do not look like those pictured on the internet.

Next time I will be adjusting the fullness to provide a closer fit at the cuff.

Conclusion: I enjoyed making the blouse and think it looks effective in the stripes/floral combination. I will be making another in a 40’s style ditsy floral cotton print and also plan to make the trousers to complete the vintage look.

Project #64 completed 28th September 2021

Breton top #9

Back in February 2021 I made what I thought would be the final Breton top #8 but since then I have fallen out of love with a couple of them and they have been sold on eBay!

I particularly wanted a similar colour/print block as the one that I made for my sister (Breton top #6) so here it is. I used the White with Navy stripes Ponte Roma plus the White background floral textured Ponte Roma (both fabrics purchased from an eBay seller).

The alterations to the Fraser pattern by Sewaholics were similar to those before; extended body length, no hem band, the neckline front is lowered by 1½ inches and widened by ½ inch at each side neck point. Once again the construction was made a lot easier with the gentle curve of the front yoke.

All seams basted on the sewing machine before being sewn with the overlocker. The yokes and neckband were top stitched on the machine. The single turned hem on the sleeves and body were overlocked prior to twin needle stitching in place. I took care to ensure that the Navy stripe sat on the edge of the hem and stitched with White thread on the White stripe with the twin needle.

So, that’s the final final (!) Breton-style top completed.

Project #58 completed 6th September 2021

Coming up Daisies – Libby shirt #6

The Libby shirt by Sew Over It is one of my TNT patterns. In an effort to reduce the amount of fabric in my stash I was delighted to find this remnant of pretty Daisy printed cotton with a Green background that was originally purchased from Fabricland in Salisbury. This print is ideal to be part of my current ‘collection’ of Summer clothing and should be great to wear with cut off pants.

“With its boxy shape, cropped hem and pretty collar, Libby is a contemporary yet timeless little shirt with loads of potential. The Libby Shirt features a comfortable loose fit, button-up front, notched collar, partial collar stand, unlined yoke with gently gathered back, and short grown-on cuffed sleeves. Ideal for wearing with a high-waisted skirt or jeans, the Libby Shirt has a cropped hem with two options: keep it straight across the front, or gently curve it to add a little extra length.”

These days I have my standard adjustments for this pattern. I add ½ inch to the side seams, extend the front bodice and facing x 5 inches and the back bodice by 4 inches. This provides the additional coverage needed for a full bust without having to add a dart. I do not use the back neck facing, instead I add a label panel and close up the back collar stand by turning under and top stitching in place.

These adjustments now provide a great fitting blouse that is shaped and long enough to cover my ‘lockdown tummy’. It is also great to tuck into skirts without forever pulling free.

The grown on sleeves still tend to stick out but I do plan to hack the pattern to have set in sleeves. Something that I really must get around to!

Although not included in the instructions, I have top-stitched the collar and facings. For the back yoke I added a loop at the centre plus a box pleat for the fullness.

All seams are overlocked. There are striped 5 buttons (from my stash) down the front of the blouse and the shaped hem has been overlocked before a double turn and machine stitched in place.

I am delighted with how this blouse has turned out, it goes very well with the Red stretch denim TEXAS pants by Style Arc and of course any of my White trousers and skirts.

Project #47 completed 15th July 2021

A new Melody

I wanted to try a different blouse and was inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour to try a top with tie front. The pattern that Sian had used was Butterick 5895 which is now sadly out of print. It is still available on eBay but only from the USA so costs more than I was prepared to pay. The most annoying thing is that I used to have this pattern but sold it on when having a mammoth clear out!

However, I did recall a tie front blouse pattern from Love Notions that has been in my stash for over a year and this is what I decided to use. The other great point about this pattern is the grown on sleeves so if successful this will be a good substitute for the Libby blouse by Sew Over It as I can see that the collar has a much more simple construction.

The Melody Dolman is a woven button-down dolman with shirt-tail hem that can also be knotted at the waist. This dolman gives you a polished look without a lot of effort. If you’re new to sewing button-down shirts, this is a great beginner pattern. The camp style collar looks clean on the inside and out, and bonus- it’s easy to do! This dolman is meant for apparel weight woven fabrics. Also included is a breast pocket and sleeve cuffs.

The pretty Daisy-printed viscose fabric for the project recently arrived from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn. It was one of their remnants which unfortunately was faulty and thus I did not have sufficient for the dress I had originally planned but would be perfect as a wearable toile of the Melody Dolman. At a cost of £12.33 would be great if it worked and not too bad if it did not!

As soon as I started working with the fabric to make the patch pocket, I realised that it was very light and loosely woven. Dealing with a fabric that appears to have a mind of its own is a little like herding cats. I soldiered on…

Having cut out the blouse to XXL Full bust size. I applied the strips of interfacing to the front facing extensions, and French seamed the shoulder seams before staystitching the neck edge. Then for over a week the blouse was draped on the mannequin whilst I attended to gardening and general housework!

Finally, I was able to return to the project. I made up the collar, but attached to the wrong side of the neckline. Fortunately it was only basted so quick unpick to the rescue. Attaching the collar and facings was relatively easy then stitching the side seams. I made French seams for the side seams as by now the fabric was also fraying a great deal. I neatened the hem curves and stitched a narrow double folded hem. Unfortunately due to the loose weave there has been some stretching out and this manifests itself as a wavy hemline. Not my best work! I attached the sleeve cuffs and as they had not been interfaced found they were very ‘floppy’. Rather than hand tack at the seams I decided to top stitch in place.

The last part of construction was buttonholes and buttons for which I used some pretty lemon spot buttons from my stash. My machine is usually excellent at making buttonholes but this time, due I think to faulty thread, there were two where the thread snapped halfway through. A big sigh as I re-threaded the machine and returned to the buttonholes.

Perhaps it was a mistake to undertake this project on a very ‘clammy’ day. Although I had a fan blowing cold air over me I was uncomfortably warm and certainly did not enjoy the process. I simply wanted to get the blouse finished and tomorrow I could move onto something else so the prepared pocket is languishing in the pile of fabrics – not attached to the blouse!

Conclusion: This is a wearable muslin. The armholes are too deep which means there are drag lines from the shoulder seam. I feel that the length (which is longer to enable a tie front which in hindsight I probably won’t use!) is too long when untied.

Although I cut an XXL the blouse is a little too snug over the hips but fits OK everywhere else. I have altered the pattern and hopefully if I use a more stable fabric such as a cotton next time the blouse will rate more than 5 out of 10.

project #43 completed 17th June 2021

Libby shirt in Cobra Corsage

I have now made the Libby shirt several times and am also ‘in love’ with the Cobra Corsage print design by Lady McElroy.

However, so far, I have only liked the print on a Cotton Lawn substrate. I have been disappointed in the quality and performance of the crepe jersey and the stretch twill in the Black background colourway that I used for a pinafore dress attracts fluff and ‘bits’ like a magnet!

I bought 2 metres of the Vanilla background cotton lawn from Sherwoods at a total cost of £32.79, back in February 2020 and have only now (inspired by Alex Judge on youtube) to cut into this precious fabric.

I was very undecided what to make but have finally bitten the bullet and cut the Libby shirt by Sew Over It. This time I was reminded by Alex to concentrate on pattern matching, thus avoiding repeats of the large main design motifs ‘marching’ across the front of the shirt. Although I took care to match up the centre front of the design for the front pattern pieces it has not worked, in any event at least I have avoided large motifs on the apex of my bust!

To ensure that the points of the collar had motifs on them, I cut the collar (both top and undercollar) in 2 parts so they have a centre back seam.

I had hoped to do the same for the lapels but unfortunately it did not quite work out. I therefore had to patch in a motif for the right lapel and am pretty pleased with the result.

The bodice pieces, yoke and sleeve cuffs were extended by ½ inch so that the ‘grown-on’ sleeves would be just a little bit longer. I also extended the length of the back bodice by 4 inches and the front bodice (and facings) by 5 inches whilst retaining the curve so that the hemline would be relatively level front and back without having to make a full bust adjustment.

Once again the collar and stand were fiddly and time-consuming but the effort has been worthwhile. I did go ‘off plan’ when it came to stitching the side seams by first separating the allowances of the cuff before overlocking the entire seam allowances. I am pleased with how that has turned out.

As mentioned by Alex, the grown-on sleeves do have a tendency to stick out and whilst I can live with this, I think that I will hack the pattern to have set-in sleeves for the next iteration.

Finally it came to the hem which was overlocked before turning twice and machine stitching in place before making a decision about buttons and buttonholes……I stitched the buttonholes with the same White thread that I had used in construction but could not find any matching Ivory buttons in my stash. My husband suggested picking a colour from the prints. I decided on these pretty textured Greeny/Teal-coloured buttons (the same as those used on the previous Libby shirt) and I think they work well.

Conclusion: Whilst I love the print design of Cobra Corsage in this Libby shirt iteration, I have yet to find a substrate that I am really happy with. I do find the cotton lawn particularly fine and although it presses well, as soon as you wear the garment it also creases a great deal.

Project #37 completed 7th May 2021

‘Frilled’ for a 2nd time!

Having recently re-visited my ‘Mona’ top I knew that it would be a great pattern to use just 1 metre of this tie dyed frilled jersey fabric that I bought from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn in their sale.

Whilst I still had the sewing machine and overlocker set up for jersey sewing with White thread it took no time at all to complete this latest top, especially as no hemming is involved!

I stabilised the shoulder seam with some fusible seam tape and then cut a neckband from some Pale Blush jersey remnant, this time 1¾ inches wide. Previous neckbands have been cut 2 inches wide and I knew that this time I wanted a narrower, neater finish.

The neckband stitched on like a dream. The resultant top fulfills the requirement of a distinctive top, fits into my ‘Spring Greens & Daffodils’ collection and I look forward to wearing it.

Project #35 completed 26th April 2021

Audrey #3 for Catherine

Hot on the heels of the Audrey #2 that I made for myself using some textured Ponte Roma that has long been in my stash, Catherine gets version #3 using yet more of this fabric. I don’t recall how much I bought but even after cutting out Catherine’s Audrey there is still sufficient for a short sleeve top for me!

I think that I have now ‘cracked it’ in terms of getting the neckband to sit nice and flat against the body. I used the ‘hack’ as shown by Andrea of ‘Beyond the Pink Door’ in a recent vlog.

For Catherine’s measurements I cut a size 14 at the bust, graded out to a 16 at the waist and then back to a 14 for the hips.

Most of the construction was completed on the sewing machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch set at 1.00 width and 2.5 length. I machine basted the neckband in place before finishing with the overlocker. A good press and then top-stitched with the zig-zag stitch.

Hems on the sleeve and body were overlocked first and then stitched in place again with zig-zag stitch.

The top was completed in just about ONE hour and I am delighted with the finished result. I hope that Catherine enjoys it – and that it fits!

Project #34 completed 23rd April 2021

Libby Shirt in Hyde Park

I don’t mean the Hyde Park in London, this is the name of the design of cotton fabric that I used to make a version of the Libby Shirt by Sew Over It.

This will be the 4th iteration of the Shirt which is definitely one of my favourites to wear although I always have a little trouble making the collar. I don’t let that prevent me from making the Shirt but I always use a nice stable cotton fabric as this helps enormously.

For this version I made my usual alterations to the pattern by extending at the side seams by 1/2 inch and extending the length of View 2 by 4 inches. I wanted to keep back some of the fabric for patchwork and quilting so had to use some White Lily of the Valley printed cotton just for the undercollar. There is also a centre back seam in the Upper collar.

As this is a good stable cotton fabric I did not feel the need to make French seams. Instead all seams are finished with overlocking.

Having attached the front and back bodice to the yoke it was now time to tackle the collar. I revisited the notes on the Sew Over It site and also the ‘sewalong’ that Lisa had made during lockdown. I finally completed the collar and attached together with the front facings. The end result is good but I am still not over confident with the construction.

The instructions for Libby have you attach the sleeve cuffs before sewing the side seams. I like to attach ‘in the round’ but in this case it was not the wisest decision. Next time I will follow the instructions!

Finally the hem was overlocked and then turned up twice before top-stitching. Five buttons from my stash and corresponding buttonholes, all sewn on my Brother 4000D machine which is ‘ace’ at these functions.

Ta dah! A lovely new Libby blouse that fits perfectly into my ‘Spring Greens & Daffodils’ collection.

Project #33 completed April 2021

Audrey #2

The Audrey top by Sew Over It has been in my pattern stash for a long time. I first made a version with long sleeves and a bow neckline using some modal from Stitchy Bee but unfortunately it was not a 100% success.

Having watched the sew-a-long posted by Andrea of Beyond the Pink Door and seen several great versions on Instagram I decided it was time to revisit this pattern.

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. A standard flat neckband, add a cute little tie, or go big with a showstopping bow. Depending on the season, you can 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 this version I used some textured Ponte Roma that I purchased over a year ago from Minerva. I don’t know what I was thinking but there are yards and yards of this fabric, even after making a Jenna cardigan at the Sewcial Retreat in March 2020.

The previous Audrey was made in size 24 and was way too big! This time I cut the 22 view 2 with the knot neckband and took the full 1.5 cms seam allowance. For stitching I used a narrow zig-zag set at 1.0mm width x 2.5mm length. Using Andrea’s guidance I made the alterations to the neckband by changing the angle of the shoulder seams, this did help enormously in getting the band to lie flat.

All was going swimmingly well until I got to the stage of attaching the neckband to the bodice. First I tacked with the knot on the wrong side i.e. right hand side when I wanted it on the left! Next attempt I attached the back neckband to the front bodice! Finally, at the third attempt I managed to get it right! I pressed then overlocked the seam before again pressing the ‘bejesus’ out of the thing. By now I was thoroughly disheartened so rather than setup for twin-needle top stitching I finished off with narrow zig-zag top stitching at the neckline plus hems on the sleeves and body . More pressing and now it is done.

Conclusions: I can foresee many versions that I would like to make, but first I really need more practice to get the fit – and that darned neckband exactly right. I will make another for me before tackling the Audrey in the same textured Ponte Roma that I have promised to my sister.

Project #32 completed 15th April 2021