Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

Birch waistcoat by Pattern Scout

A waistcoat has been in my plans for a very long time. I bought the recently released Birch pattern which can be used with minimum amounts of fabric. The Birch Vest is described as a lined waistcoat with princess seams, a deep scoop neckline, and a front button closure. A transitional wardrobe staple, Birch can be worn alone or layered with matching separates for a tailored or casual style.

I was lucky enough to find just enough of a Mustard fine needlecord remnant from making Texas trousers together with the remnant of lining used on the sleeves of my Sorrento jacket.

I printed off the pattern and having stitched a very quick toile in calico immediately saw that I needed to shorten the length by 1¼ inches. I also had to ‘finesse’ the curve of the princess seam over the bust. I transferred the alterations to the paper pattern and cut into my remnants of needlecord and lining. There was not quite enough to cut the centre back panel in one piece and so there is a seam at waist level. I may well hide this later with a half belt.

Construction was straightforward and all the pieces matched up well with the notches. I top stitched the princess seams and under-stitched as much as possible before turning right side out.

I found a batch of buttons in just the right size and shade of ‘Mandarin Orange’. Infact there are so many of them that I shall have to find some coordinating printed viscose to make either a blouse or dress to use them up!

Birch waistcoat from stash fabrics

Conclusion: Unfortunately the original Texas trousers in the fine needlecord have been sold so they won’t be worn together with the waistcoat! I am very pleased with the finished project and by using this particular fabric and colour it will coordinate well with many of my dresses and blouses.

Project #02 Completed 10th January 2023

1st make of 2023

When browsing through my stash of knit fabrics I came across this beautiful Ponte Roma in a lovely shade of ‘Sea Haze’ or if you like – Pale Greeny/Blue! There was just under 1 metre of fabric but where it came from – I know not where!

I have not made a Paola top for some time as previously I was ‘hooked’ on the cowl necked Freya top by Tilly and the Buttons. However, as I wanted to use up this fabric, the Paola pattern by Named Clothing fitted the bill perfectly.

I threaded up the overlocker with palest Green thread, inserted 2 new jersey needles, tested the stitching and was off!

When cutting out I discovered that there was insufficient for full length sleeves so I cut them as long as possible and then added a double folded cuff. The finished length is somewhere between the elbow and the wrist, which is perfect for me as I have short arms and did not want my wrists to be ‘cluttered’.

I remembered that Ponte de Roma does not have the same amount of stretch as cotton or viscose jersey so made the seams as narrow as possible. I stitched the top entirely on the overlocker with the exception of twin needle stitching the hem of the bodice.

Paola Turtle Neck Tee in Ponte Roma

Conclusion: The only adjustment that I made was to drop the centre front neckline by ¾ inch as I found the original a bit too close. Next time I will make the collar shorter but also a little wider, apart from that this top is just about perfect.

  • Project #01 Completed 5th January 2023

Final make of 2022

I bought this beautiful quilting cotton from the pop up shop by Sew Hot when attending the bag-making retreat back in October 2022. I bought just 2 metres and as soon as I got home the fabric was laundered and sat waiting for me to get ’roundtuit’.

Detail of fabric print

I have made up this pattern in excess of 30 times with many different variations. The variation this time was to expand the sleeve head to make some gathers, shaping the hem of the sleeve and adding a 2 inch wide hem facing to those sleeves. As quilting cottons tend to be more substantial than other cottons I decided to overlock the seam allowances rather than French seam. This has the advantage of making the construction a little quicker.

When it came to choosing buttons, I turned to my favourite Coconut shells in 5/8th diameter. Due to the length of the blouse (it has a shirt tail shaped hemline) I made 6 buttonholes where I would normally make only 5.

TNT Short sleeve blouse with Shirt tail hem

Conclusion: This particular print coordinates really well with my jogging bottoms, linen trousers and Dark Green ‘Jane’ pinafore dress so I foresee that it will get a great deal of wear. Whilst I am pleased with the completed blouse, in hindsight I think that due to its structure, the quilting cotton is a little too stiff so in future I will only use Viscose for this particular TNT pattern and the Aria by Love Notions for the more structured blouses.

Project #60 Completed 31st December 2022

Raspberry ‘Newlyn’ Blouse

For some time I have been wanting to make a plain blouse to go under my Autumn Leaf print pinafore dress and felt that this 1½ metres Raspberry Dobby from Sew me Sunshine bought for £12 in August 2022 would be just right. I decided to make another version of the Newlyn blouse (a hack from New Look 6731) as I think this will go well under the pinafore dress but also can be worn ‘tunic- style’ over my new Burgundy jogging bottoms.

New Look 6731

I laundered the fabric and then pressed nice and flat. Whilst doing this I noted how very fine the fabric was so decided that I would make up the blouse with French seams. The test stitching also demonstrated that none of the threads in my stash was the right colour match – I needed to visit my local fabric store, New Threads Quilt Shop at the Weyhill Fairground Craft Centre. I bought exactly the right shade in 50weight Aurifil cotton thread which was a dream to sew with. Needless to say, I did not buy just thread, I stocked up on some fabric for Christmas gift projects and some new machine needles as well.

As I have made this version of the blouse a couple of times before, the construction was fairly plain sailing. When it came to buttons I was disappointed that I could not find a complete matching set of 7 buttons in my stash. However, I did find 5 buttons for the front closure and then the buttons on the sleeve cuffs are a little idiosyncratic, being both the right size and colour but different from the 5 at the front and each other!

Idiosyncratic button selection

I am absolutely delighted with the blouse which is very comfortable to wear and coordinates (as I planned) with the Autumn leaves ‘Jane’ pinafore dress. I will wear it tomorrow!

Newlyn Blouse in Raspberry Dobby Viscose Voile

Blouse to be worn with Autumn print Pinafore Dress

Project #50 completed 2nd November 2022.

‘Flora’ a Peter Pan collared blouse

In the search for a neat collared bodice, this time I have hacked together the Violet blouse from Seamwork with my Hyacinth bodice and the sleeves from Sophia by Victory patterns. The Violet blouse is the nearest pattern to what I wanted. The button-front blouse has a gentle, loose fit that’s reminiscent of the 1960s, and looks equally adorable tucked in or worn loose. Violet can be made with short or mid-length sleeves, is shaped with bust darts and has a back yoke with centre gathering. Based on the origins of my design I have called her ‘Flora’.

Violet Blouse by Seamwork
Flora line drawing, fabric and button swatch

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I used 2 metres x 110cms wide fabric cotton abstract floral print – total cost £12.00 bought in the sale from New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground. I noticed that the fabric had a one-way design so was careful when cutting out to maintain the correct orientation of the pattern pieces.

Construction: Darts and shoulder seams were stitched.

The collar: Once again, to highlight the collar, I added some Dark Red satin pre-made piping from my stash. The collar was machine basted to the neckline of the blouse. It looked good so continued with making up the blouse. The facings were added and seam allowances trimmed and under-stitched where necessary.

Piped collar

Bodice: The side seams were pinned so that I could check the fit. Hmmm, not too sure about this as it is looking very boxy and too long.

Sleeves: I used the short sleeve from the Sofia dress by Victory patterns but due to shortage and width of the fabric had to reduce the width at the hem. This still made the hem about 20 inches wide so enough for shirring and a little frill, plus lots of ‘puff’ at the sleeve head. They have turned out very well.

Closure: Originally I thought that I would use Red polka dot buttons that I thought would coordinate well with the colours and print design. However after a night’s sleep decided that they were ‘too busy’ and chose a different set that I received as a gift from Rainbow Fabrics. The hem of the blouse was overlocked before turning up twice and top stitching in place.

Much more subtle buttons

Conclusion: I am disappointed with the end result. I give it only 5 out of 10. It certainly has the look of the 70’s which is not what I was after! I need to refine the fit of the blouse, adjust the length and maybe another time use a less structured fabric such as a viscose. It may well be that this version finds itself being listed for sale on eBay!

The ‘Flora’ blouse in quilting-weight cotton

Project #40 completed 31st August 2022.

Libby Blouse #8

Using remnants of poly/cotton from a superking-sized duvet cover originally purchased several years ago, I count this garment as a ‘freebie’. The print is a little drab but should be a foil against some of my bold-coloured skirts, trousers and dungarees.

Libby Blouse by Sew Over It

I cut the pattern as per the adjustments made previously that include adding ½ inch to the side seams and adding 3 inches to the length of the shaped hemline. I would have preferred to add more to the length but was constrained by the size of the remnant pieces of fabric.

The fabric was easy to cut out, press and stitch which makes the entire process of construction a joy.

My JUKI overlocker was used to finish the seam allowances. The hem was first neatened with the overlocker before being turned twice and top-stitched in place.

Libby Blouse #8 in Poly/cotton

After 4 hours of stitching, five mother of pearl shell buttons for closure at the front and this Libby #8 blouse is complete.

Project #36 completed 4th August 2022

Aria – casual shirt for my man!

Recently, once I had completed the Aria shirt by Love Notions for myself, I persuaded my husband to try it on. With a few changes I believed that it would be appropriate as a casual shirt for my man!

ARIA button down shirt by Love Notions

I printed and cut the size 3X, added 3 inches to the length and made copious notes so that I would remember to put the buttonholes on the LEFT FRONT.

I used some Navy polyester/cotton (originally a superking flat sheet) that I had set aside for toile-making. As I had already made my first version, it was a quick and easy sew.

Within 3 hours I had a completed shirt for my husband to try. It fit very well with the exception that he felt the sleeves were rather short. Personally I thought the collar was a little ‘mean’. I have adjusted the pattern so that next time I make this it should be absolutely purrfect!

Aria shirt in size 3X for my man!

Aria Button-down Shirt by Love Notions

In an effort to try new patterns whilst taking notes as to how long each garment takes I decided to start with the Aria button-down shirt by Love Notions. There are several views and I made view 2 – the shirt but with the full collar.

Aria button down shirt & dress by Love Notions

The shirt is described thus: The Aria brings you three button down options in one pattern. Choose from the standard shirt length, tunic or above the knee dress. Three sleeve lengths are included as well: sleeveless, short with cuff and long sleeve. The long sleeve option features a beautiful placket with cuff. You will look and feel so accomplished with this sew. I made view 2 – the shirt but with the full collar.

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I chose some bold floral print cotton that I bought from Fabricland in February 2022. After checking the size chart I made a straight 2X full bust version. I made only 1 alteration – as the pattern is drafted for a taller person and I am only 5’4”, I reduced the length of the bodice (and button placket) by 1 inch.

Bold Floral print Cotton @ £4.99/metre from Fabricland, Bournemouth

The fabric was pre-washed and ironed – so setting the timer, off I went. I prepared the sewing machine with a new needle, wound a bobbin and threaded up with a Dark Turquoise/Jade thread. Along with the cutting out and applying interfacing to the collar and button plackets this took about 30 minutes.

I checked the stitch length, tension and seam allowance (1 cm) before starting by staystitching the neck edge of the bodice fronts and yokes. Although I followed the instructions, I did change the order of construction as I like to insert collars before sewing the side seams. I also completed the construction of the sleeves just before sewing the side seams of the bodice and stitching the hem. This meant that once the sleeves were inserted, all that remained was to make buttonholes and apply the buttons. I used French seams for the side seams and the underarm sleeve seam to prolong the age of the garment and provide a lovely neat finish inside.

Although I have hundreds of buttons, I could not find quite the right colour match in the size that I wanted to use. Instead I opted for these lovely mother of pearl buttons that I bought in bulk from eBay. I made a horizontal buttonhole in the collar and vertical buttonholes in the placket. There are 8 buttons but as I did not open the top 3 buttonholes, only the lower 5 are functional.

Aria Button Down Shirt by Love Notions

Conclusion: Overall I am pleased with the end result but there are a few changes to be made for the next iteration. I think that the shoulders need to be reduced in width by about ½ inch. I need to lengthen the centre front of the bodice (and button plackets) by at least 1 inch and grade to 0 at the side seams. I do not love the deep pleat in back so will reduce the width of the back bodice and convert the fullness into gathers.

Total time to make the blouse came to 3½ hours which is exactly what I had calculated it would be. I don’t think that I will ever make up this pattern as a dress, I need much more shaping in my dresses but I can foresee that there will be another button down shirt – probably with the ‘Grandad’ collar and maybe the breast pocket.

Project #28 completed 23rd May 2022.

Cats Gardening Blouse

Having previously stated that I need to try some different/new patterns for blouses, I reverted to my TNT pattern for this novelty printed fabric – Cats gardening STELLA-DCJ1882 NAVY Clara in 100% cotton.

This print does not fit into my Golden Daffodils and Spring Greens theme but what the heck, those plans are not set into concrete!

I purchased 2 metres on the final afternoon when attending the Sewcial Retreat at Shepperton earlier in March. At a cost of £30 I did not want to ‘waste’ this pretty fabric on a new and untested pattern. However, I did draft a different short sleeve. Basically it is the puffed sleeve head with faced hem style that I have drafted for several other patterns.

I cut the bodice as per my usual pattern but when constructing I did find that the under arm was a little too high and the width around the middle and hips was too wide. The latter is easily rectified with some fish eye darts in the front bodice but I will have to re-think the shaping of the armscye and sleeve patterns for another time.

Once again I have stitched both my maker’s label and the fabric pattern design information selvedge onto the back neckline facing.

Simple Yellow spotted buttons from my stash complete the blouse.

TNT Short sleeved ‘Cats Gardening’ Blouse

I am very pleased with the blouse and plan to wear it with my dungarees when pottering in the garden!

Project #20 completed 31st March 2022

Newlyn Blouse #4

In keeping with the colour scheme that would use the terracotta thread packed for my Sewcial Retreat, I cut out yet another Newlyn Blouse with short puff sleeves from this beautiful cotton lawn that I purchased from Minerva.

I was not able to complete the blouse construction whilst at the Sewcial Retreat but as soon as possible on my return I was back in the Sewing Room beavering away to get this done.

This time using the ‘Newlyn’ pattern I cut my favourite short puffed-sleeve-head sleeves. As the fabric is a cotton lawn I knew that it would have a slightly different look as a finished garment to those made with viscose.

As I did not want toadd bulk by making French seams, all seams were overlocked. I added the back darts and slightly wider ties. Now that Ihave lost a little weight (puppy fat around my middle!) I was able to add some body darts to the front bodice which also helps to improve the silhouette.

The sleeve hem facing was hand stitched in place to avoid it flopping down. Hem on the facing and Shirt tail shaped hem on the bodice were overlocked and then turned and top stitched.

Five faux bone 4-hole buttons from my stash (I originally bought over 100 of these buttons from Abakhan, Mostyn, North Wales) and buttonholes down the front worked on my Brother 4000D machine.

Conclusion: A lovely straightforward sew. I love this pattern. Another time I may incorporate a shortened version into a dress with a 4-gore circular skirt. So watch this space.

Project #17 completed 17th March 2022