Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

‘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

Libby Blouse #7

Using 2 metres of a beautiful Lewis & Irene cotton print purchased last year from Franklins I embarked on yet another version of the Libby blouse by Sew Over It.

The fabric is ‘Under the Oak Tree’ and was originally intended as a blouse/shirt to be worn in the Autumn.

Time has moved but as I was looking for fabrics in this colour palette to use when attending the Sewcial Retreat organised by Viv of Purple Stitches, this fitted the bill.

I cut the pattern as per the adjustments made previously that include adding to the side seams, extending the cap of the grown-on sleeves and adding 4 inches to the length of the shaped hemline of version 2.

The Lewis & Irene quilting cotton fabric stitched like a dream as it is such a stable weave, but once again, I approached the sewing of the collar with its partial collar stand with some trepidation. It took some time to get it just right but I am pleased with the end result.

To ensure that I never forget exactly which print I have used, I cut the information printed on the selvedge and stitched this, together with my makers label, to the inside of the back yoke facing.

My JUKI overlocker is back from its service and replacement of blades so I was able to use this to finish the seam allowances. The hem was first neatened with the overlocker before being turned twice and top-stitched in place.

Five coconut shell buttons for closure at the front and this Autumnal print blouse is complete.

Project #15 completed 11th March 2022

Alphabet Blouse

Hot on the heels of the recently purchased dungarees, I wanted to make a blouse that would assist in channeling my ‘Childrens TV presenter’ vibe.

I found this jolly quilting cotton (ABC Menagerie Abi Hall for moda) on ‘SALE’ at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground, my local bricks and mortar fabric store. I purchased 2 metres at £6/metre intending to make the Gilbert by Helen’s Closet patterns…… I changed my mind – as I would not be able to purchase more of this print and just in case it did not work out, decided to make my TNT blouse with short sleeves instead. However, when I laid out the pattern pieces I was delighted to find that there was sufficient to make a long-sleeved blouse with shirt-tail hem so this would be a very versatile garment to be worn throughout the year.

I expanded the width of the sleeves to make them extra ‘pouffy’ and added the recently drafted deep double button cuff.

I don’t like to make French seams on quilting cottons as that is more substantial and makes those French seams a little too bulky. Now that the recently serviced Juki overlocker is back in the sewing room, all seams were overlocked for neatness.

Construction was straightforward as I have made this blouse ‘millions’ of times before! When it came to choosing buttons, I could not make up my mind between some pretty plain Yellow or plain Green. Then a ‘light bulb moment’ I selected some Green buttons with spots or stripes that I had bought in bulk from eBay sometime ago and have been lurking in my stash.

Whilst I am pleased with the completed blouse, in hindsight I think that the ‘pouffy’ sleeves are a little too much. This quilting cotton has a firm structure so is not as drapey as my usual viscose.

I will continue to wear the blouse but it may coordinate better with my Green Drill ‘Jane’ pinafore dress, details posted 9th January 2022.

Project #12B Completed 3rd March 2022

Newlyn blouse #3

In February I have continued ‘Going Green’ by using yet more of the pretty floral print on Light Green background Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. This time I made up the ‘Newlyn’ blouse with my TNT short sleeves.

All seams were French seams as I have yet to re-install my newly serviced overlocker into the sewing room. I added the back darts and the ties plus shirt tail shaping to the hemline. The sleeve hem facing was machine top-stitched in place to avoid flopping down due to weight of this very fluid fabric. Hem on the facing and Shirt tail shaped hem on the bodice were folded twice and top stitched. I used five of the Cream buttons that I previously selected (and rejected) for use on the Janice #2 dress.

Conclusion: Another straightforward sew. I love this pattern but feel I really should try at least a couple of the many, many other blouse and top patterns that I have.

Project #9 completed 18th February 2022

The Richmond Blouse by Til the Sun Goes Down

I saw this particular pattern made up by Bobo-Bun on Instagram and was inspired to buy a copy for myself. I planned to make the blouse up in some recently purchased Lady McElroy Marie Lawn and as that fabric was expensive, decided to make a wearable muslin first.

After a quick check in my stash I came across some pretty Cotton Poplin in Light Brown with small Pink polka dots. I had originally purchased this fabric from Franklins in Salisbury to use as part lining for a jacket but as that project never proceeded, I washed the length of fabric and cut out the pattern to a size 22. NB. I merely glanced at the layout diagram hence the sleeves fronts and backs were cut on the straight grain – not the bias. I shall have to wait and see how that affects the fit !?

Most of the seams were French seams but when it came to setting in the raglan sleeves this was not possible as I knew they would need some adjustment. They have been neatened with zig-zag stitching (my overlocker is still away being serviced!).

First fitting: I discovered that the shoulders and chest were a little too large but around the waist/tummy/hips it was too small. This was partly due to the tucks and the depth of the side seams. The the v-neckline is also rather low. The shaping of the centre seam of the sleeves definitely needed taking in.

Changes: I re-shaped the bottom 10 inches of the centre sleeve seams and removed the tucks from the bodice front and back. This lessened the American Footballer-style shoulder line and gave sufficient ease to fit over the waist/tummy/hips.

I did not cut a back neck facing, instead using my TNT method and top stitched the back collar to the stay stitching. As a nod to making a special finish I neatened the raw edges of the front facings with Pale Pink satin bias binding. The collar was top stitched with two threads through the needle, stitch length 3.5mm. Hems on the sleeves and body of the blouse were first stitched at a 1/4 inch before a double turn and machine top-stitched in matching thread.

The five buttonholes were stitched with Pink thread and the five Pink buttons came from my stash. There is a spare sixth button stitched inside the front facing.

Pattern alterations for next time: Sway back adjustment, lengthen the bodice front and back by ½ inch at the side seams. Lengthen front bodice at centre front by 1½ inches grade to 0 at the side seam.

Conclusion: I like the style of the blouse, especially the shaping of the collar. I am reminded why I do not like raglan sleeves as I always have to adapt them. I am not particularly enamoured with the finished garment as the fabric is definitely too crisp for the style. The blouse will probably end up in the charity bag. However I think that I will have another trial run and this time use a woven viscose which should have the required softness and drape to showcase the vintage-style pattern.

Project #06 completed 24th January 2022