Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

Altered Joni Top

Original Joni dress

I used whatever fabric was left over when I made this Joni dress to make a top. Unfortunately it was not quite long enough and has therefore been stuck at the back of the wardrobe – unworn. Until now, I found a length of the fabric that was just sufficient to add a frill. So with no further ado, I gathered up the length, added a twin-needle stitched hem and hey presto, the top is now just the right length!

Joni top with added frill

An adventure with Double Gauze

When visiting Franklins in Salisbury for my monthly Patchwork & Quilting Club class, I was browsing their fabrics when I came across a selection of Double Gauze in pretty colours. I could not resist and purchased 2 metres (£9.99 per metre) of the Soft pink printed with white outline of Ginkgo leaves.

Close-up of leaves of Ginkgo biloba

I thought this fabric would be ideal for a Spring/Summer blouse.

Double Gauze from Franklins, Salisbury

I overlocked the raw edges and then packed laundered the fabric together with my TNT bodice pattern to take to the Sewcial Retreat. Cutting out was ‘interesting’ as I had to use 2 tables covered with cloth. Fortunately later I managed to find 2 large cutting mats to protect the cloth and avoid cutting that in addition to the double gauze.

I used a hack of the collar from an old Out Of Print dress pattern McCalls 6438.

The width and length of the bodice were cut ‘by eye’ without a pattern to make a loose-fitting bodice. Likewise, the sleeves were cut in a fairly ‘random’ way, using as much of the remaining length of fabric as possible. I ended up with ¾ length sleeves which I set into the armholes with some gentle gathers at the sleeve head.

The sleeves also turned out very wide at the hem but I prefer a more tailored look. I made some cuffs by cutting two pieces 5 inches wide x the length that would fit neatly around my forearm. The cuffs were stitched into a circle, the hem of the sleeves was then gathered into the cuffs with a non-gathered area either side of the sleeve seam. I am particularly pleased with the way that the sleeves have turned out.

Soft Pink Double Gauze 3/4 sleeved Blouse

McCalls 2797 Short-sleeve Blouse

Just before I headed off on my Sewcial Retreat I checked my wardrobe for a lightweight blouse suitable to wear under the Black Corduroy Applique Pinafore Dress.

Applique Pinafore Dress

As I am a lover of exuberant prints, I was unable to find a plain(ish) blouse – all my ‘memade’ tops tend to be very colourful and would clash with the applique.

There was nothing for it but to make a new blouse using some fine cotton ‘low volume’ print that I purchased way back in 2015 when holidaying in Hunstanton, Norfolk. The fabric was originally intended for a ‘Block of the Month’ quilt but that never even got started!

McCalls 2797

I used my TNT McCalls 2797 pattern with a lengthened bodice and shaped hem. I also rounded the corners of the collar and facings. The pattern has princess seams in front and back making it easy to adapt for a full bust. If I make the pattern again, I must remember to reduce the size of the collar which currently is reminiscent of the 70’s!

Low volume printed cotton McCalls 2797

As I have made the pattern several times before, the construction was straightforward and within a few hours I had a completed blouse. This is not the most exciting garment that I have ever made but it is fit for the purpose of wearing under the pinafore dress. Now I can go on and make something a little more interesting!

Border Print Jersey Paolina Top

I appeared to be on a roll when I made the Plantain top by Deer and Doe. Whilst the overlocker and sewing machine were set up with Charcoal thread and jersey needles, I continued and made this unusual print fabric into a ‘Paolina’ top.

The fabric was a ‘steal’ from a new supplier, ‘miss-clio’, that I discovered whilst watching a vlog (sorry, can’t remember whose). The polyester(?) jersey was listed as 62 inches wide at the ‘giveaway’ price of £2.99/metre an as I was a little unsure of the quality at that price, ordered just 1 metre. The fabric is indeed as it was described, ‘beautiful’.

Border print Polyester(?) Jersey

Due to the extra width of the fabric I was able to cut a ¾ sleeved Paolina tee top with just enough remaining for the neckband and a few odd-shaped scraps. The ‘Paolina’ is my hack from the Paola turtle neck top by ‘Named’.

Paola Turtle Neck by ‘Named’

I have adjusted the neckline to a shallow scoop with neckband and added a shaped hem to the extended length of the bodice front and back. I have already made several versions – this hack now falls into the TNT category.

The fabric was a little troublesome in that it insisted on curling at the edges but with plenty of fine jersey pins I managed to get it under control. I used the bold coloured-abstract pattern for the front and then the more restrained stripes for the back. The sleeves were cut from whatever I had left. The top was constructed on the overlocker but with some top stitching on the neckband and twin needle stitching at the hems completed on the sewing machine.

Paolina Front

Paolina Reverse

This top is a delight to wear being very light, drapey and comfortable. I may well re-visit miss-clio to check if she has any more similar fabrics on sale.

Plantain Tunic + Detachable Cowl

I have been cruising the internet and in particular, made yet another visit to The Textile Centre website. This is fatal as I simply cannot resist their fabrics!

This time I fell in love with a Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey Dress Fabric Material (Blue)£4.49 per metre. This is a light-weight ponte type jersey with a cloqué effect pattern. According to Wikipedia: cloqué is a cloth with a raised woven pattern and a puckered or quilted look. The surface is made up of small irregularly raised figures formed by the woven structure). The composition is Polyester/Viscose/Elastane. I ordered 2 metres (Width: 145cm) and had in mind to make the Plantain tunic by Deer & Doe.


Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey

Although the stripes of the fabric run from selvedge to selvedge I thought it best to have the stripes vertical. This meant that I lost the advantage of the stretch of the fabric but as the Plantain is a loose-fit did not think there would be a problem – and I was right.

Plantain by Deer & Doe

The fabric is an absolute dream to sew! It has a good drape, is soft to the touch and even has a two-way stretch although as I cut down the fabric rather than across I could not take advantage of this. The fabric has a smooth soft feel on the reverse and is machine washable on a 40° temperature.

This finished tunic is in fact a hack of the Plantain top. I used the pattern as a base for some tunic tops that I made last year and knew that I liked the style and fit of the extended length and slightly re-shaped neckline.

I extended the length by 4 inches, raised the neckline by a couple of inches, added deep side slits of 12 inches, added cuffs to the sleeves and adjusted the front hemline slightly for a full bust. I used the percentage of 85% of the neckline to calculate the length of the neckband and this worked out fine. I made a detachable cowl collar (the full width of the fabric x 19 inches) which fits neatly over the scoop neckline to be worn when I need some warmth around my neck and is easily removed when I have a hot flush!

Detachable Cowl collar
Tunic with neckband finish
Tunic with detachable Cowl in place

The tunic goes well with leggings and denim jeans. I have worn the top several times now and received many compliments. I love the fabric so much that I have ordered the last 5 metres and hope to make a dress and another top. Watch this space.

Simply Spot-on Paola Turtle Neck Tee

Paola Turtle Neck Tee
by Named Clothing

Regular readers will know that the Paola tee is one of my ‘all-time’ TNT tops which have been regularly hacked into many variations. For this iteration I wanted a plain and simple turtle neck tee to go under that ‘oh so subtle’ appliqué corduroy pinafore dress featured in an earlier post.

Colourful Appliqued Corduroy Pinafore Dress

I purchased 1 ½ metres of Pink spotted cotton jersey which is a new line offered at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground, Andover. As soon as I got home the fabric was washed and hung over the airer to dry.

Meantime, I was distracted by making up the SORA top by Blank Slate Patterns and also completed another version of the Paola using Cloque jersey, neither of these garments was an unqualified success so it was with some trepidation that I cut out the Pink spots Paola.

SORA sweater
Hacked about Paola

I used my latest adapted version of the pattern for the bodice front and back. Bearing in mind my thickening mid-section, I ignored the waistline shaping and cut a straight line from under the arm to the hips. I extended the length of the bodice by 3 inches. Using the original sleeve pattern, I increased by 1 inch at the underarm seam, grading to 0 at the wrist. The length of the sleeved was reduced by 2 inches. The turtle neck collar was reduced in height by 1 inch but increased in width by 1 inch.

It took just over 1 hour to construct the tee which included drafting a pattern for a double cuff which does away with the need to twin-needle stitch the sleeve hems and provides(I think) a professional finish. The hem of the tee was turned up by ¾ inch and pressed with steam before top-stitching with a jersey twin needle.

Simply Spot On Paola Turtle Neck Tee

I am delighted with the fabric, fit and finish of this tee and can foresee that it will get a lot of wear both now and into cooler days of Spring. In fact, I am so pleased I may well re-visit New Threads as I know that they have this fabric in several other colourways.

Hacking the Paola tee

Those of you who follow my blog will know that the Paola top is one of my favourite TNT patterns. I have hacked it to within an inch of its life! Today I hacked again.

Paola Turtle Collar Tee from
Named Clothing

According to Named Clothing, the Paola is described thus:-

Classic semi-fitted turtle neck tee

Full-length sleeves and a turtle neck collar

Choose a light jersey with approximately 50% stretch. The sample is made up in a rayon blend jersey.

Mink Cloque Jersey from The Textile Centre

For this iteration I used yet more of the Cloque Jersey mentioned in the previous post. What I should have done before cutting out was to read the stretch requirements and check the Cloque fabric (it turns out that it does NOT have 50% stretch). If I had checked then I would have adapted the pattern and this garment would have been the original Paola turtle neck top. However, I did not do that!

I pulled my original adapted pattern (previously used for viscose/polyester blended jersey fabrics) and cut out the Cloque jersey.

I used clear elastic in the shoulder seams and set in the turtle (polo) collar. I then attached the sleeves and stitched the side and underarm sleeve seams.

First fitting – what was I thinking? The tee was so tight over my head that I was in danger of being strangled and the effort of pulling the collar over my head also pulled out my earrings! The sleeves were a little short so I decided to use the cuffs that were left over from the SORA top.

So an almost completed garment had to be altered. No way is that my favourite past time.

I removed the collar and re-cut the neckline, dropping the centre front by approximately 1inch. I made up a neckband that was 80% of the measured length (plus seam allowance) and attached to the neckline. It looked OK but not great. Next the sleeves – the cuffs were a lot smaller than the diameter of the hem of the sleeves. I re-stitched the underarm seam grading down to the same width as the cuffs. The cuffs were then folded in half and attached.

Second fitting – the neckline was still not good and now the sleeves were very tight. I cut off the neckband and re-cut the neckline AGAIN, this time dropping the centre front by approximately 1½ inches. The second neckband was attached and this time looked much better. I pin marked the point on the sleeves where they became uncomfortably tight. By laying the sleeves on top of one another I cut off the bottom and drafted a new cuff pattern. The pattern folded double and shaped so that it is wide enough to attach to the sleeve cut -off- point but narrows down to a snug fit at the wrist.

Long double thickness cuffs

Apart from top-stitching around the neckband the entire garment was constructed using the overlocker. Finally I pressed up the hem and stitched with my jersey twin needle on the sewing machine.

Basic hacked Paola tee

I am pleased that I now have a wearable tee although I know that it will never be a favourite. I have a good pair of Bright Terracotta Jeans and with changes to scarves I shall be able to wear the top in both Spring and Autumn.

Spring-time Scarf
Autumn Scarf

Sora Top by Blank Slate Patterns

Pattern illustration

I have had the pdf of this pattern for some time and was reminded of it when I saw another version(the cardigan) on someone’s instagram. I had recently purchased this lovely Pale Mocha-coloured cloque ponte roma from The Textile Centre at the bargain price of £1.79 per metre. Due to the very wide width of the fabric and by cutting the back with a centre back seam, this top took just 1.3 metres of fabric.

I checked my measurements against the size chart and cut a 1XL which should fit just right. Unfortunately, although the pattern pieces look large when laid out flat, they turned out to be just that little bit too small around my middle.

Side seam godet

I stitched the godets using the lightning stitch on my Brother 4000D sewing machine, but most of the construction was completed using my Juki overlocker. I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams before inserting the collar. This feature is what attracted me to the Sora design and I will be ‘hacking’ the collar onto an alternative top/tunic pattern in the future. In hindsight, I wish that I had top-stitched the edge of the collar and its facing but a good steam press means that it is sitting nicely.

The side seams were sewn and the sleeves inserted ‘in the round’. The Sora has a dropped shoulder and I should have known that I would not like this feature on me. My shoulder width is quite narrow in comparison to my bust and waist. In my eyes, the dropped shoulder just looks awkward especially when combined with these particular sleeves which turned out to be very slim (and LONG!). Was this pattern designed for Orangutan arms? I omitted the cuffs and have kept them back to put on the Paola top that is next in the queue. I turned up the sleeves and the hem of the top, giving them a good steam press to set the crease. Both were then top stitched with a jersey twin needle.

Sora by Blank Slate |Patterns
Back view with Centre Back Seam

I hope that I can sell the top on eBay so that it won’t then be a complete fail. I look forward to ‘hacking’ the collar design, and maybe the side hem godets, onto an alternative top pattern with a standard set in sleeve that is the correct length for me.

Top Twenty Makes in 2018

As promised, here are my Top Twenty Makes from last year. With the exception of the Ultimate Travel Bag that I made to take as Cabin luggage on my flight to the Caribbean, I am pretty sure that I will be repeating all these garments using fabric from my stash. So watch this space!

Dartmouth Hack by Cashmerette
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo
Ultimate Travel Bag
by Annie Unrein
Simplicity 4032 hack
Kwik Sew 3736
Fraser by Sewaholic
Teddy by Style Arc
TNT Bodice & Gathered Skirt
Drunken Caribbean Birds
TNT Bodice with box-pleated skirt
Libby Blouse
by Sew Over It
TNT Bodice & gathered Skirt
Joni dress by
Tilly & The Buttons
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H.
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Collar from KwikSew 3736 hacked to TNT bodice & box pleated skirt

Paola Top in Cloque Jersey

Cloque Jersey from The Textile Centre

I had a bare 36 inches of full width Cloque Jersey remaining after making the two tops previously posted. Despite a cursory search through my patterns I could not find my printed copy of the Paola top by Named Patterns. So I re-printed and prepared for a new iteration of this most definitely TNT pattern.

There was insufficient fabric for the long-sleeved version, I contented myself with elbow length sleeves combined with a reduced height of collar which still turns down as a ‘turtle’ neckline.

Short sleeved Paola top by Named Patterns

Construction was completed on the sewing machine in approximately one hour. You can’t beat a Paola for a quick and easy top. I can foresee several more being made for the coming colder months of the year!