Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

Re-fashioning a Basic Tee Shirt

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that I do not enjoy alterations. As far as I am concerned, Re-fashioning also comes under that banner. However, in a moment of weakness I fell for and purchased several guipure lace appliques from eBay with a view to using them when making new tops, tunics and dresses.

Before I use any of the appliques on a garment, I decided to try one out on a very basic (and old) tee shirt. I chose a plain Pink tee and a plain White applique in a simple ‘daisy’ design. The trim has been pinned to the tee shirt for several weeks and today was the day! I threaded up the needle and bobbin on the machine with White thread, set the zig-zag stitch and ‘went for it!’

The stitching took some time to complete. I was glad to be using the knee lift on my machine as it left both hands free at all times to manipulate the fabric and trim whilst I stitched.

The original neckband was removed along with the excess fabric from the outer edge of the trim. This left a stretched back neckline. What to do? I turned under a scant ¼ inch and stitched in place. Still baggy. I threaded a hand sewing needle with double thread and ran a neat row of gathering stitches along the back edge and drew up the neckline to a neater finish. I am pleased with the result and just hope that my hand stitching is robust enough to control the fullness of the back neckline.

Final analysis: If I use any of the other appliques on new dressmaking projects I will have to devise a method for neat finishing of the back necklines. Other than that the use of these trims certainly adds a beautiful decorative finish to plain garments.

Fraser Colour-blocked top by Sewaholic Patterns

As I said in a previous post, I particularly liked the contrast print versions of tops displayed in the Joules store on board ship.

  

The Fraser Sweatshirt top by Sewaholic patterns is new for me, bought especially for the contrast section of yoke and sleeve tops so that I could make my own version of a Joules top.

  

I had already purchased some White with Navy stripe Ponte Roma from an eBay seller – 2 metres for £16.48 plus some pretty floral print Ponte Roma from CheapestFabricsUK another eBay seller, 1 metre for £5.95. So total cost £22.43 which does not compare very favourably with the cost of a ready-made.

  

However, with my fabrics I shall be able to make at least two tops so that brings the cost down by half.

I compared the pattern measurements and finished sizes to my own personal dimensions and cut the size 20 plus an additional ½ inch at side seams. I reduced the sleeve length by 4 inches (I must have extremely short arms!) to give a 7/8th sleeve length. I lengthened the body of the garment by 3 inches as I did not intend to add the hem band. Cutting tops longer is always a good idea – they can be always be shortened if necessary.

Construction was fairly straightforward though it would have been easier if I had not had stripes that needed matching. I think I have achieved a fair result. For continuity, I drafted a back yoke to be cut from the contrast print in addition to the front and sleeve contrasts.

At fitting I discovered that the side seams needed to be taken in by a good 2 inches at each side grading out to the original stitching at the hips and hemline. The sleeves were cut as size 20 at the cap and underarm, grading out to a size 12 at the hem. I took in about 1 inch from the sleeve seams.   The sleeve and body lengths were fine. The over-sizing is probably due to the fact that this top is drafted as a sweatshirt and is therefore more loose-fitting than usual, I should have taken more notice of the amount of ease allowed on the pattern, plus the amount of stretch in my fabric.

The neckband was troublesome. Initially I cut the length according to the pattern piece but this was too long and resulted in a baggy neckband. I cut it off and re-did the neckband. This time I managed to get two little tucks in the garment – right on the front – so again the neckband was removed. Third time lucky! The neckline is now somewhat lower than the original but in fact I prefer this so have adjusted the pattern accordingly.

Hems on the sleeves and body were stitched with a twin needle. As I was on a roll, I then top stitched, again with the twin needle, all along the joining seam of the contrast panels, yokes and shoulder caps.

  

I am very pleased with the resultant garment and will definitely make more tops in this style. Perhaps next time I will make a high low hem as in the Joules top. Not only will I be using these two fabrics but also I will be digging into my stash bucket for remnants.

 

 

 

Cactus Print Scuba Plantain Top

The Plantain Top by Deer & Doe is currently my ‘go to’ pattern for simple tunic-style tops.

This one is made from a delightful cactus print on Scuba that I bought from Fabric Styles. I purchased just 1 metre at £4.50 and the fabric is so soft and silky that it will be a delight to wear.

I cut the sleeves ¾ length and then laid the front and back bodice pieces on the remainder of fabric to cut with a centre back length of 23 inches. The neckline has again been re-shaped by raising the centre front by 2 inches, making a gentle curve that is slightly wider and grading the neck points accordingly. I cut a neckband piece 2½ inches wide.

For construction I used the overlocker which is now threaded up with White. The neckband went on like a dream and the hems of the sleeves and bodice are twin-needle stitched in place. This top sews up in less than an hour.

Whilst in a ‘frivolous’ mood I have also purchased some pretty plimsolls – they are really Caribbean appropriate!

Re-fashioning Paola Tops

In the past few months I have made a couple of Paola tops which for one reason or another have not turned out as I would like.

Usually when this happens I offer the garment for sale on eBay and if not sold it is put aside to go to the local charity shop. In this instance I really wanted to keep the two Paola tops for myself, so something would have to be done.

The first – a Grey Sweater Knit style Ponte from The Textile Centre finished up quite fitted with a polo (turtle) neck that was uncomfortable as it was so restrictive and close to my neck. Also the sleeves, once I had added long cuffs, made them too long. Even though I had intended for them to cover my wrists in the really cold weather, I found them uncomfortable and was forever folding them back.

The second, an Aqua-coloured Paola was made using a cotton jersey bought when on sale from Charlee Girl. The entire garment felt too big, the neckline was stretched, the sleeves too long and the hemline with the twin-needle stitching was very wavy.

For the Grey version I first cut off the collar and re-shaped the neckline to a low crew shape. Using some remnant of fabric I cut a neckband 2¼ inches wide and following my TNT method, applied this to the new shape. The sleeves were also an easy fix. I cut off the cuffs and removed the overlock seam. I removed 3 inches from the length of the sleeves before re-attaching the cuffs. Now they are exactly the right length. Whilst I had the Charcoal Grey thread on the sewing machine I took the time to take in the side seams at the hemline by approximately 1 inch each side, grading to 0 inches at the waistline.

   

One down, one to go.

Again for the Aqua Paola I removed the collar and re-shaped the neckline. This time into a wider, more scooped line. I used a remnant from the tropical leaf print jersey dress that I made last Summer to cut a neckband. Once again, my TNT method resulted in a great-looking neckband complete with co-ordinating top stitching.

The sleeves were each reduced by approximately 3 inches before adding a cuff, also in the contrasting tropical leaf print jersey fabric. The wavy hem was given a thorough press and it is now ‘behaving’ itself.

   

I have retrieved possible ‘rejects’ and now there are two new tops in my wardrobe.

This exercise has also taught me how quick and simple it is to re-shape a neckline, apply a neckband and add contrasting cuffs to a tee top. As good quality tees are readily available from High Street stores at very competitive prices, in future I might buy some and refashion to make new ‘originals’.

Scrumptious Stretch Velvet Plantain Tunic by Deer & Doe

I bought this fab-u-lous stretch velvet from Stitchy Bee sometime at the end of last year and since then it has been in my ’roundtuit’ pile awaiting just the right pattern to make it up.

I have now well and truly tested the Plantain tunic top by Deer and Doe which is fast becoming one of my favourite TNT patterns.

I ensured that the pile of the velvet was running down the length of the pattern and quickly laid out the pattern pieces. The fabric was a delight to use. The wrong side is soft and silky and the surface feels just like real silk velvet.

I made my usual adjustments – raised the centre front neckline by 2 inches, lengthened the tunic by 4 inches and shortened the sleeves by 4 inches.

The pattern took just 1.5 metres of fabric and as had I purchased 2 metres at £9.90/metre I now have sufficient remaining to make a lovely evening bag – but that will be for another day as I already have a super beaded evening bag to use.

Apart from the neckband, the entire tunic was stitched on my sewing machine. For the main seams I used the ‘lightning’ stitch length 3.5 and for the hems a standard straight stitch – also at length 3.5.

Velvet Plantain Tunic by Deer & Doe

I believe that I have now completed the dark-coloured garments in anticipation of the cruise – although I do have some lovely dragonfly printed cotton ready laundered….

Timeless Treasures Dragonflies print

hmm …. no better get on with the circle skirt in Ivory Ponte.

Scrap-Busting Plantain Tunic Top

At the end of making the Dartmouth Dress hack using this charming printed Ponte from The Textile Centre I had approximately 70 cms left over. What to do with it?

In my stash I had recently discovered some remnants of plain Ponte in various shades of Teal, Red and Black. There was just sufficient of the Black colourway to make sleeves and I would use the printed Ponte for the body of a Tunic. Originally I had thought I would trial yet another raglan sleeve top but decided against that as I really wanted to be assured of a successful outcome for this final piece of Floral/Shutter border print. So yet another version of the Plantain Top by Deer and Doe it was to be.

I laid out the bodice front and back and cut them as long as possible from the printed ponte, followed by the sleeves and neckband from the plain Black ponte. The only adjustment made to the pattern was to raise the centre front of the neckline by 1¾ inches as previous versions had finished up dangerously low!

Construction was plain-sailing. I have left vents at the side seams and the final version has a high/low hem with the front being slightly longer (to accommodate my bust).

The completed garment looks great worn with Black skinny jeans or leggings.

Super Sequinned Tunic – Deer & Doe Plantain

In the previous post I mentioned that I had some small sequinned jersey fabric bought from Fabricland at just £1.79/m I cannot praise this fabric highly enough. It sewed like a dream!

Hot on the success of the Aubergine jersey trousers * made from Simplicity 2289, I have now completed the ensemble with a co-ordinating tunic top.

The previous endeavour with the Plantain top by Deer & Doe was not a great success but I could see that there was great potential and having made a few adjustments to the pattern I set about making my second Plantain.

To begin with a cut a bodice front and back from the Aubergine jersey as I could see that the sequinned fabric was too fine to be worn without something underneath. I cut the pieces with a 4 inch extension to the length.

Having stabilised the shoulders, I stitched with the overlocker and then top-stitched with the twin needle. I then sewed up the side seams leaving an 8inch opening each side for the hem vents.

I tried on this ‘lining’ to check fit and it was ‘just right’.

Now onto the sequinned jersey. Having learned from the previous sequinned fabric, although there was a lot more stretch in this particular fabric, I cut a little extra width on the bodice front, back and sleeves.

Next step was pinning the lining at the neck edge and armholes. I had put the tunic onto Dolores the mannequin and it made this task much easier. The two bodices were then basted together.

For the neckline binding I repeated the trick of using the non-sequinned selvedge area cut 2 inches wide x the length required for the neckline. The binding was folded in half and stitched to the inside of the neckline before folding over the raw edge and top-stitched in place. A very neat finish.

As before, the sleeve seams were stitched and inserted into the armholes. I was able to use the overlocker and the insertion went like a dream. Love it when that happens! 🙂

The sleeves have a narrow single-turned hem stitched with the twin needle but I have left the hems on the lining and tunic front and backs as raw edges. The length of the lining has been trimmed to approximately ½ inch shorter than the sequinned overlay.

I am absolutely delighted with how this top has turned out – I originally purchased 3 metres and there is about 20 cms left. So a beautiful evening tunic for less than £10.00!

My new  Sequinned Plantain Tunic Top

* In my previous post I stated that the jersey for the trousers and lining of this top came from Minerva Crafts. Unfortunately this is incorrect. The fabric came with a massive haul bought online from Fabricland. As far as I can tell it is no longer offered on their website but I am pretty sure it was the same as that offered by Minerva Crafts and detailed in the previous post.

Seriously Challenging Sequins – Deer & Doe Plantain Tunic

I purchased this really ‘in your face’ sequinned fabric from Fabricland in early December. With the departure on a cruise to the Caribbean coming up fast thought I had better get on and sew an evening tunic to go with the Black wide leg trousers.

At the time of purchase I did not know which pattern I would be using and so purchased 2 metres at £6.99/metre. Having browsed through my selection of PDF patterns I decided that I would use the Plantain top from Deer & Doe.

This is described as a T-shirt fitted at the shoulders and flaring at the hips, with optional elbow patches. Short, long and 3/4 sleeves are included in the pattern. I had plenty of fabric, cut out view A in size 52 and excluded the elbow patches. Only alterations were to reduce the sleeve length by 4 inches and extend the length, also by 4 inches.

Pinning the fabric was a challenge. I did not want to pin through the sequins and so had to be very careful with pin placement into the jersey fabric between them. I stabilised the shoulder seams with some narrow fusible Vilene ® interfacing. As I did not want to feel the scratchy edges of the sequins on the inside, I made a faux flat fell seam which effectively covered the sequins and made a nice flat seam.

Next was the neckline binding. I was nervous about this but decided to cut some of the un-sequinned selvedge fabric which is the base ‘carrier’. A fine knit that was very stretchy and so great for a narrow neck binding. I lightly pressed the binding in half and then ran a row of overlocking stitches to keep the raw edges together. In effect the binding was ‘gathered’ onto the overlocking stitches but that was fine as I gently stretched and pinned the binding to the WRONG side of the neckline. Taking a ¼ inch seam, I then turned the binding to the RIGHT side and top stitched in place. I am really pleased with the way this has turned out.

At this point I did a test run on the overlocker and found that there were no problems using the machine on the sequinned fabric. Setting in the sleeves was straightforward. Although the notches did not match up with the armscye it did not matter as the sleeves went in beautifully.

Now the side and underarm seams. I left 8 inches open at the hem and overlocked the entire seam from that point to the underarm and down the sleeve seam. As the ‘carrier’ fabric is jersey there was no need to hem the sleeves or the hemline of the tunic. I simply cut level with a row of the square sequins.

Now I tried on the tunic. Oops! The sleeves are very tight and this is when I discovered the fatal error. What I had not taken into account was the fact that although the ‘carrier’ fabric is jersey, the sequins have NO stretch and therefore restrict the stretch of the jersey. I should have enlarged the pattern the to take this into account!

I can wear the tunic but it is not comfortable. My husband does not like the top as he feels it is too glitzy! He is not wrong!

Teal Sequinned Jersey Plantain Tunic

A valuable lesson learned. I have adjusted the pattern and will certainly make it up again. I like the flare over the hips, the extended length and the lovely shaped neckline. So onwards and upwards…..


Possibly not my favourite Paola Top

Oh well, perhaps I should not have attempted sewing when feeling a little under the weather. I thought that as I was using my TNT Paola top pattern, all would be OK. How wrong I was. Those of you that have followed my blog will know that I have made up this pattern ‘hundreds’ of times!

Two metres of Cotton Spandex from Girl Charlee at a cost of £15.96 so not cheap. The fabric had been laundered and was waiting near the top of the stash pile so I waded in with pattern and scissors at the ready!

Standard construction. Narrow cuffs on the sleeves, twin needle stitched hem on the bodice. How is it that the Paola has not turned out as I expect? I have lengthened the top by 3 inches but other than that no other changes. Is it the colour? Have I come to the end of my love affair with Polo-necked tops? I don’t know. The top needs a good press and maybe to be teamed with a terrific pair of trousers, stunning skirt or charming Cleo dungaree dress. We shall have to wait and see.