Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

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.

Back to Basics – Striped Paolina Top

Taupe & White Broad Striped Paolina Top

Back at the tail end of the year I bought several metres of various jersey fabrics (no change there then!). This wide stripe in Taupe and White is 1½ metres purchased from Fabrics Galore at a cost of £6/metre. The challenge for this project was to get the stripes to match across the bodice with the sleeve heads and also at the side seams. I think that I have just about achieved the goal. 

The top is made using my TNT Paolina pattern, a hack from the Paola turtle neck by Named. There was ample fabric to make the long sleeves and shirt tail shaping to the bodice front and back. The neckline shaping was cut freehand so is possibly a little higher than I wanted. To avoid any ‘colouring outside the lines’ for the neckband, I opted to cut the fabric lengthwise so that the stripes on the neckband are at right angles to the horizontal stripes on the bodice. Maybe next time I work with stripes I will take up the challenge and cut the band crosswise.

There is not a lot more to say about this make – hems on the bodice and sleeves are stitched with a twin needle and because of the shirt-tail shaping given a good press.

I plan to wear this top with White Capri-length trousers so can’t wait for my holiday to warmer climes!

Researching a Raglan-Sleeved Bodice Pattern

For some time now I have been on a quest to find my ideal raglan sleeve bodice pattern.  So far I have stitched McCalls 6754 which was OK but the sleeves were very wide and the neckline quite low. Not insurmountable problems but not yet my ‘Go to’ pattern. I have also tried the Lekala 5656. Again the pattern was not quite right. This time the fit at the underarms was tight and again not an insurmountable problem. I think I will probably re-visit the pattern at a later date.

Lekala Pattern                                        McCalls 6754

Meantime, I have just made up the Blank Slate Rivage Raglan.


For the wearable toile I used some remnant of Dark Teal Ponte Roma that has been hidden at the bottom of my stash for some 20 (yes twenty!) years. Checking the measurements on the pattern I cut out the XXL size. The original pattern is drafted with a high-low hem but I cut mine the same length at both front and back. I had insufficient fabric to cut the sleeves full length and instead cut wide double cuffs to bring the sleeves to ¾ length.

Close up of the sleeve cuff

I top-stitched the cuffs and used a twin-needle for the hem of the garment. I ignored the pattern piece for the neckband and used my TNT method. 

close up theneckband

Really too big Rivage

The finished tunic is too big! The neckline is very wide and the sleeves are also too big. On the plus side, with the weight of the fabric and the ‘A’ line shaping, the body of the Rivage is ‘trapeze’ style and has a pleasant swing to it.

Another item that will probably sit at the back of the wardrobe until it ends up on eBay or in the charity bag!




Positively Stretchy Paola Top

As mentioned in an earlier post, now is the season of Paola tops. I purchased 3 lengths of jersey fabric from Girl Charlee sale offerings. This particular one was described as Light Yellow Wide Wale Cotton Ribbing and I bought 2 metres at £4.71 per metre. I duly cut out my standard Paola pattern and having threaded the overlocker with Cream, set to to stitch the top.

Within 1 hour I had completed the Paola which has turned out much larger than usual due to the stretch of the ribbing of this knit fabric. As it is a cotton and was not washed prior to construction I am hoping that it will shrink a little in the wash. Meantime it is still wearable.

Due to the stretchiness of the knit, rather than twin needle finish, I have applied deep cuffs to the sleeve hems. For the hem on the body, I used the overlocker and with additional stretch have resulted in a ‘wavy’ hem to the garment. This is quite pleasant but I think in future I may wear the top with a high- waisted skirt so that it  can be tucked inside. Alternatively, I have sufficient fabric to cut a hem band, similar to a previous Dartmouth top and this may be the way to resolve the issue.

So, final analysis, not a 100% positive result but this type of knit has provided a step on my learning curve. In future I will only use rib knits for ribbing or where excessive stretch is an advantage.

Eyelashes Everywhere!

From my previous post you will know that the overlocker is currently threaded with Red and therefore I wanted something Red to stitch. Enter this fabulous Eyelash fabric from the Textile Centre. I purchased 2 metres at £4.49/metre. 

Using a ‘hack’ version of Style Arc’s Amy top set about making a tunic top to wear with Black trousers.

The hack was basically using only the shoulder line, sleeves and length of the Amy. I drafted a new scoop neckline and levelled off the hem whilst retaining the ‘trapeze’ shaping of the side seams.

I used my TNT method of setting the shoulder seams with some fusible interfacing, set in the sleeves and stitched the side seams (leaving a 6 inch slit as per the original pattern) and underarms in one. At first fitting I adjusted the front hem to allow for my full bust. At this stage I had to stop to get on with household chores. I left the sewing room in a mess the floor and every surface was covered in eyelashes of the RED variety!

Back again, I completed the neck binding, hemmed the sleeves and lower edges.

Whilst the sewing room is still awash with Red eyelashes I made a detachable Cowl collar.

Warm and cosy cowl collar that is detachable and can be transferred to other outfits

At present the weather has turned deceptively mild so I won’t be wearing the collar just at present but no doubt the temperature will drop in January and February – I will be prepared.