Category Archives: Blouses & Tops

Joni dress hack into a Top

Joni Dress line drawing

Those of you following my blog will have noted that I have now made two Joni dresses from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book. I love this pattern. I had a sizeable remnant of the viscose jersey from the first version and as promised I thought I would have a go at a hack into a top and at the same time, change the construction of the bodice front to eliminate the problems that I was having re finishing of the neckline and twist.

So after several sessions of virtual sewing I planned to cut the front bodice twice and stitch the neckline BEFORE the twist. I would also apply a neck band to the back bodice, let’s see how that worked out.


I stay-stitched the necklines front and back, applied clear elastic to the back shoulders and waistlines. I cut a piece of fabric on the crosswise grain, 2½ inches wide x approximately 10 inches. This was folded in half wrong sides together and pressed. As I basted the neckband to the back neckline, I stretched the band slightly. I stitched on the overlocker, pressed towards the bodice and then top-stitched 1/8 th inch to secure the seam in the same way as a standard neckband.

For the front bodice I stitched the lining and bodice right sides together, trimmed the seam and turned right sides out. Now here is where it starts to get tricky!

I placed the front bodice down, right side up with the lining flipped away. I placed one of the back bodice shoulders right side down to match the front. Then I flipped the lining back over so that the back bodice shoulder seam was encased within the two front bodice shoulders. I stitched and trimmed the seam.

Now for the twist. In the same way as the instructions, I flipped the bodice front twice. I then stitched the lower centre front seam making sure that I stitched as far as the twist would allow. I then repeated the system of encasing the back shoulder. The front neckline was top-stitched for a neat finish.

The remainder of the construction was completed with the bodice and front lining treated as a single layer of fabric. The skirt/peplum was cut 10 inches long but another time I think I will make it 12 inches.

The use of a lining for the front bodice seems to work on this fine viscose jersey but I don’t think it would be appropriate for a heavier fabric.


                                    Joni Peplum Top                                          back neck band

So yet another Joni for my wardrobe. I particularly like the fluttery skirt/peplum and am sorry now that I did not make the co-ordinating butterfly sleeves.  Maybe next time I will do colour blocking. I could use a print for the bodice and sleeves then a plain solid for the skirt. I will have a look in my stash for some fabrics!

Fabric Buying Ban

Oops! What part of a fabric buying ban did I not understand?

Having recently spent my budget on a gift for my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary, there was supposed to be a fabric buying ban in force until the Festival of Quilts in August.

Somehow I seem to have misunderstood.

I purchased some pretty cottons in Franklins, Salisbury on Monday last week and then this week I visited Fabricland for some more that I simply had to have! 

The Red with White polka dots is to be made up into a shirtdress – pattern tba.

The Blue spotted teapots print is to be my version of a Betty by Sew Over It with short/cap sleeves

The Beige floral will be my TNT bodice with a full gathered skirt (inspired by a dress seen in a shop window in Salisbury).

The Lilac floral has been made into a Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc – details already posted.

The Turquoise fern print could possibly be a Vogue 8577.

The Brown background floral will possibly be another Teddy Tunic – getting ready for the Autumn already!

Not shown in the picture is a length of Classic Blue denim that I ‘needed’ to make the Pippi Pinafore Dress by Jennifer Lauren.

All fabrics have now been laundered and are ready to ‘sew&go’ so watch this space for some new garments!

Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc – version 3

Yes, I know – I love this pattern. The tunic is so very comfortable to wear in hot weather.

I abandoned my fabric buying ban and purchased (along with some other lengths!) 2 metres of quilting cotton that was on sale at £6.95/metre in Franklins, Salisbury. I chose a beautiful Spring/Summer print in Lilac called McKenzie by Dana for the Free Spirit collection.

By the end of the afternoon the fabric had overlocked raw ends and been laundered ready to ‘Sew&Go’. After washing, the fabric had not shrunk and I still had 2 metres. This was plenty for laying and cutting out the tunic pattern which has been adapted by removing the excess at the side seams both front and back plus re-drafting the hemline facing to suit.

The collar and neckline are not my favourite parts of this pattern to construct but once that is done it is full steam ahead.

I am in love with this print and the completed tunic top – it is definitely going to be worn a lot!

Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc – 2nd Version

I liked the Teddy Designer Tunic top by Style Arc so much that I decided to make another!

For those of you that have not seen the previous iteration, the pattern is by Style Arc and the description is as follows:-

This uniquely crafted design comes in two lengths – top or tunic. The gorgeous collar sits high on the neck. The stitched facings and swing back with a high-low hemline give this style a luxe look. Make the top to give your look an instant update or make the tunic for a more effortless silhouette.” The fabric suggestions are linen, silk, crepe.”

I made the first ‘wearable toile’ in a quilting cotton that had been in my stash for at least 1 year. The quilting cotton worked so well that I re-visited the stash and came up with a bare 2 yards of a charming floral print ‘Reflections’ by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush that I had purchased from New Threads in their 2016 sale.

This photograph has come out much more pink in colour than real life!

I particularly like this print that has a distinct ‘vintage’ feel to it. Again the fabric had been laundered and was ready to ‘sew&go’. However, the pattern envelope states that fabric requirement is 2.4 yards of 58 in wide whereas I had a bare 2 yards of 42 in wide. No matter how I laid out the pattern pieces there was no way of cutting the entire tunic from this fabric alone. I quick rummage through fabrics and I found a ½ yard of a complimentary print cotton that I won in the Tombola at the Rookwood Retreat Day. Result! I used the contrast fabric to cut the sleeve cuffs (on the bias) plus the collar and neckline facings.

I cut and stitched the standard size 20. The understitching of the collar will show as I always wear the collar folded down. To make a feature of that I made a second row of stitching ¼ inch away.

As this fabric has good structure and has some ‘weight’ to it, I ignored the pattern instructions in respect of where to interface. I have only used fusible interfacing on the collar and neckline facings. The sleeve cuffs and hem facings are uninterfaced.

Unfortunately, on this make I did not manage the junction of front point of the collar, centre seam and facings quite so well.

In order to prevent ‘gaposis’ and restrict the depth of the front opening I have carefully overlapped the collar at the base point and top stitched for approximately 3 ins. I also re-visited the previous Teddy Tunic and repeated this feature.

Conclusion: This is indeed a very stylish make. When made in cotton fabric it is very comfortable to wear providing plenty of ease and comfort during the warm weather.

Since completing Teddy no. 2 I have re-drafted the side seams of the pattern (and hem facings) to reduce the fullness so that for make no 3 it will have a much slimmer silhouette. I may also re-draft the shoulder/armscye so that I can make set-in sleeves as demonstrated by another seamstress featured on the pattern review website.

Colour Blocked Fraser Tee by Sewaholic Patterns

Hot on the trail of making the Green Butterfly print Fraser top and whilst the sewing machine was threaded up with the Pale Aqua thread, I scouted around for some more jersey that would co-ordinate. I found a length of Apple Green cotton jersey that I had purchased from Girl Charlee in their sale (according to my spreadsheet – November 2017 for £9.52). There are 2 metres of fabric – more than enough for two new tops especially when combined with the Butterfly and other print fabrics. To add to the delight, the fabric had already been laundered and is therefore ready to go&sew!

Back to the Fraser pattern, this time I would use version A which utilises different prints and/or colours of fabric. A great stash buster.

It was plain sailing for the construction. I lowered the neckline by 5/8 ths of an inch – and made a point of centring up the neckband. As a result there is an ‘interesting’ part of the print exposed at the neck.

The contrast yoke and shoulders have been pressed down and top-stitched with a straight stitch (length 3.5). 

The only downside of this plain cotton jersey is that it is very fine/light. I encountered some difficulty when twin-needle stitching the hemline. It is a little ‘fluted’ but I can live with it.

Butterfly Print Fraser Tee by Sewaholic

        Back in December last year I purchased 1.5 metres @ £6.00/metre, of this charming Butterfly print from Fabrics Galore. Having been washed it has been waiting patiently in the ‘roudtuit’ pile.

I recently made a version of the Fraser Sweatshirt by Sewaholic using a Ponte Roma which turned out very well. I decided to re-visit this pattern but this time would make version B and use a cotton/spandex jersey.


As I had previously adjusted the fit, I was able to sew up the top at record speed. Most of the construction was stitched on my sewing machine (Brother 4000D) with zig-zag stitch no. 1-09 width 1.00, length 2.5. The only time that I used the overlocker was on the neckband – and that is going to be removed. I am not keen on the neckline as it is ‘out of the packet’. There are two reasons, firstly it is a little too high for my taste and secondly the centring of the butterfly design is just off and that really annoys me! I will re-cut the neckline and when I apply the neckband, this time I will ensure that the design is centred.

The length of the body was extended by 3 inches then for the hem I simply turned up 1 inch and zig-zag stitched in place. I have added the bands on the sleeves which I do like and will repeat on the next version that I make. 

Whilst the sewing machine is threaded up with the correct coloured thread and I am ‘on a roll’ I will have a scout around my stash and see what else I can make with the ½ metre remaining of this fabric……




Inspired by garments made by my pen friend in Germany, I decided to try out a tunic top with faced hemline. Back in March 2018 I purchased the pdf pattern of TEDDY DESIGNER TOP and tunic by Style Arc.

The product description states “This uniquely crafted design comes in two lengths – top or tunic. The gorgeous collar sits high on the neck. The stitched facings and swing back with a high-low hemline give this style a luxe look. Make the top to give your look an instant update or make the tunic for a more effortless silhouette.” The fabric suggestions are linen, silk, crepe. For this wearable muslin from my extensive stash of cotton prints I chose some pre-washed fabric in a Blue stripe print that I thought would be ideal.

By comparing the body and ease measurements I decided to use the size 20 and add a little extra at the bust and hips. I then steamed ahead and cut out the pattern.

                                                                   No pattern matching!

In my haste I forgot to take note of pattern matching and centring of the stripes – I just wanted to get on with construction of this new-to-me styled tunic top.

According to the fabric requirements I would need 2.2metres of 148 cm wide fabric. I had just 2 metres of 105 cm wide fabric but by cutting the collar in half and placing the collar on the bias with the collar facing on-grain I succeeded in cutting all the pieces required.

To begin with whenever I started sewing, I was interrupted, so the early part of construction was completed in blocks of 20-30 minutes at a time. In fact this worked out well as I was able to prepare the collar, facings, sleeve cuffs and hem facings in advance of the construction of the main body of the tunic.

I did find the different seam allowances a little confusing. Mostly it was 3/8ths of an inch but on the collar and neckline this was reduced to ¼ inch. I was pleased that I had read somewhere NOT to sew up the centre front seam of the neckline facing before completing the rest of the collar/neckline facing stitching. Leaving that step until later certainly made life easier. Also I completed the collar and facing construction BEFORE stitching the side seams which meant I could more easily get to this important section for pressing. Slow and steady working my way through the sparse instructions I was then able to whip through to the final construction.

At fitting stage I realised that the additional width was not required and it was removed thus the tunic has been made to a standard size 20.

A lapse of attention meant that I stitched the hemline facings upside down so that the shaping at the side seams did not match. I was able to ease the additional fullness in so that was not too much of a disaster.

I am pleased with the final result and will definitely be making the tunic again. This style is very comfortable to wear and looks great with leggings or skinny jeans.

From the photograph on the website there does not appear to be as much fullness in the back.

Next time I will be reducing the fullness by approximately 5-6 inches of excess. I am sure that can be removed without spoiling the design feature of the ‘swing’ back.

Yet another Deer & Doe Plantain Tunic!

Yes, here is yet another Plantain tunic top!

For the first time I have used a heavyweight Scuba fabric to make up this garment. I purchased Large Scale Print Scuba Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric Cream & Gold (polyester and elastane) at just £4.99 per metre from Minerva Crafts. I bought 3 metres in April 2018 and now there are just a few scraps left.

The Plantain tunic did not use all the fabric, I also cut out a Paolina top for a friend to practice using an overlocker for garment construction. Lizzie took just about two hours to complete the construction and I think is now all set to buy her very own Overlocker. That will be when she has finished buying and playing with Singer Featherweight machines!

Singer Featherweight 221K

Let’s not go down that particular rabbit hole today ….back to my Plantain.

At first I thought the completed tunic would coordinate with my White trousers but in hindsight it does look a little ‘off’. However, it will go well with an alternative pair of Capri pants in a rich Watermelon colour.

As I have now made up this pattern several times it can safely be referred to as a TNT. My usual alterations applied :– raised the centre front neckline by 2 inches and reduced the sleeve length by 4 inches. I added approximately 4 inches to the length of the body whilst taking into account the placement of the design. I have managed to centre up the main features of the design on the neckband, front, back and sleeves of which I am very proud. The hems of the sleeve and the bodice are stitched with a twin-needle.

This particular Scuba has a very silky finish and is easy to wear, although possibly a little too warm for our current ‘heatwave’.



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.