Category Archives: Blouses

Claret Speckle print ‘Paolina’ Tee top

I really need to change the threads on my Juki overlocker. Just before I do, I found this remnant length of Claret speckle print that I bought for just £4.92 from The Textile Centre and wondered if there was sufficient for a short sleeve tee top. The fabric is a viscose/elastane jersey, very lightweight and ‘slinky’.

Claret Speckle Viscose/Elastane Jersey

I located my Paolina (Paola hack) tee top pattern and with some very careful layout of the pieces was able to cut a short sleeve version from this length of fabric.

After an hour or so of stitching I have a new top. There is my standard neckband, twin needle stitching at the hems and a shaped hemline. A great result – a unique and very comfortable garment.

Claret Speckle print Paolina Top

Lace trimmed Tap Pants & Vest/Cami Top – Simplicity 8486

In Summertime I prefer to wear a divided petticoat under my cotton or jersey dresses. I make my own using Simplicity 8486 (a pattern first published in 1988) which is really for nightwear but serves the purpose beautifully. Infact, I have previously used the pattern for the short slip (view B) to make a sundress that worked out really well.


Simplicity 8486

Pattern description: This pattern is for a woman’s slip or nightgown, camisole, tap pants and robe. Details include …
* view A & B ~ fit and flare slip or nightgown has princess seams, thin shoulder straps, elasticized back, length variations and optional lace trim
* view C ~ camisole has princess seams, thin shoulder straps, elasticized back and optional purchased lace motif
* view C ~ pull on tap pants has elastic waistline casing
* view C ~ robe in long or short length has front band, side seam pockets, carriers, self tie belt and optional lace trim.

The Tap pants take 1.10m of 114 cms wide fabric. For this incarnation I used a soft Pale Pink Crepe de Chine purchased from Minerva Crafts. All seams are worked as French Seams and there is a narrow casing for the ¼ inch wide elastic for the waist. The hems are trimmed with a pretty ribbon and lace trim bought on Saturday in the Salisbury branch of Fabricland.

As I had just a bare 1 metre left of this fabric I decided to make a co-ordinating camisole/vest top using the Gretta pattern by Seamwork.

Gretta Tank Top by Seamwork

I had already drafted a copy of the pattern (when making my 2 sundresses) with the fit adjustments required for my measurements. I laid out the pattern pieces for the front and back and noticed that there was insufficient fabric to cut the facings. That’s OK, using my overlocker, I would make a rolled hem around the neckline and armholes. I cut the body pieces as long as possible to use all the remaining yardage and would extend the length of the vest/cami top by adding some more of the ribbon and lace trim.

The bust darts were stitched and then the shoulder and side seams were completed as French seams. I completed the rolled hemming around the neckline and armholes before adding the trim at the hem. The trim is stitched twice with a narrow zig-zag before the ‘backing’ (approximately 1 cm) is trimmed away.


So now I have a matching set. The tap pants can be worn as a divided petticoat and if worn with the vest/cami top they convert to a pretty set of Summer PJ’s.

I also have more of this soft Crepe de Chine in Black to make another set which will stand in good stead for the remainder of the English Summer!


KITTY tunic shirt

As promised in my previous post -here is the Kitty tunic shirt that I made using the fabric given for my birthday. The pattern is a ‘hack’ from my Kitty shirt dress which was itself a ‘hack’ from the Kwik Sew K3736 Bolero jacket. I am certainly getting my money’s worth from that pattern and that’s even before I have a go at making up the dress included in the pattern envelope.


To make the adaptations was a simple matter of extending the bodice front and back, adding a shaped hem and also lengthening the sleeves.

Construction was very straightforward. To emphasise the shaping of the collar in this busy print, I added some Cream satin piping. For the front fastening I did find some fantastic buttons in my stash but as there were so many I decided not to use them on the blouse. Instead I plan to buy more of this particular printed cotton to make a button thru’ dress.

n.b. actual colourway is more sage than this picture shows.

Finally, I used some more of the White plastic poppers (similar to those for the dog-print shirt posted in May). Because of the length of the shirt and the spacing of just 2 inches apart, there are 9 poppers which in hindsight is probably overkill, but hey ho they are installed now so no going back!

Kitty Tunic Shirt

So there we have it – the first of my August makes completed. Now onto the next project…. what will it be?

‘Sleevegate’ McCalls 2797 Dog print Shirt

N.B. All of the following post was written BEFORE I watched the great vlog from Silhouette Patterns entitled ‘Armholes & Sleeves’. Never again will I have to suffer the trials and tribulations presented by this project. Happy stitching!

At the end of the previous post about this shirt I was considering conversion to a sleeveless option. In anticipation of going that route, I therefore carefully removed the offending sleeves (noting that the seam allowance would now be ¼ inch only) and prepared a long length of self-bias ready to bind the armholes. I tried on the shirt and it would be ‘OK’ sleeveless but not what I really wanted. If I went down the sleeveless route there was a strong chance of flashing my underwear as the armholes were large and deep. I recalled that I had some remnant fabric from making a bag a couple of years ago – would I be able to locate the extra fabric and could I make some new sleeves? I went on a ‘treasure hunt’ through my boxes of fabric and was most fortunate to find a large piece (about 1 yard of full width) of the printed cotton. Right – let’s get this show on the road!

The gaping armhole!

With the shirt modelled on the dress form I measured the gaping armhole. It was approximately 9 inches across at the cap, 9 inches deep. The front armscye was 12 inches and the back armscye 14 inches.

I retrieved the original sleeve pattern from the envelope and traced onto pattern paper. Now, I needed to expand the sleeve cap to at least 9 inches width and lengthen the front and back armscye lengths – plus seam allowance. To do this, I slashed the pattern in several places from the head down almost to the hem and then cut up from the hem leaving a ‘hinge’ to pivot as I spread the pattern. The ‘hinge’ area was reinforced with magic tape.

Pattern slashed and spread to new dimensions

Each slash was spread by ½ inch and then taped to spare paper on the reverse. This expanded sleeve head would be gathered to fit the armscye and should provide sufficient room for easy movement of my arm.

I cut two sleeves using some soft calico from Lady Sew & Sew of Marlow (my ‘go to’ supplier for great calico) and hand basted them into position. Oh so much better. I needed to reduce the ‘expansion’ by 1 inch on the front armhole and the length of the sleeve but overall it looked ‘good to go’. I unpicked the toile sleeves, pressed and used them to make a new pattern.

New sleeve toile pattern

Taking care to ensure that I cut each sleeve with the pattern running in the correct direction (I did not want dogs standing on their heads!). As the hemline of the sleeves was now a gentle curve, I decided to repeat the contrast striped bias piping along the hems.

Contrast striped fabric piping

Sleeve hem with bias facing

Completed sleeve inserted

Having completed the preparation of the new sleeves, I inserted with hand basting to double-check the fit. Not perfect but a vast improvement on the first versions so I proceeded with machine stitching. Due to the narrow seam allowance I had to take great care when neatening the raw edges with the overlocker.

Finally finished!

All done so now I can enjoy my new shirt and get on with the next project. Something a little less taxing in the fitting department!

McCalls 2797 – Dog print Shirt

This version of McCalls 2797 is now Out of Print but I managed to find a replacement to my very well-worn and tatty original pattern on I wanted to revisit this style but could not find any of my original adaptations and fitting adjustments. I would need to start again from the beginning.

First, measure myself and compare with the pattern’s stated measurements. That done, I chose to make this ‘wearable muslin’ from a length of Bright Blue background dog print cotton fabric purchased at New Threads Quilt shop, Weyhill Fairground, sometime last year, or it may even have been 2015! So this project is definitely part of my stash-busting resolution. The fabric had been laundered and pressed ready to get making a new shirt.

I would be making View A and cut an 18 at the shoulders before grading out for bust, waist and hips. I made no changes to the length of the bodice or the sleeves.

The construction of the shirt was very straightforward. Panel and shoulder seams were stitched and overlocked. The neckline was stay-stitched and a label inset placed at the back neck.

back neckline showing the top-stitched label insert

I wanted to add some definition to the collar and for this I used a strip of striped bias fabric made into narrow piping. The fabric for the piping came from an old pyjama jacket of my husband’s – definitely re-cycling! In order to make piping the outer edge of the collar easier, I rounded the sharp point using the base of my pencil sharpener as a guide for the curve. The collar was completed and attached to the neckline. Next I attached the facings. The pattern calls for the facing to be cut from the same pattern piece as the central panel of the shirt but I thought this would be too substantial for a Summer garment and therefore drafted my own facing piece. I drew a line from 3” along the shoulder seam curving gently over the bust area and then 3” wide down the front edge. Both the collar and the facing were interfaced with medium weight fusible interfacing.

Piped collar

For the side seams I took the standard 5/8th inch seam allowance but when I tried on the shirt found that it was too tight around the waist and hips. I unpicked the stitching and re-sewed taking a bare ¼ inch seam allowance thus providing an additional 1 inch of ease. The sleeves were prepared with a 1 inch machine sewn hem prior to insertion. Insertion of the sleeves was straightforward and I finished off the construction by overlocking and machine stitching a narrow hem for the bodice of the shirt. As a new feature for me, instead of traditional buttons and buttonholes, I used 5 White plastic poppers to fasten the shirt.

Now for the finale – oh dear – I should have had a fitting with the sleeves tacked in place. They were much too tight and it was like wearing a straight jacket! The shirt rode up at the back neck and the whole thing was uncomfortable to wear. Also, I noticed that my bust was pulling the front hemline up but fortunately as it is shaped this problem is not so obvious as the sleeves issue.

The finished shirt

I am pondering what to do to resolve the issue. Probably the best thing is to remove the sleeves, make some self-fabric binding (or some more of the contrast stripe?) to convert the shirt to a sleeveless over-blouse. Watch this space…… in the meantime, I have re-drafted the sleeve and the front centre and side panel patterns to account for the raised hemline. Before I use one of my ‘special favourite’ fabrics to make this style again, I think it will be best to try another ‘wearable’ muslin.

Kwik Sew K3915 – Autumnal print Jersey Top

KWIK SEW K3915 – view A

I picked up this pattern because I was attracted to the unusual collar which is gathered into a V-neckline. Whilst at Franklins I was also drawn to an Autumnal printed jersey fabric on sale at £9.95/m less my special 10% discount. I bought 1.5m and by the end of the afternoon the fabric had been laundered and cut out ready for stitching!

A previous Kwik Sew pattern that I made up came out too wide at the shoulders for me, so this time I used my High Bust measurement and copied off the size L (40-41½” bust) and graded out for my full bust and rubenesque hips. I also measured the sleeve pattern and reduced by 3” (I have very short arms!), the bodice was left at the same length. I made sure to mark up the pattern pieces that there is only ¼ inch seam allowances for this pattern.

I sat down with every confidence that this pullover top would take about an hour to stitch together. Wrong! Having changed to jersey needles in the overlocker and threaded up with 4 threads, I was unable to achieve a satisfactory stitch. After about 3 attempts I finally managed to resolve the tension issues and was able to produce a great stitch. After that little hiatus, things went very well.

The gathering for the front of the collar was fiddly, especially as this particular jersey fabric was fine and very stretchy. I managed it by basting on the sewing machine. I had already decided to ignore the faux button loops as I thought the print on the fabric was busy enough without adding extra ‘enhancements’.

close up of the gathered collar

At first fitting everything was fine except that the top was over long. I made a 1½ inch hem on the bodice and the same on the sleeves before top stitching with the twin needle.


Although I originally envisaged this top as a garment for the early Autumn, with the current chilly, wet weather, I shall be wearing it over the next few days until Spring/Summer weather returns. Also, now that I have ‘trialled’ the pattern, later in the year I will be making more in a heavier weight jersey for the ‘real’ Autumn and Winter seasons.

Chickens on Tan Stripes Blouse – but still no love!

Well I must say that I am pleased to get that blouse finished!

Currently I am struggling with sewing woven fabrics and having recently ‘acquired’ some extra weight, find that I need to make a few new blouses and tops, especially as the days are getting warmer.

I was browsing through my cotton fabrics when I came across this 2 metre length of the Chicken and stripes print that was purchased from Fabricland in Salisbury some time ago, (does this count as using up some of my stash?).

The previous ‘Chicken’ blouse had a classic revere collar which I found was ‘fiddly’ to stitch, so this time I opted for a shawl collar which should be less time-consuming.

I retrieved the McCalls 6438 (out of print) dress pattern envelope that contained a revised tissue for blouse-making.

However, I discovered – too late – that it is not long enough in the front. It definitely needs another 4 inches to account for the extra fabric taken up by my bust.

Apart from that, the construction was fairly straightforward. I ignored the shaping of the collar and included some Dark Red satin piping from my stash. This was applied around the collar and also on the sleeve hems. The front and back facings have been top-stitched which will prevent them from ‘popping’ out. The hem is shaped and top-stitched.

I used five 5/8th Rusty Red buttons from my stash which were applied using my new button application machine foot.

New machine foot

The blouse is very loose so should be comfortable to wear when it is warm but it will never be a favourite. It will probably lurk at the  back of my wardrobe for a long time!

Back view – for the back of the wardrobe!


Remodel a Basic Tee Shirt

Inspired by all the re-modelling and alterations that my e-mail friend, Antje, in Germany undertakes, I decided to do a little myself. Those of you that know me will also be aware that “I do not do alterations” so this is way out of my comfort zone.

I had rescued a heavy cotton lace neckline insert from an old top and having mended a couple of gaps, thought it would look good at the neckline of a basic Navy & White tee recently purchased from Bon Marche for £8.00.

First I pinned the insert to the tee and tried it on. It needed to be placed lower down so that I would avoid stitching over the faux placket detail of the shirt. I then set my machine with white thread in the needle and bobbin together with a narrow zig-zag stitch. The insert was stitched in place and the background of the tee removed.

The insert is still a little higher than I would like but overall I am pleased with the result. Meantime, I have ordered a selection of heavy embroidered lace inserts from eBay and plan to incorporate them into new tops for the Spring and Summer.

Dartmouth top no 4 – Snakeskin Print

Here is another length of jersey fabric from Rosenberg & Son at the Sewing for Pleasure Show in March. I purchased 1½ metres of this Snakeskin print for a total of £6.00. I have no idea of the fibre composition but is probably a polyester/viscose/elastane blend. It is stretchy and very soft to the touch. The print is more appropriate for Autumn/Winter but I felt in the need of a ‘quick fix’ and the Dartmouth really does fit the bill.

Again as I had sufficient fabric, I opted for the full length sleeves. I had previously reduced the width of the long sleeves and the bodice pattern is now permanently 2 inches shorter than the original. As the fabric was so stretchy I opted to take 5/8th seam allowance and this has produced a slightly closer fit – but all good.

Having enjoyed this ‘quick fix’ I am now psyching myself up to get on with sewing some cotton blouses. Wish me luck!


Crepe de Chine Modesty Camisole Top – The final version

Another day in the sewing room and I now have the final finished version of a Modesty panel Camisole top in White Crepe de Chine complete with lace trimmed panel.

Having made the required alterations to the toile and transferred the changes to the pattern I then copied out  a new pattern. I found some White polyester Crepe de Chine in my stash which was just right for this project. I also had some short lengths of pretty White scalloped-edge lace for trimming the modesty panel.

The bust darts were stitched on the sewing machine. I used the 3-thread overlocker for the first pass on French seams for the shoulder and side seams which were then stitched again on the sewing machine. I overlocked the raw edge of the scoop neckline before turning to the inside and stitching in place. The armholes were bound with narrow self-bias binding. The hem has a  rolled hem sewn with the overlocker. The front panel was cut on the fold so that it is self-lined and the lace was applied with a narrow zig-zag stitch. Lots of different techniques and finishes on this ‘simple’ top.

Once the main camisole had been completed I had a fitting and pinned the modesty panel in place. I needed to raise it about ½ inch but apart from that everything was fine.

I am very pleased with my make and it looks lovely just peeping out at the base of the V-neckline of the wrap tops. However, it has taken two sessions of sewing, although the materials all came from my stash and are therefore ‘free’ it does not really compare economically when you can buy a ready-made top for £7.99 from eBay!