Category Archives: Blouse

FO: New Look 6394

I went through a period where I mostly only sewed, but now I have hit on a nice equilibrium. It was a really interesting process, to slowly migrate to sewing a lot of my own clothes. I made lots and lots to begin with. Some worked out great, some not at all. Through each iteration, I developed a better sense not only of what I liked to wear, but also to sew. Within that, it has been fun to see what I like to wear vary over time, depending on what I have been doing. Whilst I was working in the university, I enjoyed making clothes to wear to work. I made a lot of day dresses and discovered that a knit dress is one of the most satisfying quick sews you can have. Since leaving that job and returning to full-time studies, not to mention full-time lockdown, I find myself more in need of some more basics.

I like open-front cardigans. They go well with dresses and with shirts and blouses. I have a few shirts in my wardrobe that I love, but I didn’t have any blouses. To me, the main differences between a shirt and a blouse is the collar (a blouse doesn’t have a collar stand), the button placket (a shirt seems to usually have a separate one attached), and the finish at the sleeves. I have patterns for blouses that just finish the sleeves with a simple hem, and others with a cuff but no tower placket. It is interesting to see how many details from mens’ shirts have crossed into women’s wear, and kind of funny to reflect on how arbitrary these gender-specific details are! Anyway, after quite some searching, I found New Look 6394. The cover photo is none too enticing but the details are all there! I liked how it has a tunic length option, as well as the option for a collar stand or a blouse collar.

I got the fabric in 2017 when I went to visit my friend in Paris. I stayed with her a few days and visited the fabric district. I had never been to a proper fabric district before so it was a lot of fun! I really love a bright plaid and couldn’t leave this behind. It was about €5 a metre. I cut the back yoke on the bias:

…and did my best with the pattern matching. I was very conscientious about it for the body but unfortunately neglected to check if the sleeves were symmetrically mirrored. It worked out reasonably well but I wish I had thought of it beforehand.

The buttons I had in my stash. I had only 4 that matched so I left off the 5th bottom one, because I find that usually gets caught in my trousers when I tuck it in anyway! The only other adjustment I made was to hem the sleeves much shorter. It is curious how a too-long sleeve can affect the finished appearance! I found in my search for this pattern that sizes for this type of blouse tend to be inexplicably huge. I cut the smallest size, which gave a finished measurement of a 38″ bust. There have been a few releases from independent designers this summer for a similar style. The Liesl & Co Camp Shirt has a really lovely feel to it, but the smallest size has a finished measurement of about 40″. Helen’s Closet recently released the Gilbert Shirt which has a more balanced size range, and a really nice option for a tie at the front. I had already bought (and made!) this pattern by the time it was released, so if you don’t have access to New Look patterns, they’re two nice alternatives for you with contrasting options.

I love the boyish look that this blouse has and I am pretty sure that I will be wearing this into the winter with a long-sleeved top underneath it.

I have been thinking a lot about what to keep in my wardrobe and the sewing of basics. I lost a lot of weight over the last few years and although that thankfully has stabilised, I find that my shape has changed. This is neither good nor bad, just different, and the more I think about it, the more obviously normal it is. I have gradually purged what I have. In the last year especially, I donated quite a lot of very old handmades. In the process of doing that, I chose the items that I loved but were now unwearably big and over time, adjusted them and have since readmitted them. Although a chore, this is very satisfying to do! I had a lovely button-down denim skirt made from a fantastic Japanese selvedge denim, for example, that I could take off without opening the buttons. Now it is back on a hanger! So although I am making less clothes, I am investing more time into saving makes that I know that I will continue to wear. I have no problem donating handmades as it makes me very happy to think that someone else might enjoy wearing it as much as I did.

As for basics, I have been thinking a lot about fast fashion and the ethics of the manufacturing process. The lockdown exposed some of the horrors that continue in countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia. I have learned, through Garthenor Organics, how important certification such as GOTS and OEKO-Tex are. It is not just about environmental sustainability but also making a conscious decision to be mindful of fellow humans living and working in other places. For example, the GOTS certification also ensures that the people making that product are paid at least the minimum wage. I haven’t bought anything fast fashion-y for a few years now and when it comes to basics, like bras, knickers and t-shirts that I would normally buy in M&S or Penney’s, I am slowly teaching myself how to make these things and use up my fabric scraps. The t-shirts and knickers are easy enough. I have found a pattern for both that really work for me. As for bras, this is more complicated and I am in the process of trying out a Jalie pattern. More on that another day! Thanks for reading.

Autumnal June outfit

I completed this early last month but didn’t have a chance to take photos until today.

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Sorry it’s a bit dark! The dress is a very dark navy wool crepe. It’s the Dakota dress from the Finnish company, Named Patterns. I’ll confess, I was blown away by their first pattern collection last winter. I really hesitated in committing to making up any design, though, because they are so fashion-forward and I didn’t know if it would suit me. Thank God for the internet! Seeing many reviews convinced me it was worth a go.

So, the dress! It has many panels and a shirt-like hem on the skirt, making it really swingy and comfortable. It also has a shawl collar.

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Since it’s meant to have something worn underneath, I didn’t bother over fitting the sleeves.

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I made an error when joining the bodice pieces. Unfortunately this was after I overlocked the whole thing so the bodice ended up a touch snugger than intended. It’s still possible to get into without any kind of closure, which is great, and I can only imagine how comfortable this would be in a heavy knit.

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And the blouse? Also from Named! It’s the Fran blouse – an unusual item with kimono/batwing sleeves and a long bow.

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I got the fabric in Japan and figured I’d get much more use out if it as a blouse! I’m excited to have used it already. The only difficult part about the blouse was tracing the pattern from the print out. With the sleeve combined, it’s sort of an awkward shape. This is mostly on me, though, because I don’t have big paper right now. Anyway! I love this blouse.

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You can see how much room there is under the arm. I thought that might be annoying but it’s not. I think this style works because it is well fitted everywhere else. It was a really quick make, mostly because you have the option to just turn under the fronts to make the button bands. They do provide extra pattern pieces in case you don’t want to do that. My only error was not giving a little extra room at the hips. You can see is a bit pulled at the back.

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However, this is only an issue when I’m wearing it out over something fairly bulky – over tights or leggings, it’s fine and I probably well never wear it like that anyway. I prefer it to be pretty fitted through the waist for tucking in.

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Look how long the ties are!

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I had to look up a video to see how to tie them properly!

Since this was my first time using this company’s patterns, here are a few thoughts. Firstly, I personally like how paper economic their PDF patterns are. They overlap the pieces and you trace it off. Some people don’t like that. I’m not a huge fan of how you only get 2 sizes nested per file because if you’re between two sizes that are in two different files, I don’t even know how you would get around that. Thankfully I don’t have that problem right now.

I think they’re fairly pricey but they’re impeccably drafted and the instructions are excellent. Add on top of that the unique design and aesthetic and basically, you get what you pay for. Between these two designs that I’ve made up, the only thing I take umbrage with is their sleeve opening finish. It’s rubbish. They have you make the slit and sew down an unfinished edge. I cut plackets and finished them properly. On the Fran blouse, they have you use the unfinished seam as the opening. Because I french seamed the lot, that wasn’t practical so I finished that seam as normal. Then, I cut a separate slit and moved the pleat. I finished the slit with the placket and sewed the little cuff on then. A little more time consuming but it will survive the wash better!

If you’d like to give these a go, they’re currently on sale for Midsummer!

January outfit #2

Nobody probably noticed but I was foiled in my attempts to post an outfit for October. There were two reasons. Firstly, all my photos were out of focus thanks to user error and secondly, in said photos, I noticed a fitting problem that I couldn’t rectify. So I have put the blouse of said post to one side and here’s the skirt that I made in another combination.

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The skirt is Sewaholic’s Hollyburn, a flared number that comes in three lengths – this is the middle length. I used a chocolate brown wool crepe from Truro fabrics. It was my first time using a wool crepe but it won’t be my last! It’s one of the easiest fabrics I’ve ever seen and pressed like a dream. Swoon! The pattern is very straight forward, with a high waist and pockets. I’ll definitely be making this in a shorter length for summer!

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The shirt is the Grainline Archer modified into a henley. I kind of tore my hair out over this one (needlessly) but I learned lots from doing it and it turned out well. I used a lovely light, pale blue chambray that I got before Christmas.

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I don’t think this is necessarily the best blouse to wear with this skirt but I do like pale blue and brown together.

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I also finished my Larch cardigan! Short row shawl collars are sloooow to knit. Everything looked a bit uneven so I blocked it with great results.

For this, I used eight balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply so as cardigans go, definitely not the most expensive.

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It has a really, really nice drape which I think will go even better over skinny jeans or belted with a pencil skirt.

The instructions say to work the shawl collar and then sew the side edge to the cardigan. I didn’t think that would be easy to accomplish neatly so I attached it as I went, picking up a stitch each time and working two together. It worked fine but because I was working back and forth, the two sides ended up a bit different.

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In the end, I sewed in a little ridge in the inside to make them both look the same. Upon close examination I guess it’s not undetectable but I doubt many will care to examine.

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I’ve been wearing this a lot recently! It’s been so stormy and miserable here, I just love pulling this on.

Monkey top, totally see through and a question

‘Monkey top’ is our household name for a raglan two-tone t-shirt. A long time ago, Alb had a top that had dark brown sleeves and a light brown body. I joked that it made him look like a monkey, since that seems to be the standard cartoon colouration of a monkey – brown arms and light brown body. All joking aside, he has pretty good shoulders (read: pointier than a knife) so it’s a style he prefers. I like it too, but it is really hard for it to look good on a woman. My shoulders are nothing more than where my arm meets my body and a raglan sleeve does nothing to enhance that. I really wanted a two-tone top to match my green Moss skirt and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the style needed to be raglan. What to do?

For a start, once I went searching I realised the dearth of good raglan patterns out there for women. I found this Burda pattern for raglan tops with a nice array of options but eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s more respectable-woman-with-shoulders than clinging-to-my-teens which, to be blunt with myself, is more the look I’m after.

It made sense, then, that I found the perfect pattern in what is essentially a tweens pattern. Browsing the Girl Charlee site (very popular for knit fabrics but based in the US so I don’t bother ordering what with customs etc etc), I found that they have a large pattern selection, most of which are downloadable. I dithered for weeks over the Curved Patrick Raglan but eventually bought it.

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What I did was cut the largest girls size for the top part and largest boys size for the chest and length. After some thought, I added an extra 1/4″ to each seam for the body, increasing the finished width from 34″ to 35″. I adapted the sleeves, which comes in two pieces – short sleeve with additional ‘undersleeve’ extra, and just joined the undersleeve to the short sleeve. To this, I added an extra 1.5″ because I have long arms. I cut the largest girls size for the whole sleeve but if (probably when) I make it again, I’ll use the largest boys size for the width.

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I was skeptical about the neckband but it turned out great. On the whole, it’s a good pattern. It’s a little pricey but considering that if you have kids, you do get a lot of sizes. I’m assuming most people buying it are not hijacking the largest kid’s size for themselves.

I should have said, the fabric is from Land of Oh Etsy shop. They’re based in Korea. Reasonable prices, fast shipping, highly recommended. I used their cotton interlock which is soft but not too stretchy.

So, the see through. I’ve been working on a silk chiffon top. I used Deer & Doe’s Blouse Airelle as my base, turning the V-neck into a round one and adding a big long neck scarf to tie into a bow. Sounds good, right?

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It is completely transparent. I mean, it’s lovely and the scarf-bow thing is really snug, but I might as well be wearing an invisible blouse. Usually I just wear a tank top or vest under these kind of things but I feel very undressed in this. It never occurred to me to underline it as I did not think it was quite so sheer. I’ve been thinking about it all morning and my conclusion is that I should underline it. Thankfully, I sewed on that whole scarf bit by hand, so it will be easy to unpick and resew without damaging the fabric. In such a situation, I’m tempted to think, God, I should have just bought the one I saw in Dunnes… but I know that in the end, this will be nicer and last much, much longer. I found the crinkle silk chiffon in Hickey’s Henry St and they still have some if you, too, want to embark on a three month long, french seamed, invisible elephant.

Lastly, I need your opinion, people. I want to make a winter coat. A basic, every-day coat. I’ve never made a coat before so I just want to keep it simple. My musts are: navy, plaid lining, outside and inside pockets, knee length. No need for a hood. I acquired the most amazing navy wool melton (a really tightly-woven wool, more like a felt, traditionally used for sailor’s jackets!) and a matching navy/white plaid cotton to line it with. My first thoughts were to make a duffle coat but now I’m considering the Veste Pavot from Deer & Doe. I think a duffle would be great if I tended towards regular rambles through undergrowth or seaside adventures, not to mention satisfying my inner Enid Blyton. However considering that the main things I do are cycle to various works, cycle to town, walk about in town, walk about in supermarket, maybe something smarter would be a better use of my fabulous melton. Thoughts?

Time passes quickly being back at school! All goes well. I have tidied up a few things so I have the same number of hours but less travelling, and an extra day in my main school. I have been working on a few things but I’m forgetful about taking photos! I have almost completed my October outfit so here are a few hints until I get it finished up.


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silk and cotton lawn that I couldn’t resist getting stuck into.


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A brown wool crepe skirt that has the texture of a loaf of bread (in a good way?).

I’ll talk about the patterns when I show the outfit. The fabrics are part of a package I ordered from Truro Fabrics in England. I picked them because they have a great selection, pretty good prices, reasonable delivery if I use my Parcel Motel, and they had everything I was looking for. I ordered a number of things, including a black poplin which I have made up into a shirt for Alb. I hit a few roadblocks – I was hoping to finish it before September was out – so maybe you’ll see it next weekend.

Speaking of fabric, I ‘inherited’ this rather fabulous suiting. There is a whole story to this so when I get started on it, I will share then. The red stripe isn’t nearly so conspicuous in person.


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I tend to gather a lot of vague ideas (see my Pinterest here), returning to them when I see something that triggers my memory. This is where these come in.


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The birds print is a cotton lawn from Murphy Sheehy’s that I saw quite a few months ago, noticed but ultimately passed over. Later in the summer, I was in Tommy Hilfiger on Grafton St (not because I ever shop there – I think I was waiting for something) and spotted this bird print shirt. I really rather liked it but there were maybe too many birds on it and it was €100+. Fast forward to last Friday when I was browsing in Murphy Sheehy’s and at €12.50/m, enough for a shirt came home with me.

As for the plaid, what can I say? I did not realise how picky I was about plaid, or even pickier about plaid flannel. Prompted by all sides, I started to consider various things like a flannel dress, or a tunic with shirt tails, or just a cotton plaid shirtdress. But the problem with flannel is that it can be very flannelly and I don’t want something that I will be constantly peeling off my tights or leggings. Add to this mix the popularity of really bright plaid at the moment – which is great, don’t get me wrong, just not for this imaginary dress. So, quite by chance I happened upon this soft cotton plaid in The Cloth Shop. It’s soft enough to be not a straight-forward cotton but not so fluffy to be an outright flannel. Win!

(I find it amusing that everyone I’ve ever met who says that they’re not a picky person inevitably finds a way to show me something they’re irrationally picky about. I am very unpicky about most things but it appears that I have found my one thing!)