Froufrou

Peasant blouses are all I want to wear in (not too hot) summer, usually paired with a gathered skirt and either clogs or ballet flats. My favourite peasant blouse was a 1970s vintage one I had bought when I was a teenager, which I’ve been trying to find a replacement for since it got ruined in the wash (pro tip: don’t put a white blouse and a goose poop green cardigan in the same laundry cycle – I WAS TIRED OKAY?!).

On the hunt for peasant blouse patterns, I discovered Butterick 4685 through Constance’s lovely versions. I immediately fell in love with the ruffle version, which is the one I chose to sew.

I made this blouse a year ago, so I don’t really remember any details, only that it was quite easy to make and that I used bias tape inside the curved hem instead of turning the hem over as advised in the pattern. About that curved hem, I don’t think I’d include it were I to sew this pattern again. I only wear this kind of loose-fitting peasant blouse tucked into a skirt anyway (to the point that I didn’t even think to take some untucked pictures, sorry!), so straightening the hem would make more sense.

One of the reasons why I wouldn’t wear this blouse untucked (other than the fact that I actually prefer tucking my blouses into skirts) is the way it looks from the side: you’ll have to take my word for it since I forgot to take a picture , but it makes me look like I’m pregnant (that’s a classic and I don’t really mind) front AND back (less of a classic and I do mind!). That wouldn’t stop me from sewing this pattern again, though, since it looks perfectly cute once tucked in!

The fabric I used came from the Stoffenspektakel, as did the fabric of the skirt I’m wearing in the pictures! It’s a gathered skirt I sewed almost two years ago, but haven’t blogged because it is so simple there was no point in a whole blog post of its own. At least now I’ll have a record of it on the blog!

I added patch pockets with a folded top edge (you can click on the picture above to see them better) to my usual gathered skirt base. If the fabric of this skirt looks familiar, it’s because it’s the exact same print as these two jersey pieces, only in a cotton poplin this time!

Man have I worn this skirt these past two years! I’ve been wearing it with or without tights, summer and winter, and the fabric has held up beautifully. But wait, does this mean I haven’t sewn a gathered skirt in almost two years?! Must. Remedy. ASAP!

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Colourful Airelle

airelle1I bought this small piece of Liberty tana lawn (Garden Wonderland) a few months ago with the intention of making a blouse out of it. Then I changed my mind and decided to make a gathered skirt with a back elasticated waistband instead. I made a mess out of said gathered skirt (don’t ask!), and all I was left with were the front and back panels of the skirt, which luckily were juuuust enough for a blouse, so back to square one.

airelle4I decided to try the Deer&Doe Airelle blouse (if you clicked through those links: doesn’t one of the models look familiar? 😀 ) with the sleeve caps of the Réglisse dress, because that was all I could squeeze out of my skirt panels. I had to shorten the Réglisse sleeve caps for them to correspond to the armholes of the blouse, but style wise I think they suit the blouse very well.

airelle3I made a straight size 36, which fits pretty well I’d say. Had I cut the normal Airelle sleeves, I would have graded the shoulders up to a 38, but the sleeve caps allowed me to forgo that step.

airelle6It was a straightforward sew that didn’t take me more than two days from tracing the pattern to finishing the blouse, and God knows I’m a slow sewer! I finished the seams with my serger, which I’ve come to value more and more: it’s fast and easy, yet looks so professional.

airelle7My favourite part of the blouse has to be the collar: I can’t even begin to understand why so many people have sewn collarless Airelles, but different strokes for different folks… I appreciate the darts, too, which give such a flattering fit through the bodice.

airelle2It’s a nice little blouse that can be worn in a lot of different outfits. I have been wearing it both tucked in high-waisted skirts and untucked over jeans and, although I’m more used to my high-waisted skirts and think those kind of outfits are more my style, I couldn’t really tell which way I prefer it. By the way, those are Ginger jeans you see in some of the pictures, but more about them in a future blog post!

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Brigiiiiitte!

VichyMint1When I came upon this mint gingham at the Stoffenspektakel with my partner in crime, I immediately thought of making it into a matching blouse and skirt.

I knew the skirt would be a simple gathered one with giant patch pockets, because you do not change a winning team, but I dithered on the question of the blouse. At first I wanted to make a Mélilot, then thinking I could wear it tied at the waist made me think about Camille’s versions of  this Burda model I had in my stash, and then I remembered Gertie’s pattern, Butterick B5895,  which I also had in my stash (is there a pattern I do not have in my stash, that is the question!), and the deal was done!

VichyMint3I went in search of reviews of the pattern, and a lot of them warned about the surprising amount of ease. I took a look at the finished measurements and chose to cut a size 6 instead of between a size 10 and 12 as the body measurements would have had me cut. Now, the ease wouldn’t have worried me so much was I going to use a drapier fabric, but with this light but stiff gingham I thought it would be wiser to go down a few sizes for fear of getting a much boxier blouse than I intended.

Another thing I read in a lot of reviews was that the blouse was very short. Once again I referred to the finished garment measurements (I also measured the length of the pattern pieces just to be sure) and I decided against modifying the length. But it’s true, the blouse is indeed very short: I suspect I am very high waisted and it falls right at my natural waist.

VichyMint4The pattern only has four pieces, but man do some of them look weird! The only tricky part to sew is the collar, for which you need to be very precise in your cutting, marking and sewing, and I found the instructions perfectly clear.

One thing that worried me was that the grainline does not run parallel to the centre front line, so I had to ignore the grainline on the front pieces for the plaid to be straight on the button bands. Fortunately, this did not cause any problem in the end, phew! The grainline isn’t parallel with the centre back either and I actually like the effect there, but I know it would have bugged me to no end if the gingham didn’t run parallel with the edge of the button bands in the front.

VichyMint5When I first tried on the finished blouse minus the buttons/buttonholes, I realized that going down two sizes and a half meant I should evidently have lowered the darts. So I set out to unpick the side seams and lower the darts by about 3/4’’. I think it was well worth the effort: here’s the before and the after.

After that all I had to do was add the buttons and buttonholes (actually not that easy when you want your centre front plaid to match!), and then make the matching skirt!

VichyMint6I don’t have a lot to say about the skirt, it’s yet another simple gathered skirt. Just like for the blouse, I took a lot of time pattern matching. Instead of pinning, I found it easier/faster (still very time-consuming) to baste the pieces together before sewing them. Once again, worth the extra time.

VichyMint2I like my little matching ensemble, but in fact I’m not sure I’ll ever wear the two pieces together. Separately, yes (already have), together, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a little too over the top? I really don’t know, we’ll see! And worse comes to worst, I’ll still have a cute blouse and a cute skirt!

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Second Serving

Sencha2I sewed a Sencha blouse a little over two years ago, and although I loved the pattern and the look of the finished blouse, after some time I just couldn’t bear the synthetic quality of the fabric anymore. It was sweaty, unbreathable… made worse by the fact that I cycle everywhere, every day! So I ended up donating the blouse and vowed to make another one in a nobler fabric someday.

Sencha1After finishing my Edenham Chelsea dress, I wanted to use up the whole length of Liberty instead of putting it back in my stash for God knows how long. I hesitated between two of my favourite blouse patterns, Tilly’s Mimi and Colette’s Sencha, and the ridiculously small number of pattern pieces of the Sencha tipped the scales toward the latter.

Sencha4I remembered spending a lot of time on hand finishing for my first version of Sencha, because it was said to be impossible to use French seams due to the construction of the blouse, and I didn’t own a serger at the time. So this time I was about to gain a lot of time thanks to my serger, until I stumbled on this article that claimed it was entirely possible to French seam the whole Sencha blouse! I was both too lazy to change the serger thread to black and curious about testing this method, so I decided to try and use French seams instead of serging the blouse.

Sencha7And it worked, so many thanks to the author! 🙂 The only raw edge that was left was the bottom part of the sleeve hem, which I simply folded into a triangle and invisibly hand stitched like the rest of the sleeve hem.

I didn’t follow the instructions of the pattern for the back opening: I didn’t sew it right sides together as per the instructions, but folded and pressed it wrong sides together (with the seam allowances of the top part folded inside), then hand stitched the top part closed at the same time as the rest of the button band. I think that’s what I did on my first version, too.

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Front and back

I’m delighted with the finishing of this blouse! I used black interfacing so it wouldn’t risk showing through and finished the facings with some narrow green bias tape I had in my stash.

The buttons I had to buy. I chose pale yellow ones that closely match the yellow flowers of the print and pop out against the black background.

I almost forgot that it wasn’t included in the pattern, but the peter pan collar was drafted the first time I made the blouse, following Gertie’s tutorial (also in her book).

Sencha5I sewed the same size as the first time but I think the fit is better on this one, because I didn’t sew the side seams as high up as the first time. I stopped at the bottom of the sleeve hem instead of at the pattern marking. I didn’t feel constricted in my first version, but it does look better from the back!

It’s rare that I don’t have anything to nitpick on something I’ve made, but this is one of those occurrences where I don’t have anything negative to say about the finished garment! A fabric I love, a pattern I love with bonus peter pan collar — what’s not to like?

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Ouardia Blouse

Ouardia2I must have been 17 years old when I bought this vintage skirt at the flea market. It was the perfect hippie skirt, romantically grazing the floor with each step, and I adored its floral print, which reminded me of several Kabyle dresses my mother had passed on to me.

Flash forward a few years later, the skirt didn’t fit anymore, and I thought it would be nice to remake it into something else, such as a Kabyle dress, or more likely a blouse, depending on the amount of usable fabric. The only problem was, I was just a beginner sewer at the time and I didn’t feel up to the task yet, fearing to waste what felt like particularly precious fabric. So I unpicked the skirt, and I put the pieces at the bottom of my budding refashion pile.

Ouardia1When Thread&Needles announced a sewing contest around the theme of travel, I immediately thought of that old project of mine, thinking about my travel to Algeria when I was a little kid: I had gone with my brother to meet our family and discover the country, and I had been given the cutest little pink custom made Kabyle dress, which I had kept long after it had become too small, and later replaced with my mother’s floral print dresses.

I drafted my own pattern, i.e. I copied the dress that fits me best and just changed the underarm area a little bit so that I could wear the blouse without a tank underneath, and drafted a neckline facing instead of adding a self fabric yoke lining as in the dress I copied. I chose to make a blouse and not a dress both because I didn’t have enough fabric and because I liked the idea of a more casual version, worn with jeans or shorts in summer. I thought about adding the patch pockets because I had just enough fabric left that I didn’t want to waste, and I must say I think they look quite nice and they are also pretty useful!

Ouardia4The rickrack was sewn entirely by hand (I love how the pink stitches look against the black inside the blouse!). I wanted each zigzag to lay as smoothly as possible, which I didn’t think would be the case if I stitched only along the centre by machine. At first I intended to sew two parallel lines of rickrack, the pink one you see and a green one, but in the end I decided it would make the blouse too busy and chose to keep it subtler (as subtle as a floral blouse with butterfly sleeves and pink rickrack can be). I won’t lie to you, I was relieved to hand sew a little under six metres of rickrack instead of close to twelve…

Ouardia3I was afraid the blouse would be too short (due to fabric restraints), so I was also relieved when I tried it on and saw that it looked exactly how I had pictured it. Dare I say, even better, with the addition of the cute little patch pockets!

Jolie Mimi

Mimi2Out of my backlog of garments to be blogged, this blouse is a definite favourite! Before I forget, sorry about the print, you can’t make out any details in the pictures because of it… But I promise, the cute collar is there and so are the lovely sleeve pleats!

Mimi4The pattern is Tilly’s Mimi Blouse, which I had been meaning to sew ever since I first saw it. I even had the perfect fabric in mind, a gorgeous vintage pink rayon, but it was too precious to risk ruining it with an ill-fitting pattern, so I decided to make a test version in a less special fabric first.

Mimi5Not that I don’t like the fabric I used, a very soft cotton, light but not too stiff: it’s actually pretty perfect for this blouse and I still love tiny flower prints and could wear some every day; it’s just less unique and irreplaceable than the vintage rayon. Even as a test, unless it was a muslin destined to be ripped apart (yeah, like I ever make those…), I wouldn’t waste my sewing time and energy with a fabric I didn’t truly like and want to wear.

Mimi6I was especially wary of the size I chose to make: I was in-between sizes, and looking at the finished garment measurements, I felt it would be best to go down a size to avoid feeling swamped by a too-large blouse, but I also feared the smaller size I cut would be too restrictive. But it isn’t! And I really like the closer fit. I like this blouse so much, as a matter of fact, that I don’t even want to sew the “final” rayon version anymore, at least not for now; this version feels like the final one…

Mimi7All the seams are French seams, and the facing and sleeve hem edges are finished with a narrow bias tape. I like pretty insides so much! And since this was supposed to be a test version, I wanted to be able to give it away in case it didn’t fit without being ashamed of subpar finishing techniques.

Mimi1Luckily, the test was conclusive, so the pretty insides are for me! I’ve been loving wearing this blouse with my red Chardon and navy Hetty every time the weather has allowed it. I took a picture of the blouse untucked for documentary purposes, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear it that way, at least not with that kind of high-waisted skirt. I might wear it untucked with trousers or shorts though, if I had any… What the heck is still keeping me from sewing myself some trousers, that is the question!

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Dirndl Blouse

Dirndl1The sewjo is back! I loved this dirndl blouse pattern I saw in the last September issue of Burda (magazine), and for once I didn’t forget about it and/or postpone it indefinitely! To tell the truth, the thing that motivated me to start this project and not another one was that I had just gotten this piece of fabric from a swap at Saki’s and it was such a weird shape that I didn’t want to bother trying to fold it neatly. I found it easier to start sewing it immediately! 😀

Dirndl3This was a pretty easy sew if not for the fact that I always have the hardest time understanding written sewing instructions. I’m not even going to try and blame it on Burda, whose language we know can be quite cryptic. This time the instructions were clear… I’m the one who couldn’t make any sense from them!

The thing is, I only understood what they were saying once I already knew what I had to do: so when I read a step in the sewing guide, I didn’t understand it, then once I had figured out what to do on my own, I came back to the instructions and thought: “So that’s what they were trying to tell me!”.

Dirndl4Not that you’d need that much handholding sewing this blouse; there’s nothing really complicated there. The only thing I truly needed the instructions for was the neck opening/facing. I have the worst spatial intelligence, so I had to resort to doing a paper simulation of that one in order to get it! Okay, please do not laugh, three paper simulations…

Dirndl5At least those simulations did help and I got a better result than I would have gotten had I dived right in. I just had to topstitch the neckline edge twice instead of once because there were a couple centimetres of the neckline facing that hadn’t been caught in the first line of stitching. I initially wanted to unpick this first line of stitching after sewing the second one, but I decided the two rows of stitching actually looked cute so both could stay.

Dirndl6Once I had understood them, I mainly followed the instructions. The first of the only two things I did differently was inverting two steps: Burda has you sew the sleeve hem first, then the side seams, but I prefer the finish of sewing the side seams first, then the sleeve hem.

While we’re talking about the side seams, I made the dumbest mistake there! I thought I was being clever by using French seams, but I forgot how curved those seams were: there was no way French seams were going to work! So I had to clip my beautiful French seams afterwards, not the perfect finish I was hoping for! I reinforced the underarm seams before clipping the seam allowances to avoid any unravelling.

The second thing I did differently from the instructions was drafting a facing for the top of the neckline. It was supposed to be left raw, which I didn’t fancy at all. That facing trick worked like a charm. No raw edges on any of my clothing, ever!

Vintage faux pearl button from my mother's stash.

Vintage faux pearl button from my mother’s stash.

I find this blouse really cute, it’s a style I’m very fond of. I love it tucked in high-waisted skirts, dirndl or not! Not that you could tell judging from the awful angle I took these pictures from, ahem!

I feared the weather would soon be too cold to wear such a light blouse, but when I put it on I forgot I was wearing a thermal cami and only realised that after taking the pictures, so I guess I can wear it with a cami under it and a cardigan over it and not have to wait for spring after all!

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Romancing the Blouse

Green1

Looks nice untucked…

I love green. A few months ago, I realised that, every time I had to pick between various colours of yarn or fabric, I chose the green one. A few random people also asked me what the deal was with me and green and why did I wear so much of it (people tend to ask me the strangest questions!). Maybe it’s just that a lot of people do not wear green at all, because it’s not like I was dressed in green from head to toe or every day or whatever, I swear, but still, it made me realise I should try to avoid adding more green to my wardrobe. I think it has to do with the fact that my everyday jacket and shawl are green, so when I add a green garment to my outfit, that’s already three green pieces.

Green2

Looks nice tucked in!

Anyway, after knitting my green Miette cardigan, I decided not to sew or knit any green piece for some time. But now it’s been long enough, I think I’ve earned the right to sew myself some green!

Green3I got this beautiful fabric from the great swap organised by Saki at the beginning of September. I first debated taking it home with me (I was on a green ban and it was synthetic), but its drape finished convincing me.

It was not easy to sew, but I must say I love the result! You can see that the shoulder seams are a little bit wavy, but nothing really noticeable unless you’re looking for it specifically. The worse with this fabric was the way the colour faded everywhere I put even a (silk!) pin, I’m not even talking about covering the buttons! Yet again, I don’t think anyone will notice but me.

Green4The pattern is the Sencha blouse by Colette Patterns, with a peter pan collar I drafted following Gertie’s very clear instructions (in her book, but you can find them here on video). The pattern itself was not difficult to sew at all (it’s beginner level), only time consuming because I had to sew a lot by hand: partly (the sleeve hem and back openings) following the instructions, partly (overcasting the side seams and stitching the hem) because of the nature of the fabric and because I don’t own a serger.

Green5I chose version 1 for the front (the plain one, so that I could add a collar), and version 2 for the back (I wanted, no, needed the button back), in size zero. I chose the size according to my measurements, without checking beforehand (a what? A muslin you say? Interesting!), then I realised after tracing and cutting everything out that, ahem, it seems like I put on a tiny bit of weight during my two months summer holiday where I stopped biking everywhere every day, oops!

Green6Knowing I had chosen this simple project to get back on my feet after my last project flew out the window (or down the trash to be exact), I was kind of bummed, to say the least. But I decided to complete the project nonetheless, after all I’m biking again, so it shouldn’t be too long until I lose that damn holiday weight!

Green7And, who would have thought, the completed blouse does fit! I’ve already lost part of the unwelcome weight (yay biking!), and my Sencha is closer fitting than many versions I’ve seen, but I really like it that way. The upper back may be a touch too tight, but here’s hoping it won’t be anymore after a few more weeks of biking!

Now all I need is to sew myself a jacket or a coat of a different colour (and knit an assorted shawl or scarf) to avoid the monochrome look!

Daddy’s Datura

Datura1 This is my first time sewing a Deer&Doe pattern. I’ve had such a crush on those patterns that I own each and every one of them, yet I had never managed to sew a single one, shame on me! I recently came across my pile of to-be-refashioned clothing that I hardly ever touch, some of which I’ve been keeping for years. Amongst them were these two shirts:

Datura7 They used to belong to my father, who wore them until the eighties I think, and passed them on to me when I was a teenager in the mid-nineties. The aspiring hippie/grunge that I was at the time wore them to death (they got ripped in a few places and almost all of the buttons came off), then I grew tired of them and put them aside, but I could never resolve myself to throwing them in the trash.

Datura2 And boy I’m glad I didn’t! They pair so well together as a Datura blouse and there was just enough fabric to cut around the major flaws.

Datura3 I decided to cut the yoke with the stripes going horizontally because the stripes actually aren’t the same width on the two shirts, so it would have been impossible to match them. And I must say I quite like the result with the different stripe directions.

Datura4 But did you notice the mistake I made (no, not the bra peeking out!)? The two parts of the collar don’t meet! I think I messed up when I tried to trace a slightly smaller undercollar for the seam to roll under more easily, oh well! The result doesn’t really bother me I must say, let’s call that a design feature!

Datura5 A deliberate change I made is that I put on five buttons instead of three: I wanted to use those cute little vintage round buttons I had in my stash (I hesitated between those and red ones, but I thought the white ones would make the blouse easier to match), and since they were smaller than the ones recommended, it looked better with five of them. Plus I wanted to be like really really sure that my behind be covered at all times, so I sewed the last button lower than indicated on the pattern. Other than that I followed the pattern to the letter. The directions were very clear, with helpful drawings whenever needed, though I had a hard time understanding how to sew the inside and outside yokes together, but I managed it in the end!

Datura6 Oh yes, one last thing I forgot to mention is that I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut my own bias tape, so I used a very narrow vintage one I had in my stash. Come to think of it, I didn’t have to buy a single notion to sew the blouse! Anyway, with this bias tape, the way the yoke is constructed and the French seams I used on the sides seams, I can truly say that the inside looks just as nice as the outside. So, despite its flaws, I’m very happy with my blouse (though after such a long winter it felt so weird being sleeveless while taking the pictures). It won’t be my last Datura and it certainly won’t be the last Deer&Doe pattern I sew!