I know I’m not the only sewist out there that consistently plans to make “basics” but never gets around to it. Well pat me on the back, I made a white blouse! Which is a good thing since I didn’t have one in my closet. Here's a quick post on my new wardrobe addition.
I used my new friend Butterick 5997 View A without sleeve tabs. This is my second run of this pattern (the first is here) and I have to say I love this one just as much. It feels elegant but is as comfortable as a sweatshirt. My only challenge with this will be keeping it clean!
I used a medium weight Tencel twill from Fabricland. If you find a Tencel twill my advise is buy it now and ask questions later. The drape is beautiful, it presses well and has enough body for a blouse, dress or even pants.
The collar band is a key part of this blouse and these aren't always the easiest. I used Maris's method of construction for the band and it's gorgeous without any hand sewing. You should check it out!
For winter, I want to make a 70’s inspired dress and I’m considering using this pattern as the jump off point. By adding an elastic waist and softly gathered skirt this could be a romantic dress that’ll have me humming Fleetwood Mac. Your thoughts? Any other pattern ideas?
Thanks for reading sewing friends,
Well, I really could've used a red blouse back in December but this project didn't all come together for me until February. So we could look on the bright side and say I got my December 2019 red blouse already finished! And what's even better is I used some beautiful fabric I purchased from LA Finch last year so I'm sewing from my stash. Ahead of the game stash sewing is a win, win!
This is Butterick 5997, and I've admired the blouses Lori of Girls in the Garden has made with this pattern. And if it weren't so close to spring (especially here in SoCal) I'd make another one in flannel just like the one she did. I love this sewing community because would I have ever thought this would be a great pattern for a flannel without Lori's inspiration? We have some creative sewists out there and I'm really glad people take the time to share.
I pretty much made View A except I kept the front length like View B and didn't make the cuffs on the sleeve. This rayon twill is just too soft to hold a cuff and I like the look without it. If you're looking for a blouse that's long enough for leggings, this is it. This is my second collar band blouse in a row (not sure why) and it's not out of my system quite yet as I have a piece of this fabric in navy that I have set aside for a banded collar dress.
When I sew this again I'll make the shoulder narrower because the sleeve sits just off the shoulder and I think it would look better at the true shoulder line (see above). I suppose I could fix it but am I that bothered by it? All that said, the sleeve is really nicely drafted and popped in easily. And friends, this blouse is very roomy. My measurements are very close to a Big 4 size 14 but I find tops fit me much better around the shoulders and neck if I make a 12. Anyone else do this? Occasionally I will do a small wide back adjustment on a 12 (not on this top) but if I make a 14 it just looks sloppy. I heard Melissa Watson of McCall's patterns talk about this on the Love to Sew podcast and it just made so much sense! It was especially important to stay on the smaller side with the loose fit of this top.
I highly recommend this pattern and will be making it again. Wouldn't it be a nice basic white blouse? Do you know I don't have a single white blouse in my closet?
I have lots more to share as I've been sewing like crazy. 8 Pieces so far this year!
Sometimes you find yourself in a place you'd never expect or even know is possible. It’s happened to all of us too many times to count, right? Well, I’ve found myself over the last few months in just such a place and I’m using sewing to get me through.
I’m a pattern designer and up until 7 months ago I was also a sewing teacher. My dream job. First hand, I was able to see the life changes that come when someone learns how to take a flat piece of cloth and turn it into something. It can be truly magical! I’ve seen sewing mend a heart from a broken engagement and give someone who’s no longer a caregiver a sense of purpose. It’s helped those people who have, like me and maybe you, had a life change.
2 years ago I started feeling not quite like myself. It’s actually a long and drawn out story that I won't bore you with but over a period of several months and many doctors, I found myself plagued with vision issues, body weakness, numbness, fatigue, speech problems and difficulty walking and navigating stairs. My family, friends and students watched me change and I tried to hide my problems but it was getting more and more difficult and scary. After 16 months of doctors I landed in a brilliant university neurologist’s office and she ran hoards of tests and found I had Lyme disease. What? Shocking for all of us since they say “Lyme disease doesn't exist in California” which is a dirty lie, by the way, that thankfully my doctor didn’t believe. I was losing my sweet mom to pancreatic cancer at the time of my diagnosis so I put off treatment while I took care of her. Soon after I said “Goodbye” to my mom, I underwent treatment that cleaned out the Lyme bacteria but left me with additional nerve and muscle damage. Thankfully, I’m now on my way to recovery with physical and occupational therapy and the help of an army of family and friends.
This really is going to be about the blouse, I promise.
Before this all happened, the “things” that made me tick were sewing and distance running. I now walk very slowly with the help of a bright blue walking stick I named “Eileen” which is an improvement over my former walker which I didn’t name (probably because I lost my sense of humor for a bit there). I may not be a distance runner anymore but I am happy with the leg progress I’ve made as I can walk further as each month goes by. My hands have not healed quite so quickly so sewing has turned out to be difficult and I’ll go so far as to say disheartening. But given my new disabilities/changes I’m trying to figure out how to get back in touch with myself while feeling separated from the things that made me tick (pun completely intended).
But we’ve all been here. Well, maybe not exactly here but here in the sense that we all have hiccups and interruptions in our lives that take us away from the things that make us us. In my case it’s physical but maybe for you the interruption was a wonderful thing like having a baby, getting a new job or moving to a different city or something difficult like being a caregiver or recovering from a loss. So how do we find our way back? Or, the better question is how do we stay in touch with ourselves while embracing our current situation?
Pretty philosophical for a sewing blog, but those of you who consider yourselves “makers” and you have trouble “making” for whatever life reason have all pondered this.
I can tell you the solution to some of my problems started with this shirt. Who knew McCalls 7360 would help me climb this hill? I call this shirt the “Happy Shirt” for obvious reasons, it looks happy. But really this should be dubbed “The Occupational Therapy Shirt” not as sexy a moniker but certainly accurate.
When I first tried to sew after my treatment, I wasn’t strong enough to cut fabric and could only sit up for a short period of time. It was discouraging and thus I stayed away from my sewing room. I had ideas and the desire to sew but it was difficult to bring myself to try.
With my initial sewing failure fresh in my mind, one of my first occupational therapy goals was “to cut fabric.” I’m not sure my therapist has ever had a patient with that goal but there it was. With practice and by using both hands (and the help of new easier scissors from my thoughtful husband and son) I did it! Since this went well I decided to really use sewing to help me heal. My next goal was to make a shirt with a collar. Don’t you just wonder what my therapist thought? My therapist said “Okay, in how long? Let’s quantify it. Don't think about how long it would take the “old Diane” but how long it will take you now.” “Well, the 'old Diane' would make this in 4-ish hours so the “current Diane” can do it in 8 hours. I’ll allow myself twice the time.” I said. “Great! Keep track of your time and let’s see how it goes. If it takes you longer it doesn’t matter, just do it.” She said.
Setting goals has always worked for me and this new goal freed me up to walk into my sewing room, turn on the timer and start. Somehow this approach separated me from the disappointment of before and the sadness that comes with thinking about what I can’t do anymore and allowed me to move forward. More than 14 hours later here it is, my goal achieved! Yes, it took me more than 3 times what it would’ve before and the quality of my work is not the same but the maker in me is alive once again.
My doctor recently said to me when I asked how long it would take me to recover “We aren't going to talk about time, we are only going to talk about progress.” You can imagine how hard it was for the impatient me to hear that. But I thought about it for a few days, really digested it and decided to own it. It’s been just about the most helpful thing I’ve heard. I made something. That’s progress. We aren’t going to talk about the time it took.
I’ve physically adapted to so many things and I can adapt my thinking too. It doesn’t matter how many things I make in a month or how perfect they are, I just need to make progress. Are you here too? Have you had a baby and you don’t have time? Can you find 15 minutes twice a week to make progress? Did your life change involve moving to a different place and you don’t have room to sew or a job where you work more? Can you pick up some hand work that will move your skills forward as you work in your kitchen or on your lunch break?
Sewing is a great way to help me get back to me. I watched it happen in my students and now it’s my turn.
Oh and by the way, I loved this pattern and the butter soft Robert Kaufman corduroy from Fabricland. I made a contrast under placket, tab and collar facing with 1/2 yard of the cotton lawn print. I even had enough of the floral to bind the sleeve seams so the rolled up sleeve looks finished. This shirt is a keeper…for so many reasons.
If you made it to the end of this very long blog post, I thank you for taking the time. It felt good to get it out.
Happy Sewing Friends!
Usually I like to keep my "fabric hauls" to 2 or 3 pieces of fabric because I get overwhelmed and ultimately something gets added to the stash cabinet and doesn't see the light of day. Well, I'm proud to say this didn't happen with my last haul from The Fabric Store in LA. I sewed everything up! Here's a beloved top made from a delightful rosebud silk crepe de chine. I eyed it when I first walked in and although they only had 1 1/4 yards left (apparently others liked it too) I brought it home anyway.
StyleArc's Rosie Top was already on my sewing list and what are the chances it would not only fit on 1 1/4 yards of rosebud fabric but also be called "Rosie"? It was meant to be. It's a simple peplum top that skims the body and has a darling pleat in the back. It sewed up in under 2 hours and honestly the teeny tiny hem (I'm quite proud of it) was the longest step. I've worn it with jeans, black pants and a straight skirt. It's versatile and comfortable and a peplum style without looking too fussy.
I've stitched up everything in this stack but haven't photographed it all. Unfortunately the light pink Liberty fleece on the bottom never made it back from our trip to New York. I'm not sure if it was left in the hotel room by accident or someone decided they needed it more than I did. Either way, hopefully it found a good home.
An exciting note....there's a new pattern on the way! It'll be ready for your New Year sewing list. More details coming soon!
Here's my first make for fall, a new Margo Blouse. Actually, it isn't the first thing I made for fall but it's the first I'm sharing. There are quite a few things I've already made and even started wearing but I just haven't had a chance to photo.
I bought this floaty cotton/silk voile at The Fabric Store in LA back in July. It has tiny block printed birds on it which make it whimsical without being over the top. This is view B without the placket but I added 5 mismatched vintage buttons. Anytime I can add buttons I do...it's such an obsession.
I'm happy to announce I'll be teaching a Margo Blouse Class Saturday, November 5th at Fabricland in Orange, California. I keep the class sizes small so we can get lots done and still have a good time. Contact Fabricland to sign up. Since teaching is one of my favoriteist things to do, I'd love to see you there!
What are you making for fall?
I continue to be “The Top Lady” with another top I made to fill my closet. This time, however, I added a nice summer basic that was absent from my wardrobe. This dotted Swiss came from Mood Fabrics in LA and it only took about 1 1/4 yards. I love a project like that!
This is the third time this summer I’ve used New Look 6035. I used it here for a fun shell and here for a basic khaki skirt.
The inspiration for this shell is a yellow top one of my students came to class in. So many times when my students come to class I touch the fabric they’re wearing or zero in on a detail. I’m sure they’re used to it by now but I think I might need to work on my “boundaries” when it comes to touching other people’s garments. I usually ask for permission but surely I forget at times. If you ever catch me touching a stranger’s dress in the grocery store will you slap my hand? Do any of you do this?
I added a center front seam and a 3 1/2” wide band down the front. Originally, I wanted the top to tie in the front above the slit. When I finished it however, the tie opened the top so much you could see the camisole underneath. So awkward. Instead I made a shorter 1 1/2” slit and continued the 1/2” binding all the way around the neck and armholes. I also added my usual back neck dart to eliminate gaping in the back.
Pants are under my machine right now so I’m breaking my top streak. Yay me!
Hello! I'm glad to be back on the Fabricmart blog and joining the other Fabricistas with a new summer project for May. Well, I may have been one of the few people on the sewing planet that hadn't made Wiksten's Tova Tunic, but folks things have finally changed. I'm bringing summer in with a sunny sunburst Tova.
There are plenty of reviews of the Tova tunic out there so there's no need for me to review it here. But I will say although the blouse has simple lines and lends itself to all types of fabrics and embellishments, I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. It's a seasonless pattern and would be a great project for an intermediate sewer.
Some time ago I pinned a Steven Alan shirt onto my I Wanna Make This pinterest board because I loved the fabric. Eureka! I found it! Fabricmart's abstract bursts 100% lightweight handkerchief linen in white, blue and pale coral is just that fabric! This linen is lighter than any other I've ever worked with but still is crisp like other linens. I machine washed and dried it before I cut it out and it came out lovely.
The colors are beautiful in this fabric and I decided to highlight the coral on the bib of the tunic using embroidery thread and my sewing machine. Reverse bobbin work is popular among art quilters but I don't often see it anywhere else. Quilters take decorative threads that don't fit through sewing machine needles and wind them on the bobbin instead. When you sew from the wrong side, the decorative thread from the bobbin shows through on the right side.
For the reverse bobbin work, I used DMC embroidery floss and wound it by hand on a bobbin and loaded it into my machine without changing any settings. Don't be afraid...just do it...it'll be okay.
Working from the back of the blouse, I stitched along the seam line of the bib of the tunic so the bobbin thread would show on the front. It's as easy as that.
It's subtle but isn't it pretty? I also added some to the band of the sleeve. Once you get going it's hard to stop. And yes, reverse bobbin work washes well.
I ended up shortening the blouse 4" (I found it longer than the drawing suggests) but otherwise made no other changes. I will probably make it again this fall in a cozy flannel. Wouldn't it be great? But right now I'll enjoy my new sunny blouse.
Have you made a Tova?
Happy almost summer everyone!
Diane - Gatorbunnysews
Hi! I'm Diane, a wife, mom, sewing teacher and pattern designer from sunny Southern California. I share my sewing adventures here on the Blue Dot Blog formerly Gatorbunnysews. For more info click here.