The Bird Massacre Top aka Sutton Blouse

Confession #1 this isn’t my first Sutton Blouse, I made another one before this, but there was a bit of a saga…

Sutton Blouse 1

I printed the pattern at work (we all do that right? It’s like a staff perk!), however little did I realise for the first time ever the printer scaled the pattern to (I think) 120% ish. Of course I didn’t figure this out until the blouse was cut out and sewn together.  At the first try on, I realized I had inadvertently made a nightie.  Much “grading” and adjustments later I made it into a wearable garment. I figured there was no point sharing it as it’s not accurate to the pattern. Besides it’s boring plain white, and this one has birds on it!!

Sutton Blouse 2

This version, my Bird Massacre top, is from the now corrected pattern pieces. Confession #2 – I was too lazy to re-print them, but I am now happy with this version.

The fabric is from Spotlight and is sold as “polyester that feels like silk”. I agree it does feel lovely and floaty and it’s not scary to wash at all so that’s a bonus.

I used a bias trim for the neckline, seams and sleeve trim.

Sutton Blouse 3

You might have noticed I have a different location for these pics – following Gillian’s quest for better blog pictures, I thought I’d try some indoors. Mostly because it is too flipping hot to wear pants and closed in shoes outside!!

Sutton Blouse 4

Here’s me looking nonchalant 😉 Bwahaha!

This is a great little versatile top and is a great length to wear with jeans/pants. There will definitely be more as it’s quite a wardrobe staple.

Confession #3 – many birds were slaughtered in the making of this top!

BurdaStyle Blouse

Hey all! I hope your week is going well. For me, I am a little glad the weather has calmed down a bit over the last couple of days. I am no longer stewing in my own perspiration, it has cooled a little and there is a nice breeze – a welcome reprieve!! But enough about the weather…

Burdastyle Blouse
This is my second Burdastyle #122 blouse from the 1/2008 issue (version 1). This time made in a gorgeous embroidered cotton from The Fabric Store in Brisbane.

The fabric was not 100% the right choice for this blouse and the pattern really demands a fabric with more drape & weight to it. Rayon is perfect, but creases like a b****. The cotton doesn’t crease half as much but can be a little poofy so I have to be careful that I don’t get mistaken for a pregnant woman! (anyone who knows me knows that is not happening!)

Burdastyle Blouse
Hopefully not looking pregnant here!

That aside this is a good “shirt with jeans” pattern, easy to wear. Although not so easy if you want to layer. Because the sleeve cuffs are loose and big enough to fit above my elbows, if I put on a cardi or jacket they ride up and sit uncomfortably. I think this could resolved by finishing the sleeves with an elastic cuff, that way you could at least retain the circulation in your lower arms if you wear a jacket.

Burdastyle Blouse

I have made a few alterations to the original pattern:
– added 3″ to the length (it would be super short if at the original length)
– omitted the placket
– omitted the sleeve vent and button
– shortened the sleeves by 2″

Burdastyle Blouse

Otherwise the construction was pretty much the same as before, except that this went together well and I had no issues with the neckband like before (I still wonder if I got those pieces back to front last time).

Detail shot of pleats and topstitching

So all told an okay blouse to wear with jeans if the weather is stable. I don’t mean to sound underwhelmed, I do like the blouse and the detailing, it just doesn’t get worn so much. I think I prefer sleeveless tops for layering, the three quarter sleeve is just a little annoying at times. Fusspot? Perhaps.

Bleuet Shirt

Recently I made a bit of a pledge with myself: I want to make more new patterns this year and in order to do so I am planning to alternate a TNT with a new pattern. The biggest reason for this is that I have been “collecting” patterns, not in a methodical stamp collector kind of way, more in a crazy hoarder kinda way. I plan to try and get through a few more of the stashed patterns, vintage included. I am certainly not banning myself from buying more, I just want to even up the stats of used vs unused a little. I’ll do a proper count soon and might bamboozle you with pie charts soon 🙂

Bluet Shirt

This is a new pattern to me, the Bleuet dress by Deer & Doe.

Bluet Shirt

The super observant amongst you may have noticed this is not a dress 🙂 It did start as a dress, but once finished the fabric was just too light and it felt weird to wear, almost like I was wearing nothing! Plus it was see-thru and no-one needs to see my butt, so I cut it off, and I love the result!

Bluet Shirt

This is my first version of this dress and being princess seamed I decided to wing it and skip a muslin. I figured will all those seams it would be relatively easy to make any necessary adjustments.

Just like my Belladone, I found this mostly fitted out of the packet with few adjustments. I cut a size 44 based on my bust and hip measurements but graded down to a 40 in the shoulders. (this is a bit of a cheats way of doing an FBA on a princess seamed garment). Weirdly I didn’t shorten the bodice, I am only 5’2″ and this is one of my normal alterations. I feel this pattern is designed for a fairly short person so I would recommend a tissue fit before making if you are any taller than me. I think for next time I would maybe take an inch out, normally I take two.

Bluet Shirt

Construction wise, this went together really well and the instructions (which I used) are very clear with loads of diagrams. The only exception is the collar, the instructions for this I feel were a little lacking in diagrams and there are better ways to construct than that described. Next time I will construct with my usual method.

I piped around the collar and above the sleeve bands with contrast satin bias. The fabric, buttons and bias have been in my stash for about three years so it is nice to finally use them.

I am a little on the fence about the puffed sleeves and in a heavier fabric these would be super poofy. Not sure this the look I am going for. I do love the bow in the back, such a cute detail and fun to have surprise on my booty!! Like almost all the Deer & Doe patterns, this is such a sweet design with cute details. I will definitely make this again.

BTW – if you are wondering, I have not turned in a copy cat stalker type of Sew Busy Lizzy with my photo locations. I have moved to a new place by the water about 45 minutes from Brisbane. We are in a rental whilst we build a house but I expect to be here for at least a year. It’s not an ideal location being so far away from the city, but it is cheap and I plan to make the most of the beach lifestyle whilst we are here.

Project Details
Pattern – Bleuet Dress by Deer & Doe
Fabric – 2m of cotton (perhaps tana lawn?) – would have used a lot less for just the shirt though
Notions – buttons, thread, satin bias binding

Blue and green should never be seen, without another colour in between…

At least that is what my mother would tell me. She would also tell me not to wear long skirts as they made me look short. What would she know?!

Proving her wrong I bring you my latest project a sage green blouse:


I love playing with different styles and silhouettes, and whilst I love a floral dress for summer, in winter the jeans and boots tend to come out of storage. Having no idea what I wore last winter I decided that I needed some more winter tops in my wardrobe.

The pattern is #122 from the 1/2008 issue of Burdastyle. I first came across this when visiting Marjorie who had made the blouse before (and incidentally has the best collection of Burda magazines ever!). I tried hers on and it fitted perfectly (with the exception of the sleeves being too long) and so borrowed her traced pattern. WIN! Or so I thought.

Burdastyle #122 1/08

Enter the Sewaway in Melbourne where I took this pattern as one of my (many) intended projects. I had carefully cut it before I left and I was ready to go. I dutifully sewed it up and then tried it on. Aaargh – it was way too big at the neck/shoulders. But why??? I had tried it on and it was perfect.

Lightbulb moment – Marjorie’s was made with a cotton (maybe a voile?), my fabric is rayon. Damn you rayon and your wonderful drape!

I had to unpick the neckband and take 3″ (!!) out of the width. To solve this additional fabric issue, I added a centre box pleat.

Burdastyle #122 1/08

There was supposed to be a functioning placket but the box pleat made this tricky so I decided to make it a fake placket, as luckily I had not cut the vent yet. The buttons are vintage from my US trip last year.

Then I guess it must have been getting late and I was getting tired. I realized I had got my sleeve bands and placket pieces mixed up and used a sleeve band for the placket. Gah!  Of course the placket was too short to fit around my arm and I didn’t have any extra fabric as I had cut it out back in Brisbane and the scraps were long binned. Another hack job was on the cards. I used the two placket pieces to form the missing sleeve band. This just means one sleeve band has two joins instead of one. Pretty sure no one will notice and if they are looking that close I can just elbow them in the nose!!

Burdastyle #122 1/08
Sorry for the crappy back shot

The blouse has some really interesting details. The sleeves have two pieces, an upper and lower sleeve. The upper sleeves extend across the back and join in the middle to form a yoke, but at the front join the bodice to form a raglan. There are pleats on the back and front which are stitched down approximately 3″ to control the fullness (and hopefully assist in avoiding the pregnant look).

I have added 3″ to the pattern length, unusual for me since I am 5’2″, but the pattern is pretty short and I really wanted to avoid any potential tummy flashing!!

Time for a close up, plus bonus peek to the inside which is predominantly French-seamed.

Burdastyle #122 1/2008

All construction issues aside, I absolutely love this blouse and it is perfect for our mild Brisbane winters. I feel like I am totally channeling Nina Proudman in this.

I love this show so much - if you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for??
I love this show so much – if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for??

Burdastyle #122 1/08

Pattern – Burdastyle #122 from 01/2008 issue – not available online
Fabric – 1.5m of Rayon from East Coast Fabrics
Notions – vintage buttons and thread

The Shirt has hit the fan!

Bwah ha ha!  Because the shirt has fans on it of course!!

Simplicity 1694

This is more of the Japanese Tana lawn bought at the same time as my Darling Ranges Dress.  When I bought this particular pattern I had a vision of a nice shirt to go with jeans. I knew I didn’t really want the fit of the ubiquitous Archer shirt, I wanted something a bit more floaty and I wanted rolled up sleeves with tabs.  Enter Simplicity 1694 which seemed to tick all the boxes.

I originally bought this pattern thinking it would be nice to have a couple of sleeveless floaty shirts for summer, but then somehow I just never got around to it.

In all honesty when I first sewed this up I really didn’t like it and had to make a few alterations as it the pattern sizing is huge and looked like maternity wear.
Simplicity 1694
I cut the medium based on my shoulder measurement and didn’t bother with an FBA as the shape was not fitted.  I ended up taking the side seams in by 1.5″ on each side at the bottom graduating to ½” in the bust area. I also narrowed the sleeves by ½”.  The shoulders were required to be narrowed by an inch due. I would have liked to add more waist shaping however this was not possible due to the pleat in the back, if I was to take it in more at the sides it made the back poof out like I had a hunchback.

In saying that, I am happy with the fit as is, and the shirt is great for our somewhat pathetic winters. I finished it about 3 weeks ago and have already worn it loads (as seen in my MMM instagram feed).

I think with this pattern that fabric choice is really important, more than it is in some patterns. I did have a sleeveless version in a heavy-ish rayon and it  just looked terrible and no alterations were going to fix it. So unflattering. This pattern really needs a light fabric, a voile, lawn, georgette or silk, it needs that softness and drape.

Simplicity 1694
Now I know it sounds like I am being all negative Nelly about this one, but there is loads that I do like:
– the roll up tabs are exactly what I wanted
– I love the mandarin collar instead of the standard expected collar
– the fabric is great to wear
– perfect wardrobe builder

It’s weird, I don’t usually wear button down shirts so of course I don’t normally make them, so this was a nice change to sew.

I do remember making some really cool shirts back in the early 90s – I had a pale blue chambray shirt with chambray leopard print yoke and cuffs – very trendy at the time! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so ruthless in my wardrobe culling, I’d love to have been able to share some of these gems with you. Plus it would be interesting to see how my sewing has evolved over 20 years! .

Simplicity 1694
So, will I make this shirt again?  Maybe… I really do prefer wearing dresses so I won’t be rushing to make more shirts, but it was a nice change.

Pattern – Simplicity 1694 – view A
Fabric – 2m of Japanese Tana Lawn from Spotlight
Notions – buttons and thread

Is there a Doctor in the house?

Ah, yes, over here!! Ok not really, but I kinda feel like one in this latest make!!

Afternoon Blouse

That would be because I am an idiot and chose a plain blue voile that is decidedly reminiscent of The Doctors.


Oh dear.  I just need to remember to not accessorize with a stethoscope or mask!! This one is going to be all about the styling.

The pattern is the Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren. A simple pattern that can be made up in just a few hours, hence the name of course. Mine was an evening, and not even the whole evening!  To start with I would like to compliment Jennifer on the PDF, the overlap on the pages is the perfect width for a gluestick, so that made the process super fast.  She has also cleverly planned the pieces so that you can choose which version of the front you wish to print. Afternoon Blouse

I selected my size on my hip & bust measurements. When will I learn that I really need to select on upper bust measurement and do an FBA? The fit is ok but not perfect as I have some gaping around the neckline.

I really like how this pattern uses up all those random single buttons you have lying around. You know the ones that come with RTW in the little packets that you put aside, and long after the garment has been thrown out you still have the button??
Afternoon Blouse

What I liked about the pattern:
– a quick gratifying make
– the vintage feel
– it’s a top that is good both tucked in and untucked

What I would change for next time:
– raise the shoulders by 1cm
– cut smaller size with FBA
– use a better fabric choice, nothing uniform coloured!!

Afternoon Blouse

It’s so great to see bloggers producing patterns and I know Jennifer has a couple more patterns in the pipeline. I can’t wait to see them!

Pattern – Afternoon Blouse by Jennifer Lauren
Fabric – 1.4m of cotton voile
Notions – thread & single button from stash

Top 5 of 2012 – and now the Misses

Top 5 of 2012

The year was not all roses for me sewing-wise unfortunately and this post is to share my misses.  Yep I am far from perfect and the same for some of my projects. 

In order of worst to best:

1.  This attempt to make a 1940’s pattern from an Australian Home Journal – it was all good until I added the skirt.  Then it was so awful that it ended up balled in a corner for two months before being cut up and made into this top.  I love the replacement but will have to give the pattern another go as I won’t let it beat me!!

2. Flowery, Girly dress – the fit on this is not great. In my defence at the time I was not really reading or following any blogs, if I had I would have known that loads of people had issues with this pattern and might have made a muslin. *sigh* live and learn.
3.  My first item I blogged about. I did like the jacket when I first made it and I still think it’s…ok, but I am not loving the sleeves.  I may refashion it and narrow the sleeves to look a bit more normal.
4. Colette Violet – I never wear this blouse, it just feels too boxy and a bit short.  Again, just not feeling the love.  Plus the collar seems huge and it is too big across the shoulders.  Seriously thinking of refashioning it as I hate things to gather dust in my wardrobe.
5.  The Turnaround Blouse – another top I just don’t wear.  Not really sure the reason, I guess I feel it is not that flattering, plus I didn’t have a decent skirt to wear with it. Now I do, but it is the wrong season, perhaps next season?  I do really like the fabric so perhaps just need to find a way to wear it in 2013.

So what have I learnt from the above:
– make a muslin more often, especially for vintage patterns
– take care to adjust the pattern to fit i.e. different sizes for shoulders, bust & hips, consider FBA
– think about the pattern more and whether it will suit my shape
– it doesn’t matter too much, if I don’t like it, it can always be hacked or donated!
What are your fails for the year?  Please share and make me feel better!!

Birdie Sencha

Birdie Sencha

My first version of the Sencha Blouse by Colette.  I did a toile first which showed I needed to make a small shoulder adjustment as it was not comfortable to wear.

I underlined the whole garment as the original fabric was pretty sheer and used french seams throughout.


I used a size 6 in the top (and adjusted for narrow shoulders) and then graduated to a 12 for my waist and hips.  I found that due to the blouseyness (is that a word?) of the pattern an FBA was not required.

I omitted the neck facing and instead incorporated the underlining to make a nice clean neck finish.


I also omitted the back buttons as there is no way I could reach to do them up!  I cut the back on the fold instead and like the clean lines this option gives.  I may do a version in the future with a faux back button opening as I found the pattern has enough room in it to go over my head just fine.


For those followers, you may recognise the fabric, it is a hack of my previous fail garment.  I am much happier with this and took great pleasure in cutting the failure into pieces!!  I am really happy with the fit of this blouse and it is comfortable, wearable and I think flattering. I shall definitely be making more.


Turnaround Blouse

This is a self-drafted back button blouse that I made using leftover fabric from this dress – I loved the fabric and had just over a metre left over so thought I would whip up a blouse that I had envisioned.  I I started with a dress pattern as a block and then reshaped it, added a peter pan collar and cut the back to allow for the button tab.


For the back I used buttons covered in the collar fabric and for the sleeves I used buttons covered in the main fabric. The back centre seam is also piped to further accentuate it.

I think I will be doing more of these types of blouses as they are so easy to wear and go with jeans and skirts and are a bit more dressy than a t-shirt.

The fabric is a cotton sateen, a bit heavier than that I would normally use for this kind of thing, but it is winter here at the moment so it seems perfect.  I think this will be a good winter/trans-seasonal item in my wardrobe and with all the different colours in the pattern I am finding it seems to go with many things I already have.