Top 5- Hits and Misses 2018

Last year I found it really helpful to think about which of my makes hit the mark, and which were less successful with my hits and misses, so I thought I would have another go this year too.  I think most of my sewing has been fairly successful this year, though I have just done a wardrobe clear out, and a few handmade clothes did get the axe, so its certainly not perfect yet.

So here we go:

Top 5 Hits

Amber tops and Dress

I practically lived in my Amber tops during the last part of my pregnancy when it was hot and my bump was huge.  Even since then, I must wear one at least 2-3 times a week because they are one of my most practical options for feeding in too.  I particularly love my Amber dress because I think it looks fairly stylish and is so easy to just throw on, and my Amber hack layering tee also gets a lot of wear under shirts at the moment.  I think the reason they have been so successful is because they suit my lifestyle as it is right now, not how I might wish it was.  They are also made in good quality cotton jersey, so they have survived lots of washing and grabbing straight back out of the laundry pile!

Oslo Cardigan

This is another item of clothing that regularly gets taken straight from the clean washing pile to be put back on.  When I first made it I wasn’t sure about the style on me and this was really intended as a wearable toile.   However, the oversized nature of it has definitely been growing on me, and I love how easy it is to throw on.  I would love to make another (possibly multiples) as again it fits my lifestyle right now really well.

Modified Toaster Sweater

I made this Toaster sweater right at the start of the year with some very special Atelier Brunette fabric.  I’m pleased that I used this very special fabric in something which is comfortable and practical.  I love that it fits over my Archer shirts, and the crew neck is more practical with a collar.  I’m even really pleased with my decision to go for contrasting gold topstitching.

Ultimate Wrap Dress

This dress is another make that I love because I tweaked the pattern to create what I actually wanted. I hacked the sleeve into a little flutter sleeve, modified the cross-over to be a little higher and added an empire line seam to make it fit over the bump. I have worn it a bit since the arrival of baby too, though I think it might now need re-hemming to take out some of the extra length that I added to the front. I’m looking forward to being able to wear it again next summer.

Ringer Tee

I have made a mountain of these tops for Toby and as gifts, and I’m sure there will be more. I particularly like hacking them to have poppers at the neckline while he is small, but the pattern goes up to ages 5-6, so I’m sure I will make more as he grows. It’s a free pattern too, so what’s not to love!

Hits Conclusion

There were a couple of other patterns that I would have included, but I thought it might be cheating to include patterns that made it onto last year’s successes like the Mens Metro Tee and Grainline Archer because I knew before I got started that I would love them! I also thought that perhaps I couldn’t include the skirt that I am currently sewing, even though I’m pretty sure it will be a hit because I haven’t actually worn it yet! Another that came close was the Dandelion Dungarees because they have seen a lot of wear in the last few months and the popper hack definitely worked there too. I think the things that I have included demonstrate that I’m getting more confident at hacking patterns to get what I actually want from them, not just putting up with the parts that don’t work for me.

Top 5 Misses

Kinder Cardigan

Considering how much I love my Oslo cardigan, it seems a little strange that I’m not such a big fan of the Kinder Cardigan which is pretty similar. I think it is down to a couple of issues, one being that the pattern is possibly even a little more oversized than Oslo. The other being that the Ponte I made it in is definitely more structured so it ‘feels’ bigger. I did like some of the construction methods, and the pockets though, so I’m tempted to adopt some of these for my next Oslo cardigan attempt.

Blossom Dress

Technically this was made in 2017, but I was never really going to wear it until this year. I’m not sure if it is just because it is such a large expanse of single colour, but I didn’t really hit it off with this Blossom dress. I love the fabric, and the Anna Top that I squeezed out of the offcuts, but the dress hardly got worn. It probably doesn’t help that it looked a bit strange before I had a big enough bump, and by the time my bump was bigger the weather was warming up. This hasn’t survived a recent wardrobe clear out because it looks ridiculous again without a baby bump. Perhaps it would have been better as a top.

Lucia Top

A more recent make was this Lucia Top. It was a great way to kickstart sewing again being really simple, but I’m not a massive fan of the fabric. It’s a bit too shiny and ‘polyester’y. It has survive the wardrobe clear out, but only to see if I will wear it during the festive season when red and shiny seems more acceptable. If it doesn’t get worn it might have to go too.

Lily Top

There is nothing actually ‘wrong’ with this Lily Top, it just doesn’t get worn as often as I thought it might. I did wear it while I was pregnant, and I do sometimes wear it now to feed, but I wasn’t 100% pleased with the finishing techniques and there are some areas that I don’t think are going to be all that robust. It’s not a total fail, though I don’t think I would make the pattern again.

Miette Skirt

Again, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with this skirt, but I think it suffers from not suiting my changing body and style. I have been wearing a lot less that sits actually at my waist because I don’t find it that flattering at the moment. Perhaps that will change in the future and I will feel better wearing this skirt though. With hindsight, though the pockets are really useful, they just draw more attention to an area that I feel less confident in at the moment!

Misses Conclusion

I think several of these projects have suffered from the difficulties of guessing what sorts of things I was going to want to wear as my lifestyle and body have changed. Hopefully now that thigs are starting to settle down I can make more informed choices for next year and get more of them right!

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Sewing for mini

Baby is growing so fast at the moment, so I’ve been whipping up a few things in the next size up. For these I’ve returned to the Brindle and Twig patterns that I’ve had lots of success with before, the Ringer Tee and Cuff Leggings.

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The basic T-Shirt is so speedy to sew. I made a tiny t-shirt to coordinate with Matt’s space Metro Tee.

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And a couple of long sleeve versions using my popper neckline hack. A few months in to dressing a baby and I definitely gravitate to the easiest option when getting him dressed!

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To coordinate I made two pairs of leggings to mix and match. The orange ones look a bit 80’s but I think they are a fun change from the mostly blue trousers we seem to have!

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To finish off I even have a first modelling appearance from Toby. It’s surprising hard to get good photos of a baby modelling clothes.

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Now Toby can match either of his parents- Matt has a t-shirt to match the space print, and the nautical print matches this dress of mine.

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Practical Packaging

Last week I showed you my reusable wipes and said that I needed to create a bag to put them in for ‘out and about’.  Well that is what I have to show you today- the pretty and practical packaging.

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This project is a great one for using up fabric scraps.  I was able to use some cotton drill and a co-ordinating quilting cotton for the lining of this little purse.  I already had a suitable zip too so everything came from scraps or stash.  When thinking about how to make the bag as useful as possible, I knew that it needed to stand up by itself  to make reaching in one handed easy.  That means that a flat zippered purse is out, and the corners of my bag needed to be ‘boxed out’.

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There are loads of tutorials out there to show you how to put something like this together.  My favorite is this one from Melly Sews which conceals all the seams within the lining, but needs a little bit of hand stitching to slip stich the lining.  A slightly quicker alternative is this one which has the seams for boxing out the corners visible inside the bag, but which is super speedy.  I chose to conceal the seams, and it is still a pretty quick make.

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I’m pretty pleased with the stripe matching too.

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I did change the dimensions of my bag because it only needs to hold a few wipes and the spray bottle, not a whole wash kit.  I used a 20cm zip and cut my outer and lining pieces to 23cm by 17.5cm.  The boxed out corners are 2.5cm or 1inch as in the instructions and this gave me a finished bag with dimensions 14cm long, 10cm wide and 6cm high approximately.

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I’m really happy with my latest quick make.  It feels good to be able to sit at the sewing machine even just briefly and create something.  I do have some dressmaking projects in the pipeline though too, including working on a toile of a dress to wear to my graduation in September.  Considering that I get to sew in 30-60 minute chunks at the moment, I’m going to have to get a move on to get it finished to my satisfaction in plenty of time.

Baby Gifts

While I was waiting for baby Toby to arrive, I was making good use of the time to sew up some more tiny outfits from all my jersey scraps.  A couple of friends have also been expecting little ones, so it seemed like a nice idea to make a little outfit for each of the new arrivals.

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Because it is near impossible to guess how big or how fast the babies will grow, I went for the 3-6 month sizes this time, and decided to pair the Brindle and Twig cuff leggings with my hack of the Ringer Tee to have a popper neckline.

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The resulting outfits look very smart, and have been happily received their new owners.

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I even remembered to sew a tag into the leggings to help tell the front from the back!

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Because babies cannot be relied upon to keep clean for long, I thought that a couple of dribble bibs in co-ordinating colours would make a good addition to the outfits.  These are just triangles of bright quilting cotton, backed with some soft sweat-shirting.  I used Prym colour snaps as closures because they come in so many fun colours and designs.

The other bib is just a simple outline, again with snaps to close it.  I did a bit of scrap quilting in pretty coordinating fabrics.

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I love putting together baby clothes.  Its just such a good use of scraps and special fabrics!

Tutorial: How to hack a t-shirt to have a popper closure

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my hack to the Brindle and Twig Ringer Tee pattern to give it a popper opening/closure and make it easier to get on and off.  I thought that I would put together a proper tutorial.  This method will work for any t-shirt pattern with a shoulder seam, and doesn’t have to be limited to just children’s clothing.  You could just as easily use the same method to add a fun feature to an adult jumper too.  I’m using the Ringer Tee pattern pieces again simply because it is a readily available and free pattern so any of you that want to give this a go, can!

 

Pattern modifications

Step 1:

The pieces that we are altering are the front, back, and the neckband.  You will first need to trace off new copies of these pieces in the relevant size.  Leave space around the pieces for the modifications.

The Ringer Tee has the front and back pattern pieces cut on the fold.  We are going to make the pattern asymmetrical, so you may find it easier to trace the pattern piece off complete so that it can be cut on a single layer.

Step 2:

Decide how much of an overlap you want at the closure.  I chose 1/2″ or 13mm.

I also decided that because it is a jersey pattern, and jersey does not fray I was happy to leave the inside edge raw or overlocked, rather than concealing the cut edge.

Step 3: Front Pattern Piece

You need to know what seam allowance the pattern you are working with uses.  The Ringer tee has 6mm seam allowances.

Draw the seam allowance on to one shoulder seam. (the blue line in the picture)

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Draw on another line which is 13mm (or whatever overlap you decided on) from the seam line.  With my 6mm seam allowance this makes 7mm extra length in the shoulder.  This extra area is shaded in green.

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Step 4: Back Pattern Piece

Draw the seam line onto the same shoulder as you did for the front.  (It will look like the opposite shoulder because the pattern piece is effectively back-to-front.)  See the blue line below.

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Draw another line twice the overlap away from your seam line.  If you are using a 13mm overlap, this new line needs to be 26mm from the seam line.  The extra area is shaded in green again.

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Step 5: Neckband

Your neckband needs to have the total additional length added to it.  This means the length added beyond the seam line.  In my example that is 27mm.  (13+26-6-6=27mm)

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Sewing up

Step 6: Cutting out and first shoulder seam

Cut out the pattern pieces.  Cut a tiny notch at the seam allowance line on the front and back shoulder on the side which was modified.  Sew the other shoulder seam (the one without the pattern alterations) as in the pattern instructions.  Press the seam to the back.

Step 7: Neckband

Fold and press the neckband in half.  Stitch it to the neckline.  Press the seam down towards the body of the top.  It should now look like this, with the neckline finished, and one shoulder open.

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Step 8: Prepping second shoulder

Finish the shoulder seam allowances if you wish.  Press over 13mm on the front and back shoulder seams.  Use a strip of fusible hemming web to keep the fold in place while you complete the rest of the construction.

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Step 9: Prepping the overlap

Overlap the back shoulder over the front, using the shoulder seam notches to align properly.  Use pins to keep the overlap in place.

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Step 10: Sleeves

Insert the first sleeve, matching the shoulder notches to the central notch of the sleeve.  Once it is sewn, this will keep the overlap in place.

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Insert the other sleeve.

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Step 11: underarm and Side seams

Sew the underarm sleeve, and side seams together in one continuous seam.

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Step 12: Cuffs and Waistband

Sew the short edges of the sleeve cuffs and waistband.  Press them in half wrong sides together.

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Sew the waistband and sleeve cuffs to the body.

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Step 13: Attach snaps to open shoulder

Attach snaps to the open shoulder seam, aligning the two halves.  I used two snaps on this 3-6 month size, but on larger sizes it might be better to use more.

You may wish to use jersey snaps like these which have multiple prongs because they are less likely to pull out with time and wear.  I generally use Prym vario pliers to apply snaps.  Much easier than all the hammering!

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All finished and ready to wear!

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Baby pattern hacking

A little while ago I shared a couple of Brindle and Twig patterns that I had been making up multiples of- the cuff leggings and raglan tee. This time I’ve been using a free release from Brindle and Twig- the ringer tee, but I had a few thoughts on making it more practical for dressing wiggly babies!

The basic ringer tee is already a great pattern. Some pattern companies release free patterns so that you can get to look at their instructions and drafting and decide if you like them enough to work with in their paid patterns. This is a well drafted basic tee in lots of sizes (it goes from 0-3m to 6 years) so another pattern that I should get lots of use out of. With that in mind, I had the pattern printed in colour to make it easier to see the different sizing lines, and just traced off the size that I needed.

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I went with the 0-3m size again, but one of my concerns before with the raglan tee’s was whether the neckbands would be easy to get over baby’s head. I’ve heard that babies sometimes don’t like things being put on over their head and I wondered if I could hack the pattern to make it easier. I have seen quite a few baby t-shirts and jumpers with snaps at the shoulder to make the neckline bigger while putting them on and off and it looked like a simple fix.

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This hack was actually really easy to do. I just extended the neckband, and the front and back shoulder on one side so that I had a bit extra for folding over. It makes putting the neckband in particularly easy because you only sew up one shoulder seam, then put the neckband in flat. Press the excess over on the open shoulder, and pin together at the right position while the sleeve is inserted, then just add snaps. If people are interested I can put together a proper photo tutorial of how to modify the pattern pieces and sewing process.

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I used my vario pliers and some prym colour snaps to co-ordinate with the jersey. I’m not sure how robust these will be as I don’t know if I interfaced the snap section enough to stop the jersey from stretching out and releasing the snaps. I think on the next version I will use jersey snaps instead which should be more robust. I’m pleased with this as a test run though. It looks super cute, and extra practicality. Now I just need the baby to arrive to test it out!

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Acacia Undies

Another scrapbusting project this week- underwear! This is the free Acacia underwear pattern from Megan Nielson which you can get if you subscribe to their newsletter. I spent a few days rummaging through all my jersey fabric scraps to see what I could come up with to make a couple of pairs, then set up a production line to start sewing!

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The pattern is particularly planned for people trying to cut these out from scraps by having all the pattern pieces cut on the flat rather than on the fold, which does make it easier to see what you can squeeze in to your funny shaped fabric pieces. I decided to go for the size M because its been a bit tricky working out which size to cut when your waist is clearly not in proportion with your hips. I was hoping that it would give me enough space to be comfortable, but with the option of sewing the elastic a little tighter if they ended up too big.

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I bought a few different types of elastic on eBay because the instructions give instructions for fold-over elastic, flat elastic and decorative picot elastic. I just chose a couple of colours which I liked and thought would co-ordinate with some of the fabrics in my stash.  Deciding how to mix and match has been fun!

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This green pair is the first one that I made up, and I added the elastic on the sewing machine.  It looks ok, but for some of the other pairs I did the first pass with the elastic on the overlocker so that I didn’t end up with raw fabric edges.  Jersey doesn’t fray, but I just thought that it looked neater.

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The pattern does come together very easily. If you have ever used the ‘burrito method’ to enclose the seams on a shirt yoke, the method used to attach the internal and external gusset hiding the seams on the inside is very similar. It is all very clearly explained though, so even if you haven’t come across it before you shouldn’t have any issues.  And if you prefer photographs to the illustrations in the pattern booklet, there is even a full set of instructions on the Megan Nielson Blog.

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I did use all the different elastic finishes, and I think the fold-over elastic is quickest because it is applied in one pass, rather than two.  I do really like the look of the picot edge though.  I definitely got better at applying the elastic as I went on.  It is just a bit fiddly at first stretching the elastic to fit the seam as you sew.

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I’m not going to be modelling these for you, because that seems a little weird, but good news is that they are comfortable, fit pretty well and are effectively totally free underwear if you use scraps that would be too small for any other sewing!

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Best part is, they are also really quick to cut and sew, so when you are lacking a little in inspiration, and just need to sew something, this is a good pattern to pull out of the bag.  Everyone always needs pretty underwear!

Tiny heads and hands

As you may now know, we are preparing for a new addition to our household, and this has prompted some slightly different sewing.  The great news for me though is that sewing for babies is a great use for little scraps, like the bits left over from my recent toaster sweater.  I had just enough to make some tiny mittens and a matching hat!

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The hat is a self drafted template, with a simple cuff at the bottom.  There are loads of tutorials out there for baby hats, but none of them were going to fit into the tiny scraps that I had left so I had to create my own.  The cuff piece was 8cm high and a little smaller than twice the width of the hat template.

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All I had to do was cut two ‘hats’ and a cuff.  Sew the ‘hats’ together, right sight together.  Sew the short ends of the cuff together, right sides together and press it in half wrong sides together.  Then just match the raw edges of the hat and cuff together and sew round.  Done in just a few minutes!  Let me know if you would like a more detailed tutorial with pictures and I can definitely get one together.

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To make the mittens was also pretty simple.  I found this tutorial for drafting the pieces and just followed it through.

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I used a little bit of grey ribbing for the cuffs this time because it was a bit stretcher than my jersey.  I cut the lining from some soft grey t-shirt jersey (left over from these t-shirts) because there was literally nothing left of my French terry by this point!  They are all soft and cosy on the inside because all the seams are enclosed.

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Don’t they look cute just waiting for baby to pop them on.  I’m sure this is just the first of perhaps many baby related posts, but when things are so quick and take so little fabric, why wouldn’t you sew them something!

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Another wedding outfit- Ogden and pleats

I spotted this leaf print viscose challis at Minerva Crafts a while ago, and thought it was a bargain at £2.99 a metre. There are a few colour options to choose from, but I really liked the muted colours of the tan colourway, and when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.  The fabric is so soft and fluid, but surprisingly easy to work with too.  I thought that I would make a lovely wedding outfit given that I had a few more to attend this year and I wasn’t wrong!

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One problem with sewing for weddings is that I rarely need to get dressed up like that in everyday life, and it does seem a waste to make something beautiful only to wear it for special occasions.  With that in mind, I decided to make a coordinating skirt and top so that I would have more opportunities to wear them apart as well as together.  This might have been partially inspired by other bloggers, and in particular Becca from Red W Sews who also used the ogden cami to make a ‘fake dress’.  It was actually this that convinced me to buy the pattern, and I’m glad I did because it is so simple and elegant.

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So with the top decided, I just needed to work out a skirt.  I fancied something midi length, which isn’t a length that I usually go for, but I thought for a wedding and with heels it should look a bit more classy.  The skirt didn’t need to be anything complicated so I decided to draft one myself  (not entirely successfully) from basic measurements.  I did find a couple of blogs that helped me out, most notably sewVeraVenus for drafting the skirt and Andrea at The Butchers Block for working out how I could have both a side seam zip and pockets!

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Somehow, once I had sewn the zip in and tried the skirt on, it was just far too big.  Being the lazy sewist that I am, I didn’t really want to reset the zip, so I decided to take out a full pleat from the opposite side seam.  I just unpicked a little bit of the waistband facing, took the side seam in, and sewed the facing back down.  Amazingly, despite taking a full 10cm out of the waist, it is still a little big so I don’t think much of my maths.  Either that, or the fabric stretched out a lot more than expected while sewing in the pleats.

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Because these box pleats use a lot of fabric (3 times the waist measurement) this is a lovely full and swooshy skirt.  There is enough weight to it for it to flow nicely, and because it is just a big rectangle , I had plenty of fabric to give it a deep hem.  Sadly, though the wedding venue had beautiful grounds it rained all afternoon, so we had to sneak out and find a little shelter to take these photos.

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Having tested it out together at the wedding, it seemed only right to give the top an outing by itself on the way home.  We stopped off at Croome on the way home, a National Trust property with a really interesting mixed history.  It has a massive grounds and parkland, but was also a ‘secret’ RAF base during the 2nd world war and was instrumental in developing RADAR.

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It was a lovely spot for a walk around and a break from motorway driving.  And my Ogden cami was comfortable and stylish for a Sunday afternoon stroll.  I can see it getting plenty of use for a semi-dressed up look this autumn.

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Button Back Blouse, It’s winning me around!

 

Although I was going to label this a sewing fail, I am being won over!  I made this Tilly and the Buttons button back blouse from an issue of love sewing over a year ago.  It is well finished with French seams, but I never wore it when it was newly finished.  Lets have a look at the details to find out why!

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I believe this is quite similar to the TATB Mathilde Blouse, just without the pin tucks if you want to be able to recreate it. It has a yoke seam, which I very carefully added piping into.

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So why have I not been wearing it?  I think it comes down to two things- personal style and fit.  Those puffed sleeves are cute, but don’t fit with my usual style because I can’t wear a cardigan.  In terms of fit, the key problem is at the back.

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I think I have a quite narrow upper back.  I often have to take in quite a bit at the centre back and by the time I realised there was a problem in this top the button placket was finished and it seemed too fiddly.  It also feels like the shoulder seam is slightly in the wrong place.  This may also be because I need a full bust adjustment, and this is pulling the back and shoulder seam out of place.

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So why, when I wore it out for these pictures did I start reconsidering my plans to take it to the charity shop.  I think it is a combination of the style being perfect for the current weather, and a great combination of fabric and pattern!  Some of the things that I didn’t like about the pattern, are actually what is making it so perfect.  The longer sleeves keep it breezy and cool, but mean that I don’t need a cardigan, even into the evening.  The fabric (sadly no longer available at Minerva Crafts) is a lovely cotton chambray and just a fantastic weight and drape.  The contrast piping and buttons lighten it up and the splash of coral is great for spring.

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Perhaps I will have to give this a second chance!