The emperor has too many clothes, and Burda 08/2011

Do all sewers have enough clothes, or is it just me? I’m not a speedy seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but my cupboard is pretty much full. Handmade clothes just don’t wear out! I suppose I’m also less likely to get rid of them, for two reasons. Firstly, I like everything about them, unlike a bought item where I might like the style but not so much the fabric, or vice versa. And secondly, the time investment makes them more valuable than something ready-made. The internet tells me this is the sunk cost fallacy – but the insight doesn’t really help, I still want to hang on to it all.

One solution is to sew for others. There is clearly an increasing amount of this on this blog. I really like doing it. It’s hard to be sure what the recipients really think, but I think it’s appreciated, on the whole. When I was small my grandmother used to knit a lot of jumpers. Often the neck hole was too small, and my mother didn’t want to disappoint her by telling her. Most of the people I sew for are considerably less polite, and I trust that they’ll give me honest feedback!

Anyway, this is a blouse I made for my sister. It’s this one from Burda 08/2011. I used to have a hemp blouse in a similar style, which I wore to pieces, and so I was thrilled to come across this Burda pattern.

Burda blouse 08/2011

The fabric is a fairly heavy crepe, possibly rayon I think. It’s a gorgeous fabric and a stunning colour that always makes me think of my sister, for some reason. It definitely suits her. Another benefit of sewing for others: making things in colours you love but don’t love to wear.

Burda 08/2011

The only modification was to omit the side slits, and shape the hem up at the sides. I do this a lot and don’t know why so many patterns are cut straight across – I think a shaped hem looks a lot nicer.

burda shirt 4 edited

Anyway the main lesson from this pattern was to check the finished measurements – this could easily have gone down one size, maybe two. It’s not just too loose, but too big all over – the back opening looks too long, the sleeves are bracelet length rather than three-quarter, the hem’s probably too long… But it’s definitely wearable, and I suppose it’s better than being too small.

It’s one to make again… maybe even for myself. I would like another blue hemp top like this.


Sewing double, sisters edition – SBCC Mimosa

This is my Indie Pattern Month entry over at The Monthly Stitch. The week 2 challenge is to sew two versions of the same pattern, so I made a blouse for myself and one for my sister.

SBCC Mimosa front joined

It’s a SBCC Mimosa, a pull-over blouse with raglan sleeves and a front tie.

We live in different countries (me in NZ, her in Australia), so we had to get creative with the photos. We had a virtual trip to the park…

Followed by a chat on the corner…

Check out that Wellington hair! It was definitely time to freshen up…

Before a well-earned cup of tea.

Why would 2,325km stand in the way of a good sisterly catch-up?

Now, more details about the pattern:

It’s a lovely one for a voile or light cotton (which I used), and I’m sure it would work well in something drapier too. I made two adjustments: firstly, I changed the sleeve to a two-piece one, with a seam along the shoulder. The original has a dart there, and try as I might I couldn’t get it to sit properly, there was always a bump at the end of the dart. Here’s the seam instead:

Secondly, I shaped the hem up at the sides, so it looks a little nicer untucked.  Some people who have made this have inserted a back facing (there’s already a front one), but I had no trouble using bias tape as directed.

That back neck looks too low, I think it’s because I changed the sleeve. Must fix next time.


  • Pattern: SBCC Mimosa blouse
  • Fabric: Art Gallery fabrics voile (me), Spotlight bargain bin geometric light cotton (her – wish I’d bought more for myself!)
  • Alterations: two-piece sleeve, curved hem
  • Next time: raise back neck
  • More versions: here, here, here, here, here, PatternReview


Presents are the best, featuring Colette Hawthorn

Colette Hawthorn blouse

For my birthday this year, my awesome sisters gave me a Colette Hawthorn pattern and some fabric to make it with. What do you think?

Colette Hawthorn blouse

I’m one of the lucky people for whom this pattern is a perfect fit. When I first looked at the pattern pieces I thought “Just one giant waist dart? That’ll never work” – but somehow it does. And I love the little neck darts at the back that prevent back-neck gape.



  • I made the sleeves a wee bit longer, rather than the cap sleeves in the pattern.
  • I lengthened the front of the collar by 4.5cm on each side, so it ends at the centre rather than halfway up the neck opening.
  • I neatened the edge of the facing by sewing it and the interfacing right-side-together before turning it inside out and then pressing (Sophie-Lee explains this better than me).
  • I hemmed it with bias tape and a blind hem.


  • And I retraced the facings into two pieces, with a seam at the centre back. No particular reason, other than that it saved sewing a few seams.

However, if you change the pattern you’ve got to turn your brain on, and not cut two identical facing pieces! Can you see this? One of them is wrong-side-up (I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another one).


And make sure you sew the facing seams right-side-together! (Luckily this is at the back neck and no-one will see it but me – I might even cover it with a label).


So, minor errors aside, this is a total win. I love it. Best present ever.

Top of the morning

More sewing double, but too late for the Monthly Stitch April challenge. I blame the end of daylight savings. There have been very few mornings lately with the magic combination of a) light b) no rain c) the Fashion Critic in the right mood to be photographer, and d) the model (me) not running late for work.

I have been wearing this skirt to work nearly every day, and needed some tops to go with it. One of the WSBN ladies (I think it was Wendy) did a big pattern clear-out and I scored this one, Style 4268.

Style 4268

Coincidentally, the week before that I had made a bodice block (my first ever!) using The Costume Technician’s Handbook. This book has a rather wonderful chapter explaining how to draft a bodice, skirt, sleeve, collars, even pants, from scratch. One of the things I love about sewing is that there is so much to it, but you can get as involved as you like. If you just want to make a dress, you can go out and buy a pattern and some fabric, and make a pretty good dress. But if you prefer, you can spend years learning about fit and drafting, couture finishes, and fabric. To the untrained eye, your dress will look much like the first one. But you will know it’s not!

So I used my block to adjust this pattern. The gathering at the yoke made this a bit challenging, but I just increased the width of the front and back pieces while keeping the armhole the same size, and it worked like magic. Since this is a pull-on pattern, I also got rid of the waist darts, which made the fit quite a bit looser.

Style 4268 green front

Hmm. Probably better tucked in.

First I made view 1, with the awesome 80s-school-teacher collar. This was planned as a wearable muslin, using a $5 silk/cotton from the Fabric Warehouse. It’s not my most loved colour, but is a great fabric with a mix of green and yellow filaments giving that ‘shot silk’ look.

Style 4268 green back

The sleeves are the same shape as in the pattern, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make long sleeves, so they’re elbow length. I did initially gather them but decided I prefer them as loose batwing sleeves. Groovy!

Style 4268 green sleeve

Next I made view 2, with the pussy bow (I’ve wanted a pussy-bow blouse for exactly ages).

Style 4268 blue front 3

This fabric is a beautiful viscose that I bought from the Fabric Store on the craft crawl last year. I can’t tell you how much I love this fabric. I love the blue and yellow. I love how it looks faded. I love how soft it feels.

Style 4268 blue front 2


Style 4268 blue bow

The first time I wore it I pulled on a cardigan and riiiiip!

Style 4268 blue rip

The cuff pulled away from the sleeve. The cuff isn’t quite big enough so maybe that’s why it happened. Anyway I’ve been wearing the sleeves rolled up but will have to either fix it or change it to three-quarter sleeves. I had 1.5m of fabric and that was only barely enough, so there’s none left.

One more shot to show you how pretty it is.

Style 4268 blue back 1

Nailed it.

Well, I didn’t nail it exactly, but I did make a wee visit to the tool shed for this outfit.


First, the blouse. I bought this so-called cotton poplin at Spotlight a while back, it is quite light and not my idea of a poplin, but Spotlight is not famous for being pedantic about these things.

I had got it into my head that I wanted a button-back blouse. After lurking on Trademe for months waiting for an appropriate pattern, I realised that I could just add a back placket to any old blouse. (Literally, this thought took months… lateral thinking is not my strong point). The blouse itself took only a couple of hours. It is LOOSELY based on Simplicity 7223.


It’s kind of boxy but I will wear it tucked in. The buttons are some lovely old Woolworths ones that I had in the stash, still on their card. The buttonholes were made with my machine’s buttonhole function. It is embarrassing to admit, but it’s actually the first time I’ve used it – previously I’ve just zig-zagged buttonholes manually. Who knew that knob was there for a reason??


And – the tool shed reference – I used a tiny 12mm chisel to cut the buttonhole openings. One of those clever WSBN ladies mentioned doing this, and it is ever so fun. It also has the added bonus of making a super neat buttonhole opening, with no stretching or ragged threads. My tip, though: don’t do it directly on your cutting mat. Next time I’ll put some newspaper in between. I just Googled it and guess what? You can actually buy buttonhole chisels! Mine was just from Bunnings. Good enough.

The skirt meant another trip to the tool shed for cable ties. It has a high waist and I used a piece of cable-tie in each waistband seam, to stop the waistband rolling down. I used two at the front, and two at the back. I didn’t put them in the side seams as I thought that might be uncomfortable. It worked beautifully and I adore the high waistline.

Image(Scuse the wrinkles, this is after sitting at work all day.)

The pattern is a free download, the Favourite Frills skirt from Your Style Rocks. Friends, you must try this pattern, and I say that as someone who would generally rather go to the dentist than sticky-tape patterns together. It has some lovely details like the paired darts at the back, and is just the right width to be able to walk in without having to add a vent.


Obviously, I didn’t use the outer ‘frills’ layer. I thought about lining it, but didn’t in the end as I wanted to be able to wear it year-round. I initially put in a centred back zip, but undid it and changed to a lapped one instead when this happened:


Gaping can be a problem with a centred zip, but I think it’s a particular hazard when there is a seam midway down the zip. The lapped zip was much better.

The fabric is some kind of very soft synthetic, from a one-euro bargain bin in Madeira, where I had a holiday in 2012. Isn’t it nice to buy fabric on holidays? It’s such a good reminder of the trip. I bought a big piece of fabric, intending to make a skirt and jacket, but I was so frivolous cutting out the skirt (*one euro!* *snip snip!*) that there isn’t quite enough left. Isn’t it awful to buy fabric on holidays? You can’t go and get more.


Anyway I can tell that both of these items are going to get a lot of wear, and that’s a good feeling.

Dandelion number 2

Hot on the heels of my Dandelion dress, here’s a Dandelion blouse.

top front
This fabric is a second-generation stashbuster: I think my mum must have bought it in Thailand in the 70s. I’ve been waiting to find the right pattern to use. I think a dress might be a bit much, don’t you?

top full length
I cut this out at social sewing at Made on Marion the other weekend, chatterboxing with ZaraJoSophie and Maryanne. The good news is that I have a bit left. It might be enough for a simple sleeveless blouse (Sorbetto, maybe?). Maybe it will be a gift.

top - side
I drafted a higher neckline and a Peter Pan collar from Gertie’s tutorial.

top - collar
Obviously I wasn’t paying attention because the collar is way too far apart at the back.

top - back
A design feature, that’s called.