A Common blouse - and shorts

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

When I sorted the photos for this post, I unthinkingly called the photo file 'Common Blouse', because I took the pictures on the typically English common near our home.
Then the name has somehow stuck. A Common Blouse.
This isn't a blouse that's breaking any new ground style-wise. But I love it just the same.
And it's also been a real wardrobe staple - seeing missy through the winter, often worn as a layer under the Cloth of Kings  dress featured here.
And now it's still going strong into our summer.
I'm often asked if the  pretty lawn  fabric is Liberty. It could be, it's a lovely design, but it's simply bought from my local fabric shop. I love seeing missy in a blouse, rather than a t-shirt, but finding a good blouse pattern was surprisingly difficult.
I
The only pattern I could find was this one from Burda.
It only goes up to age 3,  so I modified the pattern slightly. I cut the yoke pieces wider and made the 'skirt' of the blouse much longer. I get really depressed if missy grows out of clothes too quickly! I also didn't like the sleeves on the Burda pattern. Elastic halfway up the arm just seemed wierd to me. And I had visions of the wide flaring sleeves just getting covered in pasta sauce etc. So I put the elastic round the cuffs to make a little frill. So it now looks  half dress/half blouse.Which I kind of like.
But it was crying out for a pair of shorts to complete the outfit.
I had a sizeable remnant leftover from the Fat Quarter Blouse which seemed ideal.
I just winged it with a pattern for the shorts - partly because I only had a small piece of fabric to work with.
I added little cuffs to the bottom, complete with notch opening and pink piping. (Have I mentioned before that I'm obsessed with piping?) I'm pleased with the design- although it's not terribly well executed. Watch this space for Notch-Cuff Shorts Mark 2!

I didn't have quite enough fabric to be able to cut one of the legs, so I had to cut it from two pieces and patch them together. A little appliqued bird, covers the corner of the join - which I hadn't
managed to do very neatly.


Of course when I finally persuaded missy to model her outfit on the Common, she helpfully removed the shorts!
I used embroidery thread button-loops, which are so easy to do and always look delicate. They're something my mother taught me to do and have become a bit of a trademark.


I love the way this pattern flares at the back. It creates a beautiful silhouette.



What my mother taught me - part 1

Tuesday, 11 June 2013




My mum has just  spent the weekend with me -  a rare visit from her home 400 miles away.
And it was lovely showing her all my latest sewing projects.
I had forgotten just what a great seamstress she is. She made all the clothes for me and my sister. She didn't so much teach me, as let me absorb and observe. She made duffle coats, dresses, dolls clothes and more.
She has two golden rules:

1.  An iron is the most important tool for dressmaking

2.  Don't sew when you're tired (especially, don't cut anything out)

As I unpick another seam (a result of breaking rule number 2) I always think of my mum.

So when I showed her missy's growing home-made wardrobe - I was suddenly aware of her skilful and critical eye. My sewing style can be a bit 'have a go' , especially as I usually sew late at night in short bursts after children's bedtime. My mum, on the other hand is a perfectionist, matching patterns beautifully across seams etc.

She loved all the piped collars and cuffs I've been obsessed with recently (more of which to come on here).
"Of course you use a zipper foot to make piping," she said.
"Oh.? Do you? ummm" said I.
"It means you can get the cord nice  and tight in the piping," she explained.
Oh dam!
So now I am now looking at all the piping I've done thinking, Mum, what a shame you live 400 miles away - I could do with your tips.
And why, oh why, didn't I use a zipper foot....?
So here's a piece of new nice neat piping. With a zipper foot. Look out for the finished result soon...
And my sister and I in our lovely home-made dresses by my mum, aged three, the same as missy is now....
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