Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keeping it real

The thing I like about getting older is that I can be more realistic because I have more self awareness and am not afraid to be in denial about things. For example, I am aware of certain alterations that I need to make to patterns for a better fit – having sloping shoulders for instance is not a bad thing in the whole scheme of things and garments can look better if I actually make the alteration!
One thing I am trying to be more realistic about is my wardrobe and thus what I sew. At heart, I am a very practical person. I don’t get dressed up at home if I am not going out (actually, I wear old comfortable clothes). I don’t go out very much either, so not much need for those lovely dressy clothes that are so fun to plan and sew. I like to make stuff to wear for work, but if I am being real, I get fussy about what I will wear to work. It needs to be practical and comfortable
I am a special education teacher, working in a primary school in a low socio-economic area. The school is somewhat overcrowded and I don’t actually have a teaching space of my own. I go into other teacher’s classes and have to work within their space the best that I can. So I might be sitting on a chair next to a student’s desk, or I might have to kneel next to a student (and then move across the room to help other students) or I might sit on the floor with a group of students (I find it easier to sit on the floor with some of the work I do, since there are lots of flashcards and games and it is hard on my neck to bend down to make sure students are attending to the right information. I would like a big table for all of us to sit around, but there isn’t the space this year).
My point is, I need pants to sit and kneel on the floor. And with the weather the way it is in summer, I like light airy cotton tops so I don’t faint while on duty. The classrooms may be air-conditioned, but it is disgusting outside.

I have styled the new tops I have made with likely coordinates from my wardrobe. I wish I was more stylish but I got into the habit of not wearing dangly jewellery and putting my hair in a pony tail while at uni doing pracs and then working at a special school setting.

Red polka dot blouse #107 from Burda 6/2008

I have made this previously and since it was so a comfortable fit, I thought I would make it again. The red polka dot fabric was a recent purchase, and has a lovely smooth feel to it. I made the pleats in the bodice, but omitted the elastic (last time I did shirring here and it made it a little too tight for my liking).

As expected, it went together very nicely. I followed Gigi’s tutorial for a clean finish inside the collar stand. I chose white pearly shank buttons. I love this pattern for the lovely pleated sleeve as well as the pleats on the bodice. It makes the waist nip in nicely.

Pinstripe blouse

This is another Burda #107 from 6/2008. I was going to make it sleeveless (like Solvi's shirtdress and because I was a little short on fabric) but I found the semi-raglan sleeves cut in too much, and I realised I had just enough to cut the sleeves if I cut them out separately.

I love getting the nice finish on the collar stand. Outside is left, inside is pictured right.


Anthropologie inspired trapeze top

My last Anthro knockoff was a dud but this one is a little better. Only because it has a belt to cinch it in correctly. The fabric store actually on cut a metre rather than the metre and a half I wanted for this top. I was able squeeze it in, with a back seam but there wasn’t enough to make some binding for the neck and underarms. I ended up using store bought stuff, but I was reminded why I hate using it. In the future, I will make my own again. I don’t really use it much and when I have needed it I have been able to use from the stash of handmade bias I had made when I was younger and obsessed with binding everything.

I used this pattern as a basis for the trapeze shape, and the other pattern for the neckline. The sleeves are from another Burda pattern. I didn’t want to add the sleeves but the straps where too thin without them. I suppose it looks more like the top I was trying to knock off. 

Spotty skirt and Swiss dot blouse (#125 from 05/2009, skirt a mishmash of patterns and drafting)

I love using my tried and tested patterns over and over, but I wanted something that would look similar to my fave twirly skirt pattern but was a little less time consuming to sew. I kept the front yoke piece and using a vintage Kwik Sew pattern at a guide, made a 6 gore flared skirt pattern. I made the pattern quite a while back, so I am not sure why I chose 6 gores over say 8. Maybe the Kwik Sew one has 6 gores?

Because I had used the same yoke piece for front and back, the back sits a little funny. And the gores stick out too much for my liking. I am not sure if it because the fabric I used is not drapey enough or because the amount of gores doesn’t distribute the flare the way my other gored skirts do. I was a little sad when I first sewed it (weeks ago) but now I am feeling pretty happy about the skirt.

The blouse pattern is actually a pattern for a shirtwaister. I loved the pleated sleeves and cuff but did not want it as a dress, so I stopped tracing the pattern after 55cm (which was based on another blouse pattern that I had recently traced). I am not sure what I was thinking when I cut it out the pattern for the first time from some expensive fabric. I must have figured that my last blouse had a collar and stand so this one would be a cinch.

The thing is, I traced it some time ago from a borrowed Burda and I had misplaced the directions. The other issue was I have lengthen blouse that I based the length of this blouse on, when I should have lengthened this one too before cutting out.

I love love love how the cuffs worked out. I used Gigi’s method for a clean finish here too. I am so glad a could apply buttonholes here too. When I first had it pinned, I thought my arms were too wide. I then realised that I was overlapping it too much plus I could use smaller buttons here.

 I also used a method for a clean finish facing - sew the interfacing to the right side of the facing, turn and fuse to the inside. I also topstitched.

I love the results of this blouse and while probably use it again with some changes (change the front facing a little, plus the length). There is just enough puff in the sleeve for my liking and it will be great when I can use a wider hem.


  1. So many beautifully finished items :-) I particularly like the red spotted dress, its adorable on you.

  2. Marie, everything is so wonderful. I always feel like such a hack after seeing all of your sewing. I think when I shrink some more I'd be more inclined to do that type of sewing for myself.

  3. Wow, you've been sewing up a storm! I have the first top on my list - I especially love the red polka dot version.

  4. They all look fabulous Marie!! I love your blouse choices - you are inspiring me to pull out my Burdas - but I don't have time right now.

  5. Wow Marie, I love every piece you have made here. As I was reading through your post I was delighted to see one fantastic garment after another. All of the looks are cheerful and functional and so professional looking. Great job! You've been busy.

  6. I especially love your little red polka dot top - your students will love this too I think . I have some red polka dot fabric and have been wondering for years what to do with this without looking like Minnie MOuse - your top has inspired me to use this.


Thanks - I love receiving comments.