Thursday, March 14, 2013

Refashion: Summery Blouse

I have a confession to make. I've been channelling my inner Grumpy Old Woman way too much of late, griping and carping about the weather. Mind you, so has everyone else I know! Still, ridiculous heat or not, I decided I needed to be a little more proactive in my coping approach and find some kind of silver lining. And the answer was found in white, pin-tucked cotton. Because is there anything more quintessentially and satisfyingly summery than white pin-tucked cotton clothes? I say not. :)

A friend who knows I love refashioning had given me this a few months ago. Not my best look, as is!

 Even worse side on! But the great thing about bigger sizes is that you can always cut them down. Besides, white pin-tucked cotton!

I decided to lose the sleeves. They were finished with the same narrow frill as the neckline, so I was able to salvage that and the very narrow binding to finish off the armholes. These were too low and gapey, so I cut them higher, and in the process cut off about 4cm from each side. I planned to turn the sleeves into a band  under the bust. (I say "planned", but there was far more enthusiasm than forward planning involved in this project. Which leads us, somewhat unsurprisingly, to....)

First hiccup. There wasn't enough fabric in the sleeves. (It was probably optimistic to assume otherwise...) I had some white cotton voile that I used instead, and then cut the front and back pieces under the bust and sewed it in.

Second hiccup. It doesn't show up so well in the photo below but the new voile pieces were startlingly, strikingly brighter than the rest. Plus, which brings us along to the third hiccup, the extra length combined with  the amount I'd trimmed down the sides by meant it no longer fit over my hips. The new armholes looked nice, though...

It was time to rethink. Or, more accurately, actually think. The blindingly white band had to go. I decided to cut it down into a narrow casing, which made the brightness much less obvious and had the advantage of enabling some shaping, which I hadn't yet allowed for properly. I had enough of the voile to make a long cord too. Solved! (By the way, would you look at the size difference between those tucks?! You may not guess it from this post but I'm usually pretty particular about accuracy, and fuss over bits that aren't quite right. Yet so much RTW  stuff is like this and I never really gave it a second thought. I love that sewing gives me my own quality control. Ok, rant over.)

So I cut down the bands, and sewed it all back together, inserting an invisible zip down one side. The hips fit again (always a bonus :) ), but I kept the lower 8cm open anyway. If I'd have thought ahead of time BEFORE cutting the front and back in two I would have had an easier time of it, just sewing a casing to the inside. As it was I had to thread the cord through the back piece and sew it into the other side seam. This means I can only adjust the fit with the cords in the front, but since the fit's ok now that's not really a problem. I ended up with this:

A much more user-friendly garment! And it got a good workout on the first day I wore it - those pics were taken at 7:30am, when it was already 28C (82F).(See?? Ridiculous heat!)  It was 37C (98F) by lunchtime, and while I wasn't exactly cool, I was as cool as I could be without walking around in my underwear. Which, let's face it, is frowned on at work...All in all, this was a fun - and useful - way to be a bit more appreciative of the weather. Or at least shut the inner Grumpy Old Woman up for a while ;)

In other news, here's a sneak peek of my Sew for Victory project fabric! I wanted a colour like my favourite dressing gown, a dark plum. I found this hemp and silk blend at Offset Warehouse and it's not too far off that shade. For some reason my camera seems to be picking up more of the cooler tones than warmer ones in the morning light, so for the record in real life the fabric is almost exactly the colour of the dressing gown in the photo here. Go figure...

The muslin fabric is all cut out and ready to go. I did plan to get stuck into sewing it together today, but went to buy food for the family instead. Couldn't put it off any longer! Maybe this weekend...

How are your projects going? Are you sewing for the new season yet, or making the most of the old one?

Have a wonderful week :)


  1. Well done for working through all those issues! You've ended up with a very lovely top.
    As all sewists LOVE to see the details, could you make the finished garment photos a bit bigger pretty please? Especially with that magical lighting - it's a shame not to see you in all that glorious morning light!

    1. Yup, finally worked through all those (entirely self-inflicted) issues!
      I'll definitely try for bigger/better finished photos next time - thanks, that's really helpful feedback :)
      Hope you're feeling better oxo

  2. Wow that fabric (for your 40's dress) is lovely. What a colour! No idea why things photograph so weirdly, but the dressing gown colour is just beautiful. I can't wait to see your dress!

    And I love the refashion too. It looks nothing like the original top! I am constantly amazed at people's ingenuity when it comes to refashioning. I just don't think I have the vision, and would be too scared of making irreparable "hiccups", especially if someone had donated the original garment, and was waiting to see what fabulous thing I turned it into...

    PS. thanks for your comments on the fabric BTW! Your logic made sense! :)

    1. Nothing's irreparable! I'm convinced it's all just playing around till it looks right - even if that's completely different to what you originally envisaged ;) (By the way, have you seen the blog Charity Shop Chic? Her ingenuity is jaw-dropping!)

  3. Excellent work! This blouse is about 1000% more flattering now xx

    1. Oh, thanks - I'm definitely happier wearing this version in public!