Tag Archive | blouse

December 18: happy

This afternoon, I’ve been adjusting a blouse pattern to fit me in the hopes that I can get it sewn before Sunday (y’know, to wear with that sparkly skirt). I like the challenge; I like to see it come together. Right now working on this is making me happy. If I can’t figure out how to translate what I’ve achieved in tissue paper into real life, it may be another story, though…

Why yes, that is a duct tape dress form.

Why yes, that is a duct tape dress form.

UFO #2: Peasant blouse

Oh youse guys.

This is bad. Like, really bad.

This peasant blouse was supposed to have been a transitional maternity top for me last spring/summer. And in that respect, I made an excellent choice in pattern (Butterick 5217 for anyone who really cares).

Guys, I can't see my toes.

Guys, I can’t see my toes.

When I put it away last spring, or, more accurately, when it just sat in a lump on my table for months on end, I had already sewn the yoke together, constructed the sleeves, and had sewn the front and back together. I even put French seams in this bad boy! All I had to do was put the above-mentioned pieces together and it would have been done! But…

I decided that beige linen was boring. It needed something to spruce it up, give it a little visual interest. I found some kind of whirly fiddly little design that I wanted to embroider on the yoke. For Christmas, Mr. Gren had given me one of those fading ink fabric pens. I drew on the fiddly little design and set to work. When I was 80% done with it, I left on my trip back East. That was the last time I touched it. The ink had faded by the time I returned and, for some reason, despite my growing belly, I had no interest or inclination in finishing this particular project.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn't care anymore.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn’t care anymore.

And let’s face it, peeps, my embroidery skillz ain’t so hot. But the whole project was hung up on me finishing the embroidery before attaching the yoke and bodice, otherwise I’d embroider through the yoke facing and I needed all the ugly side to be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric where it would be protected from unraveling. So I got to this point and went, “Eh, less is more” and sewed the yoke and bodice together.

Then I thought it would be fun to try it on.

i haz a sad.

i haz a sad.

You’ve heard the phrase “sad sack”? Now you have a visual reference. This is a sad sack. No, I take that back. This sack is downright depressed.

Plenty of room to grow! Except... baby was born 4 months ago.

Plenty of room to grow! Except… baby was born 4 months ago.

The plan was that this could serve me through pregnancy yet also be something that wasn’t overtly maternity and even have an extended life as a cute top postpartum and beyond. Obviously that’s not gonna happen.

“What about belting it?” you ask. I asked myself the same question and tried it out with a belt. They’re all worse. Laughably worse.

There's no helping this atrocity.

There’s no helping this atrocity.

Baby Sprinkaan was asleep in my room at the time of the photo, so I couldn’t get to my belt, but you get the general idea. Cinching in the waist does strange and unflattering things to the bust region. The heck is up with those pleats?? There really isn’t any point in attaching the sleeves now. In fact, this UFO is destined for the scrap basket. I think there is enough fabric in the bodice that I could make something for one of the kids; I just haven’t hit on that something yet.

Next up on Disasters in Linen…

Remember this dress? IMG_0073

I unpacked it recently to find a large, yellow stain on the front. It looked like mustard, but surely I would have noticed that when I packed it away? I ran it through the washing machine. Heh. Not only did the stain not come out, this happened:


It’s unsalvageable. There are two more rips like this on the skirt. The peasant blouse makes me laugh. This one actually does make me sad. So, I’ll be clipping all the buttons off and throwing this one in the scrap heap, too. {sigh}

Enough of that. Next up in the quest to conquer my UFOs:


I’d better get a move on.






Putting the plan into place

Happy New Year! We’ve been in the new house for two months now, baby Sprinkaan is 6 weeks old, we made it through the holidays and life is beginning to settle into a more predictable routine, which means I can — fingers crossed — get back on here on a more regular basis. Earlier last week, I began going through my sewing room in an attempt to bring some order to the chaos. I’ve still got more work to do to get it organized to where I can find things easily, but in that process, I made a shocking discovery. Shocking, I tell you! Ok, maybe only to me.

A room of my very own!

A room of my very own!

Whilst cleaning, I came across several UFOs. That’s right, the dreaded UnFinished Object. I’m not surprised that these UFOs exist (I am a procrastinator, after all), just that there are so many of them. I found things I had completely forgotten about. So, in the interest of accountability, I’m posting them all here. Well, I say all; there may yet be undiscovered specimens.

Here's the story of a lovely lady who can't seem to finish what she starts

Here’s the story of a lovely lady who can’t seem to finish what she starts

From the top, going left to right:

  1. Rag rug. I even posted about this back when I started it and then promptly got bored of it and stashed it away. It’s wound into an oval purely for visual purposes because it’s much easier to see it as a rug this way than as the mile-long fabric braid that it actually is. The braiding is complete, as far as I’m concerned, now it’s just the awful task of hand-sewing all that mess together.
  2. Crochet gingerbread house. It doesn’t look like much, but all the actual house pieces are there: roof, front, back, and sides. I just need to finish all the candy features and assemble the thing.
  3. Beige peasant blouse. I started this last spring with the intention of it being a sort of transitional maternity top. That was effective. Again, all the pieces are there, I just need to finish the embroidery on the yoke and sew it up.
  4. Rainbow granny afghan. This is probably the biggest undertaking out of all these projects. I hate weaving in ends and granny squares produce a lot of ends to weave. Multi-colored granny squares make me question my sanity for deciding to embark on this in the first place.
  5. Front of a sweater. This sweater has a name — it’s from my knitting board book, but I can’t find the book yet and I don’t remember the name. At any rate, the front of a sweater doesn’t do me a lot of good without the back and sleeves.
  6. Axl doll. Another naked Axl. I started out all gung-ho on this after I finished the dolls for the girls, but then was struck with ennui when it came to sewing more tiny clothes. The thing is, I did all the hard work the first time and made little patterns so that any subsequent dolls wouldn’t be such a pain, but, eh.
  7. Knitting loom sock. Remember when I made Konik the little striped socks that he loved and wouldn’t take off for three days? Immediately after that, I began making a sock for myself. And then more interesting things came along… I actually haven’t gotten very far on this one at all and, to tell the truth, can’t remember which pattern I was using. I may end up taking it off and doing something else. We’ll see.
  8. Bunny dress. Rana and I had started a little sewing project together to make her favorite stuffed bunny a pretty little dress. We were on a roll and then we missed a few days and a few days turned into a few months.
  9. Embroidered baby booties. You want to know how shameful my UFOs are? I began these booties when I was pregnant with Konik. He’s 4. I need to get a move on if any of my own children are going to actually wear these. Sprinkaan, you are our last hope.

So here’s my New Year’s Resolution of sorts: for the next year, I will choose one of these projects each month and bust it out. Originally I was just going to randomly pull one from a jar, but obviously, some of these have a little more urgency than others, like the booties for example. That one will have to be the first… just as soon as I finish the little sweater I’m knitting for Sprinkaan. Maybe after that I’ll go with the jar idea. For some reason, it feels more likely that I’ll actually do these if I feel like it’s a surprise and not an assignment. I will (again, fingers crossed) be making other things during the next nine months. These items are, with the exception of the doll clothes, my “armchair crafts” — the things that I can work on in the evenings after I’ve put the kids to bed and just want to sit quietly. Even with the new baby, I’ll make time for daytime projects. So, when I begin one of these UFOs, I’ll post about it and you all can pester me hold me accountable throughout that month to make sure I finish it! Deal? Deal.

Roses and leopard print

Aren’t I the wild child.

On Mother’s Day, I got to go fabric shopping while Mr. Gren entertained the children at the zoo. That’s fair, right? As I looked at my shopping cart, I noticed a disproportionate amount of blue and green. What can I say? I love blue and green. And while it’s nice to have a “signature color,” I was afraid that my entire wardrobe was going to look like the same thing over and over. And what’s the point of sewing new clothes if it looks like you only have one outfit?

So I made myself branch out. I made myself choose a fabric with not a shred of blue. I guess there’s a tiny bit of green. I can’t remember the last time I wore roses. Probably the black rose-print stirrup pants I wore in 9th grade with an oversized hot pink sweater and slouchy socks. Heck yeah, 1992! Given the dubious sartorial choice of roses, I was a little uncomfortable, but I told myself that discomfort is all part of trying new things. Or reviving 20+ year old things. Now the leopard print, that’s entirely uncharted waters.


Simplicity 2690 was the pattern I used, view C — the sleeveless tunic. Although, that isn’t quite right; it forms its own little cap sleeves. Cutting out the pattern pieces was a little bit of a pain because the front bodice pieces had to be cut out one at a time. I hate when I have to do that. In this case, it was a good thing, though, because it made me think about the placement of the roses.

Bohemian rhapsody

Bohemian rhapsody

The sewing itself was not difficult at all; I got it done in one afternoon. To cinch it in under the bust, the pattern called for 1″ wide bias tape. I’ve got all kinds of bias tape on hand, but nothing that wide. So I opted for a ribbon instead. Then it wanted 3/8″ wide elastic. To me, that’s awfully wide for something that’s not on the waist, so I went with 1/2″ Also, that’s what I had. I sew a little bit the same way that I cook. No oregano? Use basil! Not quite the right notions? Let’s see what else I have around here!


And when it was all done…

My gosh, I am fantastically white.

My gosh, I am fantastically white.

I was quite pleased with the result. It’s quilting cotton, so it does hang a bit stiff, but it is comfortable. And I think I ended up with a cute top.




Roses and leggings, together again. We’ll be keeping the roses up top this time around, though.

Welcome to the Jungle

We’ve been on a little Guns n’ Roses kick around here lately since Granota decided to start styling herself like Axl Rose (without any previous knowledge of his existence). Now she likes to rock out to various GNR hits and we’ve all had an endless medley playing in our brains. There are worse things.

Ok, so Axl didn’t wear pink ballerina slippers on his black t-shirts.

Last week, I began working on the second of my spring/summer blouses. The fabric is a rayon challis print (possibly my favorite fabric to work with and wear!). Granota commented that I was going to look like a zebra. I pointed at the foliage on the print and said I’d look like a zebra walking in the jungle. I don’t know what zebras are doing in the jungle (you’re gonna DIIIIIE!), but I love how colorful it all is. And really, this is going out on a limb for me. {gasp} Red? And orange? Good thing there’s a heavy dose of teal to balance it all out for me.

The pattern I used is McCall’s 6563. Basically a t-shirt with a drapey front neckline treatment. It consists of two whole pieces. As I was pulling them out I thought, this is either going to be genius or a major mess.

With just two pieces, there’s not a lot of tricky construction. The drapey front is just an extended portion of the front neckline that falls inward. Easy. This style was also a little bit of a departure from anything I’ve worn, but that’s ok because my style — as it were — definitely needs an infusion of visual interest.

All in all, I think I like this top. I made it in a medium based on my measurements, but really, I think I could take it down to small. I ended up cutting off two inches from the hem (not to mention the mullet hem in the back) because it hit me in a weird place. Also, the armholes come down a little farther than I would prefer. I wore a camisole under it today and that made me feel safer.

So here I am, a zebra in the jungle.

(And, as an added bonus, the white eyelet skirt that I made a couple years ago after seeing one in the mall that I liked. Mr. Gren was trying to convince me to twirl, but the deck is insanely slippery and I really didn’t want to end up on my ne-ne-ne-ne knees, knees!)

Slowly, but surely

Before this year is over, I might actually have a wearable wardrobe (which is a little bit redundant because, if your wardrobe isn’t wearable, it can hardly be classified as a wardrobe)! The week leading up to Christmas, I made another blouse using the same pattern as I did for this one. I had already worked out all the tricky fitting issues with the first go-round, which made this time stress-free. And that’s a nice way to sew.

I’ve had this aqua cotton for a couple of years, intended for this purpose, but, as is the story with a lot of my fabric purchases, its incarnation into something wearable was postponed due to pregnancies and subsequent baby weight. The interfacing I used on the collar and cuffs is a little heavier than what I usually use (they were out of the stuff I like), but I think it actually works ok for this weight of fabric. I also like the subtle stripes and dots design woven into the fabric. It keeps it from looking too plain and, worked up into a shirt, looks pretty sharp.

Just like with the first blouse I made, I really took my time putting this one together. There’s a part of me that impatiently wants to churn out a garment as fast as I can. But this older, wiser me is beginning to learn that I’ll be much happier in the end if I’m very methodical in the construction process. My self-imposed deadline on this shirt was Christmas Eve so that I would have something decent to wear to church. I sewed on the buttons Saturday afternoon and was able to wear it that evening. There were no photo ops then, hence the lag time between the finished product and this post.

Incidentally, that skirt was the first thing I made after we moved back from France. It was a happy accident that the plaid of the ruffle lined up with that on the skirt because I barely knew what I was doing back then. My zipper insertion was faulty at best, but it’s still wearable. So wear it I shall. I’m thinking this outfit could use a belt for some interest, though.

It was a little cold out there today!

Easy as ABC

Hey, look, I’m back! Just to prove I wasn’t neglecting you all and lounging on a beach somewhere, here is photographic evidence of what I was up to last week.

Going back to school! Again!

Poor little Rana with the sun in her face. We snapped a few quick shots before she headed off to school post-strike, so there was no time for posing or detail shots of the clothes. The ABC jumper is soft fine-wale corduroy with two patch pockets on the skirt and narrow ties in the back. Rana chose this fabric herself when we went shopping in August and was ecstatic to find the jumper hanging, completed, in her closet last week. The little blue blouse also received its finishing touches last week and was met with almost as much enthusiasm.  When I picked Rana up from school that afternoon, she said everyone told her how cute she looked. And, as if to prove the point, mere seconds later, another mom passed us on the sidewalk and said, “Oh, so cute!” Rana flashed a quick grin up at me as if to say, “See?!” And, naturally, I have to agree. It really is refreshing to see a little girl dressed like an innocent little girl. Each day that I pick her up from school, my eyes are assaulted by searing hot pink and glitter on everything. Rana definitely stands out from the crowd. Right now the other kids like her clothes and she is proud to tell people that I made them. I don’t know how long all the goodwill will last, but I am soaking it up now. Maybe I can store up the warm fuzzy feelings to get me through the lean years when my kids deem it the epitome of dorkdom to wear something Maman made for them.


In honor of Labor Day, I’ve locked myself in my sewing room for the past several days, busting out as many back-to-school clothes for Rana as I could. She started 1st grade on the 1st. You may wonder why I waited until the last minute and the reason is because we were waiting to see which school she would end up going to. One requires uniforms, the other does not. The uniformed school would not know whether there was a place for her until the week of the first day of school. So see —  this time my flurry of activity was not due to procrastination. And it really was a sweatshop up there: that room has no windows and if I turn on a fan it 1) will blow all my pattern pieces everywhere and 2) blow the electrical circuit. Even having the iron on at the same time as the AC is dicey. So I just swelter and come out for air every now and then.

Here is a catalog of what I accomplished between Thursday and Saturday:

These are a fine wale corduroy with elastic waist and patch pockets on the rear end. They gave me a little bit of trouble in the rise. When Rana first tried them on, she said, “Hey, these are Jasmine pants!” I was thinking more along the lines of Hammer pants, but it was the same basic silhouette. We got the crotch raised and the bagginess taken out of the legs so now she won’t look like a miniature Persian rapper.

This is a wrap-around jumper made from embroidered twill. It’s a nice weight for autumn/winter and looks nice and crisp for school. I used my machine’s lone decorative stitch for the hem and was pretty happy with how it turned out.

This little blouse came from a 90s pattern with funky patchwork and an exuberant collar. I scaled the collar width down by half so now it looks like a sweet scalloped flower instead of a clown suit. I also added elastic to the sleeves and topstitched the button placket and collar to give it a little more visual interest. It also helps it look less homemade.

These pants are in a black brushed twill. The outside is really soft! The pattern called for the appliques and cuffs, but I had to change the cuff design to accommodate my one-way print of tiny hearts. I designed the pockets myself.

I’m about halfway through making another little blouse, this time in blue and with a regular Peter Pan collar, but I’ve set that aside temporarily to churn out a few items to build up my inventory for my near-future etsy store! I’m excited about getting it all together and I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s up and running. The plan is to take photos of everything this week and then hopefully have it live next week.

My time is up down here. The sweatshop is calling. And, if you really do have a job, be grateful.

Dreams vs. Reality

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes things would go better if I paid more attention. One of my vintage patterns is a blouse that looks to be from the 1950s. I really like this pattern and have wanted to make it for a long time. I even bought linen for it last year and then never got around to it.

Why is green blouse lady flipping me off?

Part of the reason that I hadn’t done it is because this particular pattern is for a size 36″ bust and I needed to grade it down to 34″. I’ve only ever done this once before and, now that I think about, it didn’t go so well that time, either. I used the tutorial found on Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It’s a good tutorial; it makes sense; it’s easy enough to do. It’s still a time consuming process, though, so it took me most of an afternoon to complete the resizing.

Tracing the original pattern

In addition to grading down the bust size, I also had to lengthen the torso, which is a pretty standard alteration for me. I’m only 5’3″ and would rather have that extra length in my legs, but whattya gonna do? Once I had my new tissue paper patterns redrafted, I pinned them together and tried them on. This is the poor man’s lazy man’s version of a muslin. Everything seemed to work. The darts looked like they were going to hit in the right place, the arm hole wasn’t binding, the length was good. Good enough for me! Let’s get to the linen!

This is the view I'm making. Imagine white linen with black soutache braid. Slick!

The linen is slightly sheer, so I was being really careful with my seam finishes. I had sewn the front pieces to the back, but had not yet put in the facing (which becomes the lapel) or collar when I decided to try it on. Well… in my pattern grading fervor, I had neglected to take into account the waist measurement. Normally not a big deal on a blouse, but, as you can see from the pattern art, it’s most definitely a big deal for this blouse. Or a small deal, to put it more accurately. When I tried on what I had completed of the blouse, it was great until I tried to lap the fronts enough to see how it would look buttoned. No amount of sucking in was going to give the fabric enough slack to overlap comfortably. I’d be bursting buttons all over the place.

Of course, I was kicking myself for not considering the waist measurement (according to the pattern measurements, a 34″ bust is paired with a 28″ waist. My next project may need to be a corset) and for always being too impatient to make a muslin. Lesson learned!! Rana suggested that I just wear it as a vest. It’s a fair suggestion, but I really have no need/desire for a vest. I do, however, need blouses to wear (quick survey of my closet turns up… two: one that’s too short and one that I bought just after giving birth to my second baby). I think I have hit upon a solution, though. I have just enough — just the littlest bit of fabric left with which I can make gores for the sides of the blouse. I think it will end up giving it more of a peplum effect, but I can live with that. And then, should the planets ever align and my waist shrinks down to 28 inches (don’t laugh; just let me dream), I can remove the gores and sew the side seams back up.

So, with all that in mind, I hereby swear that, before my next sewing project, I will meekly go to the thrift store and buy a sheet for muslin-making.