Introducing, not one but two… Riviera Ruffle Blouses

I am so so excited and proud to announce that I have been asked to be a brand ambassador for Rebecca Page! Rebecca makes amazing PDF patterns for children and women. Sizing for women goes right from XXS to 5XL and are usually designed with curvy girls in mind, which is a winner in my eyes. The children’s patterns range from newborn to 12 years. She also duplicates many of the patterns to be made for dolls too, so you can match your little ones to their dollies and then to you if you wanted to!

She says:

“In our patterns you’ll find beautifully thought-out designs for you and your littles. Hidden raw edges, easy construction methods, detailed tutorials and superb finishes. You’ll learn, you’ll have fun and you’ll create gorgeous garments. It’s little bits of beautiful magic with stunning details!​” (www.rebeccapage.com/about)

I couldn’t agree more, you will soon learn that the patterns are exactly that and I couldn’t be more pleased to be involved and to be creating her lovely garments.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you the the Riviera Ruffle Blouse – this pattern has just been released TODAY so head on over there because she has an introductory discount on it until 2nd August. 

I signed up to be a brand ambassador and this is the first make that I have done of hers, even though I’d eyed up her patterns for a while. I was really pleased to find the pattern really accessible and the instructions are amazing. I would definitely recommend these patterns for newbies because they take you through everything, they’re super clear and have lots of little tips too. For me, I found that I could almost skip little bits because they were techniques I knew but I also learnt lots too.

My main learning curve was in creating the ruffles. I’m not usually a ruffle sort of girl but I didn’t feel right trying a ruffle blouse without them so I went with it. They were definitely time consuming and it took me a few goes to get it right. The pattern suggests a couple of ways of doing this. One is to sew a gathering stitch and pull it round on itself whilst pressing them hem. The other is to sew a rolled hem.

I bought a rolled hem foot some time a go and have since completely ignored it so I planned to continue doing so. However, I tried the method for pulling the curve round to a hem and it just looked really messy on the inside and I wasn’t feeling it at all. I think this was more because of the fabric I chose than the method because plenty of other ambassadors were able to do it. So… rolled hem it was. I found this(link) tutorial on rolled hems on YouTube and I was pretty pleased with the way they turned out. there was the odd twist in the fabric but overall it went well.

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I chose to use this gorgeous polyester (I think) fabric which was originally from Sew Over It but I got it in the swap at Sew Up North, so I’m super grateful to the person who donated it. I am even more grateful to the lovely Lou over on Instagram who kindly sent me the scraps of hers after I didn’t have enough to make two of the ruffles. We had been discussing what we might make with our matching fabrics and when I ran out I immediately turned to her and she sent it to me, after she had made a lovely Penny Dress -what a gem!

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What Rebecca says about having easy to follow instructions is so true and every seam is either tucked in or hidden away, it produces a really nice finish. As I said, the ruffles were time consuming, otherwise the garment came together pretty quickly overall. The instructions meant that I learnt lots of little tips and techniques when sewing shirt style garments like this – for example, the section on the back darts was really thorough and useful.

I particularly like the collar on the blouse – I find that I often find collars sit too big around my neck or that I feel a little masculine in them but this is curved, soft and feminine. The darts and shaping in it are lovely too. I put pink poppers on this as I was one, a bit worried about snagging the fabric with buttonholes and two, I was being lazy but I like the clean look of them. 

 I wore this to work with a black pencil skirt. I’m so pleased to have more separates to wear for work. 

So… I also made another out of this Lilac Cherry Blossom Poplin from Sewisfaction. If you haven’t checked Sheona’s online shop out yet – you should, she has some lovely fabrics on offer. I’m eyeing up the bumble bee fabric next. I fully fully recommend this fabric though, it has cut easily and sewn up a treat, it has a very small amount of stretch, which made fitting the collar and the curves of the sleeves that little bit easier. I’ve had lots of compliments about the colour and the quality feels really great. There are different colour ways too.

Again, the construction was really easy. It comes together super quick with out the ruffles and everything has a great finish. I used these pearlised buttons I got in the sale at John Lewis in Leeds with this fabric in mind and I’m so pleased with how well they go.

The couple of criticisms I have with the top, firstly is that I had to cut a 3XL, which gave me a bit of a gulp moment. I’m assuming this is because there is such a range of sizes available but it didn’t make me feel much better at the time. Secondly is that the sleeve is a standard pattern, there’s no grade lines –  I made a 3 XL, as I said, and found the sleeve to be big in it’s style so I imagine smaller sizes would feel a little swamped by the sleeve pieces.

It so happens that I love the look of these sleeves, they are quite a statement. I intended to join the sleevefest  organised by Diane of Dream.Cut.Sew And Helen of Valentine and Stitch with the latest pattern from Simply Sewing Magazine, the Mia set. But I think these sleeves definitely qualify for a year of the sleeve style celebration! I still intend to make the Mia but perhaps not which as much urgency now I have these funky sleeves for #sleevefest2017!

I completed the rest of the blouse pattern without the ruffles for this version but with the aforementioned ruffled cap sleeves, which you bias bind in so it looks really neat. Another trick, I have learnt!

I teamed it with grey trousers for work and I felt really summery and smart. Lots of people commented on how lovely the fabric is and the sleeves were a highlight. 

The pattern also has the option to use a paneled side, which is what I am going to do next time I make this in a maroon style purple with liberty detailing! Can’t wait! There are lots of ways to customise it to make it look different each time, which I love in a pattern. Definitely keep a look out for more patterns of Rebecca’s coming this way, there’s some very exciting patterns on the way! 

*Disclaimer: I received this pattern free of charge, pre-release as part of being a brand ambassador in return for creating it and taking pictures ready for release, the views are truthful and my own. 🙂

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The Florence Dress

The Florence Dress from Sew Over It came with issues 30 and 31 of Simply Sewing Magazine as a Sewalong. I was unsure at first as the waist-line looked high and I thought that it might swamp my figure and not nip in at the right places. In short, I wasn’t going to bother. Then on a whim I thought of the lovely, bargain Mermaid print that I had 5 metres of and cut the top out. The fabric was so cheap that I wasn’t too worried if it didn’t work out and it was so easy that I couldn’t see a reason not to. The pattern came with inserts in the magazine but with a promise that it would be released later this year. 

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I was also spurred on from seeing Jenny of Crafty Sew and Sew in Dorset putting hers together. It looked great and it inspired me to give it a go. She decided against the sleeves and made bias binding instead and I think it looks great.

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As with all the Sew Over It patterns, the construction is simple and clever and the instructions were lovely and clear. I put the top half together easily and then only had to wait a few days for the next magazine to come through my door! On another whim, I kept red thread in my machine from another project so I could practice some top-stitching.

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In the end I was won round by the bodice, I often think that shirt dresses look a little too stiff for casual wear but this look quite soft and relaxed. So I progressed to the skirt, which, again was nice and simple. I tried to line the pattern of the waves in the fabric up along the seams and felt this was pretty successful but the fabric is quite light and slippery so it doesn’t always meet!

The bodice and skirt are attached and create the channel for the elastic, you don’t have an extra stitching round the waistline. It’s clever details like this, which always work out which makes me like Sew Over It patterns.

I tried it on at this point and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked the fit and that the elasticated waist was in the right place. I was going to try leaving it sleeveless like Jenny but I couldn’t bring myself to do it – I’m really not a fan of my arms! So I shortened the sleeves and added a short sleeve instead. I didn’t have much fabric left at this point so I wasn’t too precious about the pattern matching but I think it looks fine.

I added more top stitching to the collar and placket at this point so that it looks more like a feature, rather than a possible mistake! I love navy and white with red. I tried it on again to ensure I got the button hole placement right, I din’t want gapeage, which is what happened a little with my last Shirt Dress make. I then asked for opinions on Instagram to help decide on buttons and I’m so glad I did – it got a huge response and the Vintage Glass Buttons that I was desperate to use anyway won over! They were small so I used four instead of three as the pattern dictates but I make my own clothes so who cares?! (Don’t you love that about it?) I hemmed it and it was complete.

I was completely taken aback with this pattern, I really thought it wasn’t going to be for me, but I absolutely love it! I can completely see myself on the marina on my holidays next year in this and can’t wait to make another, I think I might even embrace sleeveless and maybe a small leg split too! It just goes to show that it is well worth thinking outside the box with sewing. What do you think? Have you ever made a garment which made you do a U-turn like this?

 I wore this to my mum’s in a day of rare sunshine. My sister has asked if I’ll make her one and I intend to make another so I’ll be busy. My Mum’s dog, Murphy is gorgeous but not much of a poser!! 

I’m a finalist! IPM 2017 Dresses: Let the voting begin! — The Monthly Stitch

I’ve been selected as a finalist for Dress Week on The monthly stitch (details below) with my Simple Sew Lily Dress. I’m super excited! Please check it out and vote if you have a minute. There’s lots of other lovely dresses to see too! 🙂

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The Dresses contest closed with 32 fabulous garments and it was super tough for your judges to pick a top 14! But we did it! After much deliberation your judges have carefully chosen the finalists and now it’s your turn to vote. Voting is open for 3 days and closes at midnight on June 12th (24:00 […]

via IPM 2017 Dresses: Let the voting begin! — The Monthly Stitch

Wanted Tee – Translation and Tutorial to save you Blood, Sweat, Time and possibly, Tears

First of all, I’m sorry to anyone who found the Wanted Tee by Vanessa Pouzet as easy as most seem to have to construct – you don’t need to read this! For those who got as frustrated as I did – this is for you.

I don’t usually do tutorials as I don’t really feel qualified to do so but when I was looking for help with square neckline of the Wanted Tee, I found it seriously lacking, apart from this tutorial on matching stripes from Stitch My Style, which I was grateful for and it helped a lot but by this time I found myself nearly screaming,  ‘Yes! But where do I stitch?’ at my screen. So I am endeavouring to make anyone who feels like me, feel a little bit better. It will talk you through steps 4 to 6.

The translation wasn’t that helpful to me in the end (I was definitely blinded by my confusion!)  but it feels necessary to have when it’s going wrong -so, to save a job, here’s the translation, which my lovely friend who is a French teacher at school did for me. Though even she had to look up some of the specialist terms:

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Step 4: This is a more delicate than complicated step, practice on a cotton non-stretch fabric. You will realise the right way to place the angle without wasting the fabric. Then you will not have difficulty in fabric which stretches.

1. Pin the bottom of the band to the front of the top, edge on edge with the fabric in the centre. Stretch it in to place. The corners of the strip must exceed 2 cm on each side. Stitch the seam line to 1 cm, stopping exactly on the connection of the band (the corners).

2. Push the band and snip with scissors in to the two corners to the seam. It’s scary but you have to go to the sewing point. If you leave 1mm, this will do. It is necessary to open to angle completely to sew the next seam.

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Step 5: The fabric will form a fold. Be careful not to sew it. Work on the wrong side of the fabric if you are more comfortable.

Pin the middle of the back of the band with the middle of the back. All you have to do is spread the tension on the rest of the neckline. Open the corners completely and pin the rest of the band. Push the out of the way so as not to stitch it. It is possible to work on the reverse in order to control the fold. Stitch all the rest of the seam by 1cm. Press the seam.

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Step 6: Fold the rest of the band on the back of the t-shirt. Overlap the three layers of thickness together to the closest seam. Overlooking or zig-zag and trim the excess fabric. Lay the seams towards the outside. Press the seam allowances to the inside. Optional: top stitch the seam.

Hopefully this was all you needed but in addition, here’s a little walk-through to attach the neckband, which I found the most tricky. It’s step 4 to 6 on the pattern instructions. I refer to the top, which is the front bodice piece and the band, which is the facings already prepared throughout. Excuse the glue on my work-bench – it’s a well used craft station!

Step 4: To pin the front band, place  the top face up and the band face down. Pin it in place and marked a cm in to the top from both ends (shown by blue dots) . Your stitch-line should end dead on the open diagonal seam. Essentially from one pointy finger to the other in the picture!

You should a stitch 1 cm seam allowance from the edge of the neckline. Attaching the open band to the neckline.

You then snip into the the corner of the neckline to the end of the stitching on the band as close as you can. (along the line drawn in red but on the top ONLY – not in to the band.)

Step 5: Then turn the band upwards and pin along the edges of the neckline in the same way as the front piece, starting from the middle point of both the band and the top and easy the fabric round. The corners should look as they do in the picture below.

Start the stitching again at the point where the stitch-line you just completed ends, all the way round to the other point.

The band will then look like this from the inside. 

Step 6: You then fold the band inwards and pin the two layers of the band piece together with the neckline of the top (the one centimetre seam allowance). Sandwich them together and then zig zag or overlock them together. This should be separate from the rest of the top. Trim any excess.

Press your seams, it should look really neat and that is the neckband done. Turn it out and it should look like this. Don’t think I’m showing off, I’m surprised with myself that it turned out so neat!

The rest should be straight forward. I hope this has helped anyone who needed it. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try to help, though I do not claim to be a professional, otherwise it may not have confused me in the first place!! **please note, she also includes a bias way to finish the neckline but I’m not even going there!!

I love the pattern in the end, it is as flattering as promised and I will definitely make it again. I hope you enjoy it as much as me. 

Here’s the finished item!! I submitted it for Indie Pattern Month under the second category of ‘New to Me’ as I have obviously never made a Vanessa Pouzet pattern before. I find challenges like this are what has helped me to improve all along so I’m always pleased to learn. You’ll see more pictures here.

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