I love these loose-fitting, draped blouses as throw-overs for summer. The right hand one comes from one of my fav sites (Burda) offers free patterns.
They are such fun, and quickly give an updated look when popped over a tank and leggings. These are some pictures from various websites that I took inspiration from for a cropped batwing sleeve pattern I have called “Anne” after an old friend who was slightly “batty” (love her quirkiness)!
Here is my version, modeled by my favorite “tester” , who gets to try out my patterns and offer constructive comments. It is apparently versatile and comfy to wear. Download the pattern from the “Box” widget in the right hand side bar.
It is super easy to make. I purchased 60 centimeters (or 0.6 m) of sheer fabric for this project – a lovely chiffon which has a lovely drape. It was a very wide fabric, so you may need more if your fabric is narrower.
I think any lightweight, sheer fabric that has a nice drape would be good for this. Chiffon is quite pricey ($15 per meter) but you could also try making it from a remnant, a fine old table cloth or sheer / lacy curtain. After I made this (dang), I saw a beautiful size XXXL chiffon dress ($5) in the TS *recently that would have probably made 2 of these. The large size clothing and night wear racks are always “happy hunting grounds” for fabric. *(I’m going to say “Thrift Store” so often I may as well start abbreviating it!)
The neck opening is quite scooped so it does end up quite large – don’t enlarge it or it may fall off the shoulder! Meryl likes the scooped neck, because if she wants to, she can pull it down at the back, making the front extra cropped showing some midriff. The neckline then fits at the neck base, with the back draped asymmetrically. She also pulls it to one side sometimes, exposing one shoulder.
I used a serger (overlocker in South Africa) for the seams, but if you have a regular machine, try doing a french seam when sewing these very fine sheer fabrics. (Instructions here or http://www.sewneau.com/how.to/french.seam.html
Here is the free pattern if you’d like to try it. Anne top Pattern or Download the pattern from the “Box” widget in the right hand side bar.–>
Print it off and join the pieces together , matching the symbols. Both pattern pieces are placed on the fold along their center line.
I didn’t take any photos of the sewing process, so I cannot post “How to” pics, but if you would like me to, please leave a comment.
It only has 2 seams (shoulder and underarm), and the arm and waist edges are just hemmed with a narrow hem. If you have a roll-hemmer setting on your serger , you could use that to finish the edges instead – it depends what look you like.
1. Sew ONE shoulder seam together. This fabric was VERY slippery to sew, so I actually “cheated” a bit, and did not cut the shoulder seam for this particular top, but just put the pattern on the fold of the fabric. I folded the fabric in half , then half again, and basically cut a hole for the neck. The shape of the garment would be better with a shaped shoulder seam though.
2. Bind the neck opening (**remember it’s always easier to work flat than once the other shoulder seam is sewn) I just serged the edge of the neckline and turned it under, and sewed it down (since this was just a “test”), but I think it would look better bound with bias binding in the same fabric. (see earlier “Meryl” top for Bias Binding Tutorial)
3. Sew the other shoulder seam together.
3. Sew the arm hems. Ditto for comment above**. You could also thread elastic or a cord / ribbon through the arm hem if you want it to gather up slightly, but if you decide to do that, sew the underarm seams first so the armhole is a continuous loop.
4. Sew the underarm seams. Hem the lower edge with a narrow hem. Alternately you could add on another 2 inches in the length and make the hem much wider.
Press all seams down so the lie flat….and you’re done!
I hope you like it. In my next post I will show you another version with a collar that I made for a friend Tammy.
I have read/heard recently that clothing is going to be very much more expensive soon due to the rise in cotton prices. I guessing that , as clothing manufacturers jack their prices up, sewing and clothing construction skills will become much more important than they have been in the last 20 years. My concern is that many young people have grown up not learning skills that my generation did, simply because it was cheaper and easier to buy clothing than to make it.
I don’t even make ALL of my own clothes as I used to before I emigrated to Canada – finding what I need at thrift stores, and making slight adjustments is quicker and less expensive …in fact I can get high quality articles there that I would not normally be able to afford like brand labels Mex and Jones New York etc. The point , however, is that I wear “classic’ designs more suited to my “age and stage” that have made their way to the thrift store. Modern trendy styles that more fashionable people are looking for are usually in short supply.
I thought if I shared some patterns of modern, fashionable designs that employ simple techniques, it could help young people who are more fashion conscious to either make clothes from scratch, or re-purpose vintage items to make them look more trendy. With all the bad news out of Japan recently, it looks like the recession is going to deepen, not get better anytime soon. Most of your very high fashion pieces for this season will be out of fashion next year, so they don’t have to be made to last forever like they did in Victorian times! Using easy shortcuts that are not as complicated as “traditional” techniques, saves time and money.
Over the next little while I will share some thoughts about the following:
1. creating fashionable designs from clothing where the difficult parts are already done (like collars, cuffs and buttons). My aim is to design patterns that are quick and easy to create, so you get maximum impact for minimum effort and cost. I hope to motivate people to reuse and recycle the cotton and wool fabric we already have – tossing high fashion clothing after one season is such a waste of the earth’s resources, IMHO (in my humble opinion).
2. sourcing and availability of fabrics/notions/ etc. If you are a sewer, you have probably noticed (as I have) that the variety /choices in sewing notions has narrowed and quite hard to find (not to mention expensive). It may just be that I live in a small town on an island? Perhaps it because not as many people were sewing, and large chain stores have a stranglehold on the market, squeezing little companies and local “Mom and Pop” shops out.
3. I’m wondering if there is a need for online forums for sewing co-operatives and swap meets – I think there are probably lots of the older retired persons who have skills or stores of notions and fabrics they would swap for dog walking or something a young person could do.
I’d welcome feedback and any tips you may like to share.
Welcome to my musings about fashion and home decor DIY. I may occasionally stray into comments about learning disabilities (especially ADHD), which is my other, professional,
interest …er .. passion, but I’ll try to keep those to a minimum. (I can hear my kids laughing out loud at this point).
My aim with this blog is to post ideas on how one can create clothing and decor items by recycling found materials. I have sewed for 40 odd years, so I have a few tips on how to save time and money that I’d love to share. Please feel free to add your own!
I try to avoid using overly complex sewing techniques that may discourage people from attempting a project. Basically, to master this skill, you just need to start sewing, learn by trial and error, and not be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake – that’s what fabric rippers are for! (In South Africa we call them “quick unpicks”… Mine is never far from my hand when I am sewing.)
It makes sense (to me at least) to start sewing with a $1 remnant, rather than pay $15 a meter for fabric and feel awful IF you mess up – it happens! The nice part is that if I am trying some new craft or technique, I can make a mistake and not be “held back” by the fear of it costing “an arm and a leg”. Often my “mistakes” turn out to be pretty great unique designs. I will also try to post free patterns so you can make my designs yourself . If you use them, I’d love to see pictures of the end product, and get both positive and critical feedback.
My inspiration is my uber talented late Mum, Joyce Jay (just call me “JJ”), whose design talent and technical sewing skill I can only try to emulate. I get my kicks from sewing for my 21-year-old daughter (and sometimes her friends), who keeps me up to on the straight and narrow with the latest fashion trends.
Mum’s favourite saying was a variation of the old adage “to kill two birds with one stone” – meaning of course to be efficient and get the best return on one’s effort , money or time. (My apologies to bird lovers everywhere ) When she felt she had done VERY well, she would always add – with a twinkle-, “and I got my stone back !” That is how I regard upcycling/recycling/re-purposing ; it achieves more than one useful outcome at once.
I love to design and create unique clothes and home decor stuff, and am MUCH more motivated to reuse and recycle unique vintage pieces and fabrics I get from thrift stores, than to buy new. I may as well admit it – I am a thrift store junkie. I get such a rush of adrenalin from finding cool things, and then again when I make something useful or unique with it.
I hardly ever shop at a mall – somehow the “sameness” of it all just bores me to tears, but somehow I can never drive past a thrift store. … the “Favourite Locations” on my GPS system is populated by all the thrift stores in a 50 Km radius. Somehow my car just turns towards them and stops of its own accord! I’m still trying to work out whether I craft things because I feel I have to justify my “thrifting” addiction, or if I go to these stores for supplies to be able to fund my crafting addiction! I even have a private “rating system” for Thrift Stores in my head…do you too?
I am really starting to seeing lots of ties between my ADD need for novelty and stimulation and my thrifting addiction. (I think there is a thesis in there somewhere..?)
I really am starting to mix my metaphors here, so I’ll say, “Hamba gahle” till next time.
Hope you enjoy yourself, and stop by often.