The Portrait of a Stranger Blouse

In the first installment of “garments I’ve made ages ago but have been wearing too frequently to take pictures” is this voile blouse, which is really cool and comfy in this hot weather. It is Gertie’s Portrait Blouse (as made here and here) so other than moving the tucks so that the print matches up, there is nothing new to say about the pattern. Except that the fabric was a present from Gillian all the way in Canada!!!portrait back

Gillian and I are almost the same person on different sides of the ocean; we are both teachers of little kids, we both love polka dots and we both have similar colour palettes. When I posted pictures of my Aubergine Hummingbird skirt, Gillian loved the colour and since I had plenty I offered to send her some. In return Gillian showed me pictures of her stash, but it was all pretty and I couldn’t decide so I asked her to send me a surprise. She sent me this lovely, soft, buttery voile that is so easy and cool to wear. I made this blouse and I’ve worn it at least once a week since making it.

portrait front


This is definitely my most worn top of the summer and the colour fits in so well with my wardrobe. Thanks Gillian!

No longer feeling Blue (featuring the 20p Tee)

As I mentioned in my last post, the past few weeks have been hectic and I haven’t had the time or energy for crafting for almost a month. Eeek, that is a long time. I eased myself back into sewing with some projects I had cut and prepped during the May half-term; I spent a whole day just cutting out multiple patterns and working my way through my pile of fabric ear-marked for spring/summer.

back to blue

Can you see a pattern in my makes? Fortunately I was wearing an all white and navy outfit on Friday and got told it really suited me. I had started sewing the bunny fabric ages ago, but in the light of day realised my thread was not navy. It took me a while to get some navy thread, but once I had it threaded then I decided to do all my navy sewing at once. The bunnies deserve a proper photo-shoot, but the weather today was perfect for wearing the middle garment – a spotty portrait blouse.

This is my third Gertie Portrait Blouse (#1 and #2 is unblogged) and the bust darts are almost “perfect” now so this was a quick and easy make that only took a couple of hours this morning (2 episodes of Fraser and some Sunday Brunch).


The fabric was snatched up at the epic blogger meet-up and swap but I have no idea who donated it. Thank you, mystery sewcialist! It is pretty sturdy so I am imagining it is pure/high cotton content, and is navy with lots of white spots, so is slightly different from polka-dots! I finished the neckline and sleeves/armholes with some white bias-binding I got at the Peter Jensen sale for £1 (not even 1/5 through it, so I reckon this top cost me 20p! bargain!)


I kept the fitting loose on this top as I was feeling the need for a loose and light-weight top in all this heat (yes, I am one of those people who complains that 26ºC is only just bearable!) but the waist pleats/darts give it just enough shaping to feel flattering. I haven’t needed a zip on any of my Portrait blouses so I guess there is room for more shaping, but I felt comfy on my afternoon trip to the park.


It appears the quality of self-portraits on my phone is seriously grainy, but it was too hot to bother carrying my big camera around with me. I spent most of my time in the park taking very obvious self-portraits but nobody seemed to notice in tourist-central. The picture above was taken with my phone leaning on a barrier which was a bold move for me – maybe it was easier when wearing shades and a big, floppy hat (I love this hat so much!).


Despite the above look on my face (trying to look normal, while taking posed self-portraits) I enjoyed my afternoon in the sun, and it felt so good to get some sewing done. I didn’t realise the impact no crafting had had on my head until I worked out exactly how long ago it was since I’d last done some sewing. When life gets manic I think I need to prioritise craft instead of abandoning it in favour of work.

I am already in love with make #3 (polka dots + rick rack = amazing!) but the invisible zip I attached got caught on something and broke 😦 I must get another one this week as I need to finish the dress for Saturday so the make can meet it’s muse!

p.s. This weekend was definitely Indie Pattern Weekend for me; Colette Patterns, Gertie (does her book count?) and Sewaholic all sewn.

p.p.s. Google Reader dies tonight so make sure you are following me on another reader. I’ve added a Bloglovin’ button to the sidebar as apparently views in Bloglovin will show up in my stats…

Self-Portrait Blouse

Do you remember I said I had some silk I wanted to use this half-term? And Gertie’s book was in my reading list… well here is my muslin of the Portrait Blouse.

self-portrait blouse 2

A muslin in Liberty lawn?! Am I crazy?! Well yes, but in this particular case I’m not – this wasn’t meant to be a muslin, however after wearing around the house there are a few more tweaks I will make before I make the silk version. I will definitely be wearing it, but its not quite perfect yet (although I’m sure a non-sewist wouldn’t notice). Also, as much as I LOVE the print (pink and purple scottie dogs!) I’m not sure its the most flattering on me – too much cream when worn alone, although it goes perfectly with all my cardigans.

self-portrait blouse 4

Gertie’s sizes are bigger on the hips than on normal patterns. Yay! I exactly matched up with the measurements for once! Hoorah! Except that was using my full bust measurement, so I still had to adjust the pattern and do a FBA. I use the Palmer & Pletsch Fit For Real People method. Amazon tells me I purchased the book in July 2010 however it is only recently (within the past 6 months) have I flipped over the page and seen the “Y” alteration for when you need to add more than 1 1/2″ which makes for a much better fit for me around the shoulders. I can’t believe it has taken me a couple of years to read that properly, but I know how to do it now (instead of adding all the extra fullness at once, it gets spread over two slashes).

self-portrait blouse 1

When I was making the muslin-muslin and this version everything fitted nicely, however when I actually wore the blouse to do things other than stand and pose I noticed it wasn’t quite right. When I moved around the blouse kept shifting up a little, so next time I’m going to move the bust darts down about an inch.

Other changes I made were to add 4 or 5 inches to the length (I like tops to be slightly longer anyway, but the instructions said it was a short top). I kept the dart/tucks the same length so there is a sort of peplum/flare going on that looks good over jeans.

self-portrait blouse 5

Speaking of jeans, these are the pair I started in the summer (do you remember this teaser back in July?) I still need to adjust the waist (too high waisted at the front, but the back is fine) before the pattern is perfect and I can show detailed pictures of my denim-clad derriere. They are totally wearable with a belt and a hip-length top and this time I even added some metal rivets on the pockets.

self-portrait blouse 3

But back to the Portrait Blouse. I also omitted the facings for the neckline and used…

self-portrait blouse binding

HANDMADE bias-binding! I used the Coletterie’s tutorial for making continuous bias binding so I could save a decent-sized and shaped piece of fabric (it is Liberty lawn after all). Then I applied it using Tasia’s method which was AMAZING. I didn’t quite do it in the same way as Tasia as I had already spent time pressing my bias-binding but I finally get how binding is supposed to be applied!inside out

The inside almost looks at good as the outside (although in need of a press after being worn all day) and has French seams everywhere. This make definitely counts towards my Sewlution to make things properly in case Karen does another check on us soon!

My flat is super-insulated and warm (I only have one radiator heating the whole place and I’m sat at the computer wearing just one layer) so I kinda forgot it was still winter outside as I was making this. I think it will be a little while before I can actually wear it in real life. Meanwhile the silk has been pre-washed and ironed and is waiting for a fresh rotary cutter blade before it can be cut.

self-portrait blouse

The excessive amount of photos is courtesy of my new remote clicker thingamabob. 80 pictures taken in a few minutes. I still need to get the hang of sorting the settings before I jump in front of the camera, but the remote made it so much easier to pose.






Half-term plans

Yay! Half-term is finally here after what has felt like the longest week ever. I have woken up everyday thinking it was one or two days later in the week. So what am I going to get up to, now I have time at home to be awake and crafty?half-term plansClockwise from top left:

  1. I have two silks I got in the John Lewis sale to make some nice tops/blouses from. I resisted them twice, but decided £14 for a silk top was probably a good buy. Underneath them is a jersey remnant, about 80cm long, so I’m going to see what I can squeeze out of it (sleeves or no-sleeves, that is the question).
  2. I need to quickly finish my pieces for #imapiece and get them posted. First Hannah mentionned it on Monday and then Tilly had a guest post by the Craftivist Collective so I had to whip out my embroidery threads (well pick my case up off the floor) and get involved. Two out of three are finished but number three needs some sparkle of some sort…
  3. Pressing some sad looking flowers. Since I read Attic 24’s review of the year in flowers I’ve started buying the occasional bunch of flowers to brighten up my little flat and this morning afternoon I managed to grab some flowers before they looked too sad and have pressed them in my flower press.
  4. My current crafty reading list. A cute jacket I can’t stop thinking about in one issue of Burda and a spring tunic in another (I need to get some muslin fabric asap). Gertie’s portrait blouse is a contender for using my sale silks. 100 flowers to knit and crochet is filling the post-blanket crochet hole.

My crafting week in pictures

It has been a bit of an odd week this week – back to school exhaustion and September summer weather haven’t really allowed much serious crafting time. I have been doing little bits of various projects but not completing anything, so here is a little round up of my week.

  1. A peach and raspberry upside-down cake made for a family gathering this afternoon. This is my first attempt at an upside down cake and it doesn’t look too bad (apart from the sunken berries in the centre) and certainly smells good! The dark patches aren’t burnt, they are the caramel topping!
  2. Ballgowns at the V&A organised by Karen. It was so exciting meeting all these people I have read about for years, although it was hard trying not to sound like a stalker (“Hi, I’m Alison.” Hi. I’m Dibs.” “I know who you are.”) Karen has a round up of the night here, but for me highlights of the night included meeting all those famous faces face-to-face, when a reader said she knew my blog, spotting some not-so-perfect details in the couture (giving us hope we can get to that level!) and all the general sewing chit-chat. I wore my USA skirt and a few sewists asked about the print, yet nobody at work noticed I had the Statue of Liberty all over me – are sewists more observant, or do my colleagues now expect me to dress bizarrely?!
  3. Continuing crocheting my way through the 200 block CAL. Nearly finished block number 3.
  4. Delivery of Gertie’s new book. We flipped through a copy on Friday night (discussing with Melissa, in her newly finished peplum top, why there were no trouser patterns) and I got home to discover mine waiting for me. I have read a couple of chapters and flicked through the rest, and am now deciding which pattern to try – I’m leaning towards one of the blouses and their many variations.
  5. After the nightmares of last weekend, I am finally on the home leg of my corduroy skirt, and am hand-sewing the lining in place to the zip. The sunny weather isn’t really motivating me to finish it quickly, as it is definitely a boots-and-tights skirt.

How has your week been? For those in the UK, have you got any crafting done or have you been too busy enjoying the sunshine?