Pelicans

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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions which helped me rescue this blouse.

I’ve not made a blouse before, actually that’s not true I did make one when I first started sewing, using the Sorbetto pattern from Colette, but I don’t like it that much so I never wear it.  I have a bit of a blind spot where blouses are concerned, before I started sewing I thought that blouses would be one of the things I would make because I never seemed to find the perfect one in the shops.  In fact now I am sewing I can rarely find patterns that match up to my requirements.  If I knew what sort of blouse I would like then I would probably make more, instead I have a list of criteria which I can’t think into a coherent garment (sleeves, flattering neckline that looks good under jackets, comfortable, easy to wash and iron, a waistline that can be tucked in).  It shouldn’t be that difficult but for some reason it is.

I went through my work wardrobe the other day and decided I really needed to rejuvenate it. My blouses and tops in particular are in a terrible state.  I thought if I could find one simple pattern I could churn out several tops quite quickly using fabric I in my stash. Of course it didn’t quite work out like that, for a start Fabric Godmother had this gorgeous silk in her shop and I couldn’t resist buying a metre.  I should have thought it through better, a metre is not going to make a blouse with sleeves!

I’ve had Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing for a while but not made anything from it.  The portrait blouse looked to be simple, had a good neckline for wearing under jackets and only took 1 yard of fabric.

As my fabric is so special I started by making a toile and quite quickly realised that this blouse wouldn’t work for me.  For a start is has a zip which runs down the side and when I tried to tuck it into a skirt I found the zip was uncomfortable and created a bulge.  Secondly it has pleats which give it shape, these do make it look nice if you wear it untucked but they just look odd tucked in. Lastly it’s very short.

Adjusting the top, I eliminated the pleats so it can blouse out over a skirt which I think is more flattering.  Without the pleats I can pull it over my head so the zip went too.  I then added a bit to the back as I have a broad back and about 5cm to the length (I should have added more). The finished product is nothing like the original except it does retain the bust darts and flattering neckline.

I made French seams at the sides and shoulders and used my rolled hem foot for the bottom.  This didn’t give it the neatest of finishes, I think the foot  works better on a less slippery cloth.  Then I had the disaster with the neckline which I fixed by recutting and adding a facing.  I did think of trying bias binding again but I think part of the problem I had originally is that the silk is so difficult to iron and so slippery applying the bias strips was very tricky.  The arm holes were hand-rolled which gave a much neater finish than I had managed to get on the hem.

I feel surprisingly happy with the result (I had thought it would be a write off).  I still prefer blouses with sleeves but I might consider making another one of these next time I see that perfect bit of silk.

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It has been a very painful project and not the quick and easy one I had hoped for.  My search for the perfect blouse pattern is still ongoing and I still have the fabric for it in my stash!

Incidentally these photos were taken very quickly before work on the morning of June 10 – my birthday.   This year I turned 50 and really have no idea how that happened!

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Kaffe Fassett at the FTM

On Tuesday my friend and I went to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see Kaffe Fassett – A Life in Colour.  The last time I went to see his work was at the V&A in 1988 (was it really that long ago?), it was a record breaking exhibition with queues around the block.  I was already a bit of a Kaffe addict having been knitting the patterns he wrote for Rowan and making up the tapestries.  

This exhibition reminded me how fresh and exhilarating his approach to colour is.  I have a half finished crochet blanket which I started just after my Mother died in 2009. It is based on one of Kaffe’s quilts and I chose the wool using the “colour recipe” he gives for recreating it.  I love working on it but other projects always seem to get in the way.  Seeing the exhibition makes we want to get it out again and give it another go.

DressSome criticise his knitwear for being shapeless (which it is) but this rather misses the point which is that the colours are fundamental.  You can take his ideas and use them to create something beautiful yourself, in fact he actively encourages this.

Anyway the exhibition is fabulous and, as always, I recommend you go if you can get to it.  We had lunch at Jose’s (again) and stuck our head around the door of Susie Stone who makes bespoke women’s wear. She kindly invited us in when she saw us peering through the window and gave us a bit of a tour of her business (her silk satin LIberty print dresses are to die for).

Kaffe finishes on 29 June and in July the museum reopens with a Zandra Rhodes exhibition – she founded the museum so it should be a good one.  Just don’t try to go on a Monday as it’s closed that day (don’t ask how I know).