Sew Alongs and Sewing Challenges

Hellooo!  It’s been a little quiet on this front lately, but rest assured, the sewing has continued!  The cashmere coat is finished, I just need to get photos that do it justice!  Standing in my sewing room with my phone propped up on a pile of books just isn’t doing any good.  And, there’s another coat to show you now!  I’m making good progress on shrinking the coating pile – at last!  Again though, I need some nice sunny weather and a helper to get some decent photographs.

With the coat and jacket sewing, there’s good focus, but I need little, quick projects to break it up a bit.  That’s partly why I thought signing up to Stef’s #SewYourWardrobeBasics would be a good idea.  There’s no pressure, you participate in that month’s challenge theme if it suits you, and don’t if it doesn’t.  So far, so good.  This month is stripes, and if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that that’s my favourite sort of pattern!

I decided to splurge on Tees for the challenge and bought some cotton lycra from a proper fabric shop to make a Basic Instinct Tee, and a couple of pieces online from Montreux Fabrics for a Stellan Tee and a Lark Tee.  This will top up my summer tee pile quite nicely, but I wanted to squeeze in other projects too.

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Trousers 107 Burda August 2019

There’s an interesting pair of trousers in this month’s Burda that I’m keen on and might make in a linen, I’ll have to check the stash to see if there’s anything suitable.  I also rather liked one of the tops in the magazine.  However, when Fabworks posted on Instagram that they had a pistachio viscose ponte as their fabric of the month this month, and that was just £3 a meter, I gave in.  I knew right away that I wanted some for another pair of the trousers I remade last year, 107 from August 2019.  I imagine they’d be perfect secret pjs!  And to go with them?  That top from this February’s issue!  Under it the stripe tees, and over the top, one of the coats still on the list!  Sounds like an outfit on the way to a mini wardrobe – yes?

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I’m excited to announce a new sewing challenge hosted by myself and @carlamayfield5 ! It’s the #thegreatmodulesewalong and here are the rules: Contest runs from January 28 – March 24th, 2020. Participants must complete a 6 piece module (one topper, 2 bottoms and 3 tops) and post their finished module by midnight EST on March 24th. Entries need to use the #thegreatmodulesewalong and tag @tomkatstitcherycarmel and @carlamayfield5 . 4 winners will be randomly selected at the end. For more information, head to the channel. Link in bio! Feel free to share this if you’re planning on following along! There will be a TON of support information and help over on YouTube (so make sure you’re subscribed to TomKat Stitchery and Stay Stitching). The more the merrier and let’s create some cohesive closets in the new year! Prizes sponsored by @minervadotcom @sewingworkshop @lovenotions @itchtostitch @figandneedle @cashmerette @seamworkmag #sewingchallenge #sewingvlogger #sewingvlog #modulesewing #caspulesewing #capsulewardrobesewing #fashionsewing #garmentsewing @christieressel

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This is when I decided I might sign up to a bigger challenge, The Great Module Sew Along.  The idea is to sew 2 bottoms, 3 tops and a covering/jacket.  So far I have plans for all of the garrments, and don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to make the deadline for the challenge.  And best of all, it gives me focus to make those quick projects in between the bigger coat and jacket projects.  Oh, and there’s also the sewalong challenge in the Facebook sewing group I’m part of.  This month is bottoms, so two pairs of trousers it will be!  🙂

 

 

What did I do?

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I made an outfit almost exclusively for one or two days wear.  A bit of a waste?  Well…  Hopefully not!  I’ve seen people making Christmas and Birthday dresses on Instagram for ages now, and I never really saw the appeal.  Sure, I might wear something recently made on the day, but it wouldn’t have been made specifically with that purpose in mind.  So why did I do it?  I had just over a metre of sparkly sequin fabric leftover from a 1920s dress I made for a friend a few years ago.  And every time I looked in the special fabrics box for other things, this sparkly sequin fabric said “Hi!”.  And I love a bit of sparkle.

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So I hatched a plan – use the sequin fabric for the top part of something, and go plain on the rest.  I cannot see myself wearing a fully sequined getup anywhere!  I just don’t lead that sort of lifestyle.  I had in my mind a jumpsuit, and the Zadie fit the bill rather nicely.  I wouldn’t need to try to hem or face edges, and the leg part of the jumpsuit is nice a wide, so a flowy fabric would work perfectly.  I took a leap of faith and ordered 2m of black crepe from Croft Mill Fabrics and stashed the lot until I had the time to think about working with sequins again.

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Of course, when not planning things out properly, something is always going to go awry.  The leftover sequin fabric was’t nice and neat, and the pieces for the Zadie top are big, especially the crossover front.  I just couldn’t get the front, back and sleeves onto the remaining shape of the sequins, so the back had to go.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, from the back you’ll still see sequinned sleeves, and it might be more comfortable to wear as a plain fabric.

But that meant I needed space on the 2m of 150 wide crepe for two lengthened (by 10cm), wide trouser legs, one (the front) with a crossover extension.  And the pocket bag, tie belt and bias strips, and the bodice back.  It just didn’t all fit on, so I decided to forgo self bias for shop-bought black satin bias, and to echo that, and bring in a bit of texture contrast, to cut the pocket bags from some leftover black crepe-backed satin.  A bit of tuxedo vibe, if you like.  To line the sequin front bodice pieces I dived back into the special fabrics box and found another leftover piece of fabric, this time a lightweight piece of dark grey satin that worked perfectly under the sequin fabric.  The sleeves are unlined and would be finished with black bias instead of being hemmed.

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With everything cutout and marked up, I then proceeded to have endless fun flicking sequins around the sewing room.  They had to be removed from the dart area on the bodice front (FBA) and in all the seam allowances.  To be fair, I tried not flicking the sqwuins too far, I needed to keep some for reinstating along the seam edges to fill the gaps.  However, two weeks later, I’m still finding the little sparkly buggers under and behind things, and nestled in the pile of the carpet.

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I used a narrow zigzag to sew the seams of the sequin fabric as the mesh has some stretch, then the seam allowances were zigzagged together and pressed – carefully- to the back.  I herringbone stitched the seam allowance onto the back bodice so it wouldn’t be flapping around.  The grey satin lining was attached to the front sequin pieces after the darts were sewn and the two treated as one.  The sequins did end up making the pleats on the waistline a bit bulky, but I really couldn’t have removed any of them.

I overlocked the crepe trouser pieces and satin pocket bags before starting to sew, and French seamed the bottom seam of the pockets.  As always, the Zadie goes together really easily, it’s just choice of fabric that might take time…  I took this project a little slower than normal, I had no intention of trying to use a seam ripper on a mesh seam!  I used just under 2 rolls of black satin biasbinding, I like the definitive edge it gives to the front, and the sleeve edges.  On trying the jumpsuit on to check the hem length, however, I realised it was the right length as it was!  Damn, should have lengthened the legs by 12cm!  But that would have given me other issues with getting the pieces on the fabric.  Anyway, it wasn’t a disaster, I just used the bias binding as hem facing, sewing it on the bottom edge with 5mm seam and turning it in to make the proper hem.  It’s worked ok, and the length is now right.

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And now I have a very sparkly outfit, fit for Christmas, birthdays, New Year and just about any wedding (evenings only) we might get invited to for the next few years!!  I’m glad I only needed to buy the crepe and bias binding, and that the sequined fabric now has a use, rather than sitting in the stash.

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Merry Christmas!!

 

Scrapbusting Projects

I had a nice big collection of leftover pieces of denim from this year’s denim projects, and some I’d kept after making my Birkins.  I had an idea to make something from the proper scraps as well as the larger pieces that weren’t big enough for something on their own.  I started with all the really small pieces, thinking if I just sewed them all together to make a “piece of fabric”, then I could make something out of that.

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I made piles of the different colours and weights and literally just grabbed a piece, tried to see if there was another that I could fit the shape into and topstitched them together.  I used a combination of the demin thread and ordinary navy thread to give some contrast, and some stitches were just zig-zag, others were from the decorative stitches on the Bernina, which aren’t anything like the fancy stitches you get on a modern machine!

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I mixed up the colours a bit, and tried not to get too caught up in making sure the fabrics were equidistant from each other.  I tried not to think too hard about it, just get sewn up, otherwise it starts to look “planned” and I wanted to try for an organic look.  That’s something that’s not easy for me!  Eventually I figured I had the right length of “fabric”, although now I think maybe I could have made it a little deeper.

But for now, I sewed the short ends together to make a tube, but without doing it the normal way, with a seam allowance.  I simply laid the ends over each other and topstitched with a few rows of fancy stitch.  Next I sewed the bottom closed, with the seam allowance on the outside.  The allowance was pressed open and I decided a width of around 10cm would be good.  I marked the sides, which would eventually be the middle of the 10cm wide side “panels” and lined those side lines up with the seam line on the bottom.  By sewing across this and making a triangle (with the baseline of 10cm), I made the “gusset” or width of the bag.   Then I folded those triangles up and topstitched them in place.  I quite like the look of everything on the outside for this bag, no hiding the construction!

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But, I was worried that it might not be terribly strong, so I rifled around in the scrap bag and found two pieces of linen, green, but different greens.  There wasn’t enough of each to be full linings, so I have two colours of lining, constructed in the same way as the denim outside, but with the allowances all hidden this time.  The handles are just long straight pieces of one of the denims that had enough for me to use!  I left a 20cm gap in the base of the lining and then sewed the lining to the outer bag around the top, catching in the handles.  After a quick press I bagged it out and stitched the gap closed.  I’m rather happy with the finished bag, although I do think I should have made the fabric piece deeper, the proportions aren’t quite right.  But seriously, no train smash!!

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I managed not to use any of the bigger pieces of the denim scrap for the bag, only the small scraps.  That means, of course, that I will have to find something else to use all those bigger bits for.  Maybe another shopping beg, maybe a cushion cover.  I can’t see myself making an item of clothing, I just don’t think I’d wear it, although I love the idea.  It just wouldn’t be me, and that would be a waste.

But wait, the title is for projects, and I’ve only showed you one so far!

I’ve also found a use for all the rest of the small scraps from my cutting table!  Earlier this year I started to see poufs on Instagram all made using the free pattern from Closet Case Patterns.  That lightbulb moment happened, and I started to save those little bits instead of putting them in the bin.  No more fabric going to landfill in my house!  I filled a bag, well compacted, from the Fancy Silk Store, which isn’t a small bag!  Once it was overflowing, I thought I had enough, and started to assemble my pouf.

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First I needed the pattern, so I signed up to the website, which gives access to various free goodies and advice sheets.  Pattern downloaded and printed, I traced the triangular pie shapes for the top and the rectangle side pieces so I’d have more to pin on to the fabric.  I had 6 of each, so I could easily place and cut many at a time.  I decided to keep it low key and muted, so cut some leftover linen in dark green, olive green and some lime green leftover from my Teddy Designer pants made this year.  I cut four of each and sewed them together symmetrically.  I didn’t do the piping, not enough scrap for that!  The base is also a bit patchy, one piece of linen and one of a thick-ish cotton.  I’m not bothered with that, it’s the bottom, no-one’s going to see it!!  The zip wasn’t quite as long as that required, but I figure it’s long enough, and it’s from the stash.

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But – I realised I’d need a bag to put the scraps into, if I ever needed to wash the linen outer pouf.  This I made from the pillowcases of a duvet set that has finally given up the ghost.  I used the bottom pattern pieces and cut 4, there’s no way I’m cutting 12 triangles from pillowcases for the inside bag!  The side is also made from bigger pieces than the original 12 rectangles, long strips from the pillowcases did the job.  I used a small zip from the stash just big enough to stuff the scraps through.

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Now, as the zip in the outer bag doesn’t extend all the way across the pouf, I put some of the scraps into the inner bag and then put the inner bag into the outer.  I finished stuffing scraps into the inner bag while it was in the outer bag.  Possibly completely negating the whole reason for making the inner bag in the first place!!!  Oh dear.

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And then I realised I didn’t have enough scraps!  How??  I was sure there was enough, but nope.  So I added the stuffing of a lumpy nasty cushion, a couple of hubby’s shirts that have been cut up to make jeans pockets, and two jumpers that he’s put his elbows through and won’t let me patch, but it’s not enough.  I can’t believe I need more scrap fabric!  So I’ll just keep adding fabric as it turns up, eventually the saggy baggy elephant impression will go, and I’ll have a nice big pouf for the living room.  It’s already made itself handy as somewhere to put the laptop, Good Food magazines, and my feet!  But I don’t think I’ll be making many of these, given how much they need to fill them up!

 

Top 5 Hits of 2019

I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again, December, christmas, and the time to review what has worked well, and what didn’t.  The end of another sewing year, this is when I start looking at all those projects that I’d intended to make and haven’t quite got round to.  Joining the Socialists in reliving the best and “worst” projects of the year, I still start on a high!  Of course!

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There have been many highs this year, my favourite pattern has been the Paper Theory Zadie.  Although I’ve “only” made two jumpsuits from it, I have loved wearing them so much.  I’ve actually started making a fancy Zadie for my Christmas outfit!  I don’t usually bother with a specific, purpose made Christmas outfit, but this year, I’ve decided to give it a go.  So my Zadie jumpsuits are definitely on the top 5 hits list!

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The Style Arc Teddy Designer Pants are another pattern that’s hit the mark with me, and having made 3 pairs this year, I really can say it’s a fabulous pattern.  I always get compliments when I wear them.

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For Daughter No2, the best loved projects have been the skirts make using 117 from Burda February 2017, again, used three times.  I have a pile of fabrics waiting to be used for this pattern, so I know this is a hit!  Two of the skirts made for Daughter No2 were in summer fabrics and she’s loved them.  Now she has a canvas print that’s good for winter and she loves that too.

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

I haven’t been able to make much for Daughter No1 this year, it’s tricky when we don’t get to see each other that often, so fitting is tricky.  I have, however, managed to make her the trousers so so wanted earlier in the year, although I don’t have blogable photographs of them yet.  But I know she loves them, and when she wore them to work, she got many complients.  And I could have had many orders!

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1987 Vogue 1199, much altered!!

Last has to be my corduroy jacket, the most recent of a whole string of jackets made from the jacket pattern 116 from April Burda 2009.  Everyone loves the colour so much, it’s quite unique in a sea of black, grey and beige in the winter!   Until I get to make my Peppernoot and Tosti and Sienna Maker Jacket and nameless other Burda patterns, this is my favourite winter jacket so far!

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Next up will be those projects that, for some reason or other, didn’t quite make the grade.

 

 

 

 

Ash Jeans for the Win!

For those of you waiting for the results of the jeans! They’re done, worn and I’m rather happy with them!  I have had my fun and games trying to chose the right size to make, initially going purely with my measurements and toiling the 31 in the slim leg version in some left over pieces of denim in the stash.  The toile fabric wasn’t quite stretchy enough, but I figured with the proper stretch, that the 31 was  just fine.  But I was wrong – so wrong!!  They were like leggings, but without the amount of stretch that leggings have – I felt like I was back in the late 80s again, having to wiggle and jump into my jeans!  So if anyone out there would like a pair of slim leg Ash jeans in size 31 – I have a pair looking for a home!

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Wide leg Ash Jeans by Megan Nielsen Patterns

It was tricky to figure out which size to actually make.  In the end, I retraced all the sizes from 31 to 35, and graded between the sizes.  I toiled the wide leg this time, using the left overs of that fabric I used for the slim leg version, so be sure of the stretch percentage.  This time I had the 35 at the waist, going to the 33 at the hip, eventually ending at the 32 for the legs.  The fit was much better, but slightly loose higher up, so I went down to the 34 at the waist.

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Fabric for this pair of jeans came from the stash.  I had initially bought two pieces of stretch denim from Croft Mill for these jeans, and the first pair was made with the Brexit – Devine fabric.  It’s a lovely fabric, good dark blue colour and good weight for slim leg jeans.  After the poor fit, I immediately put another 2m of the fabric into my basket to replace it!  I didn’t want to use the next piece if it was going to go bad again, and I remembered that I had a piece of denim in the sewing cupboard.  I cannot remember where or when I got it, but it was probably from Croft Mill too!  They do tend to have good denims.  Thank goodness for a stash!

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As most of the construction details have already been covered in my Work in Progress post, I’ll leave that out here.  Here I’ll tell you that I’m pleasantly surprised with this pair of jeans, they fit well, after all that faffing with different sizes, and I will definitely be making another pair, this time I’ll be brave and make the slim leg version.  The sizing I chose seems to have done the trick, so I’ve transferred all that information to the slim leg pattern.

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So, for me, it wasn’t a case of “fits straight out of the envelope”, but then that really doesn’t happen to many of us, does it!?  The instructions are good and easy to follow, I just did my own zip thing.  (See previous post about pattern designers making fly front zips overly complicated!)  Initially, I thought the length of the “regular” height, full length was perfect, I cannot remember when last I didn’t need to cut a large chunk off the bottom of a pair of trousers.  But, after wearing these a couple of times now, I feel they could be a smidgeon longer, max 2cm.  Of course, that’s just about the hem allowance, so I’ll have to make a hem facing if I actually want to lengthen this pair.  Perhaps with the slim leg, this length will be ok – but with the width of this pair of jeans, I feel they could be just that little bit longer.

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So, it seems I can put my Birkin Flares (now 3 sizes too big) to bed, because Mama’s got a fabulous new jeans pattern – yeah!  And with 4 leg styles to choose from, I’ll be busy for a while here…  ps, I also have a length of another denim from Croft Mill Fabric to use on another pair, I can’t link to the fabric because it seems I bought the last 2m!  Check out their denim fabrics though, I’ve honestly yet to be disappointed with their denim fabrics.  Always get a sample first though, before you part with your hard earned money.

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Sewing Japapese in January – Part 3

 

On a roll here!!  This time I’m using the Clean & Natural book and making the puffed sleeve pullover, pattern S.  It’s a loose fitting top with boat-neck(ish) that finishes mid hip and has a yummy, puffed sleeve.  The fullness in the sleeve is at the hem, rather than the sleeve head.  This book has a handy size table and the pattern sizes are S to LL.  I graded the LL up two sizes, going by the body measurements and the finished measurements of the top.  Remember, I don’t like too baggy…

 

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I toiled the pattern in some remnant cotton sheeting and made the following conclusions.  I needed more ease across the bust and length of about 2-3cm.  I also wanted the top to finish at the length it was un-hemmed.  So I needed an FBA of 3cm and to lengthen the top 3cm.  The sleeves are ok, finished at the right place and weren’t tight at the hem.  On creating the dart and FBA, I rotated it all out and am left with a no-dart top, just like the original.

Fabric is newly in the stash, after being bought last year at the NEC in March/April.  To be fair, I’d sort of allocated it to this top from the beginning, I just never got round to the grading and tracing and toiling last year.  The cotton is a woven gingham check, black and white.  I thought it would look pretty good with all the linen trousers in my summer wardrobe, and now I’m thinking it might be worn in the winter with a long sleeve layering tee underneath too…

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Construction is fairly straightforward, I overlocked everything first, and used ordinary seams.  The seam and hem allowances have to be added, by the way.  The facings are interfaced with fine sheer fusible.  The sleeve is pretty big, and only just fitted on the width of the fabric!  You gather the long curved of the oversleeve onto a pleated straight undersleeve.  This is what creates and holds the puff.  That’s the only time consuming part, gathering and evenly spreading all the gathers!

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I like how the back looks here, as if I’ve used a contrast neckband.  Maybe that’s the answer.

I had a quick try-on before hemming and decided it was too long!  I’m blaming the fabric here, the pattern.  It blinded me…  So I duly chopped off the 3cm I’d added to the length and turned up a 3cm hem.  Then I popped it back on over my head and – whoa!  I shouldn’t have done that…  I probably didn’t need to remove the whole 3cm.

I also had a problem with the neckline.  On the toile I didn’t add the facings and I was happy with where it sat.  On this garment, with facings added, it was too high!  I don’t like feeling crowded against my neck, and the other issue was all that pattern!  I think I could have done with less.  So I decided to change the shape of the neckline in the front, put the toile back on and drew a scoop to the depth I wanted and transferred that to the gingham.  I added seam allowance and chopped again.  Then I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to cut new facings.  Not going well, right?  Anyway, I cut bias strips and sewed them together and made a bias trim for the neck.  I actually like this better than the original facings anyway.

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I think there’s just tooo much patterned fabric here for me.

As it’s ever so slightly chilly here in the UK this week, I decided to wear it today with a long sleeve scoop neck tee, and I rather like it like this.  I think it would also look good with a rounder neck tee, or even a floppy poloneck.  I also think it needs slim fitting pants, looks good with the Birkin Flares, not so pretty with pleated, fuller trousers.  It’s the second Japanese pattern that hasn’t turned out quite the way I had imagined in my head.  I know I’m not the same shape and size, but I thought I was picking patterns that are similar to those I like in the Burdas, so I was hoping they’d come out the same too.  Guess I’ll be sticking to the trouser patterns! 😀

 

Blackboard

 

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Last month I finally got the chance to reuse a pattern I’d drafted 4 years ago.  At the time I had wanted to make another, but I had the usual story of too many other patterns and projects jumping the queue.  I bought this black and white viscose with a 60s inspired print from Minerva Crafts that I decided would be just right for giving that pattern a second chance.

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Self drafted blouse in viscose

I left out a couple of details this time round.  Because of the print I didn’t include any of the tucks that were on the first blouse, & I didn’t use the concealed buttonstand.  I used French seams thoughout, so it’s all nice and neat on the inside.  A post of the construction details can be read here.  The buttons are vintage, black faceted glass balls.  They are maybe a little heavy for the fabric, but I like the way they catch the light!

 

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The viscose is light and drapey, and it’s just what this pattern requires.  I wanted something that would flow and be comfortable to wear now in the winter, and again in the summer with linen trousers.  I like how it works with the jeans and trousers in my wardrobe now & am looking forward to wearing it in the summer.

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I can’t quite believe it’s Christmas in just over a week, and there are still so many projects that I’ve not blogged yet!  Time to pull my socks up!