The saga of some giant ruffles and a summer shirt!

My nerves are shot to bits… I keep catching something in the corner of my eye and it’s…. a GIGANTIC ruffle!

What am I talking about? Well, I have been lusting over this pattern for ages.  It’s the Suzon Shirt from Republique du Chiffon.  I like their patterns, understated with a twist, my kinda thing.  So I put in an order with Stitch56 and bought the paper pattern.  I don’t often buy paper patterns, I am a ‘PDF-er’ so it was lovely to receive this sweet package, a cool kraft envelope, some lovely photography and basic instruction manual.  Nothing fancy, but that’s OK, I don’t need fancy, I just need a good pattern. Mmmmm…

OK, so where to start.  I made a toile.  I thought I should as I am short in the body and narrow across the shoulders so a few things could go wrong.  I chose the size 38 and graded out slightly to a 40 for the hips.

I am glad I toiled, there were problems.


It was way too long.  So I went back to the pattern to find the shorten/lengthen line but there isn’t one.  I took a punt and reduced it by 6cm at the waist.


The second issue was the bust dart.  It was way too low for me, sitting right under my boob. Thought I should nudge that up by 1.5cm.  Also the bust dart is very long.  It went way past my nipple point.  It was at least 2.5cm too long.  So I reduced the length and moved the dart.

The other issue I encountered, which isn’t shown in these photos is the ruffle.  As there are no notches on the ruffle to match to the yoke or the body it left me feeling kinda lost, I had about 4cm left over at one end.

So, the toile sat there on my dummy for weeks. I knew the answer, I just couldn’t bare to tackle it.

The answer was notches. Surely notches are necessary to ensure the right amount of gathering in each section.  I did what I had to do,  I decided to notch the ruffle, front yoke, back yoke, the front body and the back body.  Overkill?  No, I don’t think so.  It took me AGES to work it all out.  Time I would assume the pattern maker should have spent.  Am I asking too much?

With the pattern altered and notched I was finally away.  The fabric I had chosen is a joy to me.  It’s a lovely piece of brushed cotton from Fabworks in Dewsbury.  My Mum bought if for me when I dragged my parents there on my recent visit to the UK.  I say recent, that was back in June. I haven’t seen fabric like this before.  There are tiny threads of colour, like a thread splatter, on an off white cotton base. I just love it,  it is subtle but interesting.  Am I finally growing up?


I decided to take the time to mark tailors tacks everywhere, with all the pulling of the gathers I thought that the chalk marks would be lost. Tailors tacks were a better option.  I used some floro orange thread just for fun. You can just see them sticking out here.

It came together fairly quickly after that.  The collar and plackets were relatively straightforward to add.  I should say though, if you like detailed illustrations at every stage, you don’t get them here.  There’s just enough to get the idea.

I was keen to try my buttonhole function on my Bernina 350.  I have made the odd buttonhole here and there but not a row of identical buttonholes.  It’s pretty awesome in that once it has made one it goes into auto and makes all the other exactly the same.  All you have to do is move it to it’s next position.  I am sure all you lovely sewers with great machines have had this function for years.  It’s a revelation to me.  I see many more buttonholes in my future.

The only issue with the pattern here was that there were no buttonhole markings supplied on the pattern.  It tells you in the instructions where they should go, but I like to see it marked on the pattern.

It worked out well in the end, even with all the work I put into it.  It’s not a beginners pattern that’s for sure.  It’s categorised as 2/4, so is that advanced beginners or intermediate?  But it’s the design that I love so I am willing to forget the effort involved.  Because I finished it a few weeks ago, like giving birth, you forget the pain fairly quickly because you have something quite beautiful to show at the end!

Excuse the creases, I had been wearing it all day!
It’s so soft that it’s like wearing my pj top
It’s not a fitted shirt, it quite boxy in shape which works well to cover my tum
The ruffles are a bit flat here, clearly been sitting down too long.
The finger?  Well that’s another story….







18 thoughts

  1. This looks great. It certainly worth the effort you put into the toile stage! The fabric from Fabworks is lovely. I am originally from that part of Yorkshire and used to go there all the time for fabric – you could pick up some brilliant stuff at bargain prices too.


    1. Thanks Caroline, I agree it was worth the effort. I’m from Yorkshire originally too but that was my first visit, I bought a few awesome pieces so more to come on the blog. Thanks for reading x


  2. I am so reluctant to try indie patterns. I don’t like to gamble on the likelihood that the drafting is off and that I will need to make major changes.

    Your blouse is lovely.


  3. I’ve recently come across my first indie pattern challenge with Merchant and Mills Factory dress. There were notches. And dots on the pattern but in a manner where sewing-common sense could not match them up. Then there is a issue of too much sleeve head length after matching up the back notches. I have pictures on my Instagram acct, handle is ‘luigiwu’. So I totally get what you mean when you say you couldn’t bear to tackle it. I’ve been wanting a factory dress for so long and I’m highly annoyed by all of these obstacles! The Suzon is another pattern I’ve been lusting after but Im fairly certain I can’t handle two challenges right after one another. Your result is so awesome though!


  4. Your Suzon looks great!! The fabric is so lovely and it fits you so well. I made this a couple weeks ago and completely agree about the notches/lack of instructions. I also slimmed down the ruffle a bit too oh and lowered the neckline line too. I thinking on making another an will definitely add notches, thank you 🙂


  5. Ugh, no pattern markings for buttonholes? No notches? Seriously? Why not just say “take a favourite shirt pattern, cut here and insert a ruffle” then sell that as a “new pattern”. I’m so glad you’ve told it like it was. The truth about a sewing experience needs to be shared otherwise it’s all promotional bloggers blowing smoke up the arses of the designers that gave them the pattern for free.
    Now… ,Pause for breath…
    You look FANTASTIC! This blouse suits you so well. It’s delightful, beautifully fitted and just really cute. It really is the perfect shape for your shape (and I say that knowing that on my huge shoulders/upper back the effect would be more circus elephant)
    Love this Kate, well done persevering


    1. lol you said what I think:). I very rarely buy her patterns after having experienced them on two different ocasions. Bad enough I have to add seam allowances!
      And you know what – I remember one of my favourite tops way back had a very similar ruffle – sewn on top, without having to insert. That’s another idea!


  6. I’m not surprised at your experience. I don’t buy her stuff any more even if it’s tempting. But you really managed to work through it to produce a beautiful top. And that fabric! loooove.


  7. I too have been lusting after this pattern. I still am based on your version but it sounds like a beast of a pattern to wrestle with! Especially for the cost of having the paper pattern shipped.


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