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….







The Refashioners – upcycling at its very best!

refashion_6-clear-background-250px You know I love an upcycle.  It’s the post-war ‘waste not, want not’ mentality that was drilled into me by my parents!  Ah, these Northerner have a lot to answer for. So, I recently signed up for The Refashioners 2015.  This is a month long project where a bunch of sewing bloggers are challenged to refashion a garment to highlight how cool, creative, economically and ethically sound refashioning old garments actually is.  The catch is that these sewing bloggers don’t get to decide what the garment is.  The garment is mailed to them. This year it’s a men’s shirt. Anyone can get involved in this project, I like a challenge so decided to sew along. I bought a shirt from Vinnies, down the road.  I did try to raid my husbands wardrobe but it was slim pickings and not all that inspiring.  The shirt I found cost me $6.  It is a lovely quality herringbone in sea blue and white and is a super soft cotton with a lovely drape. It’s a large size, probably an XL, which gave me plenty to go at.

Check out the large double cuffs
A close up to see the herringbone detail

I had a few ideas in my head and drew up a few sketches but I kept coming back to a jacket I made about 18 months ago and thought that a version of that would work a treat. It is called the Ruffle-Front Jacket from the Japanese sewing book, Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. IMG_3203 It’s a raglan sleeve jacket with a large open neckline. I like the idea of adding a raglan sleeve into this formal shirt, it gives it a more casual style and a looser fit.  The tie closure runs through the facing from one centre front hem to the other.  You can also add a contrasting fabric to the facing as it will be visible when you shirr the ruffles. IMG_3140 I pulled the whole shirt apart and started to lay the pattern pieces out.  This is the raglan sleeve.  As you can see I had to shorten the sleeve length considerably and also reduce the width of the sleeve. IMG_3141 The back panel was placed on the fold so I had plenty of fabric to play with.  I just had to reduce the ‘swing’ of the jacket by about 2-3cm. IMG_3142 The front panel worked but it did mean that I had to include the buttons.  Again I reduced the ‘swing’ of the jacket by about 2-3cm. This was the point that I realised it probably wasn’t going to look much like the Ruffle-Front Jacket.  I think it’s a case of just going with it.  I experimented with adding the double cuffs onto the end of the sleeves but that didn’t work very well.  They were too stiff and the overall jacket is very soft and draped.


In the end, it morphed into a very girlie blouse!


Instead of running the facing along the neckline and down the front, I stopped it at the neckline and drew up a bow at the front.  I used some floral  Liberty London fabric for the neck facing, you can just about see it peaking through. IMG_3219 I decided that the button and buttonholes were too good to loose so I just replaced the buttons with some self covered buttons in the Liberty London fabric. IMG_3228 IMG_3216 IMG_3221 I am pretty pleased with the results.  I think the contrast between the geometric herringbone and the random floral fabric works really well. What do you think, is it a successful refashion?