The Avid Makers: Gemma’s The Blouse

Hello, welcome to my first post for The Avid Seamstress! For my first make I had the opportunity to make a classic: The Blouse. This was perfect for me, as not only does it lend itself to my style of sewing, but it came about when I was looking at my wardrobe in depth. In particular, I’m looking to create wardrobe staples. It just so happened that planning this garment coincided with not only #SewYourselfSustainable but another new Instagram challenge called #SewWhatIHave, both of which I will explain in more detail.

If you haven’t had a chance to read through my intro bio (do go and check out the intro page so you can see all The Avid Makers!) then let me tell you a little about my sewing style. I love bright colours and bold prints, and that is the beginning of the fun when planning what I want to make! Because shirt patterns tend to have several different pieces, they offer the best blank canvas to play around with different colour or pattern placement, a sort of jigsaw puzzle if you will! 

As mentioned, planning my Blouse was heavily influenced by two hashtag challenges running on Instagram. The first (and probably the most influential) is #SewYourselfSustainable which is run by The New Craft House. It is a challenge designed to get you thinking more about sustainability in your crafting practice. For me, this year was one for a lot of reflection regarding my creative process. As someone who creates and writes for several companies as well as for my own blog, I have become aware with just how much I am making, and going through my wardrobe as part of the challenge I could see there are quite a few things I’ve made (particularly in the early days of learning to sew) that I just don’t get much wear from now. Because of regularly needing to make new patterns and garments, I wondered if I was somehow making my own version of ‘fast fashion’. Although I am by no means in the same lane as high street or online brands, I feel I am constantly adding to my stash (how many of us comment on how big our stash is?!) and looking to make the next new or popular pattern.

This had me thinking about a ‘capsule wardrobe’: planning my makes with more consideration as to how much wear I would get from them and their functionality in everyday life. This is where The Blouse fitted in perfectly – shirts are great for all temperatures as they are lightweight and can be layered with warmer jumpers, paired with lots of options such as jeans or skirts, and depending on your colour palette, can go with anything! 

I love the clean look to this pattern – I have sewn quite a few different shirts and have struggled with some of them, so to realise how simple this one is was quite a relief! With a button placket and elegant collar, it doesn’t have darts and is designed with lightweight fabrics in mind. I also love that the sleeves are cropped and cuffed, as I am not a fan of sleeves getting in the way! Based on my bust measurements I went for a size 6, which has given me a fitted look. In future I would size up for a more roomy fit.  

Deciding on which fabric to use led me onto the second hashtag I mentioned – #SewWhatIHave. This tied in perfectly with my thought processes from the sustainability challenge and really helped me make a decision on the fabric. A new challenge set up by @poplinpeony and @timetosew on Instagram, each month has a different theme to encourage you to sew with what you have rather than constantly buying more (who would have guessed that from the title, hey!). October’s prompt is ‘Precious/Expensive’, and the idea behind this one really strikes a chord. We all have that ‘precious’ fabric that we can’t quite bring ourselves to use, maybe because it was expensive, or perhaps because it holds sentimental value. The piece I chose is from Liberty and it’s called ‘Lido’. I only had just over 1m, and knew this would be the perfect opportunity to play around with the pattern blocking style I’ve mentioned earlier. I decided to pair it with a pastel pink, as I felt it really allowed the blue to pop. To get the most out of my fabric (another point to sustainable sewing: minimising fabric waste) I used the bulk of my Liberty fabric for the back and one front piece, as well as the collar, and used the pink for the second front and sleeves. I actually used the line drawing of The Blouse on a colour app to play around with different options to which fabrics I should use where, which can be a big help to visualise how you can achieve a good colour block!

Sewing cotton lawn is such a beauty as it is relatively easy to work with, and it was a perfect match for this pattern. I found the instructions really clear to follow and again, was amazed at how simple the garment is to make. The trickiest part was attaching the collar as it needed a lot of easing, but take your time with it and you’ll be fine! I would definitely recommend this pattern for confident beginners, and will be adding this to my wardrobe staple list; it only took me an afternoon to complete and that included adding buttons!

I’m so pleased with how the colour blocking has worked out: I think it is a brilliant way of using what fabric I have, in particular a ‘special’ one that I will now get so much wear from and is no longer a prisoner of my stash! The Blouse fits in with my mindset from the #sewyourselfsustainable challenge and I cannot wait to make a few more. There will obviously have to be some more colour blocked ones, but for now I am going to enjoy my super special one!

Click here to get yourself a copy of The Blouse.

We also have The Blouse available as a kit, click here to see the options!

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