Simplicity’s New Collection: the 8131 Blouse

simplicity-8131-blouseIt’s October, it’s a new season and, with it, comes a new collection of sewing patterns from Simplicity! I was emailed by Simplicity a few weeks ago with a link to their new collection of patterns and couldn’t wait to get sorting through them. Which one is your favourite? I picked to make the new 8131 blouse!

The Simplicity 8131 blouse is ‘a V-neck bow blouse pattern allows you the ability to choose different bow styles and sleeves plus round or pointed hem.’ You can also do an off-the-shoulder style if you want to be really on-trend! I chose to make view B which has no sleeves, a rounded hem and a cute little pussy-bow neck tie. Despite all those features I actually think I selected the most simple pattern of the lot, but I wanted to make something that I’d be more likely to wear regularly than the bare-shoulder or long-sleeved variants.


The fabric I used for my blouse is a navy floral viscose that I actually bought on eBay, but there are loads of other lovely navy viscoses available at Minerva Crafts here if you want to take a look! Viscose is a really soft, drapey fabric and suits the bow neck-tie feature on this blouse really well. It feels a little like wearing pyjamas when you’ve got it on which is win/win really! However, viscose can be both quite slippery and stretchy to work with so make sure you cut our your pattern pieces accurately and use lots of pins to avoid producing a slightly wonky garment…


simplicity-8131The pattern instructions are what you expect from Simplicity – very easy to follow with clear pictures for each step and I didn’t have any problems. I’d probably recommend this pattern for an intermediate-beginner as there are a fair few techniques needed, such as the rounded hem, gathering on the shoulders and attaching the tie/collar. If you’re new to any of these techniques then the pattern instructions are clear enough to help you out, but it’s always good to know what you’re doing beforehand!

So what do you think? Will you be having a go at any of the new Simplicity patterns this autumn?


Floral Viscose Harper Blouse

floral harper blouseHere I am – back on the blog! I’ve had a bit of time off from sewing recently due to ‘life’ happening, so I’m happy to be back with you today for a new post. Today I’ve got a lovely, Spring-appropriate blouse to show you.

The pattern I used for this is called the ‘Harper Blouse’ and I downloaded it in PDF format from a lovely website called Spit up & Stilettos. Unfortunately, the website no longer exists – the company have changed their name to Sadi & Sam and only offer patterns for children these days – but I’m sure if you emailed the lovely Lauren and ask nicely she’ll be happy to send you the Harper blouse download!

The blouse is a tunic length (it just covers the hips) and features bias binding around the armholes, a waist tie (I used ribbon) and a very on-trend Mandarin collar, much like the new Tilly and the Buttons Martha dress. The only adjustment I made was to the neckline opening, where I added a hook and eye to stop it gaping and so I don’t have to wear a vest top underneath.

harper blouse mandarin collar

This is just one of a very small number of times that I’ve actually used a PDF pattern and, I have to say, it was easier than I remember. Last time I tried a PDF I had a nightmare trying to match up and stick the paper pieces together and vowed never to use them again! I’m glad I’ve put that behind me.

harper blouse

The fabric I used for my blouse is a blue and white viscose that I found on eBay from everyone’s favourite seller, thefabricman. The seller has so many different fabrics at such good prices that it’s hard not to buy more than you need! I just got 1 metre for my blouse and it cost me an astonishing £2.98. You couldn’t even buy a blouse for that price in Primark. The listing actually describes the fabric as ‘grey and blue gothic flowers’ but I think that description is up for debate! My blouse is definitely inky blue and off-white, and I’d say those flowers were much more feminine than gothic…

Anyhow, this blouse was a pleasure to make and I think it looks perfect for the upcoming sunshine. Do you like it?

A Dotty Chambray Shirt – Burda 6849

burda 6849 polka dot shirtGuys, I made a shirt. I actually made a shirt! That fits! I demand that you all go and help yourselves to a celebratory cocktail in my honour right now (or a celebratory cup of tea if you’re at work). The idea for this project came about when Minerva Crafts started to stock this amazing, incredible, fantastic polka dot chambray fabric. I think I ordered my 1.5 metres of it about 30 seconds after it went up on the website (side note – there’s also a stripy version which I’m trying my hardest to resist!) Because chambray looks rather like denim, I thought it’d be the perfect fabric with which to make a denim-look-a-like-chambray-shirt: enter Burda 6849, courtesy of the lovely Hannah over at Simplicity. The pattern back declares that ‘these blouses ensure a young and clean look’ and that the pockets and snap fasteners have ‘all the attributes of a classy blouse’. This sounds like the pattern of my dreams right from the off – and it turns out I was right! I absolutely love this pattern – whilst it’s at least 3 steps ahead of my normal ability, I actually out-did myself with this one (if I do say so myself). I think the key here is to take your time and measure everything very carefully: it took me a few weeks to sew all the pieces together but I’m glad I didn’t rush it. Shirts require a lot of clean lines and neat edges so it’s essential that you go slowly. burda 6849 dotty blouse I chose to make view ‘B’ – which has the slightly longer length – but with the details of view ‘A’, which simply means adding snap fasteners rather than buttons. Have you ever used snap fasteners before? I got some pearl-effect ones from Minerva and had a right laugh trying to insert them – if you plan to use them in a project of your own, be aware that you’ll need a hammer, plenty of space and a patient husband. I’m not sure what our neighbour thought whilst I recklessly hammered in 12 individual snap fasteners but, you know what, I don’t care. They look great! This pattern is definitely one for the more confident sewer as it requires a multitude of different skills – top stitching, vertical darts, pockets, pocket flaps, setting in sleeves, the collar, the cuffs, sleeve plackets, snap fasteners, a curved hem… I didn’t let that put me off though, and neither should you. I think as long as you follow the instructions word-for-word then you won’t have any problems – just take your time! I can’t emphasise that enough. burda 6849 details I really hope you like my finished chambray shirt as much as I do – I’m really very proud of it (if you can’t tell!) I even did French seams on the inside to keep it all neat and tidy – particularly because chambray has a tendency to fray. Have you ever made a shirt/blouse before? How did it go? Do you plan to make one now I’ve made it look like an absolute doddle? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

By the way – this post was written to run alongside the launch of the Simplicity Blogger Circle! You can find out more about the club below (go on, you know you want to join in too…)

Simplicity Blogger Circle

Blogger Network #12 – Polka Dot Peter Pan Blouse

simple sew peter pan polka dot blouseTime for March’s Minerva Blogger Network post! In amongst all the wind, rain and snow that have graced the country recently we’ve also been getting a fair few sunny days here in the UK – Spring is definitely coming! In celebration of the Spring, this month’s project is a lightweight, warm-weather blouse – perfect for those first sightings of snowdrops.

The pattern I used for this project is the Simple Sew Peter Pan Collar Blouse. I’ve never used a Simple Sew pattern before but when I noticed that Minerva Crafts had started stocking them I thought it was about time I gave one a try. The pattern itself is printed on sturdy paper (rather like Tilly’s patterns) making it very easy to cut out and work with – which is great for beginners or people who really do want a ‘Simple Sew’.

The blouse is simply made up of a front panel, two back panels and the Peter Pan collar. I do love a good collar, they make even the most basic of outfits look a bit more dressed up. If you’ve never sewn a collar before then you’ll have to trust me on this one, but they really are quite easy to make! Each side of the collar is made up of two pieces of fabric with interfacing in between which you just baste onto the neckline and then, when you attach the bias binding, a finished collar magically appears! It really is a ‘wow, I did that!’ moment.

simple sew peter pan blouse

The fabric I used for my blouse is a black and white polka dot cotton poplin. It’s very soft (and lightweight) making it an ideal choice for a project like this. It’s also very easy to sew with and doesn’t cost the earth! I only used about 1 metre of it for this blouse and then used a very small piece of leftover black cotton for the contrasting collar, plus some white bias binding for the armholes and black binding for the neckline.

simple sew paternThe back of the blouse also features a row of 5 buttons (I used these polka dot buttons). This is perhaps the only part of the project that needs quite a bit of skill! Button holes seem to be a struggle for all seamstresses, but I used my machine and got there in the end. Remember to make your button holes big enough so that your button can fit through it – there’s my tip for that!

What do you think of it overall? I like to wear it tucked into a skirt but I’m sure it’d look just as smart worn on top of a pair of black skinny jeans. Let’s just hope the sunshine sticks around so I can wear it more often!

Blogger Network #5 – Betty Draper Gingham Blouse

burda 6924 gingham blouseJust recently, and perhaps a bit late to the game, my fiancé and I have spent night after night after night watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men. I’d already seen the first couple of seasons a few years ago but, aside from lusting over the outfits, had got a bit lost with it – until now! I’ve always kept an eye on the Julia Bobbin Mad Men Challenges that keep appearing over the internet (if you’ve not seen them, be sure to check out the entries, they’re incredible) and thought that it was about time I had a go myself – but on a smaller scale!

So, for this month’s Minerva Blogger Network post, I decided to have a go at making a Betty Draper inspired blouse. Does anyone remember the little yellow gingham number that Betty’s been seen to wear in various episodes during seasons 2 and 3?

betty draper gingham blouse burda 6924

If you want to sew along with me then you can get hold of the blouse pattern here and the yellow gingham fabric here. They’re both super cheap too!

The blouse I made uses the Burda 6924 sewing pattern for a knotted tie blouse. I chose to make view A, which is the version without sleeves, to make it look more like Betty’s! And this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a collar, so I was a little hesitant and I had to get very friendly with my seam ripper (don’t look at me like that, we’ve all been there).

betty draper yellow gingham blouse burda 6924

The finished blouse is actually a lot better than I had imagined! When you’re constantly unpicking and re-stitching your work, you often give up a little, but half-heartedly yet gallantly continue to sew anyway. And I’m so glad I did. My finished gingham blouse fits perfectly and is definitely something I’ll wear on holiday or on a sunny weekend. Check out my marvellously squinty pictures too – it’s definitely a garment that looks best in bright sunshine!