Hi, everyone. Happy week before Thanksgiving! Today I have a lovely linen blouse to share with you. This is the Fibre Mood Norma blouse.
I got this for free when Fibre Mood gave it away as part of a sewing challenge.
It took me awhile to get around to making it, but I got there in the end! Actually, this version was inspired by melt.stitches who made Norma in bone colored linen. I think I saw her version on Pinterest or the Fibre Mood site, and fell in love with this top in a pale linen.
I had read numerous blog posts by people who had gotten linen from fabrics-store.com and been happy, so when white midweight linen went on sale, I snapped some up. It was very nice when I got it, both before and after washing, and made me think of the midweight linen I had bought from Fabric Mart to make my yellow Roscoe Blouse. Cutting and sewing the fabric was great. I did find one flaw in the fabric that I didn’t notice until after I had cut everything out, but luckily it ended up on a facing, so no one but me (and all of you) will see it.
For this pattern, I made a 16 bust, 16 waist, and for the hip, I straddled the line between a 16 and 18 (this is in the US sizing). I made a note to myself to cut wide seam allowances at the hip in case I wanted to let the seams out a bit there for more room, but I think I forgot all about it when I got to cutting and sewing. I did a major broad back adjustment, as I often do on shirts, and that worked out great.
I also lengthened the sleeve cuff since I wanted them loose enough around my lower arms to be comfortable whether the sleeve was hanging down or pulled up over my elbows.
When Fibre Mood first started, you had to add seam allowances to all of their patterns. This often (though not always) seems to be the preference in European patterns. I don’t think this originally had seam allowances, but in my copy of the pattern, it does, which was nice–one less step to do!
The order and steps for sewing this were a little bit different than some patterns I have used, and I really enjoyed the change. This pattern often has you finish seam allowances before sewing pieces together. This works out great if you are going to serge or zigzag your edges.
If you plan to finish your seams together, you will need to change things around a bit, but that wouldn’t be too tricky.
After hemming, I sewed my facings down. I HATE facings that flap around. I know facings are supposed to give you a beautifully finished edge without stitching around it, however I don’t mind the look of a stitched down facing as much as I mind my facings flapping around and getting wrinkled every time they go through the wash.
I took a bit of time going back and forth over my button choices, and chose some vintage white (shell?) buttons from the collection my mother-in-law gave me.
I’m really happy with how they look. I had thought about green glass or pink plastic buttons, also from that collection, since I love distinctive details, but because I don’t have a lot of white shirts in my wardrobe, I wanted this one to be versatile and neutral.
There’s a nice tip at the end of the pattern to add some tulle into the shoulder area if you want to keep your sleeve heads extra puffy. I didn’t do that this time, but it’s a great idea.
Changes for next time and overall thoughts
If I were to make this again, I would do a few things. It’s clear to me that I need to do a forward shoulder adjustment as the top ends up shifting back as I wear it.
This doesn’t affect how it feels. It really just affects how it hangs on my body, giving it the look of a shirt with a high-low hem. It works out well for this shirt because the neckline is a little low for me (another thing I would change if I made this again), but because the shirt tends to shift to the back, it effectively raises the neckline to a point I’m comfortable with. Other than that, maybe I would lengthen it an inch or two, but I’m not really sure. That would be a good round three potential change, if I got that far with this pattern.
Otherwise, though, I love this shirt. I have been reaching for it a lot. While I don’t think I need a million of these shirts in my closet, I like this enough that I wouldn’t mind one or two more, and I would definitely consider using a midweight linen again–it’s so nice. It’s turned out to be a great (and pretty!) wardrobe workhorse as we have transitioned into the cooler weather.
It’s finally time to show you what I have been slowly working on since September! This was a fun project!
My husband and I were invited to a wedding at the end of October, so way back in August, I began to think about what I would make. As someone who sews primarily “every day” clothes and who is extremely casual, weddings are fun opportunities to make something a little bit fancier than what I usually wear. That typically just means a dress that I can add to my wardrobe and wear again after the wedding, but a dress is dressing up for me.
The Fibre Mood Mindy has been on my radar to make for over a year, so this was a great opportunity. I love the big sleeves and easy fit. I thought that adding a wide ruffle to the bottom would make it the perfect dress for me.
I originally thought I might make another True Bias Roscoe Blouse with it, as it’s definitely a shirt/dress weight linen. While thinking about a Roscoe and testing out some trims with it, I put this vintage trim next to the fabric, and even though the ribbon doesn’t have any kelly green in it, I loved them together. I didn’t have a lot of it, but I thought it would be best at the neckline and maybe the waist of this dress. I think the ribbon is from Brimfield many years ago, back when I first began going to the flea/antique market, and it’s been waiting for its chance to shine ever since.
Once I put these together, this fabric + trim combination was my color muse, and I began to work on all the little details that would make up the outfit. It was such a fun project. The aim wasn’t so much to stand out at the wedding, but just to put together an outfit that I really loved, filled with interesting details and color. And in the end, what I came up with really surprised me in a good way!
I’ll give you all the details on the outfit, with the sewing details*** at the end of the post for anyone else who is making this pattern.
None of the websites or links in this post are affiliate links–I just want to share where I found everything in case you need any of these types of things for projects of your own.
I found some clog-type sandals in gold on eBay for a great price. They are originally from Boden, and they were in good used condition.
Unfortunately, the straps were a bit tight over my toes. I had ordered them early, so I cleaned them up, and shoved some wooden shoe forms down in the the toes to stretch them out. After awhile, I wore them out for coffee with a friend just to see how they were doing. Good news! The stretching seemed to be working! I put the shoe forms back in, and kept stretching them and testing them out until the wedding. Phew! What a relief.
October in coastal Massachusetts can have variable weather. I remember the end of October being in the 40’s F as well as in the 70’s F, so a short-sleeved linen dress was a risk. I decided I needed some sort of shawl, and as I worked on my dress, I sometimes set it next to another bit of fabric that was teetering between light blue and mint green. It was a set of colors I never would have put together, but I loved them! That was the color I wanted my shawl to be! I looked on Amazon and ordered one, but it was too green, so I returned it. The next one was just right, though!
It was thin, but the wedding and reception were inside, so I hoped it would work!
Also in case of cold, I wanted some tights. There aren’t many tights patterns out there, and while I did find a pattern, I didn’t end up making tights for this dress. I found some in the perfect color on the We Love Color website.
I was inspired by Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, who often pairs colorful tights with her outfits. My “Color” board on Pinterest features a lot of her bright and beautiful outfits on it. Of course, now I want all the colorful tights, so sewing tights may well be in my future. Wouldn’t double brushed polyester tights be cozy?
and I also made my other undergarments. I won’t show those, but having made them and having them fit is its own win, so I wanted to at least mention them. If you are looking for some patterns to try, I recommend Megan Nielsen’s free Acacia underwear, available in two size ranges, and Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra. Both are excellent.
Now for accessories! Thanks to the sister of a friend who was giving away samples from her sales job, I had a gold leather envelope clutch that was perfect. It is from russell + hazel, and the leather is so soft.
I found little gold and rhinestone earrings in my jewelry box that I have had since I was 14, but have probably never worn, since I don’t usually wear gold. They were perfect for this.
And lastly, I picked up a bottle of essie nail polish at CVS in the color “good as gold“.
I was ready!
The afternoon of the actual wedding was not too warm or too cold, so the whole outfit was perfect. I felt comfortable and colorful. The wedding was beautiful, and it was so much fun to go on a date with my husband to an actual party with friends.
Now I think it may be time for some cold-weather sewing and gift sewing!
Here are my notes on sewing the Mindy dress for anyone else who is thinking of making it.
My bust size put me at a US 16 (UK 20/EU 48) in this dress, but I cut out an 18 for a looser fit, since I could always take it in if it was too loose. I wanted to sew the dress largely as drafted, with the puffy sleeves rather than the butterfly sleeves, but with the addition of pockets and a bottom ruffle. Before cutting out my fabric, I also checked to see if I needed to change the dart height (nope!) or make a broad back adjustment (nope!). Those things noted, I added 5/8″ seam allowances everywhere except the hem, where I added a 1.25″ hem allowance. The pattern called for 2.75 yards of 55″ wide fabric. I had three yards of green linen at approximately that width, so I cut things out hoping I would have enough for my pockets and bottom ruffle. In the end, I did! I just had to cut my back facing on the cross grain. I was left with only a few narrow strips of fabric, but I got everything cut out.
This pattern has you construct the front of the dress and then the back before adding sleeves or joining the front and back together. I made sure to add my bottom ruffles as I was constructing the front and back. I checked my fit before adding the invisible zipper by pin basting the sides together. Everything was looking good, and a bit loose, so I decided that I would use slightly larger seam allowances and take things in a bit when I sewed the sides together. I guess I could have made the 16.
As for the zipper, I put it in, but I have never needed to use it. If I made this again, I think I would omit it. It’s easy to slide this dress on and off over your head. Attaching the straps came next. Everything was fine until you attach the strap + sleeve to the dress and then it got confusing. Is the strap supposed to be at an angle or perpendicular to the front? Mine ended up being more or less perpendicular. Make sure that when you get everything attached in step five and have to finish the raw edges together that you don’t trim any seam allowance off or it will impact the seam allowance when you attach the front facing.
Just before step six, which is sewing the front and back side seams together, I decided to attach my trim to the bodice and sleeve straps. I had figured things incorrectly when I was looking at the width of the sleeve straps and trim. The trim was wider than the sleeve straps, so after asking Maggie at Pintuck & Purl for her advice (she being my most advanced garment-sewing friend), I took the straps off, widened the pattern piece, and recut the sleeve straps out of scraps so I could try again. I wanted them to be just a little bit wider than my ribbon.
Then I reattached everything and very carefully, using instructions from The Vogue Sewing Book (revised edition, copyright 1975), I sewed on my trim, even mitering the corners.
After that, I only had enough ribbon left for the front of the bodice, so I sewed it on there, but when I tried it on, it looked…maternity-ish.
So, I moved the ribbon down below the underbust seam, and it made the dress look sort of wide and the seam look uneven. That was that. I took it off, and decided to just keep the trim around the neckline and shoulders.
If I sew this again, in addition to omitting the zipper, I will plan to lengthen the bodice by at least one inch. The same thing happened back when I made Simplicity 4111 in 2018. I think I have a larger and possibly lower bust than what these patterns are drafted for, so a lot of these empire waist seams end up on my bust rather than below it, which can lend a bit of a maternity look to a style that easily leans that way already. Since I don’t need a maternity dress, I would rather not look like I am wearing one.
Before sewing up the side seams completely, I added pockets. My pattern piece came from Simplicity 8689, as did the instructions I used for putting them in.
After that, it was just my hem left. I decided not to use the 1.25″ hem allowance, since I had accidentally added that to the skirt instead of the ruffle, but instead to serge my ruffle edge and then press it up twice, so I could preserve as much of the ruffle length as possible. This gave me a quarter inch hem and only took off one half inch, since I folded it up twice.
Although I don’t love the look of insides finished with a serger, generally speaking, I was soooo glad to have a serger for this project since it kept everything nice and neat inside. The only downside was having to weave in a billion serger tails. I think I will start practicing sewing over my tails when possible in the future.
Overall, this was an interesting dress to put together and a good pattern. I would consider making it again with the few changes I mentioned, and I’m really happy that I made it for this wedding. It was so much fun to have an outfit with details and colors that I loved–those are some of the best aspects of my favorite garments, and the longer I sew, the more convinced I am that colors and details are a big part of what makes a project go from good to great for me.
Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.
This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.
I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.
In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.
Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!
But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉
Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.
That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.
Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.
Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.
The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.
So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉
P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.
These days, I wear a lot of stretchy pants and t-shirts, which, honestly, I love, but I still like to make the occasional non-stretchy garment, too. 😉 The latest project I have to share with you is in that non-stretchy category and is a new style for me, which is fun! It’s the Victoria Blouse from Fibre Mood.
This pattern has a ruffled collar, triangular front yoke with gathers falling from it, and slightly puffed sleeves.
This isn’t a style that I have really worn before, but I love the romantic blouses we have been seeing in fashion and, consequently, in sewing patterns. They are so much fun to wear. When I finished this and put it on for the first time, it took me right back to the ’80’s, which was the last time styles like this were a thing. While I never would have worn this in the ’80’s, I really like it now!
Fibre Mood has offered various PDF patterns for free throughout the pandemic (so generous!) to help people keep sewing, as it’s a positive, stress-relieving activity for so many. I downloaded this several months ago when it was free and made it in the fall. After looking through my stash, I decided that the Victoria Blouse would be perfect in this cotton “Swiss Dot Voile” fabric from Fabric Mart (long since sold out). The fabric itself is really cool and can be used with either side as the right side. One side has little oblong embroidered shapes, and the other has fuzzy dots, typical of a swiss or clip dot fabric. I love this kind of fabric.
After printing and assembling this pattern, I had to add seam allowance, which is not my favorite thing. I think you have the option to print with or without seam allowance on Fibre Mood patterns at this point, although I could be wrong. The seam allowances they recommended on this pattern were different at different points. This is both good and bad–good because it eliminates waste from large seam allowances that you have to trim, and bad because you have to keep track of which piece has what seam allowance. To keep track, I wrote myself notes along the way. I figured it was good for me to try something different, even if I wasn’t sure that I would like it, because maybe I would come to like it or discover something new by trying it.
The directions instruct you to finish a lot of the seams with a serger. I have a serger now, but I don’t love how the finish looks, and while I want to use it when appropriate, I don’t want to serge all my seam allowances when there are often better quality choices out there. However, for this pattern, I decided to stick to my plan of following the directions, at least the first time through.
Before beginning, I did a major broad back adjustment (which is typical for me). I cut a 48 bust and graded out to a 50 hip. Overall, I liked sewing this pattern. The instructions were well laid out. I followed them pretty faithfully, except that I put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in. One thing I liked is how they put the collar and cuffs on, which involves topstitching from the outside rather than trying to stitch in the ditch so that there is no visible stitching on the outside. I find it hard to do that well while catching the fabric underneath, so I like the method that Fibre Mood chose. I think it’s easier and looks nice.
The back neck slit is only turned once and stitched, so I added another line of stitching to (hopefully) keep it from fraying too far, but there could definitely be a better finish there.
Overall, I am really happy with the finished blouse. In fact, I love it, especially tucked in. I found it to be comfortable overall with enough neck and wrist room. The sleeves are puffy, but not so large that they get in the way.
Some possible changes I would consider making next time:
*raise the armhole to allow for better/more arm movement
*take a small horizontal wedge out of the back just below the collar to get the back neck slit to sit more smoothly against the body
*consider if a different neck closure would work better–maybe buttons with elastic loops? I find that the hooks and eyes sometimes unhook as I wear the shirt.
*consider lengthening the shirt if I know I will always wear it tucked in. It is the perfect length for me to wear without tucking it in, but it tends to come untucked in the back when I try to wear it tucked in.
These are all small and optional suggestions because, overall, I love this shirt. I feel good when I wear it, and I would make another. For now, I think I will put it away in order to have a nice surprise for spring.