Helmi Blouse

When Forget Me Not patterns released the Helmi Blouse, I didn’t hesitate in getting the pattern. I’ve loved the return of the peter-pan collar. The blouse is slightly fitted and ends at the top of the hips. It’s easy to pull on over the head with the slit opening at the neckline. I’ve chosen to sew the three-quarter sleeve option.

Also, I’ve made this blouse in time for the sewing challenge #SewAprilBlouse23 which is hosted by Gabrielle @Cloth_Edit and Ruan @TheYorkshireSewGirl. This is a fun sewing challenge with lots of great prizes but the reason I love this challenge is I love seeing the beautiful blouses that everyone is sewing up and I find it good inspiration for my sewing.

The fabric I’ve used is a soft light brown muslin. I had thought to use it for lining when I bought it a while ago, but I love wearing the lightweight fabric so decided to use it for this blouse. This pattern is made for lightweight woven fabrics such as my muslin, but it can be sewn with sheerer fabrics. There are great instructions included in the pattern for this.

Currently, my sizing falls between the size 36 and size 38 with my measurements of 37-inch full bust, 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. The pattern comes in three bust sizes and my measurements fell into the medium bust size. I decided to sew the size 36 without grading and the fit feels perfect.

I’ve never sewn a peter-pan collar before. I like the flat collar with its rounded corners. The collar is a golden classic and reminiscent of sweet and simple times. This version was an easy construction and is attached straight onto the bodice. The pattern has another option of collar with ruffles and a collar stand which I’d love to sew up in the future.

I made a slight mistake with the slit opening at the neckline. I wanted to sew the slit with a button closure at the collar, but I misunderstood the instructions and cut the opening too wide. If sewing this again, I would mark the opening but attach the facing before cutting the slit. As a result, I have a slightly odd-looking keyhole opening rather than the slit I was aiming for. Oh well! A good excuse to sew another one.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Brattle Top

A beginner’s guide to sewing with knit fabric (from a beginner).

Sewing knit fabric has been something I’ve avoided in the past but since joining Cashmerette Club* and having access to their wonderful resources, I’ve gained a lot of confidence in this area. In fact, I’ve been looking for more to sew! The Brattle Top is the April pattern of the month for Cashmerette Club. It’s a tee with a twist front. It’s such a comfortable top to wear and the twist just gives it a little bit of interest. 

For those that are just venturing into sewing knit fabrics, here are a few tips that I wish I had known before starting out.


You’ll need a ballpoint sewing machine needle. The ballpoint needle will slip between the fibres of the fabric and will not snag the fabric. In my first attempt, I had tried sewing with a universal needle and it was snagging that fabric so badly that I just could not continue until a lovely person on Instagram informed me about ballpoint needles. 


Another problem I had encountered with my first attempt at knit fabric sewing was that my stitches kept breaking off. This is because there’s elasticity in the fabric and a straight stitch just doesn’t accommodate for this stretch. I use a lightning stitch or a zig-zag stitch. I tend to use the lightning stitch for seams because it has a narrow width with longer stitch length, but the zig-zag stitch looks better for top stitching. For hemming, I use the twin needle. 

Don’t pull on the fabric

Another challenge with the elasticity of the fabric is the temptation to pull the fabric as you sew which warps the fabric. I’m just very mindful not to put tension on the fabric unless I’m attaching something like a neckband which is often a requirement of the pattern. Otherwise, I try to keep the fabric flat.

Get yourself an overlocker

Ok, this is technically not a tip! It’s not a requirement at all for sewing with knit fabric but it does make it easy if you have one. In fact, some people sew almost the entire project on their overlockers. I bought mine second hand off Facebook marketplace. It’s a very old and heavy Bernina which has not missed a beat. 

Brattle Top

The Brattle top is a great beginner’s pattern. Luckily, I had no problems sewing it. The construction is easy to follow, and it comes together quickly. I’ve made the short sleeve version, but the sleeves are also interchangeable with the Carlyle Tee. I might try a three-quarter sleeve version for the cooler months. I’ve sewn the size 10 for my measurements of 35-inch high bust, 37-inch full bust and 33-inch waist. I find this to be a great fit and did not make any adjustments.

I’m glad that I’ve been challenged to sew with knit fabric. It’s such a comfortable and versatile fabric to wear and style. I’ll be trying a few more patterns for knit fabric in the future. 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

*Cashmerette Club membership has been kindly gifted to me as part of a collaboration with Cashmerette.

Marselis Top

The Marselis Top and Dress is a new pattern from The Uncut Project.  I was lucky enough to be selected to test this beautiful pattern. The Marselis can be sewn as a top or a dress. The designers, Anna and Isabel, are from Copenhagen and their design reflects the Scandinavian aesthetic of simple lines with a modern twist. This pattern has a lot of inclusions. The flowy top or dress can be sewn sleeveless, short sleeved or long sleeved. I chose to make the sleeveless top version and I had in mind something that was appropriate for a summer night out.

Sizing ranges from 32 to 74 (European), I was between the 40 and 42 with my bust size of 37 inches so I went with the 40 as the pattern includes a lot of ease in the waist and hips. The top ended at about hip level for me. I thought the sizing was spot on! 

This pattern is made for lightweight to medium woven fabrics. At the beginning of my sewing journey, I madly bought fabric that I thought were pretty but had no idea how or what to sew with. Every time I passed the fabric store, I would go rifling through the bargain bin. It was a thrill at first until I realised, I was guiltily amassing a rather large stack of fabric that I was now responsible for. Time to put a stop to it. I now check my stash before heading to the fabric store. This chiffon felt like the perfect match for the Marselis Top because it’s soft and sheer which would show off the gathers in the pattern.

At this point, I should confess that I have never sewn with Chiffon fabric before. I’ll just share some of what I’ve learnt about Chiffon here in case anyone is wanting to recreate this. Chiffon frays like crazy. When I tried to overlocker it, there was a moment of panic as it started to disintegrate. Luckily, I was testing this on a piece of scrap. So, French seams were the best option for finishing my seams. Another thing I noted about Chiffon is that it gets easily caught in the teeth of the machine. I had to make sure I was leaving a bit of gap at the start of the sew. I could still backstitch but I have read some advice that it’s better to tie off the ends of your stitching by hand.

Putting together the pattern pieces was easy and the instructions were great. It was a bit tricky with my bias binding because I had bought the slightly smaller one inch rather than the one and a half inch that was recommended. It still worked well, and I loved how the ties were formed so neatly out of the bias binding that finished the top of the blouse. I especially love the back of the top where the ties pass through a loop and ties together. 

I remember finishing the pattern test in the same afternoon. It was one of those patterns that are so interesting, you can’t put it down. I really wanted to get to the end to see what it would look like. Needless to say, I’m in love with my new blouse and I ended up wearing it out that night for our Chinese New Year dinner and to see the lion dancers! 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Carlyle T Shirt

Lately, I’ve been looking to sew more basic core items. I stopped shopping ready-to-wear when I took up sewing. It wasn’t a sudden stop but a natural progression as my sewing skills expanded. This year, part of my sewing plan has been to record my daily outfits in #memadeeveryday. I’m trying to account for what I sew and correlate it with what I wear. I’ve found that I have sewn more items for going out in but not many daily wear items.

The Carlyle T-Shirt from Cashmerette really caught my eye because tees are an essential core item, but the Carlyle tee is an “elevated” basic. It has the square neckline which I like and puffy sleeves. The pattern can also be sewn with straight sleeves, but I really love the puffy sleeved look which is such a trend at the moment. I’ve made the classic body length but there is also a cropped version. This pattern is from the Cashmerette Club* catalogue which is a subscription-based service. 

Cashmerette has very detailed information for sizing which is great as sizing can vary so much with pattern companies. I’m always cautious when I first make an item with a new pattern company. I find that Cashmerette sizing is quite equivalent to my ready-to-wear items. I’ve sewn the Size 10 with Cup C/D without alterations. Knitted fabric does have more flexibility with sizing because of the stretch in the fabric so I will still make a toile if I sew a woven item from them. For this shirt, I haven’t toiled which is a bit risky, but it did save me time and fabric!

I’m a really big fan of a square neckline. This one is finished with a neck band which is so neat, but I had to sew very carefully to match the mitred seams to the corners of the neckline. Luckily, I managed it on the first attempt otherwise the seam ripper would have made a dreaded appearance.

Puffy sleeves were never a feature in my wardrobe before but since taking up sewing they have a definite presence in my closet now. It puts a bit of a feminine twist to the basic tee. It was an option to sew this with long sleeves but it’s quite warm where I live so I prefer three quarter sleeves. I do love the look of the straight sleeves as well so perhaps that will be a future option. 

Knit fabrics have been something I’ve avoided sewing with. I’m not sure what the barrier has been. It might have been the multiple needles that I’ve broken whenever I’ve sewn knit fabrics. Happily, I didn’t break any needles sewing this tee. The pattern has very clear and specific instructions which made the construction go very smoothly. I’m finally over my fear of knit fabrics.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

*Full Disclosure: Cashmerette Club Subscription has been gifted to me as part of an upcoming collaboration with Cahmerette however, I have no obligation to post or blog what I make. All opinions are my own.

Hana Tank Top

I was looking to purchase a basic tank top pattern in the Black Friday sales last year when it occurred to me that I already had the perfect pattern with the Hana Tank Top! I had sewn up the dress version previously but remembered that Patternscout Patterns are always such good value for the options that they offer. Sure enough, after digging out the pattern, the Hana can be also sewn up as a v-neck tank top pattern. There are so many options as it can be a cropped length, tie waist or as I’ve chosen, a curved high-low hem.

The bonus of sewing a familiar pattern is that I’ve already invested time and effort in sticking the PDF pattern together and I’ve already worked out the sizing. Now, saying that, I sewed up the size 12 for my size of 37-inch bust and 33-inch waist which was a good fit but for some reason the armscye is slightly tight under my arms. When I sew this pattern again, I’ll be sure to correct this by widening at the underarm area. The only reason I can think of for this to have occurred is that I may have installed the bias binding a bit too tightly in the tank top as this was certainly not an issue when I made the dress version.

The fabric I used was leftover linen from the Megan Nielsen Pattern Shop when there was still a physical shop to visit. Unfortunately, it has since closed which is a pity since there aren’t a wide variety of fabric and haberdashery shops around town. One of my sewing goals this year is to use up majority of my scrap fabric and leftover fabrics. I had about 1.5m of this lovely linen which was the perfect amount for the Hana tank top.

With each sew, I feel that I make a little progress either building the skill of sewing or working out a better way to construct a garment. In this sew, it was the curved hem that I made progress with. I’ve always felt that my curved hems were messy, and I didn’t like the way it would curl up with a folded finish. I could never iron the curves evenly or get close enough to the edge to make it even. Someone on Instagram shared how they made a facing to finish off their curved hem, so I decided to try it out and I’m pleased to say that this worked out perfectly! Definitely the way to go with a curved hem. Now it sits flat and even.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Orchidee Blouse

Making a toile

This is my first attempt at a Deer and Doe Pattern. The Orchidee pattern can be sewn as a dress or a blouse. I’ve chosen to start with the blouse. It has beautiful puffy sleeves with a short peplum cinched in at the waist and the most intriguing component for me, the button loops or sometimes referred to as bridal loops as they are commonly seen on bridal gowns. It’s also fully lined which adds to the quality of the make.

When I started sewing, I would often read the warning in a pattern to toile, or I’ve also heard it being referred to as a muslin. Basically, it’s always a good idea to sew the pattern or part of it with cheaper, or in my case, remnant fabric. It was a struggle at first to understand how to make an effective toile, so I thought I’d document my process in this blog post. There are some good articles of how to fit things properly, but this is my personal process. When I was learning, I found it hard to follow more professional tutorials so I hope this more basic process will be helpful to someone just starting out.

Talking about fit, that’s where I started. Looking at the sizing chart, I sat between size 42 with a 37-inch bust and size 46 with a 33-inch waist. It was also important to check the finished garment measurements as this informed me that there isn’t much ease in the fit meaning that it should sit quite snug or fitted to the body. From here, I printed the size 42, 44 and 46 so that I could grade between the sizes. I would start with the size 42 bust and grade to the size 46 waist.

Now, I know that some people like to print every size out and then trace but I really love the option of just printing my sizes and then modifying the pattern and cutting into the paper. I usually buy my patterns as a PDF version for this very reason because even if I cut into the pattern and my size changes next time, I can still print and repeat the process. 

So, before cutting into the fabric, I usually try to figure out what I’m most unsure about with the fit of the garment I’m making. In the case of the Orchidee blouse, I needed to know from my toile, whether the waist would fit, where the neckline ended and where the under bust seam sat. This then really clarified the process for me as I don’t tend to follow the instructions in order. I used to just use cheaper fabric and sew up exactly as instructed by the pattern but in my opinion, that wastes time, effort, and material as even cheap fabric costs (if not monetarily, then environmentally).

The first part I tested was the waistband as this must cinch the waist in. I cut the size 46 and sewed up and found that it fit well. Having confirmed that the waist is a good fit, I now went back to the pattern pieces and graded from the size 42 to the 46 at the side seams of the bodice. 

The next part was to test the length of the bodice. I had measured from my shoulder to waist but unfortunately, most patterns do not include this measurement. Instead, I cut at the lengthen/shorten line on the bodice pattern piece to add some paper measuring about two inches extra. I then measured the paper with the original length and the added length and found that the original length was fine. The idea of adding the length to the pattern piece is that you can play around with where your bodice piece is with some real measurements. In the Orchidee blouse, it’s imperative that the bodice piece ends just under the bust. 

The neckline was another question mark for me. I’m more comfortable with a modest neckline. I could see with the toile, that it sat an inch too low for me, so it was simple to trace the original neckline onto a blank piece of paper then keeping the top of the neckline in position, I just brought it out by and inch and joined the lines. I then made sure I added the same length to the button loops.

In the end, my toile consisted of the two front bodice pieces, the waistband pieces, and the back bodice piece. From there I sewed the lining which allowed me to check the fit again. It was then an easy process to sew the outer shell of the blouse. 

The button loop did terrify me at first, but the instructions were great, and the tutorial included photographs, so it was easy to follow. I always like to research the many different methodologies. What worked best for me was to hand tack the cord first then sew with the machine which gave me more accuracy. I found that the double-sided tape suggested was okay, but the cord would bump and that movement lead to unevenness in the loops. 

The final dilemma was the peplum length. I initially thought the peplum looked too small, so I decided to double the length of the peplum however, once I finished and wore it, I knew I had made a mistake. It just sat very awkwardly, and I humbly admit that the designers are right and there’s a good reason to trust the original design elements! Out came the seam ripper and it was fixed easily.

All in all, I really enjoyed this sew. It had so many puzzles for my brain, and I enjoyed all the new elements that were tackled in the sew.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

x Em

Alea Shirt

One of my sewing goals this year was to expand my repertoire especially in creating separate pieces. A blouse is such a wardrobe staple, so it was great to find a shirt with some feminine elements. The Alea Shirt has these wonderful full sleeves as an option, and I explored sewing both the three quarter and full long sleeves. This was also the first time I’ve made a stand-up collar. This is a fantastic collaboration between Marsha Style who is one of my favourite pattern designers and the awesomely talented Sewlala.

The sizing is spot on. I made the size 8 for my measurement of 37 Bust and 33 Waist. The only small modification I made was for the sleeve when I made the full long sleeve option. I initially finished the sleeve with bias binding but found that it was too loose and hung halfway down my hand. It was an easy fix and instruction are included in the pattern. I just replaced the bias binding with an elasticated sleeve hem. This made full use of the shape and fullness of the sleeve. Some glorious puffiness!

The shirt option called for 1.5 meters of fabric. I found that I needed just a little more with the long sleeve version. I had left the pockets off as well which saved some fabric. To be safe, I bought 2 meters for the long-sleeved version. My first blouse was made with linen and my second version was made with a cotton. Both were a great match for the pattern and easy to sew with. 

I’m not very experienced with sewing collars or plackets but the instructions made the process so easy! I’ll definitely be referring to this again for the instructions on these. It’s great to have a few ways for constructing the same thing.

Another great learning moment for me on the sew was the attachment of buttons. With the excitement of the finish line in sight, I had sewn the buttons on and then finished the hem. To my disappointment, the two front pieces did not match up when buttoned up. The obvious solution was to resew the hem, right? Well, when I checked the instructions, I saw that my construction was out of order. The instructions recommended hemming first then attaching the buttons. So, the issue was quickly resolved by detaching the buttons and realigning them. Problem solved! A reminder for me to keep checking my steps. 

I’ll be hoping to tackle the dress version for summer. I’m especially keen to sew Version D. 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Albion Blouse

The Albion Blouse is a collaboration between Vanessa Hansen Studios and Peppermint Magazine. Peppermint Magazine is not only great for their articles but also for their free sewing patterns. I was thrilled to be part of the tester team and so happy to be able to share it. When I started applying to be a tester for patterns, I didn’t realise there could be a gap between sewing and posting. Sometimes there’s no indication of when a pattern will be released which makes it so exciting when you can finally share! I was born in the Chinese year of the dragon and dragons are usually terrible at keeping secrets so I’m patting myself on the back for not letting anything out of the bag so far.

The Albion Blouse is a wrap top which is fastened by buttons and loops. It is quite fitted in the bodice and stops just below the natural waistline. There were a lot of firsts for me in this pattern. I’ve never had to make loops for fastening and it was also my first time making my own buttons. I consider my skill level sitting more towards the advanced beginner so I was happy to be able to complete this pattern which is made for intermediate sewers.

The size for the Albion Blouse runs between A to P and has cup sizes. I graded between size F and G as my full bust sat in the F range and my waist was in the G. I love the system on sizing and how Vanessa includes detailed fitting notes in her patterns. The wrap top allows for some flexibility too which helped me as I’m still learning in this area.

There are two versions to make in this pattern and my first make was a wearable toile of the short sleeve blouse. My final version was of the long sleeves with cuff which also fastens with buttons and loops. 

This blouse has such classic vintage features, so I chose a beautiful lightweight linen with a modern print to juxtapose this.  I always reach for a linen if I can because it’s a natural fibre and great in hot weather and cooler weather too.

The Albion Blouse is such a generous offering from Vanessa Hansen Studios. Thank you to both Peppermint Magazine and Vanessa for making this pattern free for all of us. 

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Poppy Blouse

Poppy Blouse is the long anticipated new release from Pattern Scout Studio. It has the most beautiful ruffle collar which is my first. It is in the style of a peasant blouse with raglan sleeves. I was lucky enough to be on the testing team for the Poppy Blouse. This blouse is such a lovely addition to my me-made closet. I do love sewing a dress but for practical reasons, I’ve been looking for more blouse patterns, so I was excited when this opportunity came along.

There are two versions on offer with the pattern. Featured above is Version A which has a ruffle hem. It’s a pretty feature and I find the peplum to be a very flattering feature which draws the silhouette in at the waistline and elongates the legs. I also went on to make a silky version B so the pattern is already proving to be a tried and true pattern! I really love both versions.

My measurements currently are 37.5-inch bust, 34-inch waist and 40-inch hips. My measurements were a surprise when I remeasured myself for the test, but it does remind you in the pattern to always remeasure before starting the sew to avoid disappointment. It’s lucky that there is so much ease in the pattern which is more forgiving when fitting the pattern. Grading is not required, and it’s actually not recommended for this pattern. The sizing is very inclusive, it goes from size 0 to 30 and Pattern Scout Studio is great at offering cup sizes with her patterns.

The next consideration was the fabric. There were some beautiful samples which were shared with the testers. The pattern suits a drapey fabric like chiffon, georgette, crepe the chine but for Version A, I had a thin, lightweight vegetable-dyed cotton that I knew would suit the pattern. It does create a fuller shape, but I love the feel of cotton in summer, and I stress that it is a very lightweight cotton.

Personally, the collar construction was the most satisfying task. I loved bringing it together and it’s a very pretty feature of the blouse. I like it both tied up or left open. It’s very flattering on the neckline. 

Pattern Scout Studio always include great instructions with their patterns. It’s sewn in a logical sequence and has the right amount of detail to help someone who is at the start of their sewing journey. I always highly recommend and have sewn their patterns many times over myself. I’m so happy to be able to have been part of the testing team again!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

The Jarrah Sweater Again

I can’t believe how many times I’ve sewn the Jarrah Sweater from Megan Nielsen Patterns. I first came across this in 2020 when I wanted to try out my new (second-hand) overlocker and I found this. It’s a great beginner pattern especially with my limited experience with knit fabrics and overlocking. The first time I made the pattern, I used a Jacquard Knit Fabric. It was a quick sew and it’s a nice thick sweater, great for really cold days and quite oversized so it slips easily over t-shirts.

Last year, I made another version, but I experimented with a drapier, lighter weight jersey fabric and added a thicker ribbed waistband and a brushed cotton knit version. Both were worn on repeat, but I really loved the lighter weight sweater. It was easy to throw on as a top. Perth is quite Mediterranean in climate which means our winters are cold in the night and mornings but can get quite sunny and warmer in the daytime. It’s great to have a top that is versatile enough to cope.

So, since I got so much wear out of my lovely magpie jarrah sweater, I decided to make another one from this beautiful Vanessa Holliday designed jersey fabric from Spotlight Stores. I was thrilled to also find this thin pink ribbing to match. I really love how soft and luxurious the fabric feels.

View A was used to make my top and this time, I did not widen the waistband. In fact, I didn’t make any alterations. I made the size 12 which was comfortable for my frame of 37-inch bust and 33-inch waist. There have been recommendations to size down if you’re unsure of the fit, but I personally love an oversized sweater. There’s been a real appreciation for loungewear since the pandemic. I think it comes from appreciating home and the comforts it provides us. We now love the time spent together, no longer needing to seek excitement and entertainment at every turn. Time together is enough.

Sewing a pattern multiple times also allows me to reflect on technique and helps my progress in sewing. Sewing isn’t just a hobby about making the same thing over and over. There’s a skill set that must be practised and different techniques to master. I was reminded of this when attaching my collar! In my first attempt, I had not used the marking from the pattern (I was winging it!) and as I was attaching the collar, I could see that I had not stretched the ribbing enough at the beginning and was going to end up with some puckering from over stretching the second half, so I stopped and I unpicked all the overlocked stitching. Yes! It is possible but not something one wishes to do too often.

The better way to attach the collar is to mark the centre front, centre back, right shoulder and left shoulder in quarters once you have the short ends joined. It will then be easy to match this to the body of the garment. Also, I find it better to have my ribbing under the jersey fabric to make sure that I only stretch the ribbing and not the jersey fabric. 

Now that I’ve had my “warm-up” knitted fabric sewing, I’m keen to tackle a few patterns that have been on the back burner. I’ve been meaning to sew up the Pattern Scout Cozi Jacket and True Bias Marlo Sweater. Just need to track down the right fabric!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em