Friday, August 14, 2015

A Blouse for Charming Hummingbirds - B4985

I made this blouse a couple of months ago, but it has been harder to photograph than the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot combined! Poor lighting conditions, gadget failure, even buttoning up the blouse wrong all plagued your humble photographess. I've finally managed some decent pictures, which makes me very happy as i really love this blouse and want to share it with you.

continuing the bird theme, worn with cuckoo clock pendant
I've made this pattern up several times before. The addition of princess seams below an empire waist seamline makes fitting a large bust/smaller ribcage and waist really easy and the many small pieces offer a nice canvas to showcase this gorgeous border print cotton lawn from Marcy Tilton.

Hummingbird Blouse layered over Tina Givens' Briare slip and self-drafted petticoat
With no sleeves and a fine but very breathable cotton fabric, this blouse is perfect for wearing in the heat. The bright colors and incredibly detailed floral print charm just about everyone. Finding just the right buttons for this blouse could have been a problem, but i used real shell ones i cut off of a old men's dress shirt. I turned them around, revealing the varied shell patterns.

Eileen Fisher has been creating a useful resource at their site on how to take care of your clothes for the long haul. This project is part of their philosophy of being respectful of the resources used to make their clothing. I enjoyed this video on how to sew on a button and used the same technique on this blouse. The little thread shanks give the buttons a bit of dangling movement.

I used french seams all through, enclosed the button plackets, and applied bias binding on the armscyes. The more i sew and wear my own garments, the more i appreciate a beautiful interior finish. The experience of wearing a nicely finished item is so much more comfortable, luxurious and sensual than floppy, scratchy ready to wear.

Combined with beautiful fabric and your desired fit, this type of finish really changes the way you live in your clothes. It can't compare to even the best of ready to wear because RTW manufacturers will not fit so exactly to your unique figure and do not regularly use the same quality of fabric and such time-consuming techniques. This level of luxury lies behind the passion of many seamsters.

A pattern which one knows inside and out, using it many times, is called a TNT - for "Tried N True". While you see the acronym pretty frequently in the online sewing world , you don't see much practical demonstration of the ways in which you can really stretch a TNT and put it through its paces in creating your wardrobe.

Erin of Seamstress Erin released a well-reviewed swimming pattern this summer. In conjunction, she has published a number of articles on ways to use this one pattern to make your own undiescreate a tankini, hack a high waist swim bottom or undies, how to add a little skirt, and how to add a high waist with twists. Whew! What i especially like about this series is how it shows what you can do beyond just changing out the sleeves or leaving off a collar by using some simple drafting skills and your creative vision. Really worth checking out for inspiration - and to see the gorgeous fabrics she uses.

Do any of you have TNT patterns? Or, even more important, what are the pieces in your wardrobe which are delightful enough to charm a hummingbird? Let us know in the comments!


  1. That is so totally cute! I believe that it will charm nuthatches and chickadees, too!

  2. The blouse is very wonderful, but it is your thoughtful discussion that I find most charming of all. Great idea turning those buttons over--they are the perfect complement. I always get so many ideas from your posts!

  3. Steph that is an absolutely lovely blouse! The pattern style suits you to a T, and your use of the reversed buttons, and stitching them in place with colorful thread, is truly a designer detail. I am curious about your armscye detailing... you mention finishing the edges with a binding, but I seem to spy a tiny colorful ruffle as well, did you stitch the ruffle in place and then bind on the inside? Your entire outfit looks cool and seasonal, and even your shoes continue the bird theme, since their uppers look rather like a fanned out bird tail...

  4. Claire, i love your thinking of our tiny tweety bird peoples! I am all in favor of making chickadees and nuthatches happy as well as the hummies :) thank you!

    Hello Virginia! well it is only fair, as i find your posts enjoyable, charming and thought-provoking as well. i was so glad those buttons worked well - i hate throwing something nice away.

    Alison, you have cultivated the most wonderful powers of observation. yes, that is a tiny ruffle - about 1.5x gathers, on the straight of grain (mostly to follow the print). I basted the gathered ruffle to the armscye, then basted bias binding cut from the fashion fabric on top. I machine stitched, pressed graded and turned the binding inside, basted in place then topstitched. All that stitching pulled in the armscye a bit, so the shoulders ride up a tiny bit - enough to notice but not to worry about.

    Thank you for the compliments! I love those shoes, they're actually easy to walk in as well. I hadn't thought of the fanned tail similarity, but it is sure there. It's fun to feel so seasonal, and the print is so cheerful and pretty people stop to let me know they enjoy it. Very nice to be a cheerful bit in the world :)

    Happy Weekend! stpehQ

  5. So so pretty. I love how you've styled this over the slip and gorgeous petticoat. And the buttons - I so like shell buttons, like how you turned them over.

  6. This is one fantastic blog post. So many ideas, inspirations and the vest is lovely! Another winner!

  7. You always have the best looking shoes. Also cool socks. You are one of my Style Goddesses. (Alison, so are you!!!)

  8. Thank you Coco! i was excited to post about the buttons, it is so simple and so easy to find those shell buttons, the backs work well with prints especially.

    Hi Gayle! that is high praise indeed and generally how i feel after reading one of your own posts! - thank you for saying so.

    Claire, you are a sweetheart! I am continually dumbfounded by the massive creativity i see around these internet parts.....i sure have upped my game under the influence of many style and sewing goddesses such as yours truly. heehe, it would be fun to be a cartoonist and make a mandala of the internet sewing goddesses!

    (they are Fluevog Everests. And i have six pairs of these same black and white/grey and black striped socks.)

    Happy Saturday!

  9. Pretty Pretty Pretty, The colors are bright and cheerful without being loud. The hand-stitched edge-stitching, the button details, and the ruffle that is so slightly evident one might almost miss it. Of course the fit is spot on. The skirt is so modern but suggests a turn of the century petticoat that an actress might have worn in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However just to keep it a little quirky you added the stripped sock that have a whiff of steampunk to them. Again you reaffirmed what a clever girl you are keep the posts coming I can never get enough.........

  10. super cute! love that spring fabric!
    you SO patient with all those buttons, but they really add the interesting detail to this top!

  11. What a lovely ensemble, especially paired with those adorable shoes. You are really shining in this :-)

  12. Adrienne, seeing your name in the comments always makes me smile. "The skirt is so modern but suggests a turn of the century petticoat that an actress might have worn in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. " That movie and the history of Gold Rush Era California is a heavy influence on my style - both the caucasian as well as the first peoples. Sharp eye you have! Thank you :)

    heehee, Sew Typical for whatever reason i just love doing all that little hand sewing stuff, which is good as i love the look as well. It is NOT for everyone - and i get so inspired seeing people's different approaches to garment creation. I love all the variety!

    aw, thank you Mary! You've been working your own bird magic, i see - people go check it out!:

    Happy Monday!! steph