Thursday 11 January 2018

Bloomsbury Blouse

Usually, what's currently 'on trend' in clothes shops is of very little interest to me, and has next to no influence on what I want to sew. But occasionally a style/look/detail comes along that really chimes with me. And right now, I'm ALL about the ruffles. 


I discovered Nina Lee's Bloomsbury blouse pattern via Pinterest, and it was kind of love at first sight. I had a similar blouse when I was at university, with the pie-crust collar but sleeve-less I think. I rarely buy printed sewing patterns these days, but when I saw Nina's stall at last year's GBSB Live event, I took the opportunity to buy it directly from her. Let it be known, she and her sister (pictured below) are the sweetest ladies you could meet IRL! 

(image source: Nina Lee)

Back to the pattern. This blouse has some options to choose from: a dramatically wide or more modest yoke ruffle (I split the difference and went for something in between the two widths), and optional neck and sleeve ruffles. I decided to go for the neck ruffle in homage to my university blouse that I doubt I wore as often as I should have, but my limited fabric ruled out the sleeve ruffles as well. I'd like to try the sleeve ruffles on a potential next version, however I would be a little concerned that they may make it difficult to wear a cardigan over the top. Anyway, you could have a lot of fun mix-and-matching the design elements, plus I think Nina has made a sleeveless version which could be great for hotter weather. 

I started making this blouse during the time my overlocker was out of action, and I worked on it in small instalments alongside a bunch of other projects, so it's difficult for me to judge exactly how long this project took from start to finish. However, even if this was the only thing on your sewing table, it would be a relatively time-consuming make. Prepping, hemming, gathering, pinning and stitching all those ruffles takes time, so I'd recommend sewing this pattern when you're not in a rush for something new to wear. 

Usually I'd trace a sewing pattern first instead of cutting straight into a printed one. Yet this time I was feeling bold, so after measuring the pattern pieces against other, well-fitting blouse patterns I own, I felt confident to cut the size 10 around the shoulders and bust, blending to a size 12 for the waist and hips, plus folding out 2cm below the bust to account for my short-waistedness (my standard pattern alterations). I think the fit in general was spot on, however I made a couple of small changes after checking the fit mid-way. Firstly, I restitched the sleeve seam to allow a bit more width around the elbow and sleeve hem. Secondly, I reworked the side seams as I found the angle of the original waist shaping too extreme and the seam allowance couldn't lay properly. 


My friend Kerrie (hi Kerrie!) recently had a MAJOR destash; her job and post-grad course take up so much of her time that she has little opportunity to sew these days. I was a grateful recipient of a sizeable chunk of her stash, including this plum/off-white cotton gingham. Initially, I considered using it to make a shirt for Pat, but men's work shirts are so easily found in charity shops that I decided not to bother, and in fact managed to thrift him a gingham work shirt shortly after making myself this blouse.  


When I first put this blouse on, I questioned the wisdom of including the neck ruffle, and foresaw some unpicking and removal. In the end, I decided to keep it, but if I were to make it again, I'd possibly alter the proportions slightly by making the neck stand narrower. Plus, if I were to make this pattern again, I'd change the back yoke pieces so I could add buttons all the way up. As you can see from the back photo above, the open section of the centre back doesn't lay flat, which is a shame as I think it's a lovely design detail. But these are all little niggles, in general I'm super happy with this blouse. I wouldn't have chosen this colour fabric as it's not one of 'my colours' but I'm so glad that stash-busting forced me to try something different and add a new shade to my clothing selection.


Pattern: £14 (from here)
Fabric: £0 (a gift)
Buttons and interfacing: £0 (from stash)
Total: £14


MrsC (Maryanne) said...

This is so cute! It reminds me that back in the mid 80s when I was at uni, I too had a blouse with a ruffled yoke like this, only bat winged, in egg yolk yellow and white striped cotton. SO fierce! It buttoned through the front. I loved it so so much.
I love yours. You could wear it in so many ways, from play group to posh event, depending on the bottom. Nice colour too :)

Nina said...

Zoe, I love this on you! I think it really, really suits you, even though you weren't sure about the colour and the collar. Thank you for sharing and for your lovely comments! Nina x

Fabric Tragic said...

Very cute... could you add a sneaky press stud/snap to the CB upper neck to help it lay flat?

Unknown said...

Great post. Thank you for sharing this design clothes onlinetutorial.

Trees said...

This is SO CUTE! I have this pattern myself, I'm waiting until it gets cooler again to make it up x

Let's Get Sewing said...

This is so pretty! I really like the smaller ruffle. It looks amazing in gingham!

matkailijakirppu said...

I've been admiring this pattern too. Yours is made in perfect fabric, and the mods make it very nice! :)

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