A Little Birdie Told Me to Sew this Top

Back for more Burda! With Birdies!

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

But first, does this happen to you?—


Yeah, no, don’t try looking at me all cute and innocent-like. You both know you were just WRESTLING each other moments before I caught you on camera. ON TOP OF MY DELICATE FABRIC AND PATTERN PIECES. With CLAWS FULLY EXTENDED.

Bad kitties!

Ok, back to the blouse. The bird fabric is a chiffon I bought at Designer Fabrics. (I know the birds-on-all-the-clothes trend has been around an awfully long time but I still catch my breath when I see bird-patterned fabric. Or real birds, for that matter; I’m a bit of a twitcher. Although not the kind who’s willing to get out of bed before 8am. So that probably disqualifies me from being an actual twitcher…phew.) The blue fabric pictured above is a light polyester crepe I used to line the top. I didn’t do a ‘proper’ lining…I just layered the outer fabric and the the lining fabric on top of each other and sewed them up like they were one piece.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

The pattern is from BurdaStyle magazine, August 2015 issue, model #115A:

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

I was a little worried about the very wide-looking neckline on Burda’s model, so I extended the front, back, and sleeve pieces an extra couple of inches at the top, then after I sewed them together I just trimmed away a neckline that suited me.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

I’m also wearing the first-ever silver clay pendant I made, featuring a bird silhouette. Seems appropriate, even if the quality of the pendant is not quite up to par now that I’ve honed my metal clay skills a little more since I made it about 18 months ago.


I totally LOVE this top! It’s super comfortable, like a sweatshirt, but of course it looks far more elegant than one, and I love the soft drape of these fabrics.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

Yippeee! I be WEARING this shirt I MADE. Yes.

And while we’re talking about birds, this little cutie visited me back in July in my backyard. At first glance I thought she was just another sparrow, but she caught my attention by flying right towards me and I noticed she’s not the usual sparrow we see around Toronto. I gave her something to eat and she let me get close up and move all around taking her picture. Perhaps she’s an escaped pet? Maybe you know what kind of bird this is?

bird2 bird1

And I’ll leave you with one of my favourite-ever photos of me and my wild bird friends.

Throwback to 2004, when I lived in Sydney, Australia, and the rainbow lorikeets used to visit my apartment balcony regularly.

Throwback to 2004, when I lived in Sydney, Australia, and the rainbow lorikeets used to visit my apartment balcony regularly. They’ve both got beaks full of the apple I was sharing with them.

Fiddling with Size While Rome Burns…or Falls to Ruin, or…um…Something Like That

I’m pleased to report that this top survived multiple reduction surgeries to emerge in wearable form! Thank goodness, because I just love this floral-and-roman-ruins fabric.

Baggy Roman top

My cat is not impressed with my handiwork. The only way she could appear more disdainful is if she were wearing a beret and smoking a Gauloise.

It started off as Burda’s Keyhole Batwing Blouse (05/2015 #111) but you’ll notice my version doesn’t really look anything like it, starting with the fact that there’s no keyhole anywhere to be found.

Burda 05/2015 #111 Long Blouse #114 Joggers

Burda’s version is incredibly long. My first mod was to shorten the pattern pieces by 10 cm/4 inches at the hem but once I sewed it together I shortened the bottom even more.

The next thing I discovered was that at least two of me could fit inside the shirt. So, I resewed the side seams to remove at least 10 cm/4 inches from each side of the top. After that it was still very baggy on me but at least it looked like it was meant to be a baggy top, rather than looking like I borrowed my obese great-auntie’s muu-muu.


Next I realized the neckhole was a giant gaping maw. Bra straps just hanging around in public like nobody’s business. No way was I going to add a keyhole to this already precariously revealing over-sized mess. As I looked at myself in the mirror, thinking this was destined for the ‘donate’ bag and feeling rather sorry for myself, I started pinching and pulling and stabbing with pins at the neckline and I was all like, “fuck you, neckline!” and came up with a total hack.  This is the kind of hack one might do when one has no idea how to sew or how to remove existing seams to properly resize something. Because I was too irritated to do anything properly at this point! But this non-sewer’s hack actually turned out looking alright: I ended up gathering in the front of the shirt on either side of the neck at the shoulders, and folded the shoulders down over the gathers and stitched. Turned out looking sort of like epaulettes while adding some nice drape to the front of the top. Triumph! So fuck you, neckline! 😀


Has that ever happened to you? That moment when you realize the neck opening has already been cut way too big? What do you do?


This top might look nice with a tie-belt as shown in the pattern photo, but for now my preference is to wear it tucked in.


If you’re curious about the fabric I wrote about it in this previous post.


I also notice in the last two photos that the zigzag stitch I used on the arm and back seams is kind of obvious — the seam doesn’t have that nice neat look you get when using straight stitches. Normally I would have used my serger on those seams, but no word of a lie I was just too damn lazy to rethread my serger from black thread to beige thread. So zigzag it was.

What is your go-to method of sewing seams on knits? Serger? Zigzag? Twin Needle? What do you find works best?

Thanks for reading!

McCall’s 6752: Oversized top with cowl neck

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

This is McCalls’ 6752, a super-baggy top with a cowl neckline and gathered waist with zipper.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 5.26.27 PM

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 5.26.17 PM

I made it with “Patriot Blue Ikat Cotton-Viscose Jersey” I ordered from Mood. I thought I was getting 2 yards but I got 2 ‘panels’, which meant two separate, small pieces of fabric that barely made this top. I have a love/hate relationship with Mood. Love the fabrics. Hate the expense of ordering from them, and I especially hated the surprise of receiving this fabric hacked into two measly little pieces. It made it really difficult to not only find a pattern that I could eke out of it, but also to work out how to place the pattern pieces to fit them all in while still having some sense of order as to where the stripes would fall on the top.


Have you ever seen Lily Sage & Co’s blog? It’s a must-view — Debbie is a garment engineering genius, not to mention that she always looks drop-dead gorgeous in her photos. She makes unique, gorgeous garments, often self-drafted or at least heavily modified versions of commercial patterns, and always finds the best way to show off a patterned fabric. Look at her Chanel-inspired dress using the same fabric I used:


“Chanel Inspired Dress” by Debbie of Lily Sage and Co. Photo used with permission.

Read through her posts and have a look at the other two dresses she made with the same fabric. I’m such a fan. Everything she makes is breathtaking. The only drawback is now that I have made something using the same fabric that Debbie has used, I feel a bit like the “nailed it!” side of one of those Pinterest Fails pictures, you know, like this:

Pinterest fail

While I have worn this top a couple of times and I’m happy enough with it, I feel like it might have been more successful in a solid fabric…the gathered waist area is too busy and although I did my best to pattern-match given the limited fabric, it’s all just a bit wonky.  The zipper detail gets lost in the chaos. I realize now how I could have altered the pattern pieces to avoid having those stripes at the waist sitting at an angle. But hindsight is 20/20, and I chalk it all up to part of learning how to work with patterns & stripes.

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

Here’s a little more hindsight for ya:

McCall's 6752 baggy top with cowl neck

I do like the design of the top, and the pattern itself has four options: two tops (this one and a crossover front top) and two dresses. Great summer options for lightweight knits, and easy to sew.


I added this top to the Link Up that Helena of Gray All Day kindly hosts each week as part of her challenge to “Sew it Chic in a Week”. Go check out what people are sewing each week!

Burda Wrap Blouse

Burda wrap blouse 04/2014 #115

I love the design of this top! It’s from Burda magazine, April 2014, pattern #115. I love the slightly boxy look and the high boatneck as well as the 3/4 length sleeves. I sewed it in polyester crepe fabric.

Burda Wrap Blouse 04/2014 #115

I lengthened the torso by about 10cm (4 inches) because I really didn’t want to risk having a midriff-baring top that I would never wear. As it is, it would be risky to wear this outside in a breeze without a camisole underneath, as the two front flaps are only attached at the shoulders. But the upshot is no zipper to sew in! It’s really a very easy top to make.

I sewed the size 34. The shoulders came out a bit too narrow; if I made it again I would add an extra centimeter or two there. Although I did have a near-fatal accident with the blade on my serger around the shoulder seams early on in the process (near-fatal for the shirt, not for me), so overcoming that setback may account for the narrow shoulders. 😉


Just wanted to show you my groovy new top. Thanks for reading! Now I’ll just go back to staring contemplatively into the middle distance…




I Just Opened a Can of Whoop-Ass on this Blouse

I did it! I tamed the beast! I sewed this chiffon blouse, which I had been dreading, and it wasn’t so bad after all. I sewed the shit out of it, in fact. Five-headed hydra fabric, you are no match for ME!

Burda chiffon blouse with tie band 10/2011 #128BBurda chiffon blouse with tie band 10/2011 #128B

This is Burda’s 10/2011 Chiffon blouse with tie band #128B. Here’s the picture of Burda’s model:

Burda's chiffon blouse with tie band

It’s got a baggy, 70s type feel, as you can see from the styling in Burda’s photo: the fringe bag, the big round sunglasses, long hair, and floppy, wide-brimmed hat. I don’t remember seeing too many leopard print stockings or snakeskin mini skirts then, but it’s ok with me if Burda wants to throw in little 80s with their 70s. That pistol belt buckle might even be a little bit 90s. The Burda model’s got more of a rock star groupie thing going on; I think I rock mine more like a secretary. I guess that’s why blouses with bows are called secretary blouses. Duh.

Burda chiffon blouse with tie band 10/2011 #128B

This was the first time I tried French Seams, which involves sewing the seams first with the WRONG sides together and a 2/8″ seam allowance, then flipping the fabric around so that the RIGHT sides are together and sewing a 3/8″ seam allowance. What this does is encase the fray-able ends of this chiffon fabric within the seam, so the seams look almost as good from the inside of the garment as they do from the outside. No surprise it’s called a french seam. I picture a sexy French woman insisting to her tailor that the inner seams be beautiful: “But Pierre, zey must look good even, how do you say, inside-out on ze floor of my boudoir!”

Burda chiffon blouse with tie band 10/2011 #128B

I modified this from the pattern a bit: I made the tie band much, much longer than the pattern called for. I also left out the interfacing on the tie band. I sewed one according to the directions but the interfacing made it too stiff and heavy, and it was too short to tie a low-hanging bow, so I ripped it out and did another one. Very glad I did.

The tie band & collar is constructed a bit strangely, as you might be able to see from the picture below…the tie is only attached to the back of the collar, so there is lots of room for the front collars to sort of flop around. I don’t think I like this very much. I will live with it for now but I am tempted to attach the tie band along the edges of the front collar as well. Alternately, I might add a button or hook-and-eye closure to the top of the front collar…that’s just gonna flop open a lot, as the fabric doesn’t have enough structure to keep that lying nicely. We’ll see.

Burda chiffon blouse with tie band 10/2011 #128B

Overall, I’m pleased with how this turned out. Once I made myself sit down and start sewing the damn thing, it turned out to be a fun project.