Cherry blossom top

It was a few weeks ago, after discussions with a colleague about sewing machine shops she recommended this little one near her. I went there with my husband on one of those rainy days where I needed cheering up because the weather was so bad, we both ran in dripping rain all on the shop floor which probably didn’t go down too well but even so she smiled and put her glasses on and carried on with measuring fabric for another customer. The shop was small but with so much in it, the fabrics were beautiful and I couldn’t keep my hands to myself.

It was there crying out for my attention, the cherry blossom fabric with spring engaging colours orange, white, red, black on a light grey background. I could see it on me, as a top and 100% cotton it was crying out for me to buy it. “Are you quilting?” She asked (apparently the shop specialised in quilting fabrics but I didn’t care I wanted to wear it). “No, I’m going to make a top.” I’m sure I heard her gasp (although my husband said I exaggerated). “Not really the fabric for a top, do you have a pattern in mind.” The truth was no I didn’t, and I hadn’t actually thought about that. Quickly thinking I replied “yes” but she knew I was lying, I could tell by her suspicious look over her half moon glasses.

A couple of weeks later my colleague (yes the same girl we talk ALOT) was telling me about her quilting and how she had bought black binding and that it was too dark for her daughters quilt she was making, I had a light bulb moment and asked her if I could buy it off her.

I then decided that if I was going to do this right I would get a pattern, so on eBay I discovered someone who sold just patterns. I bought a New Look blouse pattern, and waited for it to arrive so that I could commence my new project.

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So there we have it, fabric…..check, black binding……check, pattern cut and ready….check and machine all threaded up with black cotton…..CHECK! (Ok I was a little too excited) I cut the pattern larger and decided that if I did that I could then adjust it to fit properly, that was the only planning, the rest, I made up as I went along…..true story!

As soon as I started pinning together my creation I noticed that not only was it too big but the shape just wasn’t working to the point that the neck line wasn’t sitting properly and the shoulders kept slipping off. Not panicking I had hoped that in my brain somewhere I had a way I could overcome this, I could not face going back to that shop again and having to buy more fabric the woman would totally remember me and have that ‘I told you so’ look on her face.

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I put the top on all pinned together, and gathered (yes whilst wearing it) the fabric at the front using a mirror stood up in my kitchen. I pleated it so that it looked even and even then it still didn’t look quite right so in my wisdom (which when comes to sewing apparently there is not a lack of) I would use the black binding to cover it. I pinned it all on and it worked, then I pinned the same binding down the seams either side. I did this because I’d decided that this would break up the pattern and although it was a beautiful pattern it needed something.

So there I was pursed lips and squinting (apparently that’s my concentration face) sewing machine at the ready I sewed, sewed and sewed. I sewed a straight stitch on top of the black binding around the front neckline also covering the pleats that made the top lay nicely, and down each side of the same black binding. I put it back on and wasn’t quite happy with it, so with a bit of unpicking and re-sewing I was happy that the top was almost complete.

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Then the sleeves that were cut needed stitching and these were quite easy to do, I actually thought this would be the most difficult because of the fabric being a bit stiff but once I started not only did I manage to do it without measuring (although I wouldn’t recommend it) BUT I also got them both looking exactly the same. So the sleeves were complete, I put the top on once again and my face dropped when I realised it actually looked like I had put an extra stone of weight on, not flattering at all. I pulled it off and started to pin some darts in, maybe there was someway I could shape this. As I ran out of pins I moved over to my ironing board and that’s when I saw the binding sat there, of course why did I not think of this already? So with a snip of the scissors and a whisk through the sewing machine to finish off the edges there I had a strip that could be used as a belt, but as I put it round my waist it didn’t look right….then it occurred to me that I didn’t necessarily need a belt to go all the way around as such I just needed something to pinch it in slightly so that evening I hand stitched a length each side on the black binding seam and voila a flattering blouse that I can wear everywhere!!

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My husband praised me at what a good job I had done with the top which gave me a bit of a boost, but in part of my mind I thought he was being encouraging and slightly biased. It wasn’t till I turned up at my parents wearing the top my mum gasped in shock. That was when I felt my proudest because she was my best and worst critic and although I love my husband so so very much she is ultimately the person in my life I want to be proudest of me. When I showed my dad, typically he said “Aha, you’re wearing the table cloth!” Funny how parents can surprise you, or not as the case may be…..

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