Harper Blouse and hem heaven!

Today I achieved the amazing. No seriously, I managed to do something I thought would take me ages. I have completed a near-perfect hem. I’ve hemmed quite a few things in my sewing life, and it’s probably the one thing I dread with every item of clothing, except perhaps armholes. Armholes are the work of the devil!

But look! Pretty neat right? For me, this is like winning a gold medal, and not just for participation!

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Rolled hem – without the special foot!

Okay, so I know it’s not perfect, but I’m so bloomin’ proud of myself.

And before I go any further, shout out to the wonderful Lauren from Spit Up & Stilettos. She’s got some great FREE patterns on her website, where you can donate to the site in return, which I would absolutely recommend doing. It’s an incredible kindness for such talented sewers like Lauren and Toni (from Make It Perfect and my first make) to offer up their knowledge for free, so donating is a great way to give back and say a big ‘thank you’.

Anyway, moving on to the rest of the make now that I’m done bragging and plugging: this is another project that took longer than the suggest time on the pattern. But, I wanted to be extra careful as the clothes I’m making for this blog I actually want to wear so the quality needs to be good.

I’ve already noticed a difference in confidence from the skirt to this blouse, the experience of something simple to more advanced is fascinating, even though it wasn’t a huge leap. I’ve also picked up skills and techniques in this blog I’ll be carrying forward, like the hem, and the armholes.

Armhole binding... I'm not sure I'll ever get these perfect!

Armhole binding… I’m not sure I’ll ever get these perfect!

I got the fabric from the same place as last time for my skirt. There’s definitely a benefit to finding a fabric shop near you where you can build up a rapport with the people who own/work there. World of Fabrics in Cheltenham (dubbed Aladdin’s Cave by my family simply for the array of treasures and wonders, also the fact that it seems to go on and on!) can be a quick trip or you can spend a whole afternoon there looking for something unusual. In fact, I’ve got inspiration for a bikini make thanks to some gorgeous yellow floral material I found on my last venture.

Sorry, getting sidetracked. The fabric is cotton lawn in a lovely light denim colour. I’ve enhanced it slightly in my photos, so it’s a bit paler than you can see. It’s incredibly light, and will be nice and cool in the summer, but as you’ll see from the gallery at the end, it works well with layering too. It’s been pretty chilly here in the Cotswolds so after a couple of quick snaps without, I rushed to put on a plain base layer!

Something I’ve not tried without it being in the pattern is bias binding. I originally bought 1m of navy blue bias for the project to use on the armholes, however when I got to that point, found I’d not bought enough… typical! So because I had plenty of my fabric left over, I quickly ran up some of my own. By the power of google, I found a really simple, easy-to-follow post on how to do it. And after further research, this is definitely my new favourite method. It makes so much of it in and is a tutorial I can easily follow (sometimes my brain struggles with tutorials but this was a cinch!)

Making my own bias binding

Making my own bias binding

I really love the fabric, however if you’re thinking of making it, I would recommend finding a thicker material as the deep v of the neckline doesn’t support the weight of the double, interfaced mandarin-esque collar. Looking back, I could possibly have put small strips of interfacing just on the edges where the neckline is. Learning for next time I suppose.

The one thing I wish that I’d done better is the armholes. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and being a perfectionist, it irks me that they’re not better. I tried to take as much care as possible, but sewing in a straight line can be hard enough for me, let alone the curve of an armhole, and trying to catch in the fabric of topstitching.

The loops for the belt was possibly the most time-consuming after I’d tucked and pinned the armholes. Using more of the 1/2″ binding I’d made, it was a bit of a struggle to pull it through to the right side without a bodkin to help. I didn’t think I’d manage it, but I persisted and they turned out surprisingly well.

The finished tunic is amazing. It’s a great length so I can wear it with leggings, an item of clothing I normally restrict to the house only, and like I said at the top, it can be teamed with a base layer. I’d put it with a cardigan or jumper too, but have yet to try it with the rest of my wardrobe to see.

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