For someone who spends part of their day teaching about fashion, I am really not very fashionable. I don’t own any designer clothes and have very little interest in labels.
My students would say this is because I am old (they are kind like that) but it really has always been the case. As soon as I was interested in clothes I was either making them (badly) or buying vintage pieces from charity shops and jumble sales. I used to go to a jumble sale in Lancaster, where I grew up, and you could fill up a bin bag of clothes for £1. (OK, maybe I am starting to sound old now.) But the fact is that for as long as I have been old enough to dress myself, I have worn what I like rather than what is in fashion.
That said, I do like to keep an eye on the latest trends. A cursory glance at what is happening in the world of couture, for work purposes, and an active look at fashion magazines and high street shops because, frankly, I love clothes and can’t help myself.
It was while browsing the internet, looking at the latest RTW clothes and this season’s trends, that I came across the trend for ruffles and frills. I don’t know about you but I love a good ruffle!
Take this as an example. This, now sold out, top from French Connection is oh so lovely.
It got me thinking about a top I made two years ago (you see, I was into this style long before ruffles were fashionable) – the Pendrell Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns.
I made view B, the frill sleeve version, when I made this top the first time round. I made such a mess of it though. The top has gathered cap sleeves and then another gathered frill which is set into the princess seam. So far so straight forward. The problem I had was that I didn’t line my frills up properly at the back and it just ended up looking awful. Also, for some reason, I still really struggle to get nice gathers. They looked so lumpy and uneven on this top.
I wore the top a couple of times before sadly chucking it in the recycling bin. I have this one grainy photo, taken on my phone, where you can just about see it.
My measurements for this pattern have me at a size 12 bust and size 8 waist/hips. There is quite a lot of ease in this pattern though so I just went off the finished measurements and cut a straight size 8.
Knowing that I messed up the gathers and the positioning of the frill last time I made it, I was really careful this time to make sure everything was measured and pinned correctly. I also made the effort to stitch in those gathers on the slowest speed setting that my sewing machine could muster, checking each gather as I went along. It was laborious and possibly a bit unnecessary but it meant that, finally, I have sewn up some gathers that I am proud of!
Overall I am really happy with the fit of this top. It is probably meant to be a bit looser on the bust than mine is but I think I prefer it this way. I have more of an hourglass figure than the pear-shaped figure Sewaholic Patterns are designed for, so I generally prefer things to be a bit more fitted. Loose tops can hang unflatteringly off my bust and make me look a lot bigger than I am. The only adjustment I would probably make if I were to make it again it is to shorten the length. I will wear it tucked in, so it’s not a huge problem, but it is a little too long on me to wear untucked.