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So I had no plan to actually start a sewing blog. Although I used to blog religiously in university (we used to just call it “posting to Eljay”), I never seem to have the time anymore.

But a few months ago I started going to a social sewing group, which meant I started to take time for sewing again. And since most of the women who attend keep sewing blogs … well.

So this is what I just finished on Sunday night. It took me most of last week. I’m calling it the Lovely Assam* blouse. It’s a variation of the Colette Ceylon dress, which was the project I started at my first social sewing day. (The hemming for which is currently laying at my feet.)


I’m sorry, I have totally got a complete inability to look like a reasonable human being in photographs. As soon as the camera turns its eye to me, I suddenly become an even larger dork than I already am. And I’m afraid the skirt doesn’t match at all, but it was the nearest skirt to hand when I started trying on the blouse for fit.

Side view where you can see my pretty sleeves:


Back view, where you can see very little at all actually, because I took these photos inside at night. Sorry about that.


So half of my thought with this blouse was that I would use the same style of dart that one of my vintage blouses has. It’s a blouse from the 1950s, and instead of sewing up a neat arrow shape like I’m used to in modern patterns, it basically just takes a pinch of fabric and stitches in a line for about an inch or so. What this means is that the fabric blouses out both above and below the dart. I found this effect utterly fascinating, and all the more so for never having used it before. Since my blouses are all tucked in, generally into high-waisted skirts, I figured that this blousiness would be quite an excellent thing to play with.

So for those familiar with the Ceylon dress, I left out the waist piece entirely, and just lengthened the bust and upper back pieces pretty much straight down, giving them a nice curve at the bottom. My plan was that the shirt should be loose and blousy, with the darts giving it its only shape, much like the 1950s blouse it’s very loosely based on.

The other change I made was to redraft the sleeves (thanks to Gertie’s book, which I have on loan from the Social Sewing Library). I turned them into tulip sleeves, because I had a bee in my bonnet about the shape, and then: lo and behold! There were tulip sleeves in the book, so I didn’t even have to look very hard to work out how to do it.

Even though this was a size larger than the dress (that’s a story for another night, when it’s not quite so late), I knew that the sleeves still wouldn’t fit. I sized up the sleeves on the Ceylon dress and they were still too small for me and my muscley melodeon-playing arms. I thought that the tulip sleeves would give me the give I needed, and they did. I successfully danced in the blouse on Monday night at morris practice.

This is technically a muslin, but I can’t face the idea of muslins that couldn’t be worn assuming that they work out OK. So I used fabric left over from the dress I sewed for my birthday last year that I drafted — just a basic tube shape that was designed to be vaguely 1912-15ish in style. Let me see if I have a photo somewhere. OK, here we go. This was the nicest part, the pin tucked yoke:

2011 birthday dress bodice

Anyway, the fabric for my Lovely Assam came from that dress, and the pattern was drafted from one I already had. Even the buttons were left over from the packs of white buttons I bought for my Ceylon dress. So this was an extremely rare project for me in that it didn’t involve going and buying anything at all.

Here’s a gratuitous shot of it the next day, tucked into a high-waisted pencil skirt:

Photo 10-12-12 6 10 29 PM

(You’ll be getting lots of selfies, I’m afraid, since I don’t have a decent camera with a timer, and I feel self-conscious asking my housemate to take my photo all the time. Also she’s not always at home.)

I still have plenty of fabric that I bought for blouses, so I’m going to make this again soon. And I’m going to readjust those front darts to where I swear I pinned them (closer to the midline). But first I need to finish the Ceylon dress, and I have a shiny thing I want to make for New Year’s Eve.

* Because according to Wikipedia, some of the first tea plants in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, were brought there from Assam in India. And also because I’m a fan of Professor Elemental.