Gone natural

Pattern Review’s current contest is to make something from natural fibre fabric, one fibre only, 100 per cent something natural.   The contest ends today, or perhaps in the early  hours of tomorrow for this time zone.

I drafted a pattern last night, for a sleeveless blouse with a cowl neck.

Its a double pattern because I’m cutting this on the bias. Don’t you just hate having to line up a half pattern, mark it and and flip it over to cut out a bias garment? Somehow the fabric always creeps and throws off the centre line.

The facings, on the other hand, are a ‘cut 2’ item. The cowl at the front is self faced of course, then I’ve got a front armhole facing, cut so that it will seam to the edge of the cowl facing when that is turned in. That’s how it matches up, in the picture above, at balance mark 2. The back has a combined neck and armhole facing.


The silk I’m making this from is a Liberty print from Shaukat, which if you are a visitor to London anytime, you might want to add to your list. Its on the Brompton Rd, and that fits nicely with a visit to the V&A. Not as plastic challenging as Joel&Son, but loaded with lovely prints in cotton and silk just the same. Don’t miss downstairs. The staff are most obliging about hauling out rolls and don’t hassle you when you dither endlessly between several covetable lengths.

I picked this one with some difficulty, oohing and aahing over several, finally convincing myself that the colour range in the print made it an eminently sensible buy, and go with just about any neutral.

As an antidote to sensible, I picked up this printed cotton jersey at the same time.



No time to stop and photograph each of these steps, but this is a quick, easy make. It goes like this.

Stitch the shoulder seams on the garment, stopping and back tacking at the point where the grown on facing starts at the front neck. Press.

Stitch the front sleeve facing to the edge of the grown on cowl facing, press seam open.

Stitch the shoulder seams of the facings, press.

Stitch the back neck facing edge to the back of the garment, clip, press and understitch.

Then, the armhole facings, done in the same way as the very popular method for lining a sleeveless dress. There are tutorials on the web, like this from Jessica at Green Apples, with nice clear photos. You turn your neck facings to the wrong side, then lay your part finished garment out with the facings on top, so that you’re looking at the inside of the garment, lying flat, the front to the left, the back to the right. No side seams are stitched at this stage. Then you roll up one edge of the garment so that you can bring the other armhole edge from underneath, over the roll, and put it RS together with its facing. Then you stitch round the armhole, clip, understitch as far as possible, and pull everything through to press. You then do the other side in the same way.

Next the side seams are sewn, including the side seams of the facings.

Last, the hem.

7 steps and you’re done.

I didn’t neaten any seams. The bias cut seemed to be preventing any fray. If this works in wear I’m leaving it. The lightness of the fabric means a lot of fuss when pressing to stop any overlocking, zigzag or turning under and stitching pressing through. I considered french seams, but they also bulk a bit when you press. I wore this accompanying husband to hospital today, seam edges are still holding up.


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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5 Responses to Gone natural

  1. prttynpnk says:

    Good grief! I’d still be deciding what movie to watch in the sewing room while I cut out. You are a marvel. a marvel in a fab cowl.


  2. Pella says:

    If I tried that it would be a disaster movie.


  3. Lakaribane says:

    I love the elephant fabric so much!!! Looks great. Two things: 1) I always cut out a full pattern piece when dealing with bias and 2) have you tried 2,5 cm (1in) seams? They are ideal for bias which, as you’ve discovered, does NOT fray!!! (Well, not in natural fibres, anyway!) Also want to comment on your jeans, love the fabric and constrating topstitch thread…even for a test garment.


    • Pella says:

      I’ll definitely pick up on your wider seam allowances on bias tip Lakaribane. I’m contemplating cutting a sleeved top out of the elephant fabric from the same pattern. Its been sitting there for a while, waiting for something ‘worthy’.


  4. Bukola says:

    Missed you so much pella changed my email addy was a bit difficult getting you back, just glad I found you again


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