Sewing a Cowl Blouse



31 Days of Sewing: Day 8

I am finally back on track with things here. The miscellaneous trials of this last week have come and gone, and I am glad to be back to sewing.

This project is truly a one hour accomplishment. This is Vogue Pattern #9771. It’s only two pieces, you sure can’t get any easier than that.

I chose a blue poly knit for this one, it is one of my favorite fabrics to work with.

The knit has a wonderful drape, washes easily and is easy to sew.

This blouse is cut on the bias which gives it a great fit.

The pattern calls for a facing around the armhole and back neck. I personally hate facings. Why would someone want to have a wad of extra fabric and stiff interfacing under their armpit?

This will always be a mystery to me.

There is an easier way.

Most garments today aren’t made with armhole facings, but are finished with bias binding.

It’s easier, faster, and is much less bulky.

This is how it looks on the finished garment.

To make your own bias binding, find the true bias of the fabric by folding the selvedges at a 90 degree angle (as in the top of this photo).

Cut along the folded edge to separate the fabric layers.

Cut 3 strips of fabric along the cut edge, mine were 2 1/4″ wide. I mark them with pins, but you may prefer to draw it out with a ruler.

Fold the bias in half lengthwise. Pin to the right side of back neck and armhole.

Stitch through all layers. Trim seam allowance to 1/4″. Under stitch seam allowance to binding along neck edge.

Turn binding to wrong side, edge stitch 1/8″ from rolled edge.

The finished edge should look like this.

It will save you time has a nice clean finish to it.

I use this technique on both the back neck and armholes.

Can’t wait to move on to the next project!

How to Sew a Fitted Blouse: Part 2

31 Days of Sewing: Day 7


My first blouse is finally finished. I am not quite sure I would make another one with this Vogue pattern #8747.

This blouse pattern has it’s good points, I love the gathers at the bust line. The pattern is a custom fit using your bra cup size, and offers several different collar and sleeve choices. It does fit very nicely over the bust and didn’t require a lot of alterations.

I chose to make the shorter sleeve version with the mandarin collar.

My main problem is that I just don’t care for the curved facing at the neckline. Most blouse facings are on the straight grain and are therefore easy to sew, this one is curved and I just don’t care for it. It looks rather straight in the sketch on the envelope, but is quite curved on the finished blouse.

I don’t think it’s any more flattering than a straight neckline would be, and is therefore not worth the sewing hassle in my opinion. It was rather confusing to construct stretching and being on the bias, and I don’t think most sewers would consider this blouse an easy project because of it.

I do like the way the blouse fits through the body, flattering without being too tight.  Plus, the sleeves fit the upper arms nicely and aren’t too snug under the armhole.

I generally don’t have a lot of prints in my wardrobe, but I loved this teal and navy paisley the moment I saw it (from JoAnn Fabrics). I can see it complete with a pair of blue jeans and a long sweater.

This poly/rayon blend fabric didn’t seem to wrinkle when I washed it, so I am hoping this will be an easy care item.

Over all though, my one hour project took me days longer than it should have. I did have a few other distracting issues this week, you can read more about them here.

I used most of the pattern directions on this project, however I did sew the facing to the seam allowances (called under stitching) before turning it right side out. It was then easy to topstitch over the under stitching, through all layers to keep it in place.

Time consuming, but effective.

I am putting this pattern aside for some simpler projects to finish out my series on blouses, not sure if I will come back to this one or not.



My organizational tip ( I do have them occasionally): I came across these little grey fabric totes at Aldi’s the other day. I picked up a few of them to use for organizing my project fabric, patterns, notions and supplies. Each project will have it’s own bin while I am working on it.

The bins work great to keep all those little pattern pieces in without having to cram them back into the envelope every time. I tend to reference them frequently as I work on the project. I also like having all the notions etc. visible in the bins so I can easily grab what I am looking for.

I think I will need to get a few more of them on my next trip to the fabric store.

Alternatively, I have used those little plastic zippered bags that come with purchased curtain panels and other household goods from the store. I used to throw them away, but they are handy for storing patterns and the like as well.

Looking forward to a relaxing day at home with the sewing machine tomorrow!

What are you sewing this week?

Sewing a Fitted Blouse: Part 1

31 Days of Sewing: Day 6

This week has been an unprecedented disaster. We have had a family crisis, an electrical outage and a plumbing problem.

This little one hour blouse has taken me 4 days to make with all the distractions.

My week started off okay, I realized that I probably should have planned better for this series and had a stash of fabric and patterns to pull from for my projects.

Have I mentioned that organization is not my thing?

I don’t have a fabric stash, so I spent far too many hours this week roaming the fabric stores.

Found a fabric I liked at store A. Forgot the coupon for 40% off at home. Bought the fabric anyway.

Found a better fabric at store B. Signed up for the store B discount texts, only to realize I left my phone at home and couldn’t use them. Bought fabric anyway.

Returned fabric A to store A. Found an even BETTER fabric for the next project. Forgot phone and coupons once again.

Returned to store B to buy buttons and interfacing for project A, remembered the phone and coupons, but buttons were only $1.00 so it didn’t really save me anything.

Went home to wash fabric, washed it all, put it in the dryer. Dryer didn’t work.

Checked fuse box, fuses were melted and wires fried, box smelled hot. Called landlord who in turn called electrician.

Roamed fabric stores again to pass the time, totally confused as to why I was there, and what dang coupons I was supposed to use.

Electrician came, out of power for the entire day. No sewing, computer or blog posts. Ate an entire bag of chips from the stress.

Fabric finally air dried, time to start cutting!

Cut out entire pattern, realized I should have bought more fabric. Made it work any how.

Electricity back on.

Sat down and actually sewed a few seams before I realized I never bought interfacing. Darn.

Went back to fabric store once again, remembered the phone, coupons are now expired. Darn.

Remembered to buy the interfacing, bought a bunch of fabric I didn’t need. Returned home to find I had 3 more pieces of identical fabric I bought the other day and forgot about.

Put fabrics B and C into washer to prepare for the next days projects. Left the room, came back later to put them in the dryer, discovered the wash basin had over flowed water all over the floor.

Turned on the dehumidifier and calmly left the room.

Watched Castle and Forever to forget my problems.

Blouse A still not quite done. Darn.

The good news is that it is going to fit great. At least I think it will.

The bad news, is that this was supposed to be an easy project. It has not been easy. This pattern is easy Vogue #8747. Spent two hours trying to set the sleeves correctly, this pattern has a very large sleeve cap and it took me three tries to get it in the armhole without puckering. This is one of my pet peeves, I hate big sleeve caps for this reason.

Spent two additional hours trying to figure out why the front facing didn’t look right. Realized far to late I only cut 2 facing pieces instead of the 4 marked on the pattern. Darn.

Had no more fabric to cut facings from, refused to be seen at the fabric store again. The lady there now knows me by name. Can you say Embarrassing?

Searched for my fabric scraps. Realized too late I had thrown them away. Ran to the curb and rummaged around in the dumpster to save enough fabric for the blouse facings before the garbage truck came.

Pieced scraps together to make a facing, sewed until dark when I couldn’t see anymore and my hands were ice cold.

Have I mentioned there is only one light in my “studio” back porch and that I can’t see well enough after dark to do anything? There is also no heat other than an old fireplace.

Collapsed into my chair exhausted, curled up in the fetal position in my new fuzzy bathrobe.

Will try again tomorrow to finish this project.

By the way, tomorrow is my birthday. I now have 4 garments to sew in one day and make up for lost time.

Thank goodness the week is almost over.

Sewing a Fleece Robe

Sewing this fuzzy fleece robe doesn’t take long. I used the same easy Vogue pattern V8888, but I cut it a size larger to compensate for the heavier fabric.

 How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

How to Sew A Fleece Robe

Fleece robes are loose fitting which makes them an easy item to sew. There aren’t really any fit problems by nature, but you may need to make some pattern adjustments depending on what type of fleece fabric you choose. If you use regular robe fleece you won’t even have to finish the seams in this project. Fast and easy!

This particular furry fleece robe print sheds like crazy so I had to finish the seam allowances as I went along. I do recommend a different sewing process for this robe, contrary to the pattern directions. I like to speed things up a bit whenever possible.

It should take less than an hour to make this garment, assuming you have it all cut out and ready to go.You will be cozy by the fire in your new robe in record time, I promise.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

Here’s my quick assembly method:

•Sew the shoulder seams together. Finish raw edges.

•Don’t worry about clipping threads.  You can do that later.

•Don’t worry about pressing your seams, this thick furry fabric doesn’t show pressed seams anyway.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

•Hem the sleeves using a 1/4″ narrow hem, stitch in place.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

•Turn the sleeve hem over again, and stitch 1″ away from folded edge.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

•Assemble the sleeve and the robe body, just match the notch ( I use notches instead of circles) at the top of the sleeve to the shoulder seam.

•Match the back sleeve notch and ignore all the other markings. Ease the fabric into the armhole as needed to match fabric edges under the arm.

•Stitch the sleeve in place.

•Finish raw edges.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

•Next Sew the underarm seam from sleeve cuff all the way down the side seam of the robe (I did not add the side seam pockets, they are too cumbersome for this heavy fabric.

I used a patch pocket on the robe front instead).

•Finish side seam edges.

Finishing the Robe Collar

•Sew collar pieces together at center back. Join collar top and bottom.

•Install under collar to robe neckline, stitch in place.

•Clean finish edge of top collar to robe neck, and facing by stitching a 1/4″ fold of fabric the length of the collar.

•Fold facing over collar. Topstitch collar and facing to garment, leaving a clean finished edge at back neck, and down the entire edge of the robe facing.


•Sew robe hem with 1/4″ narrow hem, then turn again and sew 1″ from the folded edge (same process as the sleeve hem).

Belt and Loops

•Using a scrap of fabric, sew a narrow channel for belt loops and back neck loop. Turn right side out, cut into pieces 3″ long, and topstitch in place with one loop at each of the side seams and a loop at center back neck to hang the robe.

•Sew belt right sides together, turn and topstitch 1/4″ from edge.

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

You did it!

Put your new robe on and cozy up to the fire with your tea. You deserve a break!

Come back tomorrow for more sewing tips on blouses!

Don’t forget to Pin this post for later! 

How to Sew a Fleece Robe in one hour.|Designers Sweet Spot|

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Meet Betty Bling, Faux Garden Head|Designers Sweet Spot|

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Sewing Camisoles

31 Days of Sewing Day 3

Back to the drawing board today, finishing the last piece in this sassy little lingerie collection from easy Vogue pattern #V8888.

I don’t think this pattern is as easy as they said it was.

It’s cut on the bias, which is notoriously stretchy and hard to handle. It makes cutting and sewing harder because no matter how hard you try, the fabric always moves.

A few extra pins help, be sure your needles are sharp. You may need to baste here and there to make sure it all comes together the way you want.

One more thing, I used a slightly bigger stitch length and looser tension than on the other pieces I made (this will also keep your seams from puckering).

Most of the time when I sew, I use a small 2.5 stitch. For the satin camisole, try a stitch length of 3 or 3.5. If you do need to rip the seams out, it will be easier and won’t stretch the fabric as much.

This little camisole has contrasting lace on the bodice and yoke.

I also added some extra lace trim at the hem since I had it left over from yesterday’s pj pants project.

I must admit I changed the sewing process a bit on this garment.

Have I mentioned that I consider the pattern directions to be more like guidelines?

Many times there is an easier way to sew things.

I don’t know why they make things so complicated when they can be simpler. I think more people would learn to sew and be less frustrated if commercial patterns were more straight forward. This is my soap box.

I didn’t use elastic on the top edge of the back piece (which the pattern called for), preferring to just use a narrow rolled hem on it. Not really sure why they would put elastic on the back edge of a camisole to begin with, I think it’s rather cumbersome.

I also eliminated the extra lace on the back part of the body, who really pays that much attention to the back of things anyway?

Ideally, I would have used a narrow lace trim to finish all the way around the top from the front bodice strap, around to the back, and to the other side. However, my local fabric stores didn’t have any 1/2″ black laces in stock. I ended up using a narrow rolled hem instead.

Hard to believe that a simple item like narrow lace is hard to find, but it is. You may have better luck with white lace if you want to use this technique, the stores had plenty of that.

The rest of the camisole construction turned out pretty well, I didn’t really have to redo much of it.

There were only 4 seams after all.

Thank heavens for little blessings!

It was a better sewing day today.

I really appreciate all your sweet words of encouragement during my time of sewing struggle.

The stretchy bias cut fabric in this pattern can make this item a bit harder to fit, I had to cut it down slightly because it was too big. I would recommend basting the side seams together and trying it on before doing your final stitching.

The other change I made was to the neckline, the pattern called for bias binding on the neck and the lace appliquéd on top. I couldn’t find a lace I liked for this, so I used the scalloped edge of the yard goods to finish the neck and zig zagged it in place over the lining.

It’s a bit simpler that way, only one sewing process. I am always looking for ways to speed things up.

I am impatient, have I mentioned that?

Whenever possible, I like to use lace edging instead of hems, its faster and easier to zig-zag it on over the raw edges instead of hemming. This is one of the reasons sewing intimates are easy to sew. Unless you are having a bad sewing day, of course.

Tip: Use two different colored threads to sew on the lace. I used black on the spool of the machine, and red in the bobbin for an “invisible” stitch on both sides.

This is the finished 3 piece set. I am contemplating adding a tiny rosebud bow to the center front of the camisole bodice.

What do you think? Rosebud? Yes, or no?

You should have seen the looks on the faces of my teenage sons when they saw me sewing this trio. They raised their brows and gave me funny looks.

The questions in their eyes said: “Mom, what are you doing?”

Wisely, they never said a single word.

They know better than that.

I would tell them that I do these things to just keep them on their toes.

And to keep them guessing.

Just so you know, this probably the only time you will ever see slinky lingerie on this blog.

Hope you will still be here tomorrow.

 I will finish my last piece of intimate apparel, this one will be a fuzzy warm robe!

Then it’s back to the practical items, blouses will be next!