I moved to Dubai last summer, and my fiancé and I opened a rug and antiques store called Magic Rugs. Moving here during the summer was a shock to the system, and I found myself wearing baggy t-shirts and loose skirts to battle the heat. This year, I’m better prepared, and my sewing journey is now all about creating garments that won’t have me overheating!
When I saw this fabric available in the ThredWerk store, I knew I wanted to use it for a crisp blouse. I had a vision for what I would make, but once it arrived, I altered my idea a little bit. That’s the thing about sewing - you can plan and plan all you want, but when you touch the fabric you may be inspired to do something completely different. That was one of the hardest things for me to do at the beginning of my sewing journey - to trust my gut and let the fabric speak to me!
I didn’t alter my plans much, but the instant I touched it I envisioned big ruffles! This fabric hits the rare sweet spot that makes it perfect for this top. It holds its shape so it’s nicely structured across the shoulders, but it’s also thin enough for ruffles. And best yet, the cotton is stiffer than a fabric like rayon, so the ruffles don’t blow up in our harsh desert winds! I love this fabric - it’s cool to the touch, not fussy, and perfect for hot weather.
To make this blouse, I used one of my all-time favorite patterns: the Ultimate Shift Dress by Sew Over It, however I opted for the blouse version. This was one of the very first patterns I made when I learned to sew, and it’s a pattern I recommend to beginners over and over again. The instructions are wonderful, and I love the high neckline and wide shoulder straps. Maria has used this pattern in ThreadWerk’s Dressmaking 2 course, and for good reason!
In the two years that I’ve been sewing, I’ve turned to the Ultimate Shift pattern a dozen times. After I had the pattern altered to fit my body the way I wanted, I found that it’s extremely versatile. It drapes nicely in many fabrics, and it’s a great base pattern to hack in different ways.
This version had two major hacks: a ruffle hem and a button placket up the back.
First, the ruffle hem. I made the bodice per instructions, except I cropped it very short and did not sew the back seam (you’ll see why!). To shorten the bodice, I cropped the pattern pieces a few inches under the bust dart, leaving an extra ⅝” for the seam. For me, this ended up being 12.5 inches long (measured from the center back). My finished garment sits at the top of my hips, which may be short for many people, so I recommend cutting fabric little larger than that and trimming down from there. It’s never a bad idea to cut a bodice a little bit longer and then trim away some of the length - better to have extra length to cut away than to wish you had more!
I then cut one piece of fabric for the ruffle. I cut this at 8 inches in length (so that there was ⅝” for the seam at the top and ⅝” for the hem at the bottom). I measured the width of the bodice all the way around and cut the ruffle at 1.5x that width. I set the straight stitches on my machine as long as possible and then sewed three parallel lines. Then I pulled the threads to create a nice even gather.
For the back-button placket, I cut two strips of fabric 5x22 inches. I cut the button placket on the cross grain because I wanted the pattern to be diagonal here. I can’t pass up an opportunity like this when I sew with gingham! I also cut one piece of interfacing and attached it to the wrong side of one placket piece. I then sewed the plackets on as one normally would, making sure to press carefully throughout the process. I put the interfaced placket on the right side because this was the side I was making buttonholes for.
I used big buttons because I wanted it to be easy for me to button and unbutton myself while reaching around my back. Plus, I think big buttons are really cute!
I am beyond happy with the way this garment turned out! This cute gingham top just screams “summer” to me! And this fabric is perfect for the harsh UAE heat - it’s thin without being sheer, and it’s breathable and cool.
ThreadWerk: Thank you so much Alyssa for sharing this awesome top and details for pattern hacking with us. The fabric Alyssa used is already sold out, and I cannot get anymore but will have a look out for more Gingham fabrics. You can use any of the Cotton Lawns available online to replicate this look.