Tag Archives: JJ blouse

The Evil JJ

Is this shirt evil?

Not because the shirt itself has been particularly problematic—after the sheer JJ anything is a cinch—but because I feel rather evil for making it.

You see, as the Selfish Seamstress, with whom I have a passing acquaintance, is, as we all know, moving continents. And, like most people in those circumstances, she is looking to reduce the possessions for the move. This includes, in her case, her fabric stash…

But this is, after all, the Selfish Seamstress. So at our last coffee, she presented me with two bags of fabric and stuff that she felt able to part with.

Folks, if the Selfish Seamstress is letting it go… well, there’s probably a reason.

Nevertheless, I am an unprincipled fabric mooch, so I took it all with good grace. And among the sheer iridescent polyester there are a couple of nice pieces—not fabrics I would’ve picked out myself, but stuff with potential.

I can only assume that Her Selfishness had too much of the given fabric, or perhaps had a sudden lapse of sanity. Anyway, one of these pieces is a white (something) with black polkadots. There was a little under a metre of this stuff, which turned out to be just enough for a ruffle-less JJ.

A ruffle-less JJ? Seriously, how much fun is that? I have one already, thanks. So I scrounged through my scraps and managed to produce a few narrow strips suitable for producing minute ruffles, but nowhere near enough for the front.

Now,  if you are a stalker dedicated reader of Her Selfishness’s blog, as I am, you may recall that she has posted a few times on the unfortunate phenomenon of ruffled sleeves.

It is at this point, I suppose, that the evil took over.

Sleeve ruffle!

Yes, folks, that is a sleeve ruffle. On the JJ puff sleeve. I put sleeve ruffles on a shirt made from the Selfish Seamstress’s own fabric.


I’m sorry. The polkadots made me do it.

Evil JJ back

Evil JJ front

Evil JJ---Cute?

Whatcha think? Right? Wrong? Unforgivable? Evil?


In Self Stitched September news, here’s today’s (unremarkable) outfit:

Today! Bored yet?

At least I got to wear my capris!



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JJ the third

Newest JJ... still slight puddling at the back.

Almost done with this pattern? Well, almost. Sorta. I still haven’t *nailed* it yet, although this version was a lot closer. At least in terms of construction.

Black JJ with silver buttons.

I added 1 cm to each centre front piece this time, in an attempt to avoid the bust gape and get the front princess seam falling in a slightly better place (it tended to fall inside my bust point, which is not quite right). This accomplished my aim, but at the expense of some fit; the side seams were edging back and the whole thing was quite big when I tried it on, and the side-seams were riding a little far back. I took the side-seams in (curving from very little at top and bottom to 1.5 cm at thewaist, and I could have taken it in more… there’s probably still about 2 cm of extra ease. Apparently what I needed wasn’t extra room along the whole front, but just at the bust. So I guess I should take 1 cm off the side front (to match the 1 cm I added to the front) and then do a small full bust adjustment (!!! me!!!). Who’d’a thunk? And probably shorten the waist a cm or 2, which I think would get rid of the last of the back puddling.

Black JJ---Back

Construction-wise, however, this shirt is a thing of beauty. The fabric is 100% cotton with a subtle woven-in stripe that looks like cross-stich up close (I adore it… and I have lots more!) and it was delightful to work with. I actually got the collar attached properly (meeting, not overlapping) at the centre front) and neatly. I made one more slight alteration to the ruffles, tapering them at the ends, and I like the effect very much. I think I could still narrow them slightly… they seemed perfect on the sheer blouse, but a little big still on this one, maybe because the fabric is heavier? I bit the bullet and hand-finished the inside of the collar and sleeve cuffs, and hand-rolled the bottom hem, and if I get really ambitious I’ll overcast the raw edges on the inside. The machine did manage to make a disaster of the bottom buttonhole, but the others are perfect. I adore my little silver buttons.

Work it, work it!

I could spend a lot more time dissecting the shirt,but really, I’m pretty darn happy with it. I can still see myself making one more version of this shirt (in opaque white)… but maybe I’ll have to change it up with the ruffles or something. And then figure out a long-sleeved version for winter…

(An interesting aside… as a smaller-busted girl, I have spent the last ten years or so largely braless aside from nursing and athletics, once I got over the excitement of actually getting to wear a bra and realized that most of them didn’t fit very well and weren’t comfy. This doesn’t bother me in the least… but with the addition of a couple of non-stretch JJ blouses to my wardrobe, I realized something. My usual staple tops are snug knits. These actually provide a bit of support in and of themselves. Not much, but enough to feel… comfortable. Without that, in these woven blouses… well, a bra just feels welcome. Interesting. no?)

Low camera angles courtesy of my mini-tabletop tripod.

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Today I bought fabric. Not randomly, I might add—ok, mostly not randomly. I could have bought MUCH more, especially since somebody appears to have donated an entire stash to my (usually lame) local Value Village recently. But I was restrained. Especially after I found out about the $500 vehicle tune-up we have to pay for tomorrow. Oopsie.

Black cotton... won't this make an awesome blouse?

Anyway, although I could cheerfully have bought much more, especially at Value Village, I was comparatively restrained. I bought a black cotton with a bit of a woven-in stripe. I probably don’t need four metres of it… but on the other hand I know I will use it, here and there, sooner or later. And won’t it make the CUTEST JJ? Also I have plans of a Danielle dress with this and some horrendous black-and-white pattern synthetic I bought years ago… but more on that later.

Giving in to the Jalie jeans pattern that has been sitting, traced out, silently calling my name, I also

Stretch denim... blackish with a bit of vertical stripe

bought 3 metres of this stretch denim; it’s black with a subtle vertical striping effect. Fabricland had exactly three kinds of stretch denim (that I could find) and this was the only one that wasn’t $18/m. (Now… if I get to the point where I can put together a top-notch, kick-ass jean, $18/m is still less than $40 for a pair of jeans and thus roughly half the cost of the jeans I typically buy, even allowing for notions. But for a first go… this stuff came to about $8/m, which is at least halfway bearable if I create a complete wadder. Of course, when I checked the stretch, instead of the 20% Jalie recommends, it’s more like 30 or 40%… so I went and retraced the pattern a size smaller. I bought three metres (what was left on the bolt)… I’m hoping it will be enough for a set of capris (the trial run) and a full-length, but we’ll see. If not I’ll get a couple of pairs of capris for the summer and my oldest daughter will get the jeans she’s been asking for.

Wool... I'm thinking that blazer I'm always talking about.

Then we went to VV and I picked up this grey wool… three metres for $10; I know, not a real steal thrift-store wise, but VV seems to get by on “prices just a little bit better than Walmart” /sigh. I could’ve bought a lot more, too… someone must’ve donated a fabric stash recently because there was a TON of fabrics, some of them very nice. Unfortunately my hubby called with the news about the vehicle repair halfway through my shopping excursion, so I restrained myself to just this wool. Can’t you see a nice blazer out of it? heck, it could even have a matching pencil skirt if I got really ambitious. (Would I WEAR a pencil skirt? this is my dilemma.)

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We’re doomed, I tell you, doooomed…..

JJ (near?) disaster

This JJ did not want to go together. The construction is terrible, the errors and flaws innumerable… and yet, I still like it. From a distance, anyway, it’s still pretty cute.

JJ done up

Partly, it’s this stupid fabric, which is a slippery sheer polyester I rescued after a wedding last summer, where it had been used as bunting. It made good bunting—pretty, drapey. It’s the kind of fabric I hate to sew with,but I have a bunch (albeit ripped into strips about 20″ wide by 4m long) (note the characteristically Canadian blending of Metric and Imperial measuring systems there. I learned to sew in Imperial, but fabric is sold by the metre. I am trying to move towards sewing in metric, but so far… limited success).

Partly it’s me being impatient, and frustrated with this stupid, slippery fabric that doesn’t want to take a crease. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a small enough machine needle (or at least I THINK that’s what’s causing some of the puckering at the seams). But mostly, I think, it’s me. Like last night I started  pinning a cuff to a sleeve; went to finish it this morning and started sewing and realized it was on the wrong side. On the plus side, I forgot to shorten the stitch length from all the gathering stitches I was sewing, so it was easy to rip out. 😛 Or the side French seam that I sewed wrong-way in. Or when I sewed the side back piece to the back piece upside down.

But, it’s now together. The ruffles are uneven (and were a pain to get hemmed, and I still don’t think I got the right pieces on the right length for all of it). The collar is a mess. The whole thing is a little too snug because the french seams (which are fairly uneven) took up a bit more seam allowance than the pattern actually had (plus the one I mis-sewed I was too lazy to rip out, so I just cased it around itself again, costing me about a cm of girth. But, from a distance it’s still pretty cute, and since I’ll always be wearing it over a camisole or something, it looks fine with just the bottom buttons (or even only one done up). The sleeve closure detail doesn’t actually open since I couldn’t get my machine to do nice buttonholes on such a small, thick piece of fabric.

The back... still a bit of swayback puddle.

Closeup of ruffles

Alterations: French seams (as I mentioned) since the material was sheer and ultra-ravelly. I narrowed the collar and the sleeve cuffs a bit, more-or-less successfully. I attached the ruffles differently; I was going to just shorten them (since I think they look too long in the original) but I wound up finishing both edges and sewing the gathering seam about 1 cm in from one side.

A few minor fit issues remain. The back still shows a bit of swayback bubble, which I might actually have to remove with a horizontal tuck to get rid of. The front princess seams actually fall to the inside of my nipples, which makes me want to move them over a bit (given that I seem to have slight to not-so-slight gaping in the front, maybe I should just widen the centre front piece). I’d still like to make a couple more of these, I think, one in black (either linen or a cotton eyelet) and one in a white cotton that I could actually wear without the fancy shirt underneath. At some point I want to draft a long sleeve, and play with the design now that I have a nice, (almost) perfectly fitting princess bodice.

So, things learned…

1) don’t sew with fabrics you hate. It’s not fun.

2) Take your time. Fix your mistakes. Don’t be too lazy to iron (ESPECIALLY with a difficult fabric).

3) zig-zag rolled hems are WAY easier than straight-sewn ones.

Wearable? Well, we’ll see.


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JJ update

Wore my JJ blouse all day yesterday. Poopily, the crinkle in the crinkle cotton relaxed as it was worn (especially across the back) so by the end of the day the back was VERY saggy and loose. The front was still fine (and still gaping slightly :P). Not sure if I’ll try and take the back in more or just chalk it up to a learning experience… maybe I’ll see what it does after the fabric’s washed.

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Red JJ blouse---Finished!

This might officially be my first piece of truly wearable home-made clothing. It remains to be seen how much I’ll actually wear it… I’m not usually a blouses kind of girl… but here’s hoping.

All in all… impressed with myself. Or maybe just the pattern. I was half expecting it to come out completely impossible to wear. Instead—a cute little blouse, despite my best efforts to mess things up.

Front view... slight gaping.

Nit-picking (because what fun would it be without nit-picking?):

1) there’s a slight bit of gaping at the front in the bust; it never showed during try-ons because I always had it pinned there, and in fact that’s where I was going to put my top button (there is no button at the collar)… but then when I was measuring my button locations it was easier to move it up an inch (so it was 16 inches above the bottom hem instead of 15) and put a button every four inches. That’s what I get for settling for easy mathematics :P. I can always tack a little snap in there or something if it’s really bugging me.

2) minor oopsie in the buttonhole placement on the sleeves… they’re a tad too far from the end of the band. If you notice this, you’re looking WAY too close.

Back... still a tiny bit loose, but fine.

3) hem a bit ruffly. Actually I’m fairly impressed with how this turned out, considering a) the stretchiness width-wise of my fabric, and b) how much I suck at doing narrow hems on a curve. It is no couture product, but it’s all right.

4) the back could still come in a tiny bit, maybe just a little higher up. but really, no biggie.

The interior seams are completely unfinished, since I was mostly thinking of this project as a muslin. At this point I’ll leave them as they are… if they ravel enough to really bug me I’ll try and zig-zag them at some point. I wish my serger were working.

Looking good!

All in all… pleasantly impressed. The automatic button-hole on the machine worked really nicely (though I’m still VERY glad I did the 4 or 5 test runs it took me to get the settings right. There’s always SOMETHING I forget about when I’m setting it up.


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JJ… (presque) fini

Almost done... possibly even wearable!

I am trucking along today (actually, I’m egregiously neglecting other things I should be doing… but anyway, here!) It still needs buttons, buttonholes, and the hem finished, but the look is there.

From the back... can you see the little closures on the sleeves?

The sleeve alteration, definite oopsie. Not the effect I was trying to achieve. It also pulls the band of the sleeve up higher on my arm than intended, making it a touch tight. I think I may try taking the princess-seams at the back in, to see if that helps with the saggy back problem… 1/2 inch on each side, tapering to nothing at shoulderblades and hip, maybe, seems like it would do the trick. But all in all, it looks pretty good, I think. Lots of little oopsies (although I think not as many as my last attempt at a wearable shirt, and the seams are completely unfinished inside, but I think I am getting better at at least SOME of my weaknesses: the cutting was reasonably precise, and I managed to catch the inside on both the arm-bands (not the collar, but I can tack it down by hand inside if I’m actually going to wear the thing. I can’t finish it all the way until I pick up some buttons, though…

I've never done little trims like this before... a bit fiddly, but turned out surprisingly well.

Edit: Yup, taking in the back seams did the trick, although I think my quick seams weren’t quite as smooth and even as they could be. Will post the photos when I get some buttons on and actually have a finished project!

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JJ Blouse

For practice, or maybe just to have a project I can actually WORK on (as opposed to just obsessing over, like the coat and the jeans), I am going to make the JJ blouse. Without ruffles. So the other night I went down and dug through my “stash” for something light-weight that I had enough of. My stash is not at all impressive. It is mostly hoarded or scavenged… old curtains and bedding, bits and scraps my mother or other people were giving away, a few remnants bought here and there. Not a lot of actual substantial bits of fabric. I tend to hang on to even the littlest bits… dance costuming often doesn’t use very much. But it did yield just under 2m of a reddish crinkle-cotton left over from my second tiered skirt. It seemed like a nice weight to try for a summery blouse. So I ironed, and started cutting.

Issue # 1: the crinkle. It’s not an issue with the tiered skirt at all, but that’s a very different kind of construction (and doesn’t require a pattern). But the problem arises when ironing, and putting pattern pieces on. First, how much do I iron it? Do I try to get it completely flat, knowing that it will “shrink up” as it re-crinkles itself? Do I aim for some medium-flatness and just try to get it as even as possible? I don’t know, either… I went the latter route, and we shall see if I pay for my foolishness.

I cut the pattern out pretty much as is, aside from shortening the sleeve a bit. We’ll see how that works out… it was the sleeve cap which was shortened, which will reduce the pouff (it occurs to me that this line on the pattern corresponds to the shortening-line on the body of the shirt, which I did not shorten. Ah… oops. Well, that’ll be interesting. What I REALLY should’ve altered (if I wanted it shorter but still pouffy) was the bottom edge of the sleeve. Silly girl. Ah well… we reap what we sew. And I still don’t even know if the blouse will FIT me… it should be the right size in the bust, and it doesn’t look TOO fitted in the waist, so I’m hopeful, but generally these things either fit in the shoulders, the bust, or the waist, but never all three (which is why I don’t OWN any tailored, fitted blouses). On the upside, sewing with the crinkle-cotton is basically like sewing something with a 2-way stretch.

[photos will be added when I manage to charge my camera]

Edit: First try-on

The fit is surprisingly good; I could probably even have gone down a size, but this is all right. The only real “issue” is that eternal swayback. I really have to figure out how to do a proper sway-back alteration. It’s not mentioned in my only sewing book, and I’m a little confused by the accounts I’ve found online… I should dig around Pattern Review’s message boards a bit more, maybe they have something in there… But in the mean-time, looking surprisingly good.

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I’m going out of town tomorrow, and am still (ok, perpetually) broke, so I won’t be doing a whole lot of sewing for a while, but a girl can dream, right? I want to make the Burdastyle JJ blouse. I’m not super-keen on the ruffles, although they are cute and I think it might look a bit bare without them. Mostly I would just really like to have a nice, princess-lined bodice pattern to play with… and the price is right ;). There’s also a variation posted with a bib front that’s cute as well. And when I mess up, it’s not a whole lot of fabric wasted. I am also looking at a lot of blazer patterns. I used to really love a nice, fitted blazer, before the fact that the sleeves are all to short for me really hit home. I really like the Eva blazer, too, but no jackets for me until the winter coat is finished. I’m also beginning to be temped by some of the pants patterns… I am so picky about how my jeans fit… and I pay SO much for them… but what are the odds of my sewing skillz reaching the point where I can actually make jeans that fit me as good as my old Buffalos? Better try a few JJ shirts first and figure out if I really can sew at all, anyway 😉

Eva blazer

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