Let’s make sure we are all prepped for a Brunch Blouse sew-along!
This is a long list, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. If you are brand new to sewing, know that this project is very accomplishable! I tried to list every nit-picking thing so that if you are ordering from a store for curbside pickup, or ordering online, you have everything you need to get started. Some of the basic notions are often found in beginner sewing kits so that may be a good way to spend thriftily.
- Pattern – Brunch Blouse by Patterns for Pirates $9 (price subject to change)
You can print it at home as many times as you want!
- Soft tape measure
Or string and a regular tape measure
- Sewing machine
- Iron, ironing board and rolled up towel
- Seam ripper
- Muslin fabric (2-3 yards)
We will be making a sample that will not be wearable in order to test the fit, you can skip this but it is not recommended.
- Beautiful fabric (this pattern calls for 1-2ish yards depending on configuration)
You don’t need this to start day 1, more below.
- Fabric sheers/scissors
Or rotary cutter & mat (optional)
- Pattern weights (optional – metal washers work well too)
- Fabric marker/making pencil/chalk pen
- Seam gauge (optional – cheap & very useful!)
- Printer & printer paper
- Scotch or masking tape
- Paper/craft scissors
- Plastic ruler
quilting ruler or a standard desk/stationary ruler
Basics to Know
There are some things I won’t really talk about that you should know about sewing basics.
- How to wind and install the bobbin
- How to thread your machine
- Machine maintenance (cleaning, oiling, etc)
- Adjusting tension/stitch length
We will touch on some of this!
Excellent video resources for: Brother CS 6000i – SewingMastery.com
Gripes & Rebuttals About Apparel
- I don’t wanna measure myself! Can’t I just make a (insert size)
I’m sorry, but you really should measure yourself. You can’t just go by your usual ready to wear (RTW) size. The sizes xs-xl in the chart are to match your measurements to which pattern pieces to cut.
Your size does not reflect your worth; you are making a shirt that is side you and if that size changes you’ll know how to dress her shape too!
We’ll go over how to take measuring next time.
- But I don’t want to make a muslin (aka toile, or sample) first!
Especially when sewing with wovens, this is important. Fabric that does’t stretch is less forgiving when finished but wovens are (in my opinion) much easier to sew with as a beginner.
But – if it makes you feel better we’ll do it very SIMPLY the first time to just make sure the fit is good enough.
When you’ve made 2-3 patterns successfully and can use them as references to see if a new pattern will fit good enough you can start skipping this step because you’ll understand better when you need to do it.
- But what if I mess up?
That’s part of the game, playa’. Even the talented people you see online have made mistakes, sometimes they fix them, sometimes they ignore it, sometimes the whole piece is a bust. For the most part people don’t notice mistakes. Once you start sewing you’ll start to see mistakes in the ready to wear clothing you have; it’s not uncommon. Just try and learn from the mistakes and move past them.
How Fabric Should I Buy?
Muslin? I’d go 3 yards, plenty of extra incase you need a lot of adjustments, plus fabric doesn’t expire.
Pretty fabric? You will know the required amount based on the pattern. For this pattern all sizes can be made with 1.3 yards of fabric (when the fabric is 51-59″ wide) – if your fabric is more narrow (43/44″ is not uncommon) you should add some. I cannot say how much. I’d typically order 2 yards for this project for ease of ordering and giving myself some wiggle room.
What Fabric to Use?
Some fabrics are easier to sew than others, some drape better on the body. Some fabrics are completely inappropriate to use on some patterns.
There’s so many types of fabrics and I can’t cover all of it, but there’s two main types: knit and woven. Knit fabrics are stretchy like what is used in t-shirts, sweatshirts etc. Woven fabrics don’t stretch, like most button up shirts.
The pattern we are sewing together requires a woven. So scratch all stretchy knit fabrics off the list. There are better patterns & different sewing techniques to use for those (like the Hey June Durango Tank)
With woven fabrics you’ll find all kinds from stable and firm, like quilting cotton, to slinky rayon. The Ella calls for “cotton, silk, crepe, chiffon, rayon etc.”
Looking at that list and thinking about a beginning sewist here’s my fabric recommendations and some shop suggestions.
- Essex Linen
It’s not listed as recommended, and this fabric is very stable so the drape may be boxier. But it is easy to sew with. That will lead to less frustration while we learn other basics. Linen is also delightfully comfortable in the summer and Essex linen also comes in an array of beautiful colors.
See examples of garments that other sewists have made with essex linen on Google images.
Where to get it?
Fancy Tiger Crafts (small biz in Colorado)
Fabric.com (an Amazon subsidiary)
Local quilt shops may also carry it, Google them and call to find out. They’ll know if they carry Essex Linen by name and may be able to suggest alternatives if they do not.
- Other Linens
There’s also an array of linen blends that would work well too, linen cotton blends, linen bamboo blends, linen hemp blends etc.
I’m not sure I totally understand what rayon is. It is often a blend of different materials (natural and synthetic) and tends to be soft with a lovely drape. Sometimes this slinkyness can lead to frustrating sewing experiences. Set yourself up for success the first few piece you make, but when you’re ready there’s some beautiful Art Gallery Fabric, Ruby Star Society rayons over at Stash Fabrics and Fiddlehead Fabrics in Maine has a great selection of Rayon prints
There’s a million cottons. The key here is NOT buying cotton quilting fabric. Go for a cotton chambray, cotton voile, cotton lawn or cotton poplin. Cottons are stable to sew, like the linens, but come in such a a wide variety of styles and weights it’s often best to get swatches or samples to understand what will work best for a pattern and what might be too sheer to be used unlined.
A lot of shops online list woven cotton next to stretch cottons (which tend to contain spandex).
Reminder: you do not want a stretch or knit fabric for this pattern.
I have admittedly little experience and knowledge of this fabric and all of that experience says it’s frustration town. Let’s practice on easier stuff first!
I dunno that we are gonna start that fancy, silk often requires special laundering.
Other places to find fabric? I could list more but Amy’s post on Closet Case Pattern’s Blog is a great roundup I can reference instead: The Ultimate List of Independent Online Fabric Stores!!
Some online shops like Harts Fabric even separate their apparel fabric from their quilting cottons – this can make it easier to find appropriate options!
There are shops that will also send you swatches, which are samples of fabric. They charge a small fee and some retailers include extra samples when they see you’re trying to get a sense of a certain stock. I have a collection of different fabric types from different stores like Mood, Fabric.com and Nature’s Fabric. Whether I’m ordering from those stores or not, it’s nice to have a similar fabric type to feel while I look at a fabric online.
And lastly, on fabrics: don’t overthink it. Just make something! Don’t hoard fabric, use it and love that item threadbare.
Oh, and About Prints
There’s this whole other level to pattern matching and stripe matching. Try and pick fabrics with all over print or a solid and not stripes for your first few projects. Additionally, prints, even ones that appear omni directional, tend to have a direction. I put a safety pin the top of fabrics that I spend time deciding which direction is up on.
One of my favorite things about indie patterns is their following online, if you lookup #brunchblouse on Instagram. Patterns for Pirates has an active community on Facebook and their blog features lots of examples and hacks to further customize your future makes!
PS. This started as an Ella Top Sew Along but we (really..I) jumped the gun and we didn’t both fit within the pattern…so we did what crafters do best: we adapted by picking a new pattern, the Brunch Blouse from Patterns for Pirates, and continued with our plans.
Here’s the original inspiration links for that project.
- Tank Week: Ella Top by Liola Patterns – Sewdaily.com
- Reviews of the Ella top – Sewline.com
- Reviewed: Ella Top by Liola Patterns – Harper + Lu
- Liola Patterns Ella Top – Clipped Curves
- Ella Top by Liola Patterns – Off Square
- Pattern Review: Liola Patterns Ella Top, via Indiesew! – Right Sides Together
- #ellatop on Instagram