Tag Archives: sleeveless

Pussy bow blouse – a hotlips summer special

This one’s a light blog post as I have only a few photos to show you and some key thoughts about the sewing.  This is a sleeveless version of the Pussy Bow Blouse by Sew Over It.  Sleeveless you say?  Yes, it’s an easy conversion from the pattern with its long sleeves to making a version fit for spring/ summer without sleeves.  And the best thing?  Despite the fact that this has a long bow tie, I could get this blouse out of a metre.  More on that later.

pussy bow blouse

Just because I have less pics and fewer words, this in no way diminishes this make!  It is most certainly a star & super useful whilst fulfilling a gentle nod to secretary chic (but hardly!).  I made it using some kisses fabric from a Fabric Godmother sale (some kind of synthetic slippery fabric but I cannot remember any more than that).  I can’t exactly see Miss Jones wearing such cheeky fabric to the office, but I certainly would (if I was still in a corporate role.  But I’m not!  This is the kind of thing I wear to work now- jeans are in!  But Ultimate trousers get rather a look in too)  I have also worn this top with a denim skirt (my denim Arielle) & it looks very cute tucked in.  It’s great this time of year with a cardigan that can be peeled off as the temperature rises…

pussy bow blouse

So I have made the Pussy Bow blouse before and you can read about it here.  In this blog post I will just talk about what’s different.  And the reason why this pattern, unlike many other pussy bow blouses, is not fabric hungry.  You want to know?  Well many tie neck blouse patterns cut the scarf/ tie on the bias, but the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse cuts it on the straight grain – & proof in the making & wearing that it’s perfect – no bias needed.  Therefore, as you know, you can squeeze the cutting of the tie along one of the edges.

pussy bow blouse (3)

OK, how to make it sleeveless.  Anything I can help with there?  Firstly, don’t cut the sleeves and cuffs out (hehehehe!).  But I made no adjustments to the bodice.  And I didn’t draft & cut facings for the armholes – I used bias binding.  It’s simple & doesn’t flap around at all.  And without sleeves it is an even quicker sew!

pussy bow blouse (4)

So that’s it on my hot lips blouse.  Except that being a synthetic it doesn’t need ironing.  Score!  Lazy laundress is happy.  What do you think?  Might you give it a go?

Last frock of summer: Deer and Doe Robe Sureau

You are about to read a rare post from me in that I haven’t a whole load of words for a change.  I made this dress in the summer and have rather a backlog of projects to share, but with the advance of autumn (even if daytime temps are trying to tell us otherwise) I felt I had to bump this dress up the list, before it looked plain ridiculous.  I mean this dress epitomises summer wear – sleeveless fine cotton, relatively floaty & not much to it.

Sureau dress

The Deer and Doe Robe Sureau, so very kindly gifted to me by Roobeedoo when she knew I would gratefully receive outputs of her fine taste.


I had earmarked the long sleeved version for *sometime someplace yet to be decided*, having truly fallen for Roo’s tartan version.  Surely that must feature somehow in a badger wardrobe?  But to use some lawn I had purchased from Goldhawk Road (Classic Textiles) early in the summer with abundant iris it was one of those spontaneous decisions – make it sleeveless.


Unfortunately spontaneity resulted in a slight brain/ memory by-pass & I forgot to consider the usual adjustment I need to make – for gaping necklines.  This I did not realise until I had actually finished the dress, as zip insertion (a side zip) is near the end & whilst trying on the bodice as I sewed it,  there was no obvious cause for concern.  However, it is low cut & gaping when I wear it.  Yes you could call it super cool & breezy, but actually it’s too revealing for work in my view.  (And I have tried it at work & just felt always in need of hugging the neckline to my chest!)


All I need to do is to get into the shoulder seams and raise them a little as a retro adjustment.  But that means a bit of unpicking, taking out that bias bound sleeve edging.  But I will do it, sometime, promise.


I loved making the Robe Sureau.  I have a French version so the instructions are in French but the pictures explain it all- I didn’t need to read the words.

Sureau dress

It’s got a really cute gathered front placket, which is a bit hidden amongst the iris.


So next time I make it, I have just got to remember to make bodice adjustments, haven’t I?


[Sigh] these photos were taken quite a while ago now….when it really was summer (says she typing in her socks).

Oh Lovely Liberty Lawn Laurel top

It was my shopping / inspiration trip with Jane that got me thinking about making a sleeveless Colette Patterns Laurel top out of one of my new Liberty Tana lawn pieces, bought with the lovely lady herself. I have been thinking of using a metre of Liberty lawn to make up a sleeveless button up blouse ( don’t worry, there will be one of those too), but when discussing patterns, like you do with other sewsters, a renewed vision for a Laurel visited me.

Laurel top
I wear my stripey 3/4 sleeved Laurel aplenty.  One of the reasons it works so well is that it is a classic colour and stripe for me, and I always feel it represents my style whenever I wear it.  Sewing the Laurel top is another fabulous experience- no closures, no facings and bias bound openings.  I’ve perfected my pattern so that darts are placed right for me, so to cut and sew is a simple exercise in all that is joyful about sewing.

Laurel top

Choosing  a Liberty print to make this I knew would create another classic piece for my wardrobe, and an occasion where the pattern needs to be clear, simple and classic to let the fabric do the talking.

Laurel top

I’ve made a sleeveless Laurel dress ( my elephants) and had used bias for the armholes and it worked successfully I felt, and therefore set to on an impulse one afternoon, slicing through my Liberty.  It came together as quickly as I had anticipated.  What’s more to say?

Laurel top

This little top is exactly what I had planned- the perfect classic tank top that can be worn tucked in or loosely with trousers or shorts.  I cannot wait to wear it with rolled up trousers, paddling in the sea.  Equally it has fared well being paired with a cardigan, tucked into my flora skirt, at work.  Oh and the other treasure about this ? You only need a metre of fabric.  Certainly worth an investment I’d say!

Adding piping to a sleeveless bodice

So I’d mentioned in my Flora dress post that I was going to share how I piped the bodice.   I need to get it right up front – I am not an expert!  There are probably other better ways to do this, but it worked for me – & maybe if you know of a better way you can share in the comments?  Because adding piping to the faux wrap top is an added detail that takes the Flora, or any sleeveless bodice methinks, to the next level, and highlights its pretty front, especially, if like me, you are using a patterned fabric.

Piped Flora bodice
I made my piping out of satin bias binding and piping cord, bought at my local haberdashery. You could make your own bias however.

I think I must have bought about 4m of both, as I piped the armholes and the neck edge. So make your bodice up according to the instructions.   If it’s the Flora, I’d recommend using stay tape on the neckline as shown in the sewalong.

Stay tape neck edge

Now you need to work on the piping once you have sewn the shoulder seams. Prepare your piping as follows:

1. Press open the bias binding if you are using bought bias binding

Piping a bodice
2. Now fold the bias in half and press

3. Open out the bias binding and Lay the piping cord in the fold

Piping a bodice making piping
4. Fold the bias in half with the cord in the fold and then pin close to the cord, trapping it in the fold

Piping a bodice
5. With your zip foot, sew along the pin line, securing the piping cord as close to the fold as possible. I always leave a bit of cord hanging out both ends just in case movement whilst sewing or later on means that the bias stretches a bit in relation to the cord. I’d much rather have extra cord, as opposed to not enough.

Piping a bodice
Your piping!!
6. On the right side of your bodice, I find it helpful to mark the stitching line, the seam allowance. I am lazy and run a line of long machine basting stitches with the. 1.5cm seam marker on the throat plate, but you could mark it by hand, with a ruler.

Piping a bodice
7. Next pin the piping to the bodice right sides up. You are aiming to pin the piping with the cord on the inside of the seam line and with the ‘seam allowance’ of the piping, ie the bias edges, pointing towards the edges of your bodice.

Piping a bodice
You are pinning the piping in a continuous line around the neckline, and also around each arm hole. Try to position the piping so that you pin as close to the cord as possible and that this pinned line, cuts through your 1.5cm seam line marked at 6. Above.

Piping a bodice

8. For added security and accuracy I then hand baste the piping to the seam line, trying to get as close to the piping cord as possible and trying to make sure that I am still keeping on top of the 1.5cm seam line of the bodice front / sleeve line.

Piping a bodice

Now this basting is really useful as a marker for the next step!
9. Pin the lining to the bodice, right sides together, with the piping sandwiched in between. Flip the bodice over so that you are looking at the shell rather than the lining and move your pins so that you can sew with the bodice shell on top. And look! You have your basting stitches to use as a sewing guide to make sure you get really close to the piping cord.

Piping a bodice
10. Use your zip foot to sew really close to the piping cord. I have a setting on my machine that allows me to move my needle position around to get close and it’s something I make use of for piping!

So, you sew your lining to the bodice shell capturing the piping in between. Open out your bodice and lining as normal and you should see the most awesome sight of a piped bodice! Give yourself a woop wooop and press. And enjoy.

And now the armhole edges

Now the armholes are sewn in the same way, but make sure you leave some piping extending beyond the bodice front and back to give yourself some extra to join up when you complete the side seams. AND possibly it’s a good idea not to sew the piping all the way to the edge of the fabric, but to start sewing 1.5cm in from the edge so that you are leaving a longish piece extending over the seam allowance, un-stitched. I’m guessing this could help, but did not do it myself- I ended up unpicking some of this seam later on as you will see below.

So how do we get a nice finished piped seam when it goes around in a circle like an armhole?
You could just line up your piping and stitch it as a seam, but the trouble with this approach is that it’s not very polished and there is opportunity for piping to fray. The neatest option finishes the piped circular seam almost as if the cord inside is being swallowed up inside a ontinuous (but joined) tube of piping.   If you like to think of it in DIY or is it plumbing terms, consider it to be a “Male/ Female joint”  – if you can bear it.  Or think of it as if the cord ends up being the distance of the armhole circle and the piping needs to be a longer joined tube to overlap itself neatly with the cord safely hidden inside.

Ok so not easy to describe. Even harder to do!! Here’s how I attempted to do it. Maybe there’s a better way- if so I am all ears and eyes – please leave details in the comments!

So, you are about to sew your side seams, lining and bodice. Without piping you would perform this in one simple straight seam. With piping I took it in two: sewing the bodice and the lining, making sure the piping was facing the right way ( ie the cord needs to be positioned so that it is facing towards the bodice shell.  And leaving a small gap between the side seams around the area of the piping.

Piping a bodice

I stopped sewing (but did backstitch to secure the seams) around the piping for my two separated side seams on lining & shell.

Now it’s about handling the piping and first of all working out the finished size of the circle that you want the piping to form- this involves a bit of trial and error to identify where you would join the circle, and for the edges to meet at the side seam. You are not joining it up at this stage, just working out sizes and from there you can work out what’s spare ….bear with me ….
Piping a bodice
So you have an idea of how big your finished circle needs to be, maybe you’ve marked both pieces of piping with pins where you think the join would be. You may need to unpick a small bit of the seam you’ve already made that secures the piping to the armhole and lining….

Trim your piping on one side at this join mark, but leave a good 1.5cm of the other side of the piping.

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circle
This shows the piping being trimmed very close to the join mark.

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circleThis shows the side that is cut with an extra 1.5cm of piping to the mark.

Now it’s time to get rid of some excess cord. For this, first of all grab some of the cord from inside the piping on the piece you’ve cut snug to the join mark and pull a bit extra from the inside, maybe 2-3 mm and trim the cord (not the bias ) off. On the other side you also want to grab some of the cord and trim it so that you do not have any more than is needed to butt against the other side and form a nice complete circle when you join your seam.
What you’re doing, is getting rid of some of the extra bulk made by the cord – but not cutting the bias binding.  You need this !

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circle

Now with the side that you cut 1.5cm longer than your join mark, fold some of the excess bias binding to the inside of the tube so that it forms to make a neat edge – this is the outside tube & will be on show.  Push it over the top of the other end of the piping – hopefully making a nice joined up circle with the join positioned above the side seam of your bodice.
I secured this new circle of piping with hand stitches.

Now reconfigure your lining, and bodice to machine over some of the gaps – eg underneath the piping on the armhole seam – you may need to use your zip foot- and where you are unable to get in with your machine- a few well placed hand stitches should do.

Piping a bodiceThe pink stitching is new stitching, securing the piping at the side seam.  

Piping a bodiceThat’s what it looks like on the outside.  The thread I used was coral, & looks a bit messy on the blue background – but it serves to show what it turns out like better.  And I’m not a perfect sewster!

Wow, that was complicated to explain, and I may have confused you loads. Which is uber sad if that is so, as I had the best of intentions.  Did it help, or did it scare you too much?

flora 5

As I said, I am not an expert, just trying hard to get a neat finish.  Is there a definitive approach for joining piping?  Have I taken the long way?  What is the holy grail of piping a complete circle?  I bet there’s a Threads article somewhere lurking, isn’t there?

I’m exhausted.  Time for a cuppa!  Cheerio for now 🙂