Rookie, skilled or an expert?

Rookie, skilled or an expert?

My Pattern review

Style: Melissa blouse

Pattern by Papercut patterns

I think honestly, I qualify as an expert at 90% of sewing skills, I wish it was 100% but I am not sure that is possible. What with all the new modern fabrics and different styles forever evolving, there is always something new to learn. Maybe it is the teacher in me, that just likes learning.

I am skilled at dress making and a rookie when working with jersey. Although I am getting better. Maybe I could say, fake it till you make it? I find when you repeat a sewing skill over and over, anyone can become an expert. I used to struggle with zips, avoiding them when ever possible. Now I am an expert, I did this from; reading books, watching YouTube tutorials and making endless samples, over and over again. Now I teach zip workshops and enjoy adding lapped zips, when making cushions at home.

Expert or Rookie?

I will start by saying this is not an easy make, so if possible make in a cotton first. Cotton is easiest to sew, as there is little stretch. The pattern states that this is for a skilled machinist. It has three levels; rookie, skilled and expert. Sewing takes practice and practice makes perfect right? I trained in bridal, so have lots of couture skills.

I have had to teach myself how to sew stretch products. When I started sewing, some 20 years ago, stretch fabrics were simply not available in fabric shops. Now, however they are and initially I was very scared of making with stretch, but soon thrilled with how quick and easy sewing with an over locker is. I have made lots of tops recently, so wanted a more challenging make today. I really enjoy sewing when it broadens my skills. this winter I wanted to make a whole outfit, so I have; jeans, a coat and a shirt to make before Christmas. I have managed the coat, shirt and jeans, although the jeans didn’t fit. I will need to make them again, I should have listened to my instincts and made a toile first. The actual jeans look perfect make wise, which is such a shame. I suppose I can look at it as an expensive practice run. The coat was really easy, so much so I made 2.


There are several parts that have potential to go wrong with this shirt, so make sure you have a quick unpick at hand and lots of space and quiet time. I have a 7-year-old son and I can never sew when he is home.its just too distracting and I don’t like to start and stop sewing.Once I start I like to see it through to the end, this is not always possible, but I make sure I am alone and all my chores are done before I start a difficult make.

Cutting out:

I cut out all the pieces and then interlined the facings, collar and cuffs with iron on interlining. There are many different ways to do this, I cut my fabric pieces out first and then laid the fabric wrong side to the fusing wrong side, (this is glue side to wrong side) and cut around. Then it’s ready to iron. Another good way would be to iron a big enough piece of fabric first and then cut the facings from this. This is how it is done in industry, mainly because they cut hundreds to thousands at once.As we are just making one, you can try to make it time efficient and cost-effective as best you can.

I also use a small heat press, this is like a giant iron and gets a lot hotter than a domestic iron. I teach arts and crafts, hence why I have such an extravagant tool, it was also gifted to me when I left teaching.

The paper cut patterns give you a lovely little book of instructions. You have to cut, fold and stick this together first. It is very special and worth taking the time to do.

The first step is the gathering at the front panels and centre back. The instruction just say to use a gather stitch. To do this I use 2 rows of stitching at stitch length size 5. Then I pull the top threads and gather. This is always sewn within the seam allowance. You then add the front yokes. The same process for the back panel. Then sew the shoulder seams, the sleeve pleat and sleeve heads together.  You have to over-lock as you go, rather than over lock after cutting out, as not all seams need finishing (yoke panels).

You then add the front fusing and fold the centre front back and top stitch. Go nice and slow when top stitching. This is really important as it is straight down the front. Use a clear presser foot if you have one, this helps you to see your top stitching.I also watch the edge of the foot carefully as I stitch, rather than the needle.


The collar stand and collar is easier than I expected. Again take your time, or make sure you have a good amount of time to do this. It’s not good to rush. Make sure your seam allowance is even and then the collar will be equal at the centre front. The instructions are very helpful here, make sure you read every word, you don’t want to miss anything. Make sure you have the 1cm over hang. Check the points are equal before you move to the next stage.You can always make another, it’s not the end of the world. The last thing you want is a collar that looks uneven, you will never wear the top if you leave it.

Again you need to top stitch the collar stand. If you are not confident I would recommend that you hand stitch it first. Remember take your time, it will pay off in the end.


Then the dreaded cuffs. I’m not sure I placed the cuffs at the correct point. I also noticed that I had ironed the fusing on the right side and only noticed when I was about to attach. It doesn’t show, but it does to me. I had to make another one. The cuff is so difficult to sew as it’s so small to fit under the machine foot. When I make it again,I think I will make the cuff slightly wider.


Then the hem, I finished this with a pin hem. To do this; I pressed the hem over by 0.5cm and stitched very close to the fold edge, then trimmed away the raw edge. Then I pressed again, then sewed over the top of the first stitch line. Making sure  the hem was as narrow as possible, It needs to be as narrow as a pin. Make sure that the two fronts match, you don’t want one side longer than the other.

Button holes

Then the button holes need to be downwards, I marked these through the patterns with pins. You can use tailors chalk. I also always practice on a scrap piece of fabric. The cuff is actually sew small I don’t think I will use the button holes.

My favourite part of making my own clothes is sourcing the materials and fastenings. I wanted red, mother of pearl shell buttons. When I make something one-off you can’t buy in bulk. I usually start by looking on eBay. I found them easily and they arrived within a couple of days.

For my Melissa blouse sewing kit I have sourced a soft cream and black abstract print and a bright fun orange linen. I will include the interlining and buttons to match.

Sewing on your buttons

I never use knots, I worked as an apprentice in bridal-wear and knots were not allowed. Instead I stitch a couple of times, threading the needle under the thread. Then I attach the buttons sewing about 5 times. I wind the thread around the back of the button about 6 times, this lifts it away from the fabric and makes it easier to put the button through the button holes. You finish by making a loop at the back and threading the needle through the loop, this makes a knot.

Fabric choice?

I have made this top in 3 different fabrics now, Liberty cotton, linen and Georgette. The Georgette is for evening, the cotton and linen are more casual.

Wear: It is long enough to tuck into jeans which I like.

I am really pleased with the finished make and love wearing it. goon have a go yourself. You can buy the pattern and source your own fabrics, or buy the kit which gives you a choice of fabrics. Kit to follow…

My Liberty print blouse