This was supposed to be a toile but I’ve fallen in love – isn’t that always the way? You probably recognise this pattern as the insta-famous Anna Allen Anthea Blouse (pattern fits 31in – 48in bust). This pattern comes with two views – a blouse and a dress. It’s a dartless button-up top with puffed sleeves. I’ve been extremely slow to hop on the big-sleeve trend, largely due to my intention to make my wardrobe as timeless as possible. I sew a lot of basic shapes that aren’t fitted to my body in the hope that the garments I am making now will still be worn in ten years time. Something like my denim Ellis dress I hope transcends style and decades and will be a wearable utility-garment for many years. I was very skeptical that I would still be into the big sleeve trend in the future and so I was casually giving it the side-eye – interested yes, but not sure.
However, after seeing loads of gorgeous big-sleeved tops, dresses and knitwear I decided I couldn’t resist the siren-song any longer and I had to give it a try. I feel as though my style is changing and whilst I want to be sustainable, I also don’t intend to stop sewing and it is fun to get creative with shapes.
I bought the Anthea Blouse and had a look through my stash for a toile fabric. This fabric is secondhand vintage printed cotton, I bought it from a church rummage sale in a seaside village in East Yorkshire called Hornsea. There was fabric, some trim and some very retro chalk pencils in an old paper bag and when I asked ‘how much?’ I was told the princely sum of £1! I love the fabric, I can’t resist a dar floral and I think the teeny scale is perfect for this pattern but as it was inexpensive it felt like a good choice for a toile.
The sleeve pieces of this pattern are big – so even though I had 1.5m of average-width fabric, it only just fit! Something to bear in mind for the future, especially as this fabric is non-directional. I sewed the pattern as written, the only change I made was to use ready-made bias binding for the sleeve cuffs instead of using self-fabric. This was purely because I only had whispers of fabric left once I had finished cutting out but it’s good to know it works well and is a great option if you are short on fabric! As there are no darts, the top is A-line shape which meant I didn’t have to grade out at the hips like I usually do. I made the straight size 10.
The pattern is delightfully simple – the button plackets are grown-on and the collar and sleeve cuffs are bias bound. Because the sleeve heads are gathered, there is no easing-in either! I sewed this in an evening.
I think the simplicity of the sewing is one of the reasons this pattern has shot to stardom, it’s lovely to sew and results in an on-trend yet ridiculously wearable garment. I’ve worn this with skirts, pinafores and trousers and it looks great with everything. After such a successful toile, I can definitely see me making several of these.
The buttons I used were also secondhand, I scored a huge amount of mother-of-pearl buttons of all different styles from a charity shop in York a few months ago. These were among my favourites and I think they compliment this fabric perfectly! I am so happy to have given these things a new life – one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure!