Saturday 11 April 2015

Lottie Blouse Sew-along week 5 (final week!) - neck tie and hems

This is the final instalment of the Lottie Blouse sew-along, which means after today, you'll have a completely finished blouse! 

Today we will be tackling the neck tie and the hems. I have used a different method than the instructions for the neck tie - I'm inserting it more like a collar so that you won't have any unfinished seams hanging about, and there is minimal hand sewing involved. Sounds good, right?

The first thing to mention about the neck tie is that when you were cutting out, you may have cut the neck tie in more than 1 pieces as described in this post. If so, you will need to assemble the neck tie before we go ahead and attach it to the blouse. The neck tie is the only part where I have not used French seams -- my fabric isn't sheer and when sewn up the seams would be enclosed anyway within the neck tie, and I didn't want the bulk that the French seam could bring. I would advise that you judge this and decide whether you need to use a French seam based on whether the seams would show through on the right side. 

I had cut my neck tie in two pieces, so I need to join them together. As I'm doing a normal seam here, I have pinned the two pieces at the joint with right sides together. Sew along the seam with a 1cm seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you factored in when you cut the pieces). Press seam allowance open. 

The next step is for everyone, whether you have split the neck tie in more than one pieces or not. We are going to mark the back section where the tie will be attached to the blouse. Still with me?  Let me see if I can explain this better with the help of some pictures. 

Fold your assembled neck tie widthwise in half at the centre back, with the pointy ends matching. For me, the centre back is where my seam was from the previous step. Measure from the centre back, and notch at approx. 28cm on one side (both layers). Note that 28cm was a little bit too wide for me, but I did cut a graded down size 6. Don't worry, as you can always fine tune this later on when you are pinning the tie to the blouse.  

Basically we will leave the back section of the neck tie between notches unsewn, so that later on we can use that opening to "sandwich" the blouse neckline in. 

Next, open the tie back up and fold it lengthwise this time. Again as I'm not using a French seam here, I am folding it with right sides together. Pin from the notches to the ends, leaving the part between notches open. Sew from notch to the ends, without backstitching when you get to the end. 

Tie a double knot by hand for a neat finish. 

Trim the seam allowance. 

Open up the middle, unsewn section, and turn in the seam allowance by 1cm on the unnotched edge. Press. 

Turn the tie right side out, and press. 

Next, we will attach the tie to the neckline. Pin the notched edge (without the pressed down seam allowance) to the neckline with the right sides together, starting from the centre back. Pin around until you get to the notches. As mentioned earlier, as it turned out the opening measured at 28cm on each side was a little too wide for me, so when I was pinning, I turned a small section of the tie wrong side out and rectified this by adding a couple more cm of stitching by machine. Do make sure you leave a bit of room to allow for the seam allowance and the bound neckline though. You could also leave this fine tuning until later on when we "stitch in the ditch". 

Sew as pinned, keeping pressed edge free. Backstitch at start and finish. You may find it helpful to use a walking foot here (see picture below with the hem), especially you are using drapy and mobile fabrics (my first experience with the walking foot here). You should end up with something like this:

Trim the seams and press seam allowance towards the tie (i.e. away from the blouse). Fold the pressed edge onto the inside of the blouse, overlapping the first stitch line slightly. Carefully pin on the outside in the "ditch", making sure you are catching all layers. Take care at both ends, making sure that they lie smoothly and cover the previously bound neckline well. There may be a cm or two where the neck tie is not sewn closed, and hanging loose from the neckline - this is not a problem. We can just slipstitch it closed or topstitch it by machine. 

Stitch slowly "in the ditch", over the previous stitching. I find it helpful to pull the neck tie slightly to reveal the stitching, whilst going very slowly on my machine for accuracy. At both ends here I machine sewed it all, since it was only a small section and my thread matches the fabric pretty well (and I was feeling lazy), but you may choose to slipstitch it by end if you want a more invisible look. 

Then all we need to do is a bit of hemming! We have the sleeves and the blouse hem to do, and for this I would definitely recommend a walking foot if you have one. Alternatively, depending on your fabric choice, you may wish to sew a narrow hem. Here's my experience with using a narrow hem foot. Of course you could also do it by hand,especially if you are using a delicate fabric. The choice is yours!

If you are doing this the old fashioned way, as I am, fold the hem in once (I used 1cm but you can decide based on your desired length), press, and then fold again, press. You can probably tell from the picture that I skipped the pressing (not my favourite part of sewing!), but I made up for it by using lots of pins. Stitch from the right side all around for all 3 hems.  

Give your garment a final press and you are done! Congratulations - you have made yourself a little Lottie! 

This is the end of the Lottie Blouse Sew-along -- I hope you have found the posts helpful, and I can't wait to see your makes! I'll take a few snaps of my versions this weekend and share them with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy your weekends wherever you are! 


  1. Thanks so much for this sew-along, your instructions were very clear, which made sewing this blouse a breeze, so far. I am now at this last step and am wondering if I should do French seems, as my fabric is a bit transparent and frays like crazy. But how would I do that? The ends of the tie I can kind of imagine, just first stitch them wrong sides together, turn them inside out and stitch again (both with 0.5 seam allowance). But what about the part that connects to the neckline? Will that work out? At least the very last seam cannot be French, right?

    1. That's a really good question! I must admit, it's not something that I had thought a lot about, since the seams didn't cause me too much trouble. Have you folded your fabric over and checked how see-through the seams are? If you haven't done so already, this is the first thing I would recommend doing.

      I think you are right - the part of the tie which connects to the neckline will be tricky. As the neckline is effectively "sandwiched" between 2 layers of the tie, at least one of the edges will not be enclosed, even with French seams. So I think finding an alternative seam finish for that section is key.

      This is what I would do. I would firstly see how sheer the fabric is, and how much you can see the seams from the outside. You are balancing the need to prevent fraying against not adding too much bulk, as we want the tie to be pressed nice and flat, ready to be tied into a nice little bow. If you can live without French seams, I would finish all the seams associated with the tie with a zig zag stitch or a serger, or, for silk (if I remember correctly) I would personally do a hand overcasting stitch with matching silk thread. It would take a little longer, but worth the effort. If you think you can benefit from French seams, I would, as you say, do French seams at both ends of the tie, and then finish the seams as above, before attaching the tie to the neckline with the usual method outlined in the post.

      Sorry about the essay, I just want to make sure I can explain it clearly. Let me know if this helps?

    2. Thanks a lot for your extensive answer! You were totally right, the seams were not all that visible, despite my fabric being slightly transparent. So I choose to finish my seams with a an overcasting stitch. My fabric is indeed silk, but blended with probably polyester, so I decided that I could get away with machine stitching that ;). I'm almost done now, so I'll show you the result soon.

    3. That's great! I'm glad to be able to help :) Looking forward to seeing your finished garment!

  2. Fantastic sewalong! Just finished mine using it.

    1. That's great! Lovely to hear that it's helpful :D


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