Amanda vs Alma Blouse

So in my head I was all “2013 is your year of grown up sewing Amanda. You can make some rad cake pieces and focus on block colours and try cocktails made with vodka for a change and it will be epic”. Cue almost two weeks in and my first sewing project involves a sassy print and my accompanying sewing cocktails have been gin based. Let’s be honest- there’s something to be said about awesome routines… But all is not lost! While I may be drinking gin and sewing wit prints and I did commit to making some a wardrobe staple. I finally jumped on the Sewaholic Alma Blouse bandwagon and made the cutest work (and play) top. Welcome to kimono fabric Alma!
Yeah. How great is that fabric?! I found it at a fabulous store of all things Japan which was recommended to me by Rachel of My Messings when I ninjaed into Melbourne late last year. It is a gorgeous kimono fabric and is an absolute dream to sew with. There was only a metre left and with a width of 112 cm I managed to squeeze out a front and back panel, facings and bias binding for the armholes as there was no room for sleeves. I used some left over delustred satin to make the collar which I have left over from a botched attempt to sew a puffy skirt years ago. The black makes a nice contrast to the gorgeous floral print and the fabric was stiff enough it didn’t need interfacing. But let’s check this print in a hideously wrinkled shot…

Time to cue the champagne and cheese because…. *insert super rad one-armed drummer from Def Leppard totes rocking this out drumroll* I did my first sway back alteration. Yay! I have been avoiding these for the last year. The idea terrified my tiny sewing brain and I was convinced it would take me years to get this done. In reality, it took me 35 minutes and this included having a whinge on twitter (I’m @bimbleandpimble if you are brave enough to endure the crazy there), checking up on my fave basic reference guide (The Collete Patterns book), pinning, basting and eating some ice cream. Oh yeah. Procrastination plus! I am now the proud owner of a top that doesn’t have a weird fabric ledge above my butt and I could not be happier. But instead of showing you the back of my blouse (I only have one shot and I need it for later) instead I give you my favourite interpretive dance finish pose. Ta dah!

What I loved about this pattern:

  • How easy it is to swap in different features from the three variations. I ninjaed the bias binding from version A and then the peter pan collar from version B and it went together beautifully like cake and my face. Om nom nom.
  • The peter pan collar. Everyone knows I get to trends rather slowly (furby’s are still cool, right?!) but I am totes loving this collar. This is my third attempt at one and this has to have been the easiest so far. Booyah!
  • How easy to follow the instructions are. I found it comforting that all the steps for all of the variations were on one side of the information sheet. After three weeks without sewing it made this feel like an achievable task!

What I will change for next time:

  • Smooth out the side seams. I feel like the right hand side seam could be a little smoother with the fit. It’s not major or anything but I like to tinker til things are rad.
  • Let’s talk back panel arm scythe. I was so focused on fitting the front and sway back that I paid no attention to the arm scythe at the back. As a result it totes looks like I just hacked the sleeves off some stylish chap’s rad kimono shirt. Doh! Don’t get me wrong- I work hard at PT sessions to try and build my upper body strength but I so don’t want to look like I just jumped of the set of the latest Hulk film, you know. Therefore I’ll be looking to alter this when I make another sleeveless version.
Hulk smash that, arm scye! ARRRGGGHH!

But now that I know longer have green skin and have put my purple pants away it’s time to finish up. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Alma. I’m generally not a fan of anything that is too loose around the waist but with some side seam adjustments (graded down a size in the waist and hips then took an additional 3cm off each side as well) this top is a sassy little number. I’m planning on making another sleeved version but in a silk. Things could get a little cray-cray so any hot tips for cutting or sewing with silk would be most appreciated. But enough chit chat, it’s time to go stalk the jungles of style. Like a tiger… rowwwrr!


  1. Why thank ye! And may I say it has proven to be most comfortable for ice cream eating so from this I am going to hypothesise ’twill be most excellent for the addition of cake to my face.

  2. Gin > vodka, and you waited so long on Furbies that they have actually come back out and are cool again. Boom! Evidence of your superior decision-making skills.

    That blouse is adorable on every level. Congratulations on the sway back adjustment!

  3. Oh Miss Amanda – that is too darling! I love it. Good job on the sway back adjustment. And the armholes don’t look awful. And I clicked on follow. g

  4. You beat me done! I’m working on the Alma too, but I’m going to have to take the sleeves off and rework the armscyes on mine. I love your fabric, and the fit is perfect, congrats on your first swayback adjustment!

  5. This is so cute! You look great! Gin is totes a grownup booze! I feel like an adult if I can survive an outing without ordering picklebacks or other ridiculous, immature shots!

  6. I don’t see the Hulk arms so I reckon you’re safe. And that fabric is amazeballs (love that word), it looks like frosting for your cake! You and sewbusylizzy have sold me on the Alma. But I’ve got so many patterns to get through I can’t justify buying it right now – which probably means I’ll be wearing it when it’s gone waaaaaaay out of fashion, I’m even more behind the times than you! You know you need one more photo – of you wearing the Alma eating the ice cream!

  7. Absolutely nothing wrong with gin based cocktail, I say 😀
    Your Alma looks lovely, and congrats to the successful sway back adjustment!
    And as the proud owner of some (rather flabby by now) muscle in my upper back, I totally feel you on the hulk issues – but that’s an easy fix, and I can’t wait to see the silk version.
    I might even have to make my own Alma …

  8. Super *hi fives* for tackling the swayback!! Whoop!! I like the contrasting collar; thank goodness for running out of fabric, no? 🙂

    My tip for working with silk: it’s way WAY nicer than working with poly chiffon, so fear not! 🙂 Use silk pins (they’re thinner & don’t leave holes), and definitely use serrated shears – they’re dear, but one of the best investments you’ll ever make! They totally make cutting slippery fabrics a dream ^_^

  9. Gorgeous! I love the fabric. I will have to check that store out next time I am in Melbourne. The only fabric store I visited on our trip was Tessuti.

  10. Hi Amanda, I just started following you and you have the most hilarious blog by far. I am just about to attempt silk and came across a tutorial from Grainline which looks very promising and not too difficult. You just sandwich the silk between paper, trace pattern on paper, cut and hey presto!… beautifully cut silk. Check her tutorial out for a much more thorough explanation.

  11. cuuute! How come you got the cool-pose-in-photos gene? It’s boring peeps like me that make you people look good, ya know ;P
    Seriously though, gorgeous top. Looks great with your shorts too!!

  12. How come I didn’t even think of making my alma sleeveless?? It is 80 degrees Fahrenheit here in the middle of winter! My long-sleeved alma has only been out of the house once 🙁 loves yours! And awesome photos as always!

  13. Charlotte, I am so glad furbies are back but also slightly horrified. They kinda creeped me out. Side note: on QANTAS flights in the little sheet to look at pre-flight they still have a Furby in the pictures of things to have switched off at take off and landing…

  14. Sonja, you are a brave lady with the shooters. One day I will have to share the German restaurant and apple schnapps saga. Crazy times and the reason why I now like gin 😉

  15. These shorts have turned into a summer staple, Jacinta. It’s best people don’t know how often I wear them… It’s somewhat shameful 😉

  16. Thanks, Anouk! Glad you like this wee slice of the internet 😀 That is an awesome tip and I’ll go check out Grainline’s tips now. Thanks! 😀

  17. I leave the looking sophisticated in photos up to peeps like you, Mel! 😉 Last time I tried to not goof off I looked like I was being attached by a giant worm. Funny in its own way 😉

  18. Gin is a mature persons drink right, so mission accomplished for 2013, it’s not like you were drinking Passion Pop!
    Love the Alma, the fabric choice is great – I can see this being very versatile. BTW if you think you are slow with trends, I only just bought my first Sewaholic patterns!

  19. Love you Alma top and the print. And I’m all for you sticking with your gin and sticking to your routine… I say if it works for you don’t change a thing 🙂

  20. Loving the top, looks great on you and the print is delish. Sway back is an adjustment I need to get my head around too, but I think I’ll keep putting it off for a while longer yet (because I am a big giant wuss). Keep up the good work, don’t let the vodka/gin distract you

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