Way back in the mists of time (ok, 2006), I had a lovely blue blouse that I bought in Australia. It had fluttery (but not too fluttery) sleeves, an irregular polka dot print and sweet little buttons. I wore that blouse to death, and when it was finally past its best I found it hard to let it go. This blouse – the Mimi blouse from Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch book – is probably the closest I’m ever going to get to that blouse, so when I spotted this beautiful cotton from Atelier Brunette via Sew Over It (still in stock last time I checked), I knew it was Meant To Be.
I love most of the patterns in Love at First Stitch, but I think the Mimi blouse is my favourite. The gorgeous little details make it for me – the pretty pleats on the sleeves, the gathers on the yoke and the sharp Chelsea collar all look really cute, and offer the chance to try out some new skills. The book is aimed at beginners, and while this is one of the more complicated patterns Tilly’s instructions are so clear, none of this was remotely difficult. I did, however, make a toile because I would have been gutted if I had made a mistake with my lovely fabric. You should see it – it’s a… erm… delightful mish mash of blue flowery fabric and some mint green polka dot quilting cotton. Not for outdoor wear. Or indoor wear.
Based on my measurements I should be a size four, but looking at the finished garment stats there’s a lot of ease through the pattern, so I knew I could get away with a size smaller. My toile did show that I needed to go two sizes up on the sleeves, and that a little extra length on the hem is no bad thing, so on the finished blouse I did a 2cm hem instead of 3cm. I also didn’t bother with the sleeve facings (ain’t nobody got time for that), preferring to finish them with bias binding instead.
As I say, the instructions were so clear it was very difficult to go wrong, even when attaching the collar (my first – so proud!). It was so easy it makes me wonder whether they’re all going to be like that, or if this has lulled me into a false sense of security. The Mimi also gave me the opportunity to try out the buttonhole function on my machine. My old Brother machine had a four-step buttonhole which was a faff and a half, and super easy to get wrong. My new Janome has an automatic buttonhole and is super easy to get right. All you do is pop the button in the back of the foot, make sure you put the right lever down (I didn’t to begin with – had to go back to the instructions to work out what I was doing wrong) and it does the rest for you. Sweet! It all seemed to be going well, but the final one, right at the neckline, looked like it was going wrong so I panicked and started it again. Let’s just say that it’s a lot stronger than the others.
I am so pleased with this blouse – it’s easily the nicest piece of clothing I have EVER made – but if I’m being picky there are a few things that I’d change for next time. I could have been a bit neater around the neckline opening and got a bit further into the corners, as the finish isn’t that clean (though it’s hidden by the buttons and the collar). I also could have paid more attention to the print direction. The yoke is a single piece, so if you have a directional print it’ll be the right way up on one side and the wrong way on the other. The collar works in the same way. I didn’t pay enough attention so the print on the yoke and the collar is the wrong way up on the front but perfect on the back. I’m not going to lose too much sleep over this, but I’ll sort it out for next time. The left sleeve is also a bit poofy, but again, this isn’t a big issue for me and none of this is going to prevent me from wearing this EVERYWHERE.
Seriously, this is such a versatile blouse. It’s going to get a lot of wear in and out of the office. The relaxed fit means that it’s good for wearing untucked with jeans, but it’s also suitable for work when tucked into a skirt, and it’s really comfortable too. I finished it yesterday, it’s already been through the wash ready for me to wear today and I can’t wait to show it off around the office. I think this blouse is going to get a lot of hammer, so it’s a good job I only used half of my fabric (1.25m out of 2.5m)… I might just need to make a spare.
One final thought. As a name, Mimi makes me think of two things. One is Mimi Labonq from Allo Allo, and the other is Beaker from the Muppets. Mi-mi-mi-mimi-mi!