Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse

This weekend I finally finished a project that has been hanging around in the pile of shame for a loooong time. I’ve been working on this Mimi blouse (from Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch) for several months.


There are several reasons why this has taken so long. Firstly, fitting. I always make toiles as a rule, this blouse needed 3. I cut a straight size 7 overall fist time round. While this was fine on the waist, it was way too tight on the bust. Next I tried an 8 tapering to a 7 – still too tight. So I needed to attempt a full bust adjustment. I’m afraid the reasons are lost in the mists of time, but I couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) use a slash technique for this and instead used a slidey-pivoty technique as explained here: Maria Denmark

3 toiles down and I was finally happy – although I was so focused on getting the front right that I missed a vital fitting issue on the back as you will see later.

The only other adjustment I made was to shorten the bodice as I wanted this to hit just below the waistband of my jeans/skirts, I don’t do tucking-in.

The second reason for my tardiness was the fabric. It’s a Liberty Tana lawn and at the time of purchase was the most expensive fabric in my stash. I even prevaricated over pre-washing it in case I wrecked it.

Close up of Liberty Tana Lawn - Gallymoggers!
Close up of Liberty Tana Lawn – known as Gallymoggers!

The print is a gorgeous Alice in Wonderland pattern as you can see. I only bought 2 metres which caused even more delay. I realised that there was no way to get all the pattern pieces out of this fabric and a contrast yoke and facings would be necessary. Cue a 2 week wait while a hastily picked selection of plain dye lawns made their way over from India via ebay.

I lumped for the black in end, thinking it would make a nice Rockabilly/bowling shirt effect – the 3 blues that came weren’t quite right.

So, on to cutting, finally. This was nerve-wracking as I was determined to make sure each piece was the right way up! Simple you would think but I have done dafter things. I only have a tiny table for cutting so have to do things a piece at a time.

Construction then took another 6 weeks. In the time this was hanging next to the machine I churned out endless jersey tops, skirts and a dress but Mimi just hung there, folorn. First it was a lack of decent black thread. Then not having enough buttons. Then deciding I hated the sleeves (we made up in the end).

This was one of those makes that really didn’t look like it was going anywhere until it was finally done.

Finally, late Monday night I took the plunge and used my machine’s automatic buttonhole setting for the first time. I liked it so much I went a bit daft and put not 8, not 10 but 9 buttonholes on the blouse where I’m sure 6 or 7 would have done fine. Ah well. They are lovely black glittery buttons again from ebay.

And here she is:

cheerfully posing on the balcony
cheerfully posing on the balcony


The only other major design change I made was to insert black piping in the collar. I wanted more black accents to match the yoke and realised too late that I could have just cut the collar facing a bit larger and rolled the seam to the outside – ho-um, I think this looks pretty natty.

Reflections: It took an age and I lost faith many times but overall I’m really pleased with this, It’s good for work and looks lovely layered with a cardigan (I’m almost never without a cardigan).

See, great with a cardi, as are we all
See, great with a cardi, as are we all

In terms of fitting, I think the front of the blouse has come out really well. The back however…I know this is meant to be ‘blousey’ but there’s just too much excess back there.

blouse side
Look at that excess fabric on the back! No don’t look, I can’t bear it

blouse back

I’d never come across the word ‘swayback’ before I started sewing and never thought for a second I’d need to make such adjustments, but the acres of spare fabric back there are telling a different story. Under a cardi it’s not such a big deal, but I may consider adding darts for next summer.

I may also swap out the sleeve facings for black to complete the accents, not sure yet!

Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse

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