TATB, for any of you wondering, means ‘Tilly and the Buttons’ – an independent pattern and sewing company owned by the very fabulous Tilly Walnes. I just couldn’t fit the whole name in the title of the blog post, so abbreviating it was really my only option.
This one’s a bit late. Dropped the ball a bit here and totally forgot I needed to write a blog post, but it’s here now so I figured it would be fine. So – the Mimi Blouse is from ‘Love At First Stitch’, Tilly’s first book (I can say first now because she’s writing her second! Eek!) which has a lovely lot of beginners patterns. I hadn’t made the Mimi blouse before and it was a pattern included in my 2017 make nine (if you’d like to see which nine patterns I’m definitely making this year, I’ll link the blog post right here) so figured it would be the perfect pattern for such an astonishingly beautiful fabric. What astonishingly beautiful fabric is this? I hear you ask. THIS:
is my answer. This is the Cotton and Steel x Rifle Paper Co collaboration for an Alice in Wonderland range, and boy is the whole range beautiful. I pre-ordered this fabric on the 2nd of January, and knew that I’d be wearing it to the Alice in Wonderland play in London on April 29th. In case you don’t know me in real life, I have a deep-seated love for Alice in Wonderland. And I’m not just saying I like the books. I have a whole book shelf dedicated to it, on which lives 28 copies of both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, as well as a whole host of Alice memorabilia. And, as you go around my room, there are a lot of subtle references to the books, like little quotes and a vase of fake white roses which are all in various stages of being painted red. I even went through a phase a couple of years ago of just re-reading all of the different copies of the books that I have. So now that you know how emotionally invested I am in wonderland, hopefully you can sort of imagine just how excited I was when this range came out.
I wanted to cut straight into the fabric, which was a bad idea because I hadn’t made a Mimi toile. Because of this particular Wonderland fabric being canvas and therefore a much heavier weight than the pattern was designed for, I knew it wouldn’t be able to gather into the yoke as it was meant to, so I redrafted the yoke so that the gathers wouldn’t be needed. My fatal error was that I wasn’t patient enough to whip up this newly drafted shirt in a cheaper fabric, instead of going in with this, which was £3 per quarter metre.
As you can imagine, the sleeves were totally out of place. The yoke and other pieces fit in very nicely, causing me to be very pleased with myself, but because I’d redrafted the yoke but not moved the armholes to compensate, when I tried the shirt on, the shoulders ended up being about half way down my upper arm. Cue the hysteria and panic that I’d just ruined the most wonderful and expensive fabric that I’ve ever owned.
But then I met an angel reincarnated. Sally. This particular 60 year old angel is a fellow cripple and enjoys swearing, and is a very talented sewer. I met her at the Comic Relief Crafternoon hosted by our local Craft Club, and I proposed that we become sewing buddies. When she saw the shambles that was my Mimi blouse a couple of days later, she laughed at it and told me just how terrible it was, before very kindly taking it back to her house to salvage. She moved the shoulders and reset the sleeves, which is what I had asked her to help me with, but then she also overlocked the whole shirt, added a couple of pleats in the back to stop it from being quite so big (I wanted a boxy fit, but slightly overestimated my size) and added some little pieces of ribbon to anchor the facing to the shirt. And now it is absolutely wonderful. This is easily my favourite garment ever – the sewing is immaculate (although not my own) the boxy fit is perfect, and the print is just stunning! I’m going to be making another Mimi blouse, but next time I’ll be keeping the gathers included to avoid quite such a stressful sewing experience.
The low collar is definitely the biggest design feature of the pattern, and is one that I’m still not 100% sure about. I’m not used to having such a low collar in a ‘day’ outfit, but I think that the reason I’m unsure about it is because I opted to crop the shirt rather than leave it at the hip length that it was before, which makes the collar seem even lower. When I make my next Mimi, I’ll be making it exactly by the book!