Tag Archives: Belcarra

Belcarra dress

Hello! For various reasons I’ve been quiet here a few months, but have been doing plenty of sewing and I’m looking forward to sharing my makes with you¬†over the next few weeks…

First up, a dress that I’ve been imagining/planning to make for some time. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a fan of the Sewaholic Belcarra blouse, having made five to date and was keen to try adapting it to a dress. I debated between lengthening the pattern pieces into a kind of A line shift dress and this adaptation of adding an elastic waistband and gathered skirt, which I felt would work better with my fabric choice.

Belcarra dress front view

The main fabric is a lovely viscose from Minerva crafts (although I’ve also spotted some other suppliers selling it too). With the stripy design I thought a rectangular gathered skirt would work well. The black fabric is also a viscose from Minerva, that I’ve used in a few makes.

Belcarra dress back view

To convert the pattern to a dress I shortened the top length to a couple of inches lower than my waist (because I want to create a blousey effect) and squared off the side seam. For the waistband, I simply cut two rectangles the same length as the waist and 5.7cm wide (so the finished waistband is 2.7cm once the seam allowances are sewn up) to make a casing through which I inserted 1 inch wide elastic.

Belcarra dress waistband

I then ran into a bit of an issue as I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make the width and length of skirt that I had in mind if I also wanted to ensure the stripes matched. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for a little while and then decided to go shorter than I’d intended, but add a black hem band to give a bit more length. I actually think the black hem band nicely balances the design ūüôā However, I was so focused on making the most of the fabric that I had that I ended up cutting a pretty wide skirt and it wasn’t until I’d sewn it up with the pockets that I realised I’d probably gone a bit over the top with the width! By this point I really couldn’t face unpicking everything (I’d used french seams for everything, including the pockets) so decided to try it as is.

Belcarra dress front view

In these photos I think the dress looks fine and the fabric is drapey enough that the wide skirt looks ok. However, the first day I wore this out was pretty windy and with the light and wide skirt fabric I felt like it had a tendency to blow up a bit too much so I mostly had my hands anchored into the pockets to keep it under control!

Belcarra dress pocket

I did take quite a bit of time over getting the stripes matching at the seams, they even match at the pockets! I also spent a while holding the fabric up in front of me deciding what stripes I wanted cutting across my torso. With hindsight, I think it might be a bit more flattering to have the widest stripe running across the bust rather than below it, I’ll just take that as a lesson learnt ūüôā

Belcarra dress side view

The jury is still out on how much I like this dress, its not as flattering as I’d hoped and there are certainly a few things I’d do differently if I made it again. But it is still a nice light and comfy dress for warmer weather, just so long as its not windy!

Yep, it is another Belcarra blouse!

My sewing juices were so well¬†revived after making¬†my black Sewaholic Belcarra, that it wasn’t long until I had another cut and ready to go.

Sewaholic Belcarra

I saw the main fabric for this top (a printed viscose)¬†on the Minerva Crafts website last summer and was instantly drawn to it with this vision of a Belcarra using¬†some black trim for the cuffs and around the neck, but at ¬£9.99 a metre it is the most expensive fabric I’ve brought so far and back then I was too scared that I would mess it up.

Now I’m trying to be less fearful and get better at embracing mistakes as part of the learning process, so decided to treat myself and I’m very glad I did!

back view

I was rather concerned when I opened the parcel as the fabric felt crisp and stiff, not at all the drapey loveliness that I was expecting from viscose! Thankfully it soften up nicely after a pre wash. Not quite as soft and drapey as the black viscose used in my previous Belcarra (and for the contrast pieces in this one) but it still has enough drape to be suitable for this top.

One slight gripe was that the grid pattern sloped¬†off grain about 30 cm from each selvedge and since I’d only brought a metre I couldn’t avoid using this part. You can see the pattern sloping down more on the left side of this photo, but hopefully wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t point it out!

Sewaholic Belcarra

Although not a precise grid, I did take care when cutting to try and get the pattern roughly lining up.

side view

After taking my time cutting out, the top came together pretty smoothly. The only additional pattern change I made was to use the bias strip (half and inch narrower than the original pattern one) for a bound neckline instead of as a facing. I really like the solid black cuffs and neck edge and was even brave enough to use black thread as a contrast for the cuff and hem stitching.

Neck and cuff detail

I’ll move on to a different pattern next, but I doubt this will be my last Belcarra. I’m already feeling the need for an ivory or cream version for summer…

Getting my sewing mojo back with a black Belcarra

After all my recent fitting and toiling, making this Sewaholic¬†Belcarra blouse felt wonderful! ¬†I could enjoy taking my time getting a good finish as I knew I’d have a well fitting garment at the end of it.

Belcarra 4 front

The black one is actually my fourth Belcarra blouse – I made this third flowery version shortly after my second from a lovely viscose fabric brought on Goldhawk Road.

Belcarra 3 front

For the third Belcarra, I used a narrower bias strip and sewed it on using a 3/8 inch seam allowance to make the neckline a little smaller. ¬†It doesn’t feel like the neckline actually is any smaller, but I wonder if I had stretched the neckline out a little, so for the fourth version I made sure to stay stitch the neckline as soon as I’d cut out the fabric.

I also had a valuable¬†lesson in paying attention when using scissors near fabric when I snipped some of the sleeve while trimming the french seam. ¬†Oops! ¬†Luckily, it was only small and near the underarm so just took¬†a little darning and isn’t really visible.

Belcarra 3 hole

The only niggle I have with the third version is that the fold on the cuffs doesn’t want to lie flat after washing. ¬†I suspect this could mean that I didn’t cut the fabric exactly on the bias. ¬†Hence for this fourth Belcarra, I really took my time over the cutting.

The fabric for the black¬†Belcarra is my first online fabric purchase – this viscose from Minerva Crafts. ¬†It is wonderfully soft and drapey and it comes in twelve other colours so I’ll no doubt be ordering more soon.

Black Bercarra side view

I had thought about going for the pin tuck sleeves version since I was using a solid colour, but a plain and simple (but well made) black top was what I really wanted. ¬†Perhaps not the most exciting blog make, but a top I am very pleased with and one that should get lots of wear ūüôā

Cotton Belcarra Blouse

As I was so happy with my first¬†Sewaholic Belcarra blouse, it wasn’t long before I made a second one:

Belcarra blouse in cotton lawn

This time I used cotton lawn (from Goldhawk Road), so it doesn’t¬†drape as much as my first viscose version but it still looks ok and is great to wear in the hot weather we’ve been having in London lately.

While shopping for the fabric, I was choosing between a few lovely (but very colourful and¬†busy) cotton lawn prints and so decided to step out of the shop for a little breather while I debated the look I wanted. ¬†But then as I was leaving the shop, I noticed this fabric by the door – pretty unassuming in comparison to the others, but I was drawn to it (and it didn’t hurt that it was a lot cheaper!). ¬†I decided to go for this one as a trial run since I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the look of the top in cotton. ¬†However, I’m now very glad I went with this simple print as it is so easy to wear. ¬† I’ve also noticed that I don’t have many light coloured tops, so this is a welcome addition to my wardrobe.

Must try to remember to give plain and simple fabrics fair consideration on future fabric shopping trips!

Belcarra blouse in cotton lawn

Since it is a simple print I thought it would be a good one to try out the shoulder pin tucks of view B.  I like how this detail adds a bit more interest to the top.

Belcarra blouse pin tuck detail

Adjustments wise, I narrowed the neckline and broadened the shoulders as with my first Belcarra and I shortened the front by 1.5cm (gently curving to meet the original hem line in the back) so it sits better on me.

Not too much to say about the construction as it was straightforward the second time around. ¬†There was a bit of unpicking when I realised I’d folded to a seam notch instead of a tuck notch on my first shoulder, but luckily the holes from the incorrect stitching line pretty much disappeared with a bit of steam pressing . ¬†As with my first version I found the cuffs a bit tricky to insert, but this is definitely getting easier with practice.

My¬†first two Belcarras are getting a good amount of wear, so there could be another one soon…

Belcarra blouse adjustment: broadening the shoulders

When I made a toile of the Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse the fit was pretty good, the only niggle I had was that it felt too tight across the shoulders – it was a bit uncomfortable when moving my arms and the neckline was being pulled wider.

Here’s how I adjusted the shoulders:¬†(note – I don’t know if this is the “correct” way to do this kind of adjustment, but I was happy with the results (see my first finished Belcarra here) so thought I’d share in case it is useful to anyone else)

In the pictures, the blue pen shows the markings traced from the pattern, the red pen shows the adjustments.

Belcarra shoulder adjustment picture 1

  • Measure 1.5cm (the seam allowance) in around the corner of the seam that connects to the blouse front (or back – you need to adjust both shoulder pieces) and the underarm seam, mark point A where the stitching lines here meet
  • Draw a line from the centre of the shoulder seam notch going through point A, to the edge

Belcarra shoulder adjustment picture 2

  • Cut along this line from each edge towards point A, do not cut all the way along – you want to leave point A as a pivot point
  • Tape one side of the cut edge to some additional paper (I’ve just used standard tracing paper)
  • At the shoulder seam, measure from the edge of your taped down side and mark a short line B to indicate how much you want to lengthen the shoulder seam by (I lengthened by 1.5cm)

Belcarra shoulder adjustment picture 3

  • Pivot the free side such that the shoulder seam meets line B and tape in place

Belcarra shoulder adjustment picture 4

  • You’ll see that the shoulder seam now has a step where you’ve broken the line. Fix this by using a French curve or go free hand to draw a new line from the lower part of the sleeve to the neckline. (You have now both lengthened the shoulder and added a bit of extra width)
  • Make sure your notch is clearly visible

Belcarra shoulder adjustment picture 5

  • If you are making view A or C of the blouse, that’s it, you just need to cut out your new shoulder piece and repeat these steps on the back shoulder
  • If you are making view B, extend the tuck lines to the edge of the piece so that you have straight lines again. Repeat adjustments on back shoulder

Do you know of a different, perhaps better, way to adjust raglan sleeves for broader shoulders?

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse front and side view

I LOVE this top! ¬†I’ve been admiring Sewaholic‘s designs for a while and am tempted by pretty much all¬†of Tasia’s patterns. ¬†When I saw the Belcarra (beginner friendly) released and heard about the sew-along I knew this was the next top I wanted to try.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse front

Was pretty happy when I tried on my toile as the fit was generally good without any changes. ¬†The only problem was that it felt too tight across the shoulders to the point that I’d be unlikely to wear it. ¬†I searched for raglan sleeve broad should adjustments, but didn’t find anything helpful so I made a guess at what to do (you can see what I did here). ¬†I think it turned out quite well, the top certainly feels comfortable, although that could be due to the softer/drapier fabric used in the final version. ¬†I also narrowed the neckline by 1cm as per the instructions here.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse side

The fabric is a lovely soft viscose from Goldhawk Road. ¬†I brought this fabric on the recent NYlon meet up, it seemed to be one of the fabrics of the day as I meet quite a few other sewists who’d brought it too, look forward to seeing what they create with it!

This was my first time sewing with viscose and I love it.  Needs a little more care than cotton, but I love the softness and drape, definitely think it has worked well for this top.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse side back view

The top is quite straight forward to sew up, good instructions and the sew-along provides more details/photos.  I did find the cuffs a bit tricky, so on the final version I hand basted them in place before sewing and was much happier with the result.  I used French seams throughout, which even though there are curved seams worked well.

Please excuse the creases in the photos, I’d been wearing the top for a few hours before they were taken, will have to remember to think about that for future blog photos!

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse back view

I’ll definitely be making some more versions of this top,¬†just what I need for extending my summer wardrobe. ¬†So happy with this top that I couldn’t resist a jumping photo!

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse jumping

Things I learnt:

  • Sewing raglan sleeves
  • Sewing with viscose
  • Using a bias strip as a binding
  • Sewing cuffs