Sew Over It: Penny tie blouse hack #youcanhackit

Pattern hacks seem like the holy grail of garment making. Instagram seems full of these competent sewists who see a pattern, know exactly what fabric they’ll make it in, and how they’ll change it to look more like the items they’ve been dreaming of. They have the courage (or perhaps it’s experience) to just modify their pattern pieces, spending their time experimenting on their pattern pieces, until they manage to make the garment look exactly how they want to.

One of my goals for 2018 is to delve into pattern cutting, and pattern hacks seem like an ideal gateway into this. I was inspired by the recent Winslow Culottes hack series from Helen’s Closet, and was planning to up my ‘hack gain’ when the lovely Helen and Caroline recently dedicated an entire episode of the Love to Sew podcast to pattern hacking. They’ve created a new Instagram hashtag – #youcanhackit – so that we can tag all of our hacks (new and old).

I’m feeling really inspired now to do some more hacks. Ultimately, I’d love to take the bodice block I made at the Stitchery last year and start playing around with dart manipulation – the possibilities for dresses and tops seem endless!

But to start off with, I’m going to be following a few online tutorials, including the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes wrap hack, and a lengthened version of the Ogden Cami. I’ve already had great success with the Sew Over It Penny dress tie front blouse hack, which if you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably have seen already!

Penny blouse

DSC_0082I’m pretty sure that the Penny tie blouse is my first attempt at a hack. And thankfully it came directly from a blog post kindly prepared by the Sew Over It team. Nevertheless, I still approached this project with trepidation, reading the instructions carefully and altering my pattern pieces.

As this was a hack, I opted for a wearable toile, using a lovely cheap cotton I picked up in Sri Lanka (at the same time as the cotton for my Kalle toile). I needn’t have worried as the top fits really well, but the fabric is fab anyway and a really great pairing to make a top. I think it may be a cotton / linen blend – it’s great in hot weather anyhow.

In terms of construction the blouse was pretty easy to put together. The instructions, both in the pattern, and on the hack blog post were easy to follow.

Doing my best Cersei impression
Medal worthy Sew Over It Penny hack
Back view

I used my overlocker (despite the tension issues) to finish the seams, as I didn’t think french seams would work on most of the blouse, particularly on the facings. I do try to make my garments with long-lasting wear in mind, and without the overlocker I’m not convinced that the finishing methods would hold out for too long (see photos below for more detail).

As a first hack, the result is actually pretty good – I should have more confidence in myself! There was one part of the hack that I misunderstood, relating to the bottom of the ties – I had made the pattern piece pointed, whereas I should have left them flat – but this was easily fixed during construction.

I would also ideally like it to have been a little longer – it’s a bit too cropped for my liking – it exposes my tummy every now and then so I can only wear it with a few items in my wardrobe.


It goes well with high waisted trousers

Like my cropped Kalle shirt, this doesn’t have any buttons on – I ran out of time ahead of my trip to Cuba, and so I just sewed the button placket closed. The only drawback of this is that I can’t properly tie the front as the stitching comes quite far down the placket. It doesn’t bother me too much though so I’ve just left it as it is.

DSC_0089I love the finished shirt and will be making more. It was also the first item that I added my sew slow sarah label to which made me feel really proud.





I’m not really convinced by the armhole method for the Penny – it doesn’t seem like a long-lasting option. I’ll be looking into alternatives for next time – maybe a french seam.

I’m not sure this seam finish at the armhole will last


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