Tulips and Bells for date night.

'Tulips and Bells': Modified New Look 6434 with bell sleeves and ruffle neckline.

So, where does your inspiration often start from with a sewing project? Do you actively search for it? I sometimes do. I’ll often browse fashion blogs or some of the online designer shops to get ideas and I love to save images to Pinterest or to my photo albums. If a certain trend really appeals to me, I’ll look at lots of versions of it….The bells in my post title, for instance, refer to bell/flared sleeves and I personally prefer a modest flare that doesn’t cover my hands. When the urge to sew up a new trend strikes, the fabric hunt begins (who doesn’t love fabric shopping!) unless of course, I have something already in my stash that might work….

'Tulips and Bells': modified New Look 6434 with bell sleeves and ruffle neckline.

'Tulips and Bells': modified New Look 6434 with bell sleeves and ruffle neckline.

The fabric in this top was originally intended for something completely different (isn’t that often the case? Or is it just me??) It’s a gorgeous fine cotton sateen with a touch of lycra and was seen in the Fall collections of Dolce and Gabbana last year. I was so lucky to snag a metre of it from Fabric Godmother late last Summer. It sat in my storage drawers for a couple of months, but when a special Christmas date night with my husband was on the cards, the stars suddenly aligned and I knew what I wanted to do with the fabric.

'Tulips and Bells' : modified New Look 6434 with bell sleeves and ruffle neckline.

The base pattern that I used for my top was New Look 6434 and I did a few changes to it. Firstly, I lengthened the sleeve above the gathered lower section. I decided to have it ending just below elbow level and I also made the flared, gathered extension a bit longer than the pattern. Another tweak that I did to the pattern was to add two vertical back darts in order to create some subtle waist shaping, but because of this, I had to add a side invisible zipper to make it easier to get on and off.  Finally, a detail that I also spotted whilst on inspiration reconnaissance, was ruffle details around necklines and I decided to add some of this feature to the neck of my top too.

I had only a metre of fabric and it was touch and go as to whether I could get all the pieces cut, but I did it, much to my relief and I just managed to squeeze enough out for the ruffle with literally slithers left! The ruffle is just a length of fabric folded double and I tapered the gathering thread lines off to nothing at each end so that the ruffle dips down in the centre front. I inserted it between the main fabric and a narrow facing of bias cut lining. I didn’t have enough fabric for proper neck facings, though the binding is less bulky which I prefer.

'Tulips and Bells': modified New Look 6434 close up of ruffle neckline.

I loved wearing this top so much. It’s amazingly comfortable and I think it’ll be great to pair with cream jeans in spring too.

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