Behind the Seams: The Rainbow Fish Outfit

An inspiration from a kids’ story book, how whimsical! I love this week’s Sew Weekly Challenge theme! You can find my post on how my book of choice inspired me to create a blouse and jeans outfit here.

The Considerations

There are so many wonderful children’s books which made this a really difficult decision-making week and I was still fickle till the very last minute!

These were the books/ projects I’ve considered besides what I’ve ended up sewing 🙂

All Around Us by Eric Carle, a lovely collection of three books on the world around us- in the sea, on land and in the sky. I had this lovely Laura Gunn fabric for ages and it even matched the theme and colors from the book’s illustration. I imagined sewing a simple vintage sundress with it.

Hide and Seek Ocean, a board book my kids enjoyed was also considered as I had this Odyssea fabric by Momo’s Wonderland. I was thinking of sewing a sunsuit in a red and white striped fabric (inspired by the lighthouse illustration) and using the quilting fabric to sew a wrap skirt as coverup. I really loved this idea so I may actually make one someday:)

Maisy’s rainbow dream was another project I really wanted to attempt ever since I laid eyes on this Kate Spade dress in a fashion magazine!

The major bummer was that I couldn’t find a colorful stripe fabric which I thought was suitable to create a knock off. I shall continue to search for it!

So, with all these potential projects going through my mind, how did I end up with the Rainbow Fish?

I got to let you know that what sealed the deal was first practicality (I needed more separates) and second, the Spring Top Sewalong at Made By Rae! The very first blouse I have ever sewed myself was a free pattern on Sew Mama sew blog by Made By Rae so her annual sewalong event got me really excited to sew a blouse for this week’s challenge. And third, I’m gonna participate in So, Zo’s Made Me June next month and after Made Me March 2011, I knew I needed a simple pair of jeans (Yes, no more lack in this area now! Yay!). And this time, I’m increasing the stakes by one notch. I will be wearing a complete made me outfit (top and bottom) excluding underwear/ socks/ accessories everyday for the entire month! So, it looks like I’ll need to sew up more bottoms for my wardrobe:)

The Gallery

I didn’t manage to convince myself to dive underwater wearing a chiffon blouse and flare legged jeans so here’s the outfit on land.

A braided belt which reminded me of the scales of the Rainbow FishWhat will the Rainbow Fish be without its shiny scales? I hand stitched groups of sequins randomly on the cape section of the blouse.

Close ups of the jeans front zipper section (it’s my very first front zipper and I got lost!). The tute at The Last stitch helped tremendously and I managed to sew a passable front zipper section.  

Fabric selvage for the top of the back pockets and front pockets lined with cotton polka dot remnants.

Pattern Review

The blouse pattern I used was Vogue 2850, an Anna Sui blouse. The pattern is straight forward and easy to sew but after reading through the many reviews at Pattern Review, I made some modifications to the pattern.

1) I lowered the waistband and belt hole to the waist area as the original ends just below the bust (it was more of an empire style blouse though it didn’t seem that way on the model)

2) I lengthen the peplum section by 3 inches as many mentioned that the blouse was a little short.

3) As I hand stitched sequins on the cape section, the entire section is lined with the same fabric. This way, the stitches on the back are hidden and the cape has the same vibrancy on both sides.

4) Instead of a normal waist band, I created a braided chiffon version. (The step by step is below)

Kwik Sew 407 1970s Jeans

The vintage jean pattern I used is from the 1970s, Kwik Sew 407. I’ve always been intimated by front zippers and it took me this long to actually attempt my first. The pattern came with two options-flare legged or straight legged and I chose to sew the former. It is not quite a bell bottom, much closer to a modern-day bootleg jeans. I love the fit of this pair of jean. Very comfortable without being shapeless. The pattern is suitable for both woven and stretch fabrics which is great. It’s easy to sew with clear instructions, though I got really lost at the zipper instructions. I’m sure I will be using this pattern again and I need a lot more practice for the front zipper section. I want to make a really vintage pair in pale blue denim!

Braided Band

The braided waist band idea came to me all of a sudden one evening when I was lamenting over how I could incorporate the three different colored chiffon (most outstanding scale colors of the rainbow fish) into the blouse and yet create a balance with a colorful blouse fabric. I think besides being a good alternative waist bands (but I would only recommend using chiffon or very light weight fabric, otherwise the belt can get bulky and unflattering) and shoulder straps.  Here’s how I created mine:

Step one: I cut chiffon pieces of three different colors using the original waist band pattern. For one of the colors, I doubled the width. Pin one set of cut chiffon piece together right side facing.

Step 2: Sew the pieces together at the seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning over.

Step 3: Clip seam allowance and notch edges

Step 4: Turn fabric over and press. Using a matching colored thread, seal the gap by top stitching. Repeat the same sewing process for the other two colored fabric strips.Step 5: Fold the widest fabric into half at one end and insert all other fabric edges/ ribbons/ piping etc into the edge and stitch across the end to secure all pieces. Step 6: Braid the fabrics (same method as braiding your hair)

Step 7:  At the end of the braid, secure all pieces of fabric by tying a knot and sandwiching them in between the widest fabric (the remaining length is up to your preference). Stitch down the side to secure.

We are done!

Hope you find that useful:)

The drape wrap skirt tutorial is in the works (sorry, it’s taking so long) and should be posted by early next week.

It’s elections week for us here in Singapore and polling day tomorrow. Have a great weekend wherever you are!


26 thoughts on “Behind the Seams: The Rainbow Fish Outfit

  1. the blouse is a dream, and you carried it off so well! how does sewing chiffon feels? i love the material but i’m a bit intimidated and scared that i’ll spoil it during the sewing process. any special needle required?
    this post is an inspiration to me cos besides the chiffon, i’ve been imagining sewing myself a pair of jeans but i don’t dare to take the plunge yet!

  2. Beautiful top! Is it tough to sew chiffon? I have only managed cotton so far. I don’t recall that you have a serger so how do you do it?

    You are getting very good at posing too! I like it that your eyes don’t really look ahead to the camera, glancing sideways instead, whimsical and fun!

  3. Beautiful top! I realy like the cape and peplum of the blouse. Is it tough sewing chiffon? Any tips? I have so far only managed cotton. And I see you are now very good in posing too, the side glancing eyes are very whimsical and cute!

  4. I love the outfit as I said on TSW. I also love the shoes. Kids books are so much fun and I read to my grands often. I am pretty sure one of them has that same fish book.

  5. @Fiona & Sertyan: I was really skeptical about sewing chiffon but it turned out surprisingly okay. I was told by one of the fabric sellers that some chiffons are easier to sew than others so there might be some difference. I bought this chiffon from spotlight and it feels really silky already. I think it easier to sew than to cut. If you have not tried chiffon, I suggest trying voile and lawn first, they are just as light weight but easier to handle and when you are more confident, I think you must try chiffon! Sertyan, you are right no serger here so I used my regular BROTHER machine. Fiona, I used the thinnest woven needle for it.

  6. I’m so happy to see this blouse actually sewn up and worn. I love it! It’s pining away in my stash for eons because I just wasn’t sure about it. I love your version, and it’s fabulous with those jeans! Good for you on the zipper….

  7. oh oh OOH oh OH!

    oh it’s all so wonderful, every single detail seen and hidden! needless to say i’m jealous again, i’m starting to sound like a broken record. but it’s true.

    i’m loving this challenge, everyone has the cutest expressions on their faces. you look like a mischievous little fish in that first picture 🙂

  8. I love the outfit! The top is super flattering and the fabric is so fitting for the theme. I’m also really impressed with your jeans. I was just writing about how I’m not sure I would ever sew jeans but your pair is inspiring. Maybe I’ll look at the sewalong that Raquel from Florida spoke of.

  9. Adey, your outfit is amazing, as always! You did both of these in a week? Wow!! I like that you provide lots of info about the pattern and your thought process, so very helpful. Love your photos as well, and thanks for the tutorial on the belt!

  10. I first discovered you by the JapanCoutureAddicts website. Since then, I follow you but I never left any comment.
    This time is the one!
    I just want to tell you that I love your blog and your sewing projets.
    Your patterns’ and fabrics’ choices are just great and what you make with them is just wonderful.
    My favorite projets are the Rainbow Fish Outfit, the Never Say Never Dress and the ‘The Abandoned Hangar’ dress. Delightful!

  11. Hello…I just found your pattern review in Deepika and really appreciate the information about lowering the bodice to the waist-line…I think that makes it look less like a maternity top..and of course I’d lengthen the peplum…and maybe a little on the ‘cape’ part?
    You did a lovely sewing job…the addition of the sequins was brilliant!….Lindi

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