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!