Sewing for a Belly: Dark Secrets Blouse

Mad Mim Maternity: Dark Secret Blouse from Twinkle Sews

Twinkle Sews by Wenlen Chia

The Dark Secret Blouse is the first of many from Twinkle Sews by Wenlen Chia. I have a lot of great things to say about this book; I also have a lot of really scathing things to say about it–love/hate relationship, for sure.  The designs are fabulous–many of which you wouldn’t be surprised to see hanging in your favorite boutique.  They have small details that really make them special and something that you would treasure in  your closet. And THAT is why you’re willing to go through the fiery pattern-cutting furnace of death to make them. These patterns are completely frustrating to cut out. The book comes with a CD with all the patterns that print out onto 8.5X11 pages (like Burdastyle).  That’s annoying of course, but I understand that with 25 different patterns, it wouldn’t have been practical to include all of them on tissue paper. But here’s where the aggravation begins: the patterns comes in only 5 sizes–0, 4, 8, 12, and 16.  Why that’s perfect, right?! For HALF of us. So if you happen to fall between those sizes, then grab a punching bag, my friend.  Now Mim, you say, we’ve all altered pattern sizes and fit before, so that’s annoying but no biggy, right? Righto! But here’s my main and massive miff: the patterns aren’t arranged on the fold!! So all the symmetrical pieces (which are a good portion of them), are flat, unnecessarily taking twice the space the need to.  On top of that pile of illogical pattern arrangement, is the fact that it also includes the full lining pieces (which are also NOT on the fold). The lining pieces are IDENTICAL to the main self front and back pieces, except they are like 1/2 inch longer. HELLOO!!!!! Why not just have a line that says “cut here for lining” on the main pieces?!  So this adds up to an astronomical amount of printer paper and ink that you’ll use. For one blouse, the pattern required anywhere from 50-75 PAGES–one blogger I found wrote “one shirt=one tree.”  I spent ALL last week just taping together pages, cutting them out, and then retracing them onto tissue paper cause I can’t stand to sew with the unwieldiness off printer paper, and I would NOT have the space to store them afterwards due to the unbelievable bulkiness.  I estimate that had she designed the patterns on the fold, and just indicated the lining differences on the self-patterns then it would have been taken 1/4 of the paper and time. It all just made me want to start swearing.

Once you start actually sewing the directions are perfectly fine if you already know how to sew. This book is NOT for beginners. There are no illustrations for each step, so you have to just know how to do it or figure it out.

Now after a rant like that, I feel kinda bad. I really love love love the designs here, and can’t wait for them to be in my closet. None of them are maternity perse, but they are all completely maternity-friendly. The sizing-chart is counterintuitive, as she suggests adding up to 5 inches for ease to your measurements, and then selecting your size based on the chart. DON’T. Just go by your measurements alone, adding no ease, and the pattern will still be large. I went by my measurements alone, and the blouse is ample enough for my growing belly. My sister made a top based on her measurements with no ease addition, and she still took it in an inch on both sides, and she’s 6 months pregnant. Many of the blouses are slouchy-style, and with those styles I would even suggest going down a size from your measurements (although it is always easier to go down than up).

So final word: if you’re a seasoned sewist, this book is great if you have plenty of printer paper, ink, and time.

(sorry for the crummy picture quality–it was so COLD outside today!)
Mad Mim maternity sewing: dark secret blouse

Mad Mim Maternity: Dark Secret Blouse from Twinkle Sews

Mad Mim Maternity: Dark Secret Blouse from Twinkle Sews

For whatever reason, my husband doesn’t love this shirt–oh well.  I really like the way it turned out, and love it with a belt.  I love the balloon sleeve (which I actually halfed the length on because my fabric is much stiffer and with less drape than Chia intended, and so the balloon was like an air balloon at first).  I also love the yoke detail, which was more simple than it looks.

Dark Secret blouse - Twinkle SewsFabric: a cotton/polyester blend from Walmart $5 bolts.

Size: 12

Pattern: Wenlen Chia’s “Dark Secret Blouse” from Twinkle Sews

Alterations: I halfed the balloon length, and added about 6 inches to the length.


Biggest Fan

Wowsers! Those caveats sound INSURMOUNTABLE to moi, but the patterns ARE cute, for sure. I love the yoke thing going on, I’ve never seen anything like it. Those are patterns are not what you’d expect to be able to sew at home. Extraordinare!


yeah i have that book and i have yet to make anything from it because of the printing issues you mention. it does have so many cute designs though.


Ahhhh! Your shirt looks soooo good! I have a pile of 60+ pages waiting to be taped together. The book is so cute and so tempting!! But I quit before I even started! So kudos! I love handmade beginnings too! I recommend the sleep sack, I didn’t quilt mine though. So it was so easy and my 4 month old girl loves hers!


Found you via PR where I forgot to mention how CUTE your top is!

I’m running into a lot of the same frustrations with printing, too. I also had to retrace on tissue. It’s time-consuming when you’d rather be sewing. But that’s what we have to do for great design…at least for now. Hopefully the publisher will include patterns in the next volume. (which I secretly hope is coming.)

Adding you to my blogroll!


I agree! The designs in the book for me out weigh the enormous headache that the patterns present. Even though I have so many miffs with the patterns themselves, I’m willing to wade through it all because I really love the designs! and ps thanks for subscribing!


i love your blog! Im so glad you posted things like this. im a beginner when it comes to making clothes and im scoping out the best books. I arrived here after looking at your fab tshirt in the recent post. You are getting big! good luck with the rest of the pregnancy xo


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