Several years ago, when I was first getting into sewing clothing and before I knew anything about what I was doing, I picked up two 2 yard pieces of a mystery poly blend woven fabric. It’s been sitting in my closet ever since, keeping quiet about what it really wanted to be since I rarely sew with lightweight wovens.
As soon as the first round of the Pattern Review sewing bee was announced (see the rules here – we were challenged to make a fitted blouse in about a week), this fabric started screaming at me. It wanted to be a fitted blouse with ruffles and beadwork.
I used Lekala 5767, a fitted blouse with shaping through front and back princess seams as well as darts, 3/4 length set-in sleeves, button front closure, and a collar with collar stand.
Outside of the fit of the blouse, many of the details of the blouse were inspired by a RTW Alberto Makali blouse (see inspiration and original pattern in photo below).
The pattern had a collar and collar stand, which I used as drafted in the pattern. The collar is a bit oversized, which I liked for this particular blouse as it allows the collar to stand out amongst the ruffles. However, if I were making the blouse as originally drafted, I would probably reduce the collar a bit.
I added a 1 inch ruffle (made with a straight strip of fabric with one edge finished with a serged rolled hem, then gathered to about ¾ its original length). The ruffle runs from below the collar, down the right front, around the back, and only partway up the left front, then picking up again where the left front again becomes visible (thereby reducing bulk under the overlap between the two front pieces).
I also rounded the center fronts at the lower hem level so that the ruffles would settle smoothly into place.
As a trim/finishing detail, I added 22 individually stitched beads along the inner border of the ruffle running along the right front from the lowest snap up to the collar, and again on the left front where visible along the neckline and two at the corners of the collar.
The pattern called for buttons and buttonholes, but after adding my ruffle, I opted to instead use four sew-in snaps, which I carefully stitched into the reinforced hem/ruffle seam.
I lengthened the sleeves by 1 inch, and removed the slit, and left off the tie, instead finishing my sleeve with a simple turned hem so that the focus would remain on the above-mentioned details.
All internal seams were finished with serging in the same thread as the hem of the ruffle.
The pattern fit well as drafted – I’ve used Lekala patterns enough to have a fairly good idea of which measurements and adjustments will give me the closest to accurate fit for different types of garments (usually not my exact measurements). I did raise the armscye for a closer fit and slightly increased range of movement.
Lekala patterns aren’t known for their instructions. However, I’ve found that since I’m not relying on the instructions for each step (and the patterns have great bones), the patterns are often great jumping-off points for making projects your own.
I basically gave the instructions a quick read-through, sewed the bodice, then ignored the instructions for the remainder of the blouse, instead relying on several online tutorials and videos for instruction on how to sew the collar/collar stand, and reminders on things such as the supposedly proper way to press a dart.
Going into this project, I thought that my biggest challenge was going to be the collar as I’d never made a collar with a stand and collar piece before – I’d made each before, but not in combination with one another.
However, it turns out that my biggest challenge was actually the ruffle that I added – first I couldn’t gather it evenly, then when I was basting it to the blouse, I caught the ruffle up in the seam in at least 5 places and had to carefully remove the stitches and re-stitch. It was more a case of my thinking it should be easy and not giving it my full attention than anything else, so lesson learned – don’t get distracted and think about what to write in your review while still sewing the blouse.
I didn’t realize it until taking pictures, but my biggest issue with the finished blouse is that the fabric shows every wrinkle every time I so much as flinch. And the fabric doesn’t breathe. At all. But that should make it a great blouse for me for fall when everyone else is still wearing t-shirts and shorts and I’m freezing.