Drafting a Fitted Blouse

Sewing Pattern Review is having its Sewing Bee contest again.  Round one is a fitted blouse. I’m not entering as I can’t comply with taking the photos on the model, but I’m ‘sewing along’.

The fabric is a printed man-made chiffon type in a garish print which has been sitting around for a few years since the project it was bought for went off the boil.  It’s bright enough, some would say loud enough, to pick me up from the doldrums. You can’t sew stuff this bright and mope.

printed chiffon

printed chiffon

My most used blocks are drafted to Aldrich measurement chart. The sizes aren’t the same as most current rtw sizing. A 12 is an 88cm or roughly 34″ bust. The drafts follow the received wisdom that hip measurements are 2″ or 5cms larger than bust measurements, and that height increases with width.  The front bodice is drafted a little wider, but not much wider, than the back (6cms on a size 12). There’s 10cms of ease in the bust and 5cms in the hips.

I have these standard blocks in sizes 8 to 30, but also with 3 additional cup sizes per size. These latter are based on the Aldrich blocks. This is a good basis for most people. Height adjustments are quick to make, adding hip width is easier than cup size difference, shoulder slope is a relatively simple change. Widening the top arm when it’s accompanied by a couple of other changes that affect the armhole takes a bit longer, but is do-able.

In the more common sizes, I also have the front bodice block in sections, divided up along the lines of the most common bust dart positions. This saves time for lots of styles.

This time I’m using a block for one daughter, adapted from the second cup size in an otherwise standard block – the only other adjustment needed is a bit more waist supression than ‘normal’. I’m not changing the amount of ease, the fabric is woven, and the look is going to be fitted, but not tight. 10cms ease at bust level can sound like a lot, but try breathing in and leaning forwards while taking the measurement. 10cms is about the right amount for size ranges in the 12 to 18 group. Larger sizes can need more.

Fit wise this won’t need a toile. There are some decisions made in drafting for an individual which are more art than science. An example is planning waist supression. Some figures shape a lot along the side seam, whereas others will need this to be straighter, with darts taking up most of the excess. The darts don’t have to be stitched as drawn – this time the top of the waist dart, over the rib cage, will get a slightly boat shape, pulling away more of the fabric above the waist. The art bit is visualising the 3D form and translating it into slight but important changes on the pattern.

I anticipate that I might be playing around with the design details of collar and cuffs, and if I didn’t have plenty of yardage I’d be doing at least a partial toile for these.

My working pattern is done. The seams have been walked and the balance marks checked. Its a net pattern, no seam allowances.

working pattern - bodice sections

working pattern – bodice sections

There’s two waist darts in each front ( this gives a better distribution of shaping for curvy figures.) The bust dart is deeper than in the standard 12. There’s a 2cm button stand and a grown on facing on the centre front. The neckline is wide at the shoulders, and dips to about 12cms above bust point.

The back half pattern has a single waist dart. The set in sleeve is fitted to the wrist, to make it easier to wear with a jacket. An elbow to wrist dart gives the shaping. The wrist end of this will be slit and hemmed as an opening. There’s a deep cuff to be worn low and open over the hand, slightly bell shaped, which will fasten with a single rouleau loop and button. The collar has a pseudo rever cut into the outer edge at the front. I’m heading for a 70s vibe with the print, collar and cuffs.



About jay

I design and draft patterns
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3 Responses to Drafting a Fitted Blouse

  1. fabrickated says:

    This sounds really exciting. I am looking forward to the next installment already Jay.


  2. jay says:

    It just dawned on me that we are both working in chiffon Kate. Yours is going to be more restrained I think!


  3. seweverythingblog says:

    I’m so pleasantly intrigued that you are making a fitted blouse in a chiffon! Can hardly wait to see the finished blouse.
    By the way, I love some of the terms you are using here e.g. “a grown on facing”. 🙂 Love it.


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