The front bodice section has a deeper than average underarm dart because the cup size is increased. Similarly there are four waist darts in the front to grab the fullness under the bust line, rather than increasing shaping in the side seam. There’s a grown on facing beyond the 2cm button stand. The neckline is wide, going from mid shoulder and scooped out to about 12 cms above the bust line. The bodice extends to about 20 cms below the waistline.
The back bodice has two waist darts. The collar is designed with a mock rever . The sleeves are shaped in at the cuff so that the blouse can go under a jacket easily. The elbow dart in the sleeve is part stitched, the lower 7 cms form a slit. There’s a deep cuff designed to hang down over the top part of the hand. It could also be worn turned back.
- Unusually for me I stay stitched the neckline, going so far as to pin the front pattern to each half when stitching to be sure that it was holding the line and not stretching. My fabric is chiffon, fabric in the ‘take extra care’ camp. Also in the prep stage, the collar, cuffs and button stand facing got some lightweight fusible interfacing, and I sampled french seams, checking that the needle and thread were ok. My sample showed that the fabric wouldn’t fray too much for narrow french seams. If the fabric does fray excessively, you can try running a zigzag after the first stitch line, using a narrow double needle for the first pass or pinking the seam allowances.
- Darts next. The bust dart is designed to be pressed upward. This is to give the best line in wear. The waist darts are pressed inward for the same reason. Actually, each dart gets four presses – first one along its length to give the fold a sharp edge, second one in the opposite direction to its final position, third to its final position, and fourth from the right side of the garment to make sure there are no folds, bumps or pokes. End stitching of the darts is secured with a very small stitch. This is less lumpy than a backstitch and quicker than threading the ends into a hand needle and running them back along the fold.
- Shoulder seams.
- Frustratingly the collar is the longest process. Making your own pattern you’re never quite sure if it’s going to resemble the idea in your head. Will there be enough, but not too much roll? Will the points sit where I intend? Is it wide enough? and so on ….
- I chose to set the collar on with a self fabric bias binding. The collar is made up, seam allowances trimmed and snipped then turned RS out. Turning is much easier in floppy fabrics if you force yourself to press the outside edge turnings open with the toe of the iron. Very tedious, but it pays off. The collar is set onto the neckline and the grown on front facings neatened on the raw edge and turned back over it.
Then the bias strip is set on, easing the edge on the stitching line so that the outer edge will lay flat on the longer curve of the garment.
The seam allowances are trimmed and snipped and the raw edge of the binding turned under. This can then be slip stitched or machined in place. Lady luck smiled – I’m happy with how the collar turned out. I really wasn’t looking forward to redoing it.
- Sleeves. The top part of the elbow dart is stitched, then the bottom 7 cms split, trimmed back to 1cm and hemmed, the scruffy top edge on the inside getting a small zigzag stitch to neaten it.
To do french seams with a set in sleeve in a blouse made in a fine fabric you can work with the side seam sewn the classic way, or work flat which is slightly easier. The sleeve head shouldn’t have more than 2-3 cms of ease (be sure your pattern fits it will be a Royal Pain to unpick!) . You need to finish with a narrow seam, to avoid puckering. Run a gathering thread between the back balance mark and the front balance mark along the fitting line then run another 4-5mm away from it into the seam allowance. With wrong sides together, pin and, if you prefer, tack the sleeve in on the final fitting line, easing in any fullness.
Then draw the second gathering thread in just enough to match the sleeve head curve to the armhole curve and stitch on this line. Use a fairly small stitch. Trim the seam allowance back to within 3-5mm of the stitching. Snip in to the concave curve (underarm) and make V shaped snips into the seam allowance around the sleeve head.
If you tacked on the fitting line, rip this out. Press the turnings towards the garment and then fold the sleeve RS to RS of garment and press along the fold. The sleeve fitting line has already been eased to match the armhole in the first stage, but recheck that its all going to go in smoothly, then run the second line of stitching enclosing the turnings.
- Side seam and sleeve seam, french seamed .
- Make two small rouleau loops to fasten the cuff, make the cuff inserting each loop at the top of the narrow edge of the cuff, attach the cuff stitching the outer piece to the sleeve and slip stitching the inside to enclose the turnings.
- Hem – I machined this with a double fold.
- I made covered buttons, not having anything suitable in stash. There’s a covered snap fastening for the below the waistline area. This is to avoid lumpy buttons spoiling the line if the blouse is tucked in to a fitted skirt.
The dress form is a size smaller but you get the general idea I hope!
Blouse is cut to a larger cup size, its a little baggier on the stand than it will be on the ‘client’.
( apologies for the quality of my pictures. My sewing room gets a blast of sunlight which creates deep shadows in the morning, and has very bad artificial lighting. I haven’t solved these lighting problems, as you see!)