A new summer staple blouse

Do you ever have one of those sewing projects where the entire time, you’re thinking that the thing doesn’t really seem to want to be made? That was this blouse for me.

I started with an easy enough premise: I wanted a nice summery blouse, one in black and one in white. Good wardrobe staples that I didn’t have. Well white did not work out, but black sure did! The pattern I used is from the 1950s, Butterick 6965. (Isn’t the envelope artwork great? One of my favorite things about vintage patterns.)

It was a long struggle. A looong struggle. Over two weeks of muslins and two failed versions that were supposed to be the real versions, including the aforementioned white one. By the time I sewed up this version, I’d sewn this blouse in parts or entirety seven times. SEVEN.

So what was all the trouble? In the end, the only adjustments I made were kind of minor, but I had to try a lot of things along the way. As you can see it’s a really steep armhole shape, basically a halter neck that has a full back.

And that’s awesome, because it doesn’t give you neck fatigue like halter straps, and you can wear a racer back bra (or use a little plastic thing to convert your straps, like I do). I had a really difficult time getting that armhole to look right though! First the back armhole gaped, then other changes made the front armhole gape, and then they both gaped, and finally neither of them gape. Huzzah!

The fitting struggles, phew. Was it too big under the arms but too tight over the hips? Did it need a full bust adjustment? Were the bust darts too high or too low? It seemed like fussing with the adjustments was endless, but really just boiled down to three needed, not including raising the waistline up and lowering the bust darts, which I always have to do. Those are just a given. The three adjustments were: adding a bit of width from waist through hips, taking a 3/4″ wedge off the back bodice from the armhole and tapering to nothing about 4″ down, taking a 3/8″ wedge off the top of the back shoulder, taping to nothing at the neckline. That’s it. What didn’t work? Full bust adjustments, taking in both the front and the back at the sides, rotating out gaping armhole issues, and probably other things I’ve conveniently blocked from memory in all this fitting saga.

In hindsight I can now reflect on how it was a fascinating reminder that one thing changes everything, and getting fit right can either be easy or maddening. This was a case of maddening. I even threw the towel in twice! But I just kept coming back to it, because I loved that pattern so much… I reeeally wanted a blouse from it!

Once I finally had a muslin I was happy with, I sewed a gingham version first just to make sure everything was spot on, and then made one final tweak to the front bodice piece to raise the bust dart a hair after that version. I’d lowered it too much compared to where the high point of my bust was once the racer back style bra straps hiked everything up a bit.

Fiiiiiinally, it was onto my black fabric! It’s a lovely Italian black cotton Swiss dot. Because it ended up being a bit sheer, I had to underline it, with some random black lawn I had in my stash. It changed the hand of course, but both fabrics were thin enough that it’s still plenty comfortable as a summer shirt! And it’s nice and opaque and looks great. I definitely could dress it up or down, which I like. Versatility!

I am over the moon about this blouse. It looks simple, but not only does the fit and style make me super happy, knowing I conquered a project that was dogging me for weeks feels pretty fantastic, too!

Now, I’m off to sew about a dozen more before summer is gone for another year!







  • carolyn Roemer
    August 25, 2017

    I’ve been with so often.

  • Teri
    August 25, 2017

    Well from here the struggle was worth it. Great job, great fit. Love the style, may just have to look into something similar for next year!