Silk and Cotton Artist’s Blouse
Oh, fall. It’s the season of brightly colored leaves, trundling yellow buses, and the return of jeans to my wardrobe. From May to September, nothing so heavy as denim touches my skin, but the falling autumnal temperatures make me long for cozy jeans and blouses. Not that ours have exactly fallen yet, but a girl can dream, right? I have yet to brave pants making, so this month I decided to make the perfect blouse for wearing with my RTW skinny jeans. A dress lover at heart, my most beloved casual blouses are loose, flowing and made from sumptuous fabrics.
Mood Fabrics, of course, has quite the selection of gorgeous blouse fabrics. After gawking at all the chiffons and crepes, I finally settled on something a little out of the ordinary for me: a steel blue silk-and-cotton blend poplin. Usually, I’m attracted to prints, but this classic gray blue is one of my all time favorite colors. After some rousing paint debates last summer, the professor and I actually painted our living areas a very similar Wedgwood blue. So, I’m a fan. Even better, this blue goes with practically anything, from neutrals to brights, and looks killer with dark indigo denim. With visions of a flowy, soft blouse in my head, I ordered three yards of it and pestered my mail carrier until it arrived.
Y’all, I actually squealed when opening this package. This fabric is so freaking pretty in real life–super soft, a crisp drape, and a very subtle sheen on both sides. In the sun, those silk fibers catch light like threads of spun silver. This effect doesn’t translate into photographs, unfortunately, but trust me. It’s happens and it’s gorgeous.
This fabric would work surprisingly well as a classic button down, thanks to the cotton’s strength, but I had other plans. While waiting, I’d started plotting a twist on the 1960’s artist smock. These garments always show up in classic television–pleated or gathered loose blouses, with wide sleeves and stand collars, inevitably worn with cigarette pants. Admittedly, they were often worn to camouflage a star’s pregnancy, but we’re going to ignore that. I love them, impending children or no. (No, in my case!)
Though I have a few classic smock patterns, I chose Butterick 5997 for this undertaking. It has a couple of cute views, but I fell overboard for View D, a loose pintucked blouse with a stand collar, cutout v-neck, and large sleeves. Everything was going really, really well until we got to those sleeves. This material took pintucks beautifully and was shockingly easy to work with. The cotton fibers made up for silk’s tendency to slip and slide, so pressing and stitching were a cinch. In keeping with the beauty of this fabric, I did a hand rolled hem and finished everything with French seams.
Then, I attached a sleeve. A giant, billowing sleeve. A sleeve that would not look out of place in, say, a Pirates of Penzance revival. If ever I needed a blouse for swashbuckling, this pattern fit the bill! Sadly, that’s not what I was looking for here. Loose, flowing sleeves are one thing; sleeves designed to pillage the neighborhood for rum and seam rippers, entirely another. Those sleeves had to come off. So, I took them off, unpicked all of that stitching, and cut them down by six inches each. Then, I chopped their length by another three inches. Voila! Reasonably sized sleeves! Those too were finished with a rolled hem, because silk unravels even in a blend.
It was a simple project, but I love this blouse. It feels heavenly against my skin and dresses up jeans so well. It’s tempting to wear a t-shirt on weekends, but when a blouse looks this good and feels even better, there’s no need! Now, if only our weather would get the hint and drop another twenty degrees. I’m dying to pair this outfit with my favorite boots. Autumn, hurry up!