Thank you all for your comments and suggestions which helped me rescue this blouse.

I’ve not made a blouse before, actually that’s not true I did make one when I first started sewing, using the Sorbetto pattern from Colette, but I don’t like it that much so I never wear it.  I have a bit of a blind spot where blouses are concerned, before I started sewing I thought that blouses would be one of the things I would make because I never seemed to find the perfect one in the shops.  In fact now I am sewing I can rarely find patterns that match up to my requirements.  If I knew what sort of blouse I would like then I would probably make more, instead I have a list of criteria which I can’t think into a coherent garment (sleeves, flattering neckline that looks good under jackets, comfortable, easy to wash and iron, a waistline that can be tucked in).  It shouldn’t be that difficult but for some reason it is.

I went through my work wardrobe the other day and decided I really needed to rejuvenate it. My blouses and tops in particular are in a terrible state.  I thought if I could find one simple pattern I could churn out several tops quite quickly using fabric I in my stash. Of course it didn’t quite work out like that, for a start Fabric Godmother had this gorgeous silk in her shop and I couldn’t resist buying a metre.  I should have thought it through better, a metre is not going to make a blouse with sleeves!

I’ve had Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing for a while but not made anything from it.  The portrait blouse looked to be simple, had a good neckline for wearing under jackets and only took 1 yard of fabric.

As my fabric is so special I started by making a toile and quite quickly realised that this blouse wouldn’t work for me.  For a start is has a zip which runs down the side and when I tried to tuck it into a skirt I found the zip was uncomfortable and created a bulge.  Secondly it has pleats which give it shape, these do make it look nice if you wear it untucked but they just look odd tucked in. Lastly it’s very short.

Adjusting the top, I eliminated the pleats so it can blouse out over a skirt which I think is more flattering.  Without the pleats I can pull it over my head so the zip went too.  I then added a bit to the back as I have a broad back and about 5cm to the length (I should have added more). The finished product is nothing like the original except it does retain the bust darts and flattering neckline.

I made French seams at the sides and shoulders and used my rolled hem foot for the bottom.  This didn’t give it the neatest of finishes, I think the foot  works better on a less slippery cloth.  Then I had the disaster with the neckline which I fixed by recutting and adding a facing.  I did think of trying bias binding again but I think part of the problem I had originally is that the silk is so difficult to iron and so slippery applying the bias strips was very tricky.  The arm holes were hand-rolled which gave a much neater finish than I had managed to get on the hem.

I feel surprisingly happy with the result (I had thought it would be a write off).  I still prefer blouses with sleeves but I might consider making another one of these next time I see that perfect bit of silk.


It has been a very painful project and not the quick and easy one I had hoped for.  My search for the perfect blouse pattern is still ongoing and I still have the fabric for it in my stash!

Incidentally these photos were taken very quickly before work on the morning of June 10 – my birthday.   This year I turned 50 and really have no idea how that happened!


14 thoughts on “Pelicans

  1. Belated Happy Birthday Jane – how nice to wear something new which you created on your special day (my birthday was on 13th – and spent in Spain- where I am currently holidaying) however back to the blouse. Glad you managed to retrieve it by recutting and facing , which I suggested would be best, thereby cutting off the “stretched”bit. Re your hemline, I have never got to grips with a rolled hemmed on any of my machines, Pfaff and Janome. I fint that to do a narrow hem, first turn over a small hem and stitch, then turn the hem over again and stitch, a perfect finished hemline. Have a go on scraps and see what you think.

  2. What a great rescue for this blouse. The neckline looks flattering and neat and tidy. I never find a blouse pattern straight out of the envelope that I am 100% happy with. There is always something that I need to do to make it something that I like enough to wear. And a very happy belated birthday to you. I hope you celebrated heartily!

  3. I’m not going to wish you a belated Happy Birthday, because I suspect that you are mistaken, and have some how counted more birthdays than you were entittled to! (this from someone only a few months behind you) I suggest that you withdraw this birthday immediately and don’t have any more for at least, say eight or nine years.
    On the subject of the blouse, some fabrics are worth persevering with, and this is one of them. You got there in the end with a lovely top that showcases an adorable fabric – keep hunting for the perfect shirt – and let us know when you find it!

  4. very nice blouse – the pelican fabric is fantastic!
    I found you from Google maps – sewintists! you are not the only one in East Anglia! I am just up the road in Great Yarmouth 🙂

  5. Hi Jane, I was wondering if you would like the Style Arc patsy blouse. I have just seen the latest review on Pattern Review and it made me think of you and your quest!!

  6. Hi Jane, Just found your blog when looking for comments on Gertie’s book. The rescued blouse looks really great – so it might have been ‘painful’ but not a disaster! Congratulations on the big 5-0h. I have three years on you and have just rediscovered the joys of sewing after 28 years (I made lots of clothes in my teens and 20s when I couldn’t afford to buy them!) so it is nice to find someone at a similar stage. I am loving all these sewing blogs that are around now and have found lots of encouragement and inspiration – but it was a treat to find one not written by a young fashionista for a change! I am currently living in Japan (back in UK from next spring) and have found some great simple pattern books here. I’ll keep in mind your blouse wish list… Best wishes, Anne

  7. Pingback: 2013 Successes and Failures | Jane's Sew & Tell

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