white fitted blouse with princess seams and long sleeves

White Fitted Blouse AKA The First Blouse That Really Fit Me

When I first learned to sew, I didn’t have any sewing patterns. Instead I drafted pattern blocks for my measurements using an instruction booklet that I’d picked up somewhere. The instructions were sparse, and the pattern pieces never fit me well at all. After the initial test I would adjust and adjust and end up with pattern block after pattern block with little changes that I thought would bring me closer to a perfect fit. I even dedicated an entire page in my notebook to notes and sketches indicating the changes I made to the pattern as “Modifications Towards the Perfect Fitted Blouse.” I wasted many hours and a lot of paper and cloth making more pattern tests that still didn’t fit me, and I ended up very frustrated and no closer to that perfect fitted blouse.

One important factor that I wasn’t considering at first was ease. My first blouse drafts didn’t have any ease, and that was another big reason that they didn’t fit. I ended up with incredibly tight blouses that I thought should fit, but they were popping buttons and pulling at the seams. I loosened various seams in different places, but nothing really made much of a difference. After learning about ease, I incorporated it into my next drafts, including the “Perfect Fitted Blouse Modifications.” However, the inclusion of ease didn’t affect my success, and I still got badly-fitting blouses.

This is the first blouse I ever made. Not too bad, but not really good. The shoulders are too tight and the sleeve cap is not in the right place, the princess seams don’t go over the bust where I wanted them to, and the bust is too tight so the button at that level keeps coming undone. Also the collar is too loose and the waist is not as fitted as I would have liked. On an unrelated note, in this picture I am making homemade marshmallow creme! 😀
Somehow I thought this fit me, because I went to so much trouble to measure and mark and adjust and tweak and loosen and tighten. Even as I was making this I didn’t see all the signs that it wouldn’t work. By this time I thought I knew what I was doing, up until the blouse was finished and I couldn’t wear it without multiple buttons coming undone anytime I moved. I ended up giving this to my sister because I couldn’t wear it.

Perhaps one problem with all the modifications and adjustments was that I really wasn’t sure how it was supposed to fit. I could only figure when I had a blouse that fit me, but I couldn’t tell if a specific area was wrong or what or how it needed to be changed. Since I never took any courses on pattern drafting or modification, I had no idea what to do. All I got out of that was the knowledge that I didn’t like drafting patterns or modifying clothes.

Finally, I got really tired of the whole thing and I ordered some patterns from Simplicity. (I don’t know why I didn’t do that before.) However, I haven’t been able to actually make anything with them. Since I have several people of different sizes that I might make things for, I don’t want to cut up the patterns without saving myself a copy first, and scanning large thin-paper patterns is rather time-consuming. Someday soon I will get around to it, though, and I am looking forward to trying them out, as I picked out some really nice dresses.

In the meantime, I browsed a lot online looking for free blouse patterns. One day I happened to come across a site called PatternLab. It was a pattern-drafting software site that I think was new when I found it. It only had one available block at the time, which was exactly what I was looking for: a top. The options were bodice and torso, one ending at the waist to attach to a skirt, and the other one extending to the hip for blouses. And the best part of this was that it drafted the block according to measurements I put in. No more hand drafting for me!

I was beyond excited to find it. Finally I might have something that fit me! I carefully took all the measurements that were required. Then I customized the block, choosing from the seam and shaping options available. I chose waist shaping, a back closure for a zipper, no front closure, and princess seams front and back. I chose a standard fit with automatically calculated ease. This fitted blouse pattern also came with a standard sleeve block. I then printed out the pattern that it drafted. I also did the same for my sisters to have fitted blouse patterns for them too.

The blocks were free to download then, but this was three years ago. The same thing I downloaded then now costs £7.99. They also have made some changes to the required measurements, and they have a few skirts and leggings available now.

I made this blouse out of a white fabric that I think is crepe. It is translucent, so I lined the main part with white lycra. I liked the effect of the translucent sleeves, so I didn’t line them. I sewed each outer piece and lining piece together before sewing the blouse so that I could make sure the seams lined up.

The standard neckline was round. I added a Peter Pan collar and made a keyhole neckline. I didn’t interface the facing for the neckline, which I think I should have. The lycra is very flimsy and is prone to rolling, and it often ends up sticking out of the collar instead of lying flat on the inside.

Now on to the finished blouse.

white fitted blouse with princess seams and long sleeves

This blouse fits me! Yay! The princess seams lie smoothly where they should and the shoulders are on my shoulders. I don’t feel as if any seams are about to rip apart. There is no uncomfortable tugging at the shoulders or the bust, and there are no weird shapes or curves of the seams that I often got when I tried to adjust the bust of my self-drafted patterns.

The sleeve that came with it was a straight sleeve with no reduction towards the wrist. In other words, it is as wide at the bottom edge as at the top part around the bicep. It made for a nice loose sleeve, and I sewed some thin elastic around the wrist to gather it.

side front view of white fitted blouse with princess seams and long sleeves
back view of fitted blouse with invisible zipper

I put an invisible zipper in the back for a nice finish, but I was in a hurry to finish it and didn’t baste the zipper first. As a result, a lot of the zipper tape is visible and it doesn’t look as nice. Take this opportunity to learn from my mistake: always take the time to baste the invisible zipper first. Don’t be lazy or try to rush through it like I did. The final result will not be worth the few minutes saved when sewing.

closeup of peter pan collar with button

I attached a button at one side under the collar and a loop of elastic thread at the other side for a closure for the keyhole neckline, but the elastic thread snapped not long after I started wearing it. Now I just wear it like this and the button no longer serves any purpose.

side view of fitted blouse with long sleeves

Sometimes I see a bit of wrinkling at the side seams and the bust. I’m not sure if that’s part of the fit or just because of the position of my arms. Also, as seen in the picture above, the curve from the waist to the hip comes out a bit too much and looks a little strange. That’s something that I’m going to adjust for the next blouse I make with this pattern.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this pattern, and I was so happy to finally make a blouse that fit me and didn’t require enormous adjustments at the bust and shoulders. Next I think I will make one that has a front button closure. Hopefully, it will fit just as well and won’t pop any buttons.

I love this fitted blouse, and I wear it often. In my future posts I’ll be showing how I combine it with other pieces of clothing and have created some favorite sets.


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  4. […] I mentioned before in a previous post, when I first learned to sew, I started out drafting ill-fitting patterns. One day while searching […]

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