Button & Snap

Versatile silk blouse from V1350 dress pattern

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It seems like whenever I tell someone I sew, they ask if I made the clothes I have on – does anyone else run into this as well?

Of course, I always wish I could answer yes. Lately, I think about this question whenever I get dressed in the morning  – and try to always wear something me-made.

This has made me aware that I am in desperate need of simple, versatile basics. So when I dug up this bargain-price geometric print at a warehouse sale, my fantasies fired up about the blouse that I can make from this:

something sophisticated, but still comfortable,

colorful yet tastefully subdued,

easy to mix-and-match,

…even before my morning coffee,

…or before my brain has turned on for the day.

I mean, it’s got all the colors, so it’ll go with anything! It’s perfect!

But how to wash it?

Well, except tor the minor “drawback” that the fabric is 100% silk. So, I’m not sure how I’m going to clean the thing… I don’t want to have to dry-clean. I’m reeeeallly hoping I can hand wash it.

And I’m going on hope here –  because I for some reason didn’t even think of prewashing the fabric! Ugh. Now I’ve put so much effort into sewing this top – I don’t want to ruin it!

So this has got me wondering: maybe I can just wear the blouse without washing it.  At least I’ll look like a french model, even if I smell like a french cheese.  Gentlemen won’t just open doors for me, they’ll open all the windows for me too. Behind my back, folks will call me “the damsel in fine silk who smells like a musk ox.”

I guess becoming the queen of grime is not the way to go, so I’ll just have to take a chance with cleaning it. If things go south and the colors run, or the fabric develops water spots or  – I don’t know – the blouse just shrivels up, at least I’ve already taken photos for social media!

Now, a little more about this blouse:

I adapted a dress pattern for the project. Vogue pattern V1350 looks deceptively run-of-the-mill on the pattern cover, but the line-drawing on the back of the pattern tells a different story. It has a front yoke  with cut on sleeves, separate side panels on the bodice, and a wrap-around side seam on the skirt. Someday, I’d love to make a dress out of two contrasting fabrics to highlight these details.

Turning a dress pattern into a blouse

For this top, I didn’t use the skirt pieces. Instead, I altered the bodice pattern by lengthening it by 6-1/2″. From the waist to the hem, I angled out to accommodate my hips, using the width of the skirt pieces as a rough guide.

Even so, the hips still ended up too tight for my taste, so I left the bottom 4″ open and curved the hem to make rounded slits. that gave me a little extra room.

Also, I wanted my shirt to be less fitted than the dress. The fix here was simple: although there are two darts on the front pattern piece, I only sewed one dart – the dart closer to the CF.

In the back, I raised the neckline by 1-1/2″ at the CB, as blouses aren’t usually cut as low as a dress can be. If you’re raising the CB seam, note that the seam should be straight and continue parallel to the CB seam below it – and that this seam is usually not a perfectly vertical line. It’s set at a slight angle to accommodate the width of your upper back and shoulder blades.

Playing with stripes for effect

I chose to ignore the grain line on the front yoke and set the stripe parallel – more or less – to the front neckline. To get the same effect in the back, I split the CB pattern pieces horizontally to make a back yoke.

When I was cutting out the pattern, I placed the bodice pieces so that the top of the red stripe is along the yoke seam. If you put the edge of a stripe along a straight seam, it is crucial that you sew perfectly along the stripe line. Any wavering outside of your stripe is very visible because the contrasting color of the next stripe color will pop out like a red flag!

However, if you choose this stripe placement , the key to accuracy is: always pin your pattern pieces so you can see stripe when you sew. In other words sew with the pattern piece that has the stripe on it up.

Use the edge of the stripe as your guide when you sew… and only the edge of the stripe! If you’ve marked a different seam line, or seam allowance is off, ignore it! Follow the stripe!

Rule-of-thumb for stripes

Indeed, as a general rule, place seam lines – and hem lines – that are parallel to a stripe in the CENTER of a stripe, not the edge.

I followed this rule at the hem line. Look closely and you’ll notice the blue area above the hem is narrower at the CF. However, it’s barely noticeable. It would be a different story if the CF hem was on the edge of the red stripe and then curved down into the blue stripe.

Finishing touches

I made bias tape from fabric scraps and used it to finish the hem, the sleeves and the neckline. It’s a nice clean finish, and works well on extreme curves like I have at the hem.

The front and back yoke seams are topstitched to emphasize them. I left the underarm seam – no need to emphasize my armpit.

I finished the top with classic pearlescent buttons.  The buttonholes – unlike the rest of the topstitching –  are sewn in dark blue. They’re supposed to  blend in with the fabric. At the top of the closure, a small snap the corner from flapping.

I like this blouse so much, I’ve already started a second in a printed black viscose – another versatile piece I hope to wear a lot.

Do you have any clothing you’ve made and love because they’re especially versatile and can be worn with anything? What are they like? And have you ever suffered serious mishaps because you forgot to pre-wash a fabric? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

  • flori

    I *just* (like, literally finished them an hour ago) made a pair of pj shorts out of a lovely dry clean only fabric from a dress I bought at the thrift store. I did wash the fabric on delicate before I made the shorts, so hopefully they’ll stand up to a few more washes. At any rate, they’re pajamas, so it hardly matters if they start to look ratty… 🙂

  • Margaret

    Wow! I love the stripes and the pretty neckline!

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