Sewing A Ruffle Blouse
This week I'm sharing my most recent make - a blouse with ruffles. I spotted the pattern a while ago and decided it would be a fun project. It was a great way to dip my toe in the ruffle trend whilst creating a truly wearable garment. It was also the perfect pattern for this delightful cotton lawn. As always I'll share the fitting adjustments I made and thoughts on the instructions and techniques.
For a long time I avoided making fitted woven blouses. I knew I had a high round back and forward thrust shoulders, but didn't know what to do about it. Then I decided to learn! I wrote an article all about it last week on the blog which you can read here. The succinct version for this article is that I made a toile and made the relevant fitting adjustments to resolve these issues.
I also decided to make the blouse more fitted. I've put a lot of thought into my projects for this season so I can mix and match my handmade garments. I planned to wear this blouse with my denim skirt and wanted to tuck it in, but there was too much excess fabric spilling over the waistband.
I originally cut a size 14, sewed a size 12 and was planning to try sewing a 10. Until I spoke to Angela. She suggested adding back darts and shaping the side seams in at the waist slightly. I am so lucky to have her! She pinned the toile whilst I was wearing it so I could go home and transfer the markings onto the pattern pieces.
It was easy to sew the curved side seams, but I had to fiddle around with the back darts a bit. On my first attempt the curve of the stitching line was way too exaggerated. This meant the fabric was sitting in a really weird shape. I unpicked them and sewed a straighter line, however, the darts still looked a bit weird for some reason. I lengthened them both by about an inch and was eventually happy.
I've untucked the blouse in these images so you can see the slightly more fitted silhouette.
With nine pattern pieces and a lot of detail I thought the construction of this blouse might be tricky. Actually it was super easy. The ruffles are cut on the bias and ruffle beautifully without any special techniques or jiggery pokery. The sleeve yokes came together very easily with the arm ruffles. You create the ruffle, attach it to the sleeve then sew the sleeve yoke on top. It was super easy to sew the ruffle to the front bodice too.
In hindsight I wish I had lengthened the sleeves ever so slightly. I pretty much always have to do this thanks to my weird, long arms. Usually I try the pattern piece against my arm to test it. I didn't bother with this pattern because I was being impatient. I just wanted to get on with the sewing rather than pinning sleeve yokes and sleeve pattern pieces together. As a naturally very impatient person I have come such a long way in taking my time to get it right through my sewing rather than rushing. I was a bit annoyed at myself over this, but it isn't the end of the world.
The fact that each sleeve is made from four pattern pieces (five if you count the cuff binding) meant they were a little time consuming to construct, but it was fun seeing how they came together.
The neck and cuffs are bias bound. The funny thing is I'm actually more confident and well practised in sewing stretch neckbands than woven so I think I may have pulled the bias binding a little too tight at the neckline. After a press I think it looks ok and I definitely wouldn't describe it as a tricky technique.
The only technique I found mildly challenging was easing the sleeves in. Again I'm much more confident at sewing stretch fabrics. In fact I think I've only sewn woven sleeves three times before and they were all a long time ago. I ended up with a few tucks in the first one and had to unpick and fiddle around to get them out and the second one flew in no problem. Unfortunately there are a couple of slightly bumpy areas where I probably don't have the fabric distributed correctly due to this. It is still totally wearable though and just another technique for me to focus on practising more.
There is normally always something in the instructions that has me scratching my head, but these were plain sailing.
Aside from the fitting alterations I also adapted the design of the sleeves. I removed the ruffles running along the sleeves lengthways. I just felt too frilly. Plus you could only see the frills when I lifted my arms up and then I just felt like one of those frill necked lizzards! I'm really glad I removed the frills because I really love the blouse and feel totally comfortable in it now. I think the simple clean lines of the denim skirt and ankle boots balance out the ruffly femininity perfectly.
I used our self cover buttons for the fastening, which were surprisingly easy to do and look really pretty. As a result of making the blouse more fitted I had to lengthen the opening slightly to make it easier to get on and off. This meant it gaped slightly around the opening so I added another button. We all know buttons are cute so I was more than happy with this little twist.
The fabric was beautiful to work with, if you haven't tried our cotton lawns I highly recommend them. Even in the winter they are perfect for tops and blouses. I wear a vest top under mine and you can always layer with a cardigan too.
I would definitely recommend this pattern as a fun and easy sew.
Have fun sewing!
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