Introduction: Little Blouse on the Prairie
Before I list what you'll need for this project I have to make a small confession and admit that there is a teeny amount of pattern drafting involved (eek!) BUT, it's created through simple rectangles and, I guarantee, will be the easiest way to make a sleeved blouse. If you've never made a pattern before, this is a really gentle introduction.
So, here is what you will need.
For the blouse:
Light weight cotton material
Matching or contrasting thread
A strip of fabric (or ribbon) at least a metre and a half long
Tailor's chalk/vanishing pen
For the pattern:
Large pieces of paper/light card (the weight of the paper isn't important but it will be easier if it is plain)
Ruler and tape measure
Masking tape or sticky tape
We're going to start by making the pattern. Firstly we need a couple of measurements.
Measure from shoulder to shoulder, then from your collar bone to where you would like the bottom hem to sit. Divide the first measurement in half and add an inch and a half (4 cm) seam allowance. Add a three inch (71/2 cm) seam allowance to the length.
Now measure the circumference of your arm at the widest point, then measure down your arm to where you want the sleeve to stop. As the sleeve will be double the arm circumference, we only need to add five eighths of an inch (2 cm) seam allowance to the length.
We're going to take those measurements to make two rectangles that should end up looking like the ones in the pic.
The next part takes a bit of artistic licence as positioning the arm depends upon your personal preference and body shape, but it should resemble this to an extent (ensuring that a portion of the top of the arm extends beyond the top of the bodice).
Stick these pieces together in position and pace another piece of paper underneath at the top of the blouse 'pattern' - this piece needs to be large enough to 'cover' the gap between the arm and the bodice. Stick the pattern to this extra piece.
Draw a straight line from the highest point of the sleeve to the lowest point on the top of the bodice. Now, I used a tool for this next step BUT that's only because I don't have a particularly steady hand - this can be done freehand, by eye.
Create a gentle curve underneath the straight line. This is going to form the neckline so try not to make the curve too deep. Cut away the excess and you have your completed pattern!
It's easy peasy from here on in....
Take your fabric and fold it along the selvedge edge (the slightly fuzzy edge that doesn't fray). Place the long edge of the pattern against the fold and cut out. Repeat so that you have two pieces that look like the first pic.
Place the right sides together and sew the side and shoulder seams. Press all seams open.
Choose which side you wish to be the front and decide where you want the bow to sit. If you choose the side, rather than centre, (like I did) make sure it's a few inches in from the line of the armpit, so that it doesn't look accidental.
Mark how deep you want the drawstring channel to be with chalk or an air vanishing pen. If you're using a strip of material for your drawstring, make the line at least two inches (5 cm) long.
Cut down to the bottom of your mark and sew down the raw edges.
Now, we will need to press down a small hem about a quarter of an inch (1/2 cm): but we will not be sewing this...
Starting from the opening, carefully fold the top edge over to form the drawstring channel. Pin as you fold. You can press the channel down, if you prefer that look, but I wanted the neckline to look as ruffled as possible. Sew the channel shut as close to the bottom edge as possible.
Here's the dull bit! Double hem all of the remaining raw edges.
If you're using a ribbon as a drawstring you can skip this bit. See you at step 9 :-)
If you are using a fabric strip, take note thins is a long process!
Take your (very) long strip of fabric and press a crisp line down the centre. Open the fabric back up and fold each raw edge towards the line you just pressed and press again (don't be tempted to cut corners at this point as you'll only have to re-press later) Now fold the fabric along the centre line and (yep, you guessed it) press again.
We are finally ready to sew the drawstring shut (phew!)
Tuck the ends under and sew a straight stitch along the open side.
Grab a sturdy safety pin and attach it to the end of the drawstring: then thread it through the channel.
Your blouse is now ready to wear!
(N.B This blouse can be worn both on and off the shoulder, but if you're going for 'on' try and choose a fabric less busy than mine!)