Thursday, May 16, 2013

The One Yard Wonder Blouse That Takes 2 Hours To Make!

Is it a Dolman blouse? Is it a Kaftan top? Maybe this is one of the million scarves-to-blouse tutorials on the Internet. :(
Surprise! While those blouses are beautiful in their own right, this is not a blouse that a monkey could make. At the same time though, it doesn't require a jillion pattern pieces that take fah-evah to put together...inevitably entertaining your husband with endless source of amusement. :(

This One Yard Wonder Blouse is for a size small....and I don't claim to be the best teacher with tutorials either. If you haven't made a top before, this is probably not the tutorial for you. If you are a larger gal, you may need more than a yard of fabric too.

Recently I made my mom a blouse for an early birthday gift (see post here: I could imagine her going on many,many dates in that blouse. Here is me modeling it. It is definitely her, NOT me! 

I gave her a cross between butterfly sleeves and batwing sleeves. She was truly impressed and thrilled. I barely had enough (one yard) to make her size small blouse and those sleeves! However, I knew my mom would NOT wear anything that exposed her shoulders and upper arms even though she is tiny and youthful looking. Mom is stuck in the 60's too so even though I gave her the peasant top style (which has made a huge insurgence in popularity as of late) I made her come into the milinium with those sleeves. :D You're welcome mom.

Onto me and my blouse! So, I have no problem showing my shoulders and my arms even though I am ghost white, burn easily, and my arms aren't as tiny as mom's. I also couldn't see myself wearing a "boxy" top and the all over blue was more mom than me. I got the "cousins" of that fabric as well. I am normally not an orange or a green fan either but the "cousins" fabrics were so pretty!

For me, I wanted a cap sleeved blouse, a slight scoop in the neckline, and I also wanted to try out the tie sleeves method. It was better to do so on something I would own than a customer pays for!

I only had a knit blouse to go off on. The fabric I would be using is cotton. I gave myself some extra seam allowance because the fabric wouldn't stretch like knit of course.

The bottom picture shows what the blouse looks like if turned right side out. I got the fabric, folded it twice, and put half of my blouse on the fold (so I would have TWO symmetrical pieces of my blouse....front and back.) As you see below, there was a space on the shoulders that remained folded and uncut on both the front and back. I had a reason for this as I will show you later.

I also wanted to experiment with color blocking. I realize this is not a new idea. It's just new to me. I got some white jersey knit and cut out two rectangles 17 inches by 3 inches. I pined these right sides of fabric together to each side of the blouse. This would give me just a bit of stretch, a little more room, but the tailored/fitted look I wanted as well.

Because of the knit, i wouldn't need to serge or overlock the seams. But I am also working with cotton too. I love the look I get from stitch #18 and #19 on my sewing machine. I find that my mom, friends, and family and customers all love the seams being finished with those seams too.
I like to hem my sleeves before finishing the sides, or in this case, the shoulders. It gives me more room to work with.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to put elastic in the hems of the sleeves. I decided against it after I saw how awesome the shoulders came out later.
Now it's time to sew up the shoulders that are only halfway open.....
I pinned the space that is opened....

Here I am showing you that one could easily turn down the edges where the shoulder
splits open, hem them, and have a split drape sleeves that begin at the shoulders.
That wasn't the look I was going for though. 
Here is the blouse right side out, ironed but not top stitched yet, and the neckline and bottom hem have
 not been done yet.

I tucked the side panel of knit on either side while ironing.
When worn, it will lay flat or opened out. 
 So far everything has been straightforward and easy peasy. Sew up sides, finish hems, blah, blah, blah. Here comes the "fun" part. It's not really hard, it's just tricky to explain (at least for me!). Above you will see me measuring only the part of the shoulder that had to be hemmed, NOT the portion that was folded but not cut during the cutting out pattern pieces stage at the beginning. I am going to make a rectangular casing out of the same fabric as the blouse on the top of the shoulders. I could make this casing go the entire length of the shoulders. But, I didn't want the shoulders cinched up that much. I wanted the shoulder/sleeve to cap or round itself over my shoulder bone--more flattering in my opinion. This rectangular piece for my blouse was 5 inches by 3 inches. After the seams were finished (before placing it on the blouse), the casing was 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches.
 I also ironed the rectangles length or long ways. This visible crease will be helpful later on. You can also mark your rectangle with a fabric marker down the center if you prefer. That just seemed too much trouble to me plus I didn't want to mark up my pretty fabric even if temporarily.
ONLY SEW THE LENGTHWISE OR LONG WAYS OF THE RECTANGLE. DO NOT  SEW THE SHORT ENDS! (I am pointing to one of the short ends in the above picture).

Is it just me or does these rectangular casings remind you of dorky high school band uniforms with those gaudy appliques or decorations on the shoulders?! You see the same decorations or rectangular thingies on high ranking military officers' uniforms. Even old men think they are too cool with their outdated dress up shirts with rectangular loopy things on the tops of the shoulders! I bet if I were to raid my mom's boyfriend's closet, there would be PLENTY of those shirts hanging in there! :D

Don't worry, the blouse won't remain in this state. :P

Remember that ironed crease down the length of the rectangle (shown
here with my beautiful nail file)? Sew straight down the middle of the rectangle
following that crease.

Ta da! You now have two pockets or casings as shown here with my
super cool fabric pencil and nail file :P

Measure your ribbon, cord, or in my case, bias tape enough to go through the casings and
be able to tie in a bow at the end that faces the sleeves (not the neck). I did not cut my bias tape in two
pieces. I left it as one and looped in through.
How stinkin' pretty is this?! (I had to use a safety pin to feed it through
because my casings were narrow). No more old man shirt/dorky band uniform

Admire your work for a second....or two...or three. Then text your friend about how much of a genius you are. :P
I loved the bias trim so much that I measured the neckline
and remaining trim and determined I had enough to
use it on the neckline.....

Since I wasn't finishing a raw fabric edge, I wouldn't need my go-to
stitch. I used #4 stitch instead.

I was thrilled with the end results!
I was so impressed with my blouse so far that I even pretended
the seam in the very middle of this picture WASN'T wonky....
a certain 4 year old bumped my arm to steal a quick
hug and kiss while sewing the neckline!

I'm always bewildered at how people can get their young kids to take afternoon naps.
My kids would literally have to be on their death beds to nap!
But I bet they would still drag a bunch of cans out of the pantry
and assemble them in Stonehenge type configurations just for grins!

I was so enthralled with the narrow bias trim that out of curiousity I measured how much was left and compared that to my bottom hem measurement. To my shock and delight I had barely enough.
 When I mean barely, I wasn't kidding! I didn't even have enough to fold over the end seam! However, a little cute zig zagging stitches over that part and no one will notice a thing. I mean, no one should be staring at your butt or hips anyway right?
And it looks fine to me after it was all said and done! See?

Show off pictures...... :D
(Crappy pictures don't do the blouse justice given I was in a huge rush to get to my son's school)

I'll have my hubby take better pictures later!

.....I'm so happy with my blouse I am going to wear it to my Bible Study I teach at the jail tonight!

++If you don't have the time to make yourself a blouse, I will be selling a similar one in my shop later this week. I promise the one that the customer gets WILL have enough bias tape and WILL NOT have the evidence of an affectionate 4 yr old bumping me while sewing! haha.++


  1. Cute! I'll send a pic of me in the one you made for me...when I have a friend here to point a camera at me! Beautiful.

    1. Thanks mom! ill need at least 3 pics of you in your being a close up. I prefer at least one outside. For some reason outdoor pics do better in advertising/ marketing. Thanks for doing that !