Thank you for all of the comments on my recent post – Self drafted halter neck chiffon blouse. Several visitors asked for a tutorial, and I am happy to oblige. I've made the blouse again in a different fabric – this time a lovely blue and cream chiffon with embroidery and sequins. Swanky! Along the way, I took plenty of pictures and have written notes to share. Read on for your free blouse pattern.
This tutorial is ideal is you want to make a simple blouse using a sheer fabric like a chiffon or a lace, with a lining. It includes full step by step instructions on how to make your own version of this blouse in your own size. It can also be used to make a single layer version if you are using a fabric which is not sheer.
This is a long post, for which I apologise. It's my first time making a tutorial and I just didn't know when to stop! Let's get started.
First you will need to take your measurements as shown here:
1 – full bust at the widest part
2 – hip measurement where you want your top to end
3 – length from collar-bone to where you want your top to end, measuring over the bust instead of down the gap in the middle
4 – length from collar-bone to bust point
Now get yourself a nice big piece of paper, or tape several pieces of regular letter paper together. And you are ready to start drawing your pattern.
Drawing the pattern
1. Find the center of your paper and draw a line top to bottom.
2. Along the bottom of the paper, one inch from the bottom, draw a line which is half the length of your high hip measurement. For example. My high hip (where I want the bottom of the blouse to be) measurement is 36 inches so I drew a line 18 inches long. This line should be centered over the line that runs top to bottom, so 9 inches on one side and 9 inches on the other side, forming a large upside down T- shape.
3. From where the two lines meet, measure up an amount equal to your measurement 3 – this will give the finished length of the blouse. Draw a straight line across parallel to the bottom line, and as wide as half your bust measurement. Center this measurement on the center line. For example, my bust measurement is 36 inches, so I drew a line 18 inches long, 9 inches on either side of the center line.
4. Join up the lines making a large rectangle. If your hip measurement is wider than your bust, your rectangle will taper towards the top slightly. If your bust measurement is larger, I recommend drawing the bottom line longer until it is the same size as the bust line or else you might not be able to get it on. (Excuse the cat – he loves to sew!)
5. Now you need to add some ‘ease’ to the pattern so that the blouse isn't skin-tight. I suggest adding a full or three-quarter inch on either side, depending on how loose you want the blouse. The ease I have added is the shaded area.
6. From the top line, measure down measurement 4 and draw a line from side to side. This is the bottom of the arm curve.
7. Now we need to cut out an area for the arms – I used a large dinner plate. The bottom of the curve/plate sits at the side where your line from step 6 meets the side. Scoop out a curved shape on one side. You can leave the other side for now – coming up later.
8. Now we need to add a seam allowance. I suggest a half inch or 5/8th, which ever you prefer. Or to allow for a little adjustment later, add a whole inch seam allowance – you can always take in the sides to make the blouse more snug, but if you cut too small, then you can’t add fabric back in. I added seam allowance on the side edge and around the arm curve.
9. Now time to consider the seam allowance for the bottom. Add back an inch at the bottom to allow you to turn up your fabric and hem. This is why we left that inch at the bottom when we drew our first line.
10. We also need an allowance at the top – but we also need to add some allowance for the fabric casing where the neck-band will go. I suggest adding 2 inches at the top to include the casing and the seam allowance.
11. Now time to cut. Cut out the side of the pattern with the armhole marked, then fold it over down the center line and draw the same shape to make sure the pattern is even. If things are a little uneven down the sides, now is the time to tidy them up. Finish cutting out the whole pattern piece.
12. The same piece is used for the front and the back. Your pattern is ready.
Cutting out your pieces
You will have 4 main pieces of fabric, two in your lining fabric and two in your outer fabric. Cut the two lining pieces first using the pattern you just made, and set them aside.
For the outer pieces you have a choice. You can either cut them exactly the same and then sew using both layers of fabric as if they were one. Or you can decide to have the outer fabric a little looser.
This is what I chose in my version. I simply lay the pattern piece on my fabric and then cut around leaving a space of about ½ inch on both sides and at the bottom. I wanted my outer fabric to hang a little lower than the lining. There is no need to add any extra at the top seam.
Before cutting your outer pieces, do consider pattern placement. If you have a large repeating pattern, decide if you want this centered or offset and place your pattern piece to best use the fabric design.
Sewing your blouse
1. Start by finishing the edges of your 4 pieces. If you are using a serger, you can skip this step and finish as you go. If you are using a regular machine, you should finish your raw edges on the sides, arms and top seam using a method of your choosing; zigzag, overcasting, turn and stitch, etc. Press your pieces.
The turn and stitch option. I used this on the sides of my outer fabric because I wanted it to hang a little lower than the liner.
Or try the overcasting foot – I used this on all the edges for my lining pieces, and around the arm curves on my outer pieces. This allows some stretch and stops the chiffon fraying. You can find an overcasting foot in the Shop section of my website, under Sewing Machine Feet.
2. Turn and stitch the bottom hemline on all 4 pieces, making sure all are the same size. Turn once ½ inch, then turn again. Or if you prefer, finish the raw edge with a zigzag or overcasting stitch and then turn up the hem one inch. Stitch evenly. Press.
3. Now attach the outer fabric to the lining fabric. Match up the raw edges with both right sides of the fabric facing up. Pin, then baste with a long stitch ¼ inch from the edge. If you want your outer fabric to hang a little lower than the lining fabric, line this up now at the arm curve before basting the side seams.
4. Put your two joined pieces right sides together and line up the side seams. Pin, then stitch using your seam allowance from bottom to armhole on both sides. You now have a tube of fabric. Press your seams open.
5. Turn over and finish the armhole curve in one seam from one side to the other. Stitch evenly. As we are hemming on a curve, you may need to cut some little snips in the edge of your fabric to help it to lay flatter for sewing. Press.
6. On the top edge of both pieces, turn over ½ inch seam allowance and pin in place with your pins on the right side. Now turn the top edge to the inside of the blouse, lining up the edge you just folded 1.5 inches down from the top. This forms your casing front and back.
7. Stitch each casing in place, but only along the bottom, not the sides.
8. Now it’s time to make the neck-band. Cut a piece of fabric 6 inches wide and as long as your bust measurement. On just one of the short ends, fold over half an inch to the wrong side and sew. Fold in half long ways with right sides together, raw edges matching and stitch ½ inch from the raw edges along the long edge. Now turn the tube of fabric the right way out.
9. Thread the tie through the casing front and back leaving the ends loose. You can use the handle of a wooden spoon to push the fabric through the casing. Now try on the blouse and adjust the length of the fabric tie until you get the fit you like. Place the finished end of the tie on top of the other and pin in place, keeping it together while you remove the blouse.
10. Undo your pins, and cut the fabric tie one inch longer than you had marked. Slip the raw end inside the finished end, overlapping by the one inch you left. Then sew the two together securely. Slide the tie around so the overlap is hidden inside the casing at the back.
11. If you like, you can gather the front and back until you are happy with how it looks, and then sew again neatly from the front, through the casing across each end, into the neck band inside so that the gathers will be permanent. Do the front, the back or both.
Now your blouse is ready to wear.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it easy to follow. I’ve not done this before, so if you have any suggestions do let me know. And do leave a comment on the tutorial post with a link to the photo of your finished blouse – we would all love to see what you made.