Summers here usually are either hot or mostly cold, or rainy half of the time and then scorching hot in between. That is why many different clothes are needed to get through this very much awaited time of the year! After my recent dress project I wanted to make few more dresses, but then while reviewing my patterns I came across this top pattern that I’ve used before for my neon sleeveless top, and suddenly realized that this time around I can adapt it for one of recently purchased fabrics and make a puff sleeve blouse for those colder summer evenings. The plan came together promptly, and so next day I had a brand new bright floral blouse in my hands!
When ordering this fabric during one of my recent fabric hauls I already was planning a top out of it. Initially I had in mind a wrap top design with puffy three-quarter sleeves. I did not own any pattern of this sort, however thought that I might be able to hack one of dress patterns. But then this McCall’s pattern jumped in front of my eyes, inspecting which I quickly became convinced that it should work very well for this extremely colorful fabric. Paper pattern blocks had been cut for the previous project, so it was easier to start working on this one.
First I had to make up my mind on how to cut the fabric. It is not the first time I come across the fabric that is directional in a way. A short while back I was dealing with viscose tweed that was embroidered cross-grain, that’s why cutting it had to also be cross-grain. This time around after inspecting the piece of fabric carefully, I had to also conclude that the print is made cross-grain. Colors are less intense at one selvage and become more intense towards another selvage. At first I considered cutting pattern pieces straight grain regardless of the print. But eventually concluded, that it would make much more sense to have less intense print for the bodice and more intense – for sleeves. That is why the bodice of the blouse is mostly green with few odd flowers, while bottoms of sleeves are very colorful and full of flowers in all colors of a rainbow.
This blouse design is fairly straightforward, however there are few small nuances that make it quite time consuming to complete. There are only few pieces to be cut out of fabric – as can be seen in the above right photo, bodice and sleeves, plus front and back facings and sleeve cuffs. At first I was planning to make the main seams as French seams, but then it became evident that I couldn’t quite, as the back neck closure and sleeve openings at cuffs were supposed to be made out of seams. So eventually I dropped the French seam idea, and all the seams inside this blouse are finished with overlocker.
The work started with making center back seam and leaving an opening at the top to be finished later for back closure. Side seams were next. Then sleeves had to be made. First I made a 1.5 cm wide channel at the top of each sleeve for elastic, put the elastic in and secured its ends. Then sleeves had to be set in. These are reglan sleeves, and the elastic in them around the neck makes them fit nicely. When I set them in initially and was able to try the semi-finished garment on, it became clear that the blouse was a bit too tight around the chest. The reason for that was that paper pattern blocks were cut in size 6, the smallest size available. It was one of my first projects ever that I cut this pattern for initially, and back then I had little experience with sizing and fitting. However, that first top I’ve made using this pattern was sleeveless, and since my shoulders are very narrow, size 6 was an ok size for that top. But for this one, with sleeves, size 6 was not my size really. Normally I now cut McCall’s patterns in size 8 or 10, so yeah, definitely not 6.
Upon planning this blouse I determined that the bodice of the blouse is wide enough for me even in size 6, but somehow forgot that there might be a problem with the chest circumference when sleeves get set in. And so while trying the blouse on for the first time I was looking at exactly that problem. I decided to rip sleeves seams and reduce seam allowance to 0.7 cm instead of 1.5 cm, and that’s what I did. This way I created additional 3 cm for chest circumference, and that was good enough a solution. When trying the blouse on after this fix I concluded that it felt so much better, not tight at all, and decided that the problem has been fixed as well as it could possibly be.
The style of these sleeves also made the installation of facings a bit complicated. Facings are installed only to the bodice parts around the neckline but not the sleeves. So it took a bit of time for me to complete the neckline nicely. Right at that stage I also made a narrow button loop for back closure.
Two remaining parts of the process were hemming the blouse and installing sleeve cuffs. For the hem I’ve chosen a narrow rolled hem style which was completed using 4 mm rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. It was not a straightforward exercise, though. I had to stop several times and go back, as fabric feed into the foot would become troubled. Overall it took me quite a bit of time and sweat to complete that hem.
Lastly I cut cuffs out of interfaced fabric, stitched them together leaving an opening at one side, where gathered sleeve end would go in. At first I was reluctant to top stitch the inside cuff, but then figured that top stitching would probably be more neat than slip stitching and decided to go ahead with top stitch. I matched nice mother-of-pearl square buttons for cuffs, made button holes, which went in without incident, and attached the buttons. And with that my colorful summer blouse was complete!
For this blouse I used 1.5 meters of this bright floral viscose fabric, it was bought at my local fabric store. The pattern used here is McCall’s pattern M7899. It was cut in size 6, but I had to reduce seam allowances in certain places to make the top loose enough for me. Other notions were: two short pieces of 1 cm elastic for sleeves neckline, a bit of light weight interfacing for facings and cuffs, one white button for back closure, 4 mother-of-pearl buttons for cuffs, and coordinating thread. This blouse cost me 23 Eur, it was made in June, 2022.
I very much like this blouse styled with white pants or, like in the above pictures, shorts. It should probably go well with jeans, too – haven’t tried this yet, but absolutely will. I like very much how full and colorful these sleeves are – they are something to behold, really 🙂 When we took these pictures this morning in the park, it was becoming really hot, hence the shorts. However, I mostly see this blouse styled with long pants and worn on summer evenings, when sleeves slowly become a very good idea as the evening becomes chilly. It was a very successful project, and I am sure I’m going to enjoy this blouse on multiple occasions.
Let there be peace in the world! 💙💛