Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pattern Whisperer presents Blouses for parties

It's time for another Pattern Whisperer post and this time I have blouses on my mind. By this I mean a  top or blouse that you probably wouldn't wear to work. Not something tailored or businesslike, but a blouse that you can pair with some elegant trousers or sleek ankle length pants and be ready for a party or get-together. Most years I gravitate to dresses for holiday events but this year I am just in the mood for separates. So here goes with some ideas for blouses.

This time of year can turn into sewing crunch time - if you are like me you might be stitching a few gifts plus trying to make a special occasion outfit. With that thought I have tried to select patterns that will be quick to fit and sew but also can look a little bit special (i.e. not office wear).

This type of shirt or blouse is all about the fabric. Some of these patterns work with a variety of fabrics but for a dressy version think about using silk charmeuse, poly charmeuse, chiffon, metallics or even sequins.

This year seems to be all about the bows, ties and interesting sleeves. I love seeing how styles circulate - a lot of the current patterns seem to be revisiting styles from earlier decades. Which proves that there is very little that is new in fashion, right?

To start - I think a lot of people will buy this pattern. Simplicity 8216. For one thing it is a good value for your money, with both a blouse and a dress version. You can make it any length, it has the neck tie which is all over now and would be really pretty in a sheer fabric. In fact I just sewed a blouse with this type of neck tie (doing a little pattern work on my standard shirt pattern) and I made the tie too wide so it looks weird and I am scrapping the whole thing, and repurposing it into something else. But anyway - this one is cute and I think would sew up fast. You could leave off the elastic in the long sleeves for a different look if you aren't into the gathered sleeve.

Simplicity 8216 blouse

Here's another Simplicity 8131 that is similar but with two versions of the neck tie, and also the cold shoulder look that is really popular now. There are a lot of patterns for that look if you want to sew that. I actually think it would be quite easy to just convert your sleeve/shirt pattern to have that feature but it is probably easier to buy the pattern as they will have all the instructions for finishing the edge etc. This blouse has no darts but shoulder gathers which I like a lot on blouses. Again, lightweight or sheer fabrics would be really nice for this one.  Another good thing about most Simplicity patterns is that their size range covers from 6 - 22.

Simplicity 8131

Just to show that there is not a lot new with sewing patterns, I was looking on Etsy for a blouse pattern (I had a specific thing in mind but it was not in any of the current pattern offerings) and came across this Vogue patterns. Their patterns from a while ago didn't always include the full range of sizes but they seem to have improved a lot in the last few years and print the patterns in all sizes. However I came across this one which was in the 20-24 size. Super cute and 3 different blouses in one envelope. There was just this one available last week - could be sold by now but it would be worth looking out for if it is your size.

Vogue 7388 on etsy

As I mentioned, there are a ton of these cold shoulder tops around now so here is a Butterick that also has a couple of different views. I think this one would have to be all about the fabric, as the pattern is a bit of a snooze. Butterick 5889. But you could make the plain t-shirt version in a metallic stripe, that would be very cute. Also if you had a border print that would work. The other version with the buttons also would be interesting in the right fabric, paired with very slim pants.

Butterick 5889 cold shoulder top

This year I have been happy to find some hidden gems among the New Look patterns. Which at a price of $ 4.00 I always take a good look at. Are they also priced lower than other patterns outside the US?  just curious.  This one is all about the sleeves - I like the View C version sleeves and then the View B neckline. That is a great feature about these New Look patterns, they give you so many options in one envelope although it can be a bit of a puzzle to find all the pattern pieces and work out the yardage. You could also use a contrast fabric or lace on the yoke in view D. They must have a big stash of seriously drab fabrics at the New Look headquarters as they seem to sew up a lot of the samples in really uninspiring fabrics. New Look 6414.

New Look 6414

Here's one out of left field (baseball reference for my overseas readers). Hot Patterns 1196, I don't usually look at the pattern companies other than McVoguerick, Simplicity/NewLook and Burda. But I saw a couple of versions of this one during the past year and filed it away in my memory bank for a Pattern Whisperer post.

Hot patterns blouse

They show it here looking a bit summery with white pants but I think it could work as well for a holiday event in a rich shimmery jewel tone. And it looks glamorous yet allows you to eat all the party fare you want. Call that a win! They indicate it can work in a wide variety of fabrics, both knits and wovens.

Remember I said it is all about the fabric? This one Burda 6649 envelope pattern  is perfect for some interesting choices and I could see it working in lace, sheer fabrics or even two colors of silk. I like the release darts for shaping at the waist and it looks like a super quick top to sew. I think they show buttons down the back but I might change that to a zipper, or even skip the back opening if you could get it over your head and then put in a side seam zipper to keep the fitted look.

Burda 6649 blouse

Here's one that I would sew up if I lived in the southern hemisphere where summer and Christmas happen together (you lucky people !!) This would be so cute in a print as shown or in metallic denim and you could even make the strap sections in a complementary fabric or leather. Also if you made pants in the same fabric it would give you a cool jumpsuit look without the jumpsuit restroom wrangling. Burda Cutout Back Top 07/2015 # 120A  Here's the link.

Burda open back tank top

Another from the BurdaStyle website. Here's the link. V-neck blouse Plus size 07/2016 #129A This looks like a nice top to pair with a cute jacket. I love the way the twist as the neckline adds some pretty draping and interest. Also it has bust darts which are good for fitting. The pattern calls for two layers which allows you to play with color/fabric. The BurdaStyle website patterns are outstanding for patterns in this size range, I am always surprised I don't see more of them sewn up. Also if you see a pattern but it is not in your size or perhaps has some details you are not sure about - look through the BurdaStyle pdf patterns, so many lookalikes or variations that might be perfect. Granted the instructions are kind of skimpy but I think you could use the instructions or order of construction from a similar pattern or book to get you through it.

Burda 2-layer tanktop

Lastly this Vogue pattern caught my eye. Vogue 8927. If you like tailored garments but wanted to change it up for a holiday party this one might work for you. There are so many basic shirt patterns out there but this one is designed for the lace overlay which is handy. Giving you the yardage and layout instructions so that you get the lace edge along the bottom as shown. Plus it is a dress as well.

V9027 lace overlay

So those are my ideas for this type of blouse - which is kind of a niche category and as I said above, is all about the fabric. Simpler might be better if you are working with a very luxe, expensive or tricky fabric. Choose something where you will have a easy time, enjoy the fabric and don't overdo it on the design.

Now it's time for me to issue an apology of sorts to my very first Pattern Whisperer victim. Here's the link to my original post - some good options there still. I say victim because I took requests for a reader for me to choose a pattern for a party dress. And the person who I selected was Rachel of Sew South London, a very good sport who accepted my suggestion of Vogue 1342 Donna Karan dress. She sewed it up, with some serious pattern puzzling and I think she looked fabulous in it, the color was perfect and the shape was great on her. But I'm going on the record to say whew - that pattern is a doozy! One of my recent sewing students brought that along this dress, well actually a shoebox with the pattern and then cut-out and slightly sewn dress parts. She said she had trouble with it and if we had time after our main project could we take a look at it. We did and it was a real head scratcher. So I told her to leave it here and I would take a look prior to her next lesson. A few days later I woke up full of energy so decided to take the pattern pieces out of the box and start. Whew! that pattern is really something. As many of those Vogue Donna Karan patterns are. It took me about 2 hours of re-marking in color coded tailor's tacks (for small, large and square pattern dots) and then I finally figured out how it went together. So it is on it's way to being stitched up.  But Rachel - BRAVO to you for finishing that and wearing it to your party. Sewing baptism by fire on that one. Anyway - a learning lesson for me and my pattern whisperer posts:) Although I still love the Donna Karan Vogue patterns and will eventually own (hoard) them all.

I hope this post has given you some ideas for sewing over the long Thanksgiving weekend here - after stuffing ourselves with turkey etc and pie! pie ! pie ! (you can tell what part of the dinner I like) I will hit the gym hard and then do some serious sewing. Particularly as we are supposed to have rain over the weekend - hurrah - and the garden can take care of itself.

Sew your stash and stay out of the fabric stores  - those black Friday crowds are too much for me.

Happy sewing and Happy Thanksgiving,

Today's garden photo, here's the view from the window above my sewing machine. Meyer lemons and raindrops. A good combination.



  1. I really enjoyed this post - thankyou for all the suggestions, this series is great for filing away for future reference!


  2. Thanks for sharing Beth, I'm always on the lookout for nice blouse patterns. I think the last Vogue is my favourite - it's just styled so well.

    New Look are cheaper here in Aus than other patterns, but they are all still relatively expensive compared to the US. NL are about $10, going up to $16-20 for Burda, Simplicity etc, and Vogues are a whopping $30. I try to keep my eye out for sales but they are far and few between these days, the best I can get is about $10 a pattern and $15-20 for Vogues.

  3. Thank you for all the suggestions! Love those lemons, and jealous of your rain! We're in quite a drought here in the Florida Panhandle! Woke up to fog this morning, though, so at least there's some moisture out there! :-) Lisa G P.S. I had 3 slices of pumpkin pie yesterday. I need to hit the gym myself!!

  4. I have made 2 versions of the V8927 and I can't speak highly enough of this pattern goes together really well. I made the usual adjustments I always make for my figure I've shortened sleeves, lowered waistline but it went together like a dream.

  5. Hi Beth! Thanks for some amazing pattern suggestions, and also for your kind words about the DK pattern I made on your suggestion. It was really tricky but a great challenge! Since then I've come around to your way of thinking on the subject of indie patterns and the variable nature of their drafting. Now I've grown in confidence and skill I'm starting to get the hang of the Big 4.

  6. Loved this post as I've been searching for a special blouse/top pattern to sew up some precious silk georgette.

  7. Those are some really nice choices... thanks for the recommendations! :)

  8. Thank you for sharing Beth, very informative post. I really love some patterns and will add them to my wish list. Thanks!

  9. I am a separates girl always and really love your beautiful lineup of blouses!! They are all very nice but that "Hot Pattern" top spoke to me right away for some reason, gorgeous! (maybe because I want to take it on my upcoming cruise!). Thanks so much for sharing! (and I agree...festive doesn't always mean dresses!)

  10. Thank you for the inspiration ,Beth!

  11. I love all these suggestions! I really wanna make a blouse for the holidays, and I found this amazing ombre fabric at Mood. You suggested silk charmeuse, but I've never worked with it before. Do you think this one would be difficult?