F5156: The Annoying Blouse

And another one.

The process of making this one was a nightmare. The fabric I chose was determined to be incredibly badly behaved, making the tasks of, cutting, sewing and pressing so very arduous.

I made two right sleeves and only realised when everything was finished except for setting the sleeves in. And I did not have enough fabric to recut another one, because the fabric had some pretty bad flaws (in the form of large blue ink splotches in and around the selvedge – I’m guessing it was digitally printed) that I had to cut around. Actually, I did cut one left and one right sleeve, but somehow managed to flip the underlining piece around the wrong way against my fabric when I pinned them together. It now makes total sense why it was so impossible to see the traced markings for that particular piece. *head desk*.

I choose to blame all of this on my toddler’s new molars.

But, I got through it and I’m really quite pleased with the end result:

It’s from the 2017 Evergreen Catalogue, and described as “Blouse with drop-shaped neckline, gathered sleeves and cuffs with cufflinks. Suggested fabrics: two-coloured organdy, it can also be made with lace applications”.

From looking at the sketch, I just loved that it gives an excuse to make a practical and everyday wearable use for lace. I will definitely be making another version of this with lace at some point in the future!

Looking at this image after the fact, I do prefer the sleeves at that lovely 3/4 mark, compared to the full length sleeve the pattern actually is. I’ll remember to shorten them next time!

In my experience to date, Marfy’s have typically been quite low cut – which doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind a bit of decolletage – but this blouse is really very modest. The neckline sits above where my clavicles stick out at the bottom of your neck, the teardrop shape is quite high up, and the top button in the button placket gives no hint of boobage whatsoever. For Marfy, it’s practically Mormon approved.

The front seaming is a combination of a princess seam and a dart (I have just recently learned this is called a Dior dart, as opposed to a French dart, which emanates from a side seam), which surprisingly didn’t give me much shaping at all, but fit well across the bust. As I’m a size larger for the bust and shoulders than I am at the waist and hips, it’s difficult for me to determine whether the fit is loose because of me or it being the style of the pattern. Probably the latter.

I always feel a wee bit self-conscious in shirts with a lot of gathering at the top of the sleeve cap – it’s not an area that I like to draw attention too – my shoulders are broad enough as it is :) The sleeve cap is higher than your usual, combined with all of the ease being concentrated within a short distance of the shoulder seam – in the muslin photo below I distributed the ease over a larger area, and for the final version you see here, I shaved it down quite a bit.

There is also a lot of gathering at the cuff – which is offset and slightly hidden with a gently peaked French Cuff. I didn’t like it so much once I pulled it off the sewing machine, but then once I put it on – found I quite liked the drama of it all. After sewing the French Cuff on here and on my Wiltshire Shirt, I do wonder if I should be shortening the arm length? I think the eI’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

So in the finished version – I’ve kept the cuff gathering, and quite considerably paired back the sleeve cap ease. Here is the unadjusted muslin, which you can see sits nicely across the shoulders and bust, has a significant amount of space around the torso, and a very floofy sleeve cap, especially at the back:


I think perhaps this sleeve would work better in a fabric with a bit more structure than my drapey silk. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

But If you’re into dramatic sleeves, this pattern delivers in spades. I can appreciate the volume and proportions of it in the calico, even if I wasn’t going to follow through! Obviously I’ve left the pattern’s collar option off this time around.

The keyhole is finished with a facing, which I extended past the shoulder seam to have each side meet at the centre back. The facing meets the front placket, which is folded in on itself:

To make this a more form fitting blouse on me, I added my now de-rigeur diamond darts to the back, brought the side seams in slightly at the waist, and moved the princess seam inwards (keeping the side panel the same, just adjusting the centre front piece). As a result of the latter adjustment, the hem also needed adjustment, but of course I forgot to draw it on the muslin, which caused a few headaches when it came to actually hemming the thing…

Probably the best representation of the Dior dart, as this is all but completely invisible in photos of the final shirt.

The hem is, as you can see, straight. It sits higher than the hems of other Marfy blouses I’ve sewn up recently. I’ve left this as is in the final version.

I used a lightweight silk – I’m unsure of what type – from The Fabric Store, which has lots of tiny blue, grey and taupe blotches. It’s relatively loosely woven, but is very soft to the touch (any easy to catch!) with a really subtle satin sheen to it, and quite a lot of bouyancy as well. It does drape beautifully, but it was a horrible fabric to work with. It curled up when pressed, shifted and slipped around the placed (even once underlined) – and at one point I even did a burn test because I was so unfamiliar with the way it was behaving I was convinced it wasn’t 100% silk. Nope, it definitely was. I took a looooong time to finish this one because I was so completely uninspired to work with it!

It had quite a number of ink spills on it, mainly at the selvedge, and the person who cut it said in response to me asking for a little extra “oh, you can just cut around that, surely?”. It was the second slightly rude experience I’ve had at The Fabric Store during 2017, and considering it’s already quite a way out of my way geographically, I think I’ll not be bothering to go back any time soon. Unless I want Liberty that Shaukat doesn’t stock. That’s the exception. Or maybe some merino, too. Eh. I’ll probably go back. Begrudgingly.

It was opaque and light weight, so I cut it out after choosing not to underline – but then my Blue Blotch blouse (in a lightweight voile) ripped at the back next to the sleeve and side seam line (nooooooooooooo!!!!! I’ve still got it hanging up in my cupboard because I’m not ready to throw it out just yet) and I went back and underlined it just so that it would have the added strength to withstand my shoulder/arm movements. Ignoring the fact that Marfy patterns accommodate my shoulders way better than a McCalls ever did, of course. Ah well.

One thing I’m particularly pleased at myself for thinking of, was how to tame the facing for such a slippery, tricksy fabric. I underlined the facing with silk organza only, cutting the organza seam allowance away very closely to the basted seam line once sewn in place (the red thread in the above pic). The organza made it super dooper easer to just fold the misbehaving silk underneath to be stitched onto the white CDC underlining. It worked like a charm – the finishing here looks so much nicer than the inside hem, which is crazy wonky despite excessive pinning and fiddling.

I also used a silk organza scrap length inside the placket for a bit of extra strength/stability for the buttons and button holes.

The cuff needed a bit more structure, so I used some sew-in interfacing I bought from Fashion Sewing Supply. This is the second type of interfacing I bought from them – the Lightly Crisp Sew-in interfacing. I haven’t had the chance to wear this particular blouse much since finishing so I currently can’t comment on the wearability of it, like I did with my Wiltshire Shirt (which is progressively getting worse, and making me really sad about it in the process). I’ll update this post a few months down the track with how it all goes.

Buttons are from Buttonmania, which since I last visited – has been sold to a mother-daughters team and setup down in Highett. Now, the likelihood of me ever getting to Highett is negative eleventy billion, so I posted in a decent sized scrap, the ladies photographed some options for me, I made my choice from the lineup and then had them sent back to me. I’ve done this quite a few times in the last few months and it’s been great.

On a sad note, I have heard that none of the businesses in the beautiful old Nicholas Building (where Buttonmania used to be) are having their leases renewed because a developer is going to be moving on in at some point. (The Nicholas Building was originally setup specifically to bring artists, designers and makers together – there still is a super long list of creative tenants.).

And the final result? Well I wasn’t really feeling it at the end of muslining, and the fabric pissed me off so much during construction I was starting to think that it wouldn’t be something I’d want to pull off the hanger once it was actually finished. The colours and the print still were doing it for me though, and I think that’s what’s got it by in the end. It’s wearable, matches with almost everything in my work wardrobe – and I’m really happy with how it fits and sits.

And that caps off my last make of 2017, which I think can officially be known as my year of the shirt! I’m really quite proud of my output last year – a pair of slacks, a French Jacket, 5 blouses and a bias silk cami. Not just because it was 87.5% incredibly practical – and all my previous items have been worn on good rotation (including my latest French Jacket!) – but it sort of marks a bit of a return of ‘me’ post becoming a parent. I’m very much looking forward to sewing more of the same in 2018.



  1. I suggest you shorten the length of the sleeves. While I understand your comments about not wanting to draw attention to the sleeve cap, for my money, I thought the muslin sleeve cap looked quite stylish on you.

    1. I definitely will be in future. The more I think about it and see the photos, the more surprised I am I didn’t pick up on it before! It makes sense, considering I’m generally short limbed. Thank you :)

  2. Really nice shirt. I think the Marfy drawing is really deceiving…you would absolutely think it would sit much lower. I would consider sending them a short feedback note. I’m with you on gathered sleeve caps…I can’t wear them either.

    1. Thankyou! Yes, most of the time I find the line drawings to be really accurate, but lately I’ve had a few disappointments! Ah well, it’s not like I haven’t had disappointments with other pattern companies either… ah well!

  3. Beautiful blouse! I prefer a smooth sleeve cap over a gathered one too and I think the sleeves look a little bit long but really it’s personal preference. That service at The Fabric Store is appalling- they essentially sold you something not fit for purpose. The ladies in the Sydney store are really nice and generous with their cuts as well

    1. Thanks Kristy. The more I think about it, and with all the blouses I’ve sewn lately – I definitely need to shorten the sleeves. I think my arms are similar in proportion to my legs – short! Something for next time I suppose.
      Glad to hear the Sydney Fabric Store is a bit different – I’m happy to overlook one bad experience, but three in a row is hard to pass on!

  4. Beautiful looking fabric and you kept on despite the fabric being so tricky to work with.
    Admire your tenacity and it paid off.

    Although I like smooth sleeve caps I really liked the original sleeve on the muslin on you. Love the cuffs and your button choice.

    Love how you share all the construction details. When I encounter tricky sewing I always think it is just me. Thanks for the encouragement to go on and “make it happen!”

    1. Thanks Mary :) We do all definitely come across tricky aspects of garment sewing, for sure! I find if I write the post after finishing an item, I tend to forget all of the little niggles and only remember the things I liked best. Writing it as I go means I can remember all those little things!

  5. Lovely blouse, as always. Your construction posts are interesting even to those of use who rarely sew these days. I agree the sleeves should be shorter—hitting right at the wrist bone is my preference. Surely you mean to say “NOT digitally printed” or do I not understand the process.

    1. Yes – they definitely do need to be shorter. I’m actually really surprised I hadn’t noticed this until now! Ah well, every garment I sew teaches me something ;) Thanks Jeanne!
      (and I did mean it was digitally printed, thinking that perhaps there was some kind of malfunction or ink explosion during production? Although I know next to nothing about that process so am hardly a reference point!)

  6. This is such a flattering fit with the Dior darts. I love your choice of fabric for this, and it turned out beautifully despite it being the rebellious sort. I really like this blouse, and would love to see the lace version.

  7. I’m another one in favor of shorter sleeves. Did you lengthen them? The pattern illustration is kind of misleading as it shows 3/4 length. The front keyhole looks much lower on the model, maybe a bit too low. I guess that’s why muslins are important. Great work on taming the uncooperative fabric. The final result is beautiful.

    1. I didn’t, no. But you and everyone else is definitely on the money – they need to be shorter. It makes total sense now – I always have to shorten pants/skirts because my limbs are of the stocky variety, and my arms are no different! I did briefly think about it when wearing the muslin, but forgot about it. That and the muslin/calico fabric hides it better because it’s more structured than my drapey silk. And yes, the illustration definitely does show 3/4 sleeves, so in an inaccuracy on their behalf as well. Thanks Mary :)

  8. I like your blouse too! I love the fabric (but honestly ink along the selvage of silk?) That’s…well that’s just gauche :) I’ve not worked with a Marfy – I do have a couple around but just have not made them up yet. I have the opposite body type to yours – narrow shoulders and I don’t care for extra gathering at the sleeve head though so I don’t know WHO it flatters? I haven’t seen it on anyone that I think it makes them look fab. I love what you did with the facing – and those buttons!

    1. I’m kind of with you on the whole ‘who does it actually flatter’ thing. Bizarrely, I didn’t mind the muslin on me, but would never have felt comfortable in public wearing such a sleeve cap! Ah well. Thanks Kathleen :)

  9. The blouse is beautiful! I agree with the others about shortening the sleeves and I would add to take in some of the fullness in the lower arm. It seems that the puffed sleeves look good in the drawings only. What did you use for underlining?

    1. Hi Cynthia – it’s my usual underlining for drapey and lightweight silks – silk crepe de chine. I far prefer the puffed lower sleeve in the muslin as opposed to the silk of the final garment, this was definitely an instance where there needed to be an adjustment on behalf of the fabric type! Ah well, you’re always learning as you go. Thanks!

  10. Brava to you for keeping on with a recalcitrant fabric – they’re the worst! Agreeing with Jean Crockett and Mary Funt, I also think the sleeves need to be shortened, ending at the wrist bone. I’d take out the gathers on the sleeve head for the next go round because that pattern has a lot going on. Nevertheless, you did a great job and it looks lovely on you.

    1. It does make it difficult. Especially so as I’ve been wanting to turn this fabric into a blouse for almost two years now! Ah well, can’t win them all ;) Yes, I’m definitely convinced on the act of sleeve shortening in future! Thanks Barbara.

  11. Annoying to Amazing…that is what patience and persistence gets you! Love the final outcome and I’m with the others about shortening the sleeves. You could detach the sleeve at the top and shorten from there by cutting down the sleeve head and reattaching to save the beautiful French cuff. Gathered sleeve heads went out with Dynasty. Great job, Poppy!

    1. Nothing quite compared to yours, considering you deal with turning flops into fabulous as a career! I’ll definitely be shortening full length sleeves in future – but there is zero chance of me going back and altering this one now – my brain won’t deal with that as an option :P Thanks Mrs Mole!

  12. Your “Mormon approved” comment made me laugh! I was just thinking the blouse was high-cut even for me. It turned out beautiful and this Mormon totally approves.

  13. So pretty! You’ve done a great job of taming the fabric into submission. Shame to hear about the Nicholas building. I remember they had a shop with great tailoring supplies there and also remember Buttonmania too. Good to hear the new owners give such postal great service.

    1. Thanks Vicki! It is, isn’t it? When I was working in the city, I spent many lunchtimes there, either at Buttonmania, L’ucello, or that fabulous beading shop on the level below. Definitely the end of an era, but yes – I can totally vouch for Buttonmania’s postal service ;)

  14. I much prefer to see Marfy patterns made up in real life rather than cartoon girls. This is no exception. Lovely fabric and well done on getting it to the finish!

  15. Such a lovely blouse…you did a great job taming that fabric! It sounds like 2017 was a successful sewing year for you. I still struggle to sew things I will wear as opposed to things I just want to sew. It seems I am constantly ripping the backs of armholes lately…for me it is on tops with extended sleeves, so I am avoiding those now. I often wondered how everybody else moved about their day…there is just not enough movement catered for in many designs. Dresses with sleeves are still a total mystery to me. My avoidance of sleeves means that I will forever have to live in a hot climate!

    1. Yes I have a few blouses from my early sewing days that ended their career in my wardrobe with a rip at the back at the bottom of the armscye, so I can attest to that. Bizarrely, I love sleeves on blouses, but on dresses, not so much. I think we’ve all gotten so used to the freedom of movement a good knit top provides, that it’s difficult with woven’s because we already expect so much from it. Ah well. Avoiding sleeves is not an option where I live – it’s far too cold for most of the year! Thanks Katherine :)

  16. I like that word “floofy”… Glad you persevered, as this is really pretty! Great call on the silk organza interfacing – isn’t it a miracle fabric? I do think your sleeves could be shorter – that would enhance those beautiful French cuffs. And, oh yes, the buttons are lovely! Despite all, I hope you enjoy wearing this blouse!

    1. haha, yep, it’s a good word, and entirely apt for that original sleeve draft! I’m only ever more and more convinced that silk organza IS the solution to pretty much everything. Except perhaps, in the instance where one’s sleeves need to be shortened… shame, really. Ah well – I always learn something with ever garment I make. Sometimes the realisation is considerably more substantial than usual! In future, I’ll certainly be checking sleeve length more judiciously :) Thanks Karen! I will.

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