Thursday, 14 February 2013

Bias-Cut Cowl-Neck blouse

Fabric: 2 meters Silk Georgette
Bought at: Silk Society, Berwick street, Soho,London
Price: £19 per meter
Thread: Guttermann sew all polyester
Closures: hooks and thread loops
Toile fabric: polyester Georgette from fabrics galore £6 meter.

I often like to imagine that there is a parallel Universe out there somewhere in which a sophisticated me floats around gracefully all day in chiffon blouses and fitted pencil skirts. The version of myself in our own Universe, however, does not have the patience for such a high maintenance look especially as, to me, most blouses and shirts never seem very comfortable or well fitted. I refuse to wear the boyish, button-down style with gaping buttons, preferring oversized, loose fitting tops which are less restrictive. But there is a part of me that wishes that the parallel Universe version of myself was less... parallel.

Well, now it is!

I decided I would make my own, perfect blouse, eliminating all the little annoying features which have previously made wearing them more foreign to me than watching a football match in Timbuktu.

First on my hit list of things to go were buttons, and any sort of traditional shirt collar. I always prefer a deep and rounded neckline and having flirted with the idea of a Peter Pan collar, I settled on a deep cowl neck design.

Once I'd made this decision, I began by drafting a fitted bodice from Winifred Aldridge's 'Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear' (my go to book for all my pattern drafting). I used this tutorial from for drafting a cowl neck.I eliminating the bust dart. I originally left in the waist darts for a fitted look, but left these put of the final design, due to the sheerness if the Georgette.

Next I made a toile with the waist darts and a button up back. This works well with the polyester Georgette, which was a heavier weight and less sheer than the silk. I opted for hooks and thread eyes rather than buttons, which would be too heavy. I moved the closure to under the arm, as doing buttons up behind your back is difficult and I was worried I would tear the delicate silk.

I cut the bodice on the bias to make the most of the drape for the cowl neck. Bias Georgette is not the easiest thing to work with. Having secured the fabric to my table to keep it taught while cutting, I cut all pieces in a single layer to ensure the grain lines were correct. Then I sewed the entire garment by hand, as I knew this fabric would end up sucked down the feed dogs of my machine. I know sticking a bit of tape over the feed dogs or covering my fabric with tissue paper can prevent this, but I am also trying to improve my hand sewing and use more couture techniques. This seems to have worked for me and I haven't noticed and rippling seams.

I wanted to have slightly flared sleeves narrowing at the wrist, but I find buttoned cuffs restrictive. As an alternative I made gathered elasticated cuffs. Part of me feels elastic and silk shouldn't go together, but I really like the look of these cuffs and they are comfortable and are easy to get on and off.

I also think this pattern will work well in lightweight jersey for summer, perhaps with tighter or no sleeves.

And now here I am. Ready to float around in a chiffon blouse like the parallel Universe version of myself. I still have to work on my grace though!


  1. Wow! Nice ! I admire your patience in hand sewing. Glad you found my tute to be useful. Happy Sewing.

    1. Hi- Thank you for the Tutorial- there are surprisingly few, and cowl necks are not covered in my pattern cutting book!Your blog is great!