Adapting an old blouse, the Karen way

Britain’s Next Top Model? The Completed Blouse.

I seem to have spotted a Spanish galleon on the horizon. Quick! Hide your women and children.

I had an old silk blouse that had been a wardrobe stalwart over the years, but the silk had faded and finally ripped as I put it on a hanger. I really liked that blouse. It did just what it said on the tin – covered up my top half in a non-fussy way, going with anything. So when the fabric tore, I decided I’d try to rescue the blouse.

First, I cut the item open at the seams (and down the centre of the front panel) so that I would have pattern pieces. I carefully rescued the buttons and – inspired! – the panel of button loops:


Karen has a new cutting mat and rotary cutter.

This was my first outing with the rotary cutter. I have to say, it suited this project down to the ground. I was cutting the new blouse from fabric I ordered after seeing Roobeedoo’s make with this lovely black lawn. I didn’t even have to pin anything, just followed the outline of the rescued garment to cut my own, adding a generous seam allowance:

That grey fabric used to be black. And I was still wearing this?

I unpicked the original darts and used them to mark fresh darts:

Marking darts. Clever, huh?

But the most inspired part of this make was inserting the buttons down the back panel at the neck. Remember those button loops I rescued? I did this:


And this:

And ended up with this:

A lot of time and effort saved.

My one regret with this blouse is… I can hardly bear to type it. I’m so annoyed with myself. I had yet more problems with my narrow upper chest. I knew this was a problem with the original blouse and has been an issue with countless prior projects. (It lends itself to gaping armholes and a baggy upper part of the blouse.) I’d bought a book to show me how to adjust pattern pieces to address this problem. I KNEW how to fix this. And I went ahead anyway, convincing myself that it would be fine, that this time there wouldn’t be any issue. There was. So I’ve done my usual bodge job of adding extra darts after completing the finished item. Yes, I know. You can imagine, can’t you? Anyone who has the simplest understanding of sewing would probably look at my darting and shudder. Fortunately, I work and socialise with people who think my sewing is source of high amusement and wouldn’t know a French seam if it asked them, ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?’ Plus, I tend to wear this sleeveless item as a base layer, with cardigans etc over the top. So I think I’m safe. But Karen, please! When you have learned a lesson, apply your knowledge!

UPDATE: I decided to take those extra darts back out in the end and the top works just fine without them. A dreadful case of a Sewist over-analysing an item.


Vogue V1183 and The Nearly Dress. Don’t worry, this hasn’t been forgotten. Last week I was waiting for my mat and rotary cutter to arrive before embarking on a second muslin. It’s all systems go, now! Thank you all so much for your constructive comments on that post. Greatly appreciated. Funny how you need other people to point out the obvious to you.

The Kamikaze Butterfly dress (or Simplicity 2512 if you want to get technical) had probably its last outing of the year (brrrrr!) when I met up with my oldest friends this weekend:


Two of these women knew me as a teenager.

Right, I’m off. I have a task to perform. Zoe of SoZo has asked me to purchase a metre and a half of some fabric her eagle eyes spotted on one of my recent Walthamstow market posts. I’m not making any promises, but if I spot that grey zebra print it’s yours, Zoe!

Honestly. It’s all go!



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10 Responses to Adapting an old blouse, the Karen way

  1. whimsycate says:

    Oooh, i like it, love the material, and the cheeky use of the button loops – crafty!

    cate, x

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful material. I can’t wait to see the top on you. What a stroke of genius to use the buttons and placket of button loops!!!

  3. stitchywitch says:

    Good for you replicating your blouse! I often think about doing that, but somehow I never get around to it.

    I was inspired by you, and I’m going to make V1183 out of some tweedy wool. I can’t wait to see the results of all your fitting!

  4. Ooh, Stitchywitch! That’s so exciting that you’re making the V1183 too. It will look lovely on you in tweed. Can’t wait to see it and compare/contrast.

  5. Roobeedoo says:

    I see no ships!
    Fab re-make! Those button / loops are great!

  6. Tilly says:

    Wow, saving the button loops, that’s inspired, Karen! New blouse looks lovely – the fabric is great.

    I’ve just explained to my boyfriend that you’re buying fabric for someone you’ve never met, who lives in a different city and spotted it in the background of one of your photos. He’s suitably impressed! x

  7. karen says:

    I’m going to start taking orders!

  8. juebejue says:

    wow! i love how you salvaged the button loops! 😀 it looks great!

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