It’s no secret that I love button-up, collared blouses. My regular work wardrobe is comprised almost exclusively of collared shirts, cardigans, sweaters to be mixed and matched with black slacks. It allows me to sneak a bit of 50’s and 60’s style into my professional wardrobe, which pleases me to no end. So I am always on the lookout for more collared blouses when I am out hunting for secondhand goodies, and have gotten quite lucky over time in finding a few in very good condition. My current wardrobe is in fact comprised entirely of secondhand and me-made blouses now, which I consider quite an achievement. However, there is still something I am lacking. And that is the truest of staple blouses, the white collared blouse.
White collared blouses, which button right to the top and which have full length sleeves, are hard to come by. For a long time the fashion has been open collars, which simply isn’t my style. So you can understand why I get so very excited if I happen to find one that fits my profile. But I had been doing some thinking, and decided that if I couldn’t readily find what I was after I would simply have to make some. I would pick up every bit of white fabric in a decent length I could find secondhand, and I would hunt out the perfect work blouse pattern.
My criteria were fairly simple. The blouse pattern needed to have full length sleeves without exaggerated cuffs; it needed to have darts or princess seams for shaping; it needed to have a collar; and it needed to button right to the top. And in the course of my searching I did come across several patterns which almost fit the bill, but weren’t quite right. It was proving trickier than I thought to find the perfect pattern. I then stumbled over a complete unused copy of McCall’s 6436 whilst at a local op-shop and was gobsmacked. This particular op-shop doesn’t get a lot of sewing supplies, and the pattern stock hadn’t changed in quite some time. But here this was, for only $1!
I snatched it up at once. And what else should I find at this same shop, but a length of this blue floral fabric which seemed to be cotton and in great condition. It was also only a few dollars! I took the pattern home and traced out the size 14, which seemed to be the closest to my measurements, and tested it on some old muslin fabric I had lying around. I was confident enough in the fit, but I thought the length was too extreme on me. So when I set to cutting it out of the blue floral fabric I shortened the pattern quite a bit, thinking it would then sit better around my hips. I also prepared all the pieces with interfacing before trundling off to a crafternoon at a friend’s house where I planned to work through the rest.
However, as it turned out, this was a blouse where many mistakes were made. I shortened the pattern far too much and wasn’t able to then tuck it in, which is how I prefer to wear my blouses. I also used completed the wrong collar instructions, for View A rather than D, and by the time I noticed couldn’t unpick and go again as I had already trimmed everything down. My buttonhole on the collar-band also threw off the button placement on the rest of the placket which caused it to sit strangely. Quite disastrous, right? It was certainly comfortable to wear to work at least, so it is now in my constant rotation.
But not to be deterred by these mistakes I tried again. This time using some white quilting cotton type fabric I had found at an op-shop, and which I had been saving for making a white collared blouse. I once again went with size 14 and this time shortened only by 2″ running my line across from the side seams. I was also much more careful this time to start my buttonholes on the placket rather than the collar, which allowed it all to sit far more evenly. I used up every button I had bought, plus an extra, slightly different button for the collar band. Thank goodness the op-shop had two packets of the same buttons, or else I wouldn’t have had nearly enough!
I am very pleased with how this blouse turned out, and how professional the hand-stitching makes the placket, cuffs and collar-band look. However, this one somehow ended up larger in size than the first, which I find a bit strange. It also bothers me a little as the collar now isn’t as tight as I like it to be. However, I am still choosing to take this as a win. It is now at least the perfect length, is of a nice thick fabric which isn’t as see-through as a lot of white blouses can be, and will certainly be a staple in my wardrobe. Not only is it great for work, but slipped under my favourite second-hand dress it really captures that 60’s jumper dress style I love!
Pattern: McCall’s 6436, sizes 8-16
Views Made: View D, size 14
Pros: The instructions are well detailed, and the use of hand-stitching on so many portions of the blouse gives it a beautiful and professional finish.
Cons: While I love the hand-stitched finishes, they do take quite a long time to complete. So this isn’t exactly a quick blouse to make.
Would I recommend it to beginners: I’m a bit on the fence about that, just due to the hand-stitching requirements. But I would say if you’re a somewhat adventurous beginner to definitely give it a go.
Would I sew it again: At this stage no, I am happy with the two blouses I’ve made.