I love wearing tops, shirts and blouses with trousers and jeans and have managed to build up quite a selection of different styles of the years using my favourite sewing patterns. I often get asked about the patterns I use so in the post I wanted to share a round up of my top most worn ones.
If you are thinking of making a shirt or blouse this summer then I hope it helps to inspire your next project! It's a fun and satisfying garment to make, and once you find a style and pattern that you like, it's easily to get different looks and effects by using different types of fabric with the same pattern, or my making some simple adaptions and customisations.
Here me chat through them all in my latest Youtube video, or read on for pictures and links to the patterns I've used and suggested fabrics!
I tend to use these terms interchangeably, but in the interests of the blog post, I had a look at the actual meaning and they essentially mean the same thing - a garment worn on the upper body with a collar, buttons down the front and cuffs with the difference being a shirt references what a male version and a blouse is a female version.
I would say, for me, I wear both types of garment and I tend to see shirts as having more of the classic features of a collar with a stand, a proper button placket where there is a separate bit of fabric stitched on to form it and cuffs with a placket as well.
Where as a blouse might have buttons down the front but the button band/placket is created by sewing a facing on, or by folding the front bodice back on itself. Instead of a collar the neckline might be finished off with bias binding or a facing and the sleeves might have a regular hem or perhaps elastic in them.
Either way, I don't think there is a right and wrong, but all of the garments I feature in this post will have one thing in common in that they will have buttons going down the front of them!
In this section I'll round up the 'shirts' that I've made that have more of the classic features of a collar stand, collar, cuffs and plackets.
This is a really classic style for me and I've sewn a lot of different versions over the years. It's fairly loose fitted in that it doesn't have any bust darts and it quite boxy through the body. It does have a back yoke section that makes it more fitted across the shoulders. There is another version that comes with the pattern that has a gathered section at the back. I have made that version before, but I much prefer the simple classic one.
The fabrics I've used to make the Archers, which are pictured below are, viscose linen, a medium weight checked cotton (so much painstaking pattern matching in that one), a light weight embroidered denim, a cotton needle cord and viscose twill and a viscose dobby.
We've also featured the archer in our Sewing Society kits (twice!) over the years so my top tips video on completing this project is also available.
I've made quite a few versions of this pattern well over the years. There are quite a lot of versions you can make with this pattern, including a dress. There are also options for the type of button band (standard, hidden placket or pop-over - so the buttons don't go all the way to the bottom). It has short, grown-on sleeves with a cuff but and can also get a sleeve expansion pack directly from the Closet Core website as a pdf (link here), but I've not tried that before.
We did also feature it in a Sewing Society kit a few years ago as well and my top tips video for this make is still available.
For the versions I've shared here I used a cotton lawn and a cotton linen fabric and a viscose linen fabric.
This is a smock-style shirt and shirtdress pattern featuring vertical pintucks along the shoulder and neckline. Marie has a comfortable loose fit, billowing bishop sleeves and two collar options - choose from a frilly pie-crust collar and matching cuffs or an unexpected double classic collar. The pattern is available as a PDF directly from the By Hand London website (link here).
We featured this gorgeous pattern in a Sewing Society kit last year and I love all of the little details on it. You can use lots of different types of fabric, but for the version I made I used a plain weave viscose fabric. It is a fuller style in the bust and bodice but a light weight fabric like the viscose makes it floaty and light to wear.
This is another shirt that I have made multiple versions of over the years. It's similar in ways to the Closet Core Kalle in that it has short grown on sleeves with a cuff but it is more fitted through the body with bust darts and shaping at the waist. It come with a full length sleeve options as well, but I've only ever made the short sleeve version.
The pattern was previously available as a printed pattern but not only available as a PDF directly from the Deer and Doe website (link here).
For the versions I've made I used a lighter weight cotton pique fabric and a cotton lawn. I think it would also work in viscose fabrics too for version with more drape and movement.
The Amherst is described as a camp-style shirt with cargo styling and classic shirt features. I had a collar stand, back yoke and separate button band with patch pockets and a sleeve tab.
We featured this pattern, which is available as a PDF directly from the Hey June Handmade website (link here), in a Sewing Society kit a few years ago using a light weight Tencel Denim. It makes this shirt hang beautifully due to the drape of the Tencel but it could easily be made in a cotton lawn or linen mix for a bit more structure. We have a very similar Tencel denim available in the shop now and my top tips video that came with the kit is also available as well to help you complete this project.
In this section I'll round up the 'blouses' that I've made that have other slightly different features to a classic shirt. So it might be the was the button placket/button band is constructed, how the neckline is finished or how the sleeve hem is finished.
This pattern features in the 'Breaking the Pattern' Book from Named Patterns.
For my version I used a plain weave viscose fabric in a now discontinued Atelier Brunette fabric, but there are lots of other new fabric options from them.
I've made two versions of this lovely blouse where the button-band and neckline are finished off with a facing in a lowish v shape and the puff sleeves have a narrow cuff finishing. The pattern is available as a PDF directly from the Fibremood website (link here).
My first version, made with 4 different colours of the the Atelier Brunette Double gauze gingham, is a little different from the original pattern as I raised the neckline and curved it out. Instead of a facing the the centre front I cut out the front bodice wider so that I could fold it back on itself to create the button-band. I then used bias binding to finish off the rest of the neckline. It's out-with the scope of this post to explain that process in detail, but it's on my list for a future tutorial! The length of this version is as per the pattern and I find it a little short in that I can't tuck it in. I also find the sleeve length on this version to be a fraction too short for me too and over the course of the day it ends up sitting above my elbow.
For my second version I stuck with how the pattern was intended in terms of the facing and v-shaped neckline. The modifications I made to this one was to lengthen the sleeves by 2 inches and the bodice by 5 inches so that I could tuck it in. I used a light weight cotton dobby fabric and I really love it. It's nice and light weight to wear and for me, the slight tweak in sleeve length and bodice length make it more comfortable to wear.
The Honey blouse/top has some lovely details with a statement collar and gathered sleeves with a tie. The pattern is available as a PDF directly from the Fibremood website (link here). The button-band is formed by folding the front bodice back on itself and the collar construction is more classic with a collar stand. I find that it does come up a bit short, but worn with high waisted jeans or trousers I think this suits its boxy shape. The ties on the sleeve are nice but I find that they come untied a lot and get in the way a bit - one day I will sew them into a box so they don't do that!
For me version I used the Fabric Godmother Viscose sateen, which is very slippery and gives the blouse a fancier finish. I think it would also work well with light weight cotton fabrics like lawn, a dobby spot or a viscose linen and these fabrics would be much easier to handle as well.
This blouse is fairly simple to construct with its set-in sleeves, rounded neckline finished with bias binding, simply hemmed sleeves and separate button placket. The added pretty detail is the triangular yoke with delicate gathers. The pattern is available as a PDF directly from the Fibremood website (link here).
For my version I used a viscose crepe fabric that works really nicely with the looser shape and gathers that the blouse has. Any type of viscose would work with it, such as plain weave and viscose twill. Lighterweight cottons would also look nice too and I don't think would feel too full as the gathers aren't that tight together.
This classic blouse has an elegant, deep-but-not-revealing V-neck with a curved shirt tail hem and centre back pleat. Choose between sleeve options: a ¾ length lantern sleeve, a gentle ¾ length bell sleeve or add some on trend gathers with an elasticated cuff instead! The cup sizes included in the kit will help you get a great fit over the bust too! the pattern is available as a PDF directly from their website (link here).
We featured this pattern in a Sewing Society kit so my top tips video for completing this project is still available. We had 3 quite different fabrics in the kit: an embroidered viscose linen, an embroidered plain weave viscose and a 100% light weight cotton broderie anglaise fabric. It does come up fairly long so for the white version I shortened the bodice so that I could weave it untucked, but if you are looking for a simple smart blouse to be tucked into trousers its great!
The neckline is finished off with bias binding and the button-band is created by folding back the front bodice on itself so it is a fairly simple blouse to sew up.
This button up shirt has a relaxed fit with a soft, camp style collar and several different customisable design features to give you a gorgeous garment that can be mix and matched for any season. Opt for a fun tie front with a slightly cropped length, that still works will with mid-high rise bottoms. Or stick with a longer length - great for tucking in or wearing loose and casual. Choose between short sleeves, long bell sleeves or for a more summery vibe, go sleeveless and finish off with bias binding. There are optional breast pockets and a beautiful back yoke detail that is finished off using the 'burrito method' - giving you a sleek and professional finish on the inside.
The pattern is available as a PDF directly from the Helens Closet website (link here).
I love this pattern and have made several versions that get a LOT of wear. In the summer I love my embroidered double gauze one! I've also made versions in a plain weave viscose and viscose linen but I think it also works well in light weight cottons like lawns or dobby spots.
This lovely pattern can also be made as a dress and has several sleeve options. The neckline is finished off with a facing and the button band is created by folding the bodice back on itself. For my version I used a viscose crepe but any typw of viscose would work well. Light weight cottons as listed above would also work too.
I hope that round up has inspired you and helped you to see the differences between the patterns. If you have any questions please feel free to get in contact with the team on [email protected]
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