The “Should have left it White” Blouse

So, this is another of my Patterns by Gertie retro inspired makes, and probably the last summer thing you’ll see around here for a while. Ah summer, I miss you! I sewed this blouse up at the end of August/beginning of September, so I haven’t actually been able to wear it other than for the shoot as it’s been a pretty cold autumn so far.

I have to admit, originally I only intended this blouse as a toile, because after looking at online reviews I realised it would probably be too short for my liking. Why not lengthen it, you ask? Well, the pattern pieces have no markings to do this, and they are some of the craziest shaped pattern pieces I’ve seen so I didn’t feel confident making any alterations until I’d had a go at sewing it together.

And then I made it, and it turned out better than I thought, and I should have left it how it was but like an idiot, I thought I could improve things with a purple dye bath…

In a Nutshell:

Could have been a cute, if exceedingly cropped, summer blouse if I hadn’t tried to be all clever. Now it’s just an unloved toile. Sigh.


Butterick B5895, part of the Patterns by Gertie range, and now sadly out of print. I made the blouse (obviously), which has a wide flat collar, grown on short sleeves, darts for shaping, and a tie at the bottom of the button placket. And look, it comes with these cute cropped cigarette trousers too! I would absolutely be making those if it weren’t for the fact I’ve already been working on the ones I’m wearing in the pics for this post (blogged here). Ah well. Unfortunately, the pattern has recently gone out of print, but it’s still lurking with certain online retailers, so if you want to try it yourself, snap it up as soon as you see it!

My measurements put me in a size 14 for the bust, between 14 and 16 for the waist, and 16 for the hip, but based on the finished garment measurements I figured I’d want to go for a size 12. That gives 41″ of fabric at the bust which is 5″ of ease. That’s plenty for me! I think it’s given me the fit that the cover model has.


It’s something I picked up in a charity shop years ago as part of a bundle for next to nothing. I was never all that excited by the print, to be honest, but held onto it in case I wanted to use it for a toile. I had assumed it was a polyester blend as it feels so smooth, but after doing a quick burn test before making this I realised, much to my delight, that it’s actually a rather nice quality cotton lawn.

50p included for scale, because let’s face it, those scissors could be any size. They’re actually a gorgeous pair of Merchant and Mills buttonhole scissors, if you’re interested. Highly recommend these!

New skills learnt:

This was my first time making a collar of any kind (unless you count a peter pan one I did for Daisy’s school dresses). I feel slightly embarrassed admitting that, but there we go. For some reason I’ve been scared of them. Actually, it was pretty fiddly and probably my least favourite part of the make, but I’m glad I’ve finally dipped my toes into the world of collars. I foresee plenty more in my sewing future! Just maybe not this wide…

Changes I made:

  • None, other than using french seams in places (see next section).


I’ve got to say, this pattern has some of the most peculiarly shaped pattern pieces I’ve ever seen! They make sense now I’ve sewn it all up, but when I first looked at them they didn’t look anything like a bodice block. From the beginnning I was intrigued and excited by this make.

As I wasn’t too sure what the fit would be like on this (5″ still sounded like a lot of bust ease, but I didn’t want a summer top to be too tightly fitted) I opted to baste all the main seams after sewing the darts, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it seemed to fit, especially at the back where I often have some fit issues–I think the centre back seam shaping really helped here. At this point I decided that maybe I was actually making a wearable toile, and it would be worth taking my time to get a nice finish. I still wasn’t sold on the white fabric, however, and decided to sew with cotton thread so it would take any dye I later decided to transform the finished garment with.

That meant no overlocking as I only have polyester thread cones for that, so I ended up going for French seams on the centre back and side seams. So glad I’m now confident with french seaming curves! I did use the overlocker in a couple of places as what with the way the collar is added, I couldn’t french seam the shoulder seams, and I couldn’t be bothered to finish the edges of the facing with anything more time consuming like a binding. Also, I was worried it would be too bulky and show through this fine fabric. Yeah, that’s it. Not lazy at all, honest…

I didn’t have quite enough fabric to cut the facings whole, but a bit of crafty piecing on one side meant I could just squeak them out. I did have to cut the back facing on the crossgrain too, but I’m fairly sure that doesn’t matter. I suppose I could have used a plain white fabric for the facings (I do have some left over from ages ago) but as the front facing shows at the collar, I thought it would look best to use the main fabric there in this particular case. I mean, I love the idea of a contrast colour collar, but not white on this fabric. That wouldn’t be enough of a contrast to look good.

Construction was pretty straightforward, except for attaching the back collar which got a bit tricky and had me swearing and getting out the seam ripper a few times. I probably should have looked up tutorials for some handy tips to get this right, but I have the feeling it’s one of those things that will always be a bit challenging. Some sewing operations just are, aren’t they? I helped myself out a bit by handbasting everything first, but it was still awkward to get all the layers aligned just so. There’s still a tiny bit visible where I fluffed it up, but it’s hidden on the inside so I’m not bothered.

I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a beginner despite it being rated “easy”, simply because of the instructions. They are sufficient but they assume a certain level of sewing competence and don’t include every step like trimming and clipping seam allowances, staystitching and so on. Also, the illustrations are small and unclear, which does become a bit of an issue when sewing on the collar. I’d say that’s fairly typical of Butterick patterns, and if you’re used to sewing with Indie patterns it could come as a shock.

Time taken: 4 hours 38 mins

(time taken is the time to sew, which will include pinning, stitching, pressing, etc, but doesn’t include time spent planning, tracing patterns, cutting out fabric, setting up the sewing machine, puzzling out instructions, trying things on, etc. So in other words, it’s not actually the total time I’ve spent making something, but it’s a rough guide at any rate. Just don’t come complaining if it takes you longer to make something!)

Overall verdict:

Looking at these pictures, I really, really like this blouse. However, looking the mirror I don’t. The collar is just too wide on me. It could be simply that I’m not used to this style, but I think my narrow shoulders might have something to do with it. I also think it could do with being a couple of inches longer, which should be an easy enough adjustment even without the lengthen/shorten lines being included. It’s just a slash and spread operation, after all.

But let’s think about what works, rather than what doesn’t. It’s a cute design: simple but with enough dart shaping to give a flattering fit, and the collar and tie definitely give it a retro vibe. I can see it being an excellent summer wardrobe addition when worn with high waisted shorts. They’d need to hit me at the true waist, though, as there’s definitely a bit of muffin top going on in these pics. Ah well. Let’s have a look at the evidence…

But of course, after taking these pics I decided I was unlikely to wear the blouse as is, but that I might if I transformed it into a colour that was more “me”. And I did so that very afternoon, as I had a packet of Dylon Ultra Violet in my cupboard. Hmm… In hindsight, that was a mistake. Not only is the resulting mauve colour fairly unattractive, but the cotton thread seems to have shrunk in the dye bath and all my seams and darts now look a bit gathered. Gah! I really didn’t see that happening.

ETA: here are the pics of the ruined top. Not wearing it, because it’s too depressing. Sorry!

Butterick B5895 ruined! 2

Changes for next time:

I will definitely make this blouse again next summer, and I will definitely be making it a few inches longer! I’ll also narrow that collar by an inch or so, and try out a contrast fabric for the facings which will show at the collar. I like the idea of some crazy, bright patterned fabric like on the pattern envelope. Possibly with Day of the Dead skulls. Yeah, this is one of those garments that can take a bit of crazy in my opinion.

I’d also like to try adding contrast cuffs on the sleeves. Hemming them was a bit fiddly and I reckon a cuff would not only make this easier, but it would look really cute.


Pattern: £4.13

It should have been £8.25, but I bought it in a half price sale so only spent £4.13. Yay!

Fabric: £0

I know it cost me something, but it wasn’t much and I can’t remember anyway.

Notions: £0

Buttons, thread and interfacing all from stash.

Total cost: £4.13

Bit of a bargain, but since it’s only a toile I don’t think I’ll be counting this against future makes (I divide the pattern cost by the number of times I’ve made it going forward). So essentially this cost nothing, and the next will cost £4.13 plus fabric.

Photoshoot outtakes:

Oh my Gawd, did I just tread in cat poo?!

So, what do you reckon? Have you ever ruined a garment with an ill-advised dye bath? And would you give a blouse like this a space in your wardrobe?

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

11 thoughts on “The “Should have left it White” Blouse”

  1. It’s cute! But I hear ya on the collar. It’s quite dramatic. I love the tie detail though! I’d like to make something like this, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Mine would have to be long enough to cover my stomach though, because I don’t quite have your figure ☺️ I think this would look absolutely awesome in a day of the dead fabric – then it gives a vintage style a cool modern twist. While I love vintage styles on other people, I just can’t seem to pull them off ☹️ as for the dye bath… you live and learn hey

    1. Thanks! I’d recommend this pattern but you definitely want to add length first! And shave down the collar… I love a bit of retro, but sometimes it needs a more modern twist for me to really want to wear it. This collar is just too much at this width. It was literally all I could see when I looked in the mirror!

      And yeah, I prefer to learn without making garment-ruining mistakes, but hey, sometimes that’s just the way it is and there’s no point crying over a purple dye bath

    1. No, sorry! I was just so upset about it I couldn’t bear to take a photo. I’ll do it today and add it to the post, I promise!

  2. Hi there,
    Enjoyed reading about your experience with this pattern! 🙂
    I made this shirt up a couple of months ago, but the chest has come up massive on me! (the back is fine).
    Due to it’s construction…i’m really struggling with how I might make it smaller across the chest so I can wear it. It’s such a shame as it looks great!
    Just thought I’d see if you might have any ideas? 🙂
    Alternatively, i’m going to have to re-make it…but try to do a ‘small bust adjustment’ to the pattern piece itself (new to me…eek!).
    Thanks muchly in advance
    Natasha 🙂

    1. Hi Natasha! This pattern does have an excessive amount of ease, doesn’t it?

      I’d recommend putting it on inside out and seeing if you can pin out fabric anywhere to make it fit you. Perhaps something like a fish eye dart down each side at the front? Then, once you’ve got something that works you have to decide if you’re going to like having darts in those places. If so, stitch those babies!

      I’ve tried pinning out darts to make things fit me in this way and it usually works well, although it does depend on the garment and sometimes I might have to unpick a seam somewhere to make it work. I hate doing alterations like this, but I’m always glad I did when I wear the finished garment 🙂

      Hope that helps!

      Anna x

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