Self-drafted sleeveless blouse + maritime shorts

Now is the time when I hesitate, stumble even, to admit my style inspiration for this blouse.  I mean, it would be very chic to style myself after somebody like, maybe, Audrey Hepburn...you know, classic, chic, beautiful...but I don't really do classic or chic.  I totally loved it today when Tanit-isis channeled her inner Courtney Love to make a sweet dress into a wearable garment.  Not me, I am not rock-chick cool either.  No, my current wardrobe inspiration comes from Camille from the series Death in Paradise.  In my defense, there are not a whole lot of tropical climate style icons out there....especially if your day involves more than sipping pina coladas at sunset. 

Anyway, sleeveless silk blouses were one of Camille's signature looks.  They really flattered her shape, and whilst I do not claim to look anything like Camille, I thought that they would work for me too.  So I have been meaning to draft something similar for a while now, and finally, this week, got to it.

 Ok, so I know I am not wearing the best bra for this top.  The fabric is more sheer than I realised when I bought it from The Fabric Store.  I tried it with a flesh coloured bra, but flesh coloured does not seem to be the same colour as my very white torso, and cast a dark shadow.  This white bra shows less in real life than these photographs.  I did reach for my red bra, but it is missing a wire...the state of my bra drawer is a bit sad...many missing wires and time for an overhaul and bra sew up.

The details:

The bust darts have been rotated into neckline gathers.  The button placket is an inch wide (double fold) and the neck band is 1/2 inch wide.  I wish I had gone with an inch for the neck band, as it would have been easier to sew; I was copying a RTW blouse in my wardrobe that had a half inch neckband.  I was happy when my buttonhole on that neckband worked out first time.  I put a piece of tracing paper underneath the neckband whilst sewing the button hole, and pulled it off afterwards, which worked like a charm.

There are no waist darts in the front.

The hem is a double fold, and worked out neatly as well.  The side seams are French seamed, so there are no exposed seams in the garment and no need for overlocking.  

One of the hardest parts of drafting my own patterns is deciding on the amount of ease.  Initially, I drafted this with 2 inches ease, which is what Suzy Furrer recommends for a fitted blouse.  That felt too restrictive in my muslin, so I let the side seams out 1/2 inch, resulting in a total of 4 inches ease.  This felt fine in the muslin, and even seemed fine in my blouse before I bound the armholes, but after binding the armholes, the armholes felt too big.  Which is a nice change from the last few tops where they have felt too small after binding.  The armholes are not actually gaping and do cover my bra, and are lovely and cool being this big, but next time I will either reduce the ease a little, or raise the armholes just a tad.

I added gathers below the back yoke, but I did not extend this fullness through the length of the garment.  It was about 3 cm extra width added to the top of the back panel (yes, mixing metric and imperial units in my drafting).  I kept the back darts, so that the top could tuck neatly into a skirt. (Recent rains means that I have hardly room for photos between the shrubs)

Camille would have tucked her blouse into a denim pencil skirt, or coloured shorts with a belt.  I wanted to cover 2 garments with one photoshoot, so I have paired it with Grainline's Maritime Shorts

I did say that I was not going to buy any new patterns, but I made a pair of Burda shorts that didn't work out.  This sent me looking through my pattern stash for shorts with a lower-than-waist waistband.  There were a few examples in my Patrones magazines, but I have been burnt by a couple of their patterns lately and lost confidence.  Instead, I downloaded the maritime shorts and quickly made them up from my remnant pile.  You can see my contrast waistband facing peeking out and I can tell you that I have Star Wars fabric in my pockets.  These were only meant to be a muslin, but they fit so well, I have been wearing them.  This has elicited comments from my family, who are not used to seeing me in such boldly patterned shorts.


  1. Great article, you are looking fab. thanks for sharing this post.
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  2. You are really killing this self drafting! The top is lovely. I really like that kind of neckline ... I so know Camille's style. Seems like we have the same super exciting weekend lifestyle... Saturday night watching Death in Paradise... ha ha ha. The shorts look a great fit...

  3. This blouse is dreamy! I would wear it all the time, and such a good use for the color and print of fabric.

  4. I'm very impressed with your self drafting & love this top. I too admire Camille's wardrobe & that's one of the few TV shows I have patience to watch!

  5. Both are lovely. Looks like you met your goal to have a relaxing blouse. Anything in silk will take your casual game up to the chic level in my book.

  6. Camille is beautifully chic for the tropics. Audrey would get heatstroke and look very dull and overdressed! Its a lovely top, by appearance, it has just the right amount of ease to be cool to wear without approaching shapelessness.

  7. Camille is my curly hair style inspiration. I do so love her whole look. But I haven't until now thought to emulate anything beyond her hair. Apart from the coloourfulness of the shorts I think you've totally nailed the look! That cool but practical style.

  8. Oh and I'm envious of you having enough rain your garden's going wild. The wet in the Top End's been lousy. sigh.

  9. Death in Paradise is hilarious (I think it's supposed to be right?!?) and Camille (& now Florence) are perfect fashion muses for your tropical lifestyle. This whole outfit is great, especially the patterned shorts which will work with lots of different Camille blouses.