Friday, October 28, 2022

Autumn Color and the Chopin Blouse

A kind of mood board from June Coburn

Now moving into autumn - I do love those colors - burnt orange, chocolate brown, burgundy, deep teal. I have a nice little pile of these in stash. It's been fun pulling them out and planning some pieces and ensembles. 

Patterns: Pearl jacket, Bristol top, Helix pants

Fall also puts me in the mood for shirts and all the details that accompany a shirt. An old Sewing Workshop pattern, the Chopin blouse, caught my eye somewhere, probably on the Sewing Workshop gallery. And then I discovered that I do not have it in stash. So how did that happen?!? I tend to collect all their patterns, but particularly the old ones.

The older ones have all the interesting details and shapes. The Chopin blouse came out in 1999 so it's of millennium vintage. In the illustration it looks kind of 90's, doesn't it? The shoulders look wide (and they were) and the proportions are very 90's, as well.  

So I queried my local ASG chapter and Beth (thank you, Beth) donated her copy to me. She said she doesn't want it back, but if you change your mind, Beth, you can have it. I traced my size and so the tissue is still intact. 

Oh, my, the details on the Chopin blouse! I kept some and omitted others, especially all that ruching! There is a collar band with a ruched collar above it. I just dropped the ruched collar and kept the band, something I often do with shirts anyway. The cuffs on the sleeves were deep and also ruched. I liked the depth but drafted a new cuff. 

Cuff facing, placket, cuff and other placket

Right and wrong side of cuff after assembly

Cuff ready to attach to the sleeve hem

I really love the shape of the sleeve. It is slightly bell shaped. The very deep cuffs angle back in to the wrists creating a narrow shape at the bottom. And the cuffs present a cool place for extra buttons. In the end I used 3 buttons on each cuff.

Finished cuff

Those pockets! Too bad they don't show up at all in this brown and white linen. I'll have to incorporate that idea into another shirt some time. I think it would be fairly easy to draft them onto a different pattern since they are simply overlaps top-stitched in place.

And there are godets in the side seams, giving the appearance of a waist. I think that would be flattering on lots of people.

Lastly there is the pleated back peplum. I goofed and inserted it backwards so mine is a box pleat instead of an inverted pleat. I might go back and fix that but probably not.

The silhouette was a problem. The pattern as drafted is quite oversized as most 90's shirts were. I am wondering if shoulder pads were intended. The shoulders on the size S definitly fell off my shoulders by a good inch.

And it was too long. I shortened the overall body by 3". In the back, I shortened it by 2" at the top of the peplum and another inch along the hem. I shifted the godets up a couple of inches after adjusting the horizontal seam on the peplum. Then I cut the remaining hems to be even with the back hem. The resulting hem is straight, instead of a shirt-tail hem.

I narrowed the shoulders and reduced the side seams on the shirt, as well as on the sleeve underarm seam to accommodate the shoulder adjustment. 

There were no lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern pieces, so I just had to wing it. Because it worked out, I now think of it as fun. It was quite nerve-wracking in process, though, because I was working with the fashion fabric rather than a muslin. 

I know. I know. But I was channeling Diane Ericson the entire time. She has such a playful approach to design and typically works with the actual fabric, adding and subtracting as the design and fit require. I aspire to be that experimental. 

And I got lucky this time.


  1. I have the pattern but it always seemed so fussy; your modifications created a lovely, wearable shirt. Thanks for the inspiration! I'll print your review off & put with my pattern.

  2. I love this top! You inspired me to find the pattern and will give it a try as soon as I receive. It. I just found your blog through Pinterest and feel your sewing is more like art, just the type of thing I’m going to focus on in 2023.

  3. I hope you are well! I have missed your creative ways and thoughtful words.

    1. Thanks! I had a busy and rough December but I'm readying my mojo for 2023.