gertie’s portrait blouse

many of you no doubt have gertie’s new book laying around. i received a copy for my birthday back in november and immediately devoured every bit of information she had to offer. now, as i’ve mentioned before, i’m not much into wearing the vintage inspired garments (though i do love to oogle at them), nor am i much into the hand sewing when i think a machine can do it better. nevertheless, i love many of the patterns included in her book and still enjoy reading and learning the vintage techniques. i may not use them much, i can certainly appreciate them.


i have a distinct lack of nice tops in my wardrobe so i thought i would try out the portrait blouse with a beautiful piece of rayon challis i picked up (it’s from the van gogh collection by free spirit fabrics). now, i have an unwarranted disdain for shirts that require zippers in them. just a personal preference, but there you have it. i decided to eliminate the tucks so i could slip the blouse on and off, but to retain the waist shaping, i added two rows of shirring. i also added 3″ in length to the blouse since i will mostly wear it with jeans and not tucked into a high waisted skirt.


before i started i checked out some reviews on the pattern, and there were a few complaints about the difficulty in hemming the sleeve. the instructions have you sew up the sides, then hem the sleeve by turning and stitching. now, the edge of the fabric will be much shorter than the line where you end up stitching. i decided to alter the pattern slightly and add extra fabric to the edge of the sleeve opening, then hem sleeve before sewing the side seam.

that little triangle of fabric makes all the
difference in hemming the sleeve easily!


here’s what i did:

i ran a line of hand stitching along the 5/8″ mark where the sleeve is to be hemmed, then i pressed along this line.


next i ever so slightly stretched the edge of the fabric around the underarm curve so it would turn in nicely. do be careful that you only stretch at the very edge and not further in! the actual pressed hemline must stay intact.


i serged the edge with 1/4″ of stitching, then using the serged edge as a guide, i pressed it in and folded the sleeve hem in place and pinned.


then i was able to easily stitch at 1/4″ and remove the line of basting.


when i went to sew up the side seams, i simply tacked the seam allowance back right under the arm.

i managed to bias face the neckline in self fabric without swearing once! if you’ve ever tried to use rayon challis as bias facing or binding you know what i’m talking about. i turned a 1″ hem at the bottom, then added a tiny pocket just for fun.


this turned out to be a great top i can wear layered with cardigans for now while the weather is cold. it works with jeans, but would also be cute with a pencil skirt and belted.


i love the funky fabric i choose. these are my favorite shades of pink, and it works great as a blouse. i haven’t seen many reviews of this top yet, but i can see it being a very versatile pattern. i would like to try it out with the tucks next time and maybe a button closure down the front to avoid the whole zipper thing.


as far as sizing, i made a 4 on top then graded out to a 6 at the waist, then added 3″ in length. i think i have a slightly elongated torso (but a high waist), so definitely check the length before you make this up. again, if it were always tucked into an at-waist or higher skirt, you’d probably be fine. the bust darts could be moved up 1/2-3/4″, but this is a typical alteration for me. overall, this patten is a winner—it’s quick to make up and is virtually a blank canvas for whatever your need it to be!

—lisa g.

UPDATE: tutorial HERE for the rayon bias facing

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20 thoughts on “gertie’s portrait blouse

  1. Susan says:

    I really like your version of this top, and the changes to make the sleeve hemming easier make a lot of sense. Rayon challis bias strips… you're a better woman than I am! Love that fabric.

  2. rantygobshyte says:

    Ah, thank you for this – I just made one that turned into a DISASTER!!!! I also hate zips on blouses, though I sucked it up and put one in what is now my unwearable toile! :DNext time I make this there will be shirring. I like shirring…

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