orange silk blouse | mccalls 6793

my last post was of a scout tee in silk, but this blouse is actually the first one i made, and my first real foray into the world of floaty silks! natch, it comes with a convoluted narrative, so bear with me…


last winter i entered the sewing for children pattern review contest and came in second for the coat i made my daughter. my prize was a $50 gift certificate to truthfully, most of what they sell isn’t really my thing (haven’t looked recently though), but they do have a small selection of fabrics. i ended up treating myself to two yards of a silk crepe de chine. the price tag was a whopping $23/yd, so i crossed my fingers that it would live up to my expectations. at the time i didn’t know my chine from my charmeuse and had hoped to use it as a fancy jacket lining, but duh it’s totally the wrong type of silk for that. so… it sat in my sewing room for months and i kinda forgot about it until recently.


i decided to make a blouse (though i wasn’t completely convinced that orange would look good on me) but in typical i’m afraid to ruin this fabric mode, i agonized over the details. for weeks. you know how it is… the longer you hold onto a nice cut of fabric, the harder it gets to use… then on a whim i decided to use mccalls 6793 and make the bow blouse with the peplum gathers and blouse-y sleeves (i love those sleeves!!), but as it turned out, i didn’t have quite enough fabric for that version. however, it led me to trying out the pattern on much less expensive fabric, specifically the bow blouse i made recently. i’m glad i did because i realized i really don’t need many bow blouses in my wardrobe. also, it was perfect to test the fit so i could confidently cut into my precious fabric. since i had the fit worked out, i decided to make some design changes. i browsed a ton of blouses online and decided to do the following:

  • raise the neckline to be more scooped
  • add a front button placket
  • bias bind the neckline
  • add a back yoke
  • add 2″ to CB of lower back piece for light gathers
  • add 1″ to back length, curve hem up at the sides

from my last version, i only tweaked the sizing a tad. i cut a straight S on the back piece (but added 2″ width at CB gathered to the yoke). on the front i also cut a straight S, but slashed and spread from the waist to swing the width out to a M at the hemline (just as i did for my last scout). anymore i prefer the “slash and spread/overlap” instead of grading between sizes because it feels more accurate and it’s more obvious what pattern changes i’m making to get the fit i need.


even though i had all the details worked out in my head, i still procrastinated starting my project because i had about zero experience on dealing with silk. after a bit of online research and some swatch testing, i felt pretty confident that my fabric would not fall apart if i machine washed it, so in it went on the cold/handwash cycle. i threw in a color catcher sheet for good measure. after washing i line dried it, and that was it!

construction was slow, but all went well. the first thing i did was make the front button placket, and let’s just say i’m glad that i’m very comfortable with this process otherwise it would have been a nightmare. it’s still not perfect; even though i was using a microtex needle, it had a hard time piercing the layers. i encased the yoke seams as i would a regular button up, and french seamed the sides. the armholes i trimmed way down and serged.


i realized i haven’t done a proper bias bound neckline in… i can’t even remember when, if ever! it’s a bit nerve-wrecking since you have to chop off the whole seam allowance. no turning back once you choose to go that route. fortunately it turned out pretty darn good. in the future, i think i need to “pre-stretch” the binding before cutting it to the right width. as in, cut bias strips wider than needed and actually stretch them out, then cut to the width i need. i think that would have made the bias tape more stable and easier to bind. if anyone has thoughts or experience, feel free to chime in on that one!


i love these feminine bloused sleeves. they have a continuous binding placket and bias bound cuff/hem. if i had to do over again i wouldn’t bother with cutting the cuff on the bias (per the directions); the bias made it extremely difficult to sew since my fabric is cray cray stretchy on the bias. i had to meticulously measure the cuff as i gathered the sleeve to it to make sure it ended up the right length.


anyways, i’m glad i finally got over my fear of silk, and i’m glad i fretted over every detail. even though i had the difficulty ramped up in my head, i would have regretted skimping on the details. i think the hardest part sewing wise was getting used to the feel, or lack thereof, of the fabric. the stuff is so thin and floaty that it almost disappears under your fingertips. other than that, it was pretty well behaved. and oh yeah… i love my blouse!

—lisa g.

bow blouse | mccalls 6793

one thing i’ve been trying to do over the past year is make things to fill gaps in my wardrobe. blouses rank very high on that list, so i pulled out mccalls 6793. maybe it’s the archers in my life speaking, but i’ve been fully embracing the boxy tops as of late. the fabric i have is a cotton lawn of the most silky variety. i found this yardage at my local fabric haunt for $3.99/yd (score!) and i can not believe that it’s just cotton. those super high quality cottons i’ve read of were really only the stuff of legends to me, and now i get it. the feel is amazing! to be honest, i don’t 100% love the print. it’s okay, but with that feel at that price it had to come home with me. initially i planed to make a scout tee, but the print is so large i thought it needed some extra details to break up the print, hence the bow.

this pattern is sized XS-S-M-L-XL-XXL which always annoys me. i get that with the boxy fit individual sizes aren’t totally necessary, but still. knowing that you usually need to size down with these patterns it’s hard to pick a size to go with. i went with a S at the bust, grading out to the M at the waist/hip. to make sure it didn’t cling over my hips i made a curved hemline and lengthened the back by 1″. my measurements hit the upper end of the sizes i chose, so i thought i’d be pretty safe. and really it’s not far off, i like the fit in the bust/shoulders, but i really could have kept to the small at least through the waist and just flared out at the hip. partially to blame is my fabric choice which has a touch too much body for this fit (this pattern would be great in a rayon or silk crepe de chine). i’ll probably end up taking the sides in a little, but other than that i’m happy with it.

not trying to look all stiff here... it was windy and i was trying to keep my top in place!

not trying to look all stiff here… it was windy and i was trying to keep my top in place. also, bad lighting… sorry!

the bow part is a real fabric hog, by the way. it’s cut on the bias, which gives it a nice soft drape, but since the two pieces have to be cut perpendicular to each other to keep the direction of the print the same for each side it’s really fabric inefficient. ya’ll know how much i like to conserve fabric, so it definitely hurt a little. when attaching the ties around the neckline, you are supposed to slipstitch the entire inner seam, but i opted to stitch in the ditch from the outside and catch the turned in SA on the inside. i don’t mind hand sewing, but if i can avoid it i will.


initially i had cut the blouse-y 3/4 length sleeves, but the print would have been way too overwhelming. i pulled out the cap sleeve pattern piece and went with that instead. i thought that the cap sleeve would be easy to sew, but man it was finicky. instead of sewing the sleeve together under the arm, you overlap the ends at the side seam. much harder than it sounds! i should have reduced the SA from the get go, i forgot how hard it is to sew these tricky bits with 5/8″ in the way. then, to keep the SA from flipping out, i stitched in the ditch to tack the SA down under the arm.


i didn’t muslin this top, but i did make some flat pattern adjustments before cutting. i made a 1/4″ FSA (forward shoulder) and pinched out 3/8″ all around above the bust line. i find that despite my height, my upper body is petite, so typically i have indecently low necklines and gaping armholes. those adjustments worked out perfectly, yay me!


final verdict: this is a cute top and fairly quick to make. the pattern is labeled “easy” but i don’t think “quick” and “easy” are necessarily interchangeable here. the neckline treatment requires a lot of precision to look nice, and the cap sleeve was a little challenging. also, if you’re on the low end of the size measurements, size down! there is plenty of ease since this blouse pattern isn’t intended to be fitted (finished measurements are stated on the pattern). but, if fitted is what you want, i would look elsewhere. i may use this pattern again for view B with the gathered peplum-type detail (that’s the view i bought the pattern for) but i’m not sure i need another bow blouse in my life. maybe i can come up with a different neckline treatment—scoop neck with a button placket? we shall see…

—lisa g.