Simple Sew Chelsea Blouse

Hello! I know that we’re just into Autumn now but I’m here to show you my final make of the summer! This little blouse was made with a good week or so of summer left to spare…

01 Chelsea blouse

I’ve made the Chelsea skirt already (here). The blouse is a simple pull over top, with or without a collar. There is a little button and button loop closure at the back. The insides are kept neat and tidy with a facing, and the sleeves are shirred at the hem.

The fabric that I chose to make this blouse was a very light-weight cotton lawn (hence the rush to get it finished before ‘summer’ ended). It probably won’t get a huge amount of wear until late spring now!

Doughty’s very kindly gave me this cotton lawn to work with. You can buy it here. Here it is:

02 Chelsea blouse

The fabric was lovely. Being a lawn, it was so easy to sew. Sometimes all you want is a nice, stable cotton! It was quite an unusual choice for me though – I rarely go for prints unless it’s a stripe or a check. I chose this because I have skirts or cardigans in all of the colours in the fabric, so my finished blouse goes with so many things! I particularly like that yellowy-green colour (is that chartreuse?) and I even have a lovely A-line skirt in that colour.

The reason I chose the pattern was because I wanted to tick off another skill on my sewing bucket list. There is shirring on the sleeves. Shirring is the gathering of fabric using elastic thread and is something that I’ve been too scared to attempt before! This pattern doesn’t go overboard with it as there are only two lines of shirring on each sleeve. If you fancy having a go at shirring, the Amelia tea dress also has shirring on the bodice.

The Chelsea blouse was a straight-forward sew. I went for the collared option, although the fabric disguises it so perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered! I made a size 14 and it fits nicely although it’s a tiny bit big around the back.

03 Chelsea blouse

The shirring was nowhere near as scary as I thought it was going to be and I got it to work perfectly first time! I managed to find a spool of shirring elastic in the same teal colours as is on my blouse. That made me mildly happy, but of course white elastic would have done just as well! To do the shirring, I hand wound the elastic onto a bobbin and popped it in my machine as normal. My usual thread was used as the top thread. I lengthened my stitch to 4 and had a quick practice. It turned out perfectly on my practice scrap so I went ahead and did it on the real thing. There are notches on the pattern to show you where to shirr. I used a ruler to draw a straight chalk line between the notches to guide me whilst I was sewing this. I would have gone on a wonk if I didn’t! Being light weight, this fabric was so perfect for the shirring. It gathered up nicely and was particularly fun when I put a steamy iron near the stitches. Steam does something magic to shirring – it gathers it up really tightly and it looks like it’s shrinking in front of you!

Chelsea blouse 10

The back of the blouse is really pretty too with a key hole that closes with a button at the top.

Chelsea blouse 12

The blouse did come up a little shorter than I would have liked so I sewed the hem as narrowly as I could. I’m quite pleased with how neat and tidy it looks!

Chelsea blouse 11

Overall I like this little blouse. I’ve worn it to work already although it wasn’t really the weather for it – it was a bit cool. TheĀ only thing I’m not sure about is….. the shirred sleeves. I know that the sleeves were the reason I sewed this up in the first place but I’m not entirely sure they suit me. My upper arms are slightly bingo-wingy despite my best efforts at the gym, and I feel the shirring makes my arms look like butchers sausages. I was also worried that after a full day at work they would be hurting my arms. I’ve put that to the test now though and they didn’t hurt at all. My husband thinks I’m being ridiculous about the ‘sausages’ bit but he’s not sure about the sleeves either. He says it’s because he’s not used to seeing me wearing frilly sleeves!

04 Chelsea blouse

I’ll give the shirred sleeves a bit more of a chance. If they really bug me I’ll just unpick the shirring and wear the sleeve straight which would be nice too!


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