I first came across the Juliette blouse when a few of us were asked to test the pattern, not long after I’d joined the blogger team. I made my test version in silk crepe de chine, which my mother-in-law had given to me. It was lovely fabric (although very challenging to cut and sew) but just not my colour, so I passed it on to another team member and she was happy with it!
Juliette is a wonderfully simple pattern that takes very little time to sew and is perfect for showing off an unusual fabric. There are no sleeve seams or darts to interrupt a printed or woven design, it’s completely reversible (front to back, not inside out!) and pattern matching can be done to whatever extent you feel happy with.
I chose this amazing Lady McElroy cotton lawn that was kindly provided by Doughtys. The oriental-inspired print seemed perfect for a simple blouse that has echoes of a kimono and it is genuinely a dream to sew. It’s light and airy, drapes and presses well and dries quickly when washed.
When setting out the pattern on the fabric, I decided to cut both the front and back on a single (off centre) fold, aligning the pattern so that they are identical. I then re-folded the fabric to cut the ties and facings. There are just six pieces in total (2 each of 3 unique pieces) so it is quick to cut out.
Having applied interfacing to the front and back neck facings, I overlocked all the edges except for the neckline of the blouse and facings, as these needed to be notched and trimmed after sewing and would be protected from fraying by understitching. Doing this in advance makes the construction much faster and very satisfying. I have started batch cutting projects, so both this and my Nancy dress were cut out and prepared on one day and then constructed later on in the same week.
So, on to the construction… I still had the test version, which had a set of instructions that comprised just the illustrations! It was perfect for this pattern because of its simplicity and served as a good visual reminder.
First, the shoulder seams are sewn, followed by the shoulder seams of the facing. The facing is then stitched to the neckline, the seam is trimmed and notched and the facing is turned to the inside, pressed and understitched.
The ties are stitched along one short and one long side, turned and pressed, then pinned in place between notches on the side seams. I find it works best to reduce the seam allowance for kimono sleeves (not necessarily when cutting, just by sewing closer to the edges) as they then ease around the curves more naturally, without needing to cut notches or in any way compromise the strength of the fabric.
Finally, the sleeve and bodice hems are sewn. It took less than an hour to construct this one, early on the Saturday morning before Sew Up North. The blouse was perfect for a sociable day of shopping and catching up with a big group of stitchers. It’s light, comfortable and easy to wear but looks smarter than a t-shirt. I’m planning a plain version next in a very lightweight navy linen fabric.