How to Draft a Basic Blouse Pattern

A basic blouse - one that is, essentially, your blouse block pattern - doesn't have to be boring. Made in a stunning fabric with beautiful buttons, it's a simple statement that can dress up a pair of jeans or your favorite skirt.

sketch of basic blouse

You can add a collar, change the sleeves, even change the body style as you prefer - but a simple blouse with a straight sleeve and no collar is a wear-with-anything, go-to top.

This is a style that can let your trim or buttons shine - literally! Jewel-like crystals or metal buttons could be the star of this style.

Or, choose an interesting print and let it be the focal point - no fussy details to detract from the patterns and colors.

You'll make this simple blouse over and over again!

This page shows you how to create a blouse using your basic bodice and skirt blocks. You can see how I did this with my own personal block here

And don't forget to finish your blouse with facings, hems, and seam allowances!

How to Draft the Blouse Body

Start by laying the front bodice over the front skirt block pattern.  Line them up at the waist (they may not match at the side because of the difference in dart depth, but don't worry about that).

Trace around the front, neck, and shoulder, following the block pattern.

Start tracing the armhole, but lower the curve at the bottom of the armhole by 1/2" (this allows more freedom of movement in the blouse than in the basic bodice).

draft of blouse front using bodice and skirt patterns

Continue tracing the side bust dart, then draw a straight line from the bottom of the dart to the hip line of the skirt.  The hip line is the bottom of the blouse.

draft of back blouse using bodice and skirt patterns

The process for the back of the blouse is essentially the same.

First, though, close the dart at the shoulder seam; this will force the waist dart open a bit more, but don't worry about it.  You'll draw a straight line at the side seam, just as you did on the front.

Lower the armhole 1/2", just as you did on the front, and use the skirt's hip line as the bottom of the blouse.

Your final blouse pattern will be an easy fit, without darts or shaping at the waist.

The side bust dart from the bodice block remains in the blouse pattern. The bust dart is essential for good fit and to avoid gapping at the front opening when the blouse is buttoned.

Remember, this does not have seam allowances or a hem allowance!  Those finishing details will still need to be added to your final pattern.

final blouse pattern

How to Draft the Blouse Sleeve

Your sleeve block is very fitted, with a dart at the elbow.  Your blouse sleeve should be straight, without the dart, and just a bit less closely fitted.

draft of blouse sleeve made from dress block sleeve

Start by drawing a line from the point of the dart to the grainline. Cut along the line from the dart to the grainline, then along the grainline to the hem.

Close the elbow dart, forcing a new dart to open at the hemline. Draw a horizontal line at the hem.

Measure along the hemline from the grainline (in this case, the left side of the hem dart) to the side seam (on the right side). In the illustration, I'm using 7 1/2" for that measurement. 

Then measure the same amount (in this case, 7 1/2") in the other direction, along the hemline. This is the final width of your sleeve at the hem (in this case, 15").

Draw new side seams from the hem to the underarm, straightening the side that had the dart.

Lower the curve at the bottom of the sleeve, as you did on the blouse armhole. (Follow the dashed lines in the illustration, above).

The sketch at right shows the final sleeve shape for your blouse.

blouse sleeve pattern

Before you create these dress, skirt or blouse styles, you'll need a well-fitting dress block.  You can create one from a commercial pattern, or draft your dress block using your own measurements. 

Once you have your fitted block, create an almost infinite variety of styles using the in-depth tutorial "A Beginner's Guide to Designing Skirts, Blouses and Dresses".  Check it out now!

What's the Next Step?

Decide if you want to add sleeves, and what style of sleeve.  If you use a blouse sleeve, remember to lower the armhole of the dress, just as you did on the basic blouse.  You'll have a bit more room to move, and you can use your blouse sleeve to draft your dress sleeve.

You can also choose a different neckline or add a collar, too.

Then finish your pattern with a hem, seam allowances, and markings, and you're ready to make your new dress or blouse!

More Blouse Body Styles

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