Saturday, 30 March 2013

DIY: Retro sleeveless blouse with ruffles

Happy Easter guys!

I hope you are all having a lovely Easter weekend, whether you are celebrating or not. I’m fighting the last of a persistent cold/flu/pain in the ass (I know, every other time I post I am sick, I really have no idea what’s wrong with my immune system this winter) and therefore not getting up to all the stuff I was hoping to. But still enjoying the time off from work, watching movies, editing photos, spending time with Josh and eating too much sweets.

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping in my charity shop mecca and found this amazing vintage (80s) pink cotton shirt. It had a high neck with ruffles and was a couple sizes too large. I fell hard and immediately. This was DIY material extraordinaire.

You know I have a thing for sleeveless blouses. And just like my last sleeveless blouse was inspired by Mad Men, so was this. You see, a while back I was catching up with the fifth season.  I spent a Saturday sewing, watching Mad Men and drinking prosecco until the wee hours. It sounds superdorky. And it was. But also magnificent for the soul. And it left me with the craving to make another sleeveless blouse.

Sidenote: I should have ironed the shirt before taking the before photo. 

You’ll remember I posted some inspiration pictures on the topic of ruffles. As the shirt I had picked up already had ruffles it felt like a given that ruffles instead of sleeves would be the DIY.

And it turned out to be the perfect Easter blouse.


  • Oversized shirt
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Shirt that fits to model on
  • Not pictured: marker pen
  • Not pictured: iron

And here's the how to:
Remove the sleeves. If the shirt is too large just cut them off. If the size is right, use a seam ripper so you don't accidentally remove too much fabric.

Lay over the blouse you are modelling on. Make sure the collars and buttons are aligned. Pin the two blouses together in a few places so they don't move.

If you need to alter the size on yours, make some markings.
Marking 1: where the armholes end (see pic to the left).
Marking 2: How much you need to cut off all around. This will be about 1.5 cm (seam allowance) from the edges of the model blouse. If you are not sure this will be enough, be conservative and leave more. Remember it’s always easier to cut off more later if you removed too little fabric than try to fix it if you cut off too much. J

Cut where the markings show.

Turn the blouse inside out, pin the front and back fabrics on each side together and sew with a straight stitch. Zig zag the edges so the fabric doesn't fray. Press flat with an iron.

Now arm holes. Start by ziz zagging all the way around both so the fabric doesn't fray. Then measure around one armhole to know how long the ruffle needs to be.

And finally some ruffles. The fabric for this will come from the cut off sleeves. Each sleeve won't be long enough to get the needed length. Soo, do the following:

Iron the cut off sleeves so you have a clear folding line. From the folding line measure out the depth of the ruffle + seam allowance. I went for 3.5 cm ruffle + 1 cm seam allowance = 4.5 cm in total. Cut a strip with this height. From the left overs, fold again and cut off another folded long strip with same height. Sew the two strips together so you have a really long one. Zig zag the open long ends together.

Repeat with the other sleeve.

Now on to ruffling. Rather than me adding 15 steps to this how-to to show how to make ruffles, check out this excellent video.
I pressed my ruffles flat with a hot iron after to get a "folded" look to match what the blouse already had around the neckline.

Finally, attach the ruffles to the armholes. All around each armhole, fold in 1.5 cm of fabric or whatever seam allowance you measured out and fasten the ruffles with pins. At the end of each side of the ruffle strip, angle in (see photo above) for a nice look.

Using a straight stitch, sew all the way around. Iron flat.

And what goes better with pastel pink over Easter than chickens?