The Mimi Blouse is the fifth of 6 patterns in the Tilly and the Buttons book Love At First Stitch. It is aimed at beginners and indeed I was a complete beginner when I started and am working my way through it to learn basic sewing skills and put me on the path towards creating my own beautiful me made wardrobe.
The Mimi is a loose fitting short-sleeved blouse with buttons, collar and yoke, gathering on the front and back pieces, and pleats on the sleeves.
I made a toile, having seen that the Megan dress from earlier in the book required a lot of adjustments to fit me. My measurements fell between sizes 3-4 so this is what I originally cut for the toile but I found this voluminous around the waist and hips, particularly around the back and so I graded to size 2 here on the back piece.
The photo below was taken on quite a windy day which is why the blouse touches my centre back. It would normally fall well clear and loosely.
I reduced the length of the blouse by 2cm, knowing I am always going to wear this tucked in.
I didn’t change the fit of the sleeves, but if sewing this again I definitely will as the pleats did not sit right on me (my bad). I changed the pleats to compensate but I would need to extend the sleeve cap over my rounded shoulders to make it fit properly. Also my arm doesn’t fall centrally within the sleeve but tends to press against the back of it. See the Sleeve section below for more details.
I chose a lovely Atelier Brunette off-white dobby viscose purchased from Guthrie & Ghani, as I wanted the versatility to pair it with a variety of skirts and trousers. It is slightly sheer so I decided to do French seams all round. Something I hadn’t anticipated with the sheer fabric was how the wide facings would show as seen below:
Facings before and after
This led to my post about Reducing facing width on Mimi Blouse describing:
Mistake - Using a facing with sheer fabric
Solution - Reduce the facing width to where it can't be seen
Tip - when cutting out drapey fabric, adjust your pieces for accuracy once cut
This was my first time using a drapey fabric and I mostly use an Olfa rotary cutter and pattern weights (beautiful ones from Foxglove & Field if you want to treat yourself). Before sewing the pieces together I lay them out and placed the pattern piece on top to check it was accurate. More often than not, they needed a little adjustment. A bit of trimming here and there, or if I’d trimmed it too short, I marked where the seam line should be, in this case 1.5cm from the edge of the pattern piece. It may not be by much but there are several stages where errors can creep in and if each one adds a few millimetres, the finished garment could be quite far from the intended result.
Tip - mark fabric with a water soluble marker
I highly recommend the Prym Aqua Trick Marker. It comes in white and turquoise which between them seem to work on every colour I’ve sewn with so far. The marks are easy to see and once they’ve served their purpose, will disappear with a dab of water.
When looking at the 3 versions of this blouse in the book, they all had a slight gap between the collar which I wasn’t crazy about. I therefore wrote a tutorial post about Getting the Mimi Blouse collar to meet together at the top, if this is your preference.
Knowing that the sleeve pleats probably wouldn’t sit right (because I hadn’t fitted the sleeve properly), I attached the sleeves before setting the pleats in place. The instructions guide you to sew the pleats first, then attach the sleeves to the bodice, but I wanted to see how they would hang first and adjust accordingly. This was quite a faff even with another person helping, so try to fit the sleeves properly first and the pleats would likely sit as intended.
I hand basted along the pleats instead of pinning and sewing two horizontal lines as suggested in the pattern as I thought this might be more accurate and secure.
The instructions advise you to sew the facing into a circle and then press under by 5mm. I pressed under first as it was easier, particularly as I was changing the circumference as described below, just making sure I sewed it in a circle with it unfolded.
Having changed the pleats, I knew this would likely change the circumference of the sleeve where the facing would go, so I wrote a post on the technique I used for Making a facing/binding exactly the right length for an opening to make sure everything matched up perfectly.
I knew I would always wear this blouse tucked in and so I decided to sew a rolled hem to avoid bulk, instead of the 1.5 hem folded over twice. I used a Janome 6mm hemmer foot which was fiddly at first trying to get it started and was a bit hit and miss. I then tried pressing it first and working the fabric backwards into the foot which worked beautifully. See how I did this in my written tutorial or short video on an Easy way to sew a rolled hem.
Buttonholes / buttons
I placed the top buttonhole high to keep the collar together, with another one level with the fullness of the bust to prevent gaping and used some beautiful wooden buttons from ArrowMountain (and of course buying a few other things while I was at it).
I hand basted the facing in place to make sure it sat in line whilst sewing the buttonholes and buttons.
(I thought it was pretty badass as the label says that I decided to start a website, blog and YouTube channel during this sewing project!)
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Atelier Brunette off-white dobby viscose
Foxglove & Field pattern weights
Related blog posts
Reducing facing width on Mimi Blouse
Getting the Mimi Blouse collar to meet together at the top
Making a facing/binding exactly the right length for an opening