I've wanted to sew a bow-necked blouse for a while, but I knew I'd need to find exactly the right pattern. In my opinion, you need to tread carefully, otherwise you'll be sliding head first into Austin Powers territory...
Of all the many bow blouse patterns out there, the one that took my fancy was vintage Butterick 9206 from the late 1950's, with its lovely kimono sleeves. After I admired Kerry's 'Nice Surprise' blouse made from the same pattern (even though she'd put it on her fail list), she very generously offered to let me borrow and trace it. Thanks so much Kerry - sewing blogger to the rescue yet again.
The only slight obstacle in my master plan was that her pattern was for a 38 inch bust and my usual vintage size is a 36 or 34. For the first time ever, I decided to grade it down - properly. You know, with a pencil and ruler and tracing paper and everything. If you ever need to grade a pattern up or down in size, then Casey's series of tutorials are wonderful. And - I have actual personal experience here - totally idiot proof. Rather cautiously, I graded down to a 36 inch bust as I figured it would be easy to take in the side seams. My reasoning was that if I graded it down too far to a 34 and it was too small, I'd be in trouble. It probably took me about an hour to grade the pattern pieces down and re-cut them out and the maths bit was easy, it didn't hurt one bit! The fit across the shoulders was fine, but I did need to take the side seams in a lot. With hindsight, I should have graded down to a 34 inch bust. Ho hum. The only other change I made was to extend the back darts up another 1.5 inches to allow for my narrow back.
Tiny, drapey gingham, almost impossible to photograph without it looking all swirly
I went for view D, which is more of a tie-neck than a bow-neck, and used my Margaret Howell posh drapey gingham. As the gingham print really is tiny, I didn't even attempt to match up the checks.
Verdict? Well, I don't love it outright, but I do like it. The fabric is soft and comfortable to wear and drapes beautifully, but I think it's almost too drapey - the blouse is just very floppy. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, it looks nice tucked in and I can see it pairing well with wide legged trousers or even shorts in the summer for a bit of a nautical look. I've now decided that the next time I make a bow-necked blouse I'd like to make one that screams PUSSY BOW and really makes a statement. This blouse is neat and chic but is definitely something Miss Brahms would wear. Next time I want to channel my inner Mrs Slocombe. x