A Copy of a Copy in Casual Gingham

Although I rarely purchase any Ready-to-Wear (RTW) clothing, I often find it to be a great source of inspiration and ideas for me.  (I have written about this before, twice at least).  I know I am not alone as often I will see beautiful products of top-notch fashion sewing inspired by RTW.  A few years ago on my Instagram feed, I saw a post by Julie Starr (co-author with Sarah Gunn of The Tunic Bible and Classic Sewing) featuring a lovely blouse which she made as a copy of a Gretchen Scott design.  I was very taken with it – it was a traditional casual, collared, button-down-the-front blouse, but with a twist.  The elbow length sleeves ended in a graceful ruffle rather than the traditional to-the-wrist buttoned cuff.  She had made hers in a petite windowpane blue check.  It was so fresh and charming, and I kept thinking about it as the months/years went by.  When I found a medium pink, cotton, 1” gingham check this past Spring at Farmhouse Fabrics, I knew the time had come to make my yearning a reality.


I used my go-to, tried and true blouse pattern as the base for my copy/re-creation, making several changes to effect the look I wanted.

  • I shortened the point and slope of the collar.
  • I added very narrow darts to the front, beginning a couple of inches below the bust and continuing into the hem.

The darts are faintly visible in this photo. The darts help to define the shape of the front of the blouse.
  • Obviously I shortened the sleeves to accommodate the ruffle.
  • And –

I placed the collar band and the yoke on the bias.  This aligned with the bias band I used to cover the seam where the ruffle meets the sleeve, as seen above.

It was fun to have to think through the changes that were needed and to mix up that pattern a bit.  If I use a pattern over and over, I find it can get a little B O R I N G.  This blouse was not boring.  After I finished it, I was, however, a little conflicted about it.  I don’t wear a lot of ruffles, even casually, and it took a few wearings of this blouse to feel completely comfortable in it.  Now I find it fun to wear.

I made a self sash to wear with this blouse in case it needs to appear a little dressier.

There is one change I will make should I ever make another blouse of the same design.  I think I will taper the vertical seam of the sleeve down to the ruffle gradually by about an inch.  It may not be obvious to anyone else, but I think the diameter of the sleeve where the ruffle is attached is just a bit too wide.

Most of my summer wardrobe needs are for casual attire, whether I like it or not!  I find this blouse has a bit of flair to it, which steps it up a notch while still being casual and easy-to-wear.  I guess you could say this blouse progressed from Ready-to-Wear – to a First Copy – to a Copy of the First Copy – to Easy-to-Wear. Many thanks to Julie Starr for the inspired First Copy.  


Filed under Blouses, Ruffles, Uncategorized

43 responses to “A Copy of a Copy in Casual Gingham

  1. Steph D.

    Oh my Goodness, this is beautiful! Looks really nice on you.

  2. Joan

    Really a lovely, fun blouse, and very flattering on you — the verticals of the gingham elongate. The FIRST detail I noticed about this blouse was the pretty bias band trim above your sleeve ruffle — very elegant. I agree about tapering the sleeve slightly, should you make a similar, not full length sleeve again.

  3. Andrea Birkan

    Karen this blouse is exquisite classic and elegant! I absolutely love it!

  4. Mery

    It is so harmonious that it is a visual version of a song. It is adorable. The flounced sleeves aren’t cutesy, just charming. There is absolutely nothing a little bit chinchy or a little bit baggy about it like there always is with RTW.
    All your bias touches and trim are the chorus. The flounces are the soprano. The base of fit and modernized collar are the bass. It sings to me.

    Now, if only I would make one that harmonizes. Not this year but it’s on my list.

    O thee of the greater visusl skills than I, you are probably right about the sleeves, but I don’t see the need, but I am biased because I live where it’s so hot that loose and airy is better.

    • Oh, Mery, what a flattering comment. Thank you so much! We were just last Thursday at a concert here in Jackson Hole featuring Broadway music, past and present. It was fabulous, and your comment certainly resonated with me as I was “singing” the tunes in my head as I wrote the post. How did you know?

  5. You are truly the Queen of Gingham! This blouse is so beautiful and has so many interesting details. The colour and size of the gingham, the subtle use of bias, the frills, it’s all working so well. You look stunning!

    • Thank you, Marianne. I simply love 1″ gingham, and this brand is so finely woven and silky, that sewing with it is a dream. And of course one can never go wrong with pink…

  6. D Ruggles

    What a great looking blouse. You do beautiful work.

  7. Diane

    Everything about the blouse is wonderful! The placement of the ruffle is extremely flattering. Some ruffles are ‘too much,’ but these are perfect! As always, your posts inspire me.

  8. Janet Thornton

    I never knew gingham could look so elegant! Inspired!

  9. So fun! It looks really nice, and your thoughtful commentary on the process is helpful.

  10. Linda D.

    Looks great. Thanks for posting. I love reading you blog and seeing the pictures.

  11. Your ruffled sleeve shirt reminds me of a dress I made in the early 1960’s. I can’t find the exact pattern but it was a shift, with sleeves like Simplicity 6717. https://brwbmm.wordpress.com/sewing/

  12. Kate

    I too, eschew ruffles. However, your top is fresh and lovely! I remain in awe of your elegant talent!

  13. Really classy look. I also tend toward tailored styles but you’ve added just the right amount of ruffles. Your work is always impeccable.

  14. I am definitely stealing this idea; I love a well placed casual ruffle!

  15. I love it! It’s pretty, yet structured. The bias work is impeccable!

  16. I must add my admiration to the chorus of the others commenters. The change in sleeves you made to your Simplicity pattern is delightful. You have shown us how beautifully a standard pattern can be morphed into a unique and pretty blouse. I want you to know how influential you are to me in sharing your creativity and happiness with sewing.

    • Thank you, Peggy. Your comment has really touched me. It is so amazing to look at that very dated Simplicity pattern and realize that if a pattern has good “bones,” just about anything can be done with it. I’m quite sure this won’t be the last time I use it!

  17. Dawn Wyda

    Love your blouse! Your attention to detail is very inspiring…the gingham, the collar, the band above the ruffle. Love those details.

  18. Love this! The oversized gingham is so refreshing. Fits you perfectly. Flattering and comfortable!!

  19. Mary Duggan

    I love it! What a beautiful blouse. And I so love reading about the process you go through when planning and sewing an item, including the changes and adjustments to the pattern. Your blog posts are always so interesting!

  20. You are such an inspiration and your wonderful creations and impeccable skills are the reason I started sewing again . Your attention to detail is what makes you so special , nowadays quantity and speed often seem to be valued over quality and finesse

    You often mention using a fabric that you had bought some time ago , when I see a beautiful fabric I am never sure about how much to buy , is there a rule of thumb regarding yardage ?

    • Thank you so much, Elizabeth for this very kind comment. Concerning your fabric question, it’s a good one! I know what my calculation is, but it’s a personal approach, for sure. I generally know if a piece of fabric is going to be a blouse or a dress or dress and matching coat lining, or a coat… but sometimes I change my mind, of course. My rule of thumb is: I usually buy 2-2 1/2 yards of 45″ wide fabric if I think it will be a blouse; if I think it might instead be a dress then I buy a minimum of 3 yards of 45″ wide. If the fabric is 54″ or 60″, then I get 1 1/2 for blouse, 2 – 2 1/2 for a possible dress. Coats are usually minimum 3 yards (fabric for coats is usually wider to start with 54 -60″) If I’m buying fabric for a coat lining and matching dress, usually silk, I’ll get minimum of 4 yards. I have found that if I’m a little short on fabric, I can usually find a way around it! It’s an imprecise science, but maybe this is of help.

  21. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply and give me all the information. Much appreciated ! Now busy converting everything into metric as I live in London . Many years ago I learned to sew and we spent an entire year painstakingly making a shirtwaister dress which involved every technique imaginable . We were taught by an extremely fierce Irish lady who demanded nothing short of perfection . It put some of my school friends off sewing for life and although I often hated it at the time ( entire lessons spent unpicking mistakes ) I was later astonished to find how much I loved sewing by hand . That is one of the reasons why I so admire your work , apart from your elegant sense of style I find there is unmatched beauty in hand sewing & your attention to detail

  22. CJ

    Really stunning – the fabric, the changes, and the ruffles! Thanks for sharing!

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