Donna: Fitted Blouse with Waist Yoke-Flat Patternmaking

Update as of 1-1-2014 a new collar was created for this blouse. See this posting for the changes made to the pattern and choice of collar.

It was hard for me to get the right combination of lighting when taking pictures of the pattern pieces. It’s been overcast many mornings. The lighting in my apartment is not very good. I hope, though, that the outlines and shapes of the pattern pieces will give you some ideas for adapting your own pattern drafting to create a similar blouse, if you want. You can also experiment with existing pattern pieces from commercial patterns so long as you take the time to create a toile and make needed alterations. I do not recommend choosing pieces from different commercial patterns and just cutting the fashion fabric. The results can be very disappointing since the pieces are not being used the way they were intended and no test has been done to see how the combination works for your figure type.


The Donna blouse starts with a fitted bodice draft to which 2″ is added to Chest and Bust circumferences. 1″ ease was added to the waistline. The side dart was closed and the vertical waistdart opened. The vertical dart intake was greater than 1 1/2″. I find darts with large amounts of intake sometimes result in too much of a pointy appearance below the bust. So I divided the intake evenly and created two smaller darts on the front bodice.

The Flat Notched Collar with Lapels was drafted because it seemed very simple, being similar to the Peter Pan Collar. I did find it necessary, though, to make alterations to the collar for a Size 4. This collar lines flat like a Peter Pan but I think the addition of the lapel creates a slightly different way in which the collar falls around the neck. It also has a slightly different curve around the neckline than the Peter Pan collar.

The initial draft of the back bodice pattern also resulted in a very large dart intake for the vertical dart of the bodice back. I made two smaller darts for the back bodice however the intake was divided differently. The dart closer to the center back got slightly more and the second dart a little less.

I learned about creating waistline yokes from Claire Shaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques”. I was fascinated with waistline yokes after seeing vintage blouse patterns with them. I think that as an alternative to a waistline yoke, many vintage blouses had tucks or darts running up from the hemline and breaking above the waistline to create a similar look to the blouse.

Waistline yokes help a blouse stay in place better and provide a smoother fit under a skirt. Shaeffer describes a way to create a waistline yoke using a basic skirt pattern. I’ve found that keeping the darts in the skirt pattern when creating a yoke results in a tight fit. I’ve closed both darts for this yoke and evened out the side seam making it straighter. This gives more room at the hipline.

I will admit it looks great but when one has to reach up to a high shelf, for example, the blouse will still rise up. But tucking everything back into place is much simpler than if one is wearing an unfitted blouse that will rise all over the waistband and need tucking in all over the place.

The waistline yoke needed an adjustment at the waist to fit the bodice front waistline. This is an alteration I have to make anytime I draft a skirt using the Standard Misses Size 4 measurements. There is an additional amount between 3/8-5/8″ that has to be taken out running the entire length of the front skirt pattern piece. And I’ve followed the instructions exactly. This is an alteration I never have to make when using my personal measurements. Which just proves to me that each pattern draft will always require some form of adjustment so making a sample is always best.

In the dressmaking courses I took we were told that commercial patterns have too much ease added to the sleeve cap. A maximum of 3/4″ total for front and back sleeve cap is enough. The sleeve’s center line had to be moved about a 1/4″ to the front to help achieve the even amount of ease for front and back.

The cuffs were very easy to add but the trick is adding slightly more width near the hemline of the all-in-one cuff for this short sleeve. The extra width makes the cuff turn nicely and prevents any pulling on the sleeve.

I will show how to create this easy sleeve in a future posting once construction of the blouse is underway.

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2 thoughts on “Donna: Fitted Blouse with Waist Yoke-Flat Patternmaking

  1. I’m happy to hear that it’s known that commercial patterns have to much ease in the sleeve cap. I have often wondered about it but did not have the confidence to believe that it wasn’t just me getting it wrong. Thanks for that!

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