Gertie’s Portrait Blouse

I’ve already made the Pencil Skirt from Gertie‘s New Book for Better Sewing but I haven’t found the right blouse to wear with it. Hence, starting on the Portrait Blouse.

The patterns from this book come on sheets so you’ll need to trace your size first before you can get started. I traced the size 10. When making blouses/tops/bodices, I go with the size that matches my high bust. I’ll show why in a couple of photos down. Here are the front, back and corresponding facings cut out and ready to go.

But first, I need to do an FBA, or Full Bust Adjustment. I’ve got a number of links on the side here for those of you who are interested in doing this kind of adjustment. Below is my front piece all FBA’d. In short, you’re adding room to the bust area instead of just making it bigger all over.

In the photos above and below, I’ve got my adjusted front blouse pattern piece lying on top of the original Portrait Blouse pattern. As you can see, on the left of my pattern, it lines up with the second to last size. However, the bust dart is larger than the original. In the photo below, I’m pointing at the bottom of the armhole. It’s hard to tell but it doesn’t line up with the larger size. It actually lines up with a much smaller size- hence, starting with my high bust measurement. This way, the armholes won’t be at my knees just to accommodate a larger bust.

I figured I’d be wearing this top tucked in so I wanted it to be snug against my hips. Here are a couple of different ways I could wear this blouse. Since this is my first go at the Portrait Blouse, I did it as a muslin. That said, I made it out of a delicate voile. The front is underlined with white batiste while the back is left a single layer of voile. I did the neck facings but serged the armholes and bottom hem- the bottom edge does also have a narrow hem.

The back (email me if it’s not obvious):


With a preview of Gertie’s pencil skirt:

I LOVE the side zipper. It’s handpicked- which I actually recommend for people who are afraid of sewing a zipper with their sewing machine. It doesn’t take as much time as you might think. Put on some tunes, take a rock stance, and handpick that zipper at your ironing board. You can do it sitting, but then you can’t get a solid rock stance. Your choice.

Changes I’m planning on making on my second go at this blouse:

1. Side bust darts on more of an angle. When they’re parallel to the floor, they are far from flattering.

2. Add an inch to the hips

3. Move the under bust tucks to the side seams by one inch. They currently don’t point to the bust apex.

4. Use a stable knit, which will go better with my corduroy pencil skirt, and my fall/winter wardrobe.

What do you think of this blouse on me?

26 thoughts on “Gertie’s Portrait Blouse

  1. Brooke says:

    Yep, those changes you listed are what I would change too. (I don’t think you mentioned this but you might want to remove a little from the center back neckline – looks like it is gapping some in the photo.) And it will be really nice in a knit with your pencil skirt!

    Thanks for the quick reading break – now I’m going back to costume sewing… (Can you tell I’m ready for this job to be over?)

    • Leila says:

      I forgot to take out at the center back neckline. I usually do it. If I slouch, the neckline is fine but when I stand up straight, as you see in the pics, I need to take it out. Think I’ll have to slouch in this blouse. Hope the end of your current job comes quickly. 🙂

  2. Beth says:

    I am always amazed by your expertise! Seriously, you really are a pro and I love reading your posts, daydreaming how one day it will all make sense to me 🙂

    • Leila says:

      Thanks for being so positive when I’m not. 🙂 I really appreciate it. Do you remember when I started doing fba’s? I think you were one of my first people to follow my blog. You’ve been there to see the progress. 😀

  3. Erin Erickson (@yorkiemischief) says:

    You said you want comments but I am so not an expert, so I will try. The only less than stellar things I see are 1. the color/fabric may just not be flattering – using a knit or just a different woven will help. You know I love knits! and 2. it seems short, not by much and I know that’s the style, but that’s the first thing I noticed. I like the neckline and the sleeves. I like the side zip! Moving the darts will definitely help. There is my very not-expert opinion!

    • Leila says:

      Thanks, Erin. It’s helpful to hear what a new set of eyes sees. I really appreciate it. I think you’re right about the color and just needing a knit. I’m gonna go stash diving for something.

  4. LadyD says:

    Looks like you have the same fitting issues I do. (I’m currently sewing the portrait blouse in a polycotton broderie englaise). I ended up moveing the back ‘tucks’ up so they took in the excess fabric at the waist reather than hips. And I also tilted the darts (rather than doing an FBA). (I also changed the necline and added peterpan collar)

  5. modepalasttreschic says:

    Even though this is an older post, thank you for the instructions. Pattern adjustments is a new skill I am learning, and you explain it really great. I might even feel confident enough to try handpicking the zipper 😊
    The blouse looks really nice on you, btw.
    Greetings from Germany, Kerstin

    • Leila says:

      Hi Kerstin,

      You’re welcome. I’ve learned so much from tutorials like this one and now I run my own fashion design business. I just did a handpicked zipper on a wool dress I made for a client. Not everyone appreciates this craft as much as this client! Let me know if I can help with pattern adjustments. I make custom wedding day and red carpet fashion, and I see a lot of different sizes.

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