Most blouse patterns I see use pleats vertically as a point of interest. As a change of pace, here’s a simple Burda Style top that uses pleats horizontally to completely frame a simple design and make it amazing.
FABRIC: My blouse’s fabric is a sheer and flowing 100% polyester chiffon in dusty pink background with a floral design of white, tan, and multi-toned greys.
NOTIONS: Thread and bias tape were all I needed, both of which were on hand already.
TIME TO COMPLETE: This blouse took me a total of about 5 hours, and was finished on April 13, 2015.
THE INSIDES: The insides are a conglomeration of finishes. The edges of the side seams had to be adjusted and taken in, so they are raw and coated in “Fray Check” liquid. The neck edge is finished in tiny bias tape, the shoulder seams are French, and the bottom hem is wide and double folded.
The pattern is ingenious – I wish I would have thought of it. The front and the back pieces are each one long basic rectangle with subtle shaping along the sides. The top quarter of that rectangle is the part that gets pleated; it’s also the area from above your armpit to a few inches below the neck. Yes, the pleats do take out a chunk of inches.
Those pleats were slightly tricky but, once understood, not as hard as they seemed at first. There are two different strips of marking lines, to bring ‘A’ together with ‘B’. Primarily, I tried to lap the fold under the upper line, but…no…that does not work. The pleat is so simple, I should have seen it. Simply pull out, with wrong sides together, the amount of fabric between the two lines (‘upper’ and ‘lower’) for each pleat until both are lined up together. Then you stitch both layers together on that line so that the pleat hangs down free when worn. Now, the line where you sew the two layers to make the pleat does not go all the way to the end – it stops about 3 inches from the hemmed edge so the sleeve ends hang open more softly. I love the way that the two pleats have such symmetry and the way the top one’s fold ends just barely over the stitching line of the second lower one.
Since this is a pullover blouse, I made the size I am accustomed to using with Burda Style patterns. However, I ended up taking the sides in by about another ½ inch on each side, so I could have made a size smaller, anyway. This is just my personal opinion or taste that the pattern seems to run a bit roomy. I feel the fit of my blouse is still roomy but slightly fitted, just the way I like it. I did make a wide hem at the bottom because the length according to the pattern almost could have been a little mini dress. That would not look bad either but I wanted a top to be a top, if only a tunic.
The “Pleated Blouse” has a wide oval boat neck. I love the beauty of it, but the lightweight fabric tends to make it droop around my shoulders somewhat – front, forwards, and the sides. I also loved the challenge to get the sharp curves in the corner with the bias tape facing. I’m happy with how it turned out.
Such a simple design of large pleats and oval neckline creates a wide shouldered appearance. This is part of the reason why this project is part of my “Retro Forward” Burda Style blog post series. The decades of the 1930’s and 1940’s (as well the 1980’s) exaggerated the width of the shoulders by the design of their fashions. For my first comparison, I found a pattern from 1946, McCall #1954, and Butterick #4074, year 1947, both of which are strikingly similar to the Burda Style “Pleated Blouse”. Then there is a 1936 pattern, an Eva Dress reprint #1655, with one humongous horizontal pleat of fabric hanging down from the shoulders. Both patterns take an otherwise simple style which gets an overstated horizontal pleat for the perfect combination of complimentary features.
The main difference I see is that Burda Style doubles the pleats. Also, besides the closure differences, the vintage patterns have a tad more bust shaping, like darts or bias grain, versus the straight lines of the Burda top. The 1950’s decade used horizontal pleats, too, but mostly (but not always) they were used on skirts to visually widen hips for the “New Look”. When the 50’s used horizontal pleats on blouses, I often see them as consecutively spread throughout the length of the top (see Simplicity patterns #3658 and #8261, both from 1950). Pleats in the 1980’s were, well, all about big blousy bodices and power shoulders (Vogue #8451 and McCall’s #2072).
This was my special Mother’s day outfit for what was a beautiful spring here in our town. I splurged just the month before and bought the awesome pink 1940’s peep-toes heels you see on my feet in our pictures. My shoes are as comfy as house slippers, in my perfect size and in perfect condition with meticulous attention to detail in the swirling perforations on top and the Petersham ribbon edge finishing. I think my pink peep-toe heels matched beautifully, as well as brought together the 1940’s era influence of the style and silhouette of my outfit.
My skirt is not made by me, but an old favorite standby item which came from a re-sell-it store (also called op-shops). It actually stretches and the wide waistband made my grey skirt wearable for the time I was expecting our son, so this also makes this perfect for my mother’s day outfit. I have found that other colors of skirts work well with my pleated blouse, but I think a slim pencil skirt works best with this top style, and the grey neutralizes and tones down the pastel colors.
This has been a go-to easy care nicely dressy piece in my wardrobe this spring and summer. It is a blouse that is special to wear, instantly looks nice, and does not need accessories to look great, as well as an easy-to-make challenge.
So many times I am surprised in a good way by the simple, yet interesting pieces I make, and this Burda Style Pleated Blouse is no exception. Easy patterns are good and have their place, but detailed, special, and ingenious designs are almost more crucial – they push limits and challenge talents. To find a combo of both easy/simple and detailed/challenging (like the Pleated Blouse) is a special find for all skill levels. Most importantly, however, I feel we need to acknowledge where some of the design elements for self-made fashion come from in our past. Keeping an understanding of the history of fashion grounds current fashion, placing ‘trends’ in proper perspective.