Good afternoon, lovelies! Today, I wanted to share a pattern that is quickly becoming a go-to, for me. At the tail end of last summer, I was hunting for a swingy top that could easily be paired with jeans. My ideal pattern was loose fitting through the hips, fairly close through the bust, with a collar, interesting details, and sleeves. Enter Butterick 5997. I’d overlooked this chic tunic pattern, on its release, but at second glance it was everything I wanted, right down to the stand collar and pintucks! How had this passed me by?
This particular pattern comes with four different views: a sleeved blouse with shoulder gathers and classic collar, a sleeveless blouse with shoulder gathers and stand collar, a sleeveless blouse with pintucks and classic collar, and–the jackpot!–a sleeved blouse with pintucks and a stand collar. View D and I were a match made in heaven. It would be gorgeous made up in so many of my fabrics, from silk to cotton. Just the sort of piece that pairs perfectly with skinny jeans, for a casual night out.
Or, as it happens, for a marauding adventure with pirates.
You see, I love everything about this pattern, except for the sleeves. The first time I made this up, I muslined the bodice, but not the sleeves. Then, I lived to regret it. Those gorgeous flowing sleeves you see in the picture above, with just the right amount of volume? They are gigantic, in the larger sizes. They poof out at an improbable angle from the shoulder, then gather back in for a voluminous, Juliet-hiding-poison-and-a-herd-of-cats sort of look. Not precisely what I envisioned. So, they came off. In my first iteration, made up in a blue silk/cotton poplin, I simply cut them down to a more manageable size. This worked well enough, but the sleeve head shape wasn’t quite right. For my most recent take, in a floral cotton lawn, I simple subbed in the other sleeve pattern from View A, then gathered that into a cuff. The result was much more in line with the pattern photos and my expectations. That little fix took this shirt from piratical to everyday staple.
As for the rest of construction, this pattern is easy, but still interesting. There are four pintucks on each side, which take a bit of patience to sew. My method involves marking them in chalk on the wrong side, pin-tracing them on the right side, then folding accurately, removing the pins, and edge-stitching the tucks down at 1/16th inch. It worked like a charm, especially with an edge-stitching foot! They’re a sweet detail that really adds to the design of this shirt, elevating it from boring to lovely. The collar is also a cinch, as it’s just a lined collar stand. A facing is used to the make the neckline, then those edges are hidden in the shoulder seam and underneath the collar. So simple!
The only other thing to watch out for on this pattern is the hemline. For View D, the hemline is quite, quite long, which gives you a true tunic length. I’m 5’8” and it hits me at mid-thigh. On my first version of this blouse, I shortened the hem by four inches overall, for a more traditional shirt look. The second time around, I kept this longer length, but added a hem split at each side seam, to give me a free range of movement. I hate tunics that don’t have a split at the hipline, because they can feel constricting, when you sit down! Since I was using fairly light, floaty fabrics for each blouse, they both have hand-rolled hems, which prevent bulk and unsightly lines around the hem.
As for fit, this pattern goes up to a size 24W, which has measurements of 46-39-48. My own measurements (46-35-47) had me blending sizes from size 20W at the shoulders, through the waist, then out to size 22W for my hips. Once I had this base size traced off, I performed a narrow shoulder adjustment and a full bust adjustment, to get my perfect fit. From my original version, I actually narrowed the shoulders even more on the pattern, because they still weren’t hitting me at my preferred spot.
Overall, I do adore this pattern. It’s really great for all those light, summery cottons that fill my stash. In Texas, this is exactly the sort of blouse that can be worn nearly year round. It pairs beautifully with skinny jeans, in the coolers months, and over leggings or tucked into skirts, in the warmer months. You can expect to see quite a few more iterations of this blouse from me, in the near future!
Size Range (1-5): 3.5 — While this pattern technically goes into “Women’s” sizes, that’s only up to a high bust of 46″. I really wish it went further up the size spectrum, because I think it’s an easy, fun silhouette that would compliment a range of figures.
Instructions (1-5): 5 — I didn’t have any trouble sewing this one up, though I’m not sure I even looked at the instructions, the second time around. It’s a really straightforward piece to sew.
Construction Process (1-5): 4 — The pintucks may cause some sewers a bit of trouble and the sleeves seriously need to be altered, but it’s an easy piece to sew up and any changes are fairly easy.
Final Fit (1-5): 3.25 — I love this blouse, but I did have to radically change the sleeves, from their drafted design. Additionally, the length may be too long for a lot of people, though that’s easily fixed. Points are being docked here for the pirate comparison.
Overall Rating (1-5): 3.75 — This blouse is fantastic, in the end, but it took some changing to get there! While I love the length and tunic style, it may not be for everyone. Unfortunately, the size range is also not as inclusive as we would prefer.