I knew that I wanted to add a button up cotton blouse with statement sleeves to my spring wardrobe this year and the Anthea Blouse by Anna Allen was the answer!
The Anthea is a dartless blouse pattern that can easily be lengthened and converted into a shirt dress. It has great statement puffed sleeves, a button up front with a folded over placket and bias faced neckline and cuffs. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily this blouse sewed up, it is literally an afternoon sew.
Both the blouse and the dress feature a curved hemline that dips down at the front and back, curving up at the side seams. If you prefer a straight hem it would be very easy to adapt, simply cut it straight across where the side seam curves and hem. The dress includes a separate tie belt if you want a cinch at the waist. The blouse fit is quite roomy so I sized down to a size 12 and then took in the side seams for an even straighter fit through the hips.
I preferred this slimmer look as I was using this gorgeous cotton poplin from Minerva. It has good structure and stand so I didn't want to have too much extra fabric as it would felt overwhelming to have the full sleeve and bodice. This poplin is the Dashwood Studio Woodland. The pattern is created with a "thistle-like" flower in subdued colours. My blouse is made with the navy. It is also available in an air force blue and a burnt orange; all soft muted wonderfulness not matter which one you choose.
The fold over placket is simple and fun to create. The front bodice pieces are interfaced, then folded over twice and edge stitched. This gives you a simple finished front closure that its fussy. You will need at least 7-3/8" shirt buttons, I needed 8 as I lengthened the longest version of the blouse pattern by 1.5". The only somewhat challenging part of this blouse will be the button holes. The pattern comes with a button interval spacer which makes it very easy to place your buttons. As I was using this dark navy fabric I used white thread to tack the button hole placement. I find it much easier to add a few large basting stitches then marking with white chalk on narrow placket. The result for me is always carefully placed button holes. You will have to try it! If you don't have a button hole gauge yet, I highly recommend this one, especially if your pattern doesn't come with a paper gauge. It always gives you perfectly measured button holes with no second guessing-just exactness.
I used bias binding created from the same fabric for both the neckline and the arm hole.
I really enjoy making same fabric bias binding and the pattern pieces provided are perfect. You could easily choose to use purchased bias binding if you want a contrast or matching colour. Both bindings attached easily and create a simple elegant finish.
In order to achieve statement sleeves there has to be gathering.... lots of it. I don't mind gathering. I find if you take your time and mark quarters on what ever it is you are gathering you get an evenly gathered piece every time. Before I gather I use a water fabric marker to show the center, then fold it in half the other way to and mark the 1/4 and 3/4 points. Creating these marks on the gathered piece and what you are attaching it to, give you smaller sections to gather and attach evenly. Its all about fractions and sectioning your work off so it doesn't feel like such a lot to gather at the same time. Using this technique with the cuff and the armhole worked really well and the result was an evenly gathered statement sleeve. In order to get a 3/4 length sleeve I added 4" to the length. I think this blouse would look wonderful with a full length sleeve as well. If you do lengthen it to this extent I would recommend tightening the finished cuff width a bit. You could also create a cuff on the sleeve that is gathered by elastic.
The Anthea is a wonderful blouse that offers an easy to follow pattern with fantastic results. I highly recommend it as your next make. After all.... There is Sew Much To Design
Happy Blouse Sewing,