Modification to a Favorite

The Ebb Blouse is one of my absolute favorites.

This time I made it with a fabric purchased from Loes Hinse (another favorite designer). A soft 100% rayon in a crepe weave.  Had I not seen the description in a reliable place, I would have said this was polyester.  The trip through the washer confirmed LH had correctly described this fabric.  Out of the washer, it felt like split wood.  It shrank lengthwise slightly (about 1″ in 2.5 yards) but did not shrink width-wise. It was wonderfully drapey and crawly. I mean it would not stay in the stash.  It wound it’s way downward to the floor and was traveling out the door accompanied by the 2 other pieces also purchased from LH.  I just knew it would be perfect in the Ebb.

Having made a dozen versions of the Ebb straight from the pattern, I desired a slight change. Just something a bit different.  I check my inspiration files and came up with a dress from Burda Issue May 2010 #138.



I didn’t want the short pleated sleeve, paneled front or the dress length.  I wanted the center tucks. I started by tracing the Burda front-bodice, then trying to figure out how it needed to be altered to replace the Ebb front-bodice.  It took about an hour for me to think “wouldn’t this be easier if I just worked from the Ebb pattern?”.  I pulled out a piece of tracing paper. Put the Ebb on top and rotary cut a new piece. Slid the Ebb beneath the copy and transferred needed markings.  Sliced-off vertically the excess (the placket) beyond the center front and then sliced 3 times horizontally from CF up to the side seam. Then I slipped a bit of tissue under my new bodice; spread the horizontal slashes and taped into place.  I folded the horizontal slashes the way I wanted the tucks to form and then slashed the excess 1/4″ past the CF (effectively adding a 1/4″ SA at the same time as truing the new CF).  When opened, the tucks are easily marked and have the angled shape necessary to form the a nice even seam.  Lots of words, but less than 5 minutes todo.  I threw away everything I’d copied from Burda and was ready to cut fabric.

Well not quite.  Remember I said these fabrics were trying to crawl away?  I’ve given up on all methods to stabilize creepy crawly fabrics other than starch. Starch works. Starch takes the flimsiest fabric and turns it board stiff.  Thereby making it handle easily.  Downside is that this is a liquid experience that must be allowed to dry.  So I stopped to starch the fabric and allow to dry while I occupied myself elsewhere.  Even though I know I’m going to starch these types of fabrics, I don’t do it until I’m ready to sew.  I don’t have a bad pest problem.  Every few years a mouse tries to move after the first freeze.  Several types of bugs do the same thing –every year (mice are only an occasional problem).  When we replaced the house’s, siding we also sealed every crack.  The person working with us said we used twice as much caulking as he’d every used anywhere else. Yet, the bugs get in every fall (and a few baby snakes every summer).  Since critters love to eat starch, I protect my fabrics by not starching until I’m ready to cut.

I forgot to mention that I lengthened the sleeve at cutting time.  I like the 3/4″ but I wanted this to be different.  I used MarciaE’s method.  I slipped a piece of tissue underneath my pattern and extended the grain line to the length desired (for me that 20″ plus hem allowance, 1/2″ this version). I crossed my new grain line with a horizontal line and then measured out from the grain (which happened to be in the very center of the sleeve) the width I wanted at the wrist.  I extended the side seams down to the new hem level and trimmed away all excess tissue before cutting the fabric. What I desired was a lightly gathered-at-the wrist, long sleeve. I attached elastic at the wrist hem  using a 3 step Zigzag while the sleeve was still flat.  The stitched the side seams before turning the wrist up twice and top stitching. It’s an easy sleeve which I think looks nicely feminine.

As far as sewing, I changed the routine by folding in the CF tucks and tacking them into place before stitching the CF seam line.  At the cutting table I added 1/4″ to the side seams of the skirt portion (not the bodice).  Then made the hem line even instead of the mitered flaps that make this blouse so unique.  Without the extra 1/4″ when making the straight bottom hem, the blouse is too tight across my hips.  Probably I could have added the 1/4″ to the CF and CB but I didn’t.  Either way, I did need to slightly ease the skirt portion to the upper bodice portion. But I don’t think you can tell.


I’ve had this blouse done for about 2 weeks. It needed to be washed to remove the starch.  I think it needs to be washed one more time. The first trip through the laundry didn’t remove all the starch. The fabric is still visibly stiff and not draping as it did when first arriving at my house.  I don’t think this is the best look for me.  Adding the tucks added volume to the front where I have no volume.  But it is still feminine and even though still stiff from the starch, was comfortable to wear.

Would I do this again?

  •  The sleeve yes. It will be easier than before because now I have a pattern.
  • The bodice no. I’m onto something different. But I will cut a copy of the bodice pattern and make changes to it instead of trying to morph Burda’s bodice into something I want that works with the Ebb pattern.  BTW the issue which killed my Burda modified version?  The neckline.  I couldn’t figure out how to raise that thing from cleavage depths. Everything I did either removed the tucks or distorted the neckline.  I’m not a pattern cutter and that proves it.

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