Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silk chiffon blouse poncho....inspired by RTW

I love Chicos.  Love their jewelry, their clothing lines have gotten more shapely over the years and their look is what I often aim for, upscale sportswear for a casual, middle aged lifestyle.  Especially love their fabrics although frequently the colors are too harsh for my extremely fair complexion.  The summer before last when I was on my quest for a sheer top that would cover my upper arms I came across a simple design of theirs in the store.  It was the Painted Palm Poncho Blouse and keeps appearing in their line with different fabrics (and names) each summer.  I tried it on and it fit the bill for what I wanted to accomplish...something lightweight for the hot days of summer but would still provide me with some coverup.  Sorry, my upper arms seldom go flapping free in public unless I'm working out or swimming.   So I figured out how to assemble one quite easily and thought I would share this with you.
Chico's website:   Paisley Foil chianti version

My silk chiffon version on location

Another rayon one

Lightweight poly, silk chiffon or rayon  45-60" wide
48" in length (or more depending on desired final length)

Cut two pieces of fashion fabric, 24" long by fabric width (or shorten to 24 x 44", my preference....although the blue rayon picture is 54" width fabric)

Use your serger to create a rolled edge on all four sides of each piece.  I just used regular serger thread but you can use decorative thread if you want.

Stitch the top shoulder line, right sides together, with a 1/4" SA.  Leave a 13" opening in the center for your neck opening.  (I usually fold this fabric in half at the neck opening, mark 61'2" from that fold on either side.)   Back stitch at each end of the neck opening.

Press the seam open.  Turn right sides out.  Place the top on a flat surface so that wrong sides are together and the sides are straight and even.

Determine the lower body with opening for your body.  Measure your hip or upper hip line and add desired ease....3"-6". ( Ex.  My upper hip is 42".  I add 4" of ease.  42+4=46")  Divide that number in half to find how wide to make the body opening.  (Ex. 46" / 2= 23" body opening.)

Create the side seam and sleeve opening by using that body opening figure.  At the bottom of the flat garment on the table, measure from the midpoint.  (Ex. my midpoint is the 22" mark....yours may be larger if you use wider fabric)  Mark from that midpoint, to the left and right, the body opening you need. 
Ex.  My midpoint is 22".  I need a body opening of 23"  From the midpoint I mark 11 1/2: to the left and 11 1/2 inches to the right.  The remaining fabric will drape down and become my "sleeve."  The seam will end approximately 10" from the shoulder line.

Pin a straight line 13" from the bottom of the blouse to create the side seams.  Sew side seams directly up that pinned line and back stitch at the end.  This might seem a little strange because you are sewing wrong sides together (ask me how I know that:-)

Variations:  You could create a center front opening, maybe full opening so that it is jacket like or just a deep V.  And you could use a more couture seam finish, too.

Ok, I know most of you are sewing with woolens, making coats or knitting socks and hats.  So file this in the "next summer" folder and have an easy, patternless way to use up yards of those filmy, silky fabrics that are languishing in your stash.

When I teach this in person at an ASG meeting I have a diagram that explains this a little better.  Maybe this photo will help.

Is this a useful garment in your wardrobe?  Is this tutorial clear enough?  Love your comments and helpful suggestions.  In the meantime, hope your sewing projects are working well for you.


  1. This looks fantastic on you. It's a style I wouldn't have thought to try, but your versions are beautiful. I have a piece of bright chiffon that would be fun to try this tutorial out with. Thanks.

  2. A very elegant top. You're right - I'll file this away for next summer - it's a little chilly here at the moment. On the other hand... This would make a very nice "hostess outfit" for over the holidays, or would those sleeves trail across the food as you're putting things on the table? Well, may-be for someone who has hired help?

  3. OOoooo. Ooooooo. How did I miss this when you first posted. It is GORGEOUS. I MUST make one. You are the master (mistress???) of DIY patterning. This is too cool. I must make it.

  4. ...and I'm always looking for tropical looks that are a bit more sophisticated, and this is it. Breezy and pretty and gorgeous.

  5. Thank you! I knew I wanted a top like this so I already bought the fabric - now I know exactly how to make it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I now know what to do with my extra bits of fabric I bought with no project in mind.

  7. I have some gorgeous multi colored sheer fabric that I absolutely must use to make this. I may change the length because I am short but I am so glad I found this. Thanks!

  8. I have some gorgeous multi colored sheer fabric that I absolutely must use to make this. I may change the length because I am short but I am so glad I found this. Thanks!


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