Belcarra Blouse: Fabric Suggestions

A little change in the schedule for our Belcarra Sew-Along prep posts! I am going to cover fabric suggestions today, and I’ve moved the FBA (full bust adjustment) and choosing your size to tomorrow (Saturday) and FAQ, including a quick tutorial for narrowing the neckline, will be on Sunday. Here is the updated line up!

Belcarra Blouse: Inspiration and Modification Ideas

Today: Fabric Suggestions

Saturday, May 17th: Choosing Your Size, and FBA Tutorial

Sunday, May 18th: FAQ, and How To Narrow the Neckline

Monday, May 26th: Preparing and Cutting your Fabric, Gathering Supplies

Tuesday, May 27th: Sewing the Pocket, Sewing Sleeve Tucks

Thursday, May 29th: Attaching Sleeves, Sewing Shoulders and Side Seams

Friday, May 30th: Neck Binding

Tuesday, June 3rd: Attaching the Sleeve Cuff/Band

Friday, June 6th: Hemming our Blouses

If you haven’t already, you can purchase your Belcarra blouse pattern in our shop – paper pattern here, or PDF pattern here. Or pick it up from one of our lovely retailers!

fabric 7So let’s dive into this and talk about fabric options!

Here is our sizing chart and the yardage requirements for this pattern, for your reference.

belcarra requirements and measurements

This blouse is a stash buster! The most you’ll need is 2 1/4 yards in a 45″ fabric. Don’t forget though, this is the perfect blouse for mixing fabrics, and I bet if you had a bit less fabric than you need, you’ll probably be able to squeeze the pieces in. So what fabrics do we suggest? We recommend lightweight woven fabrics. That could be anything from silk charmeuse or crepe, rayon challis, cotton lawn or voile, or shirting. In the spirit of stash busting, I turned to my fabric stash and pulled some examples to show you.

fabric 3

Silk Charmeuse is drapey, lightweight, breathable and lustrous. One trick I learned from selling fabrics to designers in the fashion industry – not everyone likes the sheen of a charmeuse or satin, but often, you can actually use the backside of this fabric! If the print shows through on the back side, there is nothing wrong with using this as the “right side”. I’ve actually seen this done on ready to wear garments, and personally, I prefer it! Keep in mind, silk charmeuse can be tough to cut and sew. You can do a bit of googling for tips for working with charmeuse or satin, there is lots of good information out there.

fabric 1

Silk Crepe has almost all of the same properties as a silk charmeuse. Drapey, lightweight, breathable… and it’s not as shiny, and easier to handle. This is one of my favorite fabrics! The one you see above is a silk crepe de chine.

fabric 5

Cotton Voile or Cotton Lawn is a great choice for beginners. It has a nice crisp drape and it’s not too stiff. It’s also super easy to cut, sew, and press. Cotton is breathable of course, and washable! It’s really a winning choice. You probably recognize the print above from Tasia’s Cambie Dress and Alma Blouse. We love this fabric! This particular fabric is a cotton voile, but a lawn is very similar. Lawn’s just tend to be a bit more opaque, and have a bit of a softer handfeel and drape.

fabric 2

Here is another example of a cotton voile! I wanted to show you this because it’s still called a voile, but it’s a bit more sheer that the previous fabric. A semi sheer voile like this would work great for this blouse, if you’re okay with your finished blouse being a bit see-through.

fabric 4

Rayon Challis is soft, breathable, and drapes beautifully. I love this fabric but there are a couple of things to consider. First of all, rayon shrinks a lot, so pre-wash your fabric once or even twice to make sure you are pre-shrinking it before cutting into it. Secondly, rayon wrinkles quite easily, so you will definitely have to iron your blouse regularly if you go with a rayon fabric. Just some things to keep in mind!

fabric 6

Shirting is usually 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and nylon or polyester or spandex or a combination of a few. It’s nice and crisp, breathable, and easy to cut, sew, and press (another great choice for beginners!).

Remember to always pre-wash or pre-treat your fabrics the way you intend to care for the finished garment. Pre-washing will often shrink the fabric, so that your final garment doesn’t shrink on you!

So that covers all of our fabric suggestions! Of course, feel free to experiment. This top could work in a stable knit or sweater knit, lace, eyelet, leather… the possibilities are really endless! If you are wondering about a particular fabric, feel free to ask me about it in the comments.


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22 Responses to Belcarra Blouse: Fabric Suggestions

  1. Maria May 16, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Great fabric suggestions. The Belcarra is definetly on my list. Even if I wont have time for this sew-along.

  2. Caitlin May 16, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    I love the print on that rayon challis! If you don’t mind, where did you get it? I’m a beginner when it comes to garment sewing and have picked out a cotton lawn for this pattern. Glad to know it’s beginner friendly!

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Caitlin! I got the rayon challis at Dressew Supply, a local fabric shop in Vancouver. :)

  3. nothy May 16, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I am just back from a conference and thought I would have to hustle to catch up on this sew-along. I have my fabric already and am just waiting for the FBA tomorrow.

  4. Katie May 16, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    I just download the pattern! I’m looking forward to picking a fabric from my stash and doing my first sew along!

  5. Susanne May 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Would double gauze work? I have some in my stash I’ve wanted to use for a while. It’s a little less than the required yardage, so I’m wondering if I could use a different fabric for the neckline binding?

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Susanne! Yes double gauze would work great. You might even be able to squeeze all the pieces into less yardage, including the neck binding, depending on your size. Otherwise, a different fabric like a cotton lawn or voile would be fine for the neck binding.

  6. Tina Spear May 16, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Caroline, thanks for all the great information regarding the different fabrics. This is an area where I need more education. I am considering either the silk charmeuse or the silk crepe. Can either of these be washed prior or do I have to dry clean silk? I have heard others say it is ok to wash silk fabrics if you do so before it is cut out. Would you agree with this?

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      Hi Tina, yes, most silks you can hand wash. For a silk charmeuse or crepe, you should be fine to wash it prior to cutting, and even after the garment is sewn. My tips: hand wash in cool water with really gentle detergent or hand washing liquid (we like the brand “soak” that is sold at a lot of yarn shops). Don’t agitate the silk too much, just swirl it around, let it soak, and then rinse. To dry it, use a towel to sandwich the fabric and press it to draw the moisture out, and then hang to dry (do not wring the fabric, and hang it away from the sun to dry). Keep in mind washed silk has a slightly different texture and handfeel, but some people prefer it! It’s quite lovely. Good luck!

  7. Lara May 17, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    I am so glad you will show how to narrow the neckline. I love this blouse, but, for myself, I need a little more coverage. If the change looks like something I can handle, this pattern will go to the top of my wish list! Also, would it be possible to show how to figure out if an adjustment for wide shoulders would be needed, and how to make that adjustment? The blouse looks like it might not need much as designed because of the ease of fit, but I’m concerned about how that might change if I narrow the neckline.

    Thank you to both Caroline and Tasia for such a welcoming and helpful website. I visit often, and am grateful for the work you do!

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Hi Lara, we are showing a really simple tutorial on how to narrow the neckline, this will go up tomorrow. It’s not a major change from the current neckline, just a bit narrower but you can use the method I show to narrow it even more.
      I don’t think you would need a wide shoulder adjustment because there is quite a lot of ease in there. I don’t think I’ll be able to cover this during the sew-along (too much to do, too little time!) but if you make a muslin and still feel you would need this adjustment, send us an e-mail (info[at]sewaholic[dot]net) and we’d be happy to give you some guidance on how you could do that.
      Thanks Lara!

    • Tina Spear May 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Thank you, Caroline

  8. Beth B. May 17, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    Settle a bet for me–does “voile” rhyme with “foil” or “ball”? I’ve heard both and it seems nobody knows which is “right” :)

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      LOL. Well, I am from Montreal, so the french in me says that voile rhymes with “wall”… this is the right way to say it, in my book! However after living in Vancouver for almost 4 years, I tend to say it like “foil” or else people go…HUH? :)

  9. Vicci May 17, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I am a little sad your blouse does not come in a larger size!!!

    • Caroline Amanda May 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Vicci, I’m so sorry that you’re sad! We so wish we could offer larger sizes, in the past we just did not have the resources to develop a larger range of sizes. It’s something we are definitely considering for the future, especially now that we are able to make PDF patterns. Would you mind sending us some more information to our info[at]sewaholic[dot]net e-mail? If you don’t mind sharing, we would love to know what size you are hoping for, and which patterns from our current line up you would like us to offer in plus size. Thanks for voicing your concern, we take this feedback to heart.
      All the best!

      • Kelly Bairos June 10, 2014 at 8:18 am #

        Would it be very difficult to scale up to a size 18? My sister is just above the sizing on the envelope and I really want to make this shirt for her! (I already did actually, using the incorrect measurements she gave me and of course it didn’t fit, grr!)

  10. Tracy May 17, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Hi Caroline, Can you also let us know how to add an exposed zipper to the centre back?


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