Belcarra Blouse: FAQ, and How To Narrow the Neckline

Hi everyone! Today, in preparation for the Belcarra Sew-Along, let’s look at some great questions that have come up. I’m also going to show you a quick way to narrow the neckline of this pattern. Let’s hop to it!

Your Questions Answered…

Several readers asked about whether the neckline is so wide that the bra straps will show. The wide neckline of the Belcarra blouse is a flattering look that we love, but I understand the concern! Personally I have not had this problem with my blouse, but every body (and bra!) is different so it is possible that your bra straps will show. I’ll do a quick demo below on how to narrow the neckline. Another solution would be bra strap holders! Dixie DIY did a great tutorial for that here. (Thank you Sophie-Lee for directing us to Dixie’s tutorial!).

You might be thinking about sewing your blouse entirely out of lace or eyelet. If you do this, you don’t necessarily need to underline or line your blouse, some people like the sheerness of lace! Some thoughts on sewing the Belcarra blouse in lace or eyelet:

  • If your lace has a scalloped edge, you can cut your pieces so that your hem is scalloped, and even your sleeves! Just trace off your pattern pieces, trim off your hem allowance, and sleeve edge seam allowance, and you can omit the cuffs. This way you can line up the edges with your scallop when you cut, and you wont have to finish these edges.
  • Seam finishes: you could do french seams, similar to what Tasia does here for the Crescent Sew-Along, or bound edges as Tasia demonstrates here.

How about sewing the blouse without cuffs? If you aren’t nuts about the cuffs, you could easily omit them! You could add a hem allowance to the sleeve pieces as they are, or, you could make a slash in line with the sleeve edge, and spread the piece open to make it longer (similar to how you would lengthen a blouse). For easier hemming, straighten the sleeve hem edge so there is no curve to it.

One of our readers, Linda, asked: I usually have too much length between shoulder and bust. How do I reduce this in the bodice and raglan sleeves? Here’s what I would do to reduce the length between shoulder and bust:

  • Make a slash line in your front bodice pattern piece, perpendicular to the grainline. The slash line could be able halfway between bust line and shoulder.
  • Overlap your piece by an inch or so (the same way you would “shorten” a bodice piece).
  • Your diagonal edge on the bodice piece, the raglan “armhole”, will need to be smoothed/straightened out now.
  • You want to slash the sleeve in the same way (perpendicular to the grainline), but this time overlap your piece in a pie shape, so that your bodice and sleeve raglan seams will be the same length, but your shoulder seam will not be affected.

How to narrow the neckline

If you’d like to make your neckline narrower, it’s a pretty easy pattern adjustment. Here is how I would go about doing it…

neckline adj 1

Start with your front bodice and front sleeve pieces.

neckline adj 2

Fold your sleeve piece along the seamline (5/8″ or 1.5cm from the edge).

neckline adj 3

Line up your sleeve edge with your bodice edge, and pin in place.

neckline adj 4

Fold back your sleeve piece along the seamline. Now we can see our front neckline!

neckline adj 5

All you need is a piece of scrap paper for this modification.

neckline adj 6

Trace along the neckline and shoulder, as shown above.

neckline adj 7

Cut out your paper along the line you just traced.

neckline adj 8

Lay it behind your pieces, and pivot it to narrow the neckline a bit. You only need to narrow the sleeve piece, and only a little bit.

neckline adj 9

Tape the section to your sleeve piece, and trim off the excess paper. Now repeat these steps for your back pattern pieces! This will narrow your neckline and you wont have to worry about bra straps showing. Win!

Don’t forget, the Belcarra Sew-Along begins on May 26th. I’m excited!

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13 Responses to Belcarra Blouse: FAQ, and How To Narrow the Neckline

  1. Lara May 18, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Oh yay! It’s so much fun when someone shows you how to take the scary out of a sewing technique. Thank you very much Caroline! I now have a Belcarra in my future.

    • Caroline Amanda May 19, 2014 at 12:41 am #

      No problem Lara! :)

  2. Nothy May 18, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    I was interested to see how you narrowed the neckline too. I would have made a mess of it on my own…

  3. Carol May 19, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    Found the “missing” pattern piece. Third times a charm.

  4. Leanne May 28, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Thanks so much Caroline, have never tried anything like that before.
    This is my first sew along, and i want to catch up to everyone :)
    Off to find some fabric.

  5. Tina March 22, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    Will I need to alter the neck band if I do the alteration to narrow the neck opening? I came in 1″at the shoulder seam.

  6. Claire April 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    Thanks for this tip! Wish I had seen this sooner. Before I made my own adjustments, this is much easier!


  1. Julia and Belcarra | Bellbird - May 31, 2014

    […] I’ve noticed around and about the internet that some people have expressed misgivings about the wide neckline. It is indeed rather wide, and for that reason I’m intending to add bra strap carriers to this as it does have a habit of sliding off my shoulders a bit. Otherwise, I love a wide neckline, I think it’s flattering. (By the way, there is a great tutorial for narrowing the neckline on the Sewaholic blog, here). […]

  2. Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse | My Creative Experiments - June 11, 2014

    […] Was pretty happy when I tried on my toile as the fit was generally good without any changes.  The only problem was that it felt too tight across the shoulders to the point that I’d be unlikely to wear it.  I searched for raglan sleeve broad should adjustments, but didn’t find anything helpful so I made a guess at what to do (will explain in detail in another post).  I think it turned out quite well, the top certainly feels comfortable, although that could be due to the softer/drapier fabric used in the final version.  I also narrowed the neckline by 1cm as per the instructions here. […]

  3. a Graphic Belcarra | hamiltonchicklets - June 11, 2014

    […] in substantially on the next version and to make that nice and easy, this little alteration was covered in their recent […]

  4. Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic | Offsquare - April 11, 2015

    […] only alteration I made was to add 1cm to the top of the sleeves to narrow the neckline (via a tutorial on the Sewaholic site) because online reviews have suggested the neckline can be a bit wide and bra straps have a […]

  5. Belcarra blouses » B.Yazoo - May 8, 2015

    […] also narrowed the neckline by about 3/4″. This worked perfectly to keep my bra straps covered, but I didn’t like […]

  6. Sewaholic – Belcarra blouse 2.0 | gingerella - August 3, 2015

    […] As before, this was a pattern I very much enjoyed sewing. The only slight issue is how wide the neck is, to the extent that you can see my bra straps unless I hide them (image below). This might be my poor pattern re-drafting (taking the size 8 PDF pattern pieces to size 4) for the sleeves, and front and back pieces. I probably shouldn’t be so lazy next time! It might also be because the size 4 is still a little too big for me in places as sadly, Sewaholic patterns are not drafted for my body shape. There is excess fabric at my lower back (again due to the shape Sewaholic patterns are drafted for) but most of the time I shall wear it tucked in at the waist as in the first photo so it’s not a problem. Thanks to Rebecca for alerting me to the Sewaholic tutorial on how to narrow the Belcarra neckline. […]