14 February 2013

Sewing the Back Opening and Hem

We’re making good progress on the Mathilde Blouse!

Let’s get started on the back opening...

1) Turn the edges of the back openings inwards by 6mm / ¼”, wrong sides together, and press. (NB. If you pressed down the top edge of the back openings when pressing the neckline facings down, fold them up again for this bit.) Stitch the edges down using a 3mm / 1/8” seam allowance.

2) Fold the back openings inwards along the fold lines, right sides together.

3) Stitch the top edges of the back openings, at the same level as the neckline seam.

4) Stitch the bottom edges of the back openings, 2cm / ¾” up from the bottom edge. Cut a rectangle of fabric out of the interfaced part of the bottom corner to reduce bulk when you turn it right sides out. Don't cut right up to the stitching line though – the interfacing will help form a nice, neat corner when you turn it through.

Right, we're going to turn it out in a bit, but first...

We're going to stitch the hem:

The blouse has a 3.2cm / 1 ¼” hem allowance. If your fabric is very fine, you may decide to reduce the depth of the hem allowance. If you're using cotton, you'll probably need to keep the full hem allowance, otherwise the pleats will squidge up when you turn it under.

1) Before stitching the hem, it’s a good idea to check that the hemline is even all the way round. The way I do this is to fold the garment in half at centre front, matching up and pinning together a few key areas of the garment (eg. pin side seams together…). Then I smooth the garment down to the bottom and check that the right and left sides are the same length at the bottom. You may also want to try it on and check that the front and back hemlines balance, ie. one doesn’t look crazily longer than the other once it’s on your body. If you need to, neaten the hemline up with your fabric scissors and refold the raw edge under.

2) Now we’re going to turn the raw edge of the hem under to neaten it. (You may prefer to grade and overlock the raw edge instead – go ahead.) Turn up the hem - to the inside of the garment, wrong sides together - by 6mm / ¼” and press. Turn it up by another 6mm / ¼”, press again and pin in place. (You may have noticed that we’ve only pinned the hem up by 12mm / ½”, not the full hem allowance. Don’t worry – we’re going to do the rest after we’ve turned the back opening out.)

3) Stitch using a 3mm / 1/8” seam allowance. Now give the hem a good press.

4) Turn the back openings right sides out. Here's a great tip on folding a neat corner. Press.

5) When you turned the back opening out, you will have turned the rest of the hemline up too. Press the rest of the hem up neatly to the same level as the bottom edge of the back opening. Stitch the hem in place, directly on top of the previous line of stitching when you turned up the raw edge.

6) Topstitch all the way round each back opening, 3mm / 1/8” from its edges, to form a long rectangle. Be sure to catch the edge of the neckline facing in the stitching.

Done! We'll do the buttonholes next...


  1. I'm not actually sewing along with this blouse, but I'm reading all the steps and finding a lot of helpful tips for my other projects going on - thanks!


  2. Your work looks so crisp and beautiful! It will turn out to be a stunner of a blouse...J

    1. Thank you! All I can see in the photos are the creases - man, that chambray is creasable!

  3. Hi Tilly, I'm halfway through my Mathilde and loving it so far! I would like to leave the hem a little bit longer so wondered how that would work with the back panels (as the bottoms appear to align perfectly with your 1 1/4" hem. x

  4. Pic 4, is that a hem? pic 5 its gone. i don't understand which bit I'm looking at. can anyone help

    1. You're totally right, that photo is confusing - a rogue photo from later must have slipped through the net :) I've removed it now, hopefully it makes more sense!

  5. Hi, the instructions with the pattern say to stitch the bottom of each back opening 1cm up from the edge. Here it says 2cm. Which is correct please? Thanks :-)

  6. Hi! I really love Mathilde blouse.
    I have a question. The blouse has 3.2cm hem allowance. But it seems that only 2.0 cm hem allowance is used. Is it correct that you need to stitch the bottom edges of back openings 3.2cm up from the bottom edge, if you want to use full hem allowance?


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