Empire Waist Blouse Pattern

Empire Waist Pattern

You can download the PDF version of this pattern and instructions on Craftsy.com.

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in paint the last week or so, so I was excited to get back to my sewing machine to make this simple spring blouse pattern based on the infinity dress pattern I did a while back.

The whole pattern consists of four pieces, a quarter circle “skirt, two front bust pieces and the back piece.

Materials Needed:

Pattern Pieces:
  • Quater circle piece (cut one on fold)
  • Front straps (cut two on fold)
  • Back (cut one)
Seam allowance is not included. Hemming is not necessary if the pieces are cut smoothly  enough.
empire waist top pattern

The first thing you need to do is determine the diameter of your waist. Just think back to Jr. High math class, and if you still can’t remember Google can help you out.

Diameter = circumference (your waist measurement)/ 3.14.

So my waist measurement is 30″/3.14= 9.55″

The other measurements you’ll need are your shoulder width and torso height.

Step 1: First start by creating the circle top. Attach a piece of yarn or string to a screw in a block of wood. The string should be your circumference of your waist. Draw a curved line to create a quarter circle.  To create the bottom hem measurement on  the circle top cut a piece of string that equals your circumference measurement plus your torso height. Draw a second curved line to finish the quarter circle pattern piece. Cut one quarter circle piece on the fold.

Make the quarter circle "skirt" piece

2.  Cut two front strap 10″x 13″ pieces on the fold. Cut one back piece.

3. Sew together the short side of the circle piece, right sides facing. Pin the back piece to the circle piece, lining up with the side hems and sew right sides facing.

4.Pin the front strap pieces with a small overlap with each other and the back piece.

empire waist top pattern

Overlapped Pieces

5. Sew together front straps and back pieces using a zigzag stitch for stretch. Done!

 

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49 comments on “Empire Waist Blouse Pattern

  1. I would love to make this top. I thought half your instructions were missing but it’s just that simple! I have a high bust and a long torso so I was wondering would it affect the construction of the pieces if I simply decreased the length of the front strap pieces?
    Thanks

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Erin,
      I would measure from your shoulder to the bottom of your bust and use that as the strap length instead of the 13″ I allocated for the straps. I based the pattern on my average torso, so customizing the measurements will ensure that it fits. Please let me know if you have more questions and I’m happy to answer : )

  2. Rachel on said:

    So cute. I love new patterns, thanks.

  3. Kelley Straughan on said:

    Thank you so much for sharing your quick, cute, and easy ideas. The infinity dress was the first piece of clothing I have ever made. I love it! Thank you again.
    Kelley

  4. Thanks for this pattern! I’ve just finished (less than an hour and a half after starting!) a top based on this using some fabric that had been making me feel guilty for about a year! I made the front and back the same, just cutting two double length front straps. Thanks for the simple and effective idea that’s got me back on my sewing machine! :)

    • Meagan French on said:

      I’m so very happy I’ve inspired you to sew! I have the same problem finishing projects. Feel free to email me pictures of the finished top at hello @ crafthabit.com and I’d love to share them on the Facebook page.

    • Awilda on said:

      Hi, perhaps you went over this already and I didn’t grasped it but my question is the following. Is the 10″ a standard for the front strap? I understand the 13″ can be altered depending on your shoulder to under the bust measurement, but is the 10″ half of the shoulder width or just a standard number for the strap as I mentioned above? Thank you in advance and also for the lovely pattern. Can’t wait to try it.

      • Meagan French on said:

        Hi Awalda,
        Yes 10″ is standard for the front strap. You can always measure from your shoulder to neck to get a custom measurement. I added a couple extra inches to create some little cap sleeves over the shoulder.

        -Meagan

  5. janet on said:

    Thanks for the instructions! Could you make the length longer so it could be a dress?

  6. Brenda on said:

    I’m a very novice sewer.. When you say cut on the fold, what does that mean?

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Brenda,
      “Cut on the fold” simply means to place the pattern where the material is folded in half or doubled so you won’t have a seem. In the case of this blouse pattern, you’ll want to make sure you cut the strap pieces and the circle piece on the fold (see pattern) so that you’ll have double the amount of fabric when you unfold them. Does that make sense? If not, feel free to leave another comment and I’ll try to explain further.

      -Meagan

  7. nancy on said:

    being math challenged I watched several videos on google and still clueless. I have been sewing for more than 50 years and now have to know geometry to calculate a circle? I hardly ever use patterns but I am stumped on this one, think I will just eye ball it, thank god I have a serger.
    Also what is the purpose of the back cut outs at the arm?

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Nancy, you can just eyeball the circle and subtract fabric later if need be, but the calculations give you an exact measurement for the length of the string (circumference) to draw the circle. There are no cut outs on the back of the arm, I apologize for my less than perfect photoshopped pattern. You simply want to create a basic bodice that slants inwards towards the waist. Thanks, and let me know if you have more questions.

  8. Erin H on said:

    I think this is a super cute top, and it’s on my list of things to make when I get a sewing machine (or am home so I can use my mom’s). I am not very adept at making clothes, and I was confused about step 3: “Sew together the short side of the circle piece, right sides facing. Pin the back piece to the circle piece, lining up with the side hems and sew right sides facing.” What part are we sewing on the circle piece? The sides that are torso length? Aren’t those the sides that need to be sewn to the back piece? My brain is just having trouble figuring out this instruction.

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Erin,
      I’m sorry I didn’t explain well enough. I should actually break these out into separate steps:

      1. When you’re finished cutting out your pieces, you’ll need to sew together the torso piece (where it says torso height on the pattern) right sides facing.

      2. Pin the back piece to the torso piece, right sides facing. Try to line up the side of the beck piece with the seam you just made in the last step so you’ll have the same seam through the length of the shirt. Sew together (zigzag stitch works best).

      I hope that helps, and please feel free to leave another comment or email me at hello at crafthabit.com if you have more questions : )

      -Meagan

  9. PixeKnits on said:

    Hi Meagan,
    Quick question, I’m just trying to visualize how this is all to come together. When you cut out the 1/4 circle on the fold what you really have is a half circle piece that you then sew together on the short side, correct? Then you add the back piece so that the edge will line up with the seam you just made sewing up the 1/2 circle?

    Thanks so much,
    Lesley

  10. Deby Coles on said:

    I’m a bit confused about cutting the front pieces on the fold. I can see they are 13 inches long, but when I cut them on the fold they will be 26 inches long and will no longer be just front pieces, they will be long enough for the front and the back.
    So should I join them to the back and the front of the ‘skirt’ part with the bodice at the back inside somehow and then how to sew through to join the back part at the shoulders or it will just fall down?

    I’ve got all my parts and just can’t see how to join these 26inch long parts. If they were 13 inch long I could join them to the back at the shoulders and could understand but then the arms would look silly. What am I missing?

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Deby,
      I used my average torso measurement for that stap. My shoulder to under bust measurement is 13″ so when it’s doubled it equals 26.” You can take your own measurements to adapt the pattern. -Meagan

    • Pretty blouse! Thanks for shariing!

      I seem to be having the same problem that so many other people are having, and I’m hoping that I can ask the question in a different way and maybe I will make sense(?) Do you keep both of the front pieces folded in half and stitch the folds to the front waist and the two ends to each of the back bodice shoulders? That would double the thickness of the front of the shirt, which is fine if that is what’s intended, but I don’t see how it is supposed to reduce the amount of fabric used, which is what I assume you mean by ‘preserve fabric.’

  11. Becky M on said:

    This is so cute! Found it through pinterest! Question for you. when you measure your waist. Did you use your natural waist or did you measure where that seam hits below the bustline?

  12. this is a very cute tope and i’m excited to give it a try, but I’m confused about a couple things…you say to cut the front straps on the fold. what is the purpose of doubling this length? using my own personal measurements 13″ is too short, but 26″ is WAY too long.
    second…can you give a little more info regarding drafting the back pattern piece? my shourlder width is only 20″ by the time I come in 10″ on each shoulder there isn’t room for the rounded neck cutout.
    maybe i’ve been sewing too long and am making this more difficult than needed.

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for writing, I know sometimes my instructions aren’t perfect. 13″ is my own under bust to shoulder measurement, but you can change it to suit your own sizing. And if you have a 20″ shoulder measurement I would recommend cutting out enough room for your neck and taking the shoulder measurement then. Just be sure to match up the front and back shoulder widths so everything fits together : ) -Meagan

  13. Hi Morgan,
    I like the pattern very much.But I am not sure cutting the back..It looks like that with straps blouse will be like mega sleeves.then why there is armhole cut-I did not get it.Will you please explain to me.
    One more thing.1/4 circle is the fold length same as torso height?
    Thanks

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Shaila,
      I’m sorry that the pattern isn’t clear. The back bodice piece is really just a basic bodice piece that slants inward to fit the waist.
      And yes, the fold length is the same as the torso height. Let me know if you have any more questions : )

      -Meagan

  14. Hi Morgan,
    Thanks for your reply.
    My understanding about the torso height is- length of the top from the waist- is it correct?
    Shaila

  15. Thank you for the pattern. Is it possible to adapt it for a maternity top? I was thinking of making the length longer and the bottom of the top wider for the expanding stomach. I would appreciate any tips you can give.

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hmm, I have to say I know nothing about making maternity clothes, but I think the cut would be right for it. I’d say make it a bit longer and give your bust a bit more room : )

      -Meagan

  16. Hi Morgan-

    I don’t think I saw this question yet. I really like this top, but was wondering about length for pear-shaped gals. It looks like the blouse will stop right at the mid-hip, not usually a good idea for the small shouldered, bosom, hippy type. Would you recommend just lengthening it a bit? And by how much? Either way, thanks for the pattern.

    Thanks! Emily

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Emily, you can certainly lengthen the top a couple inches to fall at your hip if that’s the look you’re going for, it’s really just a matter of personal preference and what you think looks good on you.

      -Meagan

  17. How tall should the back bodice piece be? And is there somewhere I can see a photo of the back of this shirt? I think seeing how you put it together on the back would help tremendously!

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Renee,
      Because the blouse is custom to your body, you just take a measurement from the top of your shoulder to the smallest part of your waist.

      -Meagan

  18. I have a few questions: 1. Can you explain why you cut the front straps on the fold? Are they supposed to be doubled over? 2. What is the height measurement for the bodice piece? 3. Is there a photo of the back of this shirt somewhere? Seeing the back would really help me understand how to put it all together correctly. Thanks in advance!

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Renee, You just cut the front piece on the fold to conserve fabric, but its not totally necessary.

      -Meagan

  19. This is so cute! I am getting ready to give this pattern a try. I’ve read through your intstructions and comments from commentors and think I understand everything, but then it occurred to me that it would helpful if you had a photo of the back of the shirt. I can picture how the front comes together, but not exactly how the back comes together with the front side pieces to form the sleeve. Do you have a picture of the back of the shirt? Thanks!

  20. Aurelie on said:

    Where do I find the back pattern piece?

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Aurelie,
      The back pattern piece is custom to your body so you take the measurement from your shoulder to the smallest part of your waist for the height. There is no actual pattern, just instructions.

      -Meagan

  21. Raanee Gandhi -Brown on said:

    Hello, I really Really like this pattern and i’m planning on turning it into a dress. However, i have the same question as many about the 10 x 13 inch front pieces for the front. When you cut them on the fold, they equal 10 x 26, how do you attach these pieces to the back piece? and about the circle skirt bottom, im not to sure if you mean the string should be the diameter or the radius because if the string is as long as the circumference of the waist, the piece is super huge lol thank you for the pattern ;)

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Raanee,
      The shoulder piece total measurements are 26″x 10.” The front pieces are just cut on the fold to preserve fabric. You can always measure your torso length from top of shoulder. over the bust to the smallest part of the waist if you’d like to get a custom measurement for this piece.

      To attach to the back piece, you simply sew each short side of the front pieces to the shoulder of the back piece, lining it up at the sleeves.

      String is the diameter which you get by using this formula:

      Diameter = circumference (your waist measurement)/ 3.14.

      -Meagan

  22. Sarah on said:

    Thanks for the cute pattern. I can’t wait to try it out but where do you find such wonderful knit fabric!? My local stores aren’t quite so trendy :)

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Sarah,
      I purchased the fabric for the empire waist blouse at Fabric Outlet in SF. Cute knits can be found on Ebay and other places on the internet if you do a little Googling : )

      -Meagan

  23. Theresa Dowsett on said:

    Sorry for appearing to be a bit thick but I cannot understand why the front shoulder pieces are cut on the fold – because if they are cut deep enough to cover measurement from shoulder to under bust and wide enough from neck to sleeve edge why would you need twice the length. I am sure there is a very simple explanation that I just cannot see.

    • Meagan French on said:

      Hi Theresa,
      The shoulder piece total measurements are 26″x 10.” The front pieces are just cut on the fold to preserve fabric. You can always measure your torso length from top of shoulder. over the bust to the smallest part of the waist if you’d like to get a custom measurement for this piece.

      -Meagan

  24. I am confused on how to make the back piece. It would be your shoulder width x 13 inches high x 1/2 the waist diameter at the bottom? The draw a line from shoulder to the waist. I think I am having a brain cramp LOL

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