You are currently viewing THE PRINCESS DOLMAN BLOUSE B6898

By Pati Palmer and Helen Bartley



Raise those arms to show the dolman sleeves!

Carol Stalvey, a Palmer/Pletsch instructor from Macon, Georgia, sewed with us. Then we had a photo party for the Butterick Palmer/Pletsch princess dolman shirt. I wore the two dolman shirts I’d sewn and Carol tried on both and decided she’d sew them when she gets back home. Carol and Helen sewed pants from our basic pant fit pattern B6845. Watch for a blog about that— “Design Changes Using a Basic Pant Pattern That Fits.” 

Pati Palmer in short sleeve blue blouse made from the Butterick Palmer/Pletsch Princess Seam Dolman Blouse pattern B6898

Palmer/Pletsch teachers offer hands-on classes and workshops. Go to for teachers, workshops, and resources. See the complete list of RESOURCES AND TUTORIALS at the end of this blog.

We liked the vintage inspiration of the higher underarm in the vintage blouses below. You can see this armhole fit especially in View A photo on the pattern envelope . The 6” bust ease is not an oversized dolman blouse. (See back of envelope for FGM for bust.) We sewed the longer-sleeve views in drapey rayons and the shorter in a crisp cotton, which supported the pockets very well. Remember that rayon “grows” a little, while the cotton seems more fitted due to its weight and tighter weave.

vintage fashion art of a dolman sleeve blouse
a vintage look

The inspiration for the View B sleeve was a ¾-length dolman sleeve that was cuffed and loosely buttoned at the overarm seam seen in this vintage fashion art.

When Helen and I were sewing the blouses used for photography at Butterick, we were asked to increase the sleeve length for the tall models. The sleeves turned out longer than we envisioned on most of us shorter people, such as the model in the light blue blouse on the pattern envelope.

No worry, when sewing our own blouses we shortened the sleeves on View B. We also narrowed the lower edges and sewed a band instead of a cuff. The band barely slips off over our hands.


This totally luscious rayon challis is from:

Josephine’s Dry Goods
2609 SE Clinton Street
Portland, OR 97202


The fabric sewed beautifully.


I pinned the cuff to the View B sleeve to check the length

While fitting, note the position of the shoulder princess seam. Is it on or within ½” of your apex? If not, see Helen Bartley’s fitting changes for the position of the princess seam later in this blog.

I decided I wanted the sleeve 2” shorter. I matched the 2”-wide ruler to the cut line for View B and drew a new cut line.

change cutting line


I leave my pattern pieces out while sewing so I can easily check for accuracy.

For example, I place the pattern piece on the collar to mark the point, then draw the seamlines so I know where to pivot when sewing. I sew two tiny stitches across the point, then pivot to the next side. This makes a better point.

Measure the distance from the collar edges to the front fold.

And, after basting the collar to the front, I can check the distance from the collar edges to the front fold on both sides. It is faster if I keep the pattern pieces handy.

As always, Palmer/Pletsch patterns include alteration lines printed on the tissue and fit help in the guidesheet.

For example, the pattern includes the cut line for cutting off the sleeve, in case you need to do a full bust adjustment. Just tape the sleeve back on when the adjustment is done.

bust fit tip from the guidesheet

Due to guidesheet space, we show how to add bust width to the side panel only. To add width to the front also, see the book The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting.



Helen Bartley, author of Fit and Sew Custom Jeans, helped me with this pattern for Butterick. Here she fits the blouse and shows a few new things:

Helen Bartley's alterations to dolman blouse pattern

Helen pins the unaltered pattern together and tries it on. She finds the princess seam is too far from her apex.

And the bust curve is higher than hers.

Helen Bartley's alterations to the dolman blouse pattern

Helen took a tuck from shoulder to hem in front to narrow the front and move the princess seam closer to her apex.

Then she did a full bust alteration on the side only, adding ½”.

Then she lowered the bust curve on front and sides to be at her bust level.

From The Complete Guide to Fitting, by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto

pattern alteration to lower the bust area

She has shortened the View B sleeve by 2”.

Now she pins cuff to sleeve and likes the length.

Instead of a cuff, she will band the sleeve.

She will also narrow the sleeve and cuff to be just large enough to slip her hand through easily. She will do this in fabric.

She is ready to cut!

Helen Bartley's alterations to the dolman blouse pattern sleeve


We learn as we teach. NEW! When the back is cut on the fold, we show you where to draw the high round back line: on the neckline seamline for your size. This means less distortion than when the alteration is made lower, because it’s a multisize pattern.

high round back alteration to B6898 dolman blouse pattern
high round back alteration to B6898 dolman blouse pattern

This is how we show it in this Palmer/Pletsch Butterick pattern:

Below is how it is explained in our book The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting.

When the line is low, it adds width at the center back to the neck. When it is on the neck seam, there is no distortion. If the pattern has a center back seam, the seam will simply curve over your roundness, so it doesn’t matter if you draw the line an inch down.

illustration of high round back alteration in the book The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting


Because of the shoulder princess seam, you will be able to cut double and thus save fabric. If the front and back were all one piece, you’d have to refold the fabric to use the full width. This is much easier!

dolman blouse pattern pieces on the fabric


After cutting, I chose to use my undercollar as my upper collar because I liked the colors better.

blouse collar and undercollar

Before interfacing, reposition the pattern on the fabric to check that they fit perfectly. I needed to pull the right half of my collar down to match the lower edge of the tissue.       

Check collar to make sure fabric has not stretched.


PerfectFuse Sheer works well on lightweight fabrics. It doesn’t have to be preshrunk, but make sure you have preshrunk your rayon and cotton fashion fabrics.

I fused both collars because the fabric is lightweight, soft and drapey. Always do a TEST SAMPLE first.

To prevent interfacing from sticking to your ironing surface when you fuse, cut it smaller. At right, the interfacing pattern is placed 5/8” away from the long front raw edges and 5/8” from the bottom. This will make the cut-out interfacing about ¼” smaller on all edges.

Cutting instructions are on the back of the PerfectFuse insert.

Cut interfacing smaller.


I love finishing the hem of a shirt by serging, turning up 3/8” and edgestitching. FAST, FUN, AND DONE!

But with a curved hemline it is more trouble and can look less neat unless you are expert at using serger differential feed.

Instead, we prefer to baste ¼” from the edge of the right side of the fabric with a 3.5mm stitch length. That puts the bobbin thread on the wrong side.


shirttail hem techniques

Turn under ¼” along the basting line.

shirttail hem techniques

Then turn under another 3/8”, press, and pin into a pressing board to anchor.

shirttail hem techniques

Along the curves, pull up the basting thread from the wrong side with a pin to ease it to fit the curve.

After pressing use a lot of pins to keep it neat.

Use a lot of pins when turning up a shirttail hem.
Stitch the shirttail hem.

From the inside, stitch along the edge, removing pins as you go. Press when finished.


Draw a chalk line ½” from right front edge. Then for buttonhole placement, draw a horizontal line at your bust level and others 3 ½” above or below. (The pattern includes a handy buttonhole placement guide.)

buttonhole placement

Sew a test buttonhole (or two) to check both buttonhole length and thread color.

When you have determined the correct buttonhole length, draw lines to mark the buttonhole ends.

Pin through front and facing to keep layers flat. Sew machine buttonholes.

Decide on thread color for buttons and sew them on. Run thread across beeswax to keep it from tangling.

All buttoned up! Happy Sewing!

Pati Sews a Dolman Blouse in Silk


I sewed a second dolman blouse out of a lightweight silk crepe de chine using View A with long sleeve and shaped 3-button cuff. Read on to learn about how I added pockets, shortened the length several inches to wear with trousers so you can see the pleats, and how to sew perfect princess seams in silk.

Pati Palmer models a silk dolman blouse and pleated trousers
back view of the silk dolman blouse

Teaser alert—The next blog will be on my trouser pattern, Butterick 6878, shown here.

Pati Palmer wears the dolman blouse under a blazer

The dolman blouse is great with a blazer. The collar fits well over lapels. The dolman sleeves are not too low to fit into the armhole.

Peaked lapel single-buttoned blazer to wear with jeans or tuxedo style. A classic fit with the usual Palmer/Pletsch alteration lines on the tissue and fitting in the guidesheet.

This blazer, Butterick 6862,  was featured in an earlier blog:


Check out the piping detail on the inside of the blazer. I love it!

piping inside the blazer

Pattern and fitting changes from the first blouse:

I made the blouse shorter, with a straight ¾” topstitched hem. A shirt tail hem would be challenging. I adjusted the tissue for the sleeve width narrower by tapering the seam to ½” narrower to the cuff on both front and back sleeve. With the cuff tissue pinned to the sleeve, I shortened the sleeves 3” in the length. I have a B bra cup size and a low bust. I didn’t lower the princess curve in the rayon blouse because the seam in this looser blouse is not very curved. But, after the fact I decided it should have been lower to get rid of the extra width above my bust. I also moved the front princess seams over ½” to center the seams over my bust just like Helen had done.

Pockets or Not?

The main concern is that the pockets might be too heavy for the silk. So how do you test? Well, you make the pockets and pray! Here I am in my auxiliary sewing room—my bathroom counter—with pockets pinned to front. Voila! They will look great!

Stop the Feed Dogs from Feeding

If the feed dogs try to swallow your silk when edge stitching, try placing Perfect Pattern Paper tissue under the fabric.

feed dog issue

Tips for princess seams when sewing blouse in silk crepe de Chine.


The four vertical princess seams from the shoulder to the hem are easy to sew, press, and topstitch in cotton and rayon fabrics. In a lightweight silk crepe de chine they can be more challenging. Testing before you sew will save you time in the end. A NEW needle size 70/10 or 75/11 or 80/12 universal are good test choices. A microtext needle is another option.

sew a test seam
  • Sew a test seam. A 2mm stitch length is recommended.
  • Then test a seam finish. Use pinking shears or a serger 2-thread stitch for a less bulk. Cut two long layers of silk cut on the lengthwise grain. Adjust tensions and widths until the serging is smooth and pucker-free. Press only on the serged edge to flatten it.
test the seam finish

Now you are ready to sew a finished seam as your final test. Cut two more long strips.  

Press seam on top.

Sew a seam. Press on top to smooth out any puckers.

• For best results when you want to press the seam in one direction, first press the seam open.

• Then press both seam allowances in one direction. (In the garment these seams are pressed toward the center front and center back.)

• After pressing, serge the seam allowances together trimming 1/8-1/4” away. (Or finish with pinking shears.)

• Then place just the serged edge on the ironing board. Press just over the serging to flatten.

• From the right side, lightly press barely over the seam on a seam roll to avoid making an imprint on the right side. Let cool before moving.

Then press seam to one side,
the finished seam

Hopefully your finished test sample will make it easier to get lovely looking princess seams in your silk blouse.




On YouTube search for Palmer/Pletsch Interfacing and shirts tutorials for clips from our digital video classes that you can also purchase to download or stream at

Also, search for Palmer/Pletsch Tissue-fitting and you will find many tutorials. You can also purchase complete streamed video classes at


If you want to master sewing shirts, we now have 5-day workshops where you fit and sew a shirt under the guidance of a pro. You will be proud of the fit and quality of your shirt. Go to and check out workshops and to search for a trained instructor.


Palmer/Pletsch patterns include tissue markings to help you succeed as well as fit tips in the guidesheet PLUS our best sewing instructions with lots of tips.


Mother Pletsch’s Painless Sewing by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch contains the most basic sewing techniques you need to sew well. Plus, the cartoons it contains will make you laugh out loud!

Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing book

Photo Op! The Dolman Blouse with Jeans

Helen sewed B6911 new Palmer/Pletsch jeans pattern and did one of her MODS! (design modifications). She made the legs ultra-wide at the bottom.

If you don’t yet have Helen’s book,  Fit and Sew Custom Jeans, you NEED it! 

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Carol

    Wow, this blog post is so filled with tips and information that are so useful. Thank you for taking the time and care for detailing how to sew well and make a blouse fit. I do love the vintage pattern you showed, too.

    1. Pati Palmer

      Thank you for your nice comments. It makes the time sewing, writing, and taking photos all worth it.

    2. Olivia PH

      Never come across this blog before now, and found it so helpful. Not having sewn my clothes for so long, it has revved me up to get started again. Than you.

      1. Pati Palmer

        You can read any past blog in the blog archive. Hope you will enjoy more. Pati

  2. iQwest

    Unbelievable detail! Being much more a visual person, the pictures are wonderful too!

    1. Pati Palmer

      I think about the smallest silliest details while I am sewing Glad you appreciate details too!! Thanks for commenting.

  3. KristenI

    Wow, this is a fantastic detailed post! Love the blouse style. You’ve inspired me!

    1. Pati Palmer

      If you are inspired, all the time spent makes it worth it!! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Dottie

    I really love the peach color silk blouse.You are a wonderful teacher and I appreciate you sharing you knowledge with us. Love ,love, love the silk blouse.

  5. Elaine

    Many thanks for your teaching blog. It contains some really good tips for when I make this blouse. Hopefully it will look as good as the ones you have both made. I like Helen’s modification of your new jeans pattern, the style is very flattering on her. I am enjoying looking through Helen’s Jean book and hope to make a pair of jeans that fit in the future, and use her book as a guide.

    1. Pati Palmer

      I was looking for this coral color for a blouse and the only fabric I could find was the silk crepe de chine. I wanted an easy-to-sew cotton or rayon, but loved the challenges of silk. I pre-shrunk the silk so that it wouldn’t spot if I got caught in an Oregon rain. Silk hand washes beautifully and gets cleaner than when dry cleaned. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Toni

    A perfect pattern for me now I struggle to get sleeves on (I shattered my right shoulder and have restricted movement in that arm now). Sewing is unbelievably difficult and slow now but with the help of your wonderful tutorial I will tackle it step by step. Thank you

    1. Pati Palmer

      Butterick helped me make the dolman sleeve just perfect, not too high or low. Glad it works for you. Thanks for commenting and good luck and happy sewing!

  7. Joan

    Thirding thanks for a wonderful blog with lots of very helpful tips and supporting photos! All of the versions of this blouse turned out great, but Pati, the melon-colored silk blouse looks absolutely FANTASTIC on you –love the fit and the long, fitted cuff looks terrific. I like this dolman princess blouse!

    1. Pati Palmer

      Thank you. The pattern has so many options and is pretty easy to sew. Have fun. Pati

  8. Jo A. Holmgr

    So glad I opened this email. I want to go back to sewing my own clothes! “We”. hubby and I. have retired and mostly I do quilting. Have also moved and living with son and daughter-in-law. Currently do not have my sewing machine. Does not mean I can’t get ready. Love all 3 pieces: blouse, pants, and jacket. Need summer blouses as they got tossed in downsizing: Also, had seen better days.

    Thank you for inspiring me to sew clothes again. Can’t wait. FYI, i am 82 and plan on being around for a long time. Always have loved Palmer/Pletch patterns and books. Thank you again. Jo

    1. Pati Palmer

      Age is only a number. As long as you can see you can sew! I pray for good eye sight. I bought a portable, rechargeable Halo Go Light with a magnifier to use when needed. Model: D/E/U/A25201 Halo Go. It is LED and so bright. I take it all over and put it where I need it to see better. My daughter just turned 37 and she was my 40th B-day present. Do the math!! Ha. Pati

  9. LYnda Gorman Pike

    I happened on this this morning. I would like to get back int sewing garments and this is very informative.

  10. Nancy S

    I really like the short sleeve version! I have the pattern of course, lined up in the queue. The blouse looks so different in each fabrics, very versatile. I have not made a dolman sleeve top before, but it looks like an easy fir and sew garment.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Pati Palmer

      It is also such a comfortable blouse to wear, especially in a soft rayon. Pati

  11. Mary Jane Henley

    This is such a great pattern! Much more flattering and cute than the photos on the pattern envelope. I fell in love with it when I tried on Helen’s altered one while at a tissue fitting workshop! After making one, I think I’ll add a forward shoulder adjustment to the next one. FS in dolman…time to get out THE book!

  12. Pati Palmer

    I guess the difference is when you alter and sew for yourself. Models are not fitted in advance and sometimes that makes a difference, but sometimes we get lucky! We do blogs so people can see garments fitted to and worn by us so hope we get more blog followers. But the best is to come to a workshop. Good to see you during fall fit!! I can’t wait for you to start teaching fit!! Pati

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