Making a dupe of the Max Mara blouse

If you saw my entries for Designin’ December and some of my other pieces you probably already know I have a penchant for recreating designer fashion looks on a modest budget. When I was at the height of my obsession with the Teddy Bear Icon Coat, I spent a lot of time poring over the Max Mara website and it has to be said I’m smitten. Scrolling through the pages, I stop every third item to drool over some gorgeous garment, my latest crush is this beautiful floral top in silk crepe de chine.

Silk crepe de chine is of course beyond my current means at 30-40-£50 a metre where I’d seen it, therefore I had to find an alternative. When you look at this blouse, you see it’s quite a simple design and it’s all about the print for me so I set out to find something that resembled this.

I think I hit the jackpot with this piece of viscose which I found in the humble sale bins of Fabric Land. The print is, I think, a close dupe for the Max Mara version with a floral motif on a red background. While my flowers are more tropical and my base is in fact more orange/terracotta-coloured than the inspiration I’m absolutely in love with this print.

I’ve given a very brief overview of how I drafted and made my blouse. To create the top I once again used the PatternLab system. I used their torso block and created this hip-length top by making a few modifications. What I changed was: widening the neck, if possible I’d like it to be a pullover neck and looking on the website it doesn’t look as if there’s a closure, but it all depends on whether it will go over my big, big head. I might have to put a small opening with a loop and button to make it pass.

Summary of drafting the top

The lower back has a small peplum type addition going on, it’s gathered about halfway, very subtle. There are also little ruffles on the sleeve cuffs so I’ll have to work those out as well, add a binding to the neckline and that is it.

I was really nervous to get going because I don’t seem to be having a successful sewing time at the moment, but I matched the pattern piece carefully to my measurements. I’m hoping that means it will actually fit this time. However, once I had cut it out I noticed that there was a small slash in the back shoulder piece. I don’t know if I did that while cutting or if there was a fault in the material but I’ve had to make some impromptu darts in the shoulder – let’s hope that’s the last booboo.

To create the peplum I cut the back into two pieces just above the waist. I put a centre seam in the upper back, but I simply cut a rectangle for the lower back, one-and-a-half times the width of the upper back. I then put in two rows of loose long stitches and gathered them to fit the upper back piece.

My overlocker has been giving me all sorts of troubles over the last few weeks and it continued to do so, my lower looper keeps coming unthreaded and then when it’s had enough of that the left needle decides to join in the fun. So I’ve been very frustrated for the last few weeks with my sewing and have not been able to finish anything satisfactorily. I finally got it to work and hopefully, I’ll have a beautifully finished garment. This woven viscose is very shreddy so I definitely needed the overlocked finish. Once I did the back peplum, I joined the shoulders and sides seams and went for a trial.

My top seems to fit really well. I was very pleased, everything seems to be in the right place and the little half peplum looks fantastic. Another little detail is the frill on the cuff which I made with a strip of fabric 1.5x the circumference of the sleeve. I finished the hem by overlocking and then turning it up and going over it with a straight stitch.

The final element was hand sewing the neck binding in place on the inside after I stitched it. I made a bias strip from the self-fabric and stitched it to the neckline on the outside and hand-sewed it on the inside for a super neat finish.

I’m so happy with the finished result of this blouse, That is what we mean when we say we’ve got superpowers. That I looked at a garment on the internet and used the skills I’ve learnt over time to make my own version of it. There are as always a couple of nitpicky things to fine-tune, for example, I have overcompensated on size. It could be a bit closer fitted and the sleeves could definitely be a tad shorter. I don’t think I subtracted the hem when I added the frill. Overall, I’m really happy and to finish off I can wear it with the satin trousers that I made a couple of Christmases ago. I’m very, very pleased with it.

I’m entering this into #SewRecreateTheLook22 hosted by @jenlegg_teescreatives and @sosewdressmaking the challenge gave me a bit of impetus to get this done and I’m really grateful for that, thanks to Jen and Sharlene for organising such a great challenge which is right up my street as most of my inspiration comes from the designer items I see in shop windows or online.

Have you ever done any designer knock-offs how did they turn out?

Thanks for dropping by,

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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