Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


The Serpent Outfit: Top with dramatic sleeves

After watching The Serpent earlier in the year, I was attracted to all the costumes in the show and in particular to this outfit worn by Monique / Marie-Andree (she goes by both names), played by Jenna Coleman.

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!
Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

I particularly liked the big dramatic sleeves and found that this Burda pattern in my collection fitted the bill well:

Looking at the line drawing I can see that this top has a v-neck. This is shared with the top in the TV show too. I also noticed that in the photo of Jenna Coleman the sleeves have two pleats that add even more volume. However, I thought I would stick with the Burda version as I wasn’t sure how much I’m going to love the sleeves in everyday life. Would they get in the way too much?

The Burda line drawing also shows the back view which has a yoke and pleat, just like a shirt. I have kept these features in my make, because I really don’t know what the original top looks like from the back.

Fabric Choice

The fabric choice was quite a dilemma for me. There is a certain vibe about the print used in the original top that is largely missing from modern prints. There is a tendency for certain colour combinations in 70s designs that don’t appear on fabrics today. The patterns can also be big and bold. On The Serpent blouse, the colours are complementary, and the pattern itself, although big, is a somewhat indistinct, abstract floral design.

I wanted these elements in my choice; complementary colours and abstract floral design. It actually turned out more difficult to meet these requirements than I’d first thought.

I looked at various floral designs on online fabric stores and came up with these ideas.

Fabric Inspiration: clockwise from top left – 1. from Minerva fabrics 2. from Minerva fabrics 3. from Storrs 4. from Storrs 5. from Storrs 6. from Like Sew Amazing

Before I went ahead I looked on Instagram to see if anyone else had made the Burda top. I spotted this amazing floral version from Merine on Instagram and I couldn’t have imagined a better fabric. I wonder whether this version may have swayed me in my final choice, because I went for the bold coral and mint dahlia print from Like Sew Amazing (shown above in the bottom right hand corner), which is a cotton lawn.


I used French seams throughout for my make. I was pleased that the pattern included cutting out two back yoke pieces. Yes, I know that is normal for a shirt, but you’ll be surprised that I have seen more than one blouse pattern where only one back yoke piece is mentioned. I was a little concerned that the fabric might be quite transparent, so I cut the inner yoke piece from plain white cotton lawn. I wanted to make sure that the bold pattern didn’t show through where the fabric is white.

I made the v-neck a little higher, this is a normal adjustment for me. I think it may have been too revealing otherwise. I was very careful with the construction of the v-neck opening. I’ve made a couple of neck openings of a similar construction (allowance clipped and then facing turned to inside) recently and felt that the finish on these didn’t quite meet my exacting standards. I think it can be a tricky finish to get right with the possibility of fraying and making a very obvious hole. I think the closely woven fabric helped enormously this time and I didn’t feel that the point of the “V” became unduly weak.

I left the hem on the sleeve till last and then spend several days deliberating on the finished length. In the Burda picture and also in The Serpent, the tops have wrist length sleeves, but the pattern is drafted for someone with slightly longer arms, so I knew I would have to take off some of the length. Then I wondered whether I should go with a shorter, more practical length, but I wanted to be true to the original inspiration. Once I’d decided, I cut off 4 cm so that the sleeve came to my wrist.


Well, here’s the top in all its glory!

The Serpent blouse

I also really like the yoke and pleat at the back. It makes the top light and airy, in fact perfect for summer. I would even consider making this top with more restrained sleeves, because I like the other features such as the back pleat and the v-neck, so much.

Back view of “The Serpent” top showing the back yoke and pleat.

And finally here is a shot where I’ve semi-tucked the blouse in. I’m not big on wearing summer blouses tucked in (I just like a bit of circulating air), but I thought it would show another way this top could be styled. I noticed that Jenna Coleman wears hers tucked in and I may give that a go when I make the mint-coloured trousers.