I also thought it would be a good project to try because it would give me ideas for a “current” blouse for myself. I love making vintage clothes but I don’t tend to wear them; this blouse was given to an actress friend who has the kind of life where she gets to wear interest clothes all the time.
Because we don’t have ladies’ maids to help us get dressed in the morning, I modernized the pattern a bit, but I tried to keep it as unobtrusive as possible by inserting an invisible zipper upside down in the left side seam so that the zip opens at the hem. Ease of getting in and out of the garment was really secondary; when I realized that because of the shape of the pattern piece the vertical front stripes would chevron down the back, no way was I going to interrupt that with buttons. And so the zipper idea was born.
Another change I made was due to fabric constraints. I picked this ivory and tangerine striped silk dupioni that I’ve had in stash for well over 20 years. It was perfect for the blouse, but I couldn’t find a contrast fabric I liked for the sleeve trim / cuffs and collar. I tried an ivory satin that I had on hand, but it was the wrong shade. I tried a lace overlay that softened the coolness of the ivory, but it looked fussy and wrong – the blouse is so sleek, I didn’t want to go over the top with a fussy collar. So for the moment, I’m sticking with the square neckline from the under-blouse, slightly widened and bound with bias trim.
I also bound the hem with bias, and after removing the satin / lace sleeve trim (because of course I didn’t change my mind until the cuffs were on and the collar was constructed and bound with all that silk bias tape), I cut new sleeve trim from the blouse silk. Since the sleeve stripes were on the cross-grain, I cut the cuffs on the straight. It was really just another opportunity to play with stripes.
My favorite things about this pattern were the front pleats – it took a little while for the instructions to sink in for some reason, but then I looked at it and it made perfect sense. The edge stitching makes it easy to re-press the blouse later, too. I also love the drafting of the bodice piece. Without a shoulder seam to interrupt the stripes, the chevron just occurred naturally. I’m looking through my pattern stash right now for a blouse that I can redraft to do just this.
One of my reasons for signing up for the 1912 Project was to learn new techniques. I feel like I definitely got something from this project, both in a historic-sewing sense and also in a way that I will be able to translate into sewing for myself.
And my friend got a beautiful new blouse from it (that may or may not eventually get a contrast collar, if I ever find the right fabric).
Edited 4/24/12 to add VPLL Project Checklist:
1. Pattern Name E0191 Blouse
2. Sewer’s Skill Level: Advanced
3. Pattern Rating: 3 – Good/Average. I’d give it higher marks but I think it’s a pattern for a very specific body type; some of the VPLL patterns I’ve tried are much more wearable by a wider selection of people.
4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? I think this pattern is fine for an intermediate sewer so long as they are patient and follow the directions, simply because some of the techniques are not familiar to a modern day sewist.
5. Were the instructions easy to follow? If not, what needs to be changed? I thought they were fine. I got a little confused about the pleating at first, but I took a break, re-read them and fiddled with the fabric and it all worked out. That’s generally what I have to do when I can’t get the words to make sense. The fabric doesn’t lie, and it rarely confuses. One other note: the instructions say to gather the sleeves into the armscye, and there isn’t sufficient fabric in the sleeve piece to do that; I inserted the sleeves flat and they fit without easing.
6. How was the fit/sizing? Did it correspond to what you thought? It was spot on to the measurements promised on the pattern.
7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Were they fit or design alterations? I made one fit alteration, which was to add an extra pleat in the front because the friend who got this blouse is a bit smaller-busted than the planned measurements. My design alteration were the following: I omitted the optional lining (requested and also my fabric was opaque enough) and to add an invisible zipper in the left side seam because I wanted her to be able to dress herself and I also hated the idea of interrupting that beautiful chevron of stripes with a button placket. I also left off the collar because my fabric choice didn’t work and instead I widened the square neck by about a half inch and bound it in striped bias tape. I also bias-bound the hem to neaten the edges at the zipper insertion.
8. Changes I’d like in this pattern: It worked beautifully as drafted, but if it’s made up with the original back closure, it should be altered to either add a button placket or note that extra fabric needs to be added to accomplish this.
9. Changes to instructions: The instructions were clear, if minimal. You might want to suggest a side zip or buttons/snaps for those who aren’t going for complete authenticity; it made the blouse much easier to wear. Otherwise, my suggestion above regarding redrafting to add a button placket or a note to add enough fabric to make one.
10. Discussion of fabric/trim, etc. I’ve had this tangerine-and-cream striped silk dupioni for at least 20 years, waiting for the right project. The only problem was that I couldn’t find a contrast fabric that I liked at all, which is why the blouse is made of one fabric only.
11. Description of technique – insertion, cutwork, etc. This was a pretty straightforward pattern, construction-wise. My only real contribution to construction on this is to note the invisible zipper insertion in the left side seam. I inserted it so that it opened at the bottom, which made it very easy to get in and out of the blouse.