Fashion sewing is an interesting combination of inspiration, aspiration, indulgence and necessity, manifested singly or collectively. My newly completed bow blouse is an example of a bit of all of these motivations rolled into one. This is the blouse I made to go with my No. 2 Chanel-inspired jacket, made from the same red and navy blue geometric print silk with which I lined the jacket.
Inspiration came from several sources. I was mostly inspired by the pattern, which is copyright 1957 by The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. (Vogue Patterns) – so much so, that I purchased it in a size larger than I usually wear, as that was what was available – and with vintage patterns, one is never sure to find a favorite one again soon – or ever.
Some of the aspects of the pattern which appealed to me are: 1) the “dropped” bow shown in views A and B; 2) the various sleeve lengths; 3) the shaping in the body of the blouse – soft and understated, but very feminine. Just for fun, I looked through a few of my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines from 1957 and 1958, to see if I could find examples of this blouse pattern. That was easy! Here is one sketch and one photograph of Vogue 9227:
After making a sheath dress to coordinate with my Chanel-inspired jacket No. 1, I aspired to pair my Jacket No. 2 with a suitable companion, too. A bow blouse seemed to be a versatile and useful solution. And then it became a necessity! I decided my Jacket No. 2 would not be complete until I finished this blouse.
Step number one was to make a muslin (of course), knowing that I would need to alter the pattern to fit me correctly. Sure enough, I needed to take out the bagginess in the bust and body of the blouse, and I needed to shorten the sleeves. I went to my favorite book on making alterations which guided me through the correct changes:
My muslin showed me that the sleeves were also a little too full for me and for current 2014 styles, so I removed some girth from them as well. I was skeptical of the bow (cut on the diagonal) when I looked at the pattern and then the muslin. Would it be too full? Made up in muslin it seemed a little overwhelming. But, my silk was so lightweight and fine, that I decided it might just be okay, using the original dimensions.
This blouse went together quite as planned, although I worked on one side where the bow/collar joins the corner at the front facing for hours, until I had it inserted correctly. I kept making the same mistake over and over, which was a little irritating. I also added some extra hand-sewing, understitching the facing by hand and hand-stitching the hem.
When I started the blouse, I had not yet picked out buttons, thinking I would use some that I have in my vintage collection. But then I was on Waechter’s website and found these buttons, which seemed just about perfect:
(Sadly, Waechter’s is closing their business in Asheville, N. C., to my great dismay. This makes me even more grateful for Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, from which I purchased all the fabric for this blouse and my Jacket No. 2.)
Sewing with vintage patterns is such a pleasure in so many ways. For example, the sleeve vents had their own separate pattern piece:
Another classic vintage aspect is the proscribed use of snaps – in this pattern, at the waist and below, which takes bulk away from the “tuck-in” part of the blouse.
And that bow? Once I had it made up, was it too much?
I am feeling quite good about indulging in the extra fabric and extra time needed to make this blouse. Now that my No. 2 Jacket is complete, I can indulge in my other current project – my color-blocked coat – which might add a new word to the vocabulary of fashion sewing – obsession!
16 responses to “The Necessary Blouse”
Thank you for the details. This looks lovely! Nice use of fabric design.
I couldn’t figure out what part of the garment the photo of hand understitching shows?
The hand understitching which I show is on the front V of one side of the neck facing. The facing is only tacked down (to stay in place) at the shoulder seams and at the tiny darts on the back neck edge, so the understitching really helps keep it in place. Thanks for asking – and thanks for commenting!
Fantastic!! You lined your jacket with the blouse fabric, I swoon with delight! And, it’s funny because I never would have thought to use such a geometric fabric (which I love) with such a feminine flouncy bow blouse. But, the result is fabulous! Seriously great pair.
I never really thought about the appropriateness of that geometric print paired with the feminine blouse design. Maybe because the weight and feel of the fabric is just so fine, it seemed like a given to me! But it’s an interesting observation, for sure! Lovely to hear from you, as always!
Love this blouse!!! It is perfect with your jacket. Be proud Karen! Two huge successes!
Thanks, Joanne. So far 2014 is proving to be productive!
I love the V-neck bow. Very pretty. I too love the grometric print mixed with a soft-edged blouse.
Thanks, Lizzie! I’ll definitely be making this blouse pattern again – I love the V-neck bow… and it’s definitely different from any other of my blouses.
It’s an exquisite compliment to your exquisite jacket, Karen! Very feminine and great colors!
Thanks, Sarah! Bright colors for this cold winter…
Love your bow blouse with your jacket! You’ve inspired me again!
Thank you, Cissie. It is so delightful to work with such beautiful fabrics – and having everything turn out as hoped is definitely rewarding.
Wow – this is such a stunningly beautiful blouse. I’m so inspired! The pattern certainly looks very flattering on you to my eye and those colours – so bold and unrepentant for being so! I love it 🙂
Thank you so much! This blouse is definitely not shy, but that’s one of the reasons I like it!
Oh my, Karen the blouse is just gorgeous and you’re absolutely right about the bow. I love the combo of jacket and blouse – beautiful and suits you just perfectly.
Thank you, thank you! What a lovely compliment!