Gingham and Pearls

Way back at the beginning of our just-past long winter, I was on the hunt for fresh cotton gingham to pair with some Liberty cottons for dresses for my granddaughters’ birthdays. Always having been a fan of gingham, I couldn’t help but notice the offerings of shirting gingham in the Etsy shop where I was making purchases.  Of course, I ordered two pieces.  (Why wouldn’t I?!)  One piece in lavender has been tugging at me and I knew it would be next to make after finishing my purple boucle coat.

What I did not realize when I purchased this fabric is that it is a printed, rather than woven, gingham. However, the quality is lovely and silky soft.

In the meantime, I came across this spread in the April (2018) issue of Harper’s Bazaar:

There in the lower left hand corner is – yes – a lavender gingham blouse.

Now at this point in my life, I do not sew to save money, although I am always happy to have that as an added bonus.  But in this instance, once I looked at the listed price of that blouse ($375!!!) I felt quite pleased with myself, knowing I could make this  knock-off, for well less than 10% of the cost of that shirt:

The feature I really liked about the “$375 blouse” was the spread collar.  A spread collar, of course, has a wide division between the points in front, as opposed to longer pointed ends.  I determined to alter my pattern to make my shirt look like the one in the magazine.

I used a Simplicity pattern from 1972, which somehow survived all my now-regrettable purges of sewing patterns over the last 40-some years.  I had to make several alterations to it in addition to the shape of the collar, but its basic lines – with a yoked back, single button cuffs, slightly fitted body, and a long shirttail – lent itself to my vision.

The pattern art here is so dated! I actually used this pattern once before for a silk blouse.

To me, buttons are always an important component of any style requiring them.  I went through my button collection to see what I could find, knowing that what I really wanted would be simple mother-of-pearl, two-hole buttons.  When I came across this card of “Lucky Day” buttons, I knew they would be perfect.

These buttons date from the 1940s!

These 2/3″ buttons are in good proportion to the 1/4″ gingham.

What is it about gingham that makes it so fresh and happy – and timeless, as the tag line in Harper’s Bazaar, states?

I added an inverted pleat to the center back below the yoke. I may eliminate that the next time I make this pattern.

Because the fabric is a printed gingham, when I roll up the sleeves, as I am wont to do, the reverse white of the fabric shows. This doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it might.

Well, I am quite certain my “Gingham Style” looks just as good as the much more expensive “Gingham Style” detailed above.  All the more reason to wear it with pearls!



Filed under Blouses, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Uncategorized, vintage buttons

31 responses to “Gingham and Pearls

  1. I always LOVE to see someone’s inspiration – creation! Yours is really beautiful! Very rare to find a lavender gingham but now I have I think it’s my favourite!

  2. Nancy

    LOVE this shirt! Crisp and oh so pretty!

  3. Wonderful shirt. I love how you paired it with white jeans. Printed ginghams can be off grain but yours looks like top quality. Nice touch of vintage buttons also.

  4. Mery

    So pretty, the whole and the parts. Good tip about the buttons size and composition. Perhaps because it’s geometric the print never looks dated. Freshly pressed slacks with a crease complement it perfectly. White always looks cool. With your good pattern selection and other choices, along with the customized fit, yours looks more expensive than the inspiration one would if you had bought it instead. That’s the benefit of sewing, that and enjoying the process.
    I prefer natural fibers but I once made a gingham printed whipped cream blouse that always looked fresh long after the rest of me wilted, so I wore it often for more than 10 years and wish I had another just like it. Even so, it’s scary to buy it printed lest the printing not be on the straight grain. Yours looks marvelous and you say it feels soft too. May you enjoy it for many years.
    Why is it that we extend 3/4 sleeves to long sleeves on vintage patterns to make them modern, yet we roll up our long sleeves? I do the same thing.
    For young readers whipped cream was a polyester about the same weight as gingham that had a slight crepe texture that resembled real whipped cream. It sewed beautifully, did not ravel, didn’t fade, never needed ironing, and it had just enough body to not cling so air circulated making it surprisingly cool. One could wash it in a sink and hang it on a hanger and it would dry in a few minutes ready to wear. It didn’t look expensive but it worked. Mine was a remnant, not enough for sleeve facings but it had a collar, slit front so no buttons. White thread, interfacing and sleeve binding from stash, so there was no extra expense. It cost 27 cents.

    • You can’t beat 27 cents for a shirt! I have had blouses and shirts which I have worn so much they literally fell apart! This shirt may be one of those in about 10 years or so.

  5. Mery

    That’s my favorite length shirt. I don’t like my crotch smiling out at the world 😃.

  6. Kati

    Your shirt looks amazing! 😍❤️
    I wish I had your skills! I’m working on it. ☺️

  7. Fresh and happy indeed! The spread collar is such a nice detail.

  8. heather

    love your outfit! beautiful! 🙂

  9. Love the top, Karen – spread collar buttons and all! I’ve never seen printed gingham, but you made it work beautifully – looks like a $375 blouse to me 😊

  10. Win! Win! Win! One for the $ saved, one for lilac gingham, and one for a very put together lady!

  11. Ah, thanks, Kathy! What a nice compliment!

  12. Marguerite

    Love it! I’m definitely going tommake myself one. And I love the look of a shirt with rolled up sleeves. It’s casual and dressy at the same time. PS I bet you checked out the Elliot Berman silk gingham in the latest email! Also, I think I have that same pattern somewhere.

  13. Great summer outfit, Karen. And the pearls add just the right touch!

  14. What a beautiful shirt. I so envy you the white pants too. Always a fabulous summer look with a pretty, colourful top. Super.

  15. Debra Coglianese

    You look like spring! What a lovely addition to your spring wardrobe. Perfect for you…and your pearls!

  16. Ooh it’s a beautiful blouse. You look lovely in purple! The spread collar is my current favourite look – may I ask what you used for interfacing here?

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