Category Archives: Blouse patterns from the 1950’s

No. 2 ~ The Beginning

I may – or may not – find Chanel No. 5 Paris Parfum in my Christmas stocking, but Chanel-inspired, Classic French Jacket No. 2 can currently, definitely, be found in my sewing room.  Well, actually, it’s not a jacket yet.  It is just lengths of fabric and loose trims and buttons, but that is how these things begin, as every home dressmaker knows.

I actually started planning this jacket long before I took the Classic French Jacket Class with Susan Khalje this past summer.  In September of 2012 when I was at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, I found this boucle and purchased it – even then – as my intended Jacket No. 2.

This fabric is very soft, perhaps due to a certain percentage of mohair wool in its composition.

This fabric is very soft, perhaps due to a certain percentage of mohair wool in its composition.

My first jacket is definitely very dressy, so I wanted this one to be less so, which meant I had to find just the right lining, trim, and buttons.  It took another, recent, trip to San Francisco to produce those ingredients – and I couldn’t be more pleased with what I found again at Britex.

A bolt of this light-weight silk twill was tucked under one of the front tables, and it was love at first sight.  I was hoping to find something with navy blue in it, and the geometric pattern in this fabric makes it bold and less dressy than a floral silk charmeuse would be.

No. 2 jacket

The ruler will help you get a feel for the size of the squares.  Click on the photo for a close-up view.

The ruler will help you get a feel for the size of the squares. Click on the photo for a close-up view.

Immediately, however, I knew that I had to purchase enough for a blouse as well, which I did.  I suspect I’ll be using this pattern from 1957 for a blouse with a bow, which should evoke the correct Coco Chanel look. (A muslin should tell me if I need to tame the bow.  I don’t want it to be overwhelming…)

View B with long sleeves has my vote.

View B with long sleeves has my vote. 

With fabrics in tow, I then headed up to the Buttons and Trims Department on the 3rd floor.  An initial look at the red trims flummoxed me, as none of them seemed right.  Then one of the wonderful assistants in the Department came to my rescue and found these two trims.

No. 2 Jacket

Shown with the lining/blouse fabric...

Shown with the lining/blouse fabric . . .

... and again.

. . . and again. 

Back and forth I went between them, unable to make a decision.  It was then that I went to my fail-safe method of choosing between two equally wonderful trims:  I bought both of them! ( It certainly helped that neither was terribly expensive – and both very versatile.)

Now that I have them home, I am leaning toward one of them – can you guess which one?  Does it help to see the buttons, too?  Once again, the experienced button assistant quickly found these – and there was no question in my mind that they were just what I wanted for this jacket.

These are shank buttons, with gold decoration reminiscent of Chanel "C"s.

These are shank buttons, with gold decoration slightly reminiscent of intertwined Chanel “C”s.

And here with the other trim.

And here with the other trim. 

Well, as in so much in life, timing is everything – or it sometimes seems that way.  My timing could be better to be starting such a lengthy project.  It is, after all, one month until Christmas.  I have those proverbial stockings to fill and much to do, but I’ll just bet I can squeeze in some sewing time before my sewing room transforms into Santa’s workshop.


Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Boucle for French style jackets, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Chanel-type jackets, Coco Chanel, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s

Looking at Blouses

In my quest to make a couple of “simple” pieces before I start another “Chanel-inspired” jacket, I decided to make a blouse.  I am very partial to the color of deep pink – and the remains of a length of silk, which I have already used in two projects (here and here), kept surfacing whenever I went through my fabric collection.  The weight is perfect for a blouse – so my plans starting taking shape, based on this fabric.

First I went through my pattern collection to see what I could find.  Two blouse patterns from 1957 and one from 1959 are lovely but did not seem quite right for my fabric.

View B is my favorite - and how current is this look?

View B is my favorite – and how current is this look?

I have already used this pattern once, but I think I took some of the fullness out of the sleeves.

I have already used this pattern once, but I think I took some of the fullness out of the sleeves.

This blouse pattern is part of a suit.

This blouse pattern is part of a suit. 

Just for fun, I thought I would look at some of my early Vogue Pattern Book Magazines to see what else was being featured for blouses.  In February/March of 1955, this tucked shirtwaist is the very picture of elegance:

The tucks make this blouse very ladylike.

The tucks make this blouse very ladylike.

In the same issue, this “bloused jacket” gives the appearance of a classic shirtwaist blouse:

Looking at blouses 1955 - dress shirt style

And look at this “wrap” blouse, also from 1955:

Looking at blouses 1955 - wrap style

Three years later, in October/November of 1958,  “A Change of Tops” was suggested.  “For variety’s sake, make a wardrobe of extra blouses and jackets to change the look of your skirts…”  That sounds like a good idea to me, especially with the pretty styles that are featured:

Another beautiful wrap blouse among the suggestions!

Another beautiful wrap blouse among the suggestions!

By 1972, collars were beginning to be a bit on the large side for my taste, but these three blouses are still “smashing” even 40 years later!

Made up in a plaid taffeta.

Made up in a plaid taffeta.

This is the same pattern as the blouse above, but with a ruffled collar.

This is the same pattern as the blouse above, but with a ruffled collar.

The diagonal print is very effective in this style.

The diagonal print is very effective in this style.

I was particularly drawn to the diagram for the blouse shown above, as it is just a classic shirtwaist style:

Looking at blouses 1972 - plaid 3 sketch

Seeing this blouse reminded me of how much I like an old (very old) RTW David Brooks blouse that I have been wearing for years.

Looking at blouses

It still looks stylish, and I really enjoy wearing it.  So – why not make a “copy” in my pink silk?  Could I possibly find another pattern in my collection that could be suitably altered to achieve this look and style?

Well, I did.  My blouse is currently “under construction” – but the pattern (to be revealed in my next post) is so funny looking that one may truly ask “Why did you ever save that one?”  Hopefully I’ll have a really good, bright pink answer to that soon!


Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Wrap blouses

Season for Shopping and Sewing

Well, every season is the season for sewing, and shopping, too, for that matter, especially for fabric.  But somehow, the holiday season seems to take both activities to a new level for the year.   Somehow, knowing how to sew makes one very susceptible to feeling like at least one or two of your planned gifts to family or friends be hand-sewn by YOU.  I, of course, am one of these people.

Remembering some of the gifts I have made over the years came into sharp focus this week.  I went into a storage box (acid-free, of course) where I have some family textile heirlooms in safe-keeping.  I was in search of a Christmas item, but what caught my eye were two aprons which I made the first Christmas my husband and I were married.  It was 1973.  I wanted to do something special for my new mother-in-law and my husband’s aunt, and since they were both “apron-wearers” I thought they might like hand-made aprons.  I designed  a simple pattern, which had two pockets and rick-rack trim.  Gingham was widely available, so I chose colors I knew they each liked.   Most of the sewing on them was by hand, and I still remember furiously working on them to get them finished on time.  I also remember the true delight that both ladies showed upon opening them. I obviously had made just the right thing!

This was the apron I made for my mother-in-law.

This is the apron I made for my mother-in-law.

Season for sewing - apron

And this apron was for my husband’s aunt.  If I made this apron for myself, I would add a “bib” to it.

I added a label with my name on it!

I added a label with my name on it!

Twenty years earlier, in 1953, Vogue Pattern Book magazine had a multi-page feature on “Merry Christmas Gifts and Fashions.”  I must say those 1950s’ home-sewers must have been very ambitious, as this is only part of what was suggested as gift projects:

1)  Lots of sequin-embellished ornaments and decorations.

There were sevben apages of projects like this in the December/January 1953-54 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine.

There were seven pages of projects like this in the December/January 1953-54 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine, c1953, The Conde Nast Publications, Inc.

2)  Doesn’t everyone make ties, shirts, jackets, and pajamas for husbands and grown sons?  “The tailoring is not hard with Vogue’s step-by-step, clear sewing directions.”

This is one of two pages of things to make for men.

This is one of two pages of things to make for men.

3)  Of course you’ll sew for your little ones (which I did a lot of when my own children were young….)

Everything from petticoats to overcoats were featured for children.  Lacking from all these suggestions in this feature were dolls' clothes, surprisingly.

Everything from petticoats to overcoats were featured for children. Lacking from all these suggestions in this feature were dolls’ clothes, surprisingly.  Maybe Vogue Patterns had not yet started making patterns for doll clothes.

4)  Now we’re getting into my favorite ideas – “something special for the girl who loves pretty, unusual  things…”

The two tops shown on this page would be very stylish today.  And the grouping of accessories just happens to from a pattern which i own.

The two tops shown on this page would be very stylish today. And the grouping of accessories just happens to be from a pattern which I own.

Here is the pattern, which includes patterns for other accessories, as well:

The curved belt (not the one with the spikes!) attracted me to this pattern even though it is an unprinted one.

The curved belt (not the one with the spikes!) attracted me to this pattern even though it is an unprinted one.

And here are more suggestions for stylish women:

I can do without the jacket with the ball fringe, but I love that wrap blouse featured in the red triangle on the right!

I can do without the jacket with the ball fringe, but I love that wrap blouse featured in the red triangle on the right!

5)  It seems appropriate that the section ended with a feature on aprons and clothes to wear at home.

"At home clothes for serious work or lazy-lounging."  I doubt too many home sewers are doing lazy lounging this time of year - or ever!

“At home clothes for serious work or lazy-lounging.” I doubt too many home sewers are doing lazy lounging this time of year – or ever!

So – am I making/sewing any gifts this year?  I have just one very simple thing planned (still in my head).  But – along with the Christmas decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, the cookie-making, the cards, the parties and all the other wonders of the season – I am hoping to finish my current work-in-progress (a wool dress for me) and start and finish (?) a pair of wool pants – also for me.  Yes, for me.  Should I feel guilty about this??


Filed under aprons, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, Unprinted patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, Vogue patterns

A Blouse by Any Other Name Would Be the Same

I usually work on only one project at a time, but for the past three weeks I’ve had  two going strong.  I’m furiously working on a “dressy” suit – which needs to be completed this week!  However, last winter I made a mental note to myself to use up the fabric remaining from another suit, to make a matching overblouse.  I knew the pattern I was going to use, and with my newfound techniques from Craftsy’s The Couture Dress  online course, I knew this “small” project would be a great way to practice those skills.   So, I thought, “Oh, I’ll just throw this together in no time at all.”  Why do I ever think such things?  I must be either an eternal optimist or totally divorced from reality.

I have always loved sleeveless overblouses – also known as “shells” and sheath tops.  They were particularly popular in the late 1950s and 1960s with or without sleeves (during which time I also knew them as “jerkins” or “weskits” – which are really synonyms for vests).  Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion describes an overblouse as “ Any blouse or top worn over the skirt or pants rather than tucked inside.”  And here’s what they say about a “shell”:

From: The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, 3rd Edition, New York, New York, 2010, page 37

A number of my ‘60s patterns show overblouses paired with suits or as part of two-piece dresses.

This v-neck overblouse is a great pairing with this sporty suit.

The description on the back of the envelope says this overblouse “may be tucked in”.

This design by Gres shows a boxy overblouse and skirt combination.

I particularly liked this pattern, with its Dior darts, the slits at the front hem, and its back zipper.  (I was able to pick up a refined separating zipper when I was at Britex in September – many are suitable for outerwear only and too clunky for something like this.)

View D is my choice.

Here is another example of an overblouse with Dior darts, which forms part of a two-piece dress.  Note that the zipper is on the side:

This design was featured in the August/September 1957 Vogue Pattern Book magazine.

I dutifully made up my muslin, to which I made a number of adjustments (lowering the bust line/darts, shortening the darts in the back, lowering and widening the neckline a bit, adding a little more girth to the hipline so it would slip over my matching skirt without buckling, and adding about two inches to the overall length of the blouse.   Hm-m-m, is that all?)  I underlined it with silk organza, matched the plaid everywhere I could, keeping in mind how the windowpane check would line up with the skirt.  I secured all the seam allowances with catch-stitching, and then I hand-picked the separating zipper.  About this time I quietly panicked when I realized how much time I had already put into this blouse!  I put it aside and started working on my suit, with a promise to myself to put in a bit more time on the overblouse whenever I had just 30 or 40 minutes “extra”, whatever that means.

Somehow I have managed to complete it, and I think I’m on track to finish my suit in a day or two, as well.  Whew!  Here are some of the details:

Here is a front view . . .

. . . and here is the back view.

A peek inside the blouse . . .

. . . and a look at the hand-picked zipper. This was the first separating zipper I think I have ever put in – and I am happy with the results!

And here is the finished blouse/overblouse/shell/sheath top, shown with the skirt:

An impersonal view, for which I apologize – no tangling with the tripod and camera timer today!

Just as I appreciate the preciseness which couture sewing makes possible when sewing something as “simple” as this shell, so do I also appreciate the many variant words to describe this type of blouse.  My personal favorite name for this blouse?



Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, couture construction, Dior darts, hand-sewn zippers, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns, woolens

“You are going to have some new clothes.”

So said the fortune which was tucked inside my cookie.  What it failed to mention was that I was going to be the one making those new clothes, but otherwise I’d say it was right on target. Well, it seemed only fitting that, with this Chinese dictum, and with my burning desire to use those shell buttons (which kind of give off an exotic aura), I should indulge my attraction to Asian-inspired clothing design, and make this tunic my next sewing project.

The date on this pattern is 1958. The envelope is in sad shape, but the pattern pieces are fine!

I had another reason, too, to choose this tunic pattern.  After my last project, the Pierre Cardin silk dress, I was ready for something that did not need to be underlined or lined – and I was ready for something casual and fun.  I might add “bright” to that list, too, as the fabric I chose is indeed that!

This is the swatch I ordered from B&J Fabrics.

Just a reminder (if you need it) that I wanted to use these buttons for this tunic.

I had the fabric swatch sitting on my ironing board in my sewing room when I started work on my “Pierre Cardin” dress.  The pink silk from that dress complimented this silk check so much that, putting the two together seemed inevitable.  I played around with some small scraps, scrunching them around those orange shell buttons, still on their card.  What could be more perfect than making the buttonhole loops and details out of the pink fabric, to set off those shell buttons?  I was sure that would be much more effective than making the loops and details out of the same checked fabric.

I ordered enough fabric to make a matching obi-type sash, as I thought I might want to wear the tunic “belted” sometimes, too.  (In the back of my mind is the knowledge that I have enough of that pink silk left, that I can make a skirt – or blouse – with it.  I’m definitely leaning towards skirt…)

First, of course, I set out to make a muslin.  When I opened the pattern, the pieces for the dress had been previously used, but not the pieces for the tunic.  The collar was universal for all three views.  However, in addition to the tissue collar, there was a collar piece cut out of newspaper.

Here are the two pattern pieces for the collar – the top one cut by the original home sewer.

There was nothing written on the instruction sheet or envelope to explain this mystery – and it appeared that the “newspaper” collar was shorter in length than the tissue pattern.

Here you can see the newspaper pattern is shorter than the tissue one.

Having no explanation, I just decided to use the tissue pattern – and I figured the muslin would tell me what I needed to know.  Did it ever!  The collar included with the pattern is too long for the neckline, so this home sewer in the late ‘50s re-cut it to fit her pattern.  I decided to take another approach: I kept the tissue collar and widened the neckline enough so it fit perfectly.  I also decided to shorten the shoulders a bit, for a more structured fit, and I took the center back seam in a bit at the waistline.  I ended up adding long tapered “floating” darts to each side of the back, too, to give it a little more definition to the waistline –  but I am getting ahead of myself…

As is my method of approaching a new project, that is, getting a few things constructed before I need them, I decided to make the obi sash first.  I just kind of guessed for width and length, making it 4” wide (finished width) and 77” long, so it could go around me twice comfortably with a double knot in front.

The completed sash.

Next I made the button loops and details.  The pattern didn’t give too much instruction on these pieces, other than the length they should be and the finished width (1/4”).  (I should mention here that I decided to put 5 buttons on the tunic, not 4 as is shown on the pattern.)  I cut bias strips 1”wide, folded them in half lengthwise, sewed the seam twice and turned them with a bodkin.  Nice and easy!

From top to bottom, the making of the strips for the buttonholes and details: 1″ wide bias strip, one folded and stitched, one turned and finished! (Click on the photo to see these close-up.)

I put flat-felled seams in the sleeves and added interfacing to the front edges even though the pattern did not call for this.  The most time-consuming part of the whole thing was hemming the ends of the buttonhole loops and details and then sewing them onto the tunic.  But that’s really what the project was about – showcasing those buttons in an appropriate way.

The finished tunic, with the sleeves folded up, as they are supposed to be.

A close-up of the front, with the button detailing.

An even closer look at one of the buttons and loops.

This photo will make my daughter very happy! Here I am modeling my new tunic, with sash.

One more view of the sashed tunic. Picture this with a narrow skirt in that same solid pink…

I think it works – what do you think?

One final thought:  fortune cookies are a little like potato chips (or chocolate!) – it’s hard to eat just one.  Yes, my first cookie was followed by another one – and I was hoping for a similarly enticing fortune.

Imagine my surprise when my second fortune was exactly the same as the first one!


Filed under Asian-inspired dress designs, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Buttons - choosing the right ones, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s

“When in doubt, wear red.”

Bill Blass, noted American designer (1922 – 2002), knew of what he spoke when he expressed this savvy advice.   Red, in all its various hues, is a color which commands attention, and therefore, it is no wonder that fashion sketches and dress patterns often feature red.  Red also figures distinctly in three months whose “colors” always include red:  December’s red and green; July’s red, white and blue; and, of course, February’s red, red, and red.

To celebrate February’s red, I have scoured my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines and my collection of vintage patterns to showcase some beautiful fabric and dress/suit/loungewear designs.  No doubt (pardon the pun), Mr. Blass would approve.

The February/March 1957 issue of  Vogue Pattern Book  magazine shows two pages of “Red – deep and rosy”.  While the red coat and two red dresses are obvious “fits” for the section, the mustard yellow suit (raw silk, according to the caption, which would be so elegant!) is completed with a red and green printed silk turban and red pumps.  (Hint for viewing:  click on the photos to see them larger and clearer.)

The middle suit looks to be a blue and red printed-silk surah, while the evening gown is to be made in a silk organdie.

This coat has a high waist and deep pleats. Wear this over the black dress for a stunning look!

That same year, the June/July issue showed this lovely choice in cherry-red pique for “sight-seeing.”  No blue jeans and tee shirts for this excursion.

The wide brim hat with red flowers completes the look.

In 1958 (or in 2012), a chic home sewer could make this suit in a red tweed with self or braid binding.

Notice the stylish shoes!

Here is a suit from 1960 with a matching, reversible cape. The cape has arm openings in the side seams and is collarless so that it fits perfectly under the collar on the suit jacket.

Who says "redheads" can't wear red?

Here is a close-up of the cape. The leopard-printed lining matches her hat.

Red print fabrics have spun their own charm over the years.  Here are four, which seem to epitomize another statement from Bill Blass: “…fabric is an inspiration and a tool.” (See International Vogue Pattern Book  October/November 1971, page 27.)  I could definitely be inspired by these prints:

This wonderful giraffe print in red on white cotton, with stars, is shown in a skirt and blouse. There was no mention about the matching parasol. This design is in the April/May 1953 Vogue Pattern Book magazine.

This 1958 design features a daisy print silk lining in the coat.

The dress and coat are made in a slubbed silk barathea while the lining and hat are of silk surah, both by Couture, according to the February/March Vogue Pattern Book of that year.

This fabric is rightly referred to as "Square red of wonderful"!

This silk surah looks equally eye-catching in a slim or full skirt. I'll have one of each, thank you!

What I wouldn't do to be able to buy this printed silk! This pattern was featured in the February/March 1961 issue of Vogue Pattern Book magazine. According to the description, "this dress has a camisole top underneath its short-sleeved 'popover' top that buttons up the back." With lipstick and shoes to match, it makes a stunning ensemble.

And here are classic polka dots, white on red, in a 1957 blouse design.

A Peter Pan collar and polka dots - a winning combination!

Vogue Pattern Book’s editors often featured styles for college girls and little girls.  Velvet, gingham and candy-striped denim (yes, that’s correct, denim!), all in red, were featured for little girls in the issue for August/September 1960:

This little girl is all set to help "help Mommy cook" in a white pinafore.

These “coeds”, according to the editors of the August/September issue of 1958, were taking a 5-minute study break to model these dorm fashions!

The girl in the harlequin pedal-pusher pants and smock-top looks to me like she’s actually taking a break from her part-time job with the circus, while Miss Muu-Muu is  — chatting on the phone!   Some things never change, just like the timeless appeal of RED.


Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Coats, Polka dots, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

Buttons, blouses and bijoux*

One of the often minimalized components of making a garment is the selection of fasteners (ie., buttons).  It’s easy to put so much attention to pattern and fabric, that when it comes to deciding on buttons, it’s “Oh, well, these will do.”  However, the wrong buttons can, quite simply, ruin a blouse, dress, suit, jacket, or coat.  And, the right buttons can add just the perfect accent.  So – how do you know what kind of buttons to choose?  Here are my guidelines:

First, the obvious.  Just as you match pattern to fabric to suit its weight, weave, seasonality, and ambience (how dressy or non-dressy it is), so should you choose buttons accordingly.  This includes texture of the button (rough, smooth, ribbed, etc.), style (fancy, sporty, novelty, etc.), size (usually the more buttons a garment needs, the smaller they should be), and weight (light weight fabric needs more delicate buttons, for example).

Second, I believe color is hugely important.  To select the correct color, I try to visualize the finished garment with different color buttons.  If you do this, your brain will automatically sort out what will work and what won’t work.

Finally, I think about what jewelry* (bijoux is an Archaic French word meaning an elegant jewel!) and/or accessories I will be wearing with a garment, and I take that into consideration when choosing buttons.  This is one reason why those of us who make clothing for ourselves are so fortunate – we can coordinate the look we want from start to finish.

So – I’ll give you a peek at my just completed project, which incorporates these button guidelines.  But first, some background info.  Last July, I traveled to Massachusetts to spend a few fun-filled days with daughter Susanna, who lives in the Pioneer Valley.  We had an agenda (what women do not??), which included two trips to the Brimfield area.  Our first trip was to the Sturbridge Antique Textile and Vintage Clothing Extravaganza.  Susanna wrote about some of our purchases from this excursion on her blog, but here is a picture of a set of 12 black Bakelite buttons which I found at one of the vendors.

My set of 12 Bakelite buttons

Here is a close-up of some of the buttons. Can you see the rounded corners on some of the cubes? This detail makes them more interesting!

I bought them without knowing how or when I would use them, but they definitely had my name on them – and they came home to Pennsylvania with me!  What I would have loved to have also brought home with me was a black and yellow Bakelite bracelet, which caught my eye at another booth later in the day.  I resisted buying it as we had already done our part to support the economy…! What I did not know was that my sneaky daughter quickly purchased this bracelet while I went to the ladies’ room – and she, her husband Jon, and our son Nate surprised me with it for Christmas!  Here it is:

My Christmas surprise!

Here is the bracelet shown next to the buttons: obviously these were meant for each other!

Now fast forward to the completion of this silk blouse:

The finished blouse made from a vintage Vogue pattern, complete with vintage Bakelite buttons

Here is a closer view of the blouse

Yes, I decided those Bakelite buttons would be perfect for it, and here is why:

–  The fabric, both in design and color, makes a statement, so it needs buttons which are not wimpy.  The square-ish shape of the buttons helps them stand up to those demonstrative polka dots without distracting from them.

And an even closer view...

–  Black is the only color I could picture using with this fabric (gold, yellow, white pearl or gray pearl did not visualize well for me…).

–  I thought the French cuffs (which I love) on this pattern would show to more advantage with buttons which have some heft to them.

Here is a close-up of the French cuff

These buttons are just heavy enough for the weight of this fabric, and finally…

–  I knew I would be wearing my Bakelite bracelet with this blouse!

Well – I can’t end this post without showing you the shoulder shapes which I made fromVogue 7503, view F.

Here are the shoulder shapes before I positioned them in the blouse. The crosswise stitching makes them fit over the shoulder beautifully.

They turned out perfectly and are just the right thickness/softness/size for this blouse!


Filed under Bakelite buttons and/or jewelry, Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Polka dots, Shoulder shapes (shoulder pads), Vogue pattern 7503 for shoulder shapes, Vogue patterns

Who has time for Resolutions when there is so much to be sewn?

Since my last post (before Christmas), my sewing room has gone from being Santa’s Workshop, wrapping station extraordinaire, and gift hiding space … back to SEWING ROOM (the seriousness of the subject demands the capital letters!).  All those satiny ribbons, and empty boxes (where can be found the occasional prickly tree needle or left over tissue paper), and straggly ends of wrapping paper rolls are all properly stored away for Christmas 2012, and all my sewing projects just marched out from the closets, jumped up on my work tables and are demanding attention – which I am only so happy to give!

So – here’s what’s happening:

In a switch from dressmaking, I am in the middle of making bed hangings to go on a “flying tester” (what is this??? you may ask), which will go in the master bedroom.  It’s a complicated project, which I’ve been working on for a while, and which will take a good bit longer to complete.  Once it’s done (and hanging), I’ll do a complete post on it, but here is a teaser for right now:

I have all the fabric panels and valances cut and ready to sew.  To make the pattern for the valances (these hangings will be structured ones rather than the more informal ones with gathered valances), I traced the scalloped headboard of our bed.  I copied the design exactly for the valance for the foot of the bed and added two more “scallops” to make the side valances fit the longer length properly.

This photo shows the scalloped design copied from the headboard of our bed.

Each valance will be three layers thick – the decorative fabric (Brunschwig and Fils Bird and Thistle pattern), an interlining of drapery flannel, and the lining, which is a linen/cotton blend.  This should give them the correct “heft.”

Here are the three layers for each valance. From left to right, the decorative fabric, then the flannel interlining, and the linen/cotton lining

I have cut out yards and yards of bias tape in a lovely red linen blend and will be hand-applying this tape to the three finished sides of each valance.   I know it has to be hand-sewn to look right, so beware – I may be blogging from the funny farm before I get all this done.

Because I don’t enjoy making curtains, bed hangings, pillows and such, as much as I enjoy dressmaking and personal sewing, I fit these projects in, in smaller segments of time.  My most successful trick is setting my “chicken” timer (thank you, Barby R. for giving it to me!) for 45-60 minutes once every day or two and devoting that time to these projects.  It’s amazing how much I can get done this way and it’s never overwhelming or too boring.

Here is my trusty chicken timer sitting on her big project!

Now  – on to other things.  My first personal project for January is to make a long-sleeved blouse out of that yellow and black polka dotted silk I showed you back in November.  I found this pattern, which I bought with that fabric in mind:

I purchased this 1957 pattern, thinking that View A would make up well in the polka dotted silk fabric.

Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with buying vintage patterns, I had to buy it in a size larger than I wear, and I was also a little concerned about the kimono – or dolman – sleeves, so I made it up in muslin first.  This was a good move, as I decided I wasn’t quite ready to make up such an expensive fabric in a pattern without as much “shape” to the body of the blouse as I had envisioned.  However, I love the shape of the convertible collar.  In the meantime, I came across this pattern on Etsy:

This pattern is also from 1957. I love the tucks in the pink version, but they would not be appropriate to use with a polka dotted design. View B is constructed without tucks - perfect!

It has set-in sleeves, which I like; very petite French cuffs, which I love; a few darts to make the fit a little tidier; and it was available in my size, which takes some of the guess-work out of it.  The only thing I don’t like as much is the collar, which has a longer point than I want.  To fix that, I overlaid the one collar pattern on the other one and drew a new collar.  Voila!  I am ready to cut it out.

And – Yes, I actually do have some Resolutions for 2012 (besides all the normal ones).  For one, I’m going to use my chicken timer to help me get my kitchen cupboards and pantry shelves all cleaned and reorganized.   Cluck, Cluck!


Filed under Blouse patterns from the 1950's, Polka dots, Uncategorized, Vogue patterns