Some blouses are worn A LOT. Those are everyday blouses, and I have quite a few of those (with more to come, I am sure!) And some blouses are worn infrequently, but equally loved for their unique properties. These would include exceptional fabric, refined or formal appearance, limited wearing opportunity, or their ability to make a statement. The blouse I most recently completed has all those properties.
This deep pink silk charmeuse Jacquard has been in my fabric closet for over ten years, having been purchased at Britex Fabrics when I started sewing for myself again, way back when. Its color, and the polka dot woven motif, both personal favorites, drew me to it. A couple of years ago, after purchasing another piece of silk – a printed silk twill – I paired the two fabrics together and added them both to my sewing queue. The skirt may have to wait until next year, but the blouse earned a spot in 2022’s sewing agenda.
I used a blouse pattern which I have made once before. From 1957, this pattern is timeless with its elegant collar (which looks good lying flat or propped up around the neck), petite French cuffs and feminine three-quarter length sleeves. I suppose in 1957, this style blouse may have been considered a casual piece, which the illustrations on the pattern envelope suggest. I saw this blouse as dressy, however, and that is how I have interpreted it.
One of the details which make this blouse so flattering to wear is the waistline open-ended darts, easily visible above. They minimize the bulk when the blouse is tucked inside its skirt and add a lovely billow effect above the waist. I made these darts a bit shallower than the pattern indicated. When making these darts, I secured their upper edges by pulling the thread tail on one side to the other side so that I had the ability to knot those threads with three tight loops. For those of you who have made a classic French jacket, this is the same method used to secure the quilting stitches at the end of the columns. The photo below helps to show this.
Buttons are such fun to select for a blouse like this. I have had these vintage white pearl buttons for some time, and no doubt they were waiting for this project. When the skirt is made at some point, the three-lobed profile will play off the designs in the silk twill. But, more than that, I needed something to act as a foil for the polka-dotted field. More “round” would have been fine, but not exciting. Additionally, these buttons are a bit bigger which helps them hold their own on that deep, rich, pink silk.
Being the ‘statement” blouse that it is, I doubt I will be wearing this blouse casually. But I’m betting/hoping I will find good reason to wear it not infrequently to one or another tony event.
A Three Piece Outfit for the Holidays, Part 3: The Sash
The sash started it all. After finishing this silk taffeta coat last year, I was left with about 1 and ½ yards of that luscious coral fabric.
I just could not stand the thought of having that yardage sitting in my fabric closet, unused, as I found it so delightful to sew and to wear. That is when I got the idea to combine this fabric with the Guipure lace, also sharing space in that closet of wonders. However, my first thought was to make a blouse from the fabric and also use it as the fashion fabric for a lace skirt, knowing I would need at least one more yard to accomplish this plan. I contacted Britex Fabrics, from whence the fabric came, and to my dismay, they were sold out, with no more available to special order. Undeterred, I then came up with the idea of coordinating fabrics for the blouse and skirt, and using the coral silk to tie it all together. After receiving swatches of several silks from Britex, I settled on the bronzy brown and the apricot colored fabrics for the skirt and blouse, respectively.
A sash should really be straightforward, right? Well, yes; however, I thought it would be good if the sash had a slight curve to it to follow the curvature over the upper hip. That’s when I went to my closet and pulled out a silk sash that I purchased from J. Crew years ago. I had remembered correctly that it had a slight curve to it:
I often think of the tip in the book 101 Things I Learned in Fashion School, page 86: “When in doubt, look in your closet.” Looking at something that is “Ready to Wear” will often help you with construction methods or design ideas.
The J. Crew sash is 72 inches long. A trial tying of the bow proved to me that I needed to add more length to the sash if I wanted to tie a full bow at the waist, which was my intent. I determined that adding 12 inches would do the trick. Then I used that sash as a template to make a pattern, not quite knowing how sewing that long, slow curve was going to work (the sash has one long seam on the concave side of the curve, meaning that some give would need to be worked into that seam.) As it turned out, ironing was the trick to get it to behave correctly, as is so often the case!
84″ proved to be the perfect length to tie a complete bow.
I had to piece the sash in the center back, but I knew that ahead of time and it really does not bother me.
After trying on this completed outfit for the photos, I know that I need to somehow tighten up the interior waist of the skirt (you many recall from my last post, that I added what turned out to be unnecessary width to the circumference of the waist.) My blouse is not going to stay tucked in if I don’t, and the skirt feels like it is drooping on me. I am going to try adding interior waist elastic to straddle the side seams and see if that might do the trick. I am not about to take the skirt apart and remake it! And the sash should help conceal any bobbles in the waistline.
The “concealed zipper.”
It was cold and blustery when I took these photos! I could not wait to get back inside for a cup of hot tea!
Sewing for the holidays is such an anticipatory activity, and one that I love to do. There is already a festive feeling in the air here in late November, and so much more to sew…
Filed under Blouses, Bows as design feature, Fashion commentary, Lace, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized
Tagged as Blouses, Britex Fabrics, fashion sewing, Sashes and bows, silk