Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Perfect Blouse For Showing Off #0335

When I came across this antique lace in my late mother's sewing box I knew I wanted to make one of those high necked, tucked fronted, blouses as soon as a pattern became available for the VPLL1912 project .  The lace is machine made in the Honiton style from sometime in the early part of the last century.

From my Mother's lace stash

And the #0335 blouse is perfect to carry off the lace

#0335 Ladies Blouse March 31 1912 

*The pattern comes in a size 34" bust and as I want to wear  it myself over the correct underpinnings I needed to 
  • add 10 inches  to the bust measurement, 
  • enlarge the armhole to make it 2 inches deeper
  • increase the collar size to 15 inches 
  • add 2 inches to the length of the body.  

I like to use the large format pattern.  I know some people find printing is very costly but my local print shop charges me £10 per pattern which seems a good deal to me when compared to all that printing off on A4 and getting tied up in sticky tape.  This means I need to use the slash and spread method for enlarging patterns (I will try the pattern maker soft ware one day!)

front pattern piece with extra width at neck and shoulder and extra length

I enlarged the body in two places, 1/2" at the neck line to increase the collar size, giving me 2" all round and 2" at the shoulder, another 8" making 10" in all.  I would have liked to keep the original look of the blouse with tucks right across the front.  But that would have required adding 3 times as much to the cut width (i.e. 6" each side to increase the finished width by 2).  Unfortunately I just didn't have enough fabric so I added just 2 inches and spaced the large tucks out a little more to keep some symmetry  I made similar adjustments to the back. By adding 2inches to the depth of the armhole I also got the additional length to the body.   

I enlarged the collar by the same amount as the blouse neckline.  

Collar enlarged to 15"

The main fabric is cream cotton percale (a bargain-bin valence for a single bed!) it's soft and drapey with a gentle sheen.  As the flat part of the sheet was equivalent to 2 yards of 36inch fabric (narrower than the yardage in the pattern instructions) and the valence itself a 6 yard piece 18inches wide I cut the large sections out of the flat sections and the smaller pieces from the valence.  Enough for the enlarged blouse but little left over.  The lace was just enough for the two cuffs, the collar and doubled up for the front panel.   Because I was going to apply the lace at the end (so that I could remove it for washing) I cut four cuff and two collar pieces from the cotton percale.  I did not cut lace or cotton for the Centre Front Lace (more of that later).

I read the pattern instructions and studied the picture before cutting out.  One thing I would say about the cutting instructions, in the list of pattern pieces I think it would help modern sewists to have a sub heading for those pieces that are cut by measurement only (i.e. no paper pattern pieces).  I was puzzled for a while as to where the piece for the cuff was and missed the Centre Front Lace altogether till I got to the part in the instructions explaining how to fix it  (then I left it out!).

Making up begins with the tucks - the main difficulty here is keeping them straight.  AFTER making the blouse I bought a pin tuck foot for my machine.  Had I had that when making the tucks I would have used it for the narrow ones.


The pattern instructions called for lapped seams.  In many UK sewing manuals they are called run-and-fell seams.  When googling this to make sure I was right about the two names for this technique I was amused to see that this is also a method for joining sheet steel!

Run-&-fell (or lapped) seam

As the instructions suggested one could edge the blouse armhole with narrow ribbon or piping, I took this as permission to pipe every seam.  In my bits and pieces bag I had an old silk nightdress, already made on the cross, I cut strips and strips of the silk and used piping liberally.

Piped seams

The instructions are fairly straight forward except where they described fitting the collar.  I could see from the picture that the collar fastened to the left, close to the shoulder seam and the instructions referred to the neck seam being left open from the shoulder seam to the front opening, but I couldn't quite see how that would work and I was not sure how I would work the Centre Front Lace

I was hoping that the instructions would become clearer as I went on but when I got to it I was still confused.  The main collar clearly opened at the front and then there was an overlapping Centre Front Lace piece applied to one side of the collar to fasten at the other side.  And logically that side would be on the wearers left to follow the way the front placket fastened.

So why suggest leaving the right side of the collar seam open from shoulder to centre front (instruction point 21) ?

I would be really interested to read what other makers think of this, I may simply have got the wrong end of the stick.  But my feeling is that at point 19 the instructions should advise attaching the  Centre Front Lace  to the right (wearer's right) side of the front collar and 

Point 21 should read;-

Join the collar to the blouse (right side of blouse to right side of collar), matching corresponding numbers, taking care not to catch the Centre Front Lace in the seam.  On inside turn under raw edges and hem to the neckline seam

Then point 22

Attach hooks and eyes (or cotton loops ) to the centre front opening and a further set to the free end of the  Centre Front Lace  and the blouse shoulder.

I think that would do it!  On the other hand I did not make a  Centre Front Lace  at all and instead added a cameo brooch. (I could always add the Centre Front Lace later)

collar fastening at centre front with hooks, eyes, and a cameo

Because I wanted to be able to remove the lace I didn't make button holes on the cuffs.   Instead I made button loops with the same up-cycled cream silk as the bias strips for the piping and again piped the edges of the collar and cuffs and wrist openings.    The instructions (point 14 ) suggest creating an optional sleeve reveal.  But I don't know what that is and google is no help.

collar and cuffs before application of lace to show silk piping and button loops

The buttons are vintage black glass with gold decoration from The Button Queen. they too must be removed for washing.

Glass buttons from 1910

For the front placket, under the lace band, I have used little mother-of-pearl buttons and (my one compromise to using 1912 materials and techniques) machine made button holes.  

Front placket fastening under lace centre front band

I attached the lace with tiny stab stitches.  The instructions for the cuff called for tucks in the lace, on my blouse I made what tucks were necessary to make the pieces of lace fit.  For the front I had to craft an invisible centre seam as the lace was not wide enough, nor did it have a finished scallop edge on two sides.  I overlapped the lace matching the tendrils

I did not gather up the fullness at the back and when I gathered the lower edge I bound the edge with more of the silk


I am thrilled with the result, the blouse looks very fine with the scallop edge skirt and gradually dummy/model is getting dressed

Nameless dummy fully dressed
VPLL Checklist
  1.  Pattern Name Ladies blouse #0335
  2. Sewer’s Skill Level: Advance, 
  3. Pattern Rating:  5-I LOVED IT! I forgave it its collar problems, it's such an emblematic style - the high collar, lace and tucks all say this is 1912 to me
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? At least intermediate, probably advanced.  I'm ignoring the collar problem as I assume it will be sorted out but still the work on the tucks, collar, cuffs and sleeve is not for beginners.  I would suggest practising these skills on a modern pattern first
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? Mostly but the collar attachment and fastening (assuming it is to be fastened on the side and the pattern re-drawn) needs to be re written once the technique has been perfected
  6. How was the fit/sizing?  the fit was fine once I enlarged it as described above
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? yes, 
    1. I made the pattern bigger* as described above 
    2. piped all the seams (no run-&-fell)
    3. made the collar** without the Centre Front Lace
  8. Other notes
  • I suggest above how I might revise the instructions for attaching the collar
  • I would add a sub heading in the cutting list to make it clear where a piece is cut by measurements only
  • what is a sleeve reveal? and are there any instructions?



lacy shadows

P.S. If you have been following my posts about the Titanic Project being run by the Vintage Pattern Lending Library you will know all about what I'm up to.  But even if you have, you might like to visit the website again as they have made all sorts of helpful changes.  The project has grown to close to 500 participants and Janyce and Kim at the VPLL have worked so hard to make the sharing of patterns with participants so much easier and gained a lot of new helpers.  There's a facebook page too 


Becky Gladstone said...

I loved reading your review! I am considering asking for this pattern next, even more after reading here. :-)
—I just finished making Blouse #4925 from ~1912, a Butterick pattern, not from our project, but from the VPLL. The neck/collar was curious for it, too. Neck facing was to be left open at the left shoulder, the collar seam was at the back, yet the blouse opened at the center front seam. A strong recommendation to read through all instructions before doing anything rash, like *cutting*!
—Somewhere I read to fudge narrow fabric by hiding a seam within one of those tucks. I wonder if this is why some of them are wider?
—I had to enlarge my blouse collar, too. And I pulled the front dip down, from ~2 1/2" at the sides. I have a droop there, not flattering to see the collar collapse.
—The lapped seams, “run & fell”, look like “flat fell” jeans seams. Really, they reminded me of tearing can seams in Alaska, where I measured tolerances with a micrometer, to be sure the canned salmon was sealed to prevent botulism.
—I LOVE your piping. I have some charmeuse wrapped around cording, left over from smocking. I want to use it here!
—Speaking of smocking, my Southern friend who taught me said to use “beauty bars” instead of buttonholes. They were ~1” or smaller flat rectangle pins, to be removed for laundering. Not easy to find. The link shows fancier ones than she used for christening gowns, since that was a row of them in place of buttons. And your buttons are very pretty!
—The “reveal sleeve”? I wonder if this is what I thought was called a “Bishop Sleeve”. I looked it up and the full sleeve, gathered at the wrist, didn’t often refer to a split. My wedding dress had full, light over-sleeves, slit and finished, from shoulder sleeve-cap to wrist, "revealing" lace underneath.

Anonymous said...

OMG! It is superb! I love that lace! The blouse WAS the perfect pattern for it! It turned out wonderfully!

Anonymous said...

The lace is gorgeous!