December 23, 2014


Ok, I'm not going to wait another day to blog this. After all, I've also taken these pictures today. 
This blouse was actually finished before the 1957 outfit but I didn't have a chance to take pictures and then I had given the other thing such a build-up (with the belt tutorial mostly) that I felt it had to be shown off first. 

I did talk a little about my intention to make this blouse here on the blog. Mostly about how watching a lot of Downton Abbey gave me a whole new appreciation for the fashion of the late 1910's and early 1920's (if you've missed that post, I've shared some pictures of designs from 1918 here). 

I had noticed a particular style of blouse which is often worn in season two. Both by the young ladies and by Anna when off duty. This very style was also featured quite often in my Gracieuse magazines from that time (I only own two from 1918, the others are from 1920 and later). It looked very nice, so why not try and make it?

The pattern I used was the bodice of this dress from 1922 (the one in the middle). I would have preferred an actual blouse pattern but each Gracieuse magazine includes just one or maybe two patterns per size so this was the closest I could get in time, style and size.

The fabric is some black crepe left over from my 1929 dress and I decorated it using black satin piping and some beige-ish/pink-ish crochet lace ribbon which I've had in my stash for years. Black ribbon would have been more in line with the original design but I didn't want the end result to look like a mourning piece. 

I only realized later that decoration on these 1910's/1920's blouses always matches the main fabric... The contrasting stuff and the placement of it might even look a bit 1970's even though the shape doesn't really.
And then there's the lack of any instructions with these patterns. During construction, I wondered about the need (or lack of it) for a closure. I tested whether or not I could get the blouse over my head without. Because I could, I didn't make any kind of closure. Since then, I've noticed that the Downton blouses usually have a concealed button band at one side of the central panel. 

The collar is a separate piece. Normally, I don't like that for a shawl collar. It just seems like either lazy drafting or an assumption of ignorance of the seamstress. In this case however, the curve of the pattern piece makes this collar behave and look different to a cut-on one. So here, it's functional and that makes it OK.

The blouse is very roomy and really comfortable. I had some trouble finding a way to wear it. I like the look with these trousers but all my high waisted skirts have rather clear 1950's silhouette and just look weird with this blouse. I don't mind it though. I was already planning another pair of trousers using this pattern (in black wool crepe) and I could always make a more period accurate skirt. 
I don't think I'm done with this design either. There's a lot of charm to it and plenty of potential to update it and make it work in a modern wardrobe.

And this completes my Vintage Pattern Pledge! I've sewn five items from vintage patterns. They've been kind-of spread across the decades between 1910 and 1980 and I've used some of the different pattern media at my disposal (I could have done better at both of these points but I have moved out of my comfort zone in both areas so I'm not judging). 
It took me a long time to get going with this pledge. I've been drafting all my patterns for so long that I really had to struggle to get back to using pre-made ones. Even if I was curious about period fit and drafting style. 
In the end, four of the five items were made this past month. After I had decided to throw caution to the winds and just go for it. And now, I find myself thinking about vintage patterns much more. I want to use my raspberry pink wool crepe for a mid-1920's dress and the table in our living room is filled with early 1950's Bella magazines which include some amazing dresses...
Of course I won't stop making my own patterns but I this challenge may just have helped me get over the barrier and use my lovely vintage patterns the way they were meant to be used.
So thank you Marie, for coming up with this great idea! 


  1. What a lovely blouse! I drool over the Downton Abbey fashions, but cannot seem to make the jump to actually incorporating something similar into my wardrobe. Thank-you for the inspiration!

  2. I think you have found a great way to style this blouse, and it looks beautifully wearable, which I prefer to historically accurate for every day.

  3. You look great. Jeans go with everything!

  4. That is lovely! And I love the pale lace, even if it isn't exactly "period". I bet it would be lovely untucked over skinnies as well...