April 7, 2016

1950's blouses

A big "thank you" to those of you who replied to my previous post! And if you didn't but would like to weigh in after all, please do. I read all comments, also those on older posts. 
I am glad I asked because your answers actually surprised me. Both on the Pinterest board of the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge and on We Sew Retro, I see so many dresses compared to anything else, I assumed you would all refer those. Instead, the votes were clearly in favour of separates and hats. I promise I'll look for a hat pattern in the coming two months (probably a 1930's one...) but today, I have a blouse from the 1950's. It is another one of Bella magazine's "draft-as-instructed" projects and this one is actually in my size so I may just try and make myself one next week. Whether or not I do that, I will give you an  additional little tutorial about making other collars than this really high and tight one (I'm usually not such a big fan of those myself...)

The blouse comes from Bella magazine nr. 16, August II, 1952 and is for ladies with a bust circumference of 88 cm. The editors of the magazine had this to say about it:

Blouse and skirt are especially popular this year and now that the summer is getting towards its end and lots of suits will be worn again, it seemed right to Bella to dedicate the instructed pattern to this.

The designs depicted here all have cut-on sleeves and a standing collar with rounded fold-back corners. Three of them have yokes which allows for interesting design variations. You can see a nice example with stripes used in different directions and it is easy to imagine other variations on this theme. Something similar can be done in a fabric with a check. To make the yoke, its pattern piece should be separated from the front of the blouse. Depending on the thickness of the fabric you can make the yoke in a double layer or make a 4 cm wide front facing in which you make the buttonholes (either way, I would recommend using a lightweight interfacing at that front edge where you will add buttons and buttonholes). The front of the blouse is stitched onto the yoke. Close side-, sleeve- and shoulder seams and add the cuff of a double layer of fabric to the sleeve edge (this double layer remark makes it sound more complicated than it is. It's a normal cuff which means each one consists of two pieces of fabric). Sew on the interfaced collar, sewing the neckline edge between its layers. 

For a more dressy look, you can stitch a pleated strip of fabric in the yoke seam. In this case, the pleated fabric was first basted along the folded-over edge of the yoke which was then stitched onto the front of the blouse. This allows the pleats to fall out. You can also let the pleats fall in by following the order of construction mentioned before. It will look no less lovely (I'm not so sure about that...).

The blouse is also nice in two different fabrics, don't you think? Here you can also see how it can be worn over the skirt with the addition of a knitted waistband. In practice, this will work especially well if you use a wool fabric. Of course, in this case, it is required that you find a perfectly colour match between fabric and yarn. 
To make this blouse, you should use the waistline in the drawing as the bottom of the pattern. For the waistband, cast on 170 stitches and knit 2, purl 2 for a chest circumference of 88 cm (they do not mention a needle size or anything. Most 1950's knitting was done on thin needles though. 2.5 is very common). Knit to a height of 10 cm. Stretch the waistband while sewing it on. 

Then, the blouse can also be made in its simplest form, without a yoke. In that case, you have to make a front overlap of 2 cm along the entire front edge and add a 4 cm cut-on facing that. A big or small bow looks nice under a standing collar like this.

And if you do not plan on removing the jacket of your suit, you might as well make a dickey instead of a blouse. It would save you on sewing and on fabric and you could even make the back from a cheaper material. The dotted lines form the sides of the dickey. The front and back are connected at the waistline by two pieces of elastic of 15 cm long. 

As usual, we didn't mention all the possible variations. So, if you do not quite like any of the options shown here, you can use your imagination to create your own version. Surely, that will give you even more satisfaction!

In this case, it is pretty obvious what each pattern piece is (although just to be sure: the collar is on the left, the cuff on the right).
When drafting the pattern, make the rectangles first and then put in the measurements mentioned along the sides, draw the lines inwards to make the points for the pattern. All measurements are in centimeters and there is no seam allowance included.
Oh, and although the blouse looks quite sleek in the drawings, that is just because it is worn tucked into high waistbands. It has no darts so it is basically a fairly loose-fitting design.  


  1. What a beautiful design! I love this draft-it-yourself designs; they really force you to think about patterns in a different way.

    Either way, saving for myself to hopefully attempt as well. Thank you for posting it!

  2. I'd add a couple of darts at the waist (but that's what I'm doing with a similar pattern) just to avoid the shapeless thang.
    Well, I will be next week. This week is all costumes

  3. Love your vintage kimono shape pattern. I found a few at my local charity store this week. I think I'll grade them up for myself too. Would love to see your sample. :)