Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1930s Blouse: Yay or Nay?

Some time ago, my compulsive pinning self came across this scan of a fascinating vintage sewing booklet with directions for drafting and making a 1930s blouse. I'm vaguely trying to sew through the decades (inspired by the oh-sew-accomplished Debi, of course!), and I don't have any patterns from this era, nor am I likely to come across any in thrift stores, so I thought I'd give it a go. I like the idea of a pullover blouse with no buttons or zippers, but was skeptical about its shape, or rather, lack thereof.

Directions for making a Size 16 blouse (in 1935 this was Bust 34, Hip 37).


I used a lovely soft rayon with a tiny floral print, it being the most vaguely 30s fabric that I had that would also be suitable for such a blouse. Oddly enough, the directions call for a "cotton material in some interesting rough weave," which makes me think of burlap sacks. Is that rough and interesting enough? Anyway, I figured that the drapiness of the rayon would be suited to this mostly-shapeless blouse.

Making up the pattern was fairly simple; I was fortunate that the blouse measurements fit me almost perfectly. I did accidentally make my holes too large, though. Instead of the little slits shown in the diagram, well, let's just say that when I showed the finished blouse to my husband, he said it looked like there was a face with a huge nose at the neckline. Humph. I didn't bother with the collar or belt described in the pattern, as I didn't have any contrasting fabric in a suitable material/weave, so I settled for a chiffon bow stolen from another top.

Despite the minimal waist shaping, it's essentially a large sack.

It looks pretty shapeless this way, though, so I decided to take a page from The Dreamstress' book and try a sash tied at the hip:

Better? I think?

Back view. Hmm.

I'm still not sure about it. In its defense, though, it is ridiculously comfortable to wear, thanks to the soft rayon. Which, incidentally, slipped all over the place during the cutting/sewing, and especially as I tried to make the bias binding for the neckline and sleeves! In order to ensure that the rayon didn't fray like crazy, I had to bind all the seams. I am so happy with how they look! And in the realm of being clever/efficient/a cheater (thanks for all of you who chimed in to reassure me that you, too, use the selvage as a shortcut!), I used the selvage for the hem of the blouse.

Pink seam binding and self-fabric bias facing at the sleeve.

Summary:
Fabric: 1 yard of 54" wide floral print slippery rayon
Notions: Just a tiny hook and eye for the top closure, and then lots of seam binding
Techniques used: Making self-fabric bias tape, top-stitched cut-outs
Hours: Three-ish? I was taking my time, though, since I wanted to make sure the fabric didn't get off-grain or otherwise misbehave. Also, binding everything just means sewing each seam multiple times, with trips back and forth to the ironing board every time.
Will you make this again? Probably not...I don't need more shapeless tops. Especially since there's one more coming up tomorrow...
Total cost: $3. Yay for nice rayon from the discount warehouse!
Final thoughts: Like everything else I've made from slippery fabric and shown this week, meh. Not bad, but not great either. Decent. Serviceable. I think I'm boring even myself. Is this what happens when one sews cake and not frosting?

Also, I think this is just what happens when you make patterns that only show illustrations, instead of actual clothes on a real person. I'm pretty sure the model on the pamphlet has 28" hips.

See, if I only approach people from the 3/4 view, I can appear to have no hips, too!

17 comments:

  1. I love the cutouts at the neckline. I think it would be great to wear tucked in with a high-waisted bottom, like a Ginger skirt or some high trousers.

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    1. Okay, I just tried it tucked into my high-waisted shorts and really like it a lot better now. Thank you for the suggestion!

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  2. I totally think it has potential! Maybe try a narrower belt - with a buckle, not ties.

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    1. After reading your suggestion, I tried it with a narrower belt, and I think it does work better without the extra bulk at the hips. Thanks!

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  3. I think it looks beautiful, esp. with the sash. I agree, try a different belt to see how it does, or do the tuck-in look. :)

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    1. I tried both, and it's much better. Thank you!

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  4. I'm pretty into this! I see the nose, but I like noses, so I'm all for it. I like the loose shape (or non-shape) but if you wanted it more fitted, how about some tucks?

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

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    1. I thought about tucks, but it's tricky enough to wiggle in and out of as it is, since there are no buttons or zippers, and the rayon isn't stretchy. Good to know the noses aren't distracting for everyone, though!

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  5. I like it! The holes look perfect to me - any smaller and you wouldn't notice, but they give the blouse such great character!! They are my favorite part! If you want to make it a bit more fitted, how about pintucks around the bottom?

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    1. Thanks for the hole-y reassurance! I was really liking them too, until my husband planted the seeds of doubt...

      Like I said to Leah, I don't think the tucks would work with keeping this a pullover, but thanks for the suggestion anyway!

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  6. I posted about this blouse on my blog a few years ago, but never got around to making it. Your's looks great! I think the loose shape looks good on you, I actually prefer it without the sash. Also, the overall shape of this top seems very similar to the Blank Canvas Tee.

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    1. It is indeed similar to the BCT, but I think since that one is jersey, there's more leeway in terms of making it fitted. I think it's okay without a sash or belt, but just okay, so thanks for your kind words about it! If you do make this, let me know...I would love to see how this works out for someone else.

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  7. The neckline is really interesting - I like it better with the belt because you can see the neck detail better. I'm thinking a more neutral skinny belt would look great with your fabric. I really like it! =)

    (Completely unrelated note, I have no idea why my blog always saves your comments for moderation! I have my settings for only moderating the first time commenters, and you have passed that gate, but it acts like you are new every time. Weirdness.)

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    1. I, too, prefer the neckline unobstructed...I just tried it with a bow since the pattern illustration had something going on there too. And I have no idea why your blog thinks I'm new, either! That's okay, though, I'll just feel special :)

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  8. I love it! Boxy shapeless blouses like that have to be worn with high waist skirts (or pants), preferably slim cut. That way it all balances out nicely. The sash at the waist does the same thing though so it looks good!

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  9. This reminds me a lot of the 1940s blouse I made back in January, which also looks like a 50s blouse or a 60s blouse... ;) I agree with the people who say it'll look smashing tucked into a high-waisted something (have you tried your nautical shorts?). Not that it doesn't look smashing right now, of course.

    And sorry for the late comment, I've had no time to read this week...

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  10. I like the tie part as the belt, very cute!!

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.