Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blouse #0219 Step by Step Construction, Part 1

This is a long post full of lots of pictures, so if you don't care to see the making of this blouse so far in nitty-gritty detail, content yourself with this picture of Walnut "helping" me tape the pattern together. Actual blouse construction after the jump.

Oh I'm sorry, did you need to tape this pattern together?
Also, I look like a kangaroo/T.rex with my huge back legs and front legs all tucked away.

Here is what the pattern looks like all taped together. It will not make a complete rectangle; three pages are "missing" but the pattern is actually complete. Apologies about the lighting; I was putting this together in the evening.

The pattern is missing a collar stand and cuff pattern pieces, and of course, there are no instructions! I have never made a blouse before, but figured it would be a good challenge to put this together to the best of my abilities. This is what I did; not all of it may be "right."

I cut two each (mirror images, of course) of the "blouse front and back" piece and the front yoke pieces. The back yoke piece is cut on the fold, so only one is needed. The button band is supposed to be cut on the bias, but if you're not matching a plaid/stripes, cut it on the straight grain instead so that it doesn't ripple out of shape. According to my method of construction, you will need four of them. Alternately, to minimize fussiness, you could extend the left front yoke piece by the width of two button bands, then add seam allowance at the edge, and fold that under instead of sewing on each strip on its own. As for the cuffs, cut a rectangle that is long enough to fit around your wrist, plus seam allowance and/or any overlap you might want, and twice as wide as you want it, plus seam allowance.

On the "Blouse Front and Back" piece, form the pleats by folding as directed on the pattern piece. Stitch across the top.

I also topstitched them down about 1.5" to reduce the poofiness, which you may or may not want to do.
I stay-stitched the neckline of all my yoke pieces, then stitched them at the shoulder seam, matching up the numbers on the pattern. (In case you're wondering why one front yoke piece is ultra-wrinkly, it's because I accidentally cut two left yokes and had to go back and re-cut a right yoke.)
If desired, add piping all around the edge of the blouse pieces. Stitch the piping on first using your zipper foot.

You will need to snip little notches to get the piping to turn corners.
To prepare the yoke pieces for sewing onto the main blouse piece, you'll need to reinforce the corners. Sew right at the seam line and use the shortest stitch length possible as you approach the corner, and then snip as close as you can to the line of stitching at the corner. Do this for all four corners. This enables you to stretch out this smaller angle to match the much larger angle of the blouse pieces.

Yoke and blouse pieces pinned together.

See how the tiny angle is stretched out to wrap around the corner? Also, for some reason my back yoke pieces ended up being much too wide for the blouse piece, so I made a few tiny pleats to make it fit. More on how that worked out for me later.
Sew the yoke and blouse pieces together with the blouse side facing up, so that you can see the line of stitching where you attached the piping. Try to adjust your needle position to sew to the left of that line.

Here's what the blouse looks like at this point. Finish the seams in the method of your choosing (I used seam binding) and then press the seam allowances toward the center of the blouse.

Back of the blouse. The pleats that I put into the yoke to make it fit ended up poofing out weirdly, so I pinned them down.
See? Hopefully you won't have this issue.

Poofs edgestitched down as best as I could.
Time for the tricky sleeve construction! Make sure yours are slashed in the corners (if yours says 1/8" seam allowance, ignore that and just cut down the middle of that part until you reach the point), and reinforce them as I showed before if you're feeling meticulous. I didn't.

Pin the side seams together first. 

You'll need to do some maneuvering to get the underarm in place. I found it easiest to just pin the straight part and ignore the corners.

Continue up into the sleeve seam.

I found it easiest to leave the corners unpinned and then just manipulate them into place once I was at the sewing machine. I don't have pictures of the actual sewing, but it's similar to sewing in underarm gussets in terms of the sewing-around-a-corner bit. It was easiest for me to start sewing from the side seam until I reached the corner, then leave the needle down and pivot to get to the underarm edge. I only sewed halfway across the underarm, then started again at the sleeve seam so as to meet in the middle of the underarm. That way, the corner that I was spreading out was always on top so that I could see if I was actually catching all the fabric as I turned the corner.

Couldn't get the focus on my camera right, but hopefully you can see how the corner looks.

Some puckering on the other corner...

Still pretty good, though.
Phew, done with the scary sleeves! On to the button bands. Pin two of them together and sew down an edge.

Press the two bands together, enclosing the seam you just sewed. This is going to be the left button band, the side that is hidden and has the buttons sewed onto it.

Press the rightmost edge over at the seam line.

Pin the left, un-pressed edge to the left yoke. Sew.

Fold over the button band as shown above, so that the previously pressed edge hides the raw edge that you just sewed. Topstitch both side of the button band.
Here it is from the right side. Now all of the raw edges are enclosed inside the button band!
If you don't want piping (or some other trim) in your blouse, ignore these next few pictures and just make the right, overlapping, visible button band the same way. If you do want piping, sew your piping to the right yoke edge.

Sew another button band piece on top of that.

Flip that piece out, then add yet another piece of piping.

On top of that whole deal, add the last button band piece, with interfacing if your fabric is very flimsy. Mine was. From there, finish the same way the previous button band was finished: fold over the very last edge and press at the seam line, then enclose all the raw edges and topstitch.

Ta da! It's starting to look like a real blouse!

Now add some buttons. I didn't feel up to tackling that many buttonholes, so I made my buttons decorative and just used snaps underneath for the closure.

I hope that was helpful to somebody, and that I didn't just painfully slow down my husband's MW3:CoD game uploading these pictures for no good reason. I will continue documenting the rest of the process as I make the cuffs and collar.


  1. I hadn't realized before but we have the same dress form! I finally put mine together a few days ago so I could refine the bodice of a dress I'm working on. I haven't fit my cover yet (haven't had time) but I wrassled the cover onto the form (lots of sweating involved). The cover is, of course, too large so I know I'll have to take the cover off and fit it to myself. Did you fit your own cover? I'm considering taking it to an alterations place but I haven't found one I like in SF yet.

    1. Oooh, a dress form twin! I will let Cecily know ;)

      Cecily is actually from Craigslist, so her cover was already fitted to her previous owner. I was lucky that her previous owner's measurements are almost the same as mine; she has a slightly smaller waist, and her torso is shorter than mine (but that's not something that can be solved with a better-fitting cover). Unfortunately, the cover insides are serged, so I couldn't do anything about the fit even if I wanted to. If you end up waiting until the end of June to fit your cover, I'd be willing to help! I know it's so much easier with another seamstress' help.

  2. whew! i'm exhausted just looking at it, but the results are looking like they will be worth it :-)

    1. They dang well better be!! No, but it really is starting to come together.

  3. What an interesting sleeve construction, I've never seen one like that before - not that I've made many Georgian blouses though! Can't wait to see what it will look like with the collar attached!

    1. Well, this is definitely the first time I've ever made a blouse with this, but I am a huge fan. It's actually Edwardian, not Georgian, but who can keep track of all those English kings anyway? ;)

    2. I was going to say Edwardian but then I thought it was for the 1912 Titanic themed thingy, so that would be George V but it probably still comes under Edwardian even then. I wish they had named the male monarchs something other than George and Edward :p

  4. This is a pretty awesome write up! I got a pattern from the VPLL 1912 Project forever ago but got all sorts of wrapped up in the administrative end of things and have never constructed it (it's Ladies Wrap #291). After I DO finish it (sometime this month, hopefully), I'd love to tackle one of the blouses. Your write up is AMAZABALLS and so very clear! Pictures are incredibly awesome and helpful too...

    1. I look forward to seeing your wrap! I love how that one looks, but didn't feel like I would wear it much (not that I'm wearing any of my actual 1912 project garments much!). I'm glad the pictures are helpful!

  5. I requested this blouse as well, so its nice to see your very complete tutorial, how helpful of you. Nice job on your piping as well

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, I am looking forward to sewing with you:)

  6. That is great fabric you chose and I LOVE how cute your cat is.


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