Monday, May 14, 2012

Blouse #0219 Step by Step Construction, Part 2

Finished blouse, not tucked in so that you can see what it all looks like.
Also, I promise the front bottom edge is straight; no idea why it looks slanted here.
Here is the promised photo documentary of the construction of the cuffs and collar for this blouse from the VPLL 1912 Project. Part 1 of the construction is shown here.

Apologies about the poor lighting in these photos; I was working on the cuffs at night.

Rather than try to draft curved cuff pieces, I stuck with simple rectangles. To end up with a 3.5 inch long cuff (and with 1/4" seam allowances), and based on my wrist size (7" where the cuff would have started), I cut two pieces of fabric 7"x10" and interfaced them.
Fold the rectangles in half, right sides together, making sure that you are folding it the correct way to end up with the proper height cuff! Sew the edges and trim the corner.
This is what it will look like.
Fold over 1/4" (or whatever your seam allowance is) at the open edge, press.
I used one of my RTW blouses to help me figure out how to actually attach this cuff onto the sleeve.
I cut a 1.5" slit in the sleeve end, directly opposite of the seam.

I made self-fabric bias binding with the help of my handy little Clover doodad. I was aiming for a 1/4" double-fold tape.
I bound the slit edges with the bias binding, with some fudging at the corner.
Run two lines of stitching on the longest stitch length possible around the edge of the sleeve.
These will help you gather the sleeve into the cuff.
Pull on the bobbin threads to gather the sleeve. I found it easiest to gather it tightly, then stretch it back out to fit the cuff. I allotted for about an inch of overlap on the cuff. Pin the sleeve raw ends inside the little "pocket" of the cuff, then baste.
After basting the sleeve into the cuff's open end, I sewed it together. Since my cuff didn't actually fit around the free arm of my machine, I had to flip the sleeve inside out and sew while awkwardly trying to shove the other ends of the cuff out of the way.
Here's what it looks like after all the awkward maneuvering! All edges neatly hidden inside the cuff!
I opted to finish mine with snaps instead of buttons, because frankly, buttons are expensive and buttonholes are fiddly when trying to do your cuffs one-handed.

And now onto the collar -- thankfully done during the afternoon, so the lighting is better!
I used a RTW blouse to trace the general shape of a stand collar, making sure that it was long enough to go all the way around the neckline. I cut two of these 1 3/4" tall curved collar pieces and interfaced them.
Sew them right sides together, curving at the edges, and clipping at the curves. Leave the bottom edge of the curve open, of course, so that you can flip it.
Post-flip, press.
Pin, baste and sew the collar to the neckline, right sides together.
This is what it looks like from the other side.
Fold over the seam allowance, press, and sew it to the neckline, enclosing all the raw edges inside the collar.
I topstitched all the way around.
I love pretty the insides look! I sewed on the buttons and snaps, too, but neglected to show that.
I finished it up with bias tape on the bottom. I guess I could've used self-fabric bias tape, but honestly, I was too lazy to make it and I already had this more-or-less matching color leftover from another project.
I did gather the back portion of the blouse between the yoke piece and the side seam.

The back ends up being much higher than the front.
If I weren't making the blouse exactly as the pattern pieces dictated, I would have lengthened it by a good five inches.

Tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Also, digital cameras don't like stripes.
Fabric: 2.5 yards of 54" wide 100% cotton lawn (darn that inefficient bias layout!)
Notions: 4.5 yards of brown piping, eight brass filigree buttons, 14 sew-on metal snaps, interfacing
Techniques used: Putting in piping, making bias tape
Hours: It's really difficult to say, considering that I was stopping every step of the way to take pictures and make notes about what I was doing. I think if I were just blazing through, it would take about 6-7 hours, but that's because sewing snaps takes forever and there are just so many little pieces to cut and and interface and yeah.
Will you make this again? I don't know if I will make this exact blouse, but I really want to try this method of sleeve construction on other garments. Of course, I also have no idea how to even begin drafting it into say, a dress pattern.
Total cost: $2.50 for the fabric, $4 for the piping, $6 for the buttons, $2 for the snaps, so about $15 total.
Final thoughts: I am so glad I just manned up (womanned up? seamstressed up? sewasaurus rexed up?!) and made this blouse, despite it being unlike anything I've ever sewn, and with no instructions to boot. I felt so alive and my brain so engaged while trying to decipher what order and where to sew which pieces. Seriously, solving sewing puzzles is like some kind of bizarre high. And the finished blouse works perfectly for my steampunk outfit. I am still considering if I want to add a little bow or jabot or brooch or something at the neck, though, as it looks a little unfinished there. I had toyed with the idea of adding piping there, but just got lazy. Oh well.

VPLL Checklist:  
  1. Pattern Name: #0219 blouse
  2. Sewer’s Skill Level: I would say I'm probably an intermediate (ZOMG I feel so brash saying that -- I've always rated myself as a beginner because I feel like there's still so much I don't know, but I'd say that at this point it's not really the best description for me).
  3. Pattern Rating: 4.5 -- I love the clever little design details (that amazing sleeve!) and the option to dress it up with trim around the yoke section. My only gripe is that cuff pieces aren't included, and the back is a little short.
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? There isn't really anything especially tricky going on here; I think a patient and meticulous beginner would do just fine.
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? If not, what needs to be changed? There were no instructions, so I did my best to show clearly what I did in case others want to follow along. That said, it was actually surprisingly easy to figure what to do, especially with the help of a couple of my own RTW blouses for study.
  6. How was the fit/sizing?  Did it correspond to what you thought? I'm fortunate that the original size of the blouse theoretically fit me already so I didn't have to do any kind of grading. That said, I think the blousiness of the bust area could probably accommodate a certain range of sizes (maybe a 32-36, but that also depends on one's shoulder width). The illustration of the blouse appears to have the yoke end right at the shoulder; my shoulders are especially wide for my size so the yoke doesn't quite reach all the way, but it is still comfortable and non-constricting. The waist measurement is extremely generous (a good 40+ inches, I think), so I imagine that with a length modification it could even work for a pregnant lady! However, because of that, it looks pretty boxy and unflattering when not tucked into something, which I expected based on my examination of other blouses from this era.
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Were they fit or design alterations? I didn't alter the main pattern pieces at all while cutting. When I sewed up the back to the yoke, though, I was about an inch short on both sides on the back piece. In the future I would either widen the vertical part of the back yoke piece or add an inch to the back of the main blouse piece. I ended up taking up the excess in my back yoke with a topstitched pleat. If I were making this blouse for anything other than an extremely high-waisted skirt, I would lengthen the back of the blouse.
  8. Other notes: Obviously, I didn't do the topstitched, detachable collar. I don't like high-necked blouses in general, and the straight rectangle of the pattern piece didn't seem like it would fit my actual neck very well, hence my curved, self-drawn collar piece. I will leave it to someone else to try tackling that! 

I hope these construction posts have helped you if you're making this blouse too! And in case you're wondering how you, too, can get a hold of this pretty awesome pattern (or other 1912 patterns), you can sign up for VPLL's 1912 Project here.

Previous blouse posts here, here, and here


  1. I absolutely love the skirt with your new blouse! Great fabrics and wonderful job!

    Stop thinking of yourself as a beginner - you could easily work with the any of the professionals I work with in the film world. =)

    1. Brooke, you are too kind! I wish I could work with real professionals making film costumes!

  2. It's gorgeous. You did such a nice job.
    I love, love, love the long cuffs, it looks so elegant tucked in too.
    Thanks for all your details on fit. It's such a unique style compared with todays patterns, there seems so much room up front and not as much in the back. I'm eager to get mine finished now that I can see how beautifully yours turned out.

    1. Thank you! I only made the cuffs that long out of necessity, since the sleeve was so short, but I ended up really liking it. I can't wait to see what somebody else does with this pattern, as it doesn't seem like anyone else has made it yet!

  3. You did an amazing job! Together with the skirt looks great, but I've fallen in love with the shirt.

  4. I love the details and photos you've included, but I have to admit that when I saw the final blouse I thought, "hmmmm. looks ok."

    THEN I saw it tucked into the walking skirt and thought "AMAZING!" They work so well together. I vote for a little lace jabot to finish it off.


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