My vintage blouse was one of my early sewing projects! This pretty pattern from the former independent British sewing magazine Cloth caught my eye for both its flattering shape and interesting vintage features. I found the blouse amongst my summer clothes whilst reorganising my wardrobe, and thought it would be the perfect sewing experience to write about in my dressmaking diary. The vintage blouse project took me over a year to complete (I tend to work on multiple projects, rather than one at a time) and I learned new skills, such as sewing my first french seams, cutting on the bias, creating a button placket and sewing a curved hem.
To stay true to the vintage design I sourced vintage supplies, including vintage ribbon, cotton and a gorgeous handmade vintage lace collar. I finished the blouse with vintage covered buttons in a range of colours. The cotton and ribbon were finds during a shopping trip to Covent Garden from Cloth House, whose array of vintage haberdashery was very inspiring, I highly recommend their fabrics too! The lace collar and buttons were bought on a shopping trip to Frome, Somerset where there are some cute independent vintage shops. I kept them in my stash for a while, pending an exciting vintage project. The blouse includes a crochet detail at the waist, hand sewn into the ditch in the waist’s princess seam – luckily I had some cream yarn to crochet a long chain for the waist in my stash. If you were a Cloth magazine subscriber like me and have the original issue, the pattern instructions include step by step instructions to crochet a collar – if you’re an experienced crocheter you could certainly crochet your own version. The ditsy print floral cotton fabric was a sale rack find at a discount homeware store called Trago Mills – they have outlets in the South West, if you are ever in the area on your holidays it’s certainly worth a visiting their fabric departments. I love that this pattern enabled me to think more creatively about the composition of my projects, to create an original version of the garment.
The challenges for me at the time of sewing the blouse included following a pattern in a magazine for the first time; I think most sewists would agree that pattern instructions published in magazines can vary greatly from those in commercial patterns. French seams were a challenge, (not so much from a construction perspective) as I found the instructions and diagrams easy to understand, but from a fitting perspective – I adjusted the size of the pattern but didn’t realise I needed to consider additional ease, which meant creating a slightly wider button placket when I came to complete the project.
I really enjoyed the challenge of cutting and sewing on the bias for the peplum, and this feature just makes the top much more fun to wear. I decided to add poppers underneath the button placket on the peplum, as it’s quite highwaisted – you could accidentally show a little more midriff than you bargained for!
The blouse is really versatile, I wear it with highwaisted jeans, or with a skirt for a more formal look. I chose a grey lace skirt for the photographs to co-ordinate with the blue and green ditsy floral print.
If I was to sew this pattern again I would use a french curve ruler to grade the pattern and I would calculate the required ease. I think that this sort of knowledge comes with a certain level of experience, and from reading blog posts or watching instructional videos from members of the sewing community who have more experience. My first attempt at darts to create the shaping for this top (4 darts front and back) were inserted with varying degrees of success; I am so pleased to be able to compare my recently completed projects and see an improvement I can be proud of – practice, practice, practice and a willingness to learn new techniques have been really important!
Sadly Cloth magazine is no longer in publication, but there are several vintage blouse patterns available that you could customise including Simplicity 1460 and 1590, or McCalls 7191.
I am looking forward to sharing some more projects with you soon, and I have an exciting guest post lined up for the Minerva Crafts blog this summer, as I have recently joined their product review team.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you have any vintage inspired projects that have been a useful learning experience for you please leave your comments below. Enjoy the sunshine!