Ladies Blouse #E0191

The day after my birthday I received a fantastic present- my first pattern from the 1912 project!

It’s a pattern for a blouse that at first glance seemed unassuming. After working with the pattern for a little while though, I’ve come to appreciate its many fine details. All the trim is edged in bias tape from the main fabric; parts of the main bodice are lined in bias tape from the trim. The sleeves are set inside the arm holes so that the arm holes jut out just a little bit past them (I have no idea what the technical term for this is; I’m a self-taught sewist). The direction of the main fabric runs vertically down the bodice & horizontally across the arms. The neck trim is a nice weird shape & the main bodice pattern is all one big piece of fabric.

I was so excited to start that I rushed home from class as quickly as I could and started piecing my printed pattern pieces together. I had read the pattern instructions during a break in class & haven’t referred to them since- I was too excited to bring them out & patiently read through them with a calm, analytical head before I started sewing.

After cutting out the pattern on muslin with a super generous 1″ seam allowance, I sewed up the side seams, rooted around for a zipper that would work as a temporary easy-in-easy-out closure for fitting the pattern, then ironed and sewed the pleats. Non-sewed pleats bulge out like a strained accordion- it didn’t look good. I tried a few different methods for sewing the pleats. After agonizing over how to sew them & trying a few different methods, I read the directions: topstitch. It seemed a shame to topstitch them (which was one of the things I had tried) as it really flattened them. Why make pleats if they’re not going to be visible? I prefer having them poke out just a little bit, like in a relief.

After the basic assembly, I threw my blouse over my head & marveled at how differently things we’re cut back then. I’m on the short side- 5’4″- and the sewing line came down to my belly button. I knew women were smaller back then & that they wore high-waisted skirts, but wow. This seemed like fabric conservation taken to the extreme, especially given how much ease was left for the front gathers (so much so that my 28″+ waist fit in with plenty of swimming room in a blouse that’s supposed to fit a 25″ waist) Also, the front of the bodice (but not the back) dips down, kind of like a modern blouse does so that it’s more easily tucked into your pants or skirt. Well, on my muslin this juts out, practically straight out from my body.

20120202-021705.jpg I enjoy holding it out for a more comical effect.

Tonight I fixed the arm holes & started adding the neck trim. I tried putting in the sleeves last night & had to take them out today. I put one in inside out & they just didn’t seem to be lining up correctly. I don’t think their seams are supposed to line up with the bodice side seams. I’m leaving the sleeves for later, when I’ve gotten more sleep. As for the trim I wasn’t exactly sure where it was supposed to line up on the pattern. Somehow lining the bottom sewing line of the trim with the top sewing line of the bodice didn’t seem quite right to my sleepy mind. My first basted attempt (lining the top of the trim to the top of the bodice was too low. I didn’t finish sewing it all around the neck, as you can see it the picture below, but I kind of like the lower neck line. Tomorrow, or rather, later today, I shall fiddle with it some more and see which height I prefer.


Finally, bias binding & lining. I’ve left both out. I figured I’ll probably be doing another version of the blouse up either in a shirting fabric or another muslin. I’m planning on sewing up each pattern in a muslin first. If I get attached to a specific muslin I’m going to attempt to dye/stain it with tea to give it an old look & so it doesn’t look like I’m just wearing a muslin around.


12 thoughts on “Ladies Blouse #E0191

  1. Pingback: Everything’s New! « Disparate Disciplines

  2. I almost wonder (after looking at the illustration of the finished garment) if it wouldn’t help to gather the front into a waist-tape? Just attaching the front, centered onto the waist tape, where it gathers, and leave the ends free to hook and eye at the small of your back (underneath the blouse)… Did that just make any sense?

    Trying to find a quick link to explain waist tapes…

  3. I’ about to attempt this blouse as well (group 22!) and wondered about those pleats as well…how deep did you end up making them??

    • I pleated the pleats on the far sides at 3/16″ and then the other two at 1/8″. I had the middle pleat overlap the pleat on the edge so that it looked as if it had been pleated at 1/8″ instead of 3/16″. But after doing that and sewing them down, I looked at the picture. On the right side of the picture it looks as if the big center pleat has more space between it and the middle pleat, while the left side looks evenly spaced between the three.

  4. I’d love to see a pic of the blouse as it naturally hangs on your frame- front and back if possible. Its lookin good so far~

    Please keep in mind that the fit won’t be exactally correct unless you’re wearing period undergarments too!

    • The second picture is how the blouse naturally hangs on my frame. If it seems crooked it’s because I have scoliosis & my shoulders aren’t of a perfectly even height. I don’t plan on making an Edwardian corset. I’m hoping to make the blouse into something I can wear as an everyday thing instead of just special occasions.

  5. You really got going quickly! I haven’t seen the pattern so this is a wild question about the pleats – rather than top stitching, what if they were sewn on the fold line? They stay in place and wouldn’t bulge out but they’d not be so flat and look more pleated. You’re doing a wonderful job!!!

    • I did try & sew half of them down like that do I could directly compare the two methods. It worked really well for the outer two pleats, but not as well for the one closest to the center. I tried sewing that one so it would show, but it just stretched open when I put the blouse on. I ended up top stitching it as far from the edge as possible. I think on the final blouse I will hand stitch it from the back so as to avoid an obvious line of thread.

  6. Wonderful job…and so fast! I love the way you did the pleats. I am not sure what these pleats are called either, but I agree that they probably look better sewn all the way down. (I just completed Vogue 1177 and there are lots of these pleats in the dress.) You are very talented.

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