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.
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.