Yay! Hot off the press today is the Afternoon Blouse - a brand new PDF pattern from lovely sewing blogger Jennifer Lauren. I was lucky enough to be a tester for this pattern so I can tell you all about it. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin…
The design of the Afternoon Blouse is based on an original 1950's pattern, cleverly updated to give it a modern edge. Jennifer has also spent a lot of time perfecting the construction and shape of the blouse to make it super easy to fit and sew. In fact it's so easy to sew it can be made in just one afternoon (geddit? the clue's in the name!) I was asked to pattern test right in the middle of a busy period, and then lost a precious day's sewing because of the teacher's strike in the UK (I had to entertain my children and was twitching towards the sewing machine like a junkie). In the end I did only have one afternoon free to make it, which was a nice challenge as I could test out whether the blouse lived up to its name. Of course it did!
From a sewing and construction viewpoint, the blouse is super easy to sew:
- No darts or tucks
- No zips, buttons or other fastenings, it just slips over your head
- No sleeves to set in (the blouse has one of my favourite vintage features - short kimono sleeves)
- Very few pattern pieces - just a front, back and facings
Making the blouse should have been one of the quickest sewing projects in the history of the world - if I hadn't been such a half wit. The following is ALL my own fault, I hasten to add, and nothing to do with the pattern. I made such a silly sewing mistake I couldn't believe my own stupidity - gah! After looking at the size charts, I decided that I would cut a size 8 at the shoulders, waist and hips and a size 12 at the bust. The pattern is constructed with grown on sleeves, so blending between the sizes is an easy job. My fatal error was chatting to my mum whilst I was tiling the pattern together. I was so busy gassing away, I clean forgot to grade the bust to a larger size and just cut a size 8 all over. The pattern tiled together so perfectly I decided to cut the blouse out from the fabric there and then, still not graded at the bust. The ridiculous thing is, I didn't even realise my mistake until I actually sewed the blouse together and tried to get it over my head! Having wrestled it on and then off again, I suddenly worked out why it was so tight…. The tragedy is that I didn't have enough fabric to re-cut it so just had to let the side seams and centre front seams out as far as possible. I'd say the bust is now more like a size 10 and is still a little tight, which makes me think my original plan of a size 12 would have been perfect. Grrrr. The fit everywhere else is perfect.
I was particularly pissed off at myself because the fabric I used was so lovely. I chose a red shirting with a slight sheen from Offset Warehouse after my usual trick of seeing it on Dolly Clackett's blog and wanting some of the action. I found shirting to be the perfect fabric for this blouse. It's crisp and holds its shape, but has just enough drape to do justice to the feminine styling. The shirting I used is my perfect shade of red too, I'm very tempted to get some more for another project...
I would say the only slightly tricky bit is sewing the facing to the neckline, but I think if you do as Jennifer advises in the instructions and just take your time, then it's pretty straight forward. The neckline is finished with a decorative i.e. non functioning button - a good opportunity to use any pretty vintage buttons you've been hoarding. I think the decorative neckline is more noticeable if you use a fabric in a solid colour. Having said that, my next version (which will be in the correct size) has a busy pattern, so I'll be interested to see how it looks.
Style-wise I think the Afternoon Blouse will be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. It has the vintage look that always lures me in, and which I've already found goes perfectly with all my high waisted trousers and skirts. It also has a casual, modern look so you can team it with jeans or shorts in the summer. I don't have any photos, but I can confirm, hand on heart that it does look flattering untucked. And believe me, for a blouse to pass my rigorous untucked test, it usually has to be fitted and darted to within an inch of its life.
If you'd like to introduce a bit of vintage flair into your life with minimal effort, then hot foot it over to Jennifer's Etsy Shop where you can purchase the PDF pattern. I think it's a lovely pattern and I don't think there'll be too long a gap before my next version appears on this here blog! Have a wonderful weekend! x