Yay!!! All done and finished and I have to say it is a massive relief. That's the last time I'll take on a sewing challenge during the school holidays! I can't seem to concentrate properly when I only have small pockets of time to work with, and consequently there was a lot of faffing around and unpicking with this blouse.
I've sewn the pattern twice before (here and here) so dived into the project thinking I could just cut it out and sew it up. What I failed to account for is how my tastes have changed in the four years since I last had this pattern in my clutches. Although I still absolutely love working with vintage patterns, I've had to accept that I can't pull off that authentic head-to-toe vintage look that seems to come naturally to other people. It's much more effective in the long run for me to take a vintage pattern and make a few adjustments so that the finished garment works better with my modern wardrobe. So that's what I did with my 1930's blouse. The small changes I made have allowed me to style it with modern separates and accessories and it will get a lot more wear this way.
As I outlined in this post, I changed the blouse from sleeved to sleeveless because of lack of fabric. The original sleeves had quite a lot of extra ease in the shoulders plus they had cuffs, so a sleeveless version will actually be far more practical underneath a cardigan. I also increased the height of the trucks at the front so that they opened up at the bustline, a little like the bodice of the BHL Anna dress. The blouse still had a very boxy look so I curved the side seams in by about an inch at the waist, grading out to nothing at the hips and I'm much happier with this shape.
Underlining the silk seems to have really helped bring out the beautiful colour of the fabric as well as sort out the stubborn creases I was whining about here. The blouse is still nice and drapey, but because of the underlining, it now has an added weightiness which makes it lovely to wear. The fabric itself was a revelation - I fully expected all kinds of trouble from it, especially as it was such a pain to launder, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I cut it out using a layer of muslin underneath (see full tutorial here) which worked perfectly. Using very sharp scissors helped too, as did using a fine needle in my machine (a 60) and silk thread. The only change I had to make during the actual sewing was to decrease the tension significantly to stop the stitches gathering (I set it to 0 rather than my usual 3). Once I'd sorted that out it was a pleasure to sew. I had to do quite a bit of unpicking (including, horror of horrors, a buttonhole…), but amazingly there are hardly any marks left on the fabric, it's surprisingly robust. This was also down to using silk thread which I found easier to remove than standard poly thread.
For buttons, I asked the opinion of my new Instagram sewing pals on which of these two sets to use. It was a close call, but the more subtle, swirly ones on the right hand side won in the end. They're vintage buttons (incidentally, from the same set that I used on my vintage shirt dress) and I think they match the fabric beautifully.
I finished the armholes and bottom hem with bias binding, catch stitching it to the underlining. The collar and lapels still refused to lie flat after extensive pressing so I edge stitched them to mirror the shoulder seams and yoke. They're still a bit wavy but it doesn't bother me. I underlined them with silk organza, rather than silk cotton, and I think this was the problem. This was my first time using silk organza and I have to say, I found it a nightmare to work with, urrgh, horrible stuff.
Simplicity 2844 is the oldest pattern in my collection (it dates from the 1930's) and I have a real soft spot for it because it was the first vintage pattern I ever owned (I won it in a giveaway by Debi at My Happy Sewing Place). I think making something from an 80 year old pattern definitely makes it eligible for my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, so I'm including it as my third entry for the year.
Making this blouse was also part of another pledge - the Made Up initiative - set up by Karen at Did You Make That? to raise money for the National Literacy Trust. I have to say, sewing this blouse turned out to be more than a slight pain in the arse. BUT…I wouldn't have made it without the pledge, I know that for a fact, the fabric would just have sat in my stash forever. So yes, it was a challenge, but a good one, with a happy outcome. There's just one more day to go until the challenge deadline, any other sprints to the finish?! x