Saturday, March 24, 2012

VPLL E0191 - Striped Blouse - Finished

Pattern Description: Ladies striped blouse with pleated front, contrast collar and sleeve trim. Back button closure.

Pattern Sizing: One size, to be adapted by the sewist. Approximately 36" bust, 25" waist. I kept the bust the way it was and added some width to the waist. I'd much rather take the waist out than try to do an FBA on some of these designs.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? More or less. I chose to omit the contrast collar because my original contrast fabric choice did not please me and I started over. Thus far I haven't found a contrast fabric I like that works well with the silk.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions are translated from the original 1912 French instructions. They weren't bad, but I did a different order of construction and made some changes so I really just read them over for surprises and then did it my own way.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This wasn't an assigned pattern for the 1912 Project but we are allowed to request patterns assigned to other groups if we want to make them up. I really liked the drawing for this one and was intrigued when someone mentioned that the construction meant that the vertical stripes on the front chevroned down the back. I had to have it after that.

Even though I'm not likely to get much wear out of these pieces (this blouse is actually going to a friend who has the kind of life where historic clothing actually will get worn), I'm trying to choose patterns that will show me something new that I can use in my own sewing. Being the stripe maven that I am, this was enough. I've attached a photo of the front and back pattern piece - it's cut on the fold in the front, with no shoulder seam, and the back slants outward, which causes the very cool stripe manipulation. I'm going to find a modern blouse pattern that I like and reconstruct it to do this, absolutely.

Fabric Used: Embarrassingly old ivory-and-tangerine striped silk dupioni bought possibly in the late 80s or early 90s. It was Very Deep Stash, but absolutely perfect for this project. I think I even have enough left over for another project. How much did I buy, and then keep it for almost 30 years? I originally chose an ivory poly-satin for the contrast fabric, and then decided it wasn't quite right and did a lace overlay, which I liked until I decided that it wasn't quite right, and I threw out the satin/lace collar and cut off the sleeve trim/cuffs at the seam allowance and went with striped cuffs. The collar may or may not be added later, when I find the right contrast fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: A few. The pattern as designed called for a back closure. First off, how often do we have someone available to button us into our clothes when we get dressed? And more importantly, once I realized that the stripes would form a chevron down the back, no way was I interrupting that with buttons. Since my friend who is wearing this blouse likes the historic look but doesn't require accuracy, I inserted a very discreet invisible zipper down the left side seam, opening at the hem. The zipper pull sits right in the bias trim I used to edge the blouse, and it's barely noticeable. It's one of the best invisible zips I've ever done - the stripes chevron almost perfectly the entire length of the zipper.

As mentioned above, I omitted the contrast collar. There were multiple reasons for this. The neckline of the blouse as drafted is square, which I think is really pretty and flattering on most women. The collar neckline is round, which I didn't find as pretty, and no matter how I jiggered with the shape and size of the collar, I couldn't get a balance I liked - nothing quite looked like the pattern drawing. (A problem through the ages, apparently). I made a collar, decided the satin wasn't quite the right shade of ivory, layered it with a warmer ivory lace, thought it was okay, and bound the entire thing in striped silk bias tape, and then decided I hated it. I wish I'd decided that before I made 2 yards of silk bias tape. Here's the neckline as it stands now, square with bias binding (the last of that 2 yards). Unless I find a good contrast, this is the way it's going to stay.

I had also made the sleeve trim/cuffs the same way, and when I ditched the collar, the cuffs couldn't stay either. I cut them off at the seam allowance and made new cuffs from the striped silk. Since the sleeves were cut cross-grain, I cut the cuffs so that the stripes went vertical again. I backed them with muslin for a little extra body and used a very narrow seam allowance to sew them on. Even though it's a little over-stripey, I think it's a much better result.

I added almost 3" to the length of this blouse. Apparently women were either very short or very short-waisted, or both, because when I tried the muslin on as drafted, it was at least an inch above my navel. And my friend who will wear this is much longer waisted than I am, so I wanted to make sure it didn't look like a really strange cropped top on her. You can see from this side view that the blouse is also longer at the front so that when you tuck it in or put a belt around it, you get that historically accurate pouf.

The blouse also included pattern pieces for a lining, which I could see being necessary with a lighter or drapier fabric. Instead of pleats in the front, the lining has gathers which would help to puff the bottom of the blouse out in a historically-appropriate way. The dupioni silk I used (even though it's been washed) still has enough body that it poufs on its own. I decided I didn't want to add the extra layer of fabric, and besides, after the contortions with the contrast fabric, I'd decided I'd had enough.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I doubt I'll sew it again, but only because I don't have many opportunities to wear 1912-era clothing. The styles don't really fit my body type or my life. I would recommend this pattern to anyone interested in clothing from the era, or who wants to take on an interesting stripe challenge.

Conclusion: Another interesting pattern from the 1912 Project. I'm enjoying this way more than I expected to, and I can finally make something for my friend that I know she'll get some use from.

Edited on 4/24/12 to add VPLL project checklist:

  1. Pattern Name   E0191 Blouse
  2. Sewer's Skill Level: Advanced
  3. Pattern Rating: 3 - Good/Average.  I'd give it higher marks but I think it's a pattern for a very specific body type; some of the VPLL patterns I've tried are much more wearable by a wider selection of people.
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? I think this pattern is fine for an intermediate sewer so long as they are patient and follow the directions, simply because some of the techniques are not familiar to a modern day sewist.
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? If not, what needs to be changed?  I thought they were fine.  I got a little confused about the pleating at first, but I took a break, re-read them and fiddled with the fabric and it all worked out.  That's generally what I have to do when I can't get the words to make sense.  The fabric doesn't lie, and it rarely confuses.  One other note: the instructions say to gather the sleeves into the armscye, and there isn't sufficient fabric in the sleeve piece to do that; I inserted the sleeves flat and they fit without easing. 
  6. How was the fit/sizing?  Did it correspond to what you thought?  It was spot on to the measurements promised on the pattern. 
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Were they fit or design alterations?  I made one fit alteration, which was to add an extra pleat in the front because the friend who got this blouse is a bit smaller-busted than the planned measurements.  My design alteration were the following:  I omitted the optional lining (requested and also my fabric was opaque enough) and to add an invisible zipper in the left side seam because I wanted her to be able to dress herself and I also hated the idea of interrupting that beautiful chevron of stripes with a button placket.  I also left off the collar because my fabric choice didn't work and instead I widened the square neck by about a half inch and bound it in striped bias tape.  I also bias-bound the hem to neaten the edges at the zipper insertion.
  8. Changes I'd like in this pattern:  It worked beautifully as drafted, but if it's made up with the original back closure, it should be altered to either add a button placket or note that extra fabric needs to be added to accomplish this.
  9. Changes to instructions:  The instructions were clear, if minimal.  You might want to suggest a side zip or buttons/snaps for those who aren't going for complete authenticity; it made the blouse much easier to wear.  Otherwise, my suggestion above regarding redrafting to add a button placket or a note to add enough fabric to make one. 
  10. Discussion of fabric/trim, etc.  I've had this tangerine-and-cream striped silk dupioni for at least 20 years, waiting for the right project.  The only problem was that I couldn't find a contrast fabric that I liked at all, which is why the blouse is made of one fabric only. 
  11. Description of technique - insertion, cutwork, etc. This was a pretty straightforward pattern, construction-wise.  My only real contribution to construction on this is to note the invisible zipper insertion in the left side seam.  I inserted it so that it opened at the bottom, which made it very easy to get in and out of the blouse.


ReadyThreadSew said...

I love seeing reviews for the VPLL 1912 patterns. They are probably something I will rarely (probably never) buy, but I love seeing them made up.

Your nearly 30 year old stash fabric makes me feel a lot better about my own stash which is, at most, only a baby seven years old :)

velosews said...

Wow. This is a really beautiful piece.