Monday, February 6, 2012

1912 Blouse for Dummies - VPLL 1912 Project

Our first pattern - Blouse EO191.  We made this to the pattern size since neither of us thought we would wear it as it wouldn't be flattering.  We made it up in white muslin, with the trim pieces in beige dotted cotton that we had laying about.  We wanted to make it fully lined and with most of the finishing (everything but back buttons).  We were not able to do any fittings during construction.  Apparently we are giants, and our smallest dress form was perfect except its neck which is HUGE.  The lack of arms was a problem too...
We are re-learning sewing after modest experience in our youth.  We opted to try to follow the instructions as written and write about how it worked for us.  Some of the instructions confused us, but we expected that.  Some of the choices we just didn't like and would do differently if we were making it for us.

Sleeve trim - sewing the bottom of the trim to the sleeve with a small turned-under hem would not be our choice although it may be the easiest choice with the curved hem.  We thought self-facing would look a lot nicer.  There are no instructions for attaching the top of the trim piece so we top stitched it to the sleeve.  Depending on the fabric used, there are doubtless better ways to do that too.
Neck trim - We chose to double the fabric because our fabric was very thin.  We needed the extra body, especially with the beads.  It didn't meet in the back, even though we took slightly larger pleats in the front of both the blouse and the lining.  This may be because of placement.  We aren't really sure.  Others didn't seem to have this problem.  It didn't lay flat on the shoulders once we put it on the blouse.  The blouse itself lay smooth on the dress form and the lining matched well.  Again, it could be placement, and solved by moving the trim higher up the neck.  We couldn't test that due to the dress form limitations (linebacker neck) and my unwillingness to make my 10 year old son cross-dress for this project.   And then the binding, the binding that  kicked out butts.  This is very obvious at the point in the front.  It's not symmetrical top and bottom.  We know what we did wrong.  We chose not to fix it and call it an awesome learning experience.  Here it is without the blouse.

They seem to stand out from the body and cant forward.  We assume this is period styling.  They went in easily using the pattern markings, although we had no ease (even though the pattern suggested we would).  When we sewing in the lining, we sewed it right under the binding added at the shoulder.
Blouse body and lining

We re-folded the pleats out of personal preference.  We took about an inch of additional volume out of the top.  We sewed the binding strips to the shoulders before we we sewed the side seams which was easier but not nearly as tidy looking after we sewed the side seams.
The lining had us stumped at first.  We started by lining it up at the neck and it just didn't fit.  It was far too small.  We un-pinned it and started over at the arm scythe and everything matched right up.  Thing is, we ended up having to trim quite a bit of fabric from the lining at the neck opening which made it too big.  We added a couple of pleats on the inside and it looks nice.

Too Large

Too Small

From the inside

We didn't like the blouse bottom finish in the front.  We thought a narrow binding strip over the gathers would look a lot better.
Finally, we really liked the little basque in the back.  We thought it would look a bit silly, but really ended up liking it.

Not Surprising -
The drawing of the blouse is much longer and leaner than the actual garment.

This took us 7 hours from cutting to final press and pictures.
One adult beverage (each)
About a '4' on the profanity scale (primarily due to the $*#&$ binding).
We planned to finish this in a day but we were pleasantly surprised when we actually succeeded.


  1. Wow, this is an awesome project! Wish I'd known about it sooner - let my Threads sub lapse :( My grandmother was born in 1887 and married in 1912. Before she married she was a court dressmaker in London, i.e., she made the dresses worn by ladies who were being presented to the King and Queen. I didn't learn to sew until long after she passed away, but I'm fascinated by the Titanic era because it reminds me of her and, especially, of the fine sewing she did.

    moushka 26

    1. My apologies! You comment got stuck in our spam filter and we only just saw it! If you are still interested the VPLL 1912 Project is still open! You can find it online

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