December 9th, 2012
Armistice blouse number two has much more in common with its early 20th-century inspiration style than my first attempt.
It’s completely hand finished — I used the machine only for the side seams (they are finished by hand with a faux French seam), attaching the collar, pintucking the front panel, and sewing the waist cord. The fabric is a nearly-sheer, thread-dyed cotton gauze pinstripe that I picked up on the clearance rack at Walmart, of all places.
In terms of basic shape, this blouse doesn’t differ much from my first try. It’s still got the kimono sleeves, though much shorter. I also shortened the length so it’s more of a shirt, less of a tunic. And I added the traditional collar. (Though my collar pattern, which began as square cut, a la middy, misfired by the time I decided to make it narrow and rounded. It doesn’t lay flat in the back, causing all sorts of unpleasant rippling.)
I also reverted to the utilitarian waist tie — on period examples I’ve seen, this tie is usually made from narrow twill tape, never meant to be seen. It contained the blouse’s fullness so it could be neatly tucked into a fitted skirt. Since I don’t intend to wear this blouse (at least not exclusively) with late-Edwardian skirts, I compromised with a self-fabric tie, top-stitched over a double pleat at center back, and held in place with thread loops at the side seams.
Hand finishing aside, what really took time on this version were the embellishments. They’re pretty restrained compared to some period examples, but I like the understated delicacy. The collar and sleeves are trimmed in tatted lace, made especially for the blouse by yours truly. The sleeves and center panel edges were handkerchief hemmed (a very basic drawn thread stitch). Then, in the case of the center panel, I used matching pink cotton floss to faggot the edges together. You see a lot of this in original garments, though not usually around the center panel, since that was left open on one or both sides. A front closure with scores of teeny tiny buttons meant you didn’t need to pull the blouse over your head, which is much harder to do when you’re wearing a corset…
For modern ease of wearing, not to mention my legendary hatred of buttonholes, I decided to make this an over-the-head style. Version three is already underway. I’m going to adjust the fit a little under the arms, and add pintucking over the shoulders as well, in an attempt to contain some of the bagginess around the bust. And I need to figure out the whole collar thing too. I’m also thinking about doing a little tatted motif to set into the front panel. We’ll see how ambitious I get.