So this is one of the garments I made for our recent holiday in the (relative…) sun. It’s Gertie‘s Portrait Blouse, from her eponymous ‘New Book for Better Sewing’. Incidentally, this is the best value book ever if you’re even vaguely into retro-style clothes, as it includes 10 full-size base patterns, most with 2 or 3 variations, together with a load of tips for proper old-fashioned dressmaking.
I made a size 10 (US), which on reflection fits on the waist but is a little big around the bust – weirdly, it seemed a lot tighter on the muslin, not sure why this is, although the muslin fabric was slightly heavier than the finished garment, maybe that was it! I often find that my waist is a size bigger than my bust in dress patterns, so after many disasters, toile, toile and toile again! Although, as we see here, even this doesn’t always save me… Next time I will toile the 8 and take the waist out a bit.
The fabric is a beautiful cotton lawn which I got years ago from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester, it was really cheap but it’s a very fine soft lawn, I love it’s slightly tiki print. It was originally destined to be a summer dress for my daughter, but she’ll never know…
I’ve done 3 things slightly different to the pattern, the first being the neckline, which I’ve widened by 1 1/” each side and dropped by 1/2″ at the centre front – I wanted to give it more of a scoop-neck as it is for summer.
The second change I made was the finish of the neckline. The pattern has a facing, which I’m not that keen on in a top, they’re a pain to iron and a blouse often doesn’t need the extra reinforcement as long as the neckline is properly stabilised with stay-stitching and a good firm edge finish. I finished the neckline with self-fabric bias tape. This is the first time I’ve used this method, and it’s so great I’ll definitely use my next blouse to do a tutorial for it! It’s a super-neat, firm finish which is perfect for thin, non-slippy fabrics like this lawn.
The last change I made was to the side fastening. The pattern has a zip in the side-seam, running down most of the length of the seam. I didn’t fancy this at all, a) because the fabric is so thin I didn’t think a zip would sit right, and b) because the seam dives in-and-out really sharply at the waist. Frankly, I didn’t fancy my chances of getting a zip in there at all… So, I put in a placket of sorts. The advantage of this was it didn’t have to run right down to the hem, but could just extend a couple of inches either side of the waist.
I will definitely do a tutorial on this, as I think it’s a really useful and pretty closure for a blouse or a tea-dress. It’s slightly fiddly, but no more than putting a zip in a curved seam! Mine would have been even better if I’d pressed the placket to the front and sewed the buttons on the back, so the opening wasn’t visible from the front… By the time I realised this, I’d already made the buttonholes. Hmph.
Still, I have to say, despite the baggy fit and back to front closure, I super-love it! It makes me feel like a starlet holidaying on the Riviera, and frankly, what more could you want from a blouse?
See you next time!