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Wearing History's 1916 skirt - 2

Review: The Wearing History 1910’s Elsie blouse

I’ve shown quite a few photos of my version of the Wearing History 1910s Elsie blouse in my discussion of Anzac Day in NZ, and talked about wearing it to do housework, but I thought you might appreciate a little bit of a review, and some sewing construction information – i.e. normal sewing blogger stuff.

Wearing History's 1916 Elsie blouse - 1

The Pattern:

Like all the Wearing History patterns I’ve worked with, taping the pattern together is quite easy, and everything matches and goes together nicely.

This is a reproduction of a period pattern, and (as stated when you buy the pattern), instructions are minimal (they are the very brief instructions given with the original 1910s patterns, with a ‘translation’ into modern sewing terminology), so it’s up to you to know how to sew a blouse together, either using modern blouse techniques, or period ones, if you want it to be more historically accurate.

If you need help with blouse instructions, combining the instructions for the Wearing History Smooth Sailing blouse pattern and the Wearing History Edwardian blouse should cover everything you need to know to make the blouse.

The pattern does have very big (3/4″) seam allowances at the side seams, which is a common feature on 1930s and earlier sewing patterns, to make fitting and adjustments easier.  However, few extent garments that I have looked at have such large seam allowances, so now that I’ve figured out the fit I’ll cut all future versions with 1/2″ seam allowances from the start, to save on fabric and fiddling.

There are LOTS of notches along the sleeve heads, which helps with matching, but is also a fascinating look at the way standard markings in sewing patterns developed and changed.

Wearing History's 1916 skirt - 4Sewing

All the pattern pieces and notches also matched perfectly as I sewed.

Basically I:

-Gathered the front shoulder seams.  Sewed front to back at shoulders with flat-felled seams.  Worked the sleeve vents.  Sewed ease stitching along the sleeve cap, set the sleeves, and sewed the side and sleeve seams in one go.  I checked the fit, and cut down these seams to 1/2″, and flat felled them.  Then I sewed on a waist casing  for a drawstring (rather than the waistband given in the pattern, as I want the fit to be adjustable).  Then I constructed and attached the cuffs, and collar and front facing.  Then I hemmed, and finally, I did the buttonholes and buttons.

Doing housework in 1910s clothes - 3Sizing

I cut exactly the size recommended for the pattern, and the fit is spot-on.

Wearing History's 1916 Elsie blouse - 2Alterations (and problems)

The pattern has a very wide center front overlap.  You can see it in the Wearing History pattern sample blouse.  While it is original to the blouse pattern, it doesn’t seem to have been a necessary feature of 1910s blouses based on photographs.  And I don’t particularly care for it.  So I shortened each side of the front by 5/8″, to reduce the front overlap.

This, combined with the fact that I 1) have a really slim neck, set really far forward on my shoulders (so collars never fit me right), 2) got excited and over-engineered the collar with silk organza interfacing, and 3) was in a rush to finish the blouse (and kind of over sewing for the week), means that the collar fit is rubbish.  It just sits really poorly, and is never symmetrical.  I’m going to have to work on it a lot more on my next version.

Wearing History's 1916 skirt - 1

The Verdict

Despite my problems with the collar, I DO really like the finished blouse.  It generally does fit really well, and the collar problem isn’t particularly noticeable when worn (and is my fault, not the pattern’s).

The pattern goes together easily, the fit is good, and the overall effect is perfect for 1910s daywear.  It’s a classic style, but there are enough clever details (the pointed cuffs and paired buttons (though you do have to figure out the button spacing for yourself) in particular) to make it a bit interesting and special.

Wearing History's 1916 Elsie blouse - 3

Once I get the collar issues sorted, I should be able to sew these up in under 2 hours.   I can definitely see myself making a lot more of these!

Wearing History's 1916 skirt - 2

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The Sunshine Dorothy Lara 0Degrees frock

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Wellington Sewing Bloggers 0Degrees post (read all about it and see the other links here) , and the challenge has hit some slight hiccups in the form of jobs, children, and viruses (as is inevitable), so we’re still trying to catch up and fill in some of the links, but there is quite an impressive chain formed.

And now, time for my link!

This is my ‘Sunshine’ Decades of Style Dorothy Lara dress:

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Sunshine is definitely something that we need at the moment – the weather prediction for the next 10 days is all 12 & 13 degrees, and I’m huddled in front of the heater in layers of merino looking a lot like this.

So it’s nice to remember that not that long ago it was warm enough to wear little silk frocks and bare legs, and that eventually, a long time from now, that kind of weather will come around again.

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This dress links to both Nina’s Dorothy Lara (along with my feathered Dorothy Lara), and to a Belcarra that Sewist Stitch is making in the same border print crepe de chine.

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The crepe de chine came from The Fabric Store, and as soon as I saw it I thought “Oooooh….”.  But I also thought it was maybe a tiny a bit twee, and I knew that a gazillion other people in Wellington would also be buying it, so there would be a rash of us in border print crepe de chine, so I held off.  And held off.  And two other sewist that I know bought it.  And I held off.

And then I had a 30% off coupon, and the fabric was still there, and  I caved and bought it with a Dorothy Lara in mind.  And realised that Sewist Stitch also had it, so of course I had to make the Dorothy Lara right away, so it could be used for 0Degrees.Sunshine frock thedreamstress.com1(photo courtesy of Silly Billy Sewing)

The border print is little vintage ladies in sunshine yellow (mmmmmm..yellow), vermillion, purple-grey, and mauve, with black and white.

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The yellow, very happily, is an exact match to the yellow crepe de chine I used for my Yellow Mantle of Summer Vionnet frock (why yes, now that you mention it, I am slightly yellow and summer and sunshine obsessed), so I used scraps from that for the waistband and neck binding.

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Perfect match!

Well, at least I think so, but I popped by The Fabric Store after the WSB meet-up and photoshoot, and their youngest and notably un-tactful saleslady said “Oooh, that’s from our fabric.  Very cute!  And the yellow is almost the perfect match”

I gave her my death glare (the one that involves a completely blank face, because whatever the person is saying is too far beneath my contempt for me to even move a facial muscle for it), and said “It is”.

And she, not getting the hint, said “Well, almost.”

Sigh.  We’ll train her up eventually.

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The border print fabric came in panels just over a meter long and only 115cm wide, and I managed to make the dress out of two of them ($28 per panel, even with my voucher), though when I was finished I didn’t have a single scrap more than an inch and a half wide left.

And I only had to piece in one place!

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And it’s not very noticeable on:

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(photo courtesy of Silly Billy Sewing)

The lack of fabric did mean I had to compromise ever so slightly with the layout – in an ideal world the sleeve stripes would meet the bodice stripes, and the skirt would be 1.5″ longer, but I would have needed 4 panels for that layout, and overall, I’m pleased with the result (though I think I like the Feathered Friends version better, which means that every time I make a Dorothy Lara I like it more.  3 may be as many as I need though!)

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I made a few tiny changes to this version.  I increased the curve of the neck facing, and shortened to tighten the bias binding on it, which really helped with the neck gape problem.

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I also shortened the bodice length a bit, so it doesn’t blouse so much on me.

Because I was working with such delicate crepe de chine, and was so short on fabric, I did the neck stay in silk organza rather than crepe de chine + interfacing.

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This worked beautifully, except for the part where the finished edges of the silk organza rub against my skin and irritate it.  I may see if I can trim it very close to the stitching and re-finish it.

I also made the interior waist stay out of silk organza, and that works perfectly.  I rather like that it allows you to see the interior construction of the waistband.

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Sadly, unless I put it over leggings and a merino top (which rather defeats the point), the dress is unlikely to be worn again until spring.

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But at least I got to wear it to the WSB event, and to high tea at the Beehive a few days later.  And maybe it will spend some time on Isabelle this winter, looking happy and reminding me of sunshine.

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Rate the Dress: Red velvet and peacock feathers

Whether you liked last week’s Rate the Dress depended entirely on whether you are OK with ultra-perky, ultra-feminine 18th c shepherdess looks, and whether you found that the non-matchy (in a 21st century sense – a lot of our ideas of coordination and matching are pretty modern) trim clashed with the dress, or gave it the right amount of interest (though, if you look closely, the trim was exactly the same colour as the flowers in the floral pattern of the dress), and whether it reminded you of wallpaper (yes, I’m in that camp, but the trim totally saved it for me).

Though many of you adored the dress, there were enough of you who saw only wallpaper and clash for it to come down to 8.4 out of 10.

This week I’m sticking with a time honoured and accepted colour match combination, and a significantly more regal and restrained silhouette.

This evening dress in red velvet features gold bobbin lace trim around the neck and sleeves, gold detailing on the bodice, a perky bow at the centre front, and peacock feather embroidery on the skirt.

Evening dress in red silk velvet with metal bobbin lace trim, ca. 1902, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, 00000192

Evening dress in red silk velvet with metal bobbin lace trim, ca. 1902, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, 00000192

There is a slight hint of historicism in the sleeves, evoking 1810s-does-Renaissance detailing, but the overall silhouette, with the lack of waist seam, and the beginnings of the S-curve, is pure turn-of-the century.

Evening dress in red silk velvet with metal bobbin lace trim, ca. 1902, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, 00000192

Evening dress in red silk velvet with metal bobbin lace trim, ca. 1902, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, 00000192

So, classic colours, classic silhouette, a bit of velvet, a bit of sparkle.  Do you like it?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10