20th Century, Sewing, What I wear

The ‘Deco Echo’ blouse

I’m madly sewing something new and exciting, and working on the tutorial for this blouse, so instead of spending a lot of time on writing a post for today, I’m concentrating on those, and instead you are getting (a slightly better and updated) version of my post for the Sew Weekly  on my ‘Deco Echo’ blouse (I want to have a version on my blog…just in case):

The Deco Echo blouse


Planning my wardrobe for Art Deco Weekend in Napier,  top of my list of things I really wanted to make was a pair or beach pajama pants made from fantastic Art Deco inspired fabric. Problem. The fabric is maroon and dark teal on white. And maroon and dark teal are not colours I usually buy — it’s just so hard to find fabrics in them that don’t look cheap (why is that that some colours always look cheap in most fabrics?). I don’t own any maroon and dark teal fabrics! What on earth was I going to do for a top? I completely turned over my stash, to no avail. Nothing.

And then…a miracle! I remembered a very damaged (torn and missing a sleeve and most of the lining) 1930s kimono that I had picked up for $5 at the Asia Gallery because the lower lining (the susomawashi) was such a glorious shade of dark teal. The silk lining matched perfectly, but I only had a tiny amount of it — a long thin rectangle piece, and three rectangles each approximately 13″ x 15″ inches. I pulled apart the kimono, washed it, pinned the pieces to Isabella the dressform, and figured I could make a blouse from them.

Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of the kimono I pulled apart, but here is a similar one:

A kimono similar to the one I pulled apart, with an aqua susomawashi

I had one of the long panels you can see at the front, and then the three rectangles that go around the hem.

The blouse was super quick. After all, it’s just a series of rectangles. Two of the hem rectangles for front and back, the long narrow one divided in half for each side, and the third rectangle cut into thirds and sewn together end to end to form the piece that goes around the waist and ties in front.

I finished all the edges (including the interior ones) with rolled hems, made a turned back collar in front, and the same in back, with a slit in the CB to form a back V-neck with a split collar — very 1930s.

I wore the blouse all Saturday with my beach pajama trousers. It was lovely and cool and comfortable, and great for running around on the beach and taking photos and generally having a good time.

I’m not sure that everyone ‘got’ that it was a reasonably accurate 1930s outfit, but at least this Air Force Officer looks pleased to be posing with me and another beach belle:

I love that this remake looks just like a 1930s garment, but also manages to honour its origins by using the exact shapes of the kimono it started as. The symmetry of a 1930s kimono having its own life, going into a rag pile, being pulled apart in 2012, and becoming a 1930s style blouse makes my heart happy.

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric:  Scraps of silk crepe from the bottom lining of a very damaged vintage 1930s kimono

Pattern:  Self draped (though it’s just rectangles, so it hardly seems fair to call it that).

Year:  2012 does 1932 via Japan with 1930s materials.

Notions:  None!

Hours:  2 hours (not counting ripping apart and washing the kimono)

Techniques used:  Draping, narrow hemming.

Will you make this again?  Maybe.  I love it, but there are so many other delicious blouse ideas brewing in my mind.

Any changes?  For future editions I’ll reinforce the front more and angle the buttons and pleats for a more flattering line.

Total cost:    $5 (though I still have all the outer kimono silk to play with, so really, $1.50 or so)

And the inside?:  All the raw edges are narrow hemmed, and I used the natural finished edges of the kimono fabric, so its reasonably snazzy.

The blouse was so easy to make that I’d make it a dozen times more if I thought the weather would support that kind of wardrobe. Alas, as that isn’t the case I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to make it tomorrow, so that at least other people can try it!


  1. Very 1930s? How about very 1930s and STILL totally awesome for today? Gorgeous!

    • Elise says

      Agreed–I’d wear it out tomorrow, if I could!

    • …Awww … thank you! Thats the best for me – when I can make something perfectly historical, that also works perfectly today.

      • Thank you! I’m not sure if he is please because of us, or because he one-upped the navy boys we also posed with – they only got one girl each, but he got both of us!

  2. The asian themed parasol was a nice toast to the kimono’s past life!

    • Thank you – that was quite unintentional though. I forgot to take all my parasols with me to Napier, and a friend lent me this one.

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