Reviews: resources, books, museums, Sewing

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


  1. I think that is what part of the teens fashion I love the most, the blouses! The simplest blouse designs to the most intricate of them, they were all so terribly beautiful. You’ve done well here, the blouse is too lovely and I can never wait for more from you very well at all!

  2. Elise says

    Beautimous! And something that I could wear tomorrow–anyone could wear tomorrow.

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