Reviews: resources, books, museums, What I wear

The Wearing History Nanette Blouse

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

I was super excited when Wearing History announced the 1930s Nanette Blouse Pattern, because:

1) it’s adorable, and;

2) I’ve been looking for a ‘girlie’ take on a formal shirt to wear with tails (well, waistcoat and trousers, I usually abandon the tails after 3 minutes), for AGES, and the Nanette Blouse was the perfect design.

I was even more excited when Lauren offered me a review copy.  Yay!  Free vintage pattern goodness!

So I got the pattern for free.  However my opinions on the pattern are totally my own, and not influenced by the free-ness of the pattern.

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

The Fabric:

My sewing goal was for my blouse to be ultra-feminine, but also to clearly reference the idea of a formal shirt. I  absolutely love the white blouse shown on the cover of the pattern.  I wanted to replicate its sheer-sleeve and opaque body effect.

A rummage in my fabric stash unearthed a white silk tissue with a slightly crepe thread, and a subtle stripe effect.  It wasn’t an absolutely ideal fabric, but it was the best option I had in stash.

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

For the opaque body, I used white voile as a flat lining.

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

The Pattern:

The Nanette Blouse is one of Wearing History’s ‘Resto-Vival’ patterns.  This means it starts as an original vintage pattern.  The single-sized original is converted to a multi-size pattern.  Lauren then updates all the pattern markings for accuracy and clarity, and includes the vintage instructions.  Resto-Vival patterns are meant for intermediate-advanced sewers who are familiar with vintage sewing techniques, or are willing to look them up as they go along.

Usually there are no modern instructions with a Resto-Vival Wearing History Pattern.  The Nanette is a bit spiffy, and does have additional modern instructions to help with the tricker details.  It also has supplements of vintage sewing techniques, such as true picot edging.  Finally there are tips on fitting and altering a vintage pattern to a modern body, as the pattern retains the exact fit of the original ’30s pattern it is based on.  There are no belt-making instructions, though the pattern is included, so that’s one technique you’d have to look up.

Based on the sizing guide, I made a straight size 38, with no sizing modifications.  I did end up making adjustments to the sleeves and armscyes as I sewed (see below).

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

The Sewing:

I ran into a few hiccups as I sewed my blouse.  Most of these were caused by the fabric (remember how I mentioned it wasn’t totally ideal?) or me trying to be clever and go off-pattern.

I thought I’d be super smart with the jabot, and just do a faux-picot edge (basically a really tiny zig-zag) on all the raw edges, as the fabric was so fine it didn’t even like doing a rolled hem around curves.

With the edges finished, I tried to fit my jabot to the neckline, and it didn’t match up!  It was 1/4″ too big on each matching edge.  Cue me grumbling, measuring the original pattern pieces, and trying to figure out what went wrong.

Finally it dawned on me: because I’d done a faux picot, I hadn’t lost the 1/4″ you’d loose in a narrow hem, or a true picot-stitch, where you cut off an edge of the fabric.  So I trimmed my jabot pieces down, re-faux-picot hemmed, and it all fit.


The only other thing to give me actual trouble were the sleeves.  The sleeves in 1930s patterns tend to have LOTS of ease.  This pattern, as an exact repro of the vintage fit, was no exception.  The shirring lines make the sleeves even harder to measure and fit accurately.  To get my fit just the way I wanted I ended up going down two sizes in the sleeves, and lowering the armscye of my pattern.

The lowered armscye is one of the fitting modifications suggested in the pattern, as the original 1930s armhole is very high and tight.  I like vintage armholes, but felt that a lowered armhole would look better with my waistcoat.

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

Once I sorted the sleeves, the sewing all went swimmingly.  There was only a little bit of muttering about people who chose stupid tricky fabric for all their projects.

I wonder who would do that…

The Verdict:

I love the pattern, and it does EXACTLY what I was hoping: makes a fantastic under for a vintage waistcoat.  The sleeves have enough personality to carry the outfit without a jacket, and the jabot is a great nod to a ruffled or pleated front.

The pattern is great for adventurous sewers who want a vintage pattern with just a smidge more help for the modern sewist.

You’ll need to do a bit of fit checking on the sleeves, but other than that, highly recommended!

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

I think I need a version in white rayon challis, and another in black silk crepe…

I also think that the bodice could easily be attached to a classic ’30s skirt.  As a dress, in lightweight wool crepe, it would make the most perfect little black dress.  I can see more of these in my wardrobe!

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse

The only problem with the Nanette Blouse is that the jabot blows up and hits my face and gets lipstick marks on it!  And I live in a super windy city!  Oops!


  1. Love, love, love this….
    …You have kind of a Marlena Deitrich, feminine power thing going on…
    and it would looks spectacular on you as a dress in a bright thirties print-that hides lipstick
    Thank you so much for the then versus now fit tips

  2. Nan Jorgensen says

    Glorious! I agree with the Marlene Dietrich comparison, also Carol Lombard – and too delicious! I wish I had one now to go with my vests!

  3. Elise says

    Oh, that outfit is sharp! I was especially interested to read how bodies in the past differ from bodies today. Great job. Great pattern!

  4. Belinda Stafford says

    Love it, want one, must buy pattern immediately!!!!!

  5. Belinda Stafford says

    Love it, want one, must buy pattern immediately!!!!! I might add a little stand collar …..

  6. Deb C says

    I just had to pass this on to you and your readers. My son gave me a 2018 calendar for Christmas. It is called the Daily Dress 2018 – 365 Days of Fashion and Style. It is so interesting with an article of women’s clothing, shoes, accessories or jewelry in each day block along with the date it was in fashion and the designer if it is known. Each month has a color theme also. I adore it.

    I am not going to link to it because I don’t know your policy on links and I am not trying to sell it. But lovers of historical fashions will want this, even if it will arrive late for the year. You can find it at, just search for the title there.

  7. Kathryn says

    This outfit is perfect and it made my entire week to see you in it. Just. Perfect.

    I have a navy pinstripe 3-piece suit, and I think a blouse like this would be a perfect addition.

  8. Johanne says

    My comment confirms all the above statements. The outfit is sharp, playful with the male/female aesthetic, and perfect for you.

  9. Deanna says

    You look wonderful! And the Nanette blouse is so pretty.

  10. When she released this pattern, I pounced on it, so I’m glad to have your review to guide me before I sew it up. It looks so great on you, I’m so excited now!

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