With a “Little-Engine-That-Could” mentality, I began this third Vintage Pattern Lending Library Blouse pattern. Folding the eight quarter-scale pleats at blouse center front, I began to feel like Gulliver in Lilliput. Though my hands are too small to easily span a piano octave, the pleat manipulation rendered me too big and clumsy. Sewing the upper and under-sides of the collar halves, I finally admitted it: Quarter-Scale is too small for a practice toile of this type. A practice toile should be a helpful tool, not a tedious impracticality. Still, I didn’t want to abandon ship… so, I kept chugging along.
Granito Update: After writing this post, I found a helpful YouTube video – Embroidery: How to Satin Stitch – by shinyhappywendi, which shows how to outline a shape in split-stitch then fill in with satin stitch. Click this link to view the video tutorial.
As a test-sewing trial for this VPLL 1912 Project – I wanted to try to follow the original La Mode Illustree directions, without consulting the internet for sewing advice. Deciphering the pleats was not too complicated. The blouse illustration was very nice and depicted stitching along the pleats.
Prior to the pleat-folding obstacle was the problem of pleat-marking. Chalk-paper wasn’t reliable – because the slightest discrepancy is magnified in quarter-scale. With little room for error, I decided to reduce the eight front-pleats to four – and to reduce the four back-pleats to one on either side of the button-placket. I also widened the pleats, making them easier to handle. In the large photo above you’ll see the blouse front folded in half – with black thread-lines indicating the pleat markings. My idea was to then remove the stitching, which left perforations, then fold the pleats, pin them, iron them, then stitch in the crease… and Voila! – it worked!
I liked the look of the basque/peplum, but felt it would have been helpful to have markings indicating its placement at blouse front. There were two circles marking the area to be gathered along the blouse bottom, but it seemed the gathering interfered with the pleating. I decided to try Blouse E1000 later – after I find an attractive method for achieving the “padded granitos”, and after I think of a nicer way to attach the collar. Then, I will add the pretty (facade) row of buttons at the front. Or, instead of having a hard-to-reach back button-placket – perhaps add a center back-pleat and make the front row of buttons functional.
It was vicariously enjoyable to see my cat attack the directions with her claws and teeth at my peak of frustration. I felt like giving the instructions a few bites too. But most of the frustration stemmed from sewing the pattern quarter-scale. I’m still glad I tested the pattern first and would definitely construct a full-size test toile before sewing the blouse for myself. The test toile provides a way to remedy pattern glitches.
Finally, I decided the quarter-scale, unfinished blouse (with basque removed) is a nice cover-up for Bebe Bouton.
Now, one final thing to mention: If you look at the large photo at the beginning of the post again – you’ll see notations at the side-underarm of the blouse-front piece. The notation reads: “Match Underarm Seam of Sleeve To This Line”. I will be sure to mark that point when I sew the blouse full-size, since it is an unexpected way of assembling sleeve-to-blouse. Generally the underarm seam is in line with the side-seam.
Bebe Bouton has spent her life dressed in a flashy harlequin oufit. After removing it, I discovered her Missoni-looking arms and legs, glove-hands, and Prada Mary Jane boot-feet. More than a blouse – Bebe Bouton needs a body.
Vintage Pattern Lending Library Checklist:
1. Pattern Name: Ladies Blouse E1000.
2. My Skill Level: Experienced/Intermediate
3. Pattern Rating: Pattern layout and instructions were good, but vague in describing attachment of collar and completion of back-closure. I would have loved instructions for “padded granito” embroidery.
4. What Skill Level would someone need to sew this pattern? The blouse construction was more complicated than I had imagined. Collar, back button-placket, and waistline belt construction rely on guesswork.
5. Were Instructions Easy to Follow? Except for the pattern/fabric layout, there are no diagrams (as in modern patterns). The written instructions are good, but don’t quite cover all the questions one encounters when sewing this blouse. My questions were: How should I attach the collar if I want it to look like the illustration? How much space should I leave at blouse front – between the basque/peplum halves? How do I achieve a nice round embroidered “granito” (as opposed to an oval…)?
6. Fit/Sizing: The pattern is sized to fit a 36-inch bust. I practiced sewing the pattern at quarter-scale, so I cannot judge the fit, but the Alterations recommendation is very good: “Before placing pattern on material, pin pattern together. Fit or hold it up to the wearer, to find out how much alteration (if any) is needed.”
7. Necessary Alterations: I was impressed by the alteration suggestions from Leila at Three Dresses Project (whose post appears in the E100 blouse category).
Pattern Review Checklist:
1. Pattern Description: Ladies Blouse E1000 - pleated front, sleeves, and back with scallop cutwork at collar, cuffs, and peplum/basque. Transfers for embroidery are included.
2. Pattern Sizing: Pattern is sized for a (corseted) woman of 1912 – with a 36-inch bust.
3. Did finished product look like the pattern illustration? I only practiced pattern assembly with a quarter-scale toile. It was difficult to assemble the small double-thickness collar and cuffs at quarter-scale size. It was also almost impossible to execute the total eight pleats at blouse front in quarter-scale, so I had to decrease the total number of pleats.
4. Were the Instructions easy to follow? I would recommend the Blouse E1000 pattern only to someone who is comfortable setting-in sleeves and making pattern alterations. Much of the construction is left to guesswork and do-it-yourself-research: The scallop-embroidery technique is described, but not illustrated – although transfers are included. The granito-embroidery is not described, but transfers are included. Pleating lines are printed on the pattern, but instructions for pleating are not included. Collar-to-blouse assembly, back button-placket, and waistband finishing are not fully described.
5. Pattern Feature Likes/Dislikes: I loved the description of the padded granito embroidery (and the look of the blouse illustration), but was disappointed to find no instruction for the embroidery technique. I love the look of the pleats, basque and waistband, and the 3/4-length sleeves. I dislike the vague description of collar construction.
6. Fabric Used: Discard sheet fabric. When I make this blouse for myself, I will use a muslin-weight fabric – or line a sheer fabric. I think it’s best to use a light solid-color to showcase the pleats.
7. Pattern Design Changes: I would probably leave out the scallop-work, since I don’t own an embroidery machine and would not invest the time-intensive handwork – but I am going to keep looking for a way to achieve nice round little embroidered circled – because I would take the time to embellish a blouse with those.
8. Would I recommend this Pattern? See 4 above. The design is very attractive, but the pattern instructions need further explanation.
Conclusion: In researching clothing of this time period, I realize this design was rather ahead of it’s time. The collar lies flat, instead of rising around the neck – which enables the wearer to enjoy freedom from collar-stays or boning. Also, wearing blouses (or waists) was a fairly new concept – as women had previously worn dresses, rather than shirt and skirt combinations. (See my previous post about Wearing Edwardian Clothing – which includes commentary from people of that era.) I like this pattern and hope to see VPLL enhance its directions.