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Blouse

1910’s Edwardian blouse, made from cotton batiste

I made a Victorian Fan Skirt a while ago and recently made a bolero jacket to match, using the last of the leftover fabric. The next thing to make was a blouse, often called a “shirtwaist” during this period.

Blouses for women had increased in popularity during the second half of the 19th century. This new form of dressing for daytime meant that there was a bit more flexibility in shirt-and-skirt combinations than had previously been the case, especially when the mode of dress in previous times had been only gowns. This change in fashion during the Victorian era, from gowns to two-piece ensembles, really paved the way for a new element of women’s dress that would continue into the 20th century, gradually making women’s clothing more similar to mens.

I particularly wanted a blouse with a high collar, back-closing, with a pin-tucked front and insertion lace, and with sleeves that were not too full. In short, I can’t tell if my new blouse is an early Edwardian blouse or a late Victorian one!

Pattern

I used a variety of sources to “make” my pattern.

Ladies' Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Ladies’ Street Costume, Summer 1893, from “Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns”.

The pattern I used for my bolero jacket (from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, edited by Kristina Harris) included a pattern for a shirtwaist blouse. I used this pattern for the sleeves and the cuffs, as well as the back panel.

A free pattern from Ladies Treasury for a sleeveless blouse was helpful to use for the collar shape.

A free pattern from Vintage Connection for an Edwardian blouse was helpful to use for the enlarged front panel, which I needed to make the tucks.

I graded the different parts of the original patterns up and then made the necessary adjustments according to my measurements.

This blouse was made from white cotton batiste, with cotton embroidered insertion lace, cotton lace edging, and plastic “mother of pearl” buttons.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I did pin-tucks down the centre front of the front panel. There were fours sections of pin-tucking, each with four rows of pin-tucks each. Then the material was slashed in-between the two rows at the left and in-between the two rows at the right. This slash allowed for the insertion lace to be attached.

The front panel, with rows of pin tucks.

The front panel, with rows of pin tucks. The slash on the left of the centre front is for a row of insertion lace.

Step Two: As my insertion lace had a “seam allowance” on each side, I could not sew it the easier way. Instead I had to slash the material and sew the lace on right-sides-together. The unfinished raw edges were folded under on the wrong side and hand-stitched down.

The insertion lace pinned down to sew.

The insertion lace pinned down to sew.

Step Three: The last thing to do on the front panel was to pin-tuck the shoulder seam area. This was tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks were released before the bustline, to allow a bit of extra fullness.

The front panel shoulder seam is tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks are released to form fullness for the bust.

The front panel shoulder seam is tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks are released to form fullness for the bust.

Step Four: Once the centre front was completed, I turned my attention to the back panel. As the back panel housed the button placket, I prepared the centre back by folding over the centre back edges.

The back panel, with button placket preparation.

The back panel, with button placket preparation.

As it turned out, the back panel was not wide enough for my figure and I had to unfold this section and then add a separate button placket later to give me a few more inches!

Step Five: The side seams and shoulder seams of the blouse were then sewn.

Step Six: The top edges of the collar were sewn together. A small lace edging was also included in this seam so it would adorn the top edges of the collar when it was right side out.

The two layers of the collar was sewn right-sides-together. A small lace edging was also sewn in the seam.

The two layers of the collar was sewn right-sides-together. A small lace edging was also sewn in the seam at this step.

The collar was then attached to the garment, sewing the outer layer of the collar to the blouse with the machine, and then hand-sewing the inner layer of the collar, making sure all the raw edges are tucked under. I did gather (or heavily eased) the neck edge of the blouse to get the collar to fit better.

The collar finished, showing the lace edging.

The collar finished, showing the lace edging.

Step Seven: The sleeves were then sewn. As this blouse needs a shirt-sleeve placket, it is wise to make the placket *before* you sew the sleeve seam (which of course is NOT what I did!). Here is a great tutorial on making a shirt-sleeve placket.

Once the sleeve seams were sewn, the head of the sleeve was gathered and set into the armhole of the blouse.

The bottom edge of the sleeve was gathered to fit the cuffs. The cuffs were sewn together, with the same thin lace edging around the outer edge that I used in the collar. Then the cuffs were attached to the bottom of the sleeve. (For more on the basic attaching of cuffs, see this tutorial.)

The cuffs finished, showing the lace edging and the button.

The cuffs finished, showing the lace edging, the button, and shirt-sleeve placket.

Step Eight: The final finishing steps involved hemming the bottom of the shirt and running a bias-binding casing around the waist. A cotton tape was inserted through this so it could be drawn up to fit snuggly underneath the skirt. Finally a row of buttons were sewn as fastenings down the centre back and on the cuffs.

Unfortunately I had not taken adequate measurements of my width, nor my height, nor my arm length! This meant that the centre back had to have an extra placket added (as mentioned above), the bottom of the blouse had a bit added beneath the casing to make it longer, and the sleeves still need to be pulled apart and re-made so they reach down to my wrists! This is one of the lessons I seem to have to learn again and again with each sewing project.

Anyway, here is the finished garment!

The front view

The front view, with three decorative buttons sewn down the centre front.

The back view

The back view, showing the buttons and the casing ties.

Myself and my daughter at our recent outing to see the new Anne of Green Gables movie.

My daughter and I at our recent outing to see the new Anne of Green Gables movie.

My new ensemble was now desperately looking for a place to “go-and-show” and it was lucky that the new Anne of Green Gables movie was coming out in Melbourne at just the right time! My daughter and I got dressed in our finery, stocked ourselves up with some raspberry cordial and plum puffs, did our hair the best we could, and took ourselves off to the theatre.

My daughter wore her Anne of Green Gables outfit, while I wore my gored petticoat, fan skirt, bolero jacket and my new shirtwaist.

Needless to say, the movie was a great success! Whilst it could never compare to my own personal favourite Megan Follows, I am excited that a new series may reinvigorate a new generation to be Anne-ites.

Related Posts

Making a Bolero Jacket

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: 1910’s Blouse at Adored Vintage

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe, edited by Kristina Harris – buy on Amazon

Sleeveless Blouse for Suits, c. 1905 – free pattern from Ladies Treasury

Edwardian Shirt Waist (Blouse) Pattern, c. 1903 – free pattern from Vintage Connection

How to sew insertion lace – by Wearing History

Attaching a collar – by Grainline Studio

The Shirt-Sleeve Placket – by Off The Cuff

How to sew a button cuff – Youtube tutorial by Professor Pincushion

Reflection on the White Shirt and Womankind – by Fashion Archeology

The new Anne of Green Gables movie – trailer on Youtube

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Ladies' Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Ladies’ Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Quite a while ago I made a Victorian Fan Skirt, which I generally wear dancing with just a T-shirt. However, I began to feel that it would be nice to make a matching jacket using the left over material. It could then be used as more of a complete costume, instead of just a dancing skirt.

I did not have very much material left, so I thought a bolero jacket would be the easiest option, as it used the least fabric.

Bolero jackets had been quite popular since the 1850’s and 60’s, and continued to be so through to early Edwardian times. They differ from the warm winter jacket and coats, that clearly were designed for warmth. Instead they seem to be more of a decorative fashion.

Pattern

I used a pattern from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, edited by Kristina Harris. This pattern book is a reproduction of patterns that were published in the popular dressmaker’s journal, The Voice of Fashion. The patterns are all authentic 1890’s patterns and cover a wide range of women’s clothing.

I graded the original pattern up and then made the necessary adjustments according to my measurements.

The pattern drafted and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

The original pattern is drafted onto grid paper and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

This jacket was made from the same materials as my Victorian Fan Skirt, with blue cotton outer and white cotton broadcloth lining.

Construction Steps

The construction of this bolero jacket was very simple, as there was no sleeves, no collar and no fastenings. It was also fairly simple to fit without doing a mock-up.

Step One: I began by sewing the side seams together in the outer fabric. Then I sewed the side seams of the lining together.

Step Two: Then the outer and the lining were placed right sides together and sewn around the outer edges. In the picture below you can see that the only part left unsewn is the shoulder seams.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The curves are clipped and then the jacket is turned the right way and pressed well.

Step Three: The shoulder seams can now be sewn. The outer layer is sewn first with the sewing machine, and then the raw edges of the lining are folded in and handsewn down.

Step Four: Embroidery is one embellishment that I love to do on my clothes, and this jacket was no exception. I drew a design on the edges and embroidered it with one strand of white DMC cotton in chain stitch.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

And here is the finished garment!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Stay tuned for the next post on making a shirtwaist blouse to complete this ensemble!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe, edited by Kristina Harris – buy on Amazon

Pattern for a Bodice with Bolero Front (c. 1896) – at Ladies Treasury

How to make a simple bolero jacket – Youtube tutorial

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The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold's book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can't find the original entry.)

The 1871-3 three-piece gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold’s book. From Manchester Art Gallery.

This is Part Three of a series I have been doing on making an early 1870’s gown. Part One was about making the skirts, and Part Two concerned the construction of the evening bodice. In this post I will be making a day bodice for this ensemble. I am hoping to wear this outfit for the Bi-annual Melbourne Victorian and Gothic picnic in Australia later in the year.

Day bodices of this era often had full length sleeves (with a somehow 3/4 length look) with closely-fitted sleeve heads that dropped off the shoulder and large flared frills or cuffs at the bottom of the sleeve. A high neckline was also often popular.

The drawing in Janet Arnold's

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of Fashion 2”.

Pattern

The pattern for this Victorian ensemble is in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 2. It comprises three skirts (underskirt, overskirt, and basque) and two bodices (evening and day).

The pattern for the day bodice was a lot looser than the evening bodice, which made it a lot easier to fit. As with all of my bodices, I did a mock-up of calico to check the fit before beginning.

This bodice was made from a printed striped cotton material and lined with cotton broadcloth. The ruched trim was made from a polyester maverick shantung. The netting used around the neck was a soft polyester tulle – the most similar to silk netting that I could find.

Constructions Steps

Step One: I flat-lined the bodice with white cotton broadcloth and treated both layers as one. First I sewed the centre back seam, then the side seams and the shoulder seams. Then I made two diagonal darts at each side on the front to fit the bodice properly to the figure. On the left side of the front opening, a bone casing and bone was added to the vertical edge.

The bodice has been sewn together, with an opening at the centre front.

The bodice has been sewn together, with an opening at the centre front. The lining of the sleeves is also attached in this picture.

Step Two: I made the sleeves up (the outer fabric and the lining) separately. The lining was sewn to the bodice first (as can be seen in the picture above) and then the outer sleeve was sewn on the same stitching line as the lining. The sleeves were then turned in the right way, so that the wrong sides of both layers were facing each other.

The sleeve pattern

The sleeve pieces cut out, showing the upper sleeve and lower sleeve.

In hindsight I should have flatlined the sleeves as I did with the bodice. The sleeve outer and the sleeve lining were tricky to get the same because of the pattern. This made the two layers slightly different and they feel a little uncomfortable to wear. In addition to this, it was quite difficult to sew the sleeves on the garment, as the entire bodice had to be inside the sleeve lining in order to attach the outer!

The bodice with sleeves attached.

The bodice with sleeves attached.

Step Three: There were two layers of flounces; one positioned around the elbow and one around the wrist. The wrist flounce was bound on the bottom edge with bias binding and was then eased to fit around the sleeve using gathering stitches. It was sewn to the sleeve so that the bottom edge of the flounce and the bottom edge of the sleeve were the same.

The wrist flounce, bound at the bottom with bias binding, and with a single line of gathering stitches around the top.

The wrist flounce, bound at the bottom with bias binding, and with a single line of gathering stitches around the top.

The elbow flounces each consisted of two layers of flounce joined together. Both layers were bound with bias binding along the bottom edge. The top edge of the bottom flounce was gathered to fit the bottom edge of the top flounce, and then handsewn to it. The top flounce was then gathered to fit the sleeve, and was handsewn to the sleeve along the sleeve’s central seam line.

The elbow flounces were made up of two layers.

The elbow flounces were made up of two layers. Here you can see one flounce made up (top), the top layer of flounce (middle) and the bottom layer of flounce (bottom).

The inside of the double elbow flounce, showing the hand stitching.

The inside of the double elbow flounce, showing the hand stitching, and the top raw edges folded over and gathered.

It was at this point that I realised that I had done the skirt flounces wrong, as the flounce was supposed to be slightly gathered and I had sewn mine flat and just stretched the bottom bias edge so it would sit properly.

Step Four: The bodice was trimmed with the same ruched bias trim I made for the evening bodice and the skirt. To read more detail on how I made it, go to Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts. This trimming was around the neckline and around the top of the two flounces on each sleeve.

The trim attached to one of the skirts.

The trim attached to one of the skirts.

Step Five: In addition to this ruched trim, the neckline was filled in with a lacey trim. I made this by folding a layer of poly tulle in half lengthwise (with a finished width of 2 1/4″) and then pleating it into 3/8″ pleats. Once pleated, the trim was bound with white bias binding along the raw (not the folded) edge, and an insertion lace was sewn 1/2″ from the folded edge. Ribbon was threaded through the insertion lace so it could be pulled closed and tied at the centre front.

The

The “lace” trim

Once the neckline was bound with some bias binding, I sewed the lace trim on, with the bound edge hidden inside the garment and 1 3/4″ of the trim showing on the outside. The ruched trim was then handsewn on top to cover the bound edge of the neckline.

Trim detail

Trim detail

Step Six: The bodice was hemmed with a white piece of bias binding, all of which was folded to the inside and handsewn down. The front closures were 5 hooks and eyes, with 4 covered buttons sewn on the outside of the garment, over the top of the top 4 hooks. There were three waistband “eyes” or “bars” sewn on to the back of the bodice for the basque to attach to.

The front view

The front view; the skirt is terribly creased but no time to iron!

The side view

The side view

The back view

The back view; unfortunately in these hurried pics I had forgotten to pull the back of the bodice down properly, which caused a ridge at the top of my corset line.

I am really pleased with how this has turned out, and it is all ready to wear to a Victorian picnic I am attending in October. Now I just have to decide if I should making a hat for this ensemble! The list of things to make is neverending.

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts (including how to make the trim)

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Evening Bodice

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Janet Arnold’s dress – from Manchester Art Gallery

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Another reproduction of an 1871 day dress, made by Before the Automobile

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The Victorian era has always been one of my favourite periods (coming a close second behind the 18th century), particularly for fashion. It is a very diverse period for fashion, and the more I have studied it, the more I have been intrigued by the great variety of fashions that existed for women throughout Queen Victoria’s reign.

A mid-late 19th century chemise.

A mid-late 19th century chemise. From: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I have particularly wanted a Victorian wardrobe for a while, and the corset and chemise were my first items to embark on.

The Victorian chemises are a different creature to those that came before it. They seem to be lacey, frilly, pin-tucked, embroidered and – generally speaking – a whole lot more feminine! The only era to outdo the Victorians in this way were the  next-generation Edwardians.

I found this lovely chemise, complete with pin-tucks, a delicate vine embroidery, and dainty lace, and it took my fancy!

Pattern

I began with a free pattern by Serinde, and then made a few alterations to make it a bit more like the picture above.

The pieces of my Victorian chemise.

The pieces of my Victorian chemise: body, sleeves, yoke bands.

The extant chemise pictured above does have its own triangular-shaped shoulder straps that are cut separately to the sleeves and body of the garment, but I didn’t do that.

Construction Steps

Step One: Sew the sleeves onto the body of the garment, following Serinde’s instructions. I then flat felled the seams.

The two sleeves attached to the body.

The two sleeves attached to the body. The seams are not flat-felled yet.

Step Two: Sew the side seams, from the under arm down to the bottom of the garment. I flat felled the seams here too.

The side seams are sewn. Sleeve seams are pinned down for felling.

The side seams are sewn. Sleeve seams are pinned down for felling.

Step Three: Marking the centre front, create a series of pin tucks across the front, making sure that both sides look even. Press them to either side.

IMG_4827

The 1/8″ pin-tucks, placed 1/4″ apart.

This is the point that my chemise-making went awry. I did not take into account the pintucks and allow enough material across the width of the chest, so my resulting chemise was very tight.

Step Four: I embroidered the bands that I was using on the sleeves, neckline and centre front button placket with a scrolling leaf pattern. I used two strands of white embroidery cotton, and used a very short backstitch for the stem and a fishbone stitch for the leaves.

The scrolling embroidery, with the lace attached at Step Nine.

The scrolling embroidery, with the lace attached at Step Seven.

It is helpful if this is done before attaching it to the garment, as then the self-facing can cover the back of the embroidery. Make sure you mark the seam allowance and the fold line of the strip so that your embroidery is centred on the part that will be seen on the outside.

Step Five: Make the centre front placket. Firstly, slit the centre front down the middle, ending with an inverted V-shape at the bottom. (A helpful tutorial with plenty of pictures is here on sewing a partial placket, by Make It and Love It.)

Taking two small strips of the yoke bands, sew one on each side of the slit (right sides together). (Note: It could be a good idea to think about the lace placement on the sides of the top placket here, rather than at Step Seven, as I did! I appliqued mine on top rather than putting it in the seam.) Fold the excess over to create a self facing and, tucking the raw edges under, hand sew.

At the bottom of the placket (where the two sides of the placket meet), I created a V-shape on the outer strip of the placket and hand stitched the top layer to the bottom layer.

The V-shape at the bottom of the placket, before it is handsewn down.

The placket has been attached and the facing has been folded to the inside ready to handsew. The V-shaped placket can be seen at the bottom of the picture, before it is handsewn down. You can also see the mitred seams of the placket at the top of the picture (read below). I handsewed these mitred seams and tucked the excess under, as it was a bit easier to be precise.

Step Six: For the rest of the neckline, sew longer yoke band strips around it. Making mitred corners at the centre front where they meet the placket (as pictured above). For the centre back, gather the back panel to fit. I also adjusted the back of the yoke band with some angled tucks so that it would fit better over the shoulders. I moved some of the centre back fullness to the sides with two pleats on either side, as it was too small for me and this helped the fit.

The back neckband

The back neckband, embroidered and attached.

As before, fold the excess over to form a facing and turn the raw edges under to hand sew. Much fitting was done at the this stage to see if the neckline would fit properly under my dress.

Step Seven: Sew on sleeve bands in the same way that the neck band was sewn.

Step Seven: Trim the neckline, placket and sleeve bands with lace. Hem the bottom edge of the chemise.

Step Eight: For the centre front closure, I have seen chemises as late as 1850 with a dorset button. I decided I should utilise some skills I had developed at a previous Jane Austen Festival and so added a dorset button.

The dorset button, 5/8" wide. The ones I have seen on extant items are teensy, but this was the smallest ring I could find.

The dorset button, 5/8″ wide. The ones I have seen on extant items are teensy (about 1/4″ wide), but this was the smallest ring I could find.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Usually the plain chemises of the 18th century and Regency do not take me very long to sew, but the profusion of Victorian pin tucks, embroidery and lace meant that this project was much more time consuming than I had imagined. Victorian chemises also seem to be more fitted, particularly across the shoulders, than in previous eras, which then consumed more time in fitting and unpicking and re-fitting!

In addition, it does not fit very well! I had to add a few “extensions” under the arms so that it would fit across my chest better. It is kind of disappointing when I spent so much time on the embroidery, but I may re-make the body of it at another stage.

Look out for the next post in my Victorian wardrobe – making an 1880’s petticoat.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian corset

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

Making an 18th Century Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

An overview of Victorian underwear

Free chemise pattern – by Serinde

Extant chemise – Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Flat-felling seams – by Coletterie

Sewing Pin Tucks – by Burdastyle

Sewing a Partial Button Placket – by Make It & Love It

Fishbone stitch – by Rocksea & Sarah

Making Dorset Buttons – by Craftstylish

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