My ‘3 hours to Elegance’ 1950 Blouse – and a 100th Post Giveaway

Can something so incredibly easy to sew it takes 3 hours or less be also amazingly elegant to wear?  Before I made Vogue #7180, a 1950 ‘easy-to-make’ pattern, I might have said, “Sure.”  Now I can definitively say, jumping up and down “Oh, yes, yes!”  I found a “magic ticket” with this top.

Clean simple lines and posh fabric made all the difference with this beautiful 50’s era wrap.


FABRIC:  A thick, double sided, 100% polyester fabric bought from Hancock Fabrics store. 

NOTIONS:  I had on hand all the notions needed – just bias tape and thread.

PATTERN:  Vogue #7180, year 1950

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Three hours or less!  It was started and finished on September 22, 2014.

THE INSIDES:  All seams are either hidden by facing or bias bound.

TOTAL COST:  About $14 was spent to buy 2 yards of my fabric on clearance but the pattern actually only used a yard and a half.  Thus in total, I spent just over $10.  How many people would believe this total to look at the finished product?!

The Vogue pattern used for my blouse has a copyright under the Conde Nast Company, and is an unprinted, “easy-to-make” pattern.  That might sound like an oxymoron because unprinted pattern tissue unfairly has the stamp of being difficult while it has only a few major pattern pieces to make it really easy.  This pattern would be an excellent one to use for someone who is trying to understand/use unprinted tissue or for someone just learning to sew.  There are no zippers or closures called for (just a few darts), and it is a quality design with good shaping and fit for a pretty much fail-proof project.  The design makes for a versatile pattern, too, as you can pretty much use any kind of fabric and embellishments or personalization to change the top up and make it your own.  I’m imagining versions with a tie at the side, maybe a zipper for a modern “moto” look, even using two different solid colors for a color blocked top, or eliminating the facings and making the whole thing reversible with lapped seams!

My fabric is a deceptive combo.  The manner in which the fabric is together makes it more like a woven textile together with the way it is a double-sided reversible print makes it technically a damask according to the wikipedia definition. However, the print or design of the fabric indicates it is a brocade.  I’ve heard the word “brocade” means “embossed cloth” and (I believe) my choice of fabric is a “cloud brocade” to be exact.  Cloud brocades were used mostly for imperial clothing and were from the Yuan to Ming Dynasties (1271-1644), during which gold was often wefted into the designs (info from here).  From further research, it seems that the cloud brocade is part of a greater division of three celebrated “Song” brocades.  Song brocades commonly have an overall geometric pattern, but include natural items such as peony flowers and clouds, like my 1950 top’s fabric.  Clouds are a symbol of good fortune, so maybe I had hidden help with my wrap blouse project 🙂

Brocade, damask, and jacquard really does get its best fashion treatment from vintage.  Asian/Indian influence was especially popular and glamorous, in my opinion, during the 1950’s, but it also was used in evening dresses in the 1960’s (see this page for examples).   Doing an internet search showed a vintage brocade jacket for sale on Etsy, with a wrap front similar to my own blouse, and a brocade/damask that is the same as mine, just in a different color scheme.  I don’t mean to be advertising, I merely thought it was interesting to share info and fashion similarities I’ve found.

At the outset of making this blouse, I intended to make it with the pink side out and gold side in.  However, I was so intent on the construction, the blouse ended up being made oppositely, with the pink side in and gold side out.  You know what?  I’m happier with the way it turned out in primarily gold…I’m working my way up to enjoying the color pink.

It was really basic enough in construction that I didn’t need the instructions.  There are two small, maybe 5 or 6 inch long princess seams in the back bodice to shape the waist, and long French-style bust darts in the front bodice panels.  The sleeves are kimono style, cut in one with the bodice.  There is a wide front facing piece which connects to a skinny back facing, to finish off the entire outer edge and make the front lapel opening have the ability to look like a contrast (I used the other side of the damask).  I added ribbon and snap lingerie loops to keep it in place on my shoulders.  The optional snap closure to the blouse was left out because I plan on using my collection of pins and brooches to close the blouse and get an adjustable fit this way. 100_3926-comp

There is also a fabric weight hanging from the back neckline facing to keep the front from drooping down and the back from creeping up.  I had that problem the first time I wore the top and it’s no fun to wear something you have to adjust constantly.  To make the weight, I made a simple rectangular pocket and slipped in a small money coin.  Nickels and quarters are completely washable and readily available!

The basic construction hides the small, subtle, but beautiful tailoring and shaping that is part of this blouse.  These fine details and great fit set the 1950’s “easy-to-make” patterns a whole grade above the easy “Jiffy” patterns which came in the 1960’s and need plenty of tailoring to fix their normally unpredictable fit (I should know, I’ve done my fair share of them).  The side seams have an amazing undulating line for optimum shaping…I rarely see this outside of the 1950’s patterns and it is the best thing ever for shapely women with real hips – like me!  The shoulders, too, were interesting to see.  The shoulder seams look like a wide ‘U’, and, together with the fact that the bias of the fabric is across them, provide wonderful shaping and a very comfortable feel.  My favorite part about the top is how the bottom flares out gently to complete the classic 1950’s silhouette.

With my top are a retro faux-suede pencil skirt, bought years back at a re-sale store, and a pink lace tank top underneath to cover my décolletage, as the pattern instructions recommended.  I do have a picture with the wrap front neckline of my blouse closed, but leaving it open makes it seem more elegant to me.   As our pictures were taken on a still warm, but slightly chilly, early fall day – hence the suede skirt – and later in the day before the early evening – hence the brown stockings, not nude toned hose “proper” for day wear.

Our photo shoot location is at the lush Chinese Garden, (modeled on the “scholar’s gardens” of the southern provinces of China, near Nanjing) at our town’s Botanical Gardens.  Nanjing is our town’s sister city.  This garden’s plants, rocks, and architecture design originated from Nanjing.  It is a “scholar’s garden” since it was built with the theme of flowing, powerful, creative contemplation.  Since my top is a cloud brocade “used for imperial clothing”, I posed with the only animals to this garden, two guard lion statues at the entrance walkway, but couldn’t help acting up at bit, he he!

In honor of this post being my number 100 on my blog, I would like to share with you my readers a free giveaway of something I found within the pattern I used for my 1950 wrap blouse.  I remember when receiving Vogue #7180 from a friend of mine, I thought it was a bit thick for a simple pattern, and – lo and behold – I now have my first seasonal advertising leaflet.  It has a date of August 1, 1951, and it has eight pages.  We scanned it into a PDF format and you should be able to get it by clicking on the photo below.  This is my first time offering something like this on my blog, so if you have any problems viewing or downloading it, contact me and can email it to you.  If you like the leaflet, a comment letting me know would be very much appreciated!  Enjoy.

VogueLeafletAug1951-cover photo

Click on me for the full downloadable PDF booklet!

1 thought on “My ‘3 hours to Elegance’ 1950 Blouse – and a 100th Post Giveaway

  1. Pingback: Origami Neck Blouse | Seam Racer

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