A sundress, to me, is a sort of ‘default’ summer garment. Sure, it can be changed up and made in a million different ways and (don’t get me wrong) I do love a sundress. However, when Allie J. had her June ‘Social Sew’ with the theme of “sun dressing”, there was something in my mind that told me, “You have plenty of sundresses…that’s an easy thing for you to fall on…pick something you don’t have, something new and different that still means summer to you.” O.k., I’m always up for a challenge.
So, I have make a bright white year 1934 blouse and re-fashioned a modern sun hat into a vintage one. With my wide cuffed driving gloves, a two tone belt, and my already made mid-30’s basic black skirt (posted here) I have a new basic toned summer outfit.
My blouse was so easy that I want to whip up about a baker’s dozen and is so comfy that I want to wear one on a regular basis (also why I want multiples)! There’s only one yard needed, anyway. On its own, I think the blouse is not obviously vintage, which is interesting as it is from a very old date in an era known for “stand-out” designs. Most importantly, this blouse is the ultimate summer blouse for me – just enough to keep me effortlessly classy and covered up in old style while staying cool as a cucumber! Nailed it! With an awesome one-of-a-kind hat to keep the sun out of my eyes I am ready for the heat.
FABRIC: The blouse is a 100% cotton with all over embroidery in a “hibiscus flower” pattern, the hat is modern in a 100% straw content
PATTERN: Du Barry #1114B, year 1934, for the blouse and my own design for the hat
NOTIONS NEEDED: Nothing but the basics are needed here – thread, bias tape, and buttons, all of which were on hand. The hat refashion needed something special besides water and clothespins…I’ll explain down later.
TIME TO COMPLETE: only 3 or 4 hours from start to finish, which was on June 24, 2016.
TOTAL COST: The embroidered cotton was bought as a one yard discounted remnant at JoAnn’s store, so it only cost me $8.50. The hat was given to me as a present from my mother-in-law.
Not only is the pattern I used for my blouse a Du Barry line (harder to find, made between 1931 made 1947) but it also has the “NRA” symbol, something limited to years 1933 and 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal Depression Era initiative. Also, each garment in this three piece ensemble of skirt, blouse, and jacket has basically only three pieces for a ridiculously and deceptively easy outfit. This is very utilitarian but lovely in its details. I mean, just look at that jacket, too, with its two tone scarf closure!
The main drawback is that the only way this pattern was affordable was because the instruction sheet was missing. So far, I made it by without the instructions and I think the blouse is the hardest item from this pattern’s trio, but I would still love to know exactly how I was supposed sew it ‘cause it was slightly tricky. Yet there was nothing some ingenuity couldn’t make work. At the front neckline edge, where the blouse bodice joins to the all-in-one shoulder/sleeve yoke there seems to be some sort of tuck or dart called for, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out no matter how I tried. What small tuck I did make all but disappeared, leaving a small bubble behind when I finished the neckline. My hubby figured out that perhaps the bow (which I left off, as you can see) hooks and hangs from this bubble tuck, so perhaps it is meant to be there. Between the embroidery and some steam from my iron the bubble has disappeared already, but I would love to see the instructions showing how this was supposed to work.
Look at the odd pattern pieces! The shoulder front/back yoke is the most unusual one – it is cut on the fold and darted so it is all-in-one, including the sleeves. This is actually the first blouse pattern where there are separate pattern pieces for both the right front and the left front. Those two pattern pieces are identical, the button holes and the buttons are just marked differently, so I’m kind of counting them as one piece despite them being cut separates. I left out interfacing because I wanted an easy, quick blouse without being stiff or prissy.
The hem has a shirt tail bottom, which I haven’t seen much of in vintage women’s’ blouses. The ends are rounded off which I think is so cute! I had tried to hem the ends under but with the embroidery in the cotton it turned out much too thick especially for a blouse that is meant to be tucked in. So I merely finished off the raw edge with some double fold white bias tape giving a clean-looking hem, with a hint of a contrast, and a flat edge.
As this blouse was just so quick and easy with its insides left raw (the embroidery keeps the cotton from fraying), I compensated by making bound “windowpane” buttonholes. There are only three of them down to the waist so it wasn’t overmuch. Making any more than five bound buttonholes starts to become more of a chore for me…but the promise of the finished project always gets me through any tough spots.
I love how the embroidery keeps the blouse from looking as sheer as it really is but I think the neckline somehow turned out a bit low. I also don’t understand why the sleeves don’t look quite as wide as on the cover drawing, but oh well, they still are great. Happily, this blouse goes with so much in my wardrobe, and works with my 40’s bottoms, as well as looking remotely modern.
Speaking of modern, the hat from my mother-in-law was originally such a bland, un-interesting piece, so very forgettable, it’s no wonder she didn’t want it. I had to make it special, but also something I needed to go with my wardrobe, something I was lacking…a 30’s style summer hat! My inspiration for this re-fashion came from browsing through pictures, old catalog re-prints, patterns, and online vendors. The early 1930’s hats all had small brims and small crowns (many with ridges) worn over closely cropped or tightly curled hair. Time to soak and re-block.
A large tub of plain water was the starting point. The lace was taken off and the plain hat was soaked for about three hours to soften it. However, there is a clear glaze covering the straw which made things challenging. The glaze still kind of flakes off like falling snow when I wear it. Nevertheless, I was able to pinch out two giant ridges running the length of the crown, held in place while the hat was drying with clothes pins and wave clips meant for vintage hair-do’s (available online or at salons). The brim was un-rolled and pulled down at the center front and center back as well.
Some unique lattice-cut ribbon from my stash was folded in half for the band and a simple double bow was made from the full width. The ribbon is kept in place with a straight pin because I want the option of easily changing my mind 😉
It’s fun to stray from the norm, especially since I can make whatever comes into my head! I found a new way to rock the summer. I hope I’ve inspired you to look into re-fashioning those ‘blah’ hats to your liking. Have you used your creative juices to make something especially different that means summer to you? Or have you, like me, found a new amazingly simple blouse that is perfect for you from an unsuspecting pattern?