I don’t know about you, but we have plenty of candy leftover still from Christmas (and even a little from Halloween). Among the candy, we had so many candy canes we actually were able to decorate the tree with them! Now that the tree and Christmas are past and out of sight, we have to work on finishing those candy canes still around. Well, how about instead taking care of some scraps of red and white candy striped fabric? As one who’s not that crazy for sweets (I know, call me odd…), this ‘sewing option’ to finishing off some ‘candy’ is my kind of thing!
Hubby thinks of the hospital volunteer “Candy Stripers” when he sees this blouse. I know the two share similar fun red and white stripe usage, but they technically wore pinafore-style jumpers and my garment is just a blouse. Still, both a pinafore and my 1940 blouse are peasant themed, and a rather “cute” (yuck – hate that term) style which tends to make one seem younger than one’s actual age (I don’t need help there). Both are from the same decade – my pattern dates to 1940 and Candy Stripers originated in 1944.
However, my blouse has something extra to it that makes it uniquely special in its own way, apart from any history or style or whatever. It is made from fabric given to me by my Grandmother. This post is in memory of her, as she is now deceased as of this past weekend. The fact that the fabric for my blouse was from her gave me some stress and self-inflicted pressure, at first. I wanted to make the very best I could with what she gave me, but I realized when planning to make this blouse that she would want me to only enjoy and be creative with what she gave me, and nothing less. I felt the fabric and the pattern were made for on another, so it must be the best re-use of her scraps – I am quite pleased with my blouse, and thankful for her always encouraging appreciation of my talents. She was seamstress herself, as was her mother, too, so she had some awesome and useful sewing related items she was sweet enough to want to see what I would do with. Grandma, this blouse is for you!
The date of this design (as I mentioned above) is 1940 – thinking back, my Grandmother was 10 years old that year. To make this blouse all the more poignantly related to Grandma, the family (myself included) suddenly realized, while looking at pictures of her long life over the weekend, how very similar her face and mine are to one another. Goodness, we seemed to have more in common than I knew. She was such a lovely woman, always with a kind word, a smile on her face, a thoughtful act, and a love of nature and of family, just to name a few qualities. I just hope I can be more like her, not just in face, but in person, too.
FABRIC: a 100% cotton flannel scraps, from the stash given to me from my Grandmother; linings and facing are cotton broadcloth scraps from on hand in my stash
PATTERN: Hollywood #1991, year 1940
NOTIONS: The only notion I bought was the trio of front buttons; otherwise, everything else was from on hand – the thread, bias tape, and hook-and-eyes
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was relatively quick – 6 to 8 hours were spent to make this blouse and it was completed on February 4, 2016.
TOTAL COST: Just the buttons were bought (modern & basic red half-ball type) , so only a few dollars in total
This was a fun, intriguing, yet challenging project all-in-one. I had plenty of inspiration that I had found for late 30’s and early 40’s striped blouses (many of which can be found on this Pinterest board of mine) so it was just a matter of choosing a combo of directions for each section of my own blouse. This part was quite the memory game, trying to remember which pattern piece was for which section of the blouse and trying to lay it out in the intended stripe placement, all the while remembering to match lines! At first, it seemed I was quite limited as to what I could do because the fabric was a scrap piece, all cut up already in odd places. But, some mind crunching and much switching around of pattern pieces (again, like a puzzle game) and I was able to get what I intended, with only the blouse bottom waistband being necessarily cobbled together from four individual parts to make a whole. In all, this was another “close call” sort of project where you cut the pattern squeezed onto the fabric so much so that you barely have a few inch scraps leftover – so difficult but these kind make the most of every inch of fabric.
As was the case for other Hollywood patterns, this blouse again ran large. I know it seems it is supposed to be quite poufy and generous by design anyway, but I accounted for it by slightly downgrading with bigger, more modern, seam allowances. My only complaint to this top is that the button front neckline does not give me enough room for my head. I am able to put the blouse on as you can see, but getting it on is like some sort of skin pulling, “second birth” experience (sorry ‘bout the mental picture) that leaves the tasks of fixing one’s hair and applying make-up to be something that comes after being dressed.
The awesomely full and puffy 30’s style sleeves are my favorite part to this blouse, besides being proud of the matching I achieved in the arm pleats on the side (see right picture). Also, this is the first Peter Pan collar that I really actually like on myself for some reason. The controlled, even fullness of the bottom band is easy to wear – nothing to come un-tucked! The flannel keeps me just warm enough on chilly days but the short sleeves prevent me from being overheated when being inside. In all, this blouse is a great wear, so comfy with full movement, bold statement striping, and a vintage look that is a good kind of unusual.
In order to avoid a side zipper being too stiff for the side closure, I buried my intolerance for hand stitching and sewed in snaps. The snaps keep the bottom blouse poufing out like it should above the bottom band. A strong waistband hook-and-eye holds the waist together. Sometimes I tuck the waistband into my bottoms (as when I wore my 40’s style denim skirt) and sometimes I leave the blouse band out (as when I wore it with my 40’s jeans), and I can’t decide what I like better. The blouse appears more like an Eisenhower-style jacket when untucked and closer to a blouse when tucked. Either way, I guess I do need to find more than just navy and denim bottoms to match with my blouse, at some point.
This last mention is no big deal, but I wish I had thought about “setting” the colors before I washed the blouse fabric. It was a crisp red and white originally with a generally smooth feel, but after washing the flannel its brushed finish fluffed out more than expected and the red leaked slightly into the white turning some stripes into a faded pink tone. The color problem is not something obvious enough to really show in our pictures, however I wish I had thought of it beforehand and am keeping this lesson in mind for the next bold two-tone fabrics that have to make their way to the washer. Any suggestions on how to do this “setting” of dyes that leach? I have seen salt water soaks being recommended, but does anyone have first-hand tips to share?
I attempted to channel to quaint hairstyle on the cover of the pattern envelope with a simple ribbon headband. In the one set of pictures I even tucked my hair up to have more of a late 1930’s look, then the other pictures have my hair left down long for more of the ‘40’s young lady’ look. It was after the pictures for this post were taken that I saw these old photo booth shots of my Grandmother in 1940 when she was 10 (center) and some others as a teen in post WWII times. In the 1940 pictures, she had her hair short and curled, wearing the same ribbon-headband-with-a-little-bow just like me, but the teen pictures are pretty alike, too! These old photo booth pictures make me see similarities between us all to well…
There are many ways to remember the past, but remembering it through fabric is kind of special. You get to wear it, do creative things with it, and it can be seen in pictures for a long time after. Admittedly, there is nothing that can beat a memory but clothing certainly can add to that recollection or bring it back. This might not be the best garment I’ve made but the special background to it makes it pretty great to me. Now that the time for stories coming directly from my Grandma is past (sadly), I’ll keep paying attention to my her pictures and maybe I’ll see a glimpse of what she made with the other part of the fabric I used to make the blouse in my post.