1976 “Disco Dots” One Yard Blouse

The more I sew, the more I am amazed by the amount of wonderful projects I can make from one yard or less of fabric. You really don’t need that much material to make something incredibly useful, interesting, and all-around great! Here is a post about my latest “one-yard-wonder”… a classic sleeveless button front blouse from 1976.

100_5858a-compTHE FACTS:

FABRIC:  One yard of a basic 100% cotton

NOTIONS:  All that I needed was on hand – the interfacing, bias tape, thread, and buttons.Simplicity 7353 yr 1976 pattern from my M-I-L

PATTERN:  Simplicity #7353, year 1976, from the collection of my mother-in-law

TIME TO COMPLETE:  From start to finish, the blouse only took 5 hours, and it was finished on August 4, 2015.

THE INSIDES:  So nice! All seams are finished in French seams, and the hem and armhole edges are covered in bias tape.  The facing edge is also covered in tiny 1/4 inch bias tape (see picture below).

TOTAL COST:  The fabric was bought from Hancock Fabrics for $5.00 or less.

100_5903-compMy blouse’s fabric was part of a three part set of matching prints, all in the same color scheme – one more of a large solid polka dot, one part floral/tiny polka dot, and the broken circle combo of both that was the print I used. My friend, the Hancock store employee, helped me decide which of the three to pick out for myself…thank you! I am so happy with my choice.

Originally, I picked out the fabric for my blouse because it reminded me of a print drawn on the cover of a 1960’s reprinted pattern, Simplicity #1364, but I had a “feeling” that the print needed a different, more funky design to go with it. After all, I have always admired how sleeveless shirt blouses look so cool and summer-appropriate in the warm weather months, but I did not yet have anything like it in my closet. Thus, between the right “feel” for the combo of design and fabric, the desire to make a different type of garment, the attraction of using a pattern from the family’s collection, and the ideas that the material brought to my mind, I made the project the way that I did.

100_5857-compNow the 1970’s were the height of the Disco era, and this culture was a large influence for my blouse. I personally enjoy the disco era music and songs, perhaps because I grew up hearing those songs from the late 60’s to 70’s through the vinyl records of my parents, who are (in my opinion) an awesome dance couple knowing all the best moves. The year after the date of my blouse, 1977, was the release of the famed “Saturday Night Fever” movie, which seems to have a fad all its own. However, the children’s cartoon character Snoopy was what anchored my impression of the Disco Era in my head when I saw the Saturday Night Fever Movie Soundtrack record cover&Flashbeagle VHS cover“Flash Beagle” episode as a little girl. Even though the Snoopy episode was from 1984, it was based on dance classics such as “Flash Dance” and “Saturday Night Fever”, and my parents had the Snoopy VHS at home so I could watch it again and again (you can watch it yourself here). The print of the cotton, with its broken ridged circles in boldly bright and rich colors, reminds me of two things classic to the Disco Era: vinyl records and light-up dance floors like the ones in both “Saturday Night Fever” and “Flash Beagle”. This is how I came to the nickname “Disco Dots” for my new creation…and it makes me smile! 100_5860-comp

I found the pattern to be easy and straightforward, with the pieces matching/fitting together very well. My sole minor complaint is that the armholes turned out quite small, but this is nothing new – many patterns’ armholes seem snug to my larger upper arms, so I don’t know if this had to do with the pattern or just me. Look at those darling options with the pattern. If I get the notion, I might pick a contrast fabric and make the collar/head scarf to match my blouse. Wouldn’t View 1 (top center) be great in a lightweight flowing crepe or chiffon, perhaps in a retro floral like in the drawing?! Simplicity #7353 probably will have to be used again soon.

Simplicity 7353 yr 1976 pattern back from my M-I-LThis is my first 1970’s blouse and it has helped me get the big picture on how blouse trends change while staying the same. I have patterns in my stash for blouses in every era from the 1910’s to nowadays, and have made blouse from most of the decades in that time frame. I see slight and subtle changes to adapt to the differing popular silhouettes for each decade, giving room and shaping where needed to achieve the decade’s ideal. I also notice each decade of the 20th century having blouses with special characteristics of prevailing design use, such as a large variety of interesting collar styles in the 20’s, unusual sleeves in the 30’s, gathered shoulder fronts in the 40’s or kimono sleeves in the 50’s (to list a broad and brief summary of the variety), but behind all the details I still see a basic blouse construction with facings, similar collar insertion, and a button closure whether in the front, back, or side. This 1976 blouse has a long bodice length, with little shaping besides the bust darts and back neckline darts, buttons all the way down to the bottom hem, and gi-normous collar lapels.

100_5863-compI am so awed by the oversized collar – I love it! It is so large the collar tips extend over edge of the sleeve. Looking at the pattern cover envelope drawing, it seems the collar needs to be worn folded over higher behind the neck, so I ironed it down like that so it would stay. Hey – it did work to help the collar not hang over the armholes and it look really cool and subtly special.

After the giant collar, my favorite part about my blouse is how the buttons are a lovely toned-down light blue, a match for the bright colors in the fabric. They came from the stash of Hubby’s Grandmother to make this blouse a very special project in combination with the pattern coming from my mother-in-law.

100_5853-compPerfect for pairing with a multitude of solid skirt bottoms in my closet, this blouse is a new staple. I have one-color skirts in all in interesting colors and silhouettes and my blouse looks good with so many of them, I haven’t yet decided which is my favorite. It’s so fun every time I wear my blouse to change things up and pair it with a different skirt, shoes, jewelry, and possibly a sweater once the weather turns chilly. Versatile pieces are so great! In our pictures, I’m wearing my blouse with a – brand cotton twill skirt, bought years back. I love the way the bright pastel lime green is so unusual and fun for summer.

My next post will continue the 1970’s decade, but here’s a teaser – it will be menswear. Both this post and the up-coming next post share the same colorful background location of the side wall to the South-Hampton Art Studio-Gallery.

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Retro Rewind – a Modern 60’s Style Babydoll Blouse

Some clothing creations of mine I like almost instantly, while some others just have to ‘grow’ on me a bit before I can say I like it on myself.  I was so proud of hitting my 50th sewing project mark with this little blouse, but the 60’s inspired top itself took some getting used to.

Baby doll styles have never really appealed to me.  However, I don’t like to be stuck in a style rut and I am willing to try new things.  My version of a 60’s Baby doll blouse has finally won me over, and I have a few great ways of accessorizing and matching it.  The thrifty part of me also makes me want to brag about how this blouse is made entirely from scraps and remnants… so the total cost is so cheap but inventive!

100_2033aTHE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 100% cotton remnant (.89 of a yard, to be exact) in a white polka dot print with an aqua background, bought on sale at JoAnn’s;  for the collar, I bought a 100%cotton quilter’s Fat Quarter

NOTIONS:  I had everything I needed;  I always have interfacing, the back button came from my stash, and then there was enough matching thread and aqua bias tape leftover from being used towards working on these two apronsI also used a small potion of the braid used on my “The Artist” Movie copy cat dress

100_1289PATTERN:  Simplicity 1693, view D.  I have made this pattern before, in a different view with modifications, as my ‘Great Gatsby 20’s satin tunic. 

TIME TO COMPLETE:  not long, maybe three of four hours;  it was finished on my birthday this year (early August 2013)

THE INSIDES:  every seam is sewn in French seams, except for the inside collar edge which is covered in bias tape

TOTAL COST:  the fabric remnant was 1/2 price, and the Fat Quarter was only 99 cents, so my total cost for this blouse is only $4.32.  This top has Wal-Mart prices with high-end quality.

     Even though my Baby doll blouse is a different view than the last time I made this pattern (which was for my 20’s satin tunic), I still did the same minor adjustments and came up with the same wonderful fit.  I made two sizes smaller for the bust darts and cut a bit generously around the back bodice shoulder area, but otherwise I made my correct size (with grading, of course).  I will certainly make more of this pattern, with another different variation, it’s such a great go-to standby, easy to change, easy to wear, and quick to put together.100_1766

I did find out that .89 yards was too much of a tight squeeze to ever try again, especially with sleeves, but, as always, I made it work.  Do not try this at home!  As you can see in the picture at left, the little bit of fabric left above where the tunic was cut, went towards fudging in the sleeve pattern.  Our dachshund is the black thing in the corner…he’s always on the lookout for interesting smells!

My short sleeves would’ve appeared funny any shorter than they already were, so I wanted to add an elastic placket.  Merely using the hem for elastic casing does not appeal to my sewing tastes too often, and I also added a casing for the elastic cuffs of my tie-neck knit dress.  Then, I happened to find some aqua double fold bias tape in my stash of “Wright’s” brand trims.  It matched the aqua background of my fabric, and I had just enough leftover from the two projects it went towards already, my re-fashioned vintage apron and it’s matching mini apron.

After using the leftover aqua bias tape towards the sleeve elastic casings, I still had a small strip.  I hated to not find a way to use up all of the bias tape.  When I tried on my blouse, it was still missing that “something”, so the small leftover strip was cut in half widthwise and sewn up into ties for the front.

100_2040a     I am so proud at how perfectly I matched up the front designs of the collars on my blouse.  The fat quarter was more of a stiffer cotton than the cotton for the body of my top, but therefore perfect for its use.  I love how the design on the fabric of my collar is a wild match which makes my top much more fun and retro than if I had chosen a single color.

A simple button placket went into the back button closure of this Baby doll blouse.  Since I had cut both the front and the back bodice pieces on the fold, I put in a vintage style placket, the kind where you cut out a rectangle, hem three edges, sew it down around the slash marks, then turn right sides out and top stitch down.  I did this same method for my 1937 Peacock blouse (see my post for a visual explanation).  The aqua button is from my vintage stash, and the loop is a tiny cut of 3/16 inch ‘president braid’ used to make my “The Artist” Movie imitation dress.

100_2042     Please excuse the wrinkles…wearing 100% cotton is great but a short trip in the car can make its mark on it too soon.

That’s all folks!  See my Flickr page (link here) if you would like to see more pictures of my 60’s style blouse.

100_2034

“It’s De-Lovely” – My 1936 Puff Sleeve Polka Dot Blouse

The year 1936 is very interesting to me.  Americans of that year seemed to have had a new-found, hopeful, upbeat outlook due in large part to the Presidency of Roosevelt and the second round of the New Deal programs  (enacted 1935 to 1938).  The Civil Works Administration was providing people with some money, Prohibition was now a thing of the past, and a brand new era of swing music was cranking out a string of hits.

Among this meditation of mine on historical happenings, I have made a blouse that brings me back to those middle 30’s.  My blouse turned out so much better than I hoped, I am truly very happy when I wear it!  The 40’s style is hinted at in my blouse while still staying true to the 30’s, especially by the fact of the bodice pieces being cut on the bias for a complimentary fit.  Comfort is not neglected either…the grading I did between the sizes was tricky (read about it down below) but gave me a great custom fit feel.

100_1713    Like a thrifty housewife of any era, my inspiration for this blouse came from sighting a pattern that I absolutely loved, but wasn’t willing to spend the money, and made do just as well -if not better- with what was on hand.  Now, with that proud explanation I will give you…

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a polyester silky print with a soft matte finish and peachskin feel, bought at Hancock Fabrics just this spring for only a few dollars a yard;  lined in ivory poly cling-free lining from my stash downstairsMcCall 9170

NOTIONS:  none needed;  I had thread, interfacing, satin covered buttons, and hem tape (only a few inches more than what was necessary) all on hand

PATTERN:  Simplicity 2614, year 2009, for the whole top;  my 1937 original, McCall 9170 (used before here), for the sleeves and ties;  Eva Dress pattern 7482 (click here for link) for my inspiration pattern

Simplicity26147482set

TIME TO COMPLETE:  finished on July 22, 2013, after about 8 hours of time to complete this blouse

THE INSIDES: The hem of the sleeves and the bottom are covered in beige hem tape.  Besides those places, all other seams (even the shoulders) are finished in French seams.  I did a good deal of  hand stitching to tack the facing down to the lining and also along the neckline edge – see picture below.  All that hand stitching makes for an invisible and special non-conventional look…time consuming but totally worth it!100_1754

I must say I really LOVE the Simplicity 2614.  There are many things that are great about it, from the fit to the styling.  There isn’t a zipper or any closure needed here, as the back and bottom front stretch (and drape along the torso) beautifully, owing to being cut on the bias.  I loved the fact how Simplicity 2614 had custom cup sizes A,B,C, and D for you to get the best fit possible.  Beyond fit, this pattern has a sophistication that lets your choice of fabric shine while keeping a feminine style with vintage yet modern flair.  Bonus time!  Minimal seams make this blouse a cinch to whip up – even with my vintage additions.

I achieved a great fit with, as I mentioned earlier  above, some unusual grading.  Here I would like to tip my hat and extend a thanks to Kathrin at her blog, “Sew long, cowgirl” (click here for the link) where she makes 3 different versions of Simplicity 2614 and did an excellent review that I found VERY helpful.

100_1711     Being a small person who is more comfortable with room across the back of my shoulders like Kathrin, I cut the back pattern piece a size up from the size which I cut for the front.  This is how she made this pattern.  Since I couldn’t decide which size to go with I cut in between sizes as well.  So, to fully explain, the bust piece I cut as a 8/10, the bottom front I graded to a 10/12, and the back piece was cut as a 12/14.  Technically I think I hung closer to a size 8 for the front shoulders and neckline seams, because the size 8 facings for the neck fit fine.  I surprised myself how all the pieces fit so well together after being cut in all those different sizes.

100_1755      Each and every piece was cut separately because I wanted a perfect match of the polka-dots, so I laid out my fabric (and pattern) in a single layer.  It didn’t seem that important to worry about matching the side seams as much as the sleeves and bust pieces.  The front center seam matched pretty well in between my non-working buttons.

I wasn’t sure if the poufy sleeves were going to pouf on their own or if I was going to stuff them just to get the right look.  As it turns out,  the bottom of the sleeves are just snug enough, while there’s so much gathering at the top of the shoulders that together I get the same look as on the front of the envelope.  What a happy surprise I had when all the markings and darts matched up perfectly together, like the modern pattern and the one from over 70 years ago were made for one another.

100_1714     My “ties” are simply 2 pieces cut out using the belt pattern from the same vintage McCall’s I used for the sleeves.  I sewed the ties onto the side seams at a slight angle downwards, just where the bust/lower bodice come together, so that they slope to where I want them to be tied – at the waist.

It’s so fun to achieve the vintage look I was hoping for, and more so to have it work for me well enough to love it on myself, too.  I can understand and appreciate people of a past era better when I can dress in their clothes, read about what they lived through, and listen to their music.

100_1709     Speaking of music, it’s amazing how well the music of the 30’s speaks so loudly about what the attitude and outlook was for each year.  Who would’ve thought the song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, from 1931, would by 1936 eventually give way to songs with the titles of “I’m Shootin’ High”, or even “With Plenty of Money and You” (Dick Powell and Victor Young’s Orchestra).  I can see myself putting on this outfit in 1936 and wanting to go out, spend a little money and have a good time, maybe even do some dancing.

Even though “Marie” by Tommy Dorsey is hands down my favorite song of the year 1936, I had to name my post after Cole Porter’s classic “It’s De-Lovely” – it was Porter’s year of a line of hit songs.  Please take a gander and click on these links to a few more of my favorite songs from 1936: “Goody Goody” , “Stompin’ at the Savoy” ,  and finally “I’m an Old Cowhand”  by Johnny Mercer, from the movie Rhythm on the Range.

Our pictures were taken at an amazing 1930 era building, only a stone’s throw from the house.  The building is at a busy corner, in a very distinctive Deco style, and is well maintained as well, which is good for the neighborhood and for us, too!  The side entrance has a decorative lintel above that perfectly frames and appropriately dates my 1936 outfit.

100_1708     I even wore my antique jewelry to further complete the vintag100_1719e feel.

My necklace is ‘1928’ modern vintage brand, but it matches perfectly with my 1930’s old original screw-back earrings.  The earrings were a lucky antique store find (on me at left).

Be it antique earrings or clothing fashions, the attention to detail and timeless styling of things from the 30’s never cease to amaze me.

Polka dot challenge: the “3 for the price of 1” green dotted aprons

These three projects were made through the stretch of the end of last year (2011) and April of this year (2012).  None were really for myself either.  But all three projects share the same fabric…a mere 1 1/2 yards from Wal-mart.  How is that for being economical!?  Two full size aprons, one made from scratch and one re-fashioned, together with a mini-sized apron, make up my trio of creations for this week’s polka dot challenge. There are polka dots in the print – just look hard in between the bugs and daises on the fabric.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:   all cottons from Wal-mart’s fabric dept. except for a utility apron bought off the shelf

NOTIONS:  all were bought on a 50% notions sales @ Hancock Fabric

PATTERNS:  Simplicity #2748 view E  for the mini apron, and Butterick #5474 view A for the full apron made from scratch

TIME TO COMPLETE:   ??? altogether a couple hours on each apron maybe

WORN:  Hopefully, the two moms will wear their gifts; as for the third apron…well, maybe Barbie will fit in it when it’s not hanging in our kitchen

APRON #1:  FOR CHRISTMAS GIFT TO MOTHER-IN-LAW:     This apron was made form scratch and followed most of Butterick #5474, view A, but I wanted something other than a tie pulling at the back of her neck.  So I used a 40’s/50’s vintage apron I bought at the St. Mary’s, Mo. Antique Mall as the Pattern for the neck.  It’s just a simple ‘large-collar’ type that pops over the head and lays nicely on the shoulders.

I centered the border print (which says “All Things Grow With Love”) at the bottom of the apron and raised the pockets so as not to interfere with the border.  I am glad I remembered (almost didn’t) to sew on the pocket and crossed rick-rack in an X on the front BEFORE I sewed on the batiste backing using bias tape.  The pockets and the ties were cut with a contrast yellow check cotton, also from Wal-mart.  the ties were the most time consuming and bothersome part of the apron, as ties always are for me.

When it was done, the neck collar was a bit too big for me (hung too low) so my very accommodating husband put it on so I could pin it down where I wanted.  I just sewed the center in a few inches.  The hubby is always happy to help my sewing projects, but there are limits, too…

APRON #2:  MOM”S GIFT FOR HER B-DAY JAN. 3:   My mom’s apron was a UFO floating around my sewing area.  It’s a refashioned green utility apron, also bought from Wal-mart.

      First of all, the ugly shape got cut, keeping the ties (Yes!).  The bottom was cut into a wide cloverleaf type design and the top I made identical to the mother-in-law apron.  I used the border left over to hand-sew it onto the rectangular pocket, with the same bias tape to finish all the edges.  Even used the same yellow rick-rack  for the decoration but varied it a little with some added brown lace, with a bow to boot!

APRON #3:  MINI APRON TO DECORATE OUR KITCHEN AND CHRISTMAS TREE:   This is basically a mini version of apron #1, except I used Simplicity # 2748 view E for the pattern, used yellow rick-rack (again) for the edging and finishing in one, and used a daisy for the right pocket and a dragonfly on the left pocket.

Guess what?  The waistband and ties were made from the leftover linen-look rayon that I used on my brow vintage 1949 dress, made last year (I’ll post this one sometime, too).  I finished this,  my first of several mini aprons, in April of 2012.

What works great is a box of mini clothespins that I bought years ago @ Target from the dollar bins. Maybe I was supposed to find a use for them eventually.

     Matching my mini apron is an antique hankie from my moderate collection of vintage hankies.

These mini aprons are very tedious and time consuming since they are such little work-there’s not much room for mistakes!  I wouldn’t recommend anyone sewing these unless you’re in the mood for some patience.  I would almost rather sew full size aprons but these are sooooo cute.

Believe it or not, I still have this fabric leftover.  I don’t want to see it for quite awhile.