Summer Gingham and Straw

My first sewing for this year’s summer season is effortlessly simple.  It’s also basically everything associated with an old-time American summer picnic – gingham cotton, basket-like straw, bright red cherries, easy and comfortable dressing (no less cute, though), and good times in the backyard.

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I had to bring my pet dachshund into the picture for good measure!  He’s a loving little shadow to me, though he is camera shy.

Butterick 7161, yr. 1954THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 30 by 45 inch cut of an all-cotton, loosely-woven ‘homespun’

PATTERN:  Butterick 7161, year 1954 – it was a free gift from a kind Etsy seller.

NOTIONS:  I only needed thread, a bit of interfacing, some bias tape scraps, and 3 buttons – all of which I had on hand

TIME TO COMPLETE:  My blouse was whipped up in 2 hours one afternoon at the end of April 2017.

DSC_0417a-comp,wTHE INSIDES:  cleanly bias bound edges

TOTAL COST:  The fabric, my only expense, was bought at Wal-mart’s remnant area in their fabric department for only $2.23!

This blouse just makes me happy.  I love the styling – just enough ‘vintage’ touch to be neat and unique, yet still classic.  The colors are muted and cool, and pair well with so many different bottoms (skirts, pants, and shorts) in all colors (mostly khaki, denim, and black, but even red will do).  From a practical point of view, this was so cheap!  Yet, for how well it fits on me and nicely finished I made it, this is such a deal.  No wonder I buy fabric and sew for myself versus picking up ready-to-wear!DSC_0282a-comp,w

Making this top sleeveless was not precisely by choice, but I like it.  I was lucky enough to make a blouse from this as it was!  My blouse does look really good with sweaters, luckily, for when I’m stuck inside freezing air-conditioning or out in a chilly night.  I find it interesting how generous and comfortable the armscye is on a 1950s era sleeveless blouse.  The armholes from the next decade of the 60’s are so much tighter, and I’m always paring them down but it’s never good enough.  Maybe I’ll need to try sleeveless 50’s fashions more often.

The only major special detail to this blouse is the gathers which come from under the collar.  They are an ingenious way to both add an interesting design element and provide bust shaping.  I thought about pleating the excess fabric rather than gathering it (as I did), but I plan to use this pattern again and I can try that out then.

DSC_0283-comp,wHalfway through sewing this blouse, I had a scare.  I realized this ‘homespun’ cotton was quite fragile when I was stretching the blouse back neckline into the collar piece.  It tore way too easily into the seam allowance.  Thank goodness it didn’t tear any further into the blouse or I would have been devastated because this blouse is my new go-to, throw-it-on frequent favorite.  Once that rip happened, I was glad I had cut the as-is size of the pattern, which was technically too big for me.  I ended up leaving the blouse its generous size because I didn’t want another tear happening in the body of the fabric, which I could totally see happening just from being worn if it fit tighter.  The cotton is so soft, it kind of ‘droops’ down anyway and you can’t tell how generous it is on me.  Between the comfy fit and the loose homespun, it does make for an “I-don’t-feel-it-on” weightless summer blouse.DSC_0285-comp,w

A view of the back is rather basic but my vintage 50’s hat makes it amazing, if you ask me.  Look at that stunning weave of the two different kinds of straw!  The perfect condition and the steal of a price that I paid, makes this one of my prized vintage hats.  To complete the accessorizing details, my fun cherry fruit earrings are vintage from my dear Grandmother.

Blouses, especially 50’s era blouses are my newest ‘thing’ currently.  I’ve been whipping out several already with a few more in my projects queue to sew yet.  Thus, look for more separates to come here on the blog in next few months!

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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.