Secretary Blouse completed! Here are the lessons I learned.

The vintage pattern envelope illustration that was the source of inspiration. Based on the hairstyles and make-up depicted I estimate the time period as mid-late 1950s.

Front view of the finished Secretary Blouse in the polyester print fabric I selected. In the photos all the work done on the bow and the waistline dart tucks is lost. I have learned my lesson. Next time I will choose a solid color.

Close-up of the pussy cat bow. For version 2 of this blouse I did not have enough fabric left to cut the bow on the bias. I found that you can have a successful pussy cat bow cut on the straight grain. The difference will be that the bow will need to be carefully tied and fluffed out. I used the vertical fold line along the long strip of fabric which finished the neckline and becomes the bow as the grain line.

The back neckline facing had to be eliminated. This fabric did not respond well to traditional ways of sewing the front neckline by laying the facing on top. The bow was stiched from the end up to the point where it is joined to the neckline. Then it was turned to the right side. Then I basted the facing in place along the edge of the neckline. After sewing along the neckline, I pinned the other edge over the neckline and hemmed by hand.

I had to undo the French Seams because I learned that the extra bulk at the neckline and armhole did not work well with this particular fabric. I ended up pinking the seams and pressing them open.

There was another problem with the fabric. It did not respond well to light steam pressing. The dart tucks, cuffs, the bow, neckline, center front and hem all had to be edge stitched. Only then did the fabric flatten out and behave.

The edge stitching holds the dart tucks in place very well. I think the blouse will look great when tucked in or when cinched at the waist with a belt.

The machine made buttonholes were ok but once I cut them open and began handling them for button placement the fabric started to shred again. I ended up working buttonhole stitches by hand on top of the machine stitching.

The edge stitching didn’t come out that well because I didn’t have an edge stitching foot and I worked without stabilizer. I ordered an edge stitching foot but it turns out to be for a machine with a needle that can move to the left. Mine doesn’t. I think if I use a firm, tear away stabilizer next time it will be possible to edge stitch even without the edge stitching foot.

I’ve learned my lesson with print fabrics. No matter how appealing I may find them, they do not provide a good showcase for the work that goes into the design details of the finished garment. I’m going to start using more solid colors for future projects.

Still I like the overall look of the blouse and am satisfied that if a fabric that was not so fraught with problems had been used the results would be better.

I used poly organza as the facing for the blouse front and cuffs. It provided the right support. Since it moves so much during pinning and cutting I had to use tissue paper underneath so that it was easier to cut.

It took me a long time to work through all the issues this fabric presented but I learned so much about working with synthetics. I hope some of my solutions will help others. Since this learning experience has been so valuable I feel satisfied enough to put my label inside of the blouse.

Links to postings with pattern drafting instructions for the Retro Glam Secretary Blouse.

Retro Glam Mix-it-up: 1970s Crochet Tassle Belt

The Secretary Blouse with Pussycat Bow is almost finished. And this time the results are very, very good. I’ve learned how to competently use the 4-step buttonholer that came with my Janome 3/4 Sewing Machine. I’ve also learned to consider what the fashion fabric is telling me. The finishings used were not what was planned but the overall blouse is pleasing. I’ve learned that when one can drop all pretensions to couture and striving so hard one can really enjoy, learn and grow at dressmaking.

In the meantime, here is a crochet belt from a vintage pattern book. Whenever I think of the 1970s and crafts I remember how my Mom took to crocheting cloche hats and lacy scarves during the 1970s. She also made some beautiful shell tops for herself. I also remember many beautiful home deocrations and shoulder bags made with macramé.

The tassled belt in the following pattern would look great with a long knit dress or t-shirt worn over jeans. Since jeans today are so low this kind of belt can best be adapted when worn with an overblouse or shirt. The addition of beads would make it even more 1970s in spirit.

Cover of Star Book No. 225 “Knitted and Crocheted Boutique”. No date is given inside the book but I think it was published late 1960s-early 1970s based on the style of lettering and the bright Mod colors and miniskirts the models wear.

Retro Glam Mix It Up: Knitted Hat 1960s and Knitted Purse 1945

The Retro Glam Accessory “Mix It Up” postings continues…Here is a very cute stocking cap with pompom from the early 1960s that goes very well with a knitted purse from 1945.

The stocking cap with pompom is pictured at the bottom right of the front cover of “Hats, Hats, Hats”, American Thread Co. Star Book No. 168. I estimate the year of publication sometime during the early 1960s because of the popularity of pillbox hats during that time.

The purse pattern is from “Bags Book Number 228″ published in 1945 by the Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 CS.

Retro Glam: Mixing it up-Crochet Hat from 1960 and Crochet Pocketbook from 1945

I will continue to post vintage crochet and knitting patterns while I finish up the Secretary Blouse. I think one of the best ways to make Retro Glam part of your own style repertoire is to take accessories from different decades and mix and match them to create a look uniquely your own.

Here I have paired up a crochet pillbox hat from the early 1960s with a crochet handbag from 1946. By using coordinating or complementary colors you’ll add a different look to your ensemble that will be noticed and elicit interest–in you and the accessories!

The pillbox hat is pictured at the left of the front cover of “Hats, Hats, Hats”, American Thread Co. Star Book No. 168. No date is mentioned for the copyright of publication. However, the pillbox hat became very popular when John F. Kennedy was elected President because his wife favored this style. The public in the USA was very taken with the young Jackie Kennedy in the early 1960s.

The pocketbook pattern is from “Bags Book Number 228″ published in 1945 by the Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 CS.

Vintage Knitting Patterns from 1960: Pillbox Hat and Knitted Headband

I’ve picked up sewing the Secretary Blouse again. Let’s hope my schedule stays even. I so look forward to moving on to the sheath skirt and sharing with my readers. In the meantime, here are some more vintage patterns for accessories.

These knitting patterns come from “High Fashion Hats” published circa 1960 by Bernhard Ulmann Company.

Pillbox hat.

Knitted headband.

Abbreviations and needle sizes.

Vintage Crochet Pattern: Clutch Purse from 1946

I’m very busy with my job and conducting interviews for my family history project. The Secretary Blouse is on hold right now. This is just a time when there’s so much to do and I don’t like to sew when I feel pressed for time.

In the meantime I thought it would be good to share some crochet patterns from a booklet the owner of a local craft shop gave to me.

I’m posting two patterns from “JP Coats Bags Book Number 228″ published 1945 by The Spool Cotton Company, Second Edition 346, H-2977 C-3.

If anyone is successful in making one of these purses please send me a photo and I’ll feature you in the blog.