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.