Retro Glam Secretary Blouse-Finished at last!

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2015 has been such a busy year for me.  I never thought I would successfully finish Version 2 of the Secretary Blouse.  But it’s now completed and I’m happy to share the results along with a few details.  This vintage pattern envelope illustration served as the inspiration.   I provide complete instructions for the Retro Glam Secretary Blouse  through a series of step by step instructions.

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The beautiful simplicity of this style works well with a solid color fashion fabric.  Version 1 was made with a silky poly print fabric.  The work on the tucks and the bow got lost in the busy print.  This time the lovely drape of the bias cut pussy cat bow is visible.  This fabric is a poly crepe called “Whipped Cream.”  It was very easy to work with and is very soft.

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The dart tucks are also noticeable.  They serve to control the fullness below the waistline so that the fabric will not be so bunchy when tucked into a sheath skirt.  In some ways vintage blouses use darts or dart tucks to control fullness in a way similar to the use of a blouse yoke.

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I found that top stitching made the dart tucks look too stiff.  I decided to use a single strand of conditioned all purpose poly cotton thread to hand sew tiny running stitches down each ruck.  I use a dryer strip to condition thread.

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I used a double layer of poly organza as interfacing for facing and cuffs.  This was the first time I used organza as an interfacing.  It is a little tricky to work with since it moves while being cut.  I had to place tissue paper on top and below the organza before pinning the pattern pieces in place.  The front edge of the blouse also was finished with tiny running stitches instead of machine topstitching.

The buttonholes were made by machine.  After slitting open the poly crepe shred too much for my liking.  I hand stitched buttonhole stitches on top of the machine stitches.  There was no more shredding after that.  I also like the fact that the machine stitching guarantees a more accurate depth for my hand sewed stitches.  The buttons are imitation mother of pearl.

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This blouse sleeve pattern works with the natural position of the wrist when the arms are relaxed at the sides of the body.  This is why the cuff falls slightly to the front.  I also hand stitched a line of tiny running stitches from the sides, along the botton and then up the other side of the cuff.  There are no running stitches at the top of the cuff that attaches to the blouse.

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I received a suggestion from my relative that there is a way to make a blouse like this using a print.  However the details of the bow and the cuff will not get lost when they are made in a solid color that complements the print.  The buttons could be covered in the same color fabric as the cuffs and bow.  That sounds very pretty.  I’ve fallen in love with how flattering pussycat bows can be and might plan another blouse with one in the future.

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Here is Version 1 of the Secretary Blouse in a print fabric.  I think my relative’s suggestion would work.  With bow, cuffs and fabric covered buttons in black the blouse will have more visual interest.

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When making Version 1 I ran out of fabric for the bow.  So, I cut it on the lengthwise grain.  The bow did not have the soft roll around the neckline like the bias cut one does.  Yet I found that the bow worked out because the fabric was silky and light-medium weight.

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The pussycat bow was sewed to the neckline after the facing at the front was turned and pressed to the inside.  Then the bow was stitched to the neckline.  The labels could not be sewed to the back of the neckline as they would show from the outside of the blouse.  Instead, I sewed them near the hem, on the facing, on the right side of the blouse front.

The fabric was prone to some shredding so I used French seams for the shoulder, side and sleeve seams. The front facing was not folded under at the outer edge because that resulted in extra bulk. I used a machine zig-zag stitch 1/4″ from the edge. To stop fraying I ended up hand overcasting the edge using the zig-zag stitches as a guide for the spacing and depth of the hand stitching. It has worked out very well.

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4 thoughts on “Retro Glam Secretary Blouse-Finished at last!

    • Thank you, Carol! Everyone I know has given me so many compliments. This blouse is for my portfolio. I’m so pleased with the results. Now I can finish the pencil skirt and after that get on to a new project! Wishing you a very safe and happy holiday.

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  1. Thank you so much, Norma. I’m going to do something like that on a future project. I have a lovely rayon floral fabric with a navy background. I might use a navy contrast for the lapels and cuffs on a dress I might make.

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