At long last–Secretary Blouse & Sheath Skirt completed!

Lessons Learned From This Project

It’s been 18 months since I started this project.  Along the way I think I’ve gotten my groove back in terms of patternmaking, sewing, working with synthetics and selecting suitable fabrics.  One of the biggest achievements has been making buttonholes with my sewing machine’s 4-step buttonhole attachment.  Through trial and error I have devised a method that satisfies my needs:  after the buttonhole is made and opened, I then hand sew buttonhole stitches around the completed buttonhole.  The result is very neat with no shredding.

Another sensibility I got back is recognizing when a print fabric is suitable and when it isn’t.  For this blouse the details are better appreciated by the selection of a solid color fabric.

The blouse has a total of six dart tucks that control fullness from the waist to the hipline.  This creates a very neat look when tucked into the blouse as shown in the photos which follow.  There is still, however, quite a bit of blouse to tuck in and I’m not so sure if in future projects I will make a blouse this way again if the intention is for it to be tucked in.  As an over blouse it is very flattering to use the dart tucks.  The provide some shaping but not so much as for the blouse to restrict movement.  I have to say, though, that after making the Donna Blouse with the waist yoke I prefer to design this kind of blouse when the blouse is to be tucked into a skirt or pair of slacks.

The finished zipper is barely noticeable from a distance.  This is the fourth time I’ve sewn a zipper using a running stitch as described in Claire Schaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques.”  It is less noticeable than a pick stitch and also very flexible.

What was most difficult in this project was using synthetic fibers.  The blouse, skirt and lining fabric are all some form of polyester.  The skirt is a poly gabardine, the lining and blouse a poly crepe by the name of “Whipped Cream.”  With natural fibers quite out of my budget I look at this exposure to synthetics as a valuable experience.  If I were given a choice of designing high fashion clothing in luxury fabrics for a very few wealthy women I most likely wouldn’t accept the opportunity.  My heart is with the working women who commute each day to work in offices and are contributing to their family’s upkeep.  These women need practical, simple, adaptable clothing that will not force them to choose between good food on the table or a few very expensive silk and wool dresses in the closet.  By being limited to synthetics I have some insights into what must go on when designers and patternmakers have to design for budget priced line.

Photos and Details


Original 1950s pattern illustration that inspired the outfit (View #1).


The touch of glam is added by using these earrings to complete the outfit.  They are shown against the blouse fabric.  I did not consciously go out seeking them.  They came my way when I went to the variety store to buy paper towels!


3/4 view of the blouse tucked into the sheath skirt.  To accommodate the bulk the blouse I had to include extra ease to the waist band measurement.


Another thing to consider when making a blouse that will be tucked in is to check if the buttons will bulge and create an unattractive outline below the skirt.  I was fortunate that did not happen.


The Donna Blouse with waistline yoke.  The buttons stop slightly above the point where the waistband of the skirt is.  From that point down, the blouse is closed by a hook and eye at the waist and snaps below the waist.  The waistline yoke does not create any bunchiness beneath the skirt.


The dart tucks on the Secretary Blouse create a soft curve from waistline to hip that make it very attractive as an over blouse.  If I were to make this blouse again as a tuck in blouse it would have a waistline yoke. 


Back view of skirt with kickpleat.  The four dart tucks in the back control fullness below the waist and create a nice blousy effect when the blouse is tucked in.


The zipper installed with a running stitch is durable, flexible and strong when sewing it as described in Claire Schaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques.’  It also is barely noticeable.


A smaller hook and eye are used at the end of the waistband.  The larger ones are used at the point where the waistband closes because that is the area of most stress.


Here you can see the placement of the hooks.


One of my favorite parts of completing a project is sewing in the label.



12 thoughts on “At long last–Secretary Blouse & Sheath Skirt completed!

  1. Oh my giddy aunt! They are so gorgeous and beautifully made. Thamnks for all the useful info like checking that lower buttons dont bulge against skirt fabric when tucked in – I had never thought of that😃. Hila. X

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful project! I will look up the zip method: I have that book and probably don’t make enough use of it.
    I think the blouse without the bow would make a really good over blouse for future projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely white blouse, it’s so classy. Can I ask where you got your labels from? They look fab, when I looked online for some I couldn’t find any nice ones like them!


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