I wasn’t going to take part in this challenge, I really, really wasn’t. I’m partway through Vogue 2787, and want to test out my pattern alterations. I have an ever-growing backlog of other sewing to do, some of it with seriously alarming deadlines (this Friday, a dress, for which I haven’t even drafted the pattern yet – aargh!). Plus, as I am so new to historical costuming, I don’t have any ‘orphan’ items which need another garment to make them into a complete costume.
Then, when I was looking for something in my overflow workbox (you mean you don’t have one?) I found this, carefully folded in a cotton handkerchief.
I made this a long time ago, more than a decade ago in fact. It is Torchon lace, and it was made to size to trim a Folkwear Armistice Blouse. However I never got round to making the blouse, and in time forgot about the lace altogether.
|The blouse pattern|
Of course, having found it I didn’t have the heart to just wrap it back up and put it away again. And the Separates challenge was coming up. . . . .
Although the lace looks white, it is actually very slightly off-white. This meant that placed over the various very white cottons in my stash, it just looked a bit grubby. A deeper delve into Stash-land unearthed a fine lawn which was both the right colour and perfect for the period.
I have made the blouse before, but so long ago that I don’t remember how well or otherwise it came together. Fortunately I did remember that The Dreamstress had made the same blouse last year, so I re-read her posts. I can confirm that a) the sleeves are indeed far too long, even for my long arms, and b) the instructions leave a lot to be desired. In the end I just ignored them and relied on my own methods, with help from my trusty copy of Vogue Sewing for the sleeve plackets.
I’m not quite sure what dimensions I thought I was working to when I made the lace. The piece for the collar fits perfectly, the pieces for the front panel less so.
|The collar edging - a perfect fit|
|The front panel, not so perfect|
Even allowing for the fact that with bobbin lace you can’t just start and finish where you like, these are far too long.
This has been a very rushed project, and in some places it shows. I forgot to make the necessary alterations for my short torso when I cut the pieces out; so even with the lace at the top, the centre panel was alarmingly low. I had to move it up, which is why it is shorter than the rest of the blouse. I also had to reposition the gathered section and the tie at the back of the blouse. I followed The Dreamstress’s advice and used ribbon rather than make the tie from fabric. I also ditched the extra, fold-back element of the ciffs
|The completed blouse|
The combination of very fine fabric and a dark dress form means that all the seams and facings really show up; these would be less obvious over period underwear. All the seams are French seams, which worked well. The buttonholes on the cuffs are hand-sewn, which worked considerably less well. Clearly I need a lot more practice.
|Buttonholes - could do better|
Even before I discovered how bad my buttonhole technique is, I had decided that I didn’t want buttons down the front. I’d planned to use hooks and eyes instead, but the blouse is loose enough that it can be pulled on over the head. I just basted it together quickly for the photographs, which is why it’s a bit out of kilter.
To me the neckline seems very baggy; I might investigate some discrete gathering at the back under the collar to pull it in a bit. For all the faults however, at least the lace is now on a blouse as intended rather than folded up in a workbox.
|A home for the lace at last|
The Small Print:
The Challenge: Separates
Fabric: Off-white cotton lawn from stash
Pattern: Folkwear Armistice Blouse
Year: 1918-ish (see below)
Notions: Hand-made Torchon lace, ribbon for tie, six buttons for cuffs
How historically accurate is it? To quote The Dreamstress's review of the pattern; “1980s does 1910s”
Hours to complete: About eight, of which about two were spent on the buttonholes (so much effort, to so little effect)
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: 90 pence for the buttons, 66 pence for ribbon, so £1.56 in total