Spring Showers 1918 Shirtwaist
This week, the lace travels to Florida and to the very capable and talented hands of Casey from Elegant Musings. With her love (and eye) for thrifting and her picture-perfect sewing creations, Casey has been an enormous influence on me. Coincidentally, Casey’s creation coincides with me finally making the time to watch Downton Abbey — a must see for anyone who loves period pieces and pretty dresses. Thanks, Casey for being a part of this project and sharing your lovely blouse!
Fabric: cotton “dotted Swiss” with a woven dot $15, Hancock Fabrics
Pattern: Folkwear #210 “The Armistice Blouse” – in my stash/gift
Year: circa 1918
Notions: lace from Mena, antique lace from my stash, vintage shirt buttons from the stash
Time to Complete: Probably about 6-8 hours; about one evening and most of a weekend day!
Wear Again? Already planning on it!
Total Cost: $15
When Mena approached me about the Common Thread project and showed a picture of the lace, I immediately knew just what I wanted to make with it! I have been obsessed with revisiting one of my first loves in the fashion history world: the late Edwardian/early 1920s era. The lace seemed like a perfect excuse to dig up the Folkwear Armistice Blouse pattern (which I had made years ago once) and jazz it up with some lace and filmy fabric.
The plan I hatched for the blouse included some dotted Swiss cotton I picked up at Hancocks (I love the post-wash texture of the woven dots!), and also adding in some additional antique lace from my lace box. The center panel on the blouse has a lot of design possibilities, so I spent a bit of time prior to cutting the fabric playing with several options in my sketchbook. I toyed with pintucks, drawn threadwork, lace applied vertically down the center, or what I finally chose: a simple row of lace at the top edge. I like how it is pretty but a bit restrained–an embellishment that suits a cotton shirtwaist blouse of this era well.
To make the lace panel, used alternating rows of a wider insertion lace from my stash and the scalloped lace Mena sent me. Even though it was intended as an edge trim, I was able to overlap and manipulate it enough to stitch it evenly to the straight lace. I used a narrow zig-zag stitch with matching thread to attach each row, stabilizing the lace with lightweight paper as I went. After I created that, I just attached it to the top edge of the center panel. Super easy! The lace I added to the collar edges of the center front panel weren’t difficult to add either; the collar was hand whipstitched on and the front vertical lace was attached by machine.
I christened this blouse the “Spring Showers Shirtwaist” because after days and days of glorious sunshine and warm temperatures, the one day that I could get snapshots it was pouring rain! But in some ways, I liked that I was able to get a few photos peering out into the moody lake through the haze of rain: it reminds me a bit of those picturesque British period films set at the turn of the century.
The only changes I made to the pattern were to lengthen the blouse a bit (I have a long torso, plus I remembered my first blouse–which I made just out of the package–was a bit tricky to keep tucked in!) and eliminate the turn back cuff. (Although you may note that the cuffs are turned back on this; but it’s just the under-cuff as I found it a bit too long post-sewing for my taste.) I remembered why I loved this pattern so much: the details are romantic and scream vintage, but the construction is a snap. Even with taking the time to execute construction details like French seams and hand stitching lace, it didn’t take that long to make. I spent the better part of a Sunday happily sewing, and at the end had a new blouse! Not to mention now I have a garment that satiates my desire for something from this era… Now what to sew next?
Thank you, Mena for asking me to participate in this project–it was a lot of fun being able to work with the lace and whip up a garment I’ve been dreaming about!