Hot! The ‘Goldilocks and the Bugbears’ blouse

When the 1940s pattern challenge came up I knew just what I wanted to make.  Not for me one of the endless (but very charming) 1940s dress patterns that Simplicity and Butterick are re-releasing, or even a vintage dress pattern.  I was just given Advance 1868, and I think it’s just adorable.  Time to make it up!

I picked view #2 because I love the option of a contrast section.

Unfortunately, as I tackled the blouse I quickly began to feel like Goldilocks.

I’d decided to use the green and white voile that trimmed last week’s tap pants for the contrast portions of View 2.  So I needed some white to go with it.  Simple!  I’m the queen of white fabric – with the dozens of different varieties in my stash matching white should be easy, right?  Nope.  One was too white, the other not white enough.  One was too heavy, another too translucent.  None were just right.

Finally I settled on a crisp vintage cotton – a bit heavier and stiffer than was ideal, but the closest I could get to the right shade and hand.

Blast!  (actually, that’s not at all the word I used.  The one I used also starts with a B, and works better with the title of this post, but I’ve had to stop saying/writing it publicly ever since I learned it actually is a really bad word)

Then I went to cut out the pattern.  First, my pattern is a size 32″ bust.  My bust is 37″.  I was going to have to resize.

Blast! (see note above)

Then I looked at the pattern and realised I was missing the entire back piece.

Blast! (ditto)

So  I sighed, girded my intellectual loins, and drafted a back piece based off the front and the (very basic) illustration on the back of the pattern.  And I sighed some more, and drafted re-sized pieces.

Then I sewed the blouse up, and it was monstrous.  Like wearing a tent.  The whole thing got unpicked, and I ended up cutting it all the way back down to the original pattern size.

And that’s what you are seeing here:

Yeah, it’s still a bit too big.

It’s also pulling slightly funny around the neck and at the back, so I need to spend a little time with the blouse analyzing what went wrong, deciding if I can fix it with this version, or if I can ever be bothered to make another version.  I do like things to be just right.

The back was supposed to button all the way up, but I’m flat enough that I can get away with a seam and just one top button, so I did.

With the blouse I’m wearing my ‘Please don’t photograph me’ 1930s skirt, which turned out to be a bad idea, because the skirt’s anti-photography curse struck again, and all the interesting photographs I tried to take at the old Museum Building (an icon of early 1940s Art Deco architecture in New Zealand, and a fantastic place to do photoshoots) turned out terribly, and I had to do a quick catch up session in front of the boring white wall.  It’s really hard to photograph yourself with a timer!

Despite the super happy photography, I’m not sure how I feel about the blouse.  It’s very…blouson.  And my mother was always very anti-broad shouldered styles, so tackling the 1940s always makes me nervous, as it feels weird to accentuate the shoulders.  But I managed to wear it all day as I ran errands around town, so it’s growing on me.

I still have a few bugbears regarding the whole thing, but hopefully one day Goldilocks is going to be skipping happily through the woods in this!

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 3/4m white cotton lawn, 1/4m green and white checked cotton voile.

Pattern:Simplicity 1868

Year: early 1940s

Notions: One vintage hexagonal pearlized button, thread.

Hours: 3

Wear again?: Yes, though I still have reservations.

Make again?: Maybe?  I’m pretty sick of it for now, but I would like to conquer this pattern!

Total cost: $2.50 or less


Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


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  1. Gorgeous! I really like how you’ve styled it. Next time doing this top should be a breeze now that you have the kinks worked out!

  2. I think the sleeves are great.

  3. After all your hard work, you ended up with a darling piece. I agree with Erin, the sleeves are fluttery and flattering.

  4. This is funny! I think the blouse is very sweet, despite the neck being a bit too tight, the back neck looks right. I love the whole outfit especially the red belt. I am so happy you shot at the Musuem – it is a stunning building – I spend many an hour there as a kid before they moved to Te Papa. Also later, I smoked many cigarettes right where you are standing in my last year at Wellington High School. If anyone want to see more of the musuem it features in Peter Jacksons movie starring Michael J Fox “The Frighteners” – silliest movie he ever made!

  5. I love the blouse specially color combo

  6. I love it! The front neckline looks a little high, but the shoulders and sleeves look great and– in my experience– so does a blouson on a flattish gal. Hope you bring this pattern under your control!

  7. Great pattern, and the end result is well worth all the hard work.

  8. Well, if your mom was against broad-shouldered styles she probably didn’t have a problem with big hips and comparitively narrow shoulders (which is exactly my problem). I LOVE styles that make shoulders look wider because it balances my pear shape a bit…Your blouse is really pretty and I might try to find a similar pattern for my collection. It does look very “blouson” but then again, it looks like this on the pattern evenlope, too. I would just think that’s the style of the blouse and it looks really great together with the red belt and the skirt. Oh, and great pics by the way. Taking happy photos with a timer is hard indeed.

    • I think my Mum worried about making her shoulders look broader because she already had very broad shoulders, and grew up in the 60s and 70s, when broad shoulders were unfashionable. She used to get me to take the shoulder pads out of all her 80s clothes!

      And thank you for the compliments. I only wish I’d managed to get a picture with my shoes. They are red and white striped with little bows on the toes!

  9. So flattering on you and your hair looks fab!