The “Long Road Trip” blouse

This is me working on my "don't always smile and look directly into the camera" poses.

The Facts 
Fabric: white cotton sheet ~$10
Pattern: Butterick 5310 (1970s) free, from NYC meetup
Year: 1970s
Notions: Vintage embroidered trim (25 cents) / wooden beads (free)
Time to complete: ~4 hours
First worn: May 9th for photo
Wear again? Probably not.

Total Cost: $10.25

I only have a few family photos because my parents live about 14 hours away, but I do have a few that I’ve “borrowed” over the years.  This is a great one to use for the challenge because the whole family is in it:  Dad holding my sister, me, my cool aunt Paula (who was a great self taught sewist, but I’ll save that for another post), my very young mother and our family dog, Ginny.

I can also tell the whole story, just from the context:  in the summer of 1973, we were living in New Brunswick.  The fact that we were greeted in the driveway of my grandparent’s house by my aunt, we had the dog with us, there is a playpen for the baby tied to the roof of the car, and a photo was taken (something you did only on special occasions back in those pre-digital-camera-days), all tells the story of a long road trip back home to Cape Breton after a long time away.

I love the embroidered cotton blouse that my mother is wearing, and I remember a lot of this kind of garment back when I was a kid:  loose and flowing, cotton, and embroidered in a rustic or ethnic style.  But I know from experience that this raglan sleeved, unfitted blouse style isn’t flattering on me.  I thought that a good compromise would be to use a more fitted tunic shape and mimic the embroidery and neck tie.

Enter Butterick 5310:  Look at that high neckline.  Look at the boxy shape.  Look at the depth of that neck slit!!  I should have listened to my inner pattern critic more closely, because the blouse turned out exactly.  like.  the.  cover.  The bottom of the slit sits almost exactly on the band of my bra.  That’s low.

I thought I could just sew a hook or button closure, so I went ahead and added some vintage embroidered trim that I found at my wonderful VON charity shop:

SNAH looks wistfully out the window

It looked true to the photograph, but was a bit…. meh… to me.  I pulled out an old box of beads that I’ve had kicking around since I was a little kid and added them to the neck ties à la Kazz, but I think it still lacks a certain something.  Not sure if this one will be getting an airing anytime soon. I’ve been on a bit of a UFO / wadder streak lately when it comes to sewing, so let’s all look heavenward and say a little sewing prayer that next week’s efforts will be more successful!




Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


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  1. You had me at Cape Breton & New Brunswick! I desperately want to do a road trip around the Canadian Maritimes. And your family photo is so very evocative – and aren’t you just the most adorable little thing!

    I’m sorry the top didn’t work out better for you, but at least it wasn’t false advertising! You have to give something to a pattern that looks exactly like it says on the tip (well, envelope). Hopefully next week and all that pattern matching will be just as you want it!

    • If you ever do that road trip, send me an email and I’ll help you with the planning. I lived and travelled around the maritimes for the first 27 years of my life, so I’ve seen most of it.

      I’m almost finished my pattern mixing piece for next week and I’m loving it already, so I guess the prayers worked ;)

  2. Love the photo, and I wonder if you’d like the top better belted?

    • Thanks Steph – it’s one of my favourites as well, and I think one of the first ones we have in colour.

      The top is meh either belted or beltless, but I’m going to put it aside and revisit it in the hot summer, when it may have more appeal.

  3. I love your story, and the inspiration photo. I think it’s a nice roomy, casual top. As Steph said, maybe you’ll like it better belted, or with skinny jeans?

    • I’ve been doing Me Made May, and I’ve noticed that I have a wardrobe gap when it comes to basic trousers. Maybe a good pair of straight black trousers would make a lot of my unloved tops look better…..hmmm….is there are trouser challenge coming up?!

  4. Hey, that’s weird. My post isn’t on the main page. I’ve noticed that sometimes happens to other people’s posts too.