Hot! The Fireworks & Flowers blouse

This week’s Embellish challenge was, well, tricky.  I started out with a fabulous, elaborate plan that involved lots of handwork – my favourite.  Then the weather turned really cold and nasty, and I got chillblains, and my fingers swelled up into angry little pain sausages.  Anything involving lots of fiddly cutting and hand-sewing was out of the question.

So I did a little mad re-arrangement of my sewing to make something, anything, that involved embellishment, and ended up using the blouse that I had intended for the ‘Red, White & Blue’ challenge for this one, because I could do lace-insertion on it, and scrambling up a UFO for the RWB challenge.

The lace insertion work going down the front panel

Sadly, as often happens with compromises, neither project was ideal.  I still don’t love the Just Add Red jacket, and I’m not sure the lace insertion improved the blouse.  It’s over-thought, over-worked, and I’m kinda over it.  I’m totally over winter.  I want it to be warm and sunny so I can sew the things I want to sew!

Sigh.  Anyway, onwards and upwards to next week’s challenge.  I must be about due for a win.

At least I really like the skirt I’m wearing with the blouse: it’s a vintage piece that I found at an op-shop.  It had a broken zip, a 27″ waist and 43″ hips, but I loved the details and the fabrics, so I took of the waistband, let out the waist, tailored in the hips to 39″ and put in a new zip.  I finished it just in time for this photoshoot.

Love the skirt

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.3 metres of self-striped voile with a little tiny print that was probably supposed to be flowers, but looks like little fireworks to me (hence the title of this post, and why I wanted to use it for the Red, White & Blue challenge) left over from Maggie’s blouse. $16

Pattern: Folkwear #210 – the Armistice Blouse

Year: 1990s does 1910s (Folkwear claims this pattern is historical, but it’s not accurate)

Notions: 5 metres of white insertion lace ($3), 4 vintage snaps from an op shop (.4 cents – it was 5 cents for 5, and I used 4), a metre or so of twill tape (free- inherited from Nana), and a metre or so of silver-threaded bias binding left over from another project.

Hours: 5 (trying to cut out the insertion with fingers so swollen I could barely slip them through the embroidery scissors was not exactly fast).

Make again?  Probably not.

First worn: Put it on. Sighed.  Fussed with it.  Took it off.  Sighed.  Postponed photos.  Again.  And Again.  Finally got desperate on Monday and got a friend to help me out, and she teased me into actually enjoying taking the pictures.

Wear again? Probably only as a pseudo-historical garment.  Maybe with a blue pencil skirt to teach.

Total cost: $19.04

Detail of the lace insertion going up the front panel

The back, gathered at neck and waist

The little firework-flower patterned voile, and a bit of fancy in the silver-threaded bias-binding


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.


Comments are closed.

  1. Very sweet and delicate. I think it adds a beautiful focal point to the front panel. I love the way you laid out the lace too,I never would have though to do that. Thanks for the inspiration. The skirt is a great upcyle and goes with the blouse perfectly.
    I can’t tell from the photos, but did you cut away the fabric underneath the lace trim?

    • Thank you. I looked at a bunch of vintage blouses for insertion inspiration, and then kinda went with what the lace and fabric were telling me looked right. The fabric is cut out from behind the insertion work. I should make myself a pale blue silk chemise to wear under it in summer so that it shows up!

  2. Impressive. Looks great.

  3. Hi Leimomi, I would make the light blue chemise to show off that insertion work! I hope your hands are feeling better.

  4. The lace insertion is so lovely!! I would definitely think of fireworks also. I think you are rocking this blouse style, and I love it paired with that skirt. Well done!

  5. This is such a pretty blouse. The lace insert is so elaborate but I don’t think it looks overworked…since it’s all white it doesn’t look like it’s too much. Not sure why you don’t like this blouse so much – maybe you’ll look at it differently when spring comes around. Sorry to hear you’re suffering so much from the cold. :( I hope your hands are back to normal.

  6. It looks great to me. The lace is lovely. I do wish we could send some of our heat your way for a day or two at least.

  7. When it gets cold around here all I do is wish it was warm again. I feel like winter lasts for at least 6 months and summer seems to zip by. I feel for you-I really do.

    The blouse is pretty and the skirt looks great. I do know what it’s like to be “over” something though.

  8. WOW! Leimomi I love your attention to detail. You really know what you like and I love that. I can see you’ll get lots of wear out of this one, well done.

  9. I love that blouse, Leimomi!! I’ve had that pattern on my wishlist ever since Casey made one for that lace challenge for the Sew Weekly.

  10. Once upon a time, when Folkwear was a small local company, I had the pleasure of visitng their office/studio space. I had won a dozen patterns in a historical costume contest and was invited out to pick them up and see how they created their patterns. They actually had historical garments that they took patterns from but like anything, what they had was what someone had made and so who knows how the actual style was interpreted. I’ve made that Armitice blouse and wondered about the “accuracy” of it. Your version is wonderful, I hope you can at least use it as a teaching model! Sorry its so cold there, if I could send your some of our 105 degree days I would so it would all even out : ) Hope your hands are feeling better, summer will be there soon and WE will be plunged into the dark and the cold : )

    • How lucky that you got to visit the Folkwear workrooms! I know that Folkwear work from extent garments, but the shape and construction techniques they give for this just doesn’t match any of the extent ‘teens garments I own, or any of the ones I have worked with, nor the instructions in period sewing guides. It’s very much a product of the ’90s. Still a great blouse though!

      I’d love to even out the temperatures too, but you live in the SF Bay Area! I’ve lived there, and while it’s not SoCal, you can’t really complain of dark and cold ;-)