Thursday, January 23, 2014

HSF #2: Innovations

Yup, that's another Historical Sew Fortnightly project up already! The inclusion of 1939-1945 is going to help my challenge count out a lot, I think. Anyways, here it is!

For my innovation, I choose my favorite fabric ever-rayon! While rayon wasn't brand spanking new in the 1940s, there had been some improvements in the manufacture of the fabric that made it grow in popularity even before war rationing limited seamstresses' access to other fabrics. For more info on the history of rayon, check out The Dreamstres' post here.

The Challenge: Innovations
Fabric: 2 yds red polka dot rayon ($7/yd) I also got some of this fabric in the green color way for a dress later in the year
Pattern: Wearing History's Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse pattern
Notions: 4 snaps (stash)
How historically accurate is it? Very! But that's pretty easy when you have access to period patterns, period type fabric and you are doing a period when the sewing machine was popular.
Hours to complete: Oh, I never keep track of these things.
First worn: January 2014
Total cost: $14

 I'm super happy how this blouse turned out but I did have some trouble with it. Part of the issue was that the rayon I was using was very slippery and I was too lazy to cut it one layer at a time. This pattern is one of the Resto-Vival patterns from Wearing History which means that while it has been multi-sized and translated from unprinted to printed form, it does come with the original period directions. I have found that there can be a lot of difference between late 30s/early 40s patterns and war era 40s patterns in terms of amount and quality of directions (and fit too but that's a whole different issue). So be warned that from a direction stand point, this may be a more challenging project.

I was able to get the fit very well. I'll be doing another post later on how I did an FBA-type adjustment to this pattern because that took a bit of brain power since it's a wrap style with no darts. The worst fitting part for me had to be the sleeves. I know from previous work with early 40s patterns that 40s sleeves and I do not get along well. I almost made it short sleeved from the start but I really did want this to be a winter top so I went ahead with the 3/4 length sleeves.

Alas, I over estimated how much ease to add and the wider sleeves just looked silly with the rest of the blouse. I really do feel like this style needs more fitted sleeves to balance out the draping on the blouse. Since I'd already set in the sleeves by the time I figured this out, I just chopped them off to short sleeves. I may go back and add pleats to the sleeves like in one of the other views, but as I didn't get to the sleeves till the night before I wanted to wear it, that didn't happen yet.

 The draping turned out beautifully! I was a bit nervous during the construction process since it didn't look as drape-y as the illustrations but the true beauty of the draping on this blouse doesn't really shine till it's on a person. The neckline is lovely. It's high with out being constricting and awkward. I also loved that the edge of the wrap part is cut on grain, rather than on the bias so you don't have to worry about crazy bias stretch!

The directions and yardage for view c are designed for it to be unlined and pieced so if you have a fabric like mine that has an obvious wrong side or you don't want to piece your tie, plan on some extra yardage. 

Overall, I'm very happy with this pattern and will probably sew it up again! It's definitely not a beginner pattern, but it's worth conquering for a more practiced seamstress.

The skirt is also a new piece that I made to go with this blouse. It's Simplicity 3457 which is a late 30s/early 40s 12 gore skirt pattern that I made up in a black fine whale corduroy. It was really fun to sew up and I'm glad to have a basic black skirt in my closet finally!


  1. Love this! I've never actually tried a wearing history pattern, I think I'm missing out!

  2. Love this blouse on you! I really love the way wrap blouses fit on me. They are usually so roomy in the bust and nip in at the waist, making it perfect for my shape.

  3. Love rayon, I've been building up my stash of 40s rayon prints when I see them reasonably priced. I hope to conquer a rayon dress this year. I have to do a bit of research into working with rayon and it's slippery qualities but it drapes so well. Lovely color on you.

  4. Gorgeous blouse! I'm a huge fan of rayon as well. It's incredibly comfortable, usually holds up well, and rarely fades too much over the years. This warm, beautiful cherry juice hue looks smashing on you, honey.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. Your blouse is beautiful and looks amazing on you!