Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tada! The "Feminine, Portrait Neckline Blouse!"

"Under the sun or under the stars, the portrait-neckline blouse has a way of making you look your prettiest and most feminine."
-- Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing (aka VoNBSS)

Well, here it is! My first project from VoNBSS.

I made it in linen, just like the book suggested. Actually, it's a linen eyelet--how cool is that?

I did my very best to stay true to VoNBSS's guidance. I used tailor's tacks, did a faced, lapped zipper and a basted fitting, and even hand-rolled the sleeve hems! I have to say, the things that I thought would be such a pain really weren't at all. Doing tailor's tacks actually isn't any more time consuming in the long run than transferring marks with a tracing wheel and transfer paper. And there are no troublesome chalk marks to deal with afterwards!

There were a few things that struck me about this vintage pattern, which is from 1952. First, it's an unprinted pattern, which I've never used before. It's simply blank, with perforations as markings. The perforations make it easy to thread tailor's tacks through them.

Here are the new skills I picked up with this project. After all, learning is what we're all about here!
1. Tailor's tacks (verdict: pretty much awesome but not always necessary). It was actually quite fun to make the little thread loops through the perforations. Also, you have to love the enthusiasm VoNBSS brings to tailor's tacks. "See--there are little tufts of thread to show you which perforation goes with which!" OMG! VoNBSS does not shy away from exclamation points. They're very cheerful.

2. Basted fitting (verdict: an excellent time-saver). I machine basted the major seams and then tried the blouse on. Luckily it fit perfectly. Then I just stitched precisely to the left of the basting so it wouldn't show on the outside of the blouse. If I had done this with my Joan Holloway dress, I would have saved a lot of ripping out tiny stitches.

3. A faced, lapped zipper (verdict: pretty neat, and worked like a charm).
Conversely, VoNBSS has you do a lot of things that seem like time-wasters to me. Tailor's tacks to mark the seam lines? Hand basting to mark the center front and center back? No thank you.

I did do a lot of things by hand that I normally wouldn't have out of sheer laziness. I hand-rolled the sleeve hems, which was very satisfying. I also hand-tacked the facings to the shoulder seam allowances, rather than stitching in the ditch. Hand tacking takes roughly 30 seconds, and it's invisible (unlike my stitching in the ditch, unfortunately). Seriously, what is my problem with doing this stuff on a regular basis?

This is a fun little blouse that I think I'll get a lot of wear out of. I really like how it's very fitted on the hips, and then the darts release into tucks at the waist to give a bloused effect. Very cute. Thanks, VoNBSS! Next up from this book is the "slim, supple skirt" in a lovely lavender rayon/wool blend.


  1. Lovely. Your review is very helpful! I have been enjoying more handstitching in my garments. I feel like I have more control.
    And thank you for reminding that I have the Margolis' Patternmaking Book. I put it away last year because I just began sewing and it seemed too confusing! Now I think that I am ready...

  2. You are doing so well with these projects! They are looking awesome! Can't wait to see more, Mardi xxx

  3. I'm very tempted to search for VoNBSS now. It sounds really cool.

  4. I really like that top. The fit is great. You, btw, inspired me to buy the Macaron dress from Colette Patterns. Thanks, I think. :)

  5. What a pretty top, and what a great challenge. I have that book and love leafing through it, but must still admit to taking whatever short cut I can find - probably why my effots never fit as beautifully as this!

  6. I'm so pleased you liked the pattern- thanks for letting me know you'd made it up! I LOVE what you've done with it- and your fabric choice is great.

  7. That i s a lovely neckline and the book is guite right to point it out. Am enjoying your blog immensely (how do you spell that?) here in Oslo, Norway.

    Vibeke in Oslo

  8. You've done a great job. I love the fitting of that blouse. It's just perfect. And your reviews are helping me do some alterations with my dickies scrubs. I rally hope it ends up right.

  9. This top is so cute! I love it. I am so tempted to try to find the pattern now! Thanks Gertie

  10. Does anyone know of a similar pattern to this that might be available to buy new? It's a beautiful style but I don't think I could be arsed to a) track it down online or b) pay however much it might be for a popular vintage pattern
    ... I want to be feminine too!

  11. Hello, I have just found your blog and I love it. You are gorgeous!

    I am attempting to put together a wedding ensemble which will consist of a corset (custom professionally made) with a circle skirt (over the corset at the waist) made by me and mum, with a chiffon something on top all put together with a sash. My question is, do you think this style could be made with chiffon or georgette?

    or if no, do you have any ideas of a suitable pattern? I want a bit of cleavage "available", with maybe small sleeves. so like this portrait blouse with a low neckline?



  12. Hey, I'm just wondering.. do you have to buy all the patterns used in the vogue book for better sewing seperately or does it have scaled down templates? Thanks :) -Khrystyna

  13. Hand Rolled hems are quite relaxing...its a sewing with the TV on thing for me.

  14. I made this one with the pattern in your book. Super easy which was great but I found that I needed a 'cone' bra to pull it off or it sat all wrong. So definitely a classic vintage shape.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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