Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Design Ideas for Button-Back Blouses

So, you've probably noticed by now how I love my button-back blouses. I've made five of them at this point, using either my vintage VoNBBS pattern or Colette Patterns Sencha. I've recently noticed some fabulous ready-to-wear blouses with similar shapes. For instance, the above blouse is from ModCloth and I think it's gorgeous. Wouldn't it be fun to use a simple lace overlay like this on a blouse project? The back is also strikingly similar to a vintage pattern with its tucks and covered buttons. This got me thinking about how to customize these patterns even further. So grab on to your Sencha patterns, everyone! Let's look at some design details that you can draft yourself.

I've done some more research into button-back blouse patterns of the 40s and 50s, and I've found that there are lots of ways that you can spice these tops up. And there's no need to spend a load of cash on vintage patterns. Just one basic (like the Sencha) pattern that you've fitted to your body can serve as the template for all these ideas. Just have a good patternmaking book handy, like Adele P. Margolis's Make Your Own Dress Patterns.

1. Yokes

An interesting yoke can add a fabulous touch to these blouses, and all it takes it the addition of a seam. I love the unusual yoke on McCall 7597.

Simplicity 1868 has a curved yoke. I love the look of the lace overlays on a yoke too!

2. Lowered Necklines

Another great way to vary these blouses is to draw in a lower neckline, in either a scoop or U shape. Look at the awesome addition of rickrack trim to a u-neckline on Simplicity 2345:

3. Collars

Collars are a classic addition to a simple blouse pattern. (See the first two parts of my Peter Pan collar tutorial here and here!)

This pattern combines gathers with a Peter Pan collar to great effect.


4. Waistbands

I love the idea of adding a waistband to a blouse, as in the pattern below (notice the pin tucks and Peter Pan collar too!) In fact, I might just try this next . . .

5. Neckline gathers and drapes

To amp up the soft feminimity of these blouses, try lovely neckline gathers, like on McCall 6453.

And check out the dramatic draping on this pattern. I die.

As you've probably noticed, a lot of these patterns combine two or more of these elements. Go crazy! How about neckline gathers with a waistband and a Peter Pan collar? The sky's the limit! Got any other ideas to make some fab blouses? Let's hear 'em!


37 comments:

  1. Ahh yes, I plan on making a few blouse variations as we head into winter in my part of the world... happily I am spending all my time making/wearing summer dresses after returning from two months spent in the European winter!

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  2. This might be a silly question... but... is it difficult to put these blouses on? Can you just pull them over your head, do the buttons in front, and then turn the blouse around and put your arms through, or is the fit too close for that?

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  3. Anonymous and I have a shared mind, apparently.

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  4. Ha! This comes up everytime I post about this style of blouse. Leave the middle buttons done, then slip it on and do the top and bottom buttons while you're wearing it. Easy peasey I swear!

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  5. how timely! I just ordered the Sencha blouse pattern last week and I bought the Margolis book as well and am loving it. I think I'll try the scooped neck version (plus a maternity alteration, I contacted Sarai and she had some suggestions for that).

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  6. Long time reader, first time commenter...

    Thanks Gertie for you hard work and inspiration. Posts like these keep me dreaming about all the possibilities - so much so that I often don't know where to start!

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  7. I made a Victorian blouse from a butterick costume pattern that buttoned from the back, and yes, it was difficult, especially if it's form fitting with no give to do the half-button up trick. Unless you're super flexible someone really has to do it for you. It's such a cute blouse!

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  8. In reply to Anonymous...
    I just put an invisible zipper in the side seam!

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  9. Thanks Gretie for look is very nice...
    Hugs
    Deni

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  10. some great suggestions here - thanks, Gertie! I'll definitely be referring back to this post!

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  11. OK, the last pattern, the draped one...got me there. Whew, what a stunner.

    Anon asked the question I wanted to about getting in and out of said blouses. But one more: how do you sit back in a chair or couch without being uncomfortable? Is there a way to cover flat buttons to match the blouse?

    Pragmatist sneaking back to lurking...

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  12. I'm especially keen on the lower neckline variation, as I didn't buy the Sencha blouse mostly because I tend to think that high necklines are just not right on me (and now the pattern is slightly too expensive for me, with the shipping fees to France)...

    Another great alteration is lace inserts à la Peggy Hunt, Sarai mentioned her designs (and even owns one of them!!!): http://www.sweetsassafras.org/2009/04/29/vintage-dresses-by-peggy-hunt Topshop made a lovely back-buttoned-lace insert-peter pan collar blouse last spring, modelled by Stella on Wardrobe remix: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25950854@N06/3868672684/in/set-72157605125339279/

    I'd love to be able to make such a thing!

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  13. Have you noticed though, how small the waist on Woman A on that last packet is? I mean, it's barely wider than her head! But it is a beautiful pattern, just skewed body image haha

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  14. Our minds must be working along the same lines lately... I was just recently thinking about doing an inspiration post on Sencha variations! lol. Weird, isn't it? haha!

    I'm so glad you did this, because the style really lends itself to endless variations. Especially with the plethora of inspiration we have from the 40s and 50s when that extended shoulder/softly fitted blouse look was so popular. Plus, most are super easy changes with a little pattern know-how. Personally, I'm thinking I need to try out the draping or waistband variation; both are quite lovely. Plus that Mod Cloth blouse is beautiful with the lace overlay!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these, Gertie! :)

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  15. Love this post! Such great ideas! Hope my Sencha pattern will arrive in the mail soon...

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  16. I can't wait to see what you come up with, Gertie! But... pin tucks. Pin tucking used to be the bane of my sewing existence, because invariably, one of them would turn out crooked and throw the entire project off. No matter how careful I was, one tuck was always crooked... until I figured out how to cheat.

    I've never managed to get the wheel transfer system to work accurately. Ever. Last year, while I was making Simplicity 2629, I had an epiphany. Get out some tracing paper and trace the pin tuck part of the pattern. Then flip it over, and retrace the pin tucking lines with an embroidery transfer pencil. Now, take your tracing and iron it on the wrong side of the fabric. Then you've not only got lines to match up, but a clear line to follow while you're sewing and nothing turns out crooked! It works every time, and it also works for knife pleating and every other kind of pleating!

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  17. I'll definitely be bookmarking this one for future reference!

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  18. I'm with you on McCall 6717--love the draped neck, and since I have some drapey silky stuff in my stash, I can see more blouses in my future. Thanks for the inspiration, Gertie!

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  19. Great post! I love all the variations. Now to decide which one to start with...

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  20. I'm with Carlotta, I ache to make and wear these beautiful blouses, but my chest is too large and wearing anything that isn't deeply scooped or v-ed looks terrible. I am excited to try a blouse similar to the first one pictured. I think that the addition of lace may help to visually break up the vast expanse of chest. I think that this could be done to most of the blouses pictured here. Gertie, these are amazing designs! Each one is unique and wonderful, not a dud in the bunch! I would love any ideas on the high-neck/large chest dilemma, especially as it relates to vintage patterns since they tend to mostly be high-necked. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like she's missing out.

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  21. I love the lace inlay! I made a few projects with lace and love the look. Right now I am refashioning a cardigan with lace.

    The blouse reminds me of one from Kenley Collins' spring collection. Remember Kenley from Project Runway? I saw pics from her spring line and would have loved to see details of the bloue up close.

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  22. I'm totally inspired now-I'm ordering Sencha today!
    Thanks.

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  23. Thanks for the advice on putting them on! I think you took the fear out of button-back blouses and putting them on myself.

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  24. Gertie thank you for these variations on the button back blouse - I really liked seeing the sleeves on these as well because I just don't do sleeveless or cap sleeves anymore. very helpful!

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  25. I love all the variations but I think my favourite has to be the last one, that sensational draped neckline. I want one of those!

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  26. Love the ideas. Thanks, Gertie.

    My next project is getting the fit just right on the Sencha pattern so I can try some variations for summer tops. I am especially excited to try the yoke variation, perhaps with a tie collar that ties in the back.

    Oh, and I've got a button back blouse that fits pretty closely. I have no trouble getting it on and off if I unbutton the top two or three buttons. I'm quite the pear, so I don't even need to unbutton the bottom buttons.

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  27. To all my fellow big-chested sisters: these patterns can work for us. Unaltered, yes, you get a scary load of extra fabric bunching in the arm pits, around the neckline, etc. etc. But the alteration to make these styles wearable are exceptionally easy: make a muslin with a boat neckline and insert darts. First, make sure you make a muslin of the pattern the first time you intend to sew with it. Alter the muslin, then use it for pattern every time you wish to make that design. Second, alter the necline to be a "boat necklines." The high necklines of these designs unaltered can seem to look - well - just wrong on us large-busted gals. Change the shape of the neckline to be a shallow curve (test this on your muslin, of course) and see if you don't like the results better. Finally, insert darts. I normally have one on the side of the bust going into the side seam, as well as one on the top going into the neckline. Without darts, I often feel like I'm swimming in these shapes. With them, yes, my bust is accentuated BUT the clothing fits better and looks better.

    I hope these ideas help!

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  28. I second the comments about lowering the neckline if you're top heavy -- it is easy to do, and in my experience at least it does look better. Something about having fabric all the way up to my neck makes my boobs look too low/big. I lowered the neckline on the Sencha that I made by about an inch, just by nipping off some extra with a rotary cutter.

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  29. I can't believe this, I was just working on a similar post this morning! Mine was different in that my focus was not just on short-sleeve button-back blouses but on all the cool and unique blouse details they utilized during the 30s & 40s. I've also been collecting other details (like pockets) that could add some edge to modern clothing.

    You did a great job (as always) on this though.

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  30. The newest vogue pattern by Rachel Comey features a button-back blouse with a yoke and a pretty tied front - she must have been looking at the same inspiration material.

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  31. It was interesting to read Brrrandi's suggestions for how to alter the Sencha pattern for large busted women. Now what about us flat chested women? It's such a cute pattern, but I'm a little afraid to buy it because the size 0 has a bust measurement that is two inches larger than I am! I'm afraid it will just look baggy on me. Anyone have any suggestions for what sort of alterations I might have to do?

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  32. Drool, drool, drool.

    I've been swamped with work of late but have a weekend with sewing time coming up. One of these may be in my future!

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  33. I blogged my version of the rickrack view (Simplicity 2345) a couple of weeks ago. I'm still getting emails about that rickrack bow! I think its wonderful some so cute and feminine is still popular (apparently!) after 60+ years. That's amazing.

    Oh and thanks alot, I thought I had finally curbed the must-have-more-vintage-patterns beast, but that draped McCalls has fired her up again. ;)

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  34. I was thinking this blouse would look good made of lace and then worn over a camisole or corset style top. Having never made the Sencha pattern I'm not sure whether it would work out. What are your thoughts?

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  35. I just stumbled accross your blog. WOW! you are inspiring, I recently recieved several (like-new) vintage patterns from my husbands grandmother, and I have wanted to tackle them. Your blog makes it seem possible, I just love vintage clothes! Thanks Gertie!!!!

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  36. Ever thought on designing a shirt that buttons up.the back . A famous designer tried this but never took off . I challange you to come up with some thing for us males lol. I'll be yer gunniepig . Regards Chris .

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  37. The Cheap Blouses For Women to make a woman more sexy and charming.

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

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