Let it be clear: when I wrote that I am interested in the fashion of bygone eras and love to sew more vintage-inspired garments I was not referring to the 1990’s. As I was a teenager throughout most of the 90’s, I can remember them vividly and I am neither feeling nostalgic about this time-period, nor do I find the fashion of this era particularly appealing. Nevertheless, I also realize that some of the outfits I wear today are reminiscent of what I wore in secondary school: tight/skinny jeans with a long vest or wide blouse and (lace-up) boots.
The 1990’s are also the time-period in which I first became interested in sewing clothes for myself, using my mum’s old and heavy Lewenstein sewing machine and some of her old patterns. As I could not afford regularly-priced fabric and most of my projects failed anyway, I usually looked for cheap remnants. The fabric I used for this blouse – a tie-dyed viscose in hues of cyclam, army green and brown – was a remnant bought at our local fabric shop that closed down many years ago. It probably dates back to the early or mid-nineties and it definitely reminds me of the blouses and tunics that were popular at the time. (A quick search on the internet on the style of these blouses lead me to the term “Hippie Grunge”, which I suppose is quite appropriate. These blouses were, of course, retro back then as well.)
This fabric lingered in my stash because apart from tie dye not being something I usually wear, for a long time I mostly sewed skirts and this lightweight fabric is not all that suitable for skirts. Now that my favorite silk tunic has started to fall apart, it was time to start looking for a replacement and that’s when I finally found a purpose for this fabric. The pattern I used is the Puffed Sleeve Blouse from Burda 07/2012. As I had not sewn a garment for myself in almost two years, I wanted to make something that did not involve much fitting and seemed fast and easy. Although this pattern is quite straightforward, making the blouse took a bit longer than I had hoped. Most of the delays were caused by the fabric I had chosen. First of all, I had some trouble deciding how to lay out the pattern pieces, as the fabric displays vertical bars with different width that do not repeat very regularly.
Due to the fabric being quite light and slippery, I ended up sewing much of the neckline, cuffs and slith by hand. Although the neckline still sticks out a bit when the button is closed, it looks much better than when I machine-sewed it. I really hope the hand-sewn pieces hold up, as the fabric frays quite a lot when handled and also easily gets ripped. In hindsight this would have been a good project to try French seams on, but as I am not used to sewing with this kind of lightweight fabric, I only realized this when it was too late.
Besides lengthening the sleeves with about 3cm and shortening the slith, I exchanged the sew-on snap fastener for a button and loop closure. Initially, I added some length to the hemline as well, but as my first attempt at hemming by simply folding over the fabric twice and then sewing it down failed and I was too lazy to rip out the seam, I decided to cut it off. Instead, I first serged the hem and then folded it over twice. The serged edge makes sure the fabric does not strech too much when hemming and makes it easier to fold the fabric. I read this tip somewhere on the internet and will definitely use it more often. As I am still new to handling a serger (more about that in my next post), I managed to cut into the fabric where I was not supposed to, but I don’t think this small tear is visible when you don’t know it’s there. Overall, I am quite pleased how the curved hem turned out, especially because I know what it looked like before.
Although I was a bit sceptical about the result at first, fearing it would be too much of a nineties throwback and because of the problems I encountered while sewing, I have worn it quite a lot already, as it is very comfortable.
Fabric: from stash
Button: from my mum’s stash