How I made up the chiffon blouse

posted in: WIP (work in progress) | 14

In order to prepare myself for designing and using sheer fabrics I bought a piece of silk chiffon and a blouse pattern (ostensibly) designed for sheers.

Vogue 9783
Vogue 9783 (1959)

Here is how I got on.

Design

The pattern is my size (b34) and I checked the fit would be good, compared to my measurements. As a vintage pattern there is sufficient but not excessive ease in the pattern. There is not much shaping at the waist, but this is blouse designed to be tucked in. I elected to use gathering rather than pin tucks. I do want to conquer pin tucks and I think they will be a good feature in a sheer outfit, but I thought that with this pattern (one with gathered sleeves) that gathering was preferable.

Materials

I asked for advice about making this blouse and I got a lot about how to control it – from cutting it out and sewing it between tissue paper, to soaking it in gelatine. But I didn’t bother with any of this. Because I didn’t have to. When I practiced cutting and sewing the inexpensive silk chiffon I found it was fairly well-behaved. Chiffon has a little bit of crinkle in it and a matt appearance. In my view this makes it a pleasure to sew – it doesn’t slip around too much. But it is delicate and almost weightless and has a tendency to blow away. I hadn’t used it for a garment before, although I had used it as bias binding. 

Because the cutting (I don’t have rotary cutters) was far from perfect I ensured all the tailors tacks were in. I find working to these is much more accurate than following the cutting line on unstable fabrics. So I got around this problem.

However I used ordinary basting thread and maybe it was a little heavy. Some books suggest marking with silk basting thread but I didn’t have any. For an experiment I tried ordinary silk thread too – it was nice and light but it didn’t really hold as well as traditional basting thread – which went in and came out easily enough – I used a small, fine, sharp hand sewing needle.

I used black silk organza as interfacing as everyone suggested and this worked perfectly.

Attaching a mitred corner to a bodice
Preparing a mitred corner in the lace

The lace I used was the brown stuff I had bought. I do think black would have looked good actually, but what I did was stitch two pieces of brown lace together with a tiny zig zag onto a piece of black organza, using dark brown thread.

Construction

Before I started I research how to sew chiffon and asked for tips from you. Then I made a few samples to check how things would work. The French seams worked well, as did the organza interfacing. By using a nice new sharp needle (I only had an 11, although 9 was suggested), and good quality Gutermann polyester thread, I found the stitching uneventful. Thankfully I didn’t find my fabric being “pulled down the hole” as numerous people had warned.

Making a chiffon blouse
French seamed yoke and interfaced collar

Conversely I had an enormous problem with the lace, mainly because I didn’t really understand how to make a mitred corner. To cut a long story short, I attached the lace to the yoke assuming the mitred corners would be put in before it was attached to the bodice. Actually you have to mitre the lace first, then attach it. So I tried to detach it, but the tiny zig zag, the lace and chiffon refused to comply so I just chopped off the lace, threw out the yoke and remade a new one. I then had to remove all the stitching from the lace before I could start again. Long, tedious job.

I also prepared the sleeves. These are gathered into interfaced cuffs, and have a button-hole in them. When I tried them on I was dismayed because they were too tight. I do a bit of weight training and I immediately worried my biceps were overdeveloped. I wondered if in 1959 ladies had tiny upper arms. Eventually I twigged that the yoke means the shoulder seams are dropped and the sleeves will fit much lower down than I had anticipated. Phew!

Making a chiffon blouse
Cuffed sleeves

I am avoiding attaching the lace, and doing the button holes. I am nervous. I will update you in a few days when I have tackled them.

14 Responses

  1. Brave girl. You must have been cross to find the problem with the lace/yoke. I think you were right to discard and start again. Unpicking all that zigzag – yucky!
    It will be good to see this when you are finished.

  2. Its a lot of work, but it looks as though it will pay off. Will you hand work buttonholes?

  3. It’s coming along nicely. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished blouse.

  4. Looking good. Funny how some things don’t cause difficulty while other details drive you mad. I hope the finishing work goes smoothly.

  5. Looks like it’s coming along nicely! I can’t wait to see the final result, it’s really a lovely pattern. Very interesting to hear how it’s going with the sheer fabric too!

  6. Thank you for the tips and tricks and also the trials of working with slippery fabrics. For hand basting I use cheap thin serger thread…it leaves less of a trace than regular poly sewing thread. Good luck on the rest of the techniques and finishing steps. Nothing like a sheer blouse to bring back memories of the past when ladies were glamorous.

  7. The progress you’ve made so far looks fantastic! I’m so impressed! 🙂

  8. Use a lightweight machine embroidery thread for the buttonholes, an 80 weight would be great and a sixty still good and definitely that size 8 needle. I wish you were close by. I could have shown you how to miter the corner without putting it in before sewing the seam. Kind of hard to explain in printed word. I know yours will look perfect no matter the technique!

    • You are so kind bunny. The mitering went OK but not great! And thank you for the button hole advice. I shall just step out and buy the supplies!

    • A large supplier had neither of these items Bunny – I will have to try the internet. Furthermore I have just worked out the mitering is the opposite of joining bias strips.

  9. Kate, I just found a simple tute on how to miter corners of lace, the way I do. Hopefully it will help next time.
    http://www.everythingsewing.net/miterededge.htm

    • For step three the lace is folded back on itself. Then it is sewn corner to corner. Then the needle is repositioned to continue sewing the strip to the garment, using the fine embroidery thread and a zig zag. HTHs.

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