SWAP 2016 0.13 – Simplicy 1278 – Making Garment 2 – the blue cotton blouse

posted in: Finished projects, SWAP | 16

I wanted a nice fitted blouse for my SWAP to coordinate with my 1960s outfits.

While the predominant silhouette of the 1960s is slightly boxy and shift-like I prefer a more fitted top. So shaped 1950s blouse is nice way to define your waist as it flares out over the hips. It is also a flexible style in that it works both tucked in, and out. The hem is curved at the CF so it looks smart both over a pencil skirt and neat, tucked into to a fuller one (I have both types of skirt in my SWAP collection). Also it offers two necklines; a short or 3/4 length sleeve; and some interesting pleating at the neckline. It has a side zip and a button at CB neckline.

Simplicty 1278 + blue cotton
Simplicty 1278 + blue-purple cotton

Pattern and Alterations

I use many vintage patterns, usually sold in just one size. I much prefer the specific sizes, even if I need to alter them to fit (you almost always do anyway) as all the features are scaled correctly. And they come already cut out and ready to go!

This is a modern reproduction of a vintage pattern, so we have a culture clash in an envelope! Here the company is committed to the modern approach of “multi-size” patterns. With the multi-size you just get the “smaller” size graded to say 6,8,10 and 12 (UK) and the larger 14, 16, 18, 20. The pockets, collar length etc on the small or large are the same, for example. With the individual sized patterns you usually get a truer design, I find.

So when this blouse arrived (for US sizes 6-14) the packaged seemed rather bulky. The reason is that the company have reproduced the specific sizes and sold you a job lot. There are actually patterns for all these sizes in the envelope. It took me quite a while, deep in tissue paper, to find my six or seven pieces (view C size 10).

The other difference with the vintage pattern and the modern one was the detail on the instructions. Most vintage patterns assume the dressmaker is “advanced” in modern terms at least until the 1970s. The instructions here are very detailed – almost too detailed with a diagram of every single stage. Modern touches are added too – an invisible zip and serged seams.

The other thing – because this is a modern pattern –  was that Pattern Review and a wide range of blogs gave more detail – what a luxery! I rarely have this bit of help as many of my makes are fairly obscure vintage patterns that are rarely blogged or written up. For this reason I always try to write-up my experience in the hope that it may help others. But on PR most modern patterns are covered, which is a boon if you buy modern (or modern reproductions, like this one). Most of the reviews warn that the pattern “comes up small” and that the collar is tricky. OK!

Helpfully the finished pattern bust size is included and it contains about 4″ of ease, which I consider too much for a fitted pattern. So I have gone down a size. But the hips are bit slim for me so I cut the blouse slightly wider at the hips. And I added 1.5″ to the length of the torso.

Fabric and materials

I used a nice remnant I got at Missan in the summer. It is a good quality shirting fabric, in a lovely shade of purpley blue. I decided to use an iron-on interfacing as the hem and necklines are faced. I used a mauve invisible zip and found two small covered buttons in a light blue. These fitted the collar perfectly.


It was interesting to construct a vintage blouse with such full and carefully illustrated steps. I am so used to using my own patterns, vintage patterns with fairly brief instructions and a high level of assumed knowledge, or patterns with various pieces or even the instructions missing – it felt very relaxing to follow a pattern with 39 steps! All of them carefully thought through and accurate. I was almost able to go onto automatic pilot. This is one of the few garments I have ever made with no mistakes, unpicking, scratched head or guess-work. It was nice and would like to thank Simplicity for making it such a pleasure. There are also quite a few little tips and suggestions which are rather nice.


A nice, wearable blouse with a vintage vibe. The pleats and folds into the neck-band are feminine and pretty. With view C, the lower neckline, I don’t think the back opening is necessary. If I make it again I will cut the back piece on the fold. Also the “cut to size” only works for the back piece meaning all the fitting is done across the back – it would probably be better if you are adding two sizes (at the hips) to be adding one size at both front at back.



16 Responses

  1. Joanne

    Interesting (and pretty) little blouse – I like the back, two button detail. Looking forward to seeing a pic of it in – looks as if it will be really versatile.

  2. Stephanie

    I second Sox’s comment. Lovely job, Kate and I love the colour, too. In fact, I know it’s more your colour than mine but I bought a beautiful piece of wool on sale last week that is almost exactly that colour. 🙂

  3. Anne

    I bought this pattern as I liked the neckline detail. Needless to say I haven’t tried it yet! The two button detail on the back looks good too. Looking forward to seeing a photo of you wearing it.

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