I did it! I finished my first vintage garment made to my size, and I love it. I really truly love it. I have a sense of pride like a proud parent. A proud shirt parent. I shamelessly admit that I have pulled the shirt out of my closet on multiple occasions since I finished it just to look at it, touch it, run my fingers along the trim, and sigh with contentment. "I made it all by myself, and it's beautiful" I think before I put it away. This may not be normal behavior for a veteran sewer, but this is MY FIRST successful vintage garment, and darn it I am proud of myself.
The official garment is a 1930's Butterfly Blouse. The pattern is from Decades of Style pattern company, where their goal is to take amazing vintage patterns and make them available to anyone. They take unique and original clothing from 1920 through 1959 and turn it back into patterns, except they clarify instructions, and best of all, they size the patter for bust sizes 30" through 46". They are equalizing the vintage sewing realm for all of us slightly larger, well endowed vintage lovers. If the company was here right now, I would give them a big hug and kiss of thanks.
I chose a fabric from the clearance bin for only $1.99 per yard, and I used about four yards total. It is the kind of fabric pattern that straddles the delicate line between amazing and ugly. The woman at the fabric store raised her eyebrows when she cut it for me, and Sam was incredulous. Sam said I might looked like an old couch, but I had a vision. In the end, I think the fabric created a perfect compliment to the pattern. The fabric, combined with the trim, gives a sense of my style to the piece. The original pattern calls for top stitching along all the bodice pieces, but after a few practice tries at top stitching, I realized I am pretty bad at straight, even, controlled top stitching and I resorted to the bias tape. However, I think it was a great decision, because I think the trim adds an extra bit of detail and sophistication.
Truth be told, the bias tape edging was the most awful part of constructing the shirt. My fingers were bruised for days from trying to pin the tiny, minuscule material to my very fragile cotton fabric. I used tiny quarter inch biased tape, which is really, really small. It took me several feet of pinning, sewing, messing up, cursing, and starting over to devise a plan that worked better than pins. So, fellow sewers or anyone who might ever work with bias tape, here is my tip of the day: IN ORDER TO PRESERVE YOUR SANITY AND YOUR FINGERS, USE A WATER BASED GLUE STICKS TO BASTE TINY BIAS TAPE ON DELICATE FABRIC. Don't use pins. Pins don't work. But glue, use it! As soon as I broke out the glue stick my sanity returned, my fingers stopped feeling like there were bleeding, and the shirt progressed much more quickly. All in all it took me about twelve hours in total to make this garment, and it was well worth the time.
I can't lie, a huge part of my pride is the fact that the shirt actually reminds me of something I might buy in Anthropologie. It is boldly modern yet with a distinctly vintage-theme. The flutter sleeves are both over-the-top and simultaneously very flattering and fashionable. AND, the top has feminine details that really make the garment one of a kind. I expect to make more of this shirt. In the meantime, please enjoy these dramatic photos of my work.
This is a details image, my first attempt at gathering and trimming with bias tape.