Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1930's Butterfly Sleeve Wrap top.

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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE IT!! YOU LOOK GREAT!!

Carmen said...

Me: Wow. Kate's shirt that she made is kind of amazing.

Will: Haha. Duh.

Lauren said...

it really does look like something from Anthropologie! So pretty! I hope you're wearing this RIGHT NOW!

anneland22 said...

that top is fierce. I love the vibrant color palette on you. nice detailing with all that edging!

The solemn cat said...

Oh wow, your blouse is gorgeous! I think I'll have to buy that pattern.

Anonymous said...

wow! stunning! great fabric choice. congrats on a job well done! very, very anthro. wonderful detailing. found your blog because i'm thinking of making this very blouse and i was curious what it looks like on a real person (now I know!). can you tell us more about the construction process and the instructions? what are decades of style patterns like? was the smocking difficult to do? do you have to trim it this way or was that your choice? at what point did you add the trim? (prior to attaching the sleeves)

oh, and more pics, pretty please! (the back view would be nice)

Kate said...

Thank you for your compliments! I found the Decades of Style pattern very easy to work with. They provide clear diagrams of each step, and the patterns are marked clearly with notches. The pattern itself is a bit odd to work with... it requires only a few pieces to make the garmet, but each piece is uniquely shaped and it took some trial and error to pin them together correctly. Overall, I recomend the pattern without reservation. I think Decades of Style is a gem of a pattern company (Vintage in a 46 inch bust! It is like I died and went to pattern heaven!)

I choose to use narrow bias tape as a trim rather than top stitch along curves. It was a modification I opted for because I found it challenging to create an attractive top stitch, plus I love the look of piping and biased tape. I added the bias tape before I attached each sleeve to the body. Definitely use the glue stick method if you use narrow biased tape! :)

The gathers were not too hard. It was my first attempt at them, so I am sure they can be improved with practice, but they still look good. My one word of advice is to make sure you lay your gathered piece into the curve of the sleeve as a double check before you tie off the gathers, just to make sure you have pulled enough fabric. The pattern requires you to gather the shoulder area tight enough to create a matching convex (outward) curve in the body piece to fit into a concave (inward) curve along the the sleeve. If you don't match the curves, you end up with too much fabric in the armpit area. This will make sense when you look at the pattern pieces and instructions.

I do not have any photos of the back, but I assure you that the reverse of my shirt looks just like the illustration on the pattern website. Very flattering and fun.

Good luck with the shirt, it is a dramatic piece that feels very glamorous to wear! Make sure your fabric has a nice, loose drape. I would love to see photos of your shirt when you finish it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info, Kate! i'm sold! do you have an email address listed somewhere here so i can write you privately? i can't seem to find it.

Anonymous said...

I see it now. ;)

Anonymous said...

Leslie

Wow! This is so flattering on you. I love the vintage look fabric and bias trim. I wondered how it would look sewn; I am built very much like you and can't wait to try it!

Have you sewn the 1950's style wrap blouse? I'm going to sew it this autumn.

Kate said...

Leslie - Thanks for the nice comments. I sewed the top a second time with a full pattern review, you can find it here. http://sincerelyyours-kate.blogspot.com/2008/09/1930s-butterfly-blouse-pattern-review.html. I love the top, and I love Decades of Style. I really cannot say enough good things about the company and the variety of sizing they offer. If you are built like me and like to sew vintage, we should exchange pattern suggestions. I am always looking for ways to play down my upper half and create the illusion of hips and a behind! :) And of course, I love vintage styles. Send pictures of your blouse when it is finished.

Miss Amelina said...

Oh my GOSH, I did not even SEE this before! I am SO getting this pattern for SURE now. We are going on holiday in April and it will be perfect. Thank you for the inspiration...LOVE the bias tape! Go Anthropologie!!! :)

Miss Amelina said...

Thank you soooo much for the bias tape suggestion...it is saving my hiney right now. I am almost done with my blouse and will post it on my blog soon.