Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fitting A 1950s Blouse

Tuesday, I showed off my new blouse, made with Simplicity 4530.
The good news about this pattern, is that I am a Bust 36. But let's look at the rest of the measurements... waist, 30"; hip, 39". My measurements in both those areas are about 5" bigger, give or take. So, how did I go about getting this blouse to fit?

I started by tracing the pattern pieces. When I know I have to do a lot of alterations, whether a vintage pattern or a new, I trace. It has happened that I start cutting and slashing so much that a lot of distortion happens, and I want the original just in case I have to start over, or to compare what the shape is supposed to be. Also, I start losing where notches, etc. are.

OK, I trace, and then do a preliminary tissue fitting. I know the waist and hip is too small, but will I need to make any changes from shoulders to bust? After that, I altered the tissue to add 5" to both waist and hip, and made a muslin. Way back in December, I talked a bit about the muslin, and just click here to go back and read that.

After the muslin, I needed to do some final tweaking to the tissue, and that's what I'll show you now. The great thing about this pattern is that there are basically 2 pieces, the front and the back. There are front and back facings, and a cuff (which I used 3/8" seam allowances on) but only adjusted as necessary to match the adjustments to the main pieces.

The Front

If I'm adding 5" total, divide that by 4 (2-1/2" for the front, 1-1/4" for each front side). That seems much more manageable. Since each piece represents only 1/4 of your body. I'll take it step by step.

1. I shortened the sleeve by 3/4". I'm 5'3", so it worked for me, but I really did it so that I could cut the fabric doubled, and not in a single layer, cutting twice. Lazy or efficient, your call.

2. (Ignore the 'x' where I originally lowered the dart 2"). This shows the dart, lowered 1".

3. Instead of just adding 1-1/4" to the side, I did some slashing and spreading. This area is 3/8" added between the darts. Another method of adding width is to narrow or eliminate the darts, but I wanted to keep them. Making them a little further apart makes it more proportional.

4. Here, if I remember correctly, at the hem, the added amount is 3/4", tapering to nothing at the area which would be above my natural waist where I don't need extra width.

The Back

The back is a little more complicated.

1. This is a wedge taken out for my sway back alteration. It tapers to nothing at the side seam.

2. The wedge distorts the center back seam, so it must be re-straightened. The angled line at #2 is also the original hemline.

3. The wedge taken out in #1, is added back in at the hem. If you don't do this, your hemline pulls up oddly.

4. The darts. Again, you can eliminate these, but I like the fitted look. I did narrow them about 1/4" each (1/8" for each "leg" of the dart). I also spread them apart like I did in the front. Also, after doing the sway back wedge, I had to make the darts straight up and down again.

5. This is like the slash and spread on the front, spreading more at the hemline, tapering to nothing at the top.

6. This wedge of tissue is also re-added to the side. It was an area also affected by the sway back wedge.

7. Again, I think this is pointing to the line where I cut the piece to manipulate the darts, add wedges, etc.

Basically, the sway back alteration pulls and distorts, and pieces of tissue have to be added back in or taken out to straighten things back out. It's confusing, but it works.

I matched the gingham by placing the tissue over the fabric, and then drawing the pattern onto the tissue, then I confirm that everything matches. Also confusing, but it works.

I hope all that made sense. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, and I will reply in the comments so be sure to check back.

Simplicity 4530 sold on Tuesday to a lovely sewist from Canada. Other 1950s blouses still in the shop include:


  1. That looks like a labour of love! I'd love to see the original and altered pattern pieces side by side because I still can't quite get the swayback adjustment through my head. It's a lovely pattern. I really like that style.

  2. You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant! blouse back neck designs



Related Posts with Thumbnails