Friday, 4 January 2013

Introducing...Watch This Lace!

Happy New Year friends! I'm very excited to finally be sharing a 'project' with you that was set in motion last summer when I came across a rather large bundle of beautiful vintage lace. After much consideration, I just couldn't get A Common Thread Project out of my mind, the inspired idea from Mena of The Sew Weekly fame (see all the pretty projects). The tantalising thought of sharing my loot with sewing bloggers internationally and showcasing our different creations was too good to pass up. So I got in touch with eight of many, many beloved bloggers to see if they'd be up for brightening our last two winter months. And guess what...they all agreed! Yipeee!

After totally stealing Mena's idea – why reinvent the wheel – the least I could do was come up with a new name. So I'm delighted to introduce Watch This Lace, with an exciting schedule guaranteed to warm your cockles for the following eight Sundays:




To kick-start Watch This Lace, I present to you my most cherished make to date - The Armistice Blouse from Folkwear patterns. A Common Thread boffins will note that Casey made this as her project too, but I just couldn't help myself – love that gal and the blouse!


Why is this my most cherished make to date? Aside from the beautiful pattern details, I made it using silk that my great grandmother spun/wove with her own two hands in the 1940s. I know nothing about the technicalities of weaving silk fabric - but I do know that she even nurtured the silk worms herself. This is a woman - pictured below with my great grandfather - who raised five children whilst relentlessly working in the fields all day. How she found time to also weave enough silk to leave as a dowry for each of her four daughters is a mystery to me, but then I guess she didn't have a TV to distract her!


Onto the beautiful pattern details! This blouse dates from 1918 and has such a deliciously romantic and floaty feel to it. The reason it's so flattering to wear is the gathered back, which counteracts some of the fullness of the design. This is cleverly constructed by actually gathering the back and then sewing the self-made tie over the gathers.



Of course the over-sized collar and front panel are the real stars of this blouse and lend themselves to so much modification. I kept mine pretty simple though to let the exquisite silk and lace really shine. The pattern calls for functional buttons, but the ones I added - cute little heart-shaped ones - are purely decorative as I can actually slip this on and off without the need for any closures. Bonus!


This blouse is full of unique details, which make it a true pleasure to construct. Just look at these elaborate double cuffs with the added lace and tiny buttons...they make my heart melt! This was my first attempt at cuffs with a placket and button holes, but the clear instructions made it an absolute breeze. Initially I was going to be lazy and simplify the cuffs, but I'm so glad I made them in all their glory. 
How did I match the lace to the silk so perfectly? I know you're wondering about this, don't pretend you're not impressed!


Good old English Breakfast Tea is the answer! You can see below the wider lace I used across the top of the front panel was already the perfect off-white colour, whereas the lace I used to trim the collar, panel and cuffs was much whiter. So I simply dunked a tea bag in hot water, topped the jug up with cold water and literally submerged my lace and quickly spooned it out. And ta da...it came out exactly the same shade as the wider lace! For my purpose the key was not to overdo it, but obviously for a darker stain you just need to brew the teabag stronger and leave your lace in longer. If in doubt, try it out on shorter lengths until you achieve the shade you're after.
About the pattern. As I said before, it really was wonderful to work with. I know my decision to work on this slowly and really appreciate the clever construction and elaborate details helped. But the instructions are so clear and easy to follow and I love that the pattern is printed on heavier paper - it's much less flimsy than the traditional tissue paper used and consequently easier to work with. I think the other reason this pattern probably gets the thumbs up from me is that I only needed to make minimal changes to achieve the fit I wanted - I moved the waist gathers and tie up by 3 inches, I added 2 inches to the length and shortened the sleeves by whopping 5.5 inches.



So to say I'm really proud of this make and a little smug is an understatement, but my face hides nothing! 


Now I'm all pumped up to feature the next eight Watch This Lace participants...I can't wait to see what they've made! I sure hope you're looking forward to it too!

58 comments:

  1. That is a STAGGERINGLY beautiful make! So sophisticated, so demure, so fragile - and I love those collars. Actually, I love everything about it. You look beautiful in it. You were born to wear this style! And I love the story about your grandmother. That is truly amazing. What inspiration!

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  2. Wow this is so pretty! Can't believe your great grandma made the silk as well! Incredible x

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  3. Really lovely blouse and a great idea for Watch this Lace too.

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  4. What a lovely and amazing story! The blouse is magnificent, perfect for the lace and silk.

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  5. You look absolutely tremendous :) Nice work doll. I think you're really at one with your style, which makes for some massively gorgeous outfits. Can't wait for all lacy loveliness xxx

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  6. words escape me - Marie this is just too wonderful. I want to reach through my screen and feel the silk. what an amazing heirloom, and you've put it to perfect use.

    great idea re watch this lace - looking forward to seeing what the others make!

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  7. stunning wowww I love it and I am very impressed

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  8. lovely! This idea is so exciting! I can't wait to see them all!

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  9. Wow it's absolutely beautiful and the fact your grandma wove the silk with her own two hands is the icing on the cake! An amazing top with an amazing story to go along with it!

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  10. Gorgeous Marie, just gorgeous :) Totally you, and how special that you made it with a family heirloom! That makes it totally special and unique.

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  11. Oh wow! I love the modern take on such vintage style blouse, it is absolutely gorgeous!!! I love that you used fabric that your grandmother spun, such a beautiful story and truly a heirloom piece.

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  12. It's so, so bee-oo-tiful Marie! You were born to sew and wear this blouse, maybe your great grandma had an inkling it would be put to such good use whilst she was weaving the silk?! I'm sure she'd be proud anyway. It's a fabulous start to an awesome project. x

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  13. That is so adorable!! Very romantical :)

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  14. great idea and a beautiful make! it's just gorgeous and you can see how much work you put in - you deserve to be proud! (and i like the sneaky peek at some of your farbic stash behind you!)

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  15. Marie I'm aghast, its fabulous, and does both the lace and the heirloom silk harmonic justice. It looks amazing, great launch to the project!!

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  16. Oh, tea, what can't you do?

    I love the story behind the fabric--what a special keepsake and a great way to honor your great-grandmother! I'll be looking forward to seeing what the other participants come up with.

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  17. Oh wow - how beautiful!
    I would be afraid to wear it!
    But I am so glad that you do!

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  18. I can't wait to watch this series unfold!! What an awesome idea! Your blouse is seriously beautiful and I can't get over all the little details and the story behind the fabric. It's all so amazing!

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  19. BEEEEEEEEAUTIFUL!!! I'm so glad you went all out with this - all the little details are so perfect! And the story behind that silk, ahh!! This whole blouse is like the happiest sewing story ever :) I love it!

    I'm so excited to get my lace project crackin' (gotta finish this Mood make first... I am very monogamous with my projects haha), and so honored to be part of the round-up for this whole shebang :)

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  20. Marie, your blouse is absolutely to die for! Wow. What an incredible gift to be able to sew with such treasured fabric that is such a part of your family history, amazing. I can't wait to see the other projects in the series. x

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  21. This is an absolutely priceless garment, and it fits you beautifully. I love the story of your great grandmother's silk.

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  22. What a truly beautiful blouse you've created an heirloom of your own.

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  23. Fantastic idea, and I love your blouse. Can't wait to see what the other ladies come up with!

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  24. This is so beautiful! I love it. It well deserves the smug face at the end me thinks! :D Looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with too.

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  25. Beautiful garment, perfect makeup, and rad style!

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  26. Great blouse, great lippy, great style!

    I want a great granny like yours!!

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  27. This is so, so, SO perfect! I absolutely love it! I can't get over your great-grandmother! What a lady she must have been! I'm so glad you've made such a special piece to treasure forever! Thanks again for including me in this project-- I'm so excited!

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  28. love your blouse! loving the family history of it :o) enjoyed Mena's Common Thread so am really excited to see you re-do the idea, all in all very inspiring - Thanks x

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  29. Very, very pretty. And I am just amazed by the source of the silk. That truly is an heirloom blouse. Beautiful!

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  30. Marie, this blouse is strikingly beautiful. It looks so delicate and dainty. Can't wait to see what everyone else will make with the lace. Great idea to share your precious lace.

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  31. Oooh, what a gorgeous blouse! I love that it's made with your grandma's silk :) I have this pattern and must really make it up.

    Looking forward to seeing the lace projects.

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  32. This is so special! I love everything about this. Amazing job and amazing history!

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  33. Just amazing. This blouse really shows all the love and care you took in making it with your grandmothers' heirloom fabric. A new family heirloom you yourself can pass down one day. This will be a tough act to follow!

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  34. Oh Marie that is beautiful! I've had my eye on this pattern FOREVER. Congratulations on an excellent and special make lady! x

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  35. Wow! Everything about this project is absolutely amazing. From the provenance of the silk, to the design of the pattern, to the execution of the blouse, to the social sharing of the lace. No wonder you look so proud of yourself! Looking forward to seeing what other people make too x

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  36. This is stunning Marie, no wonder you're so happy with it! I'm excited to see the other projects in the Watch This Lace series, fab idea.

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  37. Absolutely stunning blouse, and a beautiful memorial to your Grandmother. I hope the blouse, and it's story, will be passed down and loved by many more generations.

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  38. This is incredible - from the story of the fabric to the construction to the english breakfast tea (!!). This is one garment to treasure! You look stunning in it! I have a nice collection of original shirts from this era and upon first glance at the photos I thought this was an original, and I was trying to figure out why it wasn't cotton! Remarkable work!

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  39. Amazing that your grandmother actually raised the caterpillars, spun and wove the yarn to make the fabric. I am impressed and so thankful that you inherited the treasure. Some children would have sold in a garage sale or donated it to something. Congratulation! The blouse is fabulous.

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  40. just swooningly beautiful.

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  41. Matie that's one stunning blouse with a lovely family history attached to it - well done on another beautiful make :)

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  42. Oh wow, that's exquisite, and such amazing history behind it! Well done, you deserve to be smug! :D

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  43. Marie, I think everyone has said it all. That is one seriously special, seriously well made blouse. Congratulations, Sam xox

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  44. What a beautiful blouse! The style suits you perfectly too.

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  45. What an awesome idea! I love group projects. It's always fun to see how different everyones take on a pattern or material is.

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  46. Oh my goodness, your blouse is amazing!! I hadn't heard of Folkwear Patterns before, so am going to have a nosey around their website. I love the shaping of your blouse, the big collar and the double cuffs. You've done a fantastic job on it, and certainly deserve to feel smug!! The lace is so beautiful, and even more lovely is the story of your Great Granny, she must have been quite a character. I'm also really impressed with how you dyed the lace, I'd have been scared to make a mess of it! And you make it sound so easy.

    Watch This Lace is a great idea, and I shall look forward to seeing all the other makes now. :)

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  47. Wow, this is so pretty!! It's romantic and feminine without being precious and froufy (yup,that's a word). I saw your Watch This Lace badge over on Ginger Makes' blog and I have to figure out what it is and how to participate. I'm a bit of a newbie in blogland so am just learning how to join in on things. I'll follow your site to be sure I don't miss anything :)

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  48. Oh my goodness Marie! I LOVE:
    a)The whole idea of the series
    b)Your Great Grandmother
    c)Tea dye lace
    Love, Love, Love!!
    Px

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  49. I love love love the blouse. It's a work of art technically and it looks amaaazing on you.
    I wish we could know more about your great-grandmother! How on earth did she weave this silk by hand -- and cultivate her own silk worms? Amazing.
    I can't wait to read the rest of your series! What a great idea!

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  50. This blouse is lovely, great fabric choice and suits you perfectly

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  51. Just gorgeous - I have told myself no more patterns, but maybe just one more???

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  52. This blouse is so beautiful and delicate looking, and I can't get over the fact that the material was made by your great-grandmother! How awesome is that!? I'm sure she would be so proud that you used it to make such a lovely blouse. This is definitely one of my favorite things that you've made. I can't wait to see the rest of the makes in the Watch This Lace series.

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  53. absolutely lovely blouse and the story behind the lace is so special. i'm excited to see what everyone else does!

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  54. This is amazing!!! I've been thinking of making this blouse for quite a while now and this makes me want to make it even more!! so beautiful! you look like a 1920s goddess!

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  55. Great blouse and your story is heart-warming.

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  56. I really love this blouse, what a great make and the story behind it is so lovely. I have some vintage fur collars which my Nana had passed on to me and I'm trying hard to decide what best to do with them. I'd love to make a coat but I wouldn't know where to start.

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