Friday, 18 January 2013

Watch This Lace - Karen's publishing fantasy blouse

We all have blog/blogger crushes right? Well, I have several, and one of them is Karen from Did you make that? Unsurprising and predictable I guess, but this woman's talent, witty writing and knack for engaging with the online sewing community really set her apart. I was so excited when Karen invited me to take part in her bound button workshop last August and relieved that I had a special way of paying her back...with some beautiful vintage lace. Luckily for all of us, Karen accepted my Watch This Lace challenge and she came up trumps!

When Marie offered to give me a generous amount of vintage lace, I was thrilled! Much as I love Walthamstow market, any scratchy lace bought there would melt as soon as look at an iron.

All I had to do in return was choose something to make and blog about it here.

I chose Simplicity 5599, a 1982 pattern that had been languishing in my drawer for far too long. If you read my blog at Didyoumakethat, you'll know I made a test make a few weeks ago, blogged about here. Many readers were alarmed that I'd even attempted an 80s pattern, but we agreed it was a success. Time to tweak the make and forge ahead with my lace. (My tweaks were to reduce the width and length of the sleeves, and to shave a smidgen off the shoulder width.)

I chose to use an incredibly fine silk/cotton lawn that had been kindly gifted to me. It was pretty and delicate – perfect to combine with lace. But it quickly became clear that the fabric was way too sheer to use on its own. For the main shell, I'd need to underline. Fortunately I had some cheap cream satin in my stash that would do the job. Oh, slippery satin, how I shake my fist at you!


The underlining wasn't straightforward. I couldn't just baste two layers together, because of the front panels and neckline of the blouse, plus lace insertion. So there was a certain amount of back and forth, sewing of seams, trimming, understitching, flipping pieces over, basting, and some delicate hand stitching on the underlined shoulder seams. A sense of doom settled over me at this stage in the make, but I also had a deadline to meet! Nothing for it but to forge on...

Finally, I got there. Most stages were delicate; the fabric was so fragile. And, of course, there were lace details to add. I inserted lace panels down the centre of the sleeves, and stitched a strip of lace to each of my cuffs. Along with the lace running down the front of the blouse, this felt like enough.

Because I needed to concentrate at almost every step of the make, I found the best tactic was to work in short bursts of time. The moment I felt my patience crumbling I stepped away. Then, one final push before work with a coffee by my side, and the last button was sewn in place!

Despite my doubts during construction, I really like this blouse! I don't feel like an 80s throwback at all. Actually, I feel rather like an Edwardian lady in an EM Forster novel. Maybe a young woman working in publishing (How very daring! She works for a living, you know!) and living in London flats in, ooh, let's say St John's Wood. Perhaps I'm considering which poetry collection* my small publishing house should commission next.


Ah, if only my real-life job in publishing was as glamorous as it sounds. Maybe it was, once upon a time...

Thanks, Marie, for this opportunity to fantasise!

* The poetry I'm actually reading? It's Hard To Be Hip Over Thirty. How appropriate!

I hope Karen's blouse has given you all goosebumps like it has me...how dreamy are the lace insets down the sleeves? 

Being the generous woman she is, Karen's also offering up her copy of the pattern - Simplicity 5599 - to one lucky reader! Leave a comment below if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning and I'll announce the randomly-chosen winner next Friday 25 January. 

Next Sunday, I have a lacey delight from Paunnet that will make your heart sing...for real!


21 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, this is sooooooo beautiful! Everything about it is perfect. Karen, will you make one EXACTLY like it for moi? No? Oh you're so selfish! ;) xxx

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  2. Wowzers! This is gorgeous! I was thinking that it was Edwardian looking before I got to the bit where Karen said that. I love the lace down the centre of the sleeves, what a great idea. Please don't enter me in the giveaway though, because I know I wouldn't use the pattern.

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  3. That is gorgeous, loving the lace creations:)

    www.becstitches.blogspot.com.au

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  4. As Portia says, that is a triumph! You totally rock the St John's Wood lady publisher vibe! It's so beautifully done Karen, you look gorgeous. x
    Please don't enter me for the giveaway either. 1980's styles and me don't get on too well! x

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  5. Pure class... really is!

    Bundana x

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  6. Very pretty! The lawn was a perfect match for the lace.

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  7. Oh my gawh. This is sooo pretty. You've really respected the spirit of the lace.

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  8. Stunning blouse - and I love the re-interpretation of an '80's pattern - see, you can use '80's pattern and with a little modification, look fabulous!!

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  9. Nice one, and yes I agree, there's something very Edwardian brought by the lace. This is a genius make, you had a keen eye spotting such an opportunity this pattern of 80 s vintage. Fab make, but please don't be offended if I ask not to be in the giveaway, since I know even though you've shown how delightful it can be (x2) it would languish in my already heaving pattern hoard. Someone else is bound to give it a better life than me :)

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  10. What a great post - the blouse looks fantastic, so pretty!

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  11. This is so pretty! I absolutely love it!

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  12. What a beautiful blouse! Leave it to Karen to take an 1980's pattern and turn it into something chic and classic!

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  13. Well done, looks very Edwardian which is why I noticed it!

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  14. So pretty! I love it!

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  15. I really love the choice of fabric which shows off your lovely vintage lace. I'm picturing this blouse made up in either polka dots or something less difficult to work with than Karen's choice. Keep it simples for me.

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  16. Lovely use of lace and fabric. I have some of that fabric in another colour and wasn't sure what to put underneath - maybe slippery satin is the way to go!
    P.S. No thanks to the pattern - I wouldn't use it. :)

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  17. Oh, these dots are killing me! The fabric is gorgeous, you look fabulous in this blouse, and you did a marvellous job constructing it, with all these details. Very well done!

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  18. I echo all these very well deserved comments Karen!

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  19. I like the lace inserts Karen has created. This is a gorgeous blouse.

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