It was clear from the beginnig, that my model for this month’s challenge would have to be something Downton Abbey. Since I discovered the series some years ago, it has influenced me a lot. For one thing I was very focused on the 1930s until the show (re)awakened my interest for earlier periods and historical sewing in general. The other major inspiration is about generally making an effort for my appearance – everyday, and including hats. It is so much nicer to leave the house well and elegantly dressed, even if it’s only to buy nappies. Of course I don’t always feel like it, but if I do it nevertheless, most times it makes the day a better one.
Now that the series has reached the 1920s, I generally like Lady Edith’s style best – her wardrobe is elegant and modern, yet very feminine. But after measuring up the available time for sewing and the opportunities to wear some of her beautiful ensembles or dresses, I decided to go for Isobel Crawley instead. Her attire still has this more practical and, well, middle-class appeal, and much of it would be fine for everyday use today (at least for me). What I finally decided to go for is this blouse:
I enjoyed doing the embroidery on the brown dress in September (although I’m afraid the dress will have to undergo some major transformations, before it will be actually worn someday), so I liked to try some more of it.
After I did several shortsleeved blouses and dresses based on the One Hour Dress pattern I tried my luck with combining this with a longsleeved tunic pattern, which originally had bust darts. It did work, but not especially well – the back and the front are out of balance, the back is very full and there’s some bagging on the side seams, too. I think, someday I will have to seriously go into the basics of pattern drafting after all. But the fabric is very nice, rayon with a silky feel and drape, and I love the colour.
Taking a closer look at Isobel’s embroidery I realized to my disconcertment, that the pattern consisted not only of the geometrical parts and flowers and leaves, but of rather big insects too.
Now, I am not phobic or something, but I din’t feel I would really enjoy stitching these, so I decided to make my own sketch. This felt, like the mixing of colours I did for the Honeymoon Dress, very much like foreign territory and it took me some time to get started. In the end I came up with a simpler design, and this is how it turned out:
I used copy paper to transfer the pattern to the blouse but was afraid the lines would show afterwards, so I used blue one, which unfortunately was barely visible on the fabric – ending up doing much of the embroidery without a pattern anyway.
So although this blouse was another learning piece constructionwise, I enjoyed making it, and I think it’s beautiful!
The Challenge: Silver Screen
The Onscreen Inspiration: Isobel Crawley’s blouse from Downton Abbey
Pattern: my own
Year: ca. 1926
Notions: thread, embroidery thread
How historically accurate is it?: very accurate, I think.
Time to complete: about 10 days
First worn: not yet