HSM #2 – Tucks and Pleating: Hattie’s Dress


This month’s challenge is:

Tucks and pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration

And my inspiration was this picture from german Vogue, August 1929:


The caption reads: “Mrs. Allan A. Ryan, junior, chosen by Cecil Beaton as the embodiment of the beautiful blonde American.”

I used a viscose fabric I had had in stash for some months, which proved to be a good choice, with a crepe-like feel and very drapey, though capricious. Too impatient to deal with well-known basics like basting the edges, I was rewarded with a neckline that grew larger by the minute. I added vertical seams in the front and back (fortunately barely visible) but in the end couldn’t get around inserting a strip around the neckline. It turned out okay, although taking a closer look makes it obvious, that this was not planned originally. But Mrs. Ryan’s elegant sash wasn’t easy to add to this, so I decided to fake it altogether, using a vintage buckle for the faux bow.


By and large this blouse has a more casual and sporty feel than its model, and it reminded me of wonderful Hattie from “Sweet and lowdown”, so that’s where it got its name from. I like it.

Now I have always wanted to make a typical twenties’ two piece frock, with the skirt attached to a vest, and being thrifty with my fabric I just had enough left to give it a try. I made a simple slip like the one for the last challenge of 2015 and sewed the skirt to it:



(Again, the slip doesn’t go on my dress form, so it’s pinned to it – the straps are not double.)

Pleats on either side:


The whole dress:


And this is what I’d really like to know: How do you make a pleated skirt (an extremely popular design in the twenties) without loosing the slim shilhouette? Especially pleats that open up at the waistline like these. I made another skirt this month with one pleat in the centre front, from top to bottom, as seen in many fashion plates – apart from being very unflattering it gives the skirt an unmistakable A-line shilhouette. Looks rather 70s. Starting the pleat below the lower hipline, everything’s fine. I’m really at a loss, so if anybody out there has an idea how to handle this, I would be grateful for a hint!


The Challenge: tucks and pleating

Material: viskose for the dress, rayon for the slip

Pattern: my own

Year: about 1926

Notions: thread, an original buckle

How historically accurate is it? very, as far as I can say.

Hours to complete: about a week’s time snippets

First worn: last sunday to church and a family gathering

HSM #11 -Silver Screen: Isobel’s blouse


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

Fabric: rayon

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

The Bedlinen Blouse


Just a quick post for a quick blouse – my favourite garment these days.


I had to sort out my favourite double sheets. I had used them for years, until they were thin and, well, yellowish, especially at the top. At the bottom end the cotton was still fine though, so I decided to use it for a blouse after the One Hour Dress method. It was really quickly done, it makes an unmistakable Twenties’ outfit with whatever slim calf-length skirt you have – and I love it!