,Hope your week has gone swimmingly! This vintage style blouse pattern is made by the queen of vintage sewing herself, Gertie. Her books, patterns, blog, and now Patreon are all things made for the retro styled sewist! If you don't know who she is, click here. You'll fall in love instantly, I promise.
Real quick, here's a little back story. I learned how to sew right after my oldest son was born. Baby blankets, curtains, pillows, I made all the things. I took a group class upstairs in a small vacuum and sewing shop. I was the only one who showed up, so I was lucky enough to receive a one on one class from the sweetest lady. Fast forward a few years and I was making bags, more pillows, PJs, and Halloween costumes for my kids. You know, regular mom sewing stuff.
While channel surfing, I stumbled upon our local PBS station and saw some sewing shows! I DVR'd them all!! I would wake up early Saturday morning and watch as many as I could until my kids woke up. Super sewing nerd alert! LOL!! Nancy Zieman was amongst a few others I got to know through television. Then, one day this gal with pink hair had a short segment. I can't remember what she made, but I was in love. She was young, had pink hair, and sewed!!?? Whaaatt!??
Got out my laptop and Googled her name and found she had a blog and you tube channel. I soon realized that I could sew things for me. Making things for my kids and gifts for friends and family was all I ever did. Gretchen Hirsch a.k.a. Gertie opened my eyes and my spirit. The rest is history.
All of her books, a lot of her fabric and patterns adorn my shelves. Saying I LOVE her, is an understatement. Not in a creepy stalker way though, I promise.
As parents and adults, we sometimes lose ourselves. We get caught up in the day to day life and just join everyone else in robot mode. Once I started making things for me, I enjoyed life and found myself again. If you feel like you're in a funk, I encourage you to find someone that you find inspiration from. Hopefully, it radiates beauty and positivity like she does, for me.
So, without further ado, here's the step by step process of making her Rita Blouse. Click that link to take you to her website to grab this pattern.
Open up the pattern envelope. Lightly iron the pattern to get out the wrinkles with a dry iron on a low setting.
Decide which size you're going to cut based on your measurements. The envelope put me at a size 10, but I chose to make a size 8 using the DD cup. It fit perfectly! This top is supposed to have a form fit, so I took a gamble. It's meant to fit closer to the body.
Cut out the pattern or transfer it to pattern paper. You can trace it onto freezer paper. Freezer paper is easy and a frugal option. Win-win! Big box and grocery stores carry it.
Use your ruler to match the grain line with the pattern lines. My line isn't 100% straight, but you get the idea.
Time to cut out the pieces. Use your rotary cutter or scissors. Mark each piece with chalk or an air/water soluble marker. This blouse has quite a few pieces, it helps to mark them with their number.
*Also make sure you mirror the pieces so you don't end up with left sided pieces only. Face-palm! :/
Finish the edges however you prefer. Serge or use a zigzag stitch. You can also use pinking shears. Gertie says to sew from the bottom to the top.
Time to assemble it all together.
Follow her instructions and double check. It went smoother than anticipated.
Be sure to match the notches, these pieces are cut with a curve, and you don't want to have to get out the seam ripper.
Stitch the front to the back at the right side seam, right sides together. Again, starting from the bottom and sewing upwards to avoid distortion.
Press those lovely seams open. Don't skip this step. Pressing is what takes your garment from looking homemade to handmade. There's a difference. ;) Your iron is your friend when sewing.
Your lower portion should look something like this. I left my seam allowances untrimmed. If I gain a few, I can easily let out the seams and still wear the blouse.
Now it's time to make the gathers for the bust pieces.There are 2 ways to do this.
Option 1: Attach the ruffler foot. This will take a bit of time and make you want to throw your machine out the window because it will eat the fabric and we'll all end up crying. This happened to me once... or twice. Ugh
Option 2: Increase the stitch length to 5. Then, sew 2 rows of parallel stitching, making sure to leave long thread tails. Pull the bobbin thread and make the gathers even. No fabric was harmed while using this method.
You choose the method that works best for you. ;)
Sew the gathers between the dots. You'll do this for both the front and back bodice pieces. Here's an easy way to remember which is which: one line of gathers on the back. Two rows of gathers on the front because, well, you have 2.... ya know. ;)
Right sides together, sew both upper bodice pieces on the right side seam. Leave the left seam untouched.
It's starting to look like a shirt! Yaaay!
Sewing an invisible zipper isn't too bad but, it's no walk in the park either. Go slow and take your time. They really do look good when sewn correctly. Well, they don't look anything actually because they're invisible! Ha! Get it? Dad joke. Sorry.
Gertie has a fabulous tutorial on heryou tube channel for sewing these suckers. Other You Tubers have a lot of videos as well. It does help to do a basting stitch first so, when you rip it out 14 times, it's easier to rip out the thread with the seam ripper. Ugh!
After the zipper is successfully in and you haven't set the shirt on fire. You'll need to finish sewing up the left side seam. Gertie recommends that you leave a thin gap and do not sew straight up to the zip seam. This is the only way I don't get puckers. Seems silly and bizarre, but it's genius and works like magical fairy dust! Cue blissful music. Yay for no puckers!! That's puckers, with a P.
Time to get those sleeves put together. This is easy peasy. Sew up the short ends right sides together. Press the seam open.
Set the sleeves into the blouse matching the seams and notches, right sides together.
Stitch and trim seam allowances. Press the seam downs. Make sure you pay attention to this. I sewed my sleeves on inside out first... Yeah, I'm special.
We have sleeves! Yaaay!! Give yourself a pat on the back, you did it! It's all downhill from here.
I think the most difficult part of this shirt is cutting out the correct pieces. Sounds silly, but I often forget to cut mirror pieces.
Make casings in the neckline and sleeves for your elastic. Watch out for seams when inserting the elastic via safety pin, they tend to get thick. The pattern instructions has the elastic length measurements for the size you're sewing. However, the length was not long enough for me. I don't like tight armholes. I ended up ripping out the elastic and using a much longer length. I advise you to insert it, uncut and try it on first. You can add length or take away at this point. Just a heads up...
Use a safety pin to run the elastic through the casing.
Use pins or clips, whichever you prefer for the neckline and sleeves. This helps keep the edge folded over while you sew.
After you have put the elastic through both arms and the neckline, try the blouse on. Adjust the elastic according to your own comfort level. I needed less in the neckline and more in the arms. Once you've found your desired length, sew the elastic ends together with a zigzag stitch. Sew the casing closed.
All that's left to do now is the hem. Go outside and do a cartwheel if you want! Or, just finish that hem and carry on with life likes it's no big deal because you just made a top!
Thanks for having out today! And thanks if you made it all the way to the end. This was a long one.
Did you find this blouse easy to make? Are you going to make 5 in every color? Yeah, me too!!
Hopefully I covered everything in this post, but if you have questions, ask in the comments and I'll respond quickly. Check out Gerties you tube channel and blog for all her sewing tips too.
Hi there, I'm Annette and I love eating and sewing. I usually have a cup of coffee or tea with me, but not next to my machine because I'd probably spill it. I am the reason we can't have nice things.
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