Wednesday 27 May 2009

Practicing What I Preach

First up: The Goods

This is a blouse I recently made by recycling my friend Isi's old Zara shirt. I used the Liz pattern from Burdastyle, which required more fabric than I had, so I made the side panels in a contrast white fabric. This worked quite well as the white has a bit of stretch in it which makes the garment pretty comfy to wear. I was able to retain the original shirt's buttons and button holes which saved a heap of time and fannying about. I added the neck ruffle in an attempt to vaguely emulate a beautiful blouse I saw in a bcn boutique.

All in all, the blouse looks a bit more formal and fresh than my usual style, but I made this with half an eye on the summer school I'll be teaching at next month, so I'm sure this will get a fair amount of use.

Second up: The Theory

This is an article I wrote for Mixtape which should be getting published at an unspecified point in the future:

The Return of the Blouse

Looking in my dictionary under ‘blouse’, all you get is a rather uninspiring definition of ‘top worn by women’. Sadly, it’s also a word sometimes used with derision or negative ‘Mumsy’ connotations. However, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am here to make the case that it is time women reclaimed the blouse as the thoroughly versatile and downright desirable garment that it can be.
For many years, film, the catwalk and the street have seen women’s fashion reinterpreting men’s shirts with much success. Marlene Dietrich’s suited androgyny and Stella McCartney’s oversized shirtdress with its high street interpretations are notable examples. But how successful has such androgynous dressing ever really been in real life, on non ‘stick-thin-fourteen-year-old-model’ women? You want sexy? I would argue a strong answer can be found in a blouse!
Depending on fit, fabric and detail, and teamed with a skirt, trousers or jeans, the result of a blouse can range from cute as a button, to damn hot! If you’re a vintage girl, I’m very likely already preaching to the converted. From sexy, fitted, 1950’s, Rockabilly styles to the more romantic, bell-sleeved, wide-collared, Celia Birtwell/Biba tributes, the role of the blouse is well established.
Still need more?! Well, if you’re a crafty sewing gal, a blouse makes the perfect easy-to-intermediate project. The Burdastyle website, for example, has some fantastic blouse patterns available for download, the JJ and Liz styles being just two.
Also, a prime refashioning project (as advocated by the UK Government’s ‘Make Do and Mend’ campaign during the Second World War, BTW!) is making a woman’s blouse from a ‘decommissioned’ man’s shirt. Men’s shirts are often made from such great quality fabric, that a bit of re-cutting here, a couple of tucks or darts there, and you’ve got a great new garment for yourself. And perhaps if you’re super ingenious, you can also retain the original shirt’s button stand and/or collar, thus avoiding two of the universally accepted biggest sewing based pains in the arse! Hurrah for blouses!


silvia said...

hi zo! love the article, love the blouse even more and I absolutely adore the neck ruffle! This reminded me that my grandma used to turn a man shirt into an apron somehow! x

pjfpotter said...


kate said...

LOVE it! And I love your courage! I'm somewhat of a chicken when it comes to my sewing creations and always end up with creations that are more bland than I would really like.
This one is fab!

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