Finished project: Birdie blouse

This weekend I finally finished up a languishing project! My birdie blouse, from vintage Simplicity #4256.

I sewed view 3, which is a basic collared blouse with gathers at the shoulder and cuffed short sleeves (I omitted the pocket). I started this blouse about a month ago and it gave me fits in the beginning due to the collar. I’m still not completely convinced that the methods I’ve seen to attach a collar and facing are humanly possible (at least, by this human), but I worked out something that seems fine. I’ll give it a shot again on a future project.

I fastidiously did a muslin and I had a feeling the blouse would be too big. I need to take careful notes on what sizes of what pattern lines seem to run big, something I haven’t been doing. (Actually I need to learn to take better notes, period. Something more than randomly scattered pieces of paper and post-its.) I’m starting to feel Simplicity runs big for me. The odd thing was that my muslin fit a little tighter than my final blouse and I’m not sure why. So it’s a little larger in the waist area than I’d like by a couple of inches per side, but not awful. Though I know that I’m way more hard on myself when I’m the one making something than when I’m buying something.

I got the buttons from The Button Emporium years ago and they finally found their way to the right project. They are plastic self-shank buttons in a lovely butterscotch color and come in a few colors and sizes.

I’m pleased with the blouse, even though there are a few things that bug me slightly. At the time I started it, I didn’t have any gray thread so I used white. The hem is a little wonky because I didn’t have the tension adjusted quite right and was halfway through before I noticed it. I hate hems so I wasn’t about to pick it out and redo it. C’est la vie.

ย The facing is not attached to the bodice but is the same piece so it’s not interfaced, and I think the very top was a little goofy because of that. It didn’t really matter since I planned to button it up all the way, but it would have bugged me if I wanted to wear it with the top open. I used a little trick I learned from one of my vintage blouses and sewed a small snap up at the top under the collar where you can’t see it. Next time, I’ll probably omit the top button and go for a little hidden loop closure. (How does one work that loop, anyway? Miniature crochet chain with embroidery floss, perhaps?)

And yes, you’ll notice I didn’t match up the patterns on the front… you have got to be kidding me. I was so not going to do that. I will worry about it when I get better at this stuff.

There were two main reason I didn’t finish this weeks ago. First, I was dreading having to trim off part of the hem because I made the mistake of trying something with how I hemmed the facing and ended up making the hemline too deep, so I finally buckled down and unceremoniously chopped off the excess.

Second, I was also dreading making the buttonholes. Except when I sat down to do it, having already forgotten how to use the four-step buttonhole function on my sewing machine even though I just used it last month, I realized something. I was making it way more difficult on myself than it was supposed to be, because I had been using it with the little plastic cover for the feed dogs that you’re supposed to use for embroidery. I think this dunderhead error was due to initially reading in my manual how to sew on a button versus sew a buttonhole. Once I removed the unwanted piece out of the equation it was a breeze. I will never fear buttonholes again.

I also learned a trick in one of my sewing books. I know seasoned sewists will already know this, but I didn’t, and it was a big help. I’ve always had a hard time sewing over several thicknesses of fabric, like going over a dart on a hem. I learned that if you put a little helper (in my case a folded up piece of paper) under the presser foot at the back just before you go over a hump, it evens out the presser foot and makes the transition smoother, so you’re less likely to get skipped and funky stitches. Amazing how something so small can be such a big help.

So, another learning experience. I learned that cool trick above. I learned that big patterns don’t really pair that well with gathers (too busy). I learned to raise waist darts so they hit my actual waistline. I learned I probably need to take better care in how I pin buttonholes on myself when working a muslin so I don’t think a garment is going to fit better than it will. I learned I’m still looking out for the perfect blouse pattern.

But, birdies on swings! I love them!

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

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Golly, 16 Comments!

  • Great job. Cute birdies! I am still learning too. I think it will take forever to truly understand sewing. Makes me very impressed with those that just whip things up.


  • I think you did a great job, it looks perfect! Only you know the little things you would change, it’s the same for me I make something I always leave it too late, I finish it just in time and cut lots of corners, then someone says, wow is that new, where did you get it? I made it, this is always met with raptures. I always think but you can’t see the mistakes, the inside, the mess, but hey if it looks good eh?!


  • It looks very snazzy! I never knew that trick with the paper…good to know!


  • Oooh, I really like the buttons! I’ll have to look at the website when I pick out buttons for my Briar Rose.

    The bird fabric is really cute, too. Thanks for sharing the tip about darts!


  • @Sassy Lassies Vintage Life Thanks! And I agree, I am always impressed by the creations of those who know sewing inside and out!

    @Straight Talking Mama! I know you are right! I have never once looked at something someone was wearing and thought “gosh that seam looks crooked” or “the top-stitching is a little wobbly”. LOL!

    @Lisette Oh good, I’m so glad sharing that tip helped someone else! It really made a world of difference. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Lauren Hairston Oh yes, I think those buttons would be great for Briar Rose!


  • you are so talented! I wish you creat a youtube account and show us how you crochet your beautiful blouses and sweater. I’m learning how to crochet but I just cant understand the tutorial that are write, just in video.
    sorry my english! ๐Ÿ™
    kisses from a big fan, Ines


  • ACK! I LOVE this SO MUCH! It looks fabulous with your jeans…the pattern is so much fun and I love the matching buttons! GREAT Job–it looks smashing!


  • @the perfect drug Thanks Ines! I do crochet but most of my yarny crafting is knitting. I might end up doing some videos for my knit-along but we’ll see, I hate listening to my voice! LOL

    @Debi Thanks so much Debi! I’m loving the little birdie print so much. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Am so in love with that print!! And how great is the gathering at the shoulder? I really like that detail.
    We are all much to hard on ourselves when it comes to our own sewing: I can’t believe what I’ll put up with from ready to wear, but I seem to think that I need to be perfect.
    I know exactly what you are talking about with the facings – having a pile of muslins from vintage blouse patterns stacked in my sewing room just now – they all have the facing as an extended piece of the front bodice. Weird. And annoying because I think the buttons need more support than just two layers of fabric.


  • @Moxie Tonic Thank you! I like the gathering too, though I do think it would be nicer with something a little less, well, loud than the birds. LOL

    I did recently pick up a vintage blouse pattern that doesn’t differ drastically from this one (basically another good ol’ average blouse) that does have a separate facing piece that’s sewn to the bodice, so I think I’ll use a little something to stabilize it when I try out that pattern eventually!


  • Oh my goodness! I love that blouse!! The cut is really smart looking and flattering. It looks so crisp and don’t even get me started on those birds. LOVE.

    Embroidery floss and a chain stitch is what I have used for looks like that. Depending on the button and placement, I use maybe half a strand sometimes.


  • Well done! The blouse is lovely on you, esp in the last picture, where it’s tucked into the pants. And oh, do I know about neglecting to organize my sewing notes… It’s an eternal battle =)


  • Oh, that looks lovely! i like the loose fit, and tucked in the pants looks great. Fantastic fabric!!!

    Love your bangles by the way, just got hit with a bit of a bakelite obsession myself so bangles are all I think about….. ๐Ÿ™‚ hard to find in sweden, so ebay is great!


  • @Moe Thank you! I’m so glad you think it’s flattering. I was worried when I started taking photos and I looked dumpy and squat in them all. LOL I will use your embroidery floss tip next time!

    @Erika Thanks! I like it tucked in, too, I often wear my blouses that way. I really need to come up with an organizational system for my sewing notes!

    @Olivia Thanks!! The birds are so much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • As a crazy bird lady AND a vintage clothing lover… I adore this shirt. I also have to add that photo from the back, showing your flowing curls? Tres belle, madame :)Beautiful hair!


  • @Lenora Le Noire Thanks so much Lenora! โ™ฅ


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