|Downton Abbey Inspired Shirt Source: blog.misusu.com|
Elles was inspired by a blouse worn by the Lady Mary character in the BBC series Downton Abbey. Her pattern didn’t look like anything I remembered Mary wearing. The double breasted look reminded me more of the chauffer’s uniform. But after a bit of Internet browsing, I found this picture of Lady Mary. Based on the picture and the version of the blouse Elles made for herself (Check it out on her blog), I‘ll bet this is the inspiration blouse .
There are drafting instruction available for sizes S, M, L and XL sizes. I drafted a size medium per the instructions. They were very clear and complete. The only changes I made to the pattern after it was drafted were to lengthen the sleeves and the bodice above the bust.
An interesting feature of the blouse is the slash-gathered darts at the waistline to add volume over the hip. According to one of my sources, this technique first became popular in the late thirties and was used extensively in the fabric shortage of the 1940’s.
I can see how it saves fabric. This usually replaces a seam between two pieces of fabric where one piece is gathered. When a slash replaces a straight seam, the sewing line resembles a dart. A dart with one leg longer than the other. The fabric in the longer leg is gathered to fit the shorter leg or side. While this is a charming vintage sewing technique, I find it can be challenging to sew. Half of the height/intake of the dart is the seam allowance and in this blouse the height was 1 cm . I think the slash gathered dart is easiest to sew in light weight, high thread count, non raveling fabrics. The fabric I used, a cotton chambray from Denver Fabrics, was all of these.
Below are instructions for sewing the Slash Gathered Dart. They are a compilation of instructions from several vintage patterns and McCall's Easy Sewing Book 1960 (Thanks Urs !)
Slash Gathered Dart
1. Mark the seam line, and the length to be gathered. Reinforce the point of the seam line using smaller length stitching- suggested 14 stitches/inch. Fig.
|Slash Gathered Dart Fig 1|
2. Sew line of gathering stitches on edge to be gathered. Note: some instructions say to 1. Slash dart before sewing gathering stitches and 2. Sew gathering stitches above seam line but below the slash line. Because there would have been so little fabric above the seam line after slashing on my shirt .5 cm., I did not slash until step 3. And I sewed the gathering stitches close to, but just below the seam line. I removed the gathering stitches after final sewing. I knew, with the fabric I was using, there was little possibility of marks or holes after I removed the gathering stitches.
3. Slash to within ¼” of point. Fig. 2 Note – if gathering line is above the stitching line, take care not to cut through the gathering stitches when slashing.
|Slash Gathered Dart Fig 2|
4. Pull gathering stitches to gather fabric evenly to fit other edge of dart
5. Pin right sides together and stitch as for standard dart. Fig. 3
|Slash Gathered Dart Fig 3|
6. Press seam away from gathers.
7. To control gathers and prevent raveling.
- Topstitch on right side of fabric. Fig. 4
- or ZigZag or hand overcast seam allowance. Fig 5
|Slash Gathered Dart Fig 4|
|Slash Gathered Dart Fig 5|
Though this blouse has a rather A line look on me, I really like it and will wear it over jeans or under a jacket. If I make it again, I will reduce the waist gathers or distribute them more to the front. So it looks more like the front view on the dress form.