Sunday, February 1, 2015

Misusu Shirt

My beloved sewing machine, a old Husqvarna Designer 1, was recently diagnosed as terminally ill  and passed on to spare part heaven. The timing was horrible.  A week before a sewing retreat.   I had planned a number of projects to work on at the retreat.  Learning to use a new sewing machine was not one of them.  Fortunately work bonuses were announced, and mine was enough to finance the latest Designer model.  The first project made on the new machine was a blouse designed by Elles of the blog Misusu & More.   Downton-abbey-inspired-shirt        I found her blog through a Pinterest picture of the shirt. 

Downton Abbey Inspired Shirt  Source:

 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.




  1. I have seen patterns with this slash / gather dart in my Winifred Aldrich book and only guessed at how they were constructed. I have seen clothing from Marni with similar features, sometimes with pleats instead of gathers. Your blog is the first place I have seen instructions for sewing this, so thank-you.

    Your blouse looks lovely!

    1. The pattern I lent to Vogue (due this summer) for reproduction uses this technique in its skirt. I'm curious how their instructions will read, these may come in handy. Thanks!

  2. What an interesting blouse - very pretty front treatment with the diagonal and the button loops. Excellent tutorial on the slash and gather as common treatment in a variety of garments of the period (who knew?!).

  3. Blouse is very pretty, prettiest than original

  4. Beautiful blouse! The shape is really flattering on you. I recently saw this slash/gather technique in a modern RTW knit top that I have, and was quite perplexed on how to copy it. Nice to have your instructions for reference.

  5. Oh my! This is so gorgeous on you! I love the fit, the asymmetric buttoning, the perfect!

  6. I think it is very flattering as well as unique. If you can look that good from the side (a view I avoid seeing on myself) then it is a definite winner! I hope you are enjoying your new sewing machine:)

  7. Wow! Such a nice feminine blouse. I would have never thought it would look like that from the line drawing.

  8. Great blouse! It has been a while since i have seen a "new" style. Yours definitely fits that description and it is flattering to boot. Thanks for the tutorial, i hope i get the courage to try it one of these days.

  9. What a pretty blouse and a lovely color on you. While I have noticed that sort of gathering on dresses in the past, it never occurred to me to wonder how they were fashioned. Thanks for the tutorial!

  10. This is a great shirt and beautifully executed. Thanks for the slash/gather dart info, new to me.

  11. Gorgeous blouse and beautifully made!

  12. Very interesting and beautiful shirt! Looks fantastic on you! I wonder how it would look in a drapey fabric - can you imagine it in silk charmeuse? Wow!

  13. That's a very cute gathered dart detail, especially from the side!

  14. How interesting! Your shirt turned out really well.

  15. Very interesting blouse and I really like the lines.

  16. Thanks for sharing this link. In addition to my calendar dress I'm on a mission to make myself some new blouses. This style is a must for me. Love your version.

  17. Cute, cute, cute blouse and great simple tutorial making it look like anyone could do it! Thank you for your help!

  18. Fantastic blouse. I love the side view with that little bit of gathered detail. Gorgeous.

  19. Wow, from drafting to those great pleats, this blouse turned out wonderfully. Loved seeing you at retreat and more impressed by this gorgeous project.