I love a 50s style blouse and this pattern was a definite sell the moment I saw it. The pattern itself was a freebie with Woman’s Day (about 55 years ago!) and as luck would have it, the gift supplement was in that Morrisons bag too. Great to see the blouses modelled and photographed. Sometimes those illustrations on the cover of the envelope give a slightly different impression to what they look like in real life! 😉KCVO (12 June 1901, London – 8 June 1979, Windsor) was a British fashion designer. Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to HM The Queen 1940, subsequently Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II 1957.” “Although worried that at 46 he was too old for the job, he was commanded by the Queen to create the wedding dress of Princess Elizabeth in 1947 for her marriage to Prince Philip (later the Duke of Edinburgh). With a fashionable sweetheart neckline and a softly folding full skirt it was embroidered with some 10,000 seed-pearls and thousands of white beads. He subsequently became one of the Princesses main designers and so gained a new worldwide younger generation of clients, as the Princess began to take on more duties and visits abroad. The younger Princess Margaret became the obsession of the press and her Hartnell clothes were similarly given huge publicity and received much newsreel coverage.”
It’s a worry that he thought he was too old to continue at 46!!!
You can read more about him over at Wikipedia.
Anyhows, I quite fancy ‘a wardrobe of crisp gay blouses’. And if Norman’s are good enough for Queenie, they are good enough for me!
This was on the whole a very simple pattern. I measured off the tissue and figured I could add a bit on the waistline, as I usually do to get a reasonable fit. I made it up in a cotton poly that was semi decent just in case it worked!
But oh no! My measuring skills were unbelievably inaccurate. Either that or I have this illusion that I am the size of a small child!
I considered moving on to another project. But of course that would have been hugely defeatist of me and heaven knows I need to learn to grade a bodice properly so I set about cutting and slashing.
It worked, kind of. Well at least it fits but there are a couple of issues for a blouse so simple.
I think I need to open up on the lines of the hip a bit more. It’s a little snug!
I graded up the sleeve in line with what I had increased on the bodice but there was far too much ease. So I used the original sleeve piece. Still a little too much ease for my liking but that seemed to be solved with the addition of some shoulder pads. I used the cuffs from the toile for my real one because the dots ran into each other and defeated the object of having cuffs at all!
I have to say, the method suggested for the sleeve cuffs was a bit long-winded and strange. When I do it again I will be cutting on the bias, and attaching in the same way I did to my shorts.
The winged-collar effect is not a wing collar at all. It is just the effect of opening up the facings. There is no raised collar stand at the back, just a faced neckline so it is a very flat feature. Next time, I might be inclined to cut the front piece at the start of the inner facing and sew a contrasting colour piece that folds back just to accentuate the shape.
The ‘lapels’ seems substantially smaller than those photographed. Next time I might grade the front and front facing allowance a little, too.
The instructions called for a bias cut strip to finish the back neckline and join the front facings but as luck would have it, the previous owner had cut a ‘back facing’ piece from some newspaper. I checked it against the back piece to make sure it was meant for this pattern. I just had to decrease the depth a bit, otherwise it fitted perfectly. It created a continuous facing too, which is surely a better idea and certainly much neater too. I understitched the adjoining seam, to the point just before it folds back and catch-stitched to the shoulder seams to stop it poking up, willy nilly!
Because the design called for 3 buttons I had an array of
odd interesting ones to choose from. My son so kindly remarked that, because the shirt ‘kind of looks quite old, it would be good to use those old fashioned phone buttons’. I am sure he meant that in a good way! 😉
So that just about wrapped up my chilly childless Saturday. Amazing what you can achieve in a few hours when the house is vacated. The photographs (care of the wonderful Mr Ooobop!) and the blogging took a little longer… such fun!
35 Replies to “The Norman Hartnell telephone blouse”
This looks great! I like the buttons with it, and the photos are gorgeous 🙂
Thank you Zo 🙂
Gorgeous! Those buttons are fantastic. 🙂
Those pics with the captions are great. I wonder if Her Maj would like the telephone buttons on her blouse too.
Thanks Tialys. You know, I bet she would! 🙂
The pictures are fabulous!!! And I can’t believe that you have a corner of your house that looks like what I imagine buck palace interior would look like!! The blouse is very cute too, and the buttons are genius!
Ha ha… if only you knew, Winnie. It took the equivalent of a JCB to scoop the crarp away from that little nook! x
Very stylish! And it was interesting to read about Norman Hartnell too. Love your pictures.
Thanks Catherine. I can’t believe I didn’t know anything about him!
Great post, totally retro – lovely blouse and finish; serious poly bag envy btw.
Thank you T&T. It was a pretty good win, I have to say! 🙂
really cute blouse! If your interested I’ve been working at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London and we are putting on a Hardy Aimes and Norman Hartnell exhibition on the 16th of November,
Thank you so much Stevie. Am very interested indeed. Will look forward to that. There was a great Hardy Aimes pattern in that ebay haul too. Can’t wait to get started on that!
A perfect post – photos and project are a match made in heaven. And I am suffering from serious blouse AND buttons envy!
Thank you SBL. It was a fun project!
this is so cute! i love it! wouldnt know about fitting issues! the styling and photos are great too! you rock this!
Thank you so much 🙂
Every one of your blog posts is a little treasure house of inspiration. I love the styling, the retro photo treatment, your imaginary telephone conversation and the telephone buttons. Too cute! You’re a superstar, with a superstar photographer.
Oh gosh! *blush, blush*! Thanks so much Karen. Had a hoot shooting this one, I have to say! x
Oh Janene, you really know how to rock this style of blouse…the buttons your son picked out are a seriously cute addition too! I love your whole styling and your photoshoot, I wish I had such a cool backdrop for my pictures ;o)
Thank you Marie. It doesn’t always look like that, I can assure you! 😉
Oh, how I remember wearing similar blouses as a child of the 50s…the only drawback was having to iron them as mine were usually cotton. You work, your photos and your posts are beautifully executed. 🙂
Thanks so much JSD. This one is 100% cotton but I think it is particularly good quality because it keeps its shape very well. I feel quite comfortable in this style. Must make more!
OMG those buttons, I am struck by über-cuteness! Where did you get them? They are a great detail to the blouse. I think I need a black and white spotty blouse now AND those buttons. Awesome wardrobe staple. Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful!! This blouse is so very YOU! ^__^ Love your photo shoot too – those shoes are HAWT!
Also… I just love old sewing ads; they make sewing sound so enticing and glamorous!! ^__^
Thank you honey. It was a right laugh doing the photos this time. I could drool over vintage patterns and mags all day!
I am visiting for the first time. Linked over here from WeSewRetro. I’ve been reading my way back through your previous blog posts, and really enjoying them. May I say, I think you are as cute as a button? (Even cuter than your telephone buttons, which are way cute…)? I love the Norman Hartnell blouse, and you’re right, the neckline makes up less generously than the illustration. I hate it when pattern illustrations accentuate a pretty feature more than the actual pattern does, and yet the pattern art (especially vintage) is usually more appealling than photographs. Alas…reality intruding on our fantasies…again.
Hello WendyBee! Welcome and thank you so much for your lovely comments. What is more strange in this instance is that there is photographic evidence to support the larger lapels too! I must get braver with pattern adjustments!
I took a break from computers, part of my Election cleansing and came back to this! How sweet that is, sexy but sweet. You do such nice work!
That is so fabulous and I love the telephone buttons! Great photography…that’s totally BurdaStyle featured member project territory yet again 🙂
You are so clever, as usual!! Love the blouse and I LOVE the phone photos!!! Is the Queen calling? Anyway, great job!!
Your ‘Conversation with the Queen’ pics had me laughing out loud! And the Hartnell history had me clicking through to Wikipedia to read more..Love this post! The blouse is wonderful…I agree, it’s great to see it on real people, to give a better idea of how it sits. Kat’s right…this is BurdaStyle featured member material!!