The Norman Hartnell telephone blouse

Norman Harnell telephone blouse

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! 😉

womans day gift book spread

Norman Hartnell blouse pattern

Norman Hartnell, or “Sir Norman Bishop HartnellKCVO (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).[1] 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[2] 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!

Norman Hartnell telephone shirt

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!

telephone blouse hip

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.

telephone blouse cuffs

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! 😉

telephone button

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”

  1. 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!

  2. 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,

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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)

  5. 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. 🙂

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!! ^__^

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. That is so fabulous and I love the telephone buttons! Great photography…that’s totally BurdaStyle featured member project territory yet again 🙂

  10. 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!!

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