Edwardian lace blouse under construction.
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Lace insertions à la Edwardians

I haven’t been posting as much as usual since I have been concentrating on these slow-moving projects that require a lot of handiwork. I made the Edwardian walking skirt and now I want to make a blouse to match it. Sense and Sensibility patterns had a perfect pattern for an Edwardian shirtwaist. The pattern is called A 1909 Beatrix shirtwaist. It includes a lot of options but leaves plenty of room for you to add all the embellishments and things that make the blouse really something that resembles those dreamy lace blouses you can find images of online.

I am using left-over wind-blocker cotton lawn from my coat project. I had quite a limited amount of it so the lace insertions are as much a must as a style choice! It is perfect for making pintucks, so I cut my pieces one by one, trying to preserve width where I could to leave room for some pleating.

I started with the front piece that I cut in two pieces, to make a lace yoke. The lower part got pintucs and lace insertion.

Pintuck and lace insertion at the lower front.

First, I pinned the lace on the top and then stitched very close to the edge to fasten the lace.

Pintucks and lace insertion, a detailed view.

I cut the fabric away from the back of the lace leaving about 5 mm seam allowance. Then I cut the pattern piece in the final shape and whipped the edges by hand. (Remember, that I had cut the pattern pieces a bit larger to make the pintucks.)

Pintucks and lace insertion, a view from the wrong side.

I tried to use white silk thread but that ended up tangling and breaking so I switched to the regular polyester thread. Perhaps, if I ever make another, I will use hand-silk and proper cotton lace then.

I first tried clipping the curved edge at a few places but then I noticed that it didn’t make any difference. In fact, the uncut edge looked neater, so I stopped.

Designing the yoke.

I found this pretty lace fabric that was just 5 €/m and decided to use that as a yoke. I only bought 30 cm so I had little choice on how to position the pattern. But I decided to add strips of narrower lace to add more interest to the yoke. Those were stitched on just like the lace in the lower part, except that this time I didn’t have to worry about the scalloped edge.

The closure is going to be at the back and that causes me some little problems. I want to have button placket but I don’t think that my lace will hold very well. Finally, I decided to cut buttoning plackets from the cotton:

Designing the buttoning placket.

I was thinking of adding the wider lace insert before attaching this strip to the yoke, but I realised that the placket strip was too wide. I would lose too much of the pretty yoke. So I will have to make at least the yoke part narrower. Otherwise, I will follow the example that I set while making the front:

Designing the back.

So, there’ll be pintucks and lace insertion. However, just when I was taking this picture I realised that the lace on different sides of the buttoning placket (the narrow one) has a different colour! The one on the right-hand side is much more yellow than the one on the left-hand side! That must be because I run out of lace and had to start a new roll. All the lace I have left has this yellowish tone, so either I have to accept the yellow or find more bright white lace.

I am still thinking about what to do with the seam between the yoke and the lower part. I could add this strip of lace:

Combining the yoke to the lower front.

The sleeves had even more lace insertions just because I didn’t have enough fabric to make the mutton sleeves without.

The sleeve with the lace insertions.

I have already whipped all these seams in both sleeves. Yay! But I still wonder if I should add one strip more, since my sleeve is missing 1 cm of length. Or I could add that amount to the cuff.

Anyway, you can see that I still have a long way to go. Luckily my sewing speed is increasing as I whip all those edges of the lace insertions. I made a little video as I was working with one of the sleeves (sorry about the title that is stuck but luckily it doesn’t block the view completely…):

Thank you for reading and welcome back soon to see the finished shirtwaist blouse! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

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