A guimpe and a blouse
Clothes refashioning,  My projects,  Sewing

Making a guimpe and refashioning a fleamarket blouse

I found this pretty silk and cotton blend Edwardian-inspired blouse in a thrift store. I loved it a lot but I thought I’d like it even more if I could make it even more Edwardian. So, I decided to do some refashioning (or re-oldifying?). By adding some more lace and adding a guimpe underneath the blouse was transformed. Besides, I can use the guimpe with other costumes and blouses, too!

The guimpe

So first, what is a guimpe? Guimpe is a fake blouse front and collar that can be worn under blouses with an open neckline to add a different look or more coverage. They were very popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Sometimes guimpes resembled a whole blouse in their shape but the non-visible areas were made out of cheaper fabrics. Other guimpes were like dickeys that could be tied from the sides to keep them in place. I decided to make a latter style and use cotton tulle.

Bleaching the tulle

I found this gorgeous cotton tulle with beautiful lace edges from the local Eurokangas fabric store. I had a slight problem, though. My tulle had this cream colour that didn’t work with the blouse colour. So, I decided to try bleaching the tulle. It took two rounds in a bleach solution to get rid of all the cream colour but the result was this perfect white cotton tulle:

My cotton tulle before and after bleaching.

Guimpe construction

I don’t remember exactly what pattern I used to cut the guimpe. Basically, you can use any pattern that has a straight collar and fits you. I decided to have the guimpe open at the side-neck and left shoulder. Before sewing the shoulder seams together, I had to decide how to decorate the guimpe. Well, I had a lot of that lace from the lace edges of my tulle, so I could use it!

Designing the lace placement.

I added pieces of lace little by little using a zigzag stitch to fasten the pieces. Although it made me feel a bit guilty, I also decided to destroy some cotton lace collars I had to get the pretty flower and leaf lace motifs that I appliquéd in place. I then made the collar out of several strips of fine cotton lace that I zigzagged together.

After the lace bits were finished I could sew the shoulder seam, turn the edges and add snaps to the collar and the left shoulder. I finished the guimpe by adding satin ribbons to the sides to fasten the guimpe in place.

The finished guimpe

Here is the finished guimpe. Remember that only the collar is supposed to show so it doesn’t matter how it otherwise looks:

The finished guimpe from the front.
The side closure.
The guimpe from the back.

The blouse

Here is the original blouse. You can see the Edwardian inspiration in lace inserts, pin tucks and puffled sleeves. The sheer cotton and silk fabric is lovely and the colour fits the period. However, the wide v-neckline is not really something that Edwardians did.

The thrifted blouse.

First, I had to go hunting for a matching lace. It wasn’t easy! The taupe colour that has a slight pink tinge was hard to match. Finally, I found a 1,5 m piece of real vintage lace in Inkuri fabric shop. It was matte unlike the lace on my blouse (which was probably viscose) but the shade matched! As the blouse already had two different kinds of lace it wasn’t a problem to add a third type.

Covering the v-neckline with lace.

First, I wanted to fix the neckline. I carefully pinned triangular pieces of lace to the V of the neckline. When one row of lace wasn’t enough, I added another and sewed everything down by hand using a silk thread.

I finished the lace edge with a buttonhole stitch.

Of course, that didn’t use all of my lace so I decided to add lace strips to cover the seam on the yoke and to fall all the way to the hem. It just happened that I had just the right amount of lace to do that! To finish the ends of the lace I cut the lace along the motif and used silk thread and a buttonhole stitch to cover the edges. The silk thread didn’t match exactly but I don’t think anyone will notice that in use.

The finished blouse with the guimpe

Here is the finished refashioned blouse with the guimpe underneath. I am pretty happy how this turned out! It is not perfectly period but is now much closer and I like it more.

The finished blouse with the guimpe.

The long lace strips end where the yoke ends at the back so most of the back remains like it was originally:

The blouse and the guimpe from the back.

Still, one more pic from the side:

Side view.

Thank you so much for reading and come back soon! Happy sewing!


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


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