Friday, 23 September 2011

A Tribute to the Spitfire Women - Part 2

Welcome back!

In 2008, The Times Online reported that more than 20 of the 167 female pilots of the wartime Air Transport Auxiliary are still alive. All now in their 80s and 90s, at least seven of the surviving Spitfire ladies live in the United Kingdom, while five are in the United States, four in Canada, one in Chile, one in Australia, one in South Africa and one in Poland. 

You go girls!!
Inspired by these courageous women, I thought I'd like to sew something as my own personal tribute. One comment from the documentary really stuck with me: The Spitfire was a plane you wore, a real lady's plane. Using this as my guide, I searched my 40s patterns for something pretty, feminine and practical; I came up with Simplicity 4139.

This pattern appears to have been pretty popular in its day, there are a lot of them still in circulation and I've seen it on eBay regularly. I chose View 1 for its sexy deep V neckline; the long, floaty sleeves; and, more importantly, it has only one button. My god I hate buttonholes! I did however have to learn a new technique with this blouse, my very first bound buttonhole.

Said buttonhole suitably rocked, if I do say so myself.

The fabric is something I've had in my stash for years so I've no idea what it is but it falls beautifully. The only problem I found was it was a bitch to sew the gathers for the yokes because they kept slipping out as the foot went over. I actually unpicked the gathers twice before I was satisfied. Little did I realise though the redoing the front yolk gathers was for nought - they're covered by the collar! As for the colour, it's a delicate mauve which changes shade from purple to blue, depending the light which makes it the perfect partner for grey.

The other new technique I learnt while making this blouse was button cuff links. I often noticed illustrations for making these nifty little things on pattern instructions but dismissed them as ridiculous. As if twisting cotton together and anchoring it with buttons would work! Well, I shouldn't have knocked it 'til I tried it, they do work and quiet well I might add. Plus, they look really smart.

Unfortunately I don't have any pics of this blouse on just yet. My photographer has been working night shift and I had a hairdressing disaster a couple of weeks ago and would prefer there be no visual record of it.

With regard to the blouse, I'm really pleased with the results of my tribute and think it's a piece which will get a lot of wear.

Happy Friday everyone!

- Tamara


  1. What a gorgeous blouse! I'm amazed at how modern and vintage it looks at the same time. Great job.

  2. Slightly odd question....are those pleats at the waist, or just artful fabric arrangement?

  3. I really love this pattern and you did a great job!

  4. I love the color of this blouse. It's beautiful.

  5. Wow that is such a pretty blouse! I used that exact same button in one of my latest sewing projects too! I haven't posted about it yet though.

    That blouse doesn't look super glamorous on the pattern envelope but when it's actually made up, its very elegant. I think that's what I love most about 40's patterns - I bet this looks amazing on!

  6. Amanda - The pattern instructions describe the waist detail as tucks but I'd probably call them open-ended darts (not sewn to a point).

    KM - I was surprised how well these buttons matched, I bought them without a fabric sample. The etching was far too pretty not to take them home! I look forward to seeing your project post.

  7. that blouse is really stunning. it's elegant and classic and completely wearable, but it has this fabulous flair from the vintage details and oversized button. really amazing job!

  8. Beautiful shirt! From the envelope I wouldn't have thought it would look so modern and wearable, but now I want one.


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