Quality, Part III

I’ll finish up today talking about quality with an example of a vintage blouse that shows why so many people have fallen in love with the superb craftsmanship we often find in older clothes.  This blouse is from the 1950s, and I imagine it was quite expensive when new.

Let’s start with the fabric.  This blouse is made from Irish linen, and the little pink circles are appliqued to the fabric.  The dots are hand embroidered.

That is a neat job of applique, and what about the pink buttonholes?

The scalloped collar is actually two pieces, which helps with the curve of the neckline.  Notice how neatly finished the neck edge is, and the uniformity of the neck darts.

The seams are all French seams, which is a neater alternative to the flat-felled seams we saw in the cheaper shirts.

It may look as though they skimped on buttons, but this was meant to be tucked into a skirt and a button below the waistline would have left an imprint.  So instead, they put a snap to hold the bottoms of the blouse closed.

There is a little button under the collar in case the wearer was going for the buttoned-up look.

The label was sewn into the side of the blouse rather than at the neck where it might show and where it might irritate the wearer.

“Blouse du Jour.”  It would be nice to have seven – one for each day of the week.


Filed under Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing

16 responses to “Quality, Part III

  1. So lovely! Attention to detail, concern about the wearer – irritating tags, imprints from buttons, now that’s class.


  2. The pink buttons holes are adorable!


  3. Beautiful workmanship and style!
    Will try to remember that about bottom buttons – really good thought.


  4. I adore this blouse. Wishing we could have a shopping trip soon!


  5. I love Irish linen. It’s not too easy to find vintage Irish linen blouses.


  6. What immaculate details! I am taking mental notes for future dressmaking


  7. Richard

    Hadley used to place SOME labels in the side seam, as well, as did McMullen, who was the “upscale” version of Villager in ready-to-wear for young ladies. McMullen also used excellent fabrics like silk, etc,. and had much more elegant prints than Villager, but then again they charged 25%+ more. I guess the old saying stands: you have to pay for quality, but you have to know that price does not determine quality by itself. We all see that much of today’s paper-thin junk with the right label commands a high price for some reason. At least in the ’50s and ’60s when you paid for a good label you pretty much got what you were paying for.


  8. I didn’t see the I & II so don;t know if you covered this, but one mark of quality is that they used to do is match patterns just as you are told to do when home sewing. I don;’t know when they quit. Late 70s or 80s. I remember discussing it with someone when I worked at a department store in the early to mid 80s. I have a pair of twin bed spreads with a funky print from the late 60s or 70s. I want to turn them into window blinds, but I’m torn at picking them apart. The print is matched so perfectly at the seams, it seems a shame to undo workmanship you never see anymore.


  9. Very nice. Recently I learned that true Irish linen (still made in Ireland) can be bought through J. Hanna Ltd., who recently opened their sales to the public. I have their sample swatches in my possession, and there are many exciting options. Just FYI. Maybe a future project?


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