Tag Archives: blouse

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

Baggage and Tags Shirt

Here’s a really sweet travel themed blouse from Majestic. I got this last week from etsy seller MsTips. and I couldn’t be happier with it. And why not, as it has everything I could ask for in a novelty print.

It’s from the late 50s or early 1960s, and unlike so many prints of that time, it is not all dark and gloomy. Maybe this one is just before print colors became so muddy and muted, and all the companies seemed to be obsessed with ditsy little Americana prints.

There’s a wider range of destinations than you usually find.  There’s an entire Pacific Rim tour!  And of course, there’s Paris.  Was there ever a mid 20th century travel print that did not include Paris?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one without it, as if Paris was the ultimate dream destination. Tomorrow, another print that includes… well, Paris, of course.


Posted by Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com:

What a great print! I was on the lookout for travel themed items when in Italia last week, but did not see anything as cool as this (other stuff was cool of course, but nothing like this!) 

Monday, August 23rd 2010 @ 3:21 PM

Posted by samsara:

What a cheery and sweet print. I love it. Especially the Pacific Rim tour! 

Tuesday, August 24th 2010 @ 9:03 AM

Posted by Ms. Tips:

I’m so happy to see this blouse found a happy new owner! I hope it gets to see many countries. 🙂 

Tuesday, August 24th 2010 @ 9:33 AM

Posted by Stacey:

What a cute top! I’ll have to check out that dealer’s stash… 

Tuesday, August 24th 2010 @ 6:35 PM

Posted by betsy stampe:

this was my blouse. i bought it in the early 60’s. i loved the print too….it was so fresh looking….the line-drawings,the great colors, and the silkiness of the fabric. i’m glad you all like it. i liked it too and i’m glad it has someone else to appreciate it. good going, ms.tips! 

Thursday, August 26th 2010 @ 12:55 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Thanks all, and especially thanks to Betsy for posting. It’s rare that one gets info straight from the original owner! You wouldn’t hppen to remember where you purchased it, now would you? 

Thursday, August 26th 2010 @ 3:47 PM

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Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

Vera Neumann Flower Explosion!

This came in the mail today, a gift from Holly at Holly Gab.  It has a tiny flaw that made it unsellable by her high standards, so she offered it to me, knowing I’d give it a warm and loving home.

Vera was, of course, known best for her scarves, but she was a prolific designer of other textiles as well: kitchen and bed linens, and clothing.  I’ve never been able to pin down a date when the Vera Company started producing clothing, but when they applied for the Vera trademark in 1959, blouses were mentioned as a product that would carry the trademark.  So they were either already planning to make clothes, or possibly had already started production.

According to a promotion film distributed by the Vera Company and verified by her nephew Fred Salaff, all Vera products began as a painted square scarf.  These were always painted by Vera Neumann.  Her team of designers then took her original and adapted it to the other products.  So this cute top was based on Vera’s original scarf.  It’s easy to imagine what the scarf looked like from the design of the front of the blouse.

So, how does one go about dating Vera clothing?  I’d start with a baseline of 1959, as the first clothes could have been made that early.  Look at the styling of the piece.  This style of overblouse wes very popular from the late 50s through the middle 60s.

Next, look at the labels.  The earliest Vera clothing I’ve seen have all been silk or cotton.  In the late 60s she branched out into synthetics – nylon and later, polyester.  The Union or ILGWU label is the one that came into use in 1963 and was replaced in 1974.

One last clue is the back zipper.  It is made of nylon, which was first used in commercially made clothing around 1960.

So, my conclusion is that this dates to 1963-1966ish.

One last thing I want you to notice.  It is not clear in my photo, but there is a notch in the neckline, on the opposite side from the notch in the hem.  See it?  And notice how the curve of the sleeve hem echoes the curve of the notch.  Just  small details that added a bit of interest to the design!

Thanks so much, Holly!


Posted by Joules:

This is such a pretty one! I love that it is done in the silk fabrication too. Jealous here, I will admit.

Tuesday, October 27th 2009 @ 5:54 PM

Posted by Karen:

Stunning colors on this one–beautiful!

Tuesday, October 27th 2009 @ 8:30 PM

Posted by Holly:

Lizzie–glad it arrived so quickly!

I love this blouse, too. It’s one of the best I’ve seen and you certainly get a sense that it would have been a gorgeous scarf. The notch details at neck and hem–fabulous! My seamstress said, “We could make it into a scarf.” As you can imagine, that idea was met by me with an emphatic, “Noooo!” You immediately came to mind as the best guardian of it.

I like to imagine this worn with very slim black pants and huge black sunglasses. By me!

Wednesday, October 28th 2009 @ 6:58 AM

Posted by samsara:

This is exquisite! I love these colors, the tendrils that reach across the blouse and those dear notches! As much as I love Vera scarves, I love her clothing even more. On a blouse or dress you can really see the delights of her patterns, that can get lost on a scarf when it is tied.

Thursday, October 29th 2009 @ 9:57 AM

Posted by Alex:

My wife adores clothes with bugs 🙂

Friday, October 30th 2009 @ 8:54 AM

Posted by Jen O:

Lucky you! this is gorgeous, probably the best I’ve seen, sigh….

Monday, November 9th 2009 @ 11:02 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’m so glad everyone enjoyed seeing this lovely piece!

Wednesday, November 11th 2009 @ 6:37 PM


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Filed under Designers, Vintage Clothing

Vintage Serendipity

I got an email from my friend Hollis a couple of weeks ago.  She had picked up some 1950s shorts at a sale and wanted to know if I would be interested in them.  Now that’s what I like – a friend who pays attention to what you love and who even does your shopping for you!

She sent some photos and then she really got my interest.  In the group of shorts was a pair by Catalina that was from the same line as a sleeveless blouse I already had.  There was shirring on the blouse front, and I could see the same shirring on the legs of the shorts.

I couldn’t wait to get them so I could photograph the two pieces together.  In reality, the set would probably look better on most women if the brown was on the bottom and the pink on the top, but still, pretty nifty, I’d say!

Hollis, you can shop for me any day!


Posted by Tom Tuttle from Tacoma:

neat detail. yea, you’re right about where the colours should preferably be! i was just telling a young colleague that pinks go with browns (she didn’t quite know how to wear browns).

Sunday, September 20th 2009 @ 7:45 PM

Posted by Karen/Small Earth Vintage:

That is so cool! The colors make me think of Neopolitan ice cream.

Sunday, September 20th 2009 @ 10:55 PM

Posted by Jennifer:

What an adorable set! I love that!!

Monday, September 21st 2009 @ 1:12 PM

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

Cannon Terry Topper

Wednesday I took a little trip to Winston-Salem to deliver a beagle for a dog rescue group I work with.  After getting Winnie to her foster mother, I was able to explore some of the local antique malls.  In one I found this cute early 1960s Terry Topper, newer worn, and still in the bag.  There was no point in looking to see if it was made in the USA, because of course it was.  At the time this top was made,  textiles was a booming business in North Carolina, and Cannon was one of the largest and most famous.

Cannon was located in Kannapolis, NC, and for years it was one of the country’s leading producers of towels.  When the plant closed in 2003, 7650 people lost their jobs.  In the years following the bankruptcy and closure of the company, the Cannon name has been liscensed, and now “Cannon” towels are made in Asia.

The only thing that I do not like about this Terry Topper is the design.  That’s not exactly true, as I do like the seashells.  But what I’d really love to find is the hat design pictured on the paper label.  Now that is cute!

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Filed under Sportswear, Textiles, Vintage Clothing