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As we prepare for our project next year, our sewing and knitting group have started getting ready making costumes and props for our female and male dormitories. Here is how Jane has been getting on with her 1940s blouse.

The authentic 1940s pattern is by McCalls. I’m making view B, using a floral printed cotton.



Pattern pieces laid out and ready to cut, checked and doubled checked before cutting though!


Tailor’s tacks all done, red for darts and green for notches; I’m feeling quite organised. Starting with the front pieces, I’ve unpinned, snipped tacks and taken the paper pattern off.


It’s starting to get more tricky now. Each side front has small top gathers which I’ll need to fit into a yoke, each side also has double darts running up from the bottom hem-line. Both these elements give shape by adding fullness for the bust and pulling in below for the waist.


You can see the four darts on the back piece too, pinned, tacked and finally stitched in place. Ready for pressing, the instructions say press towards the centre; it’s not as easy as it looks.


So the yokes are stitched to the fronts with notches matched up and my little gathering stitches pulled up and adjusted to fit. This needs pressing too before I attempt the rather worrying top stitching. “Why worrying?” you may ask.


If you have watched the BBC’s Sewing Bee you’ll know: top stitching shows as it is on the right side of the fabric, it has to be neat, in line, close to the edge and you are judged on it!

I sewed it really carefully, so hope I did a good enough job.

Next, pin, tack and sew the side and shoulder seams.


After two afternoons spent sewing, it’s beginning to take shape but needs quite a few more afternoons of work to become a blouse.