The blouse was kind of difficult to manage– I didn’t feel like sewing one (and in any event the actual fabric was sold out online), and couldn’t find anything similar ready-made, so I decided that I would try to paint a plain white blouse to match. After a lot of digging on eBay I found a blouse with a banded collar and a ruffle down the front— not quite the right shape of ruffle, but I figured it was close enough to start with.
I decided right away that I would only bother painting the design on the sleeves and collar, since the rest of the blouse wouldn’t show beneath my vest. I carefully detached the sleeves from the blouse, then removed the cuffs and unpicked the stitching from the long seam up the sleeves so I had flat pieces of fabric to work with.
To make my pattern for the painted design I went to the Mood Fabrics site where the fabric was available for sale and adjusted the zoom on my screen until the ruler was actually correctly sized (as measured on screen). Then I just put a piece of paper up to the screen and traced out the design in pencil, going over it in heavy black pen afterwards.
I traced the design out onto my fabric using Jacquard water-based resist, basically forming a dam blocking off the areas I wanted to color in. Once the resist was completely dry I stretched the fabric over cardboard frames I’d constructed from a storage box, and pinned the edges to keep it taut. Then I diluted some Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint and did some blotchy watercolor painting inside the resist lines in shades of blue.
It totally didn’t work.
Sure, the paint was mostly the right color and the watercolor effect was there (if a bit pale), but the resist apparently didn’t soak in well enough in some areas, resulting in the paint bleeding out beyond the lines and ruining the sharpness of the design. I tried dabbing it off, soaking the bleeding areas in water to dilute the excess color, experimenting with bleach and hydrogen peroxide… nothing helped. I had to trash the sleeves entirely, and I was back to square one. What a waste of time and effort!
Luckily, a replica fabric was available on Spoonflower, so I bought a yard of it in crepe de chine. The colorway is more navy blue in some places than the original fabric (which has more sky blue in it), but it’s close enough that no one will ever notice the difference without a side-by-side comparison. The drape and slight sheerness are both perfect, though.
Not wanting to waste either fabric or my original blouse with its perfectly good component parts, I stuck with my plan of making only the visible parts of the blouse in the new fabric, leaving the body plain white. The sleeves were simple– I just used the old sleeves as a pattern for the new ones– but in order to prevent the white blouse from showing around the shoulders I cut curved pieces of printed fabric to stitch around the armscyes as well.
To make the ruffled jabot, after a bit of experimentation I cut two donuts (like the circular ruffles on this costume), roll-hemmed the outer edge*, and then hand-sewed some gathering stitches along the inside curved edge.
* I’ve found that the best way to do a tiny rolled hem on a curved edge is to run a row of machine stitches 1/8″ away from the edge and use that as a guide to press the hem over. It really does help maintain your curve, as the stitching seems to tighten the fabric ever-so-slightly. You can either repeat the process for the second roll, or just press it over again as you go.
I pinned the resulting ruffles in place along either side of the front placket, pulling up the gathering thread as I went until it looked right. I suppose I could have just cut a smaller hole in the center to further concentrate the naturally-occurring ruffles without needing to gather, but the source image really did look like there was gathering, so I went with that. Once it looked reasonable I trimmed the excess fabric (just about 1/4 of the circle, making the total ruffle 3/4 of the original donut) and went back and stitched over the gathers to permanently attach the ruffles to the blouse. I also covered the buttonhole side of the placket with a thin strip of my printed fabric and used my seam ripper to open holes above the original buttonholes, hand-whipping the edges of the new holes to the originals (sloppily, I admit, but they were functional).
Rather than trying to detach and replace the banded collar entirely, I fitted an extra layer of fabric to cover it, top-stitching the new fabric in place on the front side and hand-whipping the inside. I also made a narrow piece of self-fabric cording to make the bow at the neckline (tough to make out but it’s definitely there in the original photos)– I think it would’ve been better to cut it on the bias, but I was running out of usable fabric so I made do with straight-grain strips.
Admittedly, the blouse looks pretty weird without the vest– essentially it’s a Franken-blouse– but the overall effect is just what I’d envisioned.
If you want to make the blouse from scratch I’d say you’d need 2 yards of the printed fabric– if it weren’t for the variation in the print color you could probably do it with 1.5 yards, but the color difference is so drastic across the length of the print that if you want your sleeves to match you really will need 2 yards, no matter what your sewing pattern might say. Plus the circular ruffles take up a decent amount of fabric on their own, which you need to account for. Better to be safe than sorry!