Finished Object: “Sisters of Edwardia Blouse”

(The hem on my skirt needed a little help before we took photos...)

This weeks’ Sew Weekly Challenge is “VIP Stash” fabrics- Check out my “Sisters of Edwardia” write-up on Sew Weekly.   I got up off my keester and put together the blouse that’s been living in my head for a while.  It’s based on the several blouses that Lady Sybil and Lady Edith wear on Downton Abbey:

Click to view "Post Edwardian" on Modern Recycled Costumes

I call this pose the "Liza Jane."

The body of the blouse uses less than 1m of fabric.  I used printed silk twill and obsessed over the border fabric until I re-discovered a worn out silk-cotton radiance blouse in my ragbag.  I’m happy it will have a second life, and the faded red radiance tones in with the print.

The sleeves are cut on to the blouse, lie along the bias of the fabric and hit below the elbow with a relaxed fit.  They have a border band of fabric around the hem of the sleeve, the neckline, and the bottom of the blouse.  The blouse needs gussets to allow for free range of motion, and the CF features a minimalistic nod to the “pigeon front” blousing so popular at the time. The blouse closes on the side with an invisible zipper.

I like this blouse, but I plan to shorten the sleeves on the pattern so they graze my elbow and will tighten up the neckline.

I meant it when I said “free range of motion.”  Though it’s a lady-like cut and made of pretty silk twill, I can reach and bend and twist in this top.  Mobility is important to me- after all I’m not a lady of leisure like the Crawley sisters.

I took notes, pictures, and carefully refined my own pattern to streamline the process of offering this as a pdf pattern.  It’s an odd cut, rather different from modern ones but the pattern is clearly marked and the instructions will walk you through the process of construction.

I’m making this up as I go, and I need a little help.  I’m using a sizing system similar to the one I use for the BCT.  That is, you choose the size based on your full bust measurement.  This is a “blousy blouse,” so issues of cup sizing matter less than they would on a fitted dress.  Then you choose the waistband piece based on your waist measurement.  To me, that seems most logical.

I need some guinea pigs in sizes 30″, 45″, and 50″ or 55″.  (Ballpark)  That means I’ll email you with bizarre questions while I’m working on that size, and in a week or two I’ll send you the pattern for testing.  I want to err on the side of caution and make sure to get the sizing/ease right.  If you’d like to help me out this way, please email me with your full bust measurement in the subject line.  (Edit:  Thank you all so much!  I have testers, and the pattern should be ready around the end of this month!)

Color Values

If you’d like to receive an email when I publish this pattern, click here.

Don’t forget to enter the Lace Fabric/ Lace Insertion Giveaway before April 7!


  1. It’s gorgeous. That blouse was one of my first Downton Abbey costume obsessions.

    Do you have plans for any more Downton Abbey-inspired projects?

      • I haven’t attempted it yet. I’m actually more interested in having a go now that you’ve pointed out it has cut on sleeves. An Adele Margolis book has instructions I’ve been wanting to try for drafting those based on regular bodice and sleeve blocks. And I definitely plan to include gussets. I hate not being able to move freely.

        I’m pretty sure I love Mary’s stripy blouse too. There’s also a white jacket with black accents that Edith wears that I like. I didn’t watch Downton Abbey until this January because I assumed I wouldn’t care about the costumes, never having been into the Edwardian era. I’m still surprised at how many of the costumes I would be happy to wear in 2012.

    • Thanks, Stephanie. :) I like to ask other Stephanies- how did you distinguish yourself in grade school? Were you steph with a last initial, steph with a last name, steph with a middle name, or in your group were you “The Steph?” Once I went to summer camp and in a room of 12 girls, I was one of five stephanies.

  2. Oooo, I love that print (although I think I’d love it more in shades of grey, that black and white photo is lovely)! I really wasn’t sure about this design when you first started talking about it, but I should know better by now. It looks very comfortable while also loving very pretty. Nice job!

    Also, I ADORE that first picture! Haha oh man I’ve done that before, but with a top whose hem wouldn’t stay down. :D

    • Heather, you know I do shots like that purely for your own amusement… If I can post a garment and know I’ve made you laugh a little, then it’s a good post.

  3. I love this blouse. I’ve been wanting to make a version since I first saw Downtown Abbey. I’ll have to give it a try when your PDF is ready. The colour you’ve used for yours is lovely too. The DA ones were a little pale but the reddy coral is much more modern.

    • You know… Almost all the requests for the pattern that arrived in my email box today happen to be for the size I am… So I figured since I already have the pattern and that’s the size everyone’s asking for I might issue it as a single size while I work out the kinks on the multi-size…

  4. I haven’t seen any Downton Abbey but I love this top, I’ve only just got around to Mad Men! And I have just done a very silly thing, joined Pinterest. I will probably never get any sewing done now!!! X

    • Pinterest is amazing. It’s like a way to look at someone’s mind without words getting in the way. Are you paperdoll there? I’ll keep an eye out for you.

    • well.. Chanel is always quoted that fashion is comfort and love.. Also that luxury should be comfortable. At any rate, I think that your clothes should never limit you.

  5. Funny that this is an Edwardian design. I can see it being really fresh and modern. I guess fabric choice would make a difference. I absolutely love the sleeve although I’m a little scared of underarm gussets. I would definitely make this pattern up. I’d offer to be a guineau pig but I don’t think I fit any of those sizes. Good luck! I can’t wait for this one.

    • I’d love to see the wardrober’s inspiration book for the show..

      Don’t be scared! I’m being meticulous with them. Plenty of dots to match up and excessively explained. Nearly painless, I should hope.

  6. LOVE this and I think the trim sections would be perfect to highlight some bits of special fabrics I have that are too small to make anything out of.

  7. I’d love to help out, but it’s exam time soon, and all my papers are due next week. (ACK!) As it is, this pattern will probably go onto my To-Make list as soon as you get it up! :) It’s just gorgeous.

  8. Oooh…great colours and use of that fabric! Any yay for stash busting! And it’s exciting to see your version of this blouse! I’ve been waiting with such anticipation!

    Alas, I’m not anywhere near the sizes you need (and don’t see any ‘me’ sewing happening in the next month either – sigh), so I’ll just have to content myself with looking forward to watching everyone else’s versions as you develop the pattern.

  9. Oh thats nice. It looks so… flowy. Flowy? Flowey.. Flowwy.. ugh. Soft and drapey.

    ANYWAY. Its lovely, and what a fortuitous find in the matching colours of the old blouse!!

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  11. I’m totally willing to guinea pig, sounds fun! I’m a 30″ bust, but I do have a very…prominent…set of shoulders for my size! :)

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