Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Folkwear #205 Gibson Girl Shirtwaist Review

I used the Folkwear #205 Gibson Girl Blouse pattern to create a blouse worn by women in Portugal during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as supported by photographic evidence (which you can read about in my post here). I made the blouse out of vintage floral cotton, with tones of pink, purple, blue, and white.

The blouse is constructed with French seams on the sleeve seams, shoulder seams, side front seams, and side back seams. The seams between the sleeve and bodice, and yoke and bodice, were left unfinished because I couldn’t figure out how to make a French seam with gathered fabric and piping. I plan to cover these unfinished seams with bias binding eventually.

Changes to the Pattern:
  • I added self-made piping, from purple cotton, between the yoke and blouse. I also added the piping between the yoke and collar, and between the sleeves and cuffs.
  • I made the collar out of fabric rather than lace. I added half-inch-wide beige lace trim to the top of the collar.
  • I shortened the sleeves by 1 inch and narrowed them by 1 inch, because I was worried they’d be too long and billowy for the peasant/marketwoman I aimed to portray. The altered sleeve width was fine, but in retrospect I should not have shortened the sleeves because now they are too tight around my elbows for me to add a closure to the cuffs!
  • I removed 2 inches from the side panels of the blouse, to prevent the blouse from being too billowy for a working class woman and prevent it from overwhelming my petite figure.
  • I chose not to add the fabric ties at the waist, because my cotton fabric created ties that were very bulky and unyielding. I plan to add grosgrain ribbon in a coordinating color to serve as the waist ties.
  • I topstitched the back button placket.
  • The collar fastens with 2 hooks and eyes, and the back yoke fastens with 3 snaps, because I didn’t have enough buttons to go all the way up the placket.

Overall Thoughts:
I LOVE this pattern! The construction was easy and intuitive, and the blouse only took about a week to create. The final result is flattering and very comfortable to wear (and it looks so cute with jeans!). I will certainly make more Gibson Girl blouses in the future, and the pattern includes enough varied options for decoration (such as lace insertion and tucks) that I could create multiple “looks” from this pattern.

What made construction of this blouse difficult was my choice to add the lace trim to the collar and the piping. It was difficult to get the piping evenly sewn between the seams, but this is
purely my inexperience with using piping. The effort was worth it though, because the piping helps break up the heavy floral print, and adds a unique dimension to the blouse; it is a detail not often found on reproduction blouses made and sold for folkloric use in Portugal.

My entire Portuguese marketwoman costume: shirtwaist, skirt, apron, handkerchief, headscarf, patchwork drawstring bag, petticoat (not seen), embroidered mules (not seen), and a basket filled with corn bread!
A post about all of the elements of the Portuguese marketwoman costume is coming soon!

Have you ever made the Folkwear #205 Gibson Girl Shirtwaist/Blouse pattern? What was your experience with it?


  1. Gabriela - your entire Portuguese marketwoman costume is gorgeous! I love the rich colors you choose and the piping details on your blouse! (I totally want one now!) What a wonderful way to celebrate your heritage! Keep inspiring us, Anneliese :)

  2. Good idea with the piping, looks great!

  3. I'm sure you know this now, but I always hand-baste piping (and rick-rack). Yes, it's more work up front, but it saves me a lot of time and hassle because it sews in straight the first time and I'm much less likely to have it slip and have to rip and re-sew it.

    1. Also: This is ADORABLE! Thanks for posting! this pattern is in my (admittedly endless) queue and it's great to see it "live".