Monday, April 22, 2013

Repurpose Challenge: Petticoat Lace Blouse

This asymmetrical blouson top was made using a commercial
pattern and a deep, tiered-lace hem from an antique petticoat.

In last week's newsletter, we shared with you a lovely triple ruffle bonnet from Martha Pullen's antique clothing collection. Martha has accumulated piles of vintage white garments over the years, and many - such as that bonnet - are extraordinarily special and have been handled with care. However, others were purchased in priced bundles so the pieces were in less-than-perfect condition, stained, torn or otherwise marred.

Rather than discard these less-than-perfect pieces, our staff has taken on the challenge of remaking them into something beautiful and heirloom-inspired.  I (Amelia) made this asymmetrical blouson top - which was featured in our March/April 2013 issue - using a commercial pattern that was drafted with a shoulder ruffle. Instead of using self-fabric for the ruffle, however, I used the deep, tiered-lace hem from an antique petticoat. 

If you would like to make a similar blouse from an antique petticoat, keep in mind when you are shopping that there are many beautiful options. They aren't all rows of lace like this one; some have lace shaping, tucks and embroidery. Look for pieces that are damaged above the flounce as they can be more reasonably priced. If Martha's stash is any indication, there are countless skirts and petticoats still in existence with all sorts of lace designs begging to be revived as part of a modern blouse, skirt or baby gown.

Beautiful vintage lace should not go to waste tucked away in an attic.
Find new life for it on a modern design.
How to make it:

I used Burda Pattern #7549, but any off-the-shoulder top, tunic or dress will work. Follow the instructions in the pattern and instead of using a fabric flounce or ruffle, incorporate your antique piece. Choose a lightweight silk or cotton fabric like China silk, cotton lawn or batiste. I chose the best of both worlds with a silk/cotton blend of Martha's Elegance fabric from the Martha Pullen Store.

You will need 1/4-inch-wide elastic for the off-the-shoulder top edge and 3/8- to 1/2-inch-wide for the bottom casing. If you would prefer to use new laces, create your own stacked flounce with 6-1/2 yards of lace and use the pattern as your guide. You may finish the top edge with a row of lace edging to cover the elastic casing by butting and zigzagging the lace header edge to the top edge of the blouse before you insert the elastic. 

TIP:  Salvage some of the skirt fabric for a seam allowance above the lace (usually 5/8 inches). If this is not possible, add a strip of fabric to the lace so that you can connect it to the top of the blouse. Rather than pick out the flat felled seam above the lace, I just used it in the seam allowance.

I removed the last two rows of lace to narrow the width of the flounce.
Speaking of Burda patterns, F+W Media (our parent company) announced a new partnership with Burda Style last week, and we couldn't be more excited. Welcome to the family, Burda Style!

For more spring sewing inspiration, be sure to check out our huge Spring Clearance Event happening now at the Martha Pullen Online Store.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful, 
Cyndi and Amelia


  1. These types of posts ALWAYS scare me. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to know whether that slightly ripped petticoat is great for salvage or is a valuable piece of history. By encourage the destruction of Victorian and Edwardian pieces, we are leaving just that many fewer for the next generation to enjoy and learn from. No one would think to paint over an old painting simply because of a coffee stain, but yet, we do the same with a lacy petticoat....

    1. I agree completely. So many wonderful historic pieces lost forever. . . . I don't understand why anyone would do it. :(

  2. This is so beautiful. I love it.