Making a DIY Flamenco Blouse, Part One


INC International Concepts 100% Cotton Blouse, thrifted.

This blouse was an impulse buy from a favorite consignment shop.   I luuuurved the corset-like shape.  The fit is just about as perfect as I can ever get, off-the-rack.   The fabric is crisp and lightweight.   I really dig the minty hint of steampunk.

I bought it, hung it in my closet and proceeded to ignore the heck out of it.   

A year later...  I pulled the blouse, intending to list it on eBay.   As I was taking measurements, a little lightbulb went off in my head....

I have these pictures on my flamenco fashion Pinterest board:

Oscar de la Renta, NYFW  Spring 2009
Found via Pinterest. 

Why not make myself a flamenco blouse, to perform in?

For those of you who don't know... flamenco dancewear can be quite expensive.   To find really good quality pieces, you have to order from overseas, or find it secondhand on eBay.   You can have pieces custom-made in the U.S. - but if your seamstress doesn't know to sew for flamenco dancing, you can wind up with a pricey sub-par disaster.

I'm always looking for ways to make my costumes harder, better, faster, stronger.... on the cheap.

I put the blouse on and did some choreography, to make sure the blouse wouldn't crawl up my torso.   It stayed in place, so it's a keeper for dancing.

I don't know how to make ruffles, but I found this excellent tutorial for a clown costume.   This type of ruffle lends itself well to flamenco wear.

And I already have lace.  I pulled my laces out of storage, to compare with the blouse:

I set myself some criteria:

1.   I must use what I already have, because I am packing to move. 

2.  I am not spending any additional money on this project.

3.   This has to be something I can do easily, by hand, and not totally obsess over this.

I have three different types of lace,   Up close, none of them are a perfect match to the blouse, but onstage, they would be great.

#1 Floral Print, with a shadow stripe.
#3   Floral pattern with a dainty border.

I didn't get a clear photo of #2, against the blouse.   

Option #1 was too shiny for the blouse, so I put it away.  I have a flamenco dress that I might refresh with this lace.

I was down to Options #2 & 3.   I tried draping the lace against the cuff to get an idea of how it might look...

Looking at the blouse, #3 is on your left (actual right sleeve), and #2 is on your right.
Close-up of Option 3.   This draped easily and well.
Close-up of Option 2.  This did not drape as easily.

As you can see, #3 lends itself to folding easily, so that is the one I chose.  

I spent some time experimenting and pinning the lace.  First, I folded the lace exactly in half, lengthwise, and used the flower pattern to set my gathers:

When I pinned the cuff to the blouse, I didn't really like how it looked.  Kind of 'meh'.   I tried folding the lace lengthwise, in more of a 3/4 ratio.   I thought this looked much better:

The lace has been folded more in a 3/4 manner, and it works better .   But I want a longer cuff.   

I spent an hour on this today, and I have other things I need to do, so I've shelved this for the time being.   I plan to pick it back up later this week.   I know I want a longer lace cuff - this blouse is for theatrical purposes, not everyday use.  

 There are two more things I plan to try:   I'm going to use two separate, unfolded, single-layer ruffles, one on top of the other, possibly using the #2 lace on the inner layer.    I am also going to try putting a small layer of soft white netting fabric in betwen the layers, at the seam, to make the lace stand out a bit more, and give it movement.

Another idea is to sew both lace layers to elastic, as slip-on, stand-alone cuffs, that I can pin to the sleeve for shows, and remove to wash the blouse.

I seem to think there might be some white cotton eyelet lace trim somewhere in my home.   I'm going to see if I still have it.   I think I may have donated it earlier this year.

So that's it for today!  Stay tuned for Part Two!


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