I’ve got a great piece of vintage fashion (and tutorial!) for you today. I came across an old pin that I had saved a long time ago on Pinterest for a vintage top called the Jiffy Wrap Blouse. Ever heard of it? The image I found on Pinterest was taken from an old Time magazine from the 50’s:
Upon further research, (Surprisingly, I couldn’t find much about the history of these blouses?) I read that the Jiffy wrap top, and many variations of it, actually existed as far back as the 1930’s! How cool is that?
In the photo, the blouse looks like a regular wrap top, right? Whats interesting about it is how it is constructed. Not worn, it looks like this:
It’s basically a rectangle with a hole in the middle and straps on the sides. Weird looking, yet intriguing, isn’t it? I’ll bet first impressions of this top would be to take one look at it and pass on by. But it’s not as complicated as it looks.
Here is how you wear the Jiffy Wrap blouse:
1. Place your top over your head and onto your body, making sure the thinner ties are in the front and the thicker ties are in the back.
2. Take the front ties and tie them behind your back. I found it better not to wrap the front part too tightly to your body. When I did that the first time, I couldn’t lift my arms very well.
3. Take the back ties and bring them around to your front, wrapping the back of your blouse comfortably around your waist.
4. Tie the front with a pretty bow or a knot.
Here is the vintage version of the directions for tying the cropped version of this blouse.
Ta-Da! It’s nice, no? (Pardon my palazzo pants and bare feet. I was originally not going to bother with styling and just showcase the blouse, but it ended up not going in that direction apparently…)
The concept of this blouse was clever, and because the style is so very vintage, of course I want to try my hand at making one.
So I did.
Luckily, I already had the perfect amount of fabric to make it. Remember in my last post, when I made the Newlook Kimono Top? I had run out of fabric for the sash that goes with it, so I recently put an order in for more. I wanted to use a contrasting color and print for the sash, so I had ordered this Japanese-inspired wave print cotton from the same Nara Homespun Indigo collection as my kimono top:
Although I really love the print, I didn’t feel that it matched very well with my top. I actually found another Nara print that worked better, so I ended up ordering it to make the sash instead.
I’ve tried looking up tutorials to make this blouse, but truthfully didn’t find very many. So I thought I would make my own detailed tutorial so I can document how I made it for future use, but also so I can share it with you, if you’re interested in making your own. You can find all the steps down below. I tried to be as detailed and concise as I could, but please feel free to leave any questions or comments about this make and how I can improve any of the steps, if needed. Thanks, and hope you enjoy!
How to Make a Jiffy Wrap Blouse
Supplies I used:
• At least 1-2 yards fabric of your choice (depending on your body measurements and fabric pattern, length, width, etc.) I ended up having to use more than 1 yard of fabric to make mine because of pattern placement and because I chose to make a longer top
• 1 yard single fold bias tape
• Marking pen or pencil
• Tape measure or ruler
• Measuring gauge or gauge ruler
• Dowel or loop turner
• Iron and ironing board
*Please Read Before you start:
1. As you can see, the version I sewed is a little different than the blouses pictured in the vintage photos. Instead of sewing the wrap ties at the top and bottom of the blouse, I moved them up or down a bit so that it flared out at the stomach area. I also lengthened it because I just don’t like tops that sit above my waist for some reason. This post will cover the longer length version. If you want more of a cropped top like in the vintage photo, there is a blog post that shares steps for creating a short version here. This tutorial also serves as the sewing inspiration for my own post. It’s pretty good, so check it out!
2. The bodice measurements listed for this blouse are based on my personal measurements. Depending on your own, you may need to add/subtract inches to the bodice piece. To get your own width measurement, take a tape measure, and starting at one side of your waist, measure around your front until you get to the other side of your waist. Whatever number you have, add 1 (to account for 1” seam allowance) to give you the total inches to cut for bodice WIDTH.
3. The same concept goes for the length of the top. The length measurement is dependent upon using at least 1 yard of fabric. If you desire a longer top, you will need to take extra yardage into account. To measure your desired length, hold one end of your measuring tape to the top of your shoulder and drape it down to however long you want your top to be. Take that number, add 1 for seam allowance, and multiply by 2 (to account for front and back portions) to give you the total inches to cut for the bodice LENGTH.
**Finished measurements for the bodice portion of this top using my own personal numbers are approximately 27”(W) x 25”(L). For height reference, I am 5’1”. To avoid mishaps, take your personal measurements beforehand and use them as your guide for fabric size and cutting.
Sewing Instructions for the Jiffy Wrap Top (long length version)
1. Cut out 3 rectangles of fabric using your personal measurements. For my numbers I needed to cut the following:
• For bodice: 28” x 52”
• For front ties: 5” x 52”
• For back ties: 2” x 52”
2. To make the back ties, take the 2” strip and fold it in half. Cut through the fold. You should have two ties measuring 2” x half of your length measurement”. Take one tie and fold lengthwise, right sides together. (You may choose to have your ties pointed at the end, but it’s not necessary.) To point the edge: at one short end, starting at the folded corner, mark a diagonal line up, stopping 1/4” from the top.
3. Start stitching along the diagonal line, pivoting once you reach the 1/4” mark. Continue sewing down the long edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Leave the other short edge unfinished. Use a loop turner or narrow dowel (or any kind of narrow stick tool you have on hand) to carefully turn the ties right side out, taking care to get the points nice and “sharp”. Iron flat. Do the same for the 2nd tie. Finished measurement for the skinny ties are approx. 3/4″ wide.
4. To make the front ties, take the 5” strip and follow the same procedure as you did for the narrow ties. I sewed these ties with a 1/2″ seam allowance so I would have 2″ wide finished ties. When finished, you should have a total of 4 ties at this point.
5. For the bodice, finish each raw edge with a folded hem. Start with one side of your bodice piece and fold over 1/4”. Pin and iron if necessary. Then fold it over again at 1/4” and pin/iron if needed. Stitch down seam to finish. Repeat the same process on the 3 remaining edges.
6. Take the bodice piece and fold it in half widthwise or “hamburger style” (in other words, cut your length measurement in half) and make sure the fold is at the top. Mark the center of the fold for reference. Using something flat and circular, (a small to medium sized plate or pot lid would work great!) trace a half circle around the top of the fold to create a neck hole. If you are anal about neckline measurement, you can always take an existing t-shirt or top and use those numbers for guidelines. After tracing, cut out along the lines.
7. Staystitch around the neckline to keep it from stretching too much while attaching bias tape. I stitched 3/8” from the raw edge. The line you sew around the neckline will also act as a guide for pinning your bias tape, so try not to skip this step unless you don’t mind measuring as you pin (and why make things even harder for yourself?) Open up the bodice piece so right side is facing up. Take your bias tape and open up one side. See where the crease is?
that crease will be placed down directly onto your staystitch line as you pin. Fold down one side of the bias tape 1/2” and pin it right side down to the neckline.
using 1” increments, continue to pin bias tape around the edges of the neckline, using the crease in the tape and your staystitch as a guide. When you get to the starting point once again, overlap the beginning of the bias tape by 1/2”.
To attach the bias tape to your neckline, sew directly onto the open crease line that you used to match up with your staystitch.
8. Trim any uneven raw edges and cut notches around the curves to ensure a smooth neckline when turning. Move the bias tape over to the back by flipping it up and over to the wrong side of the fabric and iron down flat. Top stitch around the neckline to secure the bias tape.
9. At this point, go to a mirror and put the bodice on. It’s time to decide where to place the ties.
10. The tie placement will require some patience and some personal fitting. For me, I first had to do a little fiddling and adjusting with the top to get it to sit evenly on my shoulders. I found that I had the best fit if I placed the front ties at my lower waistline, closer to my hips. I usually prefer to tie my sashes like an empire waist, so for the back ties, I placed them up higher so they will naturally sit under my chest as I tie them in the front. After pinning the ties in place, (if possible, use safety pins as opposed to straight pins because, OUCH.) try on the top again and tie the front ties towards your back and the back ties around your front. make sure you are happy with the tie placements. If satisfied, take it to your machine.
11. Place your bodice right side facing up. Before removing the pins from your front and back ties, make marks with pins or a fabric pen exactly where you placed them. Then remove the tie completely and fold under a 1/2” or so on the unfinished side before stitching it in place onto your bodice. Top stitch near both edges of the ties so they stay secure and don’t fold up.
I know my threads are really hard to see here, but if you squint you can see where I sewed the two edges down, hehe.
Hooray!! You are done! Now admire your handiwork.
This was a quick and easy sew. It’s definitely beginner friendly, so long as you are already aware of some sewing jargon and already possess some basic sewing skills. If this top calls out to you as a first sewing project, don’t hesitate! I don’t often have the best of luck when it comes to wrap tops and dresses in general, (something about the fit is always off for me) but I was pretty pleased with the results of this one. I just love recreating vintage style! How did you do with your Jiffy Wrap Blouse?