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Selecting a Blouse

HYG-5547-96

Jean Clements

Blouses are a basic clothing item that add versatility to any wardrobe. A change of blouse can give a skirt, suit or pair of slacks a completely new look. The fabrics (their fiber content, methods of construction and finishes), as well as the designs used in the manufacturing of clothing affect the performance and care of the finished garment and therefore the satisfaction a consumer receives from that garment.

Care must be taken in selecting a blouse to read and understand fiber content and care labeling information. In addition, it is important to examine the way the fabric is made as well as the way the blouse is constructed. This information can be used to select a blouse that will give maximum performance and ease of care.

Fiber Content

Cotton

Fabrics made of cotton are highly absorbent, allow air to pass through, and therefore are comfortable to wear. Cotton is a strong and durable fiber. Fabrics can be washed, but may shrink if not Sanforized
to resist shrinkage. Most cottons need to be ironed. Some very fine, soft, almost silk-like cottons need little more than a touch-up ironing. Cotton can be blended with polyester or other man-made fibers to make it more resistant to wrinkling.

Silk

This luxurious natural fiber has natural luster and strength. It dyes well, but may bleed into wash water. Dry cleaning is recommended for most fabrics made from silk. Washable silks may be washed by hand using a mild soap. For best results, press hand washed silks while still slightly damp. Care must be taken not to water mark the fabric with a steam iron that may weep water or "spit" during pressing.

Rayon

Rayon is a popular fashion fabric which is soft, absorbent, and comfortable to wear. It takes dyes well. Regular or viscose rayon has low wet strength. As a result it may stretch or shrink when washed. Dry cleaning is usually recommended. Some rayons are now blended with polyester. If 30% polyester is present the garment can be safely machine washed and tumble dried. High wet modulus rayon, often referred to as polynosic rayon, is a modified rayon that has high wet strength and can therefore be machine washed and tumbled dried.

Polyester

This man-made fiber resists wrinkles, stretching and shrinking. It is often blended with other fibers, particularly cotton and rayon to add wrinkle resistance and easy care qualities. It is not absorbent nor does it breathe, making 100% polyester garments uncomfortable in warm temperatures.

Acetate

This is a man-made fiber which is lustrous, drapes well and does not shrink. It must be dry cleaned unless carefully handled when wet. Acetate is typically found in dressy garments.

Fabric Construction

The way a fabric is woven influences its durability. Fabrics are woven by interlacing yarns at right angles to one another. Three basic weaves are made by varying the interlacing pattern: plain, twill, and satin weaves. Plain weaves include broadcloth, gingham, oxford cloth, and organdy. Twill weave fabrics, which include denim, have a definite diagonal pattern. Along with plain weave fabrics, they tend to be strong and durable. Satin weave fabrics are smooth and shiny. The treads used to give the lustrous appearance "float" over the surface of the fabrics so they tend to snag easily. They are not as durable as fabrics made with plain or twill weave.

A tightly woven fabric is more durable than a loosely woven fabric. Yarns in a loose fabric may snag easily. Loosely woven fabrics may also pull apart at the seams.

Design

The design of a blouse should be suited to the style of the garment with which it will be worn. A casual design would be suitable for casual wear, a tailored design for a suit blouse, and a dressy design for special occasion wear.

Design may be a part of the fabric. It may be woven into the garment. Be sure that it does not have long threads that will snag easily.

Design may be a part of the garment such as insets, pockets, collars, cuffs, ruffles, or patch work. Be sure that design features do not add greatly to the care necessary.

Design may be applied through the use of trims and buttons. Trims should require the same care as the garment or be easily removed for laundering.

Buymanship--Read the Label

The label will give the fiber content of the garment, care instructions as well as other information such as color fastness, and special finishes such as shrink or crease resistance features. It may identify country of origin.

Care instructions should be followed for satisfactory cleaning results. If instructions are followed, and the results are not satisfactory, the consumer has a case for returning the garment to the retailer. If the retailer will not give the consumer satisfaction, contact can be made with the manufacturer. The name and location of the manufacturer can be identified by the RN number on the label. A library or Federal Trade Commission office should have information to help identify the manufacturer using the RN number. In Ohio, a Federal Trade Commission office is located in Cleveland.

Care labels must be permanently attached while other information may be on separate hang tags. Some consumers write a description of the garment on the hang tag when they remove it. These tags are stored in a convenient location for future reference.

Workmanship

Stitching should be small and even, with no broken stitches. Thread should match or blend with garment fabric. Thread ends should be clipped.

Seams should be straight, smooth and flat with no puckers. They should be even width and have a finish which prevents ravelling.

Collars should be smooth and flat.

Facings should be smooth and flat and not rolled to the right side.

Sleeves should be set in smoothly without gathers or puckers.

Buttonholes should be on grain, stitched so that they are strong, and reinforced so that they do not rip out. Buttons should fit easily through buttonholes, but not pull out easily. They should be sewn on securely with a shank on the button or a thread shank. A shank makes allowance for fabric thickness and prevents puckering when the blouse is buttoned.

Buttons should be placed correctly with one button at the bustline to prevent gaping.

Topstitching should be even and smooth.

Shoulder pads should be well made and either firmly attached or removable for easy care.

Also see Selecting Tailored Shirt & Blouse
 


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