Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Boxy Hibiscus Top: Simplicity 6742

Sometimes my sewing ideas charge ahead without regard for the facts, the constraints - the stuff I should know by now! Does that happen to you too - or are you a fast learner?

This time around, my idea was to pair a summery boxy top with a flared skirt - essentially a square capping a triangle - theoretically, the idea seemed a cracker! But unfortunately the whole idea is predicated on the existence of a narrow waist, somewhere around the apex of that theoretical triangle, and I ain't got one of those no more.  So this combination doesn't look nearly as good as I'd hoped - I know the photos prove it.

A boxy top with a flared midi skirt
You've already seen the skirt (posted here, and thank you for your lovely comments, I haven't finished replying to you but I will!), so I'll tell you now about the top I whipped up to go with it.

I still thought it was a good sewing idea!

I used a second hand sewing pattern - you can see it pictured below. I know it looks terribly '80s (and it's dated 1985), and I know many people hate '80s fashion, but if can you look past the flickback hairstyles and dated jewellery, there are gems out there in 80s fashion land!

This old sewing pattern is all about boxy 80s shapes, but I think they look fashionable again - the top looks quite modern, and I think the skirt could also be very appealing in an eyelet fabric (hmm yes, I *do* have one planned already, thank you for asking!). Actually the pants would probably look good too in a black crepe if you narrowed the leg width...

Simplicity 6742, a classic 1980s outfit pattern
The top is described succinctly as a "loose fitting waist length top". That's pretty accurate but doesn't tell you enough.

To me the top feels cropped - it is waist length, but because it's such a loose top there is a high potential for waist exposure. So it's not cropped but it might flash your midriff like a cropped top does. The pattern also has no bust darts, which helps keep it super boxy, but I think you'd need to add them if you were bigger than a B-cup and wanted the top to fall properly.

The sleeves look cut-on but are made from a separate pattern piece, and the neckline is not just a simple V-neck - it has two inset pieces that form the V and that attach to the V shape of the top as well as to the facings for the back neckline. Unfortunately these details don't come across on the pattern envelope. I've taken a couple of close-up photos of the front neckline, but I know it's hard to see details in this busy print - squinting at the hibisci (or is that hibiscuses?) reminds me of eye tests!

close up of the V-neck from the outside
close up of the V-neck, inside out


The fabric is a lightweight cotton; I bought about 3 metres of it at Lincraft last year when I was planning to make a summery shirt dress for the "Fall for Cotton" challenge. My plans changed when I realised I didn't love the fabric enough to spend a serious amount of time on it (you know, buttons and top stitching) - FYI I ended up maing this cotton dress from a vintage Vogue pattern instead.

Anyway, back on topic! I guess this is a quilting cotton? The fabric is a bit stiff, but seems to soften up with heavy-handed ironing. I still don't know how much I like the fabric - enough for a top, obviously, but if I say I'm tempted to make what's left into a skirt please stop me!

Back view, boxy summer top

Fitting and Pattern Adjustments

Fitting? Say what? This top really is very loose, so I didn't need to do any fitting!

I sewed the pattern exactly as the instructions told me, and now I WISH I'd made it slightly longer, the better to hide my midriff.

There's that lesson about measuring stuff again, isn't it - you'd think I'd have learnt it making the skirt, wouldn't you!

Is it a crop top?
There is one other thing I should have adjusted and which I did adjust when I made this top again last week.  The pattern tells you to cut out the inserts for the V-neck on the bias, then interface them before attaching them to the neckline. The fabric wanted to stretch out on the bias, naturally, and a bit of interfacing was not enough to stop it.  Is there any reason why the neckline pattern piece would need to be bias cut? All I can come up with is that it might look good to have your fabric print or weave angled against the straight grain bodice. Again, it may be hard to see this in the photos, but my bias-cut neckline does not want to lay flat, and to my eyes looks slightly warped. 

Second time around with this pattern I cut these neckline inset pieces on the straight grain and they behaved so much better! That second top is not yet photographed - stay tuned.

Likes / Dislikes

That V-neck was fiddly to construct, but I really like it, and the neckline construction steps in the instructions were clear and even clever. So that's a couple of definite likes! I also really like the general shape of the top and in particular the wide airy sleeves.  I reckon this boxy shape would look amazing in a thick fabric (scuba fabric, anyone?) though it would be quite challenging to make a neat version of this neckline with a thick fabric.

The length of the top, however, is something I don't like - well not on me. I do think it would look amazing on someone with a tiny waist, maybe paired with a pencil skirt, but on me it just accentuates a short waist and a generally thick area :(. And I am not about to cut down on chocolate.

Side view, this is how the top wants to fall

OK then, so that's a wrap! I'll be back soon with more summer sewing - still nothing too challenging I'm afraid - I'm having too much fun with squares and triangles! 

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pastel Pink with Flare (Butterick 5650)

Earlier this year I came across a compelling image in a fashion magazine. A pale pink, flared midi skirt, paired with a boxy pale pink oversized jumper.  It looked terrific - a modern take on the 50s skirt shape - but I can't for the life of me find that image now.

I made this skirt to try to copy that image, and the shape, colour and drape of the skirt fabric are exactly what I was trying for.  The length is perhaps a smidge too short, but I'll live with it. And I've now also made a pale pink jumper to go with the skirt, totally copying fashion!! I'll have to take photos soon of the jumper - it's ended up more fitted than I expected, but I'm still happy with the result. Amanda of Bimble and Pimble's November sewing questions on Instagram (look for #bpsewvember if you're curious) have got me thinking it might be interesting to show you how my inspiration translates into sewn garments? I'll have another go at finding that inspiration photo to share with you so you can judge for yourself how near or close I was to the mark :).

OK, so back to this post - back to my pale pink stretch cotton, flared midi skirt.

Earlier this year I made the same view (view A) from this pattern, Butterick 5650, in chambray with a silver stripe down the centre (you can read about it here), and I am still loving that skirt shape and length, and yearning to have more in my wardrobe.  But last time around I moved the grainline around to make the seams I was adding easier to sew. PLUS the silver stripe turned out to be not quite on the straight grain, Second time around I committed to stick to the rules.

UpSewLate: Butterick 5650 front view
UpSewLate: Butterick 5650, another front view just because I love this skirt
The fabric grain obviously affect the way the skirt hangs, so this time around I followed the grainline recommendations, and I put seams exactly where I was told to.

am really glad to see that I did what I said I'd do ("Version 2 is going to be by the book"). The final result is much better, although there are still some annoying excess folds radiating from the top of CB when I wear this, which I don't believe are intended to be there. Is this to do with my being so short waisted? Is it a sway back issue? Is it just the pattern?

Answers on the back of an envelope can be addressed to PO Box 999 in your capital city, or simply comment in the box below :).

 UpSewLate: Butterick 5650, back view
My pattern was already cut out in a size 14 (thank you previous owner, and thank you for donating this pattern to the second hand shop), and I added 2cm in total at the waist, tapering out to nothing by the hemline. As with my last version, the skirt feels quite fitted at the waist - it IS a loose-fitting flared skirt as described on the pattern envelope, but of course even a loose-fitting skirt needs to be fitted at the waist or hips so as to stay up!

UpSewLate: Butterick 5650 side view

UpSewLate: Butterick 5650 side view with dodgy posture to make the front hem dip :)
The fabric is a medium weight stretch cotton, which I bought from Tessuti Fabrics in Surry Hills at the start of the year.  If I remember correctly it was on sale and something like $10 a metre - and I think I bought about 2 metres. 

UpSewLate: Butterick 5650 - how much flare, you ask? 
The stretch cotton has proved to be an absolute delight to cut and sew... it was firm enough that it was a pleasure to sew, my overlocker loved it, and the resulting skirt is nicely fitted around my waist and hips with some give (streeeetch) in case of a big lunch.

UpSewLate: my overlocker loved this stretch cotton
I had a limited amount fabric that I was determined to make this skirt from, only just enough to cut the skirt from at the regular (view A) length, so that's the length I made it. In fact this length is not quite right for me - I'm taller than average at about 1.73 metres, and my extra length is in my legs, so this standard length of skirt ends on my calves instead of mid-way down my shins as it's supposed to. There's a lesson for me - measure the lengths, not just the widths! 

UpSewLate: Butterick 5650 is fitted at the waist 
Hmm what else is there to tell you? I didn't make many pattern adjustments: 
  • let out the waist, tapering back to a size 14 at the hem
  • swapped out the regular zip for an invisible zip
  • left out the pockets as I didn't want extra bulk on my hips 
    UpSewLate: close up of invisible zip, and waistband hand stitching in Butterick 5650

    Next up I'll show you the boxy hibiscus print top I was planning to wear with this skirt - but it turns out too that a boxy waist-length top with a flared skirt is not necessarily the best look if you have a thick waist! 

    Have a great week, and see you soon

    - Gabrielle xx
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