Monday, 9 May 2011

V1247 Rachel Comey Top in Orange Ikat

This is my orange ikat variation on the top from V1247, a Rachel Comey pattern.

front view

back view, unfortunately bunching up the fabric with my hand!

Again, as with my original V1247 top, I am rather pleased  :-). 

This time around I sewed the top in a straight size 12, and didn't grade up a size at the waist and hips. In fact, when I tried the top on it seemed too loose for the way the fabric hangs, so I took the top in at the sides starting from a miniscule amount at armpit level to about 1.5cm at the waist, then grading out again to nothing at the hem. And to give the top even more shaping at the waist I also added a fold-over pleat that lines up with the shoulder pleats. I can still get the top on and off easily, but I have really narrow shoulders and upper chest - otherwise this may not have been possible. I probably should have also moved the shoulder darts in a little closer to the centre to account for those narrow shoulders.

front view

Because the fabric didn't lend itself to French seams I just used normal seams. I would use French seams on a sheer or silky fabric in this top though. 

I cut fronts and backs so that my fabric's border print would be on the sleeve edges, and this meant that these pieces of fabric were cut on an angle to the grain - which I hope makes my shoulders look bigger!
border print dictated cut of the fabric

Also to create a stronger impression of a waist I changed the orientation of the other pieces: I cut the lower front pattern piece (piece 4) on the fold and on the grain (it's intended to be cut as 2 pieces on the bias) and cut the lower side front pattern piece (piece 5) on the bias ( intended to be cut on the grain).

Finally I omitted the bias-cut fabric strip for the neckline and the sleeve cuffs as I wanted enough fabric left over for a skirt for my daughter. On the neckline I used satin bias binding instead, and I think this looks alright although I probably prefer my original version's neckline treatment. With the sleeves ending in a border print I didn't think a cuff was necessary. 

pinning satin bias binding in place around neckline

Fabric details
I bought this fabric last year from Sukarara village in Lombok, Indonesia. This village is a weaving centre which makes a lot of traditional ikat and songket fabrics.  My recollection is that we were told that traditional ikat fabric isn't very wide because it's the width that's comfortable to weave by hand - certainly the women we saw weaving were making quite narrow cloths, and the larger standing looms we saw were I believe for use by men.

My fabric is an ikat because the pattern is woven and doesn't have gold or silver threads inserted between the weft threads the way a songket fabric would, and I'm guessing it would have been woven by a man because it's wider than the women's looms we saw.  The woven patterns are specific to and passed down through families - and although this may be surprising given the muted colours of batik, colourful ikat fabric did seem to be authentic in Lombok!

Photo from Wikipedia, but this is similar to the displays we saw at Sukurara
I don't want to bore you with too many travel snaps, but here are a couple of photos taken at two different wedding processions (yes, if you're wondering, I did get permission to take these photos).  Everyone in the wedding processions seemed to be wearing traditional sarongs. It looked to me that the brides and grooms wore long sarongs made of songkret fabric, but I think others also wore smaller pieces of songret.

Children in a wedding procession - the blue sarongs would definitely be ikat, as would the red/yellow one on the right

The official band in what looked to be an affluent wedding procession

Quite possibly if there were a few of these ikat V1247 tops in a room we might be mistaken for a gathering of celebrating APEC officials!  I hope not!  Thankfully few of my colleagues, friends or family have ikat shirts - and of course I don't get out much - so the risk should be pretty low.

Official photo from APEC 9 in Indonesia

Hmmm... actually those people are all men, aren't they! Risk = infinitessimal!

Finally I should warn you that the likelihood of your seeing many more incarnations of this top is high - I'm curious as to how it would fare in a wool jersey or in a t-shirt material, also in a silk or other drapey fabric and in a formal looking fabric. Too much, too much, I know - but I never had a TNT before, and this could be it!


  1. Another pretty version of this top! Nice back story to the fabric too!

  2. Beautiful top! I love how you worked with the pattern here.

  3. Fabulous blouse! The fabric is wow. I have fond memories of Bali,Ubud and Candi Dasa(sp?) many moons ago......

  4. That's very pretty. The print is amazing, and a perfect marriage with the pattern.

  5. Love it! It looks perfect in this fabric. This pattern looks like an absolute winner - I haven't seen a bad review of it yet. Do you reckon it could be made in a stripy fabric or would the pattern matching be a nightmare? I love the pics of Lombok too, I remember going there years ago and watching the fabric weaving.

  6. I love how there is a story behind each garment that we sew for ouselves. Great top. Go ahead, make it up in all kinds of fabrics.

  7. That IS a great pattern! I like both your charcoal and orange versions of this top a lot. And a great story behind the fabric, thank you for sharing the background with us. Don't worry about the HongKong seaming, it's not as difficult as it appears. It's one of those techniques that looks so good in the finished version it makes you wonder why you haven't been doing it all along... :)

  8. Thank you all for your positive comments - I'm so pleased that talented sewers such as yourselves like this top too!

  9. Jacquie, yes I do think this could be made up in a stripy fabric, the front and back pattern pieces match up pretty nicely (even on the pleats) on shoulders, sleeves and sides. The below waist pieces wouldn't of course match up, but they're intended to be angled and stripes would highlight the design too. It'll be striking!

  10. Great top - the fabric is amazing and suits the design to a "T". Imagine hand weaving fabric - totally astounds me.


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