Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pink Silk Twill Top

If you know me in real life, you may have noticed I'm a sucker for a little silk top.  I do love dresses and yes, theoretically they're easier to wear, but with black pants or skirt a little silk top seems perfect all year round in this neck of the woods.  When I intercepted my mum's charity donation recently, I knew I had to have more little silk twill tops from the same pattern.

More, more, MORE!

This is the first of what may be many more. 


The fabric is obviously a silk (yes, I told you already!) - a gorgeous silk twill from The Fabric Store. I kind of wish I'd bought more...

Silk twill is a fabric I love to wear - it's got a good amount of structure (though not as much as dupion), and I like it for bold shapes like sleeves that stick out at an angle. It drapes nicely and a light breeze doesn't blow it around too much. It's also a hell of a lot easier to sew than the lighter types of silk, and using Lena's gelatine treatment makes it even easier.

And the pattern? It's Vogue 8879, a "Very Easy" pattern.

I love this pattern - absolutely hated the photos on the Vogue website (a big slash through the back of my top? Noooo!) and was totally uninspired by the envelope art, but the pattern itself is awesome. Thank goodness my mum noticed the line drawings looked good and then accidentally bought the pattern twice! 

If you haven't sewn a Vogue pattern before, this wouldn't be a bad starting point. With careful cutting you only need 1.1 metres of fabric for the shorter top with a plain back in a size M (12-14), and although the recommended fabrics are two-way stretch knits, obviously the pattern works in a non-stretch woven too if you omit the twist in the sleeve band! And being in the "Very Easy" class of patterns, it's quite a straightforward sew.

I didn't use the instructions because I'd misplaced them but I've since found them, and I can confirm that they are short and easy. My only gripe with them - and with the instructions for nearly every pattern I've ever used - is that they don't include instructions for finishing the fabric. I find that the order you serge different parts of a garment makes a big difference to the final finish, and although there are different opinions about which stage at which to serge what, it'd be great to have a recommended approach to fall back on.

A HUGE thank you to Kristy from Lower Your Presser Foot who kindly offered to meet me at lunch time to take these photos and who also suggested this particular spot, near the corner of the Tank Stream Way and Abercrombie Lane.  I had already taken some photos on my side balcony but they were sooo boring, and I just hadn't been able to force a smile for the camera's 10 second count down. When a lovely fellow sewist is taking the pictures a genuine smile is a snap (geddit?). And a mini sewist meetup in your lunch break is a happy addition to a work day: we quickly talked sewing, pattern lines, blogging and bloggers, sewing and family; I went back to work with a bounce in my step.

As the fabric was apparently playing silly buggers with the camera when I met up with Kristy (I'd probably applied the wrong settings), I'm going to resort to one of the boring balcony photos to show you the fabric:

Hmm - I should probably tell you the changes I made to the standard view B, shouldn't I!

View B is cropped in length, with a slashed back which brings the back hemline down - but I don't think I could wear a slashed top to work, and I'm not sure I'd want to.  To make this top a consistent length all around I matched up the front pattern side seams to the back pattern side seams for view C (a long version of the top with no back slashes) and folded up the back pattern piece to this length before cutting out.

The other change I made was to the sleeve bands. On the pattern envelope the sleeve bands look ruched - they aren't, but they're twisted and tacked alternately to the inside and outside of the sleeve for an interesting effect. My mum hadn't bothered with this, and I liked the simple sleeve bands on her tops so I did the same  and left out the twisting. I think the resulting longer sleeve length is flattering as it covers that section of upper arm where lost flab likes to gather, but it all depends on your personal proportions, doesn't it!

For what it's worth here's a view of the insides:

If I make this again (I hope I do - time permitting!) I think I'll lengthen it 5cm and then add another 5cm for a decadent deep hem. The cropped length feels just a little too short, probably because I'm just a little taller than the standard size.
And finally, I feel compelled to be very honest and tell you this top is far from perfect - I over-handled the fabric, and my hem and neckline don't look as smooth as they should. For me the style and fabric (and the fact that so much in my wardrobe doesn't fit me anymore) overcome those shortcomings; I know I'll wear it heaps regardless.

Happy sewing and see you soon,

- Gabrielle x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

V8879 Work or Play: Keyboards and Angled Stripes

And here for your information, and perhaps even some viewing enjoyment, is Vogue 8879 for work (keyboards edition) and Vogue 8879 for play (angled stripes edition).

Here's the work version - made out of a delicious silk twill. It's such a gorgeous top!

The top is loose and boxy, with wide cuffs on the sleeves.  I do realise I'm showing you the back view first, but I think it's a lovely shape from the back, and really nice with narrow trousers.

I do feel awkward saying something I made is gorgeous, but LUCKILY it's OK this time. I didn't make this top - my mum did. One evening when she was visiting my place she mentioned there were a couple of tops in her car boot that she was going to leave in a charity bin; she'd made them but they were a big disappointment and didn't look good on... of course I was curious!  Can you believe this was one of them? (It's gorgeous in real life, trust me!).

From the side: it's very loose, which is ideal for sticky summer days and great for catching a breeze!

Turn around, would you!

It turns out this is a very practical shape. Being so loose makes it very comfortable in humid weather (like now), and I like that it doesn't need tucking in. Not tucked in means even more comfortable in the heat (and also means you won't notice that my pants are too big at the waist).  I also think it's a pretty stylish shape - I really like that the nicely sewn neckline band sticks out intentionally (cut on the straight, not the bias), and the oversized sleeves with a bit of fabric heft seem cool.

OK this is nearly a proper front view:

These photos were taken just before closing time in the grounds of one of Sydney's historical buildings, the Hyde Park Barracks - same place I took a photo last May :). It's a lovely photogenic spot and there weren't too many people about, just a few staff who politely checked I wasn't taking commercial photos. However, this time I noticed that the grounds are overlooked by office buildings. I hope the people working in there had their heads down :)

And here's the front view - I love, love, LOVE the sticking out sleeves:

Do you recognise the pattern?

Here's a link to the pattern, and to some reviews.

Vogue 8879 is a relatively recent pattern from the "Very Easy" range, released about a year ago. It's not one that instantly appealed to me - I had no idea it would look so good in a woven - but I did think it might work as a t-shirt basic. The silhouette is so simple that of course, the fabric is everything. 

This fabric is a silk twill from The Fabric Store in Surry Hills, and even though I know it doesn't have the right 3 / 2 pattern for the ebonies, it looks to me like stacked keyboards. The top was cropped significantly shorter than the pattern intended (variant C with the length of variant B) due to fabric limitations, but this length is just perfect for not tucking in (which is the way those of us with short bodies are supposed to play).

Interestingly, the pattern is not recommended for woven fabrics.  

I've been wearing this to work a lot, with these and other too-big black pants.I recently lost some weight around the middle (yay!), and half my wardrobe and all the pants are now too big (boo!).  I've been trying to make some new pants, but it's all ugly stuff ups so far and very discouraging. Just when I thought I knew what size I was, it changes...

When your pants are too big and your sewing efforts are failing, you might be tempted to look in a shop.  I trundled into Veronika Maine to sample their pants wares and try to work out my size (hmm it's the in-between size), and the staff started asking me about the top - "you got that here, didn't you"", "it's a Veronika Maine top, isn't it?" and scrunching up their eyes as they tried to remember which range it came from. It gave me such great pleasure to tell them my mum made it! 

And a quick summary of the sewing:

  • Made in a size 12-14 (M). In RTW Australian tops I'm a size 10-12, which would equate to a US 6-8 and I can't remember what size that is in the UK. 
  • Made from silk twill. The pattern is recommended for two-way stretch fabric, but it's a loose enough pattern to go with a woven.
  • Shortened due to lack of fabric.
  • Sleeve band ruching omitted


Let's move onto the second top, the angled stripes 'play' top.  This one too is a salvage job from mum's car boot - honestly, the stuff I find in there!

This is exactly the same variant of the same pattern, only sewn to full length and sewn from a stretch. It looks so different, doesn't it - very slouchy and relaxed.

This fabric is a beautiful cream jersey with angled blue stripes - I wish the angles were showing up a bit better in these photos. Again this fabric comes from The Fabric Store, and I think they also had it in a cream / red colourway.

 I'm looking very serious in these photos because I was keeping an eye out for movements from the neighbours' place - I just hate it when they catch me posing for blog photos!

Nothing much more to say - and even though I took a ton I haven't managed to get very nice photos of the top - so can I give you a glimpse of the greenery in my corner of suburbia?

I look like I'm having a terrible time climbing the hill here, but at least you can see the top in a front view. Somehow amongst all the photos I took, very few showed the front, and very few were not blown out or too dark.

When I tried to take photos of the back, I only got half of it - this is the best of the back views, sorry!

What you can see here though is that the neckline is quite low at the back. If you preferred you could pull it forward to make a lower front neckline, but for me the front is low enough as is. The sleeves are drop sleeves (again, the ruching was omitted), and the top falls to below hip length with a bit of a flared shape.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend who wore different coloured versions of exactly the same outfit to school all through the warm months, and then different coloured versions of another single outfit to school all through the cold months - like a uniform. 

I like this pattern so much I'm planning another in a happy pink for my wardrobe.  In fact I like it so much I'd like one in each of my favourite colours... but I really should have another go at the pants, shouldn't I!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

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