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


  1. What a great little top, and I also have overlooked this pattern recently. Love your photos ~ your little lunch meet-up sounds like the perfect way to spend the lunchbreak ... J

  2. Gosh that silk is just divine. You are making some beautiful tops of late!

  3. Another gorgeous top! I love this fabric too! I haven't heard of silk twill before. I've never sewn with silk before but I have some in my stash so thanks for the link to the gelatine treatment.

  4. Really lovely version! It looks great with your slim pants. I could wear this to work with skirt or pants. I've never heard of silk twill but it looks good. Oh I feel a need to go shop for fabric :) And thanks for the glatine tip, it might come in handy some day for me :) Lunch with a sewing friend is such a fun break mid-week and yes, a sewing blogger will know how to take great photos for the blog!

  5. Ooh I've been waiting to see this fabric pop up since we are fabric twins twice over! It looks great! So was it a totally unstable beast? I've not attempted my Roxanne top as yet because I heard silk twill is a horror. Cross grain stretch and just does not like to play nice. What was I thinking? Should I learn that gelatine bath?

  6. Gabrielle Corbett31 March 2014 at 22:13

    Thank you Judith! I'm not the best at seeing past the envelope art, so I'm very glad my mum does a better job of it than me.

    The lunch meet-up was a great contrast to my boring day - we should all meet up more!

  7. Gabrielle Corbett31 March 2014 at 22:16

    Thank you Rachel, I'm such a slow sewist though! Divine is a great word for the fabric :)

  8. I'm glad the photos turned out, your top is absolutely beautiful in real life. I realise that I now need some bright silk twill in my wardrobe too now!

  9. Gabrielle Corbett31 March 2014 at 22:27

    Thank you Kathryn! The 'twill' part of the name refers to the weave; it's basically a pattern of parallel ribs. In a silk you only notice it close up, but it definitely makes the silk less flimsy. The gelatine treatment is great - definitely give it a try!

  10. Gabrielle Corbett1 April 2014 at 23:29

    Thank you Erin! Yes, I suspect this sort of top mixes equally well with skirts or pants - but I haven't tried it with a skirt yet. The gelatine trick is a good one, I hope it works well for you if you try it!

    I feel very lucky to have lovely sewists like Kristy in the same town as me - meet ups are the best!

  11. Gabrielle Corbett1 April 2014 at 23:37

    I know, twins again, maybe once a twin always a twin? The fabric was pretty good; it did move on the cross grain but the gelatine helps remove some of the movement by making the fabric slightly stiff. Do you know I had no idea silk twill had this reputation though? I'd assumed any movement was purely my fault! I'm looking forward to seeing your Roxanne - I'm sure she'll be gorgeous!

  12. Gabrielle Corbett1 April 2014 at 23:43

    Thank you Kristy, your photos turned out wonderfully! I think I'd put the camera on the wrong setting for overcast weather so you did very well with that - and I love your composition! Add bright silk twill to that fabric list, I'm sure it would go well with some of your lovely suits :)

  13. I'm with Kristy! Everyone needs a shell top and I think I need silk twill as well! Great top and photos of course!

  14. Gorgeous top, love the colours, and what a great way to spend a lunchtime!

  15. Gabrielle Corbett4 April 2014 at 20:39

    Thank you Andrea! Oh yes, do it! I think this kind of top is just right for work - dressy enough for work but colourful enough for fun.

  16. Gabrielle Corbett4 April 2014 at 20:40

    Thank you Sharon - meet ups are the best, even when they're short!

  17. Don´t you just looove you mom? The top is so pretty and easy to wear I think I would be wearing this day in day out! Lovely!!!!

  18. What a lovely fabric and top - I completely understand you living in this pattern in summer. I wonder if you'll make the long sleeve version too .... I'm thinking I might make one similar from my Tshirt block .... it'd be lovely in merino in winter me thinks....

  19. Yes I do! She also buys clothes that don't fit her and that she passes on to me - lucky again! Thank you Merche, it's definitely going to get a lot of wear.

  20. Thank you Gail. I think she is! She always has such beautiful photos on her blog too!


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