Tuesday, 25 November 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, 19 November 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

    Tuesday, 11 November 2014

    Crazy Bunnies on the Loose: V8877

    I'm getting so behind with posting what I've been sewing that I think I'm going to need to cut back on my verbiage... hmm and also get less fussy with my photos! Let's give it a try :)

    So here's another easy top I made soon after getting back to Sydney - it's big and loose, and it's MUCH better than I expected!

    UpSewLate: disregard the floor please, it's V8877 on the loose

    This cool, crazy bunny fabric came from Tessuti's remnant table last year. It's got bunnies, birds and what look like possums on branches, and now I've made the top I can see the odd tank floating past at random - quite odd!  

    Initially I planned to make this fabric into an adult t-shirt, then it was going to be a child's dress (but my daughter hated the fabric), then finally after time away from the stash it was back on my adult t-shirt ideas list.  Phew. And I actually like the way it's turned out, after all that indecision.

    UpSewLate: V8877, tucked in
    Obviously these photos were taken before the floors got washed! We had just had a built-in wardrobe installed after getting the ceilings and cornices replastered, so there was plaster dust everywhere.  I was taking advantage of our having moved all the furniture out of the room - oh, and of the family being out too - but it didn't even occur to me that the dusty floor was going to feature in my photos. Priorities, priorities!  

    The pattern is one I muslined earlier this year in a lightweight cotton voile, Vogue 8877 (view A).  In a lightweight woven the pattern fitted me badly with tension in the bust area, and I really couldn't see how to adjust it even though the pattern is loose fitting. Anyway, I hated the muslin fabric, so no great loss, and if I make this again it will not be in a voile.

    This pattern looks so much better in a drapey knit fabric - I wish I could show you the improvement, but I hated the muslin so much I cut it up for scrap fabric.

    UpSewLate: shoulder line, seam lines on the front of V8877

    The pattern IS recommended for a variety of fabrics from drapey wovens (challis, crepe etc) to jersey. As I mentioned above, the pattern didn't work for me in a non-drapey woven (cotton voile), but worked really well in a knit. That's without any fitting adjustments; both versions were made in a straight size M (12-14).

    So based on my experience I'd suggest you at least verify your size by measuring the pattern pieces if you want to make it in a woven - you may need to go up a size, or figure out how to make an FBA.

    UpSewLate: and shoulder line, seam lines on the back of V8877

    I wouldn't have thought it, but this curved shoulder shape with no arm scye seems to make my mini shoulders look normal-sized.  

    Pattern Adjustments
    As you can see above, I added a centre back seam in the body pattern piece - purely because I didn't have enough fabric to cut the back piece on the fold. And otherwise, my only changes were to the details. Instead of finishing the neckline with bias binding (I'm not good at that!) I turned the fabric over to the inside, encasing some clear elastic under the fold, before stitching the neckline with a twin needle. I sewed all the seams with an overlocker and finished the hems with the twin needle straight stitch on my normal sewing machine.

    Hey, that was so quick to write!

    See you soon
    - Gabrielle xx

    Sunday, 2 November 2014

    Striped Long Sleeve Top: Burda 7066

    We got back from our big (more than 6 weeks!) European vacation a few weeks ago, and as those of you who sew can imagine, the urge to sew after being away for that long was very, very strong, even eclipsing my need for sleep. In the first couple of jetlagged days back in Sydney I started 4 new projects - mostly patterns I'd tested before, nothing too tricky - so instead of telling you about what we did in the South of France and Italy, I hope you don't mind if I share my first post-Europe garment.  I know it's very simple:

    UpSewLate: Front view, Burda 7066 long sleeved top

    You probably recognise the fabric - so many Australian sewing bloggers have sewn something with it this year, and many non-bloggers must have too! It's the Jaywalk stretch from Tessuti fabrics; it was on sale in two colourways leading up to this year's Tessuti awards so I bought several metres of each - and I still have some left of both. This fabric is rather stretchy with great recovery and nice drape, but it's quite a heavy fabric. I originally made a dress from the other colourway to enter in the awards, but honestly the fabric is better suited to a top like this or even PJ leggings as I made for my daughter.

    I used a Burda pattern (BurdaStyle 7066) that I'd picked up on sale at Lincraft a few months ago (seriously, why do I keep buying patterns? I'll never be able to get to them all!).  This pattern is described as an Easy (yes, it is) semi-fitted shirt and dress with broad shoulders, and the pattern illustrations show it to have bust darts, a centre back seam, a choice of round or V-neckline, a choice of sleeve and shirt lengths, and an optional very basic fabric belt. The recommended fabric is jersey, and I don't think this pattern would work in a woven fabric because of the way it's designed to fit (see below).

    My timing is a bit off with making a long sleeved top - we arrived back in Sydney to unseasonally cold weather, but the weather quickly changed to summer heat, so I may not get much use out of this top till next year.  Anyway, no matter; I don't have many long sleeved tops that feel like they fit anywhere near well, so I'm sure I'll appreciate this one when the weather cools down again!

    UpSewLate: Another view, Burda 7066 long sleeved top
    I made more effort than usual in fitting this one - there was even an ugly muslin* - and I was very glad to have made a muslin because even though this is an easy sew, there were a few surprises in the pattern. The pattern has dropped shoulders, which weren't apparent to me in the photos and technical drawings, and the sleeves are really tight compared to the fit through the body.  I know this style of top - loose with dropped shoulders and skin tight sleeves - is a bit of a "look", but it's not one I like on myself.  I think dropped shoulders make my narrow shoulders look even smaller, and skin tight sleeves just don't feel good. Needless to say I made a few changes before sewing this up in my Jaywalk fabric.

    UpSewLate: Burda 7066 with shoulder fit adjusted

    * I say "ugly muslin", but the sewing was decent and in fact, that top fits and apparently looks fine on my mum! She now has both the muslin and the pattern (good luck with it, mum!). Here's what the muslin was like on me - great colour but UGH - weird shoulders, pulling under the arms to the bust, and too-tight sleeves:

    UpSewLate: Loved the colour but the fabric and fit were off on this top

    Pattern Adjustments
    I took an inch out of each shoulder, and took in the body. To do this I translated the arm scye an inch inwards - you could do this by folding out width in the paper pattern, but I just redrew the lines. The shape of the new arm scye is unchanged, but the shoulder seams are now closer to my actual shoulder line, and the body has a closer fit. I also let out the sleeve seams - I sewed these with a 0.5 cm instead of 1.5 cm seam allowance, and graduated out to the 1.5 seam allowance in the body around the bustline.  I'm happy with this fit on my arms and body (apart from the bust darts - they're a bit low on me and I forgot to adjust them upwards!), but I'm still not 100% sure about the shoulders.

    UpSewLate: Oh yes, there's that waist - I knew it was there somewhere!
    The back view shows some excess fabric so perhaps I am one of the millions that needs a sway back adjustment:

    UpSewLate: Back view, Burda 7066 long sleeved top
    I made a couple more changed that were less about fit: I lengthened the arms, shortened the body, and removed the CB seam. I made the neckline facing from a different plain black jersey because I was in such a rush to sew that really couldn't be a#$%ed with stripe matching - and you can see clear evidence of that uncharacteristic attitude in the side seams too!

    UpSewLate: For once I didn't worry about matching my stripes

    Phew! I guess I'm now officially back in blogging mode now!

    See you soon
    - Gabrielle xx

    Oh and a postscript... I mentioned while I was away that I was having trouble commenting on people's blogs due to a login issue, and I'm still having that problem on my mobile phone (which is the medium I use for reading blogs these days). I've been able to comment on a few Disqus-enabled blogs and blogs that accept unauthenticated comments, but otherwise it's been a challenge I haven't managed to conquer. I'm working on it!

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