I was first seized by this project two years ago and it has been on the "right away, sew it up" list since then. To be fair, I actually sewed it last June--only a year behind--but it hung needing the hem to be fixed for nearly a year before I got to it. The hem on this gave me fits, and the back hem is *still* crooked. I never understood why people hated hemming, but now that I've made so many tops recently I feel the pain! Skirt and dress hems never give me much trouble, but hemming a top is a nightmare. I have slightly crooked hips and shoulders and while everything kind of evens out by the time you get to my knees, shirt hems are a whole other story.
I saw this top first, the Abaete Lauren top, on Weekend Designer. He gave instructions for drafting the top, but I am more of a frankenpattern-er than a drafter, so I went through the archive to see what I could find.
My original plan was to make a princess seam top and catch the ruffles into the princess seam, as in Simplicity 2360. This vintage 1966 pattern has a side princess panel that seemed perfect. However, I realized I'd still have to draft a ruffle and felt unenthused. Then I hit on the idea of using the sleeve from the Duchess of Windsor dress, BWOF 03-2008-116. I had even made the dress before and had the sleeves already traced out. So much easier.
I adore the print on this fabric, though I'm not wild about the texture of silk crepe in general. It has a sort of "paint with water" look of smeary dots, and I love that it has both pink and red in the print so it matches either color skirt. Since it's a floral pattern I placed the pieces carefully to avoid the headlights situation. Or so I thought. Could I have done a *worse* job? Not only is there a GIANT flower centered absolutely perfectly on one side, the other sides looks small and saggy because of the slightly lower placed second flower. Thank goodness I had enough fabric to re-cut the front. I don't normally buy extra fabric so it was really lucky in this case!
As the envelope back shows, this pattern is drafted with a button back. I have ranted before how the button back discriminates against the single woman. I changed it to a center back seam with button slit at the top, figuring I could put a zipper into a side seam if need be. It turns out, this is very easy to pull over the head even with the button closed, so I even tacked it closed at the top.
As the fabric is slightly sheer, not to mention a little rough (this is not high quality silk crepe) I lined/underlined the blouse with cotton batiste. The sleeves are unlined and French seamed. I did a faux Hong Kong finish at the center back seam, and treated the batiste as underlining at the side seams, which are French seamed. I finished the neckline with a bias strip, the outer edge of which I hand-stitched to the underlining to keep it in place. I put in the hem by hand.
Consistent with most of my vintage pattern experience, there is a LOT of ease drafted into this top. My pattern is a size 12 for 32 bust. I have a 32 bust but my waist is a couple inches larger than it "should" be for a size 12. As far as I can remember, I didn't adjust the size of the pattern (though as I recall I lengthened it--my memory is hazy) and it came out HUGE. Although it's not portrayed that way on the envelope, the description of the garment is "overblouse." Maybe that explains the size? Anyway, I added front and back vertical darts to take up about 6 inches of ease (two 1.5" darts in front, two 2" darts in back). It is still quite loose and can be pulled over the head.
I am pleased with how well this knockoff turned out. My sleeves are not as ruffly as the original--if you visit Weekend Designer's post you'll see he recommends a circular ruffle, and the Duchess of Windsor sleeves are full but not a full circle--but they are dramatic enough for me. It looks fab with my Burda 01-2009-112 corset waist pencil skirt, if I do say so myself, and after much experimentation I found a way to style it with a red skirt as well (the belt was the issue--I wish I had a beige-ish one but haven't been able to find such a thing).
I'm glad I finally got around to fixing the wonky hem so I can actually wear it! I have no idea what I was thinking when I first put in the hem. Not only was the front hem crooked by at least 1.5 inches, the front was about 2 1/2 inches shorter than the back. So bizarre. And of course it still isn't right. I finally decide to put a hand hem in something and now I'm cursed to have to re-do it 3 times!
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.