Tuesday, August 2, 2011
When I got the July issue of BurdaStyle magazine, 07-2011-105 immediately caught my eye. I love the drape of the silk at the shoulder and it seemed like a simple pattern to showcase a stunning fabric. It is in the vein of the giant sack that Burda has been showing for the past two years, but I imagined it with a cinched bottom band. The drop waist is not a style that has worked for me in the past due to my pear shape, but I see it all over the place and think it looks cute on other people. I decided to expand my horizons.
The fabric I chose is a beautiful sheer yellow silk from Kashi at Metro Textiles in June 2009, an impulse purchase made on the strength of the color. He called it a Thai silk; it had a bit more body than chiffon before pre-washing, though it mostly lost it in the washing.
Before cutting into this relatively expensive fabric ($10/yd), I muslined. I know, collective gasp. One of the reasons I muslined was to determine if this really needed to be cut on the bias. The muslin looked fine on straight of grain, so I cut the real thing on straight of grain. It might have helped to cut the batiste lining on the bias, but no way would I ever EVER try to cut silk chiffon on the bias. It would be the death of me.
In the first iteration, altered only to narrow the bust dart for an SBA, the stitching line that creates the flounce was too low, and I also felt to far over to the side. While it looked ok with the flounce all tucked up and arranged for final wearing, it exposed my bra underneath that. With sheer fabric, I didn't want to take that chance.
I modified the pattern to move the front stitching line one inch toward the center on both left and right front and raise it by 3/4 inch. Only a teeny skimpy flounce remained on the left front, so I added an inch back to the flounce, as you can see in the brown pattern tissue addition. Rather than re-make the muslin, I just sewed the placement line 1 inch closer to the middle and 3/4 inch higher. No more show through.
I also found that the back was too tight. I had not adjusted for a broad back because the style is drafted to be large, but it turned out I needed more room not just at the shoulder blades but also the hip. So instead of doing my usual L shaped adjustment, I split and spread from hem to shoulder to add width. I had taken a swayback adjustment in the muslin and found that the back tended to ride up to my natural waist rather than stay dropped over the hip, so I undid the swayback adjustment to give myself more length to the hip.
Rather than have to wear a separate camisole (unthinkable in this heat, truly), I drafted a lining for the front from the right front piece, which conveniently had the center front marked. For the back lining, I used the back pattern but dropped the neckline an inch so the lining would not peek out. The lining is Vogue Fabric's cotton batiste ($3.50/yd).
Man, dealing with silk chiffon sucks. Why do I keep torturing myself with it? I really need to learn how to do the starching thing. But where do you spray it? I don't have any outdoor space and I don't want to spray a bunch of starch inside my house to create a permanent film of stickiness!
Anyway, to mark the placement line on the fronts, I thread traced. I put the pattern piece down on top of my cardboard cutting mat and the put the cut piece of fabric on top of it, in the process realizing that my cut piece of fabric bore very little resemblance to the pattern piece. Moving on. I then stuck pins straight down into the cardboard about an inch and a half on either side of the placement line, like a beetle on a specimen card. Then I thread traced. Even so, my thread traced line wandered amiably like a country creek but it gave me an approximation of an idea of where to line up the two pieces!
The pattern is designed to have a contrast band run the whole length of the bottom, including onto the flounce. However, I wanted to have a casing at the bottom, so it required a little engineering. My plan was to finish the flounces with a serger rolled hem and sew the seams as French seams. So I did not add seam allowance to the flounces, while the shoulders and the SA below the flounce stick out from the pattern as "notches," as you can see above on the right front pattern piece and in this closeup of the two front pattern pieces.
Before I serger-finished the flounce edges, I clipped horizontally below the flounces to create the seam allowances. Then I finished the edges up to the end of the clip before sewing the french seam underneath. I couldn't get the serger in all the way, so the final little bit is just a machine zigzag, but I I was happy with the way my idea played out; it looked great once the band was sewn on.
I attached the band as per my usual procedure for things like this. Rather than first sew it to the right side and then attempt the impossibility of stitching in the ditch while catching the underside of the fabric, I sewed the band first to the wrong side then turned over and topstitched to the right side. I left an opening in the seam on the left side, the side closest to the flounce, for the tie.
The lining was constructed separately, the neckline finished with a bias binding. The lining and fashion fabric are sewn together at the armscye and the lower band. The armscye on this was oddly tight as drafted and I had to trim off about half an inch at the lower half of the armscye and probably could have done more. I added a small cap sleeve (I stupidly used the sleeve from a knit dress and it had to be drastically shortened to allow for any arm movement). The armscye below the sleeve is finished with bias tape, which I hand-stitched to the lining to keep in place.
The last step is attaching the strap to the flounce and creating the drape. The directions for this in the magazine were atrocious, and the line drawing makes it look extremely complicated. In fact, it is super easy. I made my first video to show how it's done! Exciting.
1. Sew your fronts wrong sides together to create the flounces.
2. Pin strap to the corner of the left front (larger) flounce; stitch.
3. Pull the corner of the right front through underneath the strap and arrange.
I obviously showed no creativity in the color of the bottoms that I paired this top with, which I did not realize until I was putting together the collage. Oh well, navy is a good match for yellow.
I'm not going to call this project a fail, but my instinct that this silhouette wouldn't work for me is confirmed. I was envisioning something like this DVF, and in the muslin the elastic banded bottom seemed to work, but when the real thing came together it just didn't look any kind of good with elastic. I don't know if I didn't have enough length or width or if the batiste + silk was just too thick at the band, but it looks like a balloon rather than a sophisticated top.
I took out the elastic and just did a tie, but the style is still not flattering. You can really see the sackiness with the eyelet skirt. I think this is a style that works for apple and rectangle shapes but is hard for pears. Most tops in this style are made with jersey and I think there's a reason for that. Even lightweight silk and cotton batiste have too much body.
It is also a little fussy to wear, as the short end wants to flip up over the neck (as you can see in the jeans photo in the thumbnail at the top).
However, I do like it tucked into the lace skirt so I have a way to wear it that doesn't make me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.