Well hello there everyone! I hope you've all had a great April! Around here we've been truly living up to the old saying "April showers bring May flowers". Well, at least the bit about the showers. The flowers we get all year round. In other words, it's been wet! I can't believe I'm saying this, but... I'm ready for summer. Yes, summer, and all it's triple-digit, 100% humidity, sweaty, stifling, sunburnt, nastiness. Bring. It. On. You northeners can keep your spring (and your bad tacos, but that's a rant for another day)! I'm ready for the heat! Maybe it's because winter was such a joke this year, and I have no patience for this in-between bullshit, but I'm really looking forward to the days when I can throw on a dress and sandals, put my hair up, and sweat. We're almost there. almost. We just need the sun to decide to make an appearance...
And on that note, let me introduce you to this backless beauty! This was my April make for the Mood Sewing Network, and, again, you've probably seen some sneaky peeks on my Instagram all month as I slowly chipped away at it. I feel a bit weird calling this thing a "shirt" or even a "top" as its open-back, voluminous, apron-style design makes it feel as if I'm wearing nothing at all. But it does cover the essentials, and after wearing it to work for a whole day I can attest to the fact that those essentials (somehow) stayed covered. Phew. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if that would be the case. This also isn't the most bra-friendly design, so if the goods did come out, they would be alllll out! But thankfully (for both myself and my unsuspecting coworkers) we good.
Okay, so what is this, you ask? (What? You didn't come to hear the gripping tale of how I did or did not flash the entirety of Galveston Island?) This is Vogue Patterns #1507 made up in some Italian Printed Floral Cotton Batiste from Mood Fabrics online. I was super super excited to see that Rachel Comey had released a few more patterns for Vogue this season. Her designs always delight and excite me, and I feel like the resulting garments are truly one-of-a-kind pieces. This top was my favorite out of the recent bunch (although I also love this dress) so it was the first one I wanted to sink my teeth into. While I think the plain green version on the pattern envelope is great for seeing this top's interesting style lines and features, in my head I always imagined it in a bright, exuberant print.
This cotton batiste was everything I could have hoped for this make: a large scale, painterly floral print, easy to handle during construction, and light and airy to wear. The whole top is double layered, so despite the fact this fabric was somewhat sheer, I didn't worry about a lining. I really love how the print of the underlayer actually peeks through the sheer areas of the top layer. I didn't bother with print matching, or even give much thought to print placement with this make (I may have been print placement-ed out from my last make!) I really love the resulting sporadic feel of the top.
I took a few indoor shots on my dress form because the gusty winds during my photoshoot were doing this top (and my hair) no favors! Hopefully these help give you a better idea of the lovely intricacies of this design. I have to say, it was truly a pleasure to work with a pattern where the actual pattern pieces were practically unrecognizable and how it was all going to come together seemed like a mystery. Often times when I see a garment I have a pretty good visual idea of what the flat pattern pieces will look like, but this one was completely wacky! Definitely a good project for pulling me out of my sewing autopilot!
That being said, the actual construction really wasn't all that difficult once you figured out what went where. The trickiest part was that just about every major part of the garment - both the top and bottom layers of the bodice and the sleeves - called for a teeny, tiny 1/8" hem. And those hems were verrrryyyy loooonnnnng and veerrryyyy cuuurrrrrvyyy. This probably would have been no big deal if I had a rolled hem foot for my machine, but I don't. I also contemplated doing it all by hand, but I wanted to finish it before June so I followed the instructions. First I sewed a line of stitching at 1/2" then I used that stitching line as a guide and folded the hem up once, trimmed close to the line of stitching, and folded again at 1/8", edgestitching that in place. By the time I got to the sleeves I was pretty pro. Or at least there was much less cussing.
The back neckline is finished with a small bias facing and the back yoke edges are bound in bias binding. The instructions had you finish the armholes with bias binding as well but I had run out of red bias tape and actually thought that might be a bit bulky, so I used my serger instead. No regrets.
And here's a closeup of those cursed teeny hems. Honestly this was at least 70% of the sewing! Choosing a thread color for this project was a bit of a head scratcher, because no matter what I went with it was going to be in contrast with the print at some point. I decided on off-white, however I'm sure an invisible hand-rolled hem would have been the more elegant option. But I don't think the visible stitching detracts from the finished top at all.
I'm quite happy I chose such a well behaved fabric as cotton batiste for this top, because while it wasn't a difficult sew, a lot of the pattern pieces fall on the bias, and I could see that, coupled with the teeny hems being a real headache in a trickier fabric!
Fit wise I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out. There was, frustratingly, no finished garment measurements printed anywhere on this pattern so I had no idea how much ease was built in. I decided to play it safe and go down only one size since I find, in general, Big 4 patterns tend to go crazy on the ease, with the occasional exception of these Vogue designer patterns, which sometimes actually have spot on measurements. I figured if I went down one size I could counteract any built in ease, but that the top was also voluminous enough that if there wasn't a whole lot of ease built in it would probably still fit me anyway.
In retrospect I think anyone making this top could probably safely go down two sizes. I find the shoulders to be quite wide, even on me and I have good, wide, linebacker shoulders. From an engineering standpoint the shoulders are really the only thing holding this top on the body, so if you've got narrow shoulders you might find yourself with a garment that simply doesn't stay on. I would also suggest reinforcing the front neckline with some staystitching or even some light interfacing or organza to help prevent it from stretching out during construction. The instructions don't call for this, but that's my two cents for anyone thinking of making this up in the future.
As I mentioned, I wore this top to work yesterday and felt like a total superstar! It felt so unique and special, and as I was getting ready at the gym in the morning (yes, I shower at the gym most days - glamorous, I know) women kept sending their friends in to see my outfit. Not that I base the success of a make on how many compliments I get on it, but it's always really nice when other people like your work as much as you do.
I'd really like to make a pair of black linen tap shorts to pair with this little topper for the ultimate breezy ensemble once the dog days of summer really hit. Nothing like pairing a little volume on the top with some long legs on the bottom!
Obviously my wardrobe planning is all about summer. What about you guys? Anyone else ready for a heat wave?