The theme last month at The Monthly Stitch has been Slow Sewing. This coincided well with my desire to make a beautiful top for the Christmas party season. I must admit that this is the first time I’ve actually sewn anything specifically for a party, firstly because I don’t get invited to many (boo hoo!) and there are always far more practical items that need to be sewn.
The fabric is a luscious silk from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and it has been languishing in a bag, occasionally stroked, and replaced, because I feared to use it. I’d also been worried about what to make with it. It needed to be simple and unfussy in design and yet elegant – enter Lekala #4420 pattern.
I did make a number of modifications to the pattern, both to perfect the fit and satisfy my whims. Here’s a summary of them:
- The sleeves were narrowed by about 12 cms
- The centre front seam was dispensed with and the front cut as one piece
- The bias binding applied to the neckline was finished as a tie at the front (instead of using a decorative clasp, which I was sure would be difficult to find)
- Two upper back panels were cut, just like on a mens’ shirt
- A little extra (2cm) was added to the centre back, although Lekala patterns are custom-made from your own measurements, the patterns are derived from your circumference and I have to add little at the centre back and take the equivalent amount away at the centre front to get the fit right.
- Pleats were used instead of gathers to accommodate the width of the sleeve in the cuff
I sewed the top using silk thread. I’d not used silk thread before and it does have different properties to the usual polyester or cotton; I noticed, in particular, that it goes through the fabric very smoothly and also as a consequence, it is easier and less damaging to unpick. Quite a handy property when dealing with a delicate fabric!
The instructions are rather brief with Lekala patterns. I’ve written about the first steps in making this top here and I realised that I probably should have constructed the keyhole at the front differently. Given that I had converted the front of the top to one pattern piece, I could have made a more polished finish, by cutting the keyhole in the fabric after applying the facing. As it was, I followed the instructions and struggled to get the facing to turn neatly to the inside. There was also no mention of under-stitching in the instructions. I did this anyway and it did improve the finish, but it is irritating realising a better methodology after you’ve done the work (deep sigh!).
I used French seams throughout and the blouse looks beautiful both inside and out.
All in all, this top is everything that I could have wished it to be. It looks great with jeans or alternatively with wide-legged trousers, which is what I would wear for a Christmas party.
After the Christmas Party:
I wore the top to the party. The temperature can be hit and miss at these venues and I was lucky that I didn’t have to wear a cardigan over my top, although the long sleeves were welcome. Among all the glitzy and shiny dresses that my colleagues wore, my top didn’t stand out at all and was scarcely noticed. Somehow though I take this as a compliment because sometimes just clothes that “fit in” can be deemed a success, can’t they?
Here’s the less good news though. The venue was rather dark and sometime during the evening, I must have split or my top rubbed against something rather greasy (possibly chocolate brownie) and I have several grease stains on the front and right sleeve. They are rather obvious on the photos, although not so noticeable under artificial lights. I have no idea how it happened (although I do have a track record for spilling dinner down my front, the amount, and certainly the sleeve location suggest more that I leaned against something). Altogether I’m really rather sad about this. Worse still, I didn’t even notice the stains until I tried on the top again for my photos which means the stains have been on the top for days. Does anyone know the best way to remove greasy stains on silk?