Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My 20th Reunion Top

In March, Mood Fabrics online had a St. Patrick’s Day sale on any fabric that had green in it and I bought the most delicious cotton-silk voile as soon as I clapped eyes on it:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  As soon as it arrived I got excited and a little nervous.  This fabric feels so very soft and airy and lovely, and being pretty sheer it’s not a very practical fabric for day-to-day clothes.  I was going to have to get FAN-CEE with this stuff.  A daunting prospect.
My last attempt at a project with woven fabric was disastrous so I thought about this a LOT before I made any moves.  I decided whatever I made had to be as simple as possible, in part to match my skill level and in part to showcase the pretty colors and drape of this yummy fabric.
The Salme Kimono Top seemed like the perfect solution.  Originally the pattern called for cuffs on the sleeves – I thought that would be too casual so I decided against them.  And then I proceeded to make the top just as plain as it could possibly be.  The pattern called for visible hemming at the bottom, bottom of the sleeves and a top-stitch around the neckline – all of which I eliminated.  Instead I chose to do invisible hand-hemming on sleeves and the bottom hem as well as to understitch the facing to make it stay in place.

I made a muslin (two words: ugly, useful) and had to adjust a bit for size - nothing difficult since there are no darts or fiddly bits - the pattern is two pieces and two facings!
I tried many new-to-me things with this project.  New techniques attempted (if not fully mastered):
-          Underlining.  Goldilocks that I am, I ordered swatches of potential lining fabrics in white, gray and black and ended up choosing grey.  The other ends of the spectrum made the colors of the main fabric either too bright or too dark but the grey in the middle was juuuust right.  Basting the lining and the main fabric together was a bit nerve-wracking since both fabrics are so airy and they tended to float around independently.

-          Understitching.  I used The Sewtionary to figure out how to get my neck facings to stay hidden without having to make a visible line of machine stitching around the neck to hold the facings in place.  (I also used fusible interfacing on the neck facings - thanks Shannon! - and then tacked them to the shoulder seams.)  I am particularly pleased with how the facings turned out.

-          French seams.  For the shoulder seams, I tried French seams (another hallelujah for the Sewtionary!).  I was afraid to try them on the sides since they had a bit of a curve to them – and right after I was done sewing my top By Hand London did a blog post on how to do curvy French seams! A technique I will keep in mind for future projects.  Instead I just serged the side seams together.

-          Hand-hemming.  Now, I’ve been hand-hemming pants for years – this short girl is accustomed to hemming new pants to fit.  But in this case it took me a day or two of pondering to figure out how to do the hem because of the underlining.  
 I eventually decided to snip up the side of the serged side-seam about a quarter inch on the grey lining fabric and then trim a quarter inch off the bottom of the lining, then ironed the main fabric over the edge of the lining, stitched in in place with my machine, folded it up again and hand-stitched it in place.  My hand-stitching is not beautiful, but it is functional and that’s okay for now.  I spent a lot of time making sure none of the stitches went through the main fabric, so the hem would be invisible.  

And now, a word about swearing.  (Not that word.  Tsk.)  Do you swear when you sew?  I totally do.  (I know, I sort of leaked that info a few months ago.  Now you’ll never believe I’m really a very good girl.)  I was a knitter for years before I started sewing clothes and I swore then too.  My favorite knitting projects were usually small – gifts for friends’ babies, scarves, hats, etc., although I’ve tried the occasional adult-sized sweater and baby blanket.  So much swearing!  All made with love and a fair bit of the potty mouth.  It’s part of the creative flow.  Catharsis!
The bad words accompany my mistakes, but they disappear when I’ve learned whatever lesson it was I needed to learn from that particular oops.  It’s nice that the mistakes usually aren’t (that) visible in the finished product and the swearing leaves no permanent marks.  (My husband thinks it’s all very entertaining, although he knows better than to laugh about it where I can hear him while I’m still mid blue-streak.)

I wore my new top to my 20th college reunion in Boston last week.  
I spent the whole night very comfortable in my clothes and very proud of what I’d made – I didn’t even crow about it to any of my former classmates!  (Saintly, positively saintly.)  I simply beamed and enjoyed the party. (Literally the only photo of me from that night - I was too busy to take pictures!)

Weird photo of me pointing to my awesome new pants.  On the recommendation of a friend I took a deep breath and bought them at Athleta.  (The deep breath was not because Athleta is a yoga store but because the prices there are a bit heady.)  I love these pants and wear them all the time.  They’re a bit swishy and they have lots of zipper pockets and they’re stretchy so they’re comfortable – PLUS they have approximately the same cool factor that parachute pants had when I was in the 5th grade.  They’re just COOL!!

This one is me pretending to hold a glass (a snifter perhaps?) 
while talking at my reunion cocktail party.  
Striding purposefully through our side yard, heading nowhere in particular.  (I’m terrible at posing for photos.)

No matter how many years have passed, you simply cannot take the show choir out of a girl.

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