Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome to the fold



In a further small step towards overcoming scissor-phobia in the face of precious fabrics; I have made a new tunic top.
This is the top from Vogue 1309, and I have made it in a hand-painted silk dupion from Fabulous Fabrics. The fabric is pretty fabulous, yes?  The strong uninhibited strokes of dark chocolate and slate grey are so visually powerful and exciting.  They bring to my mind an abstract representation of a windy stormy day; clouds streaking across the sky, grey boughs bending in the wind, dead leaves whipping from the ground and through the air.  Please note I took advantage of an appropriate weather moment for my photo op in honour....  :)
I did not hand paint this fabric myself.  I have painted my own fabric in the past, but in this case I bought it all ready to go. It was ostensibly a Christmas present from my husband, from last Christmas, last year, lol.  And ever since I opened my present (surprise!)  I’ve been on the lookout for a worthy pattern … and when I clapped eyes on this Issey Miyake pattern I instantly knew they would be perfect together, a match made in heaven.  The pattern even stipulated silk dupion, as if the designer knew that I had a piece of wild silk dupion just awaiting a wild tunic pattern.  The times I actually obey those “recommended fabrics” instructions printed on the pattern I can count on the fingers of one hand.  Hmmm, exaggerating there, I might be up to a few more hands by now… but those times are still pathetic minorities; small shining lights in a long rebellious history of sartorial disobedience.
Above: at left; the front and at right; the back.  The fabric was er, quaite expensive and I only had one metre so I had to join pieces to get out that huge front/back piece.  My fabric was 150cm wide, and I cut the pieces on the cross.  The joins can be just seen at just about shoulder blade level, on each side at the back (above right)
Above: side views right and left.  At right can be seen a small section I stitched down at the back to remove some of the blousiness across the back waist section.  I was fortunate to find a zip exactly the right length... this is a pattern in which if your zip is not the perfect length you DO have to adjust the pattern pieces to exactly accommodate your zip length.

This is a pretty challenging pattern … but I adore a sewing challenge so I was like a pig-in-mud the day I made this, contentedly humming away to myself; totally in my happy place as I fiddled about, nutting out those instructions.  The construction of this is like a puzzle; each separate piece of the puzzle is simple and uncomplicated in itself, but the process as a whole is not clear or easy and the top does not go together intuitively.
I’ve written a pattern review below, but it’s worth mentioning separately a couple of little tips I used to make things a tonne easier for myself…
The markings on the pattern are small circles, large circles and squares, and these are also marked from A to G inclusively.  You will NOT be able to put this pattern together successfully unless you can identify all of these on your pattern pieces… so I wrote all the markings (for example) OA, OB, oB, etc, designating large circle A, large circle B, small circle B, etc, on small squares of paper and pinned them to the exact spots.  Once this idea had occurred to me, it made the whole seam matching process a heck of a lot easier.  A heck of a lot!!
I also attached a safety pin marking the “back” of the piece… this might sound too trivial to even mention it ....but I found that safety pin to be enormously helpful! since the front and the back of this top are almost impossible to distinguish for much of the construction.
Finishing tips: the pattern left a few raw edges in obvious places ie, the neckline!  which looked a little messy imo, so I hand stitched a narrow hem along these to finish.  I also applied a few strategic hidden hand-stitches inside the V-neck to hold those two sides firmly and modestly together.
I hand-stitched lingerie holders to inside the shoulder straps, these were a gift from the lovely Yoshimi, thank you Yoshimi!


Details:
Top; Vogue 1309, hand-painted silk dupion from Fabulous Fabrics
Jeans; Burda 7863 modified, white stretch denim, details here
Shoes; c/o Misano


Pattern Description:
Pullover tunic has front and back cut-in-one, no shoulder and side seams, upper right section, left panel, square armholes, left side back zip, shaped hemline, stitched hem, unfinished and continuous bias finished edges.
Pattern Sizing:
American sizes 6-14; I cut the size 10
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Yes.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Well, this pattern is not rated Advanced/Plus Difficile for nothing!  There may only be three rectangular pattern pieces, well three once you have pieced three smaller paper pieces to make the one ginormous front and back piece; and each step in itself is a short and straightforward seam…. but the construction of this top is not an intuitive process and you really have to keep your wits about you.  I really had to stop and carefully check and double check my markings for each and every step.
The markings are large and small circles and squares, variously marked from A to G inclusively, and it is imperative to be able to identify them on the pattern piece.
I ended up writing on small squares of paper (for example)   OA, OB, oB, etc, designating large circle A, large circle B, small circle B, etc, and pinning these at the appropriate spots.  I highly recommend other seamsters do the same!  Once I took this step, things were streamlined and it was massively helpful.  I also attached a safety pin to the “back” during construction and just this simplest of things helped a bunch when it came to working out which was the front and back and left and right too.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I absolutely love the funky avant garde styling, and the challenge of putting together a few plain and simple shapes to make a remarkably un-plain and distinctly non-simple shape.
I didn’t like how one ended up with some raw edges in obvious places, like the neckline.  I hand-stitched a narrow hem along all the raw exposed edges.
Not a dislike, just an important note to others making up the pattern; your zip does have to be exactly the recommended length, otherwise you must make adjustments to your pattern pieces to suit.
Fabric Used:
Hand-painted silk dupion
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
After completing the top, I hand-stitched a narrow double-folded hem along the raw exposed edges at the front neckline crossover, the armhole edges and at the back crossover, and applied a hidden few hand-stitches to hold the V-neck together at the centre front.
I stitched a small section down at the left back to tame just a little of that blousiness, this was just a stylistic choice on my part.
I hand-stitched lingerie holders inside the shoulder straps.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I think I need just one of these ultra-distinctive tops in my wardrobe, but I would not rule out sewing this one up again in my lifetime.  I recommend this pattern to the advanced seamster who craves both an avante garde wardrobe and a sewing challenge.
Conclusion:
Well, I totes adore a sewing challenge and I sure got one here… :) plus a unique top that is comfortable to wear as well as interesting to look at.  I call that a big win!

63 comments:

  1. Fabulous! You are a brave woman. Totally worth it!

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  2. Thanks so much for such a comprehensive review on this terrific top. I have the pattern, but haven't had the gumption to tackle it yet. Your tips will be invaluable!

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  3. Really beautiful, Carolyn! Yes, those Miyake patterns are like that. You know, I have been having a similar phobia lately and I hate it. Good for you to overcome it! And how nice of your husband to surprise you with a special fabric.

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  4. Mine is waiting in the ufo bin, as it was way too big. Didn't you have issues with the sizing? Yours is looking lovely!

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  5. I love this, Carolyn! Nothing like a good project to make for a happy and contented day.

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  6. Absolutely stunning! Great review with some excellent tips - thanks Carolyn.

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  7. Stunning and love the colours.

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  8. Love it! I've ben really drawn to that style from the get-go, but the weather just isn't warm enough where I life to warrant making it. Enjoy yours - it looks great!

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  9. Your husband had great taste in fabric.
    This such a great look for you.

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  10. Very nice. I too have this pattern and will try to make it during my holidays. I find tunics are not that great on my shorter stature - do you think it will be suitable to lengthen for a dress? Your (and Audrey's) tips will be invaluable when I attempt this.. ha ha and I don't think I'll be able to make mine in a day.

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  11. I also have this pattern but went off it after reading some of the reviews on Pattern Review. I was initially drawn to the edgy designer look of it. I like it in your fabric far better than on the envelope and your tree matching is outstanding.

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  12. Wow! What a stunner! The material is beautiful and that is such a great pattern to show it off. The weather here is not suitable for such a top at the moment, not that my skills are up to something like that yet!

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  13. Wow! What a stunner! The material is beautiful and that is such a great pattern to show it off. The weather here is not suitable for such a top at the moment, not that my skills are up to something like that yet!

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  14. Like! Looks really complicated, but suits you and the fabric was made for it!

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  15. I'd never have spotted the piecing if you hadn't pointed it out. It's a great top!

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  16. Stunning top. Fabulous photographs. Well done.

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  17. That *is* a gorgeous fabric and you totally do it justice. You loved the process, you love the result, what more can you ask for? :)

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  18. Oh I love this, really really love this. I've almost purchased this pattern several times - this looks absolutely stunning on you and the fabric just sings with this pattern.
    I don't think I could carry this off... yet... however you absolutely do - as always.
    Thank you for yet another inspirational and informative post.

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  19. It is absolutely stunning! I totally agree with you that fabric and pattern are a match made in heaven. Thanks for your review of the pattern, I will keep your suggestions in mind when I am ready to make this tunic!

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  20. I love your top. This pattern is on my list for this summer, I am so grateful that you have made it with tips to make my project easier.
    It looks great on you, such terrific fabric and your usual beautiful construction.

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  21. I want to be you when I grow up. I like the way you marked the myriad of sewing symbols - on less fine fabrics I've been known to use masking tape. It looks like you pinned in the seam allowance to keep from marking up the dupioni, right?

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  22. Wow!! This is a beautiful top, and the fabric - awesome! Great tips for marking the pattern pieces too.

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  23. What a beautiful top! I am very impressed that your husband can pick out fabric for a gift and that it's something you like so well.

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  24. Your version is wonderful! The fabric is just perfect for this top.

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  25. I was pig-in-mud happy reading your blog! If the sewing things folds, you could sell your writing! Love, love, love your spirit....cool tree, too!

    From Portland, Oregon...a long way from Down under!

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  26. Gorgeous fabric. The pattern isn't something I'd consider, but it looks great on you. (Enjoy sleeveless while you can...)

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  27. I really like this pattern but it will not suit me, but on you it is stunning! Great fabric for it too :) such an inspiration as always...

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  28. superb, perfect match of fabric and pattern. And I certainly know what you mean about the enjoyment of a challenging pattern.

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  29. Perfect fabric for the pattern. This would be waaaay over my head sewing wise. You pulled it off beautifully, it looks great on you.

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  30. Gorgeous! I've always loved that pattern but have been extremely intimidated by it. Maybe one day down the road I'll give it a shot. The silk is just perfect for the pattern.

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  31. everything what You've done is so nice. This top is great.

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  32. you might eventually get to my comment - you have so many compliments for your wonder top. I have this pattern, but after your review I think this can't be one of my weekend speedy sews.

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

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  33. This top is just FABULOUS!
    And how did it come out of just 1m of fabric? Do you have magic?
    Enjoy wearing this - the husband needs to take you somewhere special to show you off!

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  34. You can make and wear just about anything.

    I have a beautiful piece of fabric that my niece brought from Japan and I would love to have it made inot something special...but have no idea what would work. I would love to send you a photo and get your opinion!

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  35. Thankyou for your kind words - they meant alot. Your new tunic is stunning. I have been intrigued by this pattern- thanks for all the tips -Issey MIyake is so clever. Your husband and son have exquisite taste in fabric ( or do they have some mentoring in this department :) ). I am sorry to ask a couple of questions but was this tricky to fit ? Did you make a muslin ?

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  36. What a fabulous top. It looks stunning on you - of course. I've been looking forwarad to seeing what you would make with this fabric. Amazing getting it out of 1 meter.

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  37. Unique style and beautiful fabric to complement the design! Lucky lady - you have the length to wear this with maximum effect.

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  38. WICKED! I recently picked this pattern up, partly because it's Advanced/Plus Dificile, and partly because I love Issay Miyake's stylings. It's great to get a little pre-warning about things like zips and the like.

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  39. As per usual.... **applause**. Amazing fabric & pattern match.

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  40. Wow! You were very brave to tackle this pattern and the result is wonderful.

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  41. Beautiful pattern, beautiful fabric - amazing job as usual! I have the same fear of cutting expensive fabrics but if I had your mad skills I think I'd happily cut away! ^_^

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  42. wow! I cannot get my head around the construction of this one! A big BRAVA!(hands clapping, of course) The fabric is not fabulous, it is glorious! xD

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  43. Wow! This top is stunning, all the pieces are folded creating incredibles shapes. Love it!

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  44. Absolutely stunning. You look great in this outfit! It's certainly a BIG win as you say. (Thank you for mentioning about the straps, I'm very happy to know that they're doing their job!)

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  45. Fell in love with this pattern the moment it was released and love your version. Mine is third on the sewing list

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  46. Absolutely spectacular! I have no problem with actually cutting into "precious" fabrics. My problem lies in actually wearing those fabrics on a regular basis. Then I ask myself what was the point of making the garment if it only hangs in the closet? I do hope that you find many occasions to wear this spectacular top.

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  47. What an inspiration. You look fabulous.

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  48. Beautiful. Thanks for reviewing the pattern and for the tips -- I have this pattern but haven't tackled it yet.

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  49. Congrats on being brave and cutting into your special fabric, you've achieved a beautiful result.

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  50. That is gorgeous... a perfect pairing of fabric and pattern!

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  51. P e r f e ct. Love your blog realllly, follow you! Your sewing is soo perfect and I love Pattern Magic books

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  52. Beautiful top. It has such interesting design lines. Great job!

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  53. Brilliant Carolyn, I'm so pleased you added those little tips, I've bookmarked this post for when I get the chance to have a go myself. The most perfect fabric for this top I agree, most people make muslins before cutting into fancy fabrics I admire your confidence.

    You're so talented and the top looks absolutely fabulous on you.

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  54. What a beautiful top - and now I can really see why dupion is a recommended fabric! I've been planning to make this for a while (and have read the instructions a couple of times now :-)) so thank you very much for the tips on keeping all those circles properly identified, and for sharing how you finished the neckline.

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  55. This is the most interesting top ever. Your photos make me want to reach through the computer to touch the fabric. I love this top on you - it suits you so well!

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  56. You did an amazing job putting this pattern together. You truly have a distinctive luxurious looking top!

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  57. Fantastic top. I am so glad you made it in a stable fabric. Great job!

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  58. I love when you do complicated Vogue patterns. They always look wonderful. I really like the fabric you chose for this project. Enjoy your hard work!

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  59. I'm working on this re the Pattern Review pattern stash contest (not going to have enough done, but don't care) and came here from there. Thanks for clarifying a couple of points, and your photos are useful and well done. Bravo!

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