The Camisole Hunt…or BS 2012-04-128 was my Mom

When I was making the Georgette lace applique top I agonized over lining the see-through top or not. I’m not fond of the bra + transparent top look. Not so much because it’s risque as much as not liking how the horizontal band of the bra make my already short waisted torso look wider and squatter. Over a bustier or long-line bra would be OK though. But I wasn’t ready to tackle shapewear! So I settled on a more form fitting slip-like camisole that can also be worn on its own.

The Inspirations

My inspiration started out with the blue camisole above that I found on Etsy (can’t find it again). It turns out to be almost the same as a bias camisole that’s demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course, one of the draping books I own. I tried to follow the draping instruction. But couldn’t get it to be close fitting without horizontal draglines across the front. Maybe I was using the wrong type of muslin. But trying again with the China Silk yielded no better result. And the cowl drape wouldn’t work for a camisole that need to work under other tops as well. So I decided to adapt the pattern I used for the Snake Print Dress I made earlier this year. After all, it was originally designed for chiffon cut on the bias, and is slip like with waist shaping.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Pattern

Size Used

36, the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart.

Changes Made

As I’ve already made fitting changes when I made the dress, I used the altered pattern as a starting point.

Design changes

I recruit Q to help me with this.

  1. First I used style tape (1/4″ black twill tape) on her to figure out the neck edges, hem, and internal seam / style lines I want.
  2. Then I pin fitted the Burdastyle 2012-04-128 lining pattern tissue on Q and pin out the drape on the front neckline. I used the lining pattern because it has less drape than the shell pattern, so less confusing to alter. I marked the alteration, the style line, and other alterations I wanted to make on the pattern tissue.
  3. Next I made the flat pattern alteration by pivoting and tracing onto a fresh tissue paper. The changes are:
    • Transferred the pinned out CF bust dart to the french dart by pivoting on the bust point. Judging from the front armhole gap and comparison to my Fitted Top Block, I might not have pivoted enough. But it was hard to tell with tissue fitting. When I tested this new pattern on Q it was quite snug already. Maybe I should have made a muslin for such close fitting garments that have lowered neck edge since the whole chest-boob area is such a varied landscape.
    • Moved the back dart towards CB to match Q / my Fitted Top Block. I wanted the straps to visually continue the line created by the back dart seam. I also hoped that closer set straps would be less likely to fall off my sloping shoulder.
    • Moved some of the waist ease from the F/B darts to the side seam to create a slightly more nipped in waist look.
    • Reshaped neckline / top edge per style line on Q.
    • Reshaped hem per style line on Q.
  4. Added Georgette band details to the front neckline & the hem. The neckline band pattern is per the style line on Q. The hem band is just bias strips.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • China Silk from B&J Fabrics, NYC. It was a toss up between this & the Charmeuse I used for the lace skirt. But since I’m cheesed off China Silk after a jacket lining made from it became tattered way too quickly, I decided to try to use up my stash of China Silk asap & not get anymore. It feels so smooth & soft, but actually is a bit, erm, bouffant, floaty. So I really struggle to think of designs that would work well in it. Anything requiring voluminous drape probably won’t work. But a slip top might be fine. And this is a nice ivory color that goes well with the Silk Georgette…
  • Silk Georgette from Borovick Fabrics, London for front neckline and hem accent.
  • Notions: Clear elastic; Small snaps
  • Sewing Helpers: Spray starch; Fray Check

Construction Notes

  • China Silk is a bit thin & translucent. So I decided to double it up with a self-fabric lining. That solves my neck edge seam finish in one stroke. No fiddling with facing or binding.
  • The translucency also means you see shadow of the SAs. So I kept most SAs skinny with 3-thread overlock seams. But for the shell layer darts I kept the SA because I like how their vertical wedges create an optical illusion of a slimmer bodice. I had to trim the deeper french dart SAs down to match the other dart SAs so the shadows will look intentional, and not just an oversight.
  • I picked overlocked seams because I thought maybe their stretchiness would grow with the bias seams and avoid puckering. The jury’s still out on whether it worked or not.
  • For hem I left the edges raw. Then sew the bias Georgette strip on the fold line to the shell about 1/2″ from the hem edge. The Georgette is then pressed downward, giving me a nice graduated transition from more see-through hem to relatively opaque bodice. I love the airy effect this creates!
  • Because I will be washing the top, so will need to press out the wrinkles, I decided to keep the lining separate from the shell at the hem. It’s easier to press each layer separately. But for dressing & undressing, it’s easier if the layers function as one. So I added snaps at the side seam hem to keep the layers together but separable.
  • Now the Oops…
    • Oh you d*** straps! Unfortunately setting them closer together in the back still didn’t prevent them from falling off my shoulders. I tried inserting clear elastic in them, having read about this trick on PR. But it only hoist the whole camisole up and the straps slip right off again. Boo. Maybe it’s because my top is so light and not skin tight. Perhaps that trick only works when there’s horizontal tension (like bra band) and/or vertical tension (like swimsuit crotch or weight of a heftier dress) to anchor the bodice and activate the strap elastic tension.
    • Gap-ahoy becomes puckering-ahoy. I really needed that muslin! As I said above, I might not have pivoted enough from CF bust to the french dart. (There actually was a small wedge left. But Q said it was tight enough already.) I only discovered this once the two layers were sewn together at the top edge. My only option was to undo & add another dart from the front armhole, OR add clear elastic to the top edge SA. Both are ugly. One’s a lot less work. Which do you think I went for? Next time I swear.
    • Sharp turn ahead. The Georgette band at front neckline really doesn’t work because of the sharp turn where it joins the China Silk. The style line looked fine on Q. So not a clue. Live & learn I guess.

The Verdict

Well, I like the hem? And the idea of the Georgette neckband too. But the execution is really a fail. Not enough though to make this unwearable. After all, it’s first & primary purpose is to exist underneath other garments. It looks fine under the Georgette lace applique top, and under a jacket or open front shirt. In short with anything that will hide it’s warts. So mission accomplished is all I can say.

But the hunt for the perfect camisole pattern continues…

0 comments on “The Camisole Hunt…or BS 2012-04-128 was my Mom

  1. I think you make the most of this less than 100% perfect cami – it still looks beautiful each way you styled it. But that inspiration one really is TDF!

    • Thank you! Yes, the inspiration one is nice isn’t it. So many cami’s are so plain. This has just the right details to be flirty. I actually have another attempt of it on my SWAP, though it seems crazy to be making a cami in Winter. The design might also make a nice slip dress.

  2. I love the shape of all these cami’s. The Holly jumpsuit recently launched by BHL has what looks like a similarly drafted cami to the blue one you found on etsy. Perhaps you could use this one as a substitute?!?

    • Thanks for the tip. I had a look at Holly. I think it’s actually a bit different. The cowl on Holly seems more like the cowl on the Burda dress I based this on. I can’t tell if Holly has bust dart or not. I would definitely need bust darting since I’m a weird B-cup who needs a D-cup pattern. So I’ll probably give this a miss. Especially as I’m not a fan of jumpsuits – can never figure out how ladies go to the toilet in them! 😉

      But I see you’ve sewn Vogue 8888! I just ordered that pattern recently. That and the other Vogue lingerie pattern. I thought maybe I need to start with something easier – ie without the cowl complication – and get the basic camisole fit right. It hasn’t arrived yet. So can I ask you if V8888’s fit is snug or is it loose somewhere on the bodice? Do you need a zipper or closure to get in and out of it? I can’t quite reconcile a flattering fit without closure to get in & out of the garment.

      BTW, the version in the draping book has the cowl as a separate piece of fabric. It’s actually not cut as one with the front bodice. That’s how it managed such graceful drapes. I suspect the Etsy one is the same. I wonder if it was someone’s draping exercise!

      • I think you may be right about the Holly – I dont have the pattern (doubt I will get it) but looking more closely at the ones already made, it doesnt look like there is a bust dart – although, I could be wrong.

        V8888 is a lovely pattern. I cut my usual size & then trimmed down where needed….so I would say around a size down. Most of the trimming was under the arm, side seams. I think because its a lingerie pattern it is drafted to fit a little loose for comfort. Mine is not snug at the under bust but it could have to do with the fabric I chose, also I did not interface, I didnt want any stiffness – again for comfort. I dont need any zipper or closure – it slips on effortlessly however if you are going to fit yours closer then Id suggest an invisible side zipper. I would recommend a muslin (even though I hate doing them). The cami can be sleepwear comfie with minimal support or fitted cami for maximum support.

        I am yet to work my way through the Draping book 🙂

        BTW, I love your MM Dress Form Top Wannabee. So beautiful!!

        • Thanks for the tips about V8888. Can’t wait for the pattern to arrive, though maybe it’s getting too cold to be making cami’s! I don’t know why I have a hang up about zippers in whispy tops, but I do. It just seem wrong. Cami’s seem like tops that should be slip on. But I guess I just have to get over it & accept close-fitting woven garment need openings & closures. Will definitely take your advice on muslin. I do have a few more pieces of China Silk which I don’t know what to do with. They might make the perfect wearable cami muslins!

          Draping book…tell me about it. When it comes to my sewing books I seem to have the attention span of a goldfish. Too many books, too many distractions, I simply can’t focus on any!

          Dress Form Top…Thank you! It was fun to upcycle that fitting muslin. And very satisfying for the Scots in me! 😉

          • I think the lovely thing about cami’s is they’re always wearable, even when layered in winter. I really need to focus on finding the holy grail pattern of cami’s & make millions 🙂

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