Vietnamese Ao Dai robe top

This one is a straight replacement for an authentic Vietnamese Ao Dai robe that a friend gave me when it no longer fitted her.

The original is made of a silk-rayon mix and is absolutely heavenly to the touch. Originally I was a bit disappointed to learn that it wasn’t 100% silk. But then I learnt that rayon is not only more comfortable for hot humid weather, it may also be partly responsible for the superb softness of the Vietnamese jacquard, which none of the other Asian silks have. Sadly it’s impossible to find this variety of jacquard in the Western fabric shops. I would have just kept wearing this original, except the moths loved it as much as I did. And now it’s shredded in places.

The fabric I end up using I got by chance. It doesn’t have the same softness & drape, but is the closest I can get in the West.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-2 high-rise Ginger Jeans 2018;

The Pattern

Block Used: Fitted Top Block

Design Changes Made

  • Change to raglan sleeve by loosely following the instruction in Designing Apparel Through The Flat Pattern. My personalised Block is too irregular to follow these standard drafting instructions to the T.
  • Disregard front waist dart
  • Marked side splits to end 1″ above waistline
  • For lengths & bodice hem widths, follow the rough measurements of the shifty original
  • For neck opening under-flap draw styleline on front neckline as guide & copy with side bust dart closed.
  • For mandarin collar, started with a rectangle the length of the jewel neckline circumference, then slashed & lapped the top edge to make it fit closer to Q my custom dressform’s neck.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton/Rayon ? Jacquard from Minerva Crafts UK
  • Notions: Linen interfacing from the stash for madarin collar. So Sheer interfacing for neck opening binding/facing. 7-mm snaps x 10. Size-2 hook x 1.

Construction Notes

  • I mostly followed the original’s approach to seaming & hemming. So seams pressed open with overlock finishing. Double folded hand blind stitched hems.

The Verdict

Not bad. But the stiffer fabric does make it look more boxy. Next time I think I’ll start the side splits at the waistline instead to for a bit more shaping if I can’t get hold of a softer jacquard.

It’s not a top with many styling option, but oh the romance of the panels flapping in the wind – it’s a sensual pleasure I can’t resist. So there definitely will be a next time!

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Floral CdG FW1996 wannabe hoodie top

This one started with the fabric. Rejected for the Burda draped back T I felt I owed it one. Unfortunately it’s handicapped by having a 70s polyester hand, so not so comfortable against the skin. But the print reminds me slightly of a beloved 1996 A/W COMME des GARÇONS collection. I love the fancy duvet look, the contrast between rich brocade print & humble muslin – a bit yin & yang, just my cup of tea.

The Design

For the specific design, I went with a sketch of a CdG top I saw a lady wearing at the NYC Met Museum back in the days.


The runway shots don’t look as appetizing anymore, but the memory’s still rosy. And the fabric not precious enough to not risk it!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted Petticoat Skirt; 2 mid-rise Ginger Jeans 2018 + Camisole based on Burda 2012-04-128;

WORN WITH: 3 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt; 4 Modified Burda 2012-04-128 dress + Altered RTW HiLo Skirt;

WORN WITH: 4 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt; 5 Altered RTW HiLo Skirt;


The Pattern

Base Pattern Used:

Because I haven’t quite worked out a boxy Block yet I went with a commercial pattern as the base. There’s actually two versions of this Burda pattern and I had wanted to make both since the magazine came out. The other version – a tie front top – looked like the right amount of volume for my vague design. But my sketch had no CF seam, so I went with this pull-over version instead. It’s the exact same base pattern.

Size Used

Graded down to 34 instead of the 36 recommended by the size chart.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

Compared with Tunic Block & made the following changes to give me 3″ extra bust ease on top of the 1.5″ ease already in the looser fitting Tunic Block. As I said, baby steps!

  1. Removed 1/4″ from CB
  2. Removed 3/8″ from Front shoulder-sleeve seam to bring B & F to the same level

Here’s how this one compares with my recent ventures into loose fit tops…

pattern block block ease design ease total ease
BS 2014-02-117 v-neck T woven tunic 1.5″ 16.75″ 18.25″
BS 2018-01-106 draped back T knit loose fit 2.5″ 0″ 2.5″
BS 2016-08-125 tie front T knit loose fit 2.5″ 0.5″ 3″
BS 2014-03-119 (this top) woven tunic 1.5″ 3″ 4.5″
Design changes
  1. Omit sleeve & bodice peplums
  2. Extend bodice & create high-low hem (muslin lining is slightly longer than shell fabric to create the hem border)
  3. Extend sleeves
  4. Separated the kimono sleeve from bodice to conserve fabric
  5. Widen front neckline by 1/2″
  6. Bring back neckline up to jewel neckline (based on Block)
  7. Added hood with drawstring tie

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Polyester 93% Lycra 7% Floral Jersey from Minerva Crafts UK
  • Lining: Cotton Muslin from the Stash
  • Notions: Vilene Bias Tape to stablise the necklines
  • Tools: Corn starch! (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

Another blur I’m afraid. That’s the problem with the more experimental self-designs – figuring out the construction as you go along & not remembering the steps afterwards!

The only thing I remember is that the corner where the hood overhangs join the sides of the square front neckline was tricky to do neatly. I had to fudge with hand-sewing afterwards. Oh and that I might have bagged the lining with the opening at the hood-neckline seam (hand slip-stitch closed).

The Verdict

Not bad if I may say so myself. Unfortunately I ran out of fabric to make the matching dress long & kabuki like for full-on CdG effect. But otherwise a cute top. Just a shame that London has gotten too global warminingly hot to wear this right now.

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Stripy Burda 2016-08-125 T with front neckline ties

Or Stripe & Drape Take 2… This one started out as an after-thought: Ms Cheapskate insisted on squeezing a second top out of the stripe fabric. But I ended up liking this better than the star of the Stripe & Drape show!

The Pattern

The pattern is actually designed for woven. But I struggled to find another loose-fitting knit top pattern in my Stash that would both showcase the stripe and fit the scraps I have. The direction of the cut-on tie patterns vs the direction the finished ties hang makes it a more successful match than the drape on my Burda 2018-01-106.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 mid-rise Ginger Jeans 2018; 2 Self-drafted Slim Trousers;

WORN WITH: 3 Refashioned RTW pleated skirt; 4 Self-drafted Lace Straight Skirt + Mom’s shrug; 

Size Used

34, instead of 36 recommended by the size chart, chosen because it’s closest to my Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block

Changes Made

Fitting changes
based on comparison to Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block

Sorry, my changes seem a bit whimsical & hard to summarise into any clear principles…

  1. Shortened above bust to bring bottom of armhole no lower than bust line & back neck-shoulder point hitting my Block’s back shoulder line. (This also brought the pattern’s back waistline closer to my waistline.) On the front did this only on the simpler half without the tie (right side).
  2. Tilted right front at armhole bottom level to bring front shoulder slope closer to the angle of my Block & front armhole hem slope closer to back armohole hem slope.
  3. Ensured there’s at least as much ease in the bodice as my Block – back needed no change, front needed more ease at the hem so tilted at bust point.
  4. Ensure back & front side seam are same lengths – shorten back below the waist to match the front.
  5. Folded front in half. Shortened & tiled the left tie piece to match the right side shoulder & armhole hem slopes. Shortened & tilted the left side of the main front piece to match the raglan seam slope & front neckline… or something like that 😕
Design changes
  1. Added Front Neckline Facing as I was worried my fabric would be too limp for the ties if used single layer.
  2. Change banded hem to high-low hem with side seam slit… Because I wasn’t I can rock the blouson silhouette… And because I ran out of fabric anyway!

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton & Lurex Stripy Jersey from Moods Fabric NYC
  • Notions: Vilene Bias Tape.
  • Tools: Corn starch (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

  • Stablised the necklines.
  • For neckline finishes used standard Burda cowl neckline instruction (binding-facing for back neckline, sandwiched shoulder seam between front & front facing).
  • Stretch-stitched seaming & overlocked edge finishes. Hand catch-stitch for bodice hem & stretch stitch for armhole hems.

The Verdict

Despite the struggle to style this multiple ways this one is a win. I can definitely seeing myself sewing a replacement should this one wears out from too much love.

Something about the drape that I can see (rather than one in the back that I can’t see) just turns me into a kitty chasing a laser point! 😻

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Stripy Burda 2018-01-106 T with back drape & cutout

In theory this combination of pattern (just enough twist in the back) & fabric (just enough sparkle in the stripes) should have given me Sports Luxe. But Reality always gets her own ways and the result was a bit of a disappointment.

The Pattern

I mean look at that back. Just look at that back. How can I not be seduced? I knew I wanted to make this, but wasn’t sure which fabric – this stripe or the floral you see in the dress below. Of course I asked DH & promptly picked the other one. 😈

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Burda 2012-04-128 Dress;

WORN WITH: 2 Ginger Jeans ’18;

Size Used

36, as recommended by the size chart & chosen because it’s closest to my Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block

Changes Made

Fitting changes
based on comparison to Dartless Semi-Fitted Knit Top Block
  1. Bodice – tried to get shoulder angles to match my Block + back side seam to mirror my Block (ensuring between F & B there’s similar amount of ease to my Block)
  2. Sleeve – shortened. A bit too much. Ended up with uncomfortable thumb holes, so had to close them up & live with just plain old long sleeve.
Design changes – none

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Fabric: Cotton & Lurex Stripy Jersey from Moods Fabric NYC
  • Notions: Vilene Bias Tape.
  • Tools: Corn starch (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)

Construction Notes

  • Stablised both back neckline & shoulder seams
  • Tidied up the innards by
    • sandwiching the seam allowance of right back facing / drape / left back seam
    • used binding on left back cutout to hide ugly interfacing

The Verdict

Meh. Both front & back look a bit more frumpy than in the pattern photo, which looks longer (bum length?) & with more fluid drapes. I didn’t shorten the pattern, so I’m putting this down to different body proportion compared to the model.

Sadly, unlike my last foray into loose fit, this one I haven’t quite made peace with yet.

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Burda 2014-02-117 V-Neck Top

Next up, exploration of volume in baby steps… Because the cool kids are doing it? (You know – effortless, confident, got it & don’t need to flaunt it.) Or maybe because it’s getting too hot for a tight-fitting hug. Or just because too many tears were shed when I had to say bye to me-mades that no longer fit.

Anyway, as usual for me, my first attempt didn’t quite go as planned.

The Pattern

It was a case of being seduced by 3/4-view editorial shot. I did have my doubts that full frontal wouldn’t look as good. But nothing ventured nothing gained. This looked like it could be just a tad more interesting than the bog standard loose v-neck top – what with the lantern sleeves (in the photo at least).

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Ginger Jeans ’17 + Self-drafted cross-body bag; 2 Burda 2012-04-128 dress;

WORN WITH: 3 TopShop skirt; 4 Self-drafted lace skirt;

WORN WITH: 4 Self-drafted lace skirt; 5 Style Arc Antoinette trousers; 6 Ginger Jeans ’18;

Size Used

Going by sizing chart I would be 34/36. But I graded down to size 30/32. Because I didn’t Believe. Too chicken to go full on kabuki-size.

Changes Made

Fitting changes
based on comparison to Tunic Block
  1. Shorten bodice above bust (so front neckline won’t be indecent!)
  2. Narrow sleeves & lengthen sleeve seams

Not sure if these changes qualify entirely as fitting changes given that it’s suppose to be a boxy fit…but I do know I’m short-waisted, plus there’s no way the front neckline would end above the bust like in the pattern photo if I didn’t make these changes.

Design changes

I tried it on just before hemming & the mirror said No. I just couldn’t carry off the boxy style. The clingy fabric probably didn’t help. To salvage this I made the following changes…

  1. Sleeve hems: added inverted pleats.
  2. Shoulders: added pleats to narrow the shoulders & add a little bit more volume to the sleeve heads.
  3. Added lining to bodice below the yokes.

Tried it on again. Still no good. I’m not liking the horizontal emphasis at the waist created by sleeves and bodice that are about the same lengths. Fishing scraps out of the recycling bag I added another change…

  1. Added as much asymmetric extension to the bodice hem as the scraps would afford me.

Still a bit meh but good enough to wear out.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • …alas too long ago for me to remember…

The Verdict

I was going to write this one-off. But months & many wears later, I’m beginning to think it’s a keeper. It is mostly comfy & a tad more interesting than a bog standard boxy T.

Nonetheless the quest for more hot-flash-friendly loose but hip clothing continues…

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