Nakkashi Euphoria 11042 anarkali & co

And now for a change of pace, let’s finally catch up with a project finished last year, but was waiting for the matching slim trousers which I just finished… This is the Indian anarkali tunic outfit kit I bought last year:

Nakkashi Euphoria 11042

fabric for Churidar trousers + part-stitched Anarkali tunic + RTW Dupatta shawl

1. Anarkali Tunic ⇒ Shirt Dress / Light Flared Coat ✔

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted slim pants + Nakkashi dupatta shawl 2 Self-drafted tent dress;

Fabrics:

  • Loose weave Khadi shell fabric – this looks really similar to the raw silk gauze I used for Burda 2014-02-117 top (another one waiting to be blogged)
  • Poplin / Batiste lining

Design:

Originally I was going to leave this quite loose & robey as it vaguely reminds me of dreamy Pre-Rarobes. But Ms Practicality vetoed that idea. And I went back to something more like the original intended design. Ms Practicality also insisted that I make this tunic open front to maximise wearing opportunities. (Though in retrospect, the flared shape doesn’t really lend itself to being worn with front opened.)

Fitting:

  • Examining the marketing photo I saw that armhole bust darts were added to give the tunic a fitted silhouette. I followed suit & modified my Fitted Top Block to shift some of the bust shaping into a new armhole bust dart.
  • The bodice did not quite fit into the panels neatly. To minimize the number of vertical seams, I ended up removed the equivalent of one panel – front outer panel – at the side seam & kept the corresponding back outer panel for the underarm area – ie no proper side seams… kind of like in some tailored jackets.
  • Additional dart shaping (bust, waist, shoulder blade) were done at the existing panel seams with varied seam allowance widths.
  • For sleeves I used my more mobile Tunic Sleeve Block.
  • Hem were shorten for my less than modelesque stature (yielding scraps to squeeze out #2 Peplum Top below).

Construction:

Ms OCD demanded that I redo the collar, chest appliqué, hem border, and lining “properly” the Western way. So…

  • Collar & front opening were properly interfaced.
  • Chest appliqué reapplied incorporating bust shaping.
  • Hem border reapplied after everything else was done (saving me a chunk to squeeze out #3 Bustier Top below).
  • Lining flipped to hide the seam allowance the Western way. (So far I find that the Asian garments seems to favour exposed seam allowances even when the garment is lined. Someone told me it’s to facilitate alteration in case one gains weight. It’s less pretty in side, but certainly quicker to let out or take in. I guess I better not grow sideway any further now that I’ve hidden all the seams!)
  • Hooks & thread bars were used for front closure to minimize visual disruption to the design whether worn open or closed.

Now can I just moan about hooks a bit? I thought all hooks are equal. Apparently not. I bought a bunch of Hemline hook & eye fasteners that you’d find in all the sewing shops here in the UK. Trusted brand right? Nope. Total fail. They won’t stay closed, because the bump at the base of the hook is too shallow to properly do its job of stopping the thread bar or eye from slipping off. Maybe if the garment has negative ease – eg in a bra band or bustier – then this won’t be a problem as the busting tension would stop the hook & bar/eye from moving about. But given the positive ease in my tunic, it’s wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Actually the hooks I recycled from old Victoria Secrets bras for my choli blouses also have the same problem of wanting to come undone. I only properly understood the problem when I examined a couple of custom made choli blouses I ordered from India: These have hooks with prominent bumps & are properly secure once done up. Annoyingly online shops don’t show profile photos of hooks they sell, so it’s impossible to tell which brand has the secure hook design with a proper gate-keeper bump.

1a. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Peplum Top

I wish I had scraps bigged enough to make Burda 2014-03-118 Square Neck Peasant Top. I didn’t. So I tried draping the scraps on Q to see if there’s even enough to cover Q’s modesty. Thankfully I did. This peplum top design is the result. The front, peplum, & back for each (L/R) half is one continuous piece of the excess length panelled hem from the tunic. The bodice sides & straps are from the tunic’s two excess front outer panels (minus length used for the shirt dress front opening facing).

As the fabric is loose woven & seemingly delicate, I will need to line the top. The lining scraps are not big enough, so a batiste from the Stash will have to be pressed into service.

While the neck opening is big enough to slip over my head, I want the waist to remain trim, so some sort of opening must be incorporated to make it possible to put on/take off the top. Back overlap with buttons perhaps?

Now I just need to figure out the construction… one day some day!

1b. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Bustier Top

The scrap hem border from the tunic just barely goes around my torso. As the embellishment is so lovely, it seems a shame to throw it away. Taking inspiration from a Dolce & Gabbana editorial & a Alexander McQueen F/W 2008 designs, I think I will turn this into a bustier. To bridge the gap in girth I’m going for a contrasting deconstructed aesthetic of exposed zipper, braided elastic, or hook & eye tape. To maximize wearability, I may add sleeves & peplum – or maybe make this a separate top to be worn under the bustier. I have nothing as fancy as McQueen’s silk tulle, so instead I’m going to use a plentiful cheap gauze from the Stash (formerly window drapes). Haven’t quite work out the pattern yet let alone construction. So yet another project joining the long queue.

2. Churidar Trousers ⇒ Slim Pants

Since the fabric is a stiff Jacquard, the usual Asian instructions for a drapier Churidar Trousers won’t work. So as you already know I turned this into a Western style slim trousers, doubling as wearable muslin for my new Slim Pants / Trousers Block to statisfy Ms Two-Bird-One-Stone.

2a. Churidar Trousers scraps ⇒ TBD

There’s enough fabric for something else… Something I haven’t yet decided, but probably a dress or a-line skirt because this stiff fabrc with no give needs plenty of ventilation.

3. Dupatta Shawl ⇒ TBD

This was readymade. But the rose coloured fabric is rather scratchy. So I initially added a dual-tone chiffon lining. But then it doesn’t drape as well anymore. So off the lining comes.

I think I will have to make this into something I may wear more often. I have way too many dupatta shawls for my Western lifestyle!

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Choli Blouse Block Odyssey part 3

Firstly, thank you for your kind comments & understanding in response to my post about dialing down my self-imposed blogging perfectionism.

… now continuing from part 2 of my choli block quest months later …



Hypothesis Half-Popped

It started with such good intention…but I didn’t have the stamina – nor time – to test my hypothesis thoroughly. To recap, I thought that to secure low open neckline & increase sleeve mobility, I simply have to:

  • not have back neckline edge on shoulder blade peak; and
  • make the shoulder slope more square than my actual shoulder slope.

I was going to test this out in two ways…

1. Authentic choli pattern instruction found online

I used the Sari Blouse pattern instruction from Vani’s Blog. The pattern came out looking a bit large – especially the back (dotted line in the pattern photo above is my KK Top Block with wearing ease already added). This made me nervous about testing it out with one of my pre-embroidered Nakkashi choli fabrics. As I was in a rush to get one of my Nakkashi outfits sewn up for a trip, I didn’t bother making a muslin of this. Checking instructions on a few other blogs, this instruction seems fairly standard. Maybe this is the everyday fit rather than the Bollywood glam fit. And given that the instruction doesn’t call for a low open back, maybe it won’t work so well when you lower the back.

There is one YouTube video I found in English that offers a theory of what changes you need to make to lower the neckline. The narrower shoulder lines you see above is my attempt to apply that theory. But I was still too chicken to test on my pre-embroidered fabric.

 

2. Body warp with tilt-to-square shoulder alteration

I ended up retreating to my comfort zone of tinkering with my own moulage. This time I did use the body warp instead of the Kenneth King Moulage I drafted a while ago. I was hoping the more precise body wrap would yield a better fit. Well, more isn’t always better. It was a nightmare trying to figure out what to do with my lopsidedness. You can see in first two photos above how my left & right sides differ. I wouldn’t have minded the extra work if the result was better. It wasn’t. Once you add ease back in, much of the minor lopsidedness wasn’t visible anyway. I guess if your lopsidedness was more extreme, then the precision may help. So the conclusion? Either Moulage Drafting or Body Wrap will work. Pick whichever method is easier for you: Moulage Drafting requires lots of measurements & calculations, Body Wrapping may be uncomfortable while you’re being wrapped & you’ll need to decide how much lopsidedness you’ll bother to incorporate into your Blocks. If you go with Body Wrap, you’re probably fine to gloss over minor differences between your left & right sides if you’ll mostly make stuff with wearing ease. Don’t drive yourself crazy like I did!

Now back to my choli pattern & drafting for arms up position, you can see in photos 3 & 4 how I tilted the shoulder seam by adding a wedge radiating from the princess seam / back waist dart to the side seams. This lengthen the side seams, make the shoulder more square and the neckline more U-shaped. The difference in side seam & shoulder seam lengths with arms up vs arms down was about 1.5″ for me. I ended up adding at the side seam about half that difference – because it seems like a sensible compromise & also it makes the necklines conform better to the pre-embroidered necklines. I positioned the pivot points of the tilt / wedge at the base of the necklines where they start angling up because I think this is where the tension will be and body movement will make the neck opening spread out, causing the sleeves to fall off the shoulder.

The last two photos are the final bodice patterns. The sleeve pattern was drafted to Sari Blouse instruction found on Style2Designer blog.

So how did it turn out?

Hurrah I can raise my arms. Boohoo no luck on stay-put low / open neckline. I ended up having to add the dori back ties to prevent wardrobe malfunction.

So what went wrong?

I now think stay-put low / open neckline is impossible once you add wearing ease to the bodice. What I noticed is that when I move, the ease at the waistline allow the whole bodice & neckline to shift up, and this make the neckline too big for the new higher position. So the sleeves fall off the shoulder.

I checked the House of Blouse top with the stay-put neckline again, and indeed the bodice was quite tight. Too tight for my new spreading middle in fact! As soon as I let out the side seams, et voilà – same off the shoulder problem as my own make!

So there you have it (I think, for now anyway), if you want open neckline to stay on the shoulders, go with stretch Choli Blouse with 0 or even negative ease. If you insist on lovely pre-embroidered woven choli fabric with low open necklines, then stop being stubborn & keep that dori back neck-tie. That’s me told off then! 🙂

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Choli Blouse Block Odyssey part 2

continuing from part 1 back in July 2017…



Going Native-ish

I began to wonder if my requirements are even possible. But surely billions of women from the Indian subcontinent over the centuries wouldn’t have put up with immobile sleeves that keep falling off the shoulder & bodice that offers no bust support! Time to go back to the sources & try to discern the underlying principles even if the surface instructions make little sense to me.

  • Looking at RTW & designer choli photos, some seem to show a bit of looseness / excess fabric near the underarm area.
  • Most of the Indian drafting instruction I found online has shoulder slope of 1/2″ to 1″ at most. According to Fit For Real People standard western patterns (Big 4 presumably) assume a slope of 1-5/8″ – 2″. And the Indian illustrations seem to indicate a more T-shape finished garment shape than sloping sleeves.
  • I decided to try a couple of  custom-made choli blouses from House of Blouse to see how an “authentic” fit may look like on me. Because it’s made to measure, you can actually pick & mix your design details. I pushed the envelope and went for very low back neckline with no dori back ties. One big caveat before we talk about fit: the measurements instruction was rather imprecise, so that may have affected the fit…

House of Blouse Choli 1

Regular length princess cut with Wide U Neck front & Classic U Neck back (no dori ties), back opening, bust pads, & elbow length sleeves.

  • Bust:
    • I was surprised that the bust pads actually created a more lifted look. I’m now tempted to try this in my own makes now.
    • Interestingly even with the princess seam, they added a centre front fisheye bust dart. It creates a nice shaping & probably holds the bust pads in place for better bust support.
  • Neckline:
    • Yeah! It stays on despite the wide open back, even when I tug at the sleeves.
  • Sleeve:
    • Cross-front feels a bit too narrow while cross-back a bit too wide. Can feel the back armscyes cutting into the arm joints. This may be a problem with incorrect measurement or my posture / posterior arm joint “feature”.
    • Total mobility. No problem with arms forward or up.
    • You can definite see the fold of excess fabric underarm & armholes feel quite high up against the armpits. In the soft fabrics that I choose this probably won’t be a problem. But I wonder if this would feel a bit uncomfortable in more heavily embroidered fabric like my Muslin 2 above.

House of Blouse Choli 2

Regular length 3-dart cut with Armband Sweetheart Neck front & Armband Sweetheart Neck back (no dori ties), front opening, bust pads, & 3/4 length sleeves.

  • Bust & sleeve: same as above
  • Neckline:
    • Problem here. It easily slips off the shoulders
    • I would assume they drafted this with the same measurements.
    • Not sure if they derive additional styles from a block like western pattern maker or each design is drafted from scratch using a different formula.
    • Not sure if the problem here is the Sweetheart neckline or the Armband design.
    • This problem + the excess fabric foldat underarm for sleeve mobility rather defeat the armband design.
    • As there’s not much excess seam allowance in shoulder & armscye seams the only fx I can do is to add dori ties to the back neckline to keep the sleeves on.


My current hypothesis

  • To secure low open neckline + increase sleeve mobility:
    • Don’t have back neckline on shoulder blade peak.
    • Pattern’s shoulder slope need to be more square than actual slope of the body. A bit of fold under arm is the price to pay for sleeve mobility without excess width. Try pivoting on princess line to shorten neckline & lengthen side seam at the same time. Draft for arms up (shorter shoulder length, longer side length).
  • To test this hypothesis I plan on trying 2 more pattern drafting approaches:
    1. Custom draft based on authentic choli pattern instruction found online
    2. Custom draft base on my moulage with the above shoulder slope modification

Flattened plastic wrap bodice front

Speaking of moulage… This time I will be basing my pattern on flattened plastic wrap. I’m not sure if my K. King moulage is 100% accurate as it’s drafted to a formula. Even though the muslin fitted like a second skin maybe it glosses over subtle concave areas like a slight hollow chest. This becomes more of a problem when you lower necklines or move the garment edges into these gentle valleys, thus exposing gaps. I’m hoping the plastic wrap would be more accurate. I have flattened & traced it, but haven’t rationalised the block yet. So you’ll have to wait a while for part 3!

 

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Choli Blouse Block Odyssey part 1

Back in July 2017 before I gave in to the middle age slump…


With so many beautiful choli blouse fabric in the Stash I really need to get some pattern block for choli blouse sorted. And I have in fact been working on it for ages. So much so that I now have way too many pattern pieces, muslins (wearable & not), & mug shots to confuse me never mind you…argh! Long story short, no cigar yet. But I have a hypothesis with 2 more pattern drafting approaches to test. On to the nitty gritty…


My 3 requirements for Choli Block:

  1. Bust support lift & shaping: Depending on the back neckline design, I may not be able to wear a regular bra with my choli. So built-in bust shaping / support would be nice. But it needs to work for woven fabric & not constrict breathing.
  2. Stay-put neckline: Allow low / open front & back neckline without the top falling off the shoulders
  3. Fitted sleeve mobility: Allow arms up & forward without excessive sleeve width & winged effect on short sleeves


Experiments based on
K. King moulage > top block

Since I already had a top block that seems to fit alright I thought I’d get better results using that as the basis for my draft rather than follow the relatively less personalised authentic Indian instructions. (Typical Westerner!)

Well, it didn’t work out so well.

Wearable Muslin 1 >
Gajiwara 7384 Wannabe Choli with home embroidery

  • I tried to raise my ageing bustline unsuccessfully. It was only like 1/2″ higher on my pattern. But I think my custom embroidery shrunk the pieces despite being stretch taut on a frame frame. And because I was worried about metallic embroidery thread being scratchy I didn’t extend the embroidery far enough into the seam allowance to allow me to let out at the shoulder seams. I ended up with some draglines in the upper bust area for my big day. (Did let out what I could afterwards. But there wasn’t much seam allowance to fix it entirely.)
  • Lowered neckline (aka unintentional off-the-shoulder look) wasn’t an issue in this version as I used the cross-back ties that one finds in many authentic Indian choli.
  • But limited sleeve mobility was an issue despite a moderately shallow cap. The bit that feels most restrictive was mid arm joint height, as if the cap area wasn’t wide enough.

Wearable Muslin 2 >
Nakkashi 5036 gold embroidered Choli

  • I had to tweak my personalised pattern to fit the ready-made embroidery, which is presumably shaped to work with standard Indian pattern-drafting. Eg the allowance for back waist dart is smaller than my back waist dart, so some of mine had to be pivoted to the back cut-out area. In other areas I had to twist the fabric slightly to fit my pattern, or even patch a bald area with embroidered scraps.
  • Bust & neckline not an issue here as I didn’t attempt to lift the bust & this design has a back cut-out rather than lowered neckline.
  • Sleeve mobility wasn’t too bad, but comfort was my main issue here. I made the cap even more shallow & wider to increase mobility & tapered the sleeve width more sharply to minimise the winged look. The result was the heavily embroidered underarm areas getting too close for comfort. I felt like I was holding something with my armpits! Again had to suffer through it for a friend’s wedding, but redid the sleeve increasing the cap height (by shortening the sleeve seam length) & removed as much embroidery from the area as I could. Wearable. But now the sleeve’s more restrictive. So I wouldn’t reach for it naturally.

After armscye alteration…

 

More muslins & research…

  • Stay-put lowered neckline:
    • Tried the instruction for lowered F&B neckline from K King’s Moulage book. It was a method devised by his Indian teacher. Didn’t work for me. Actually made the shoulders slip off even more easily. Maybe I didn’t follow the instruction correctly?
    • My patterns had the back neckline at shoulder blade width, but the muslin necklines all spread out more widely. Perhaps it was too much to ask the neckline to stay put at the shoulder blade peaks?
  • Sleeve mobility:
    • Tried cutting sleeve on the bias. Sleeve looked marginally less wrinkly, but made no noticeable difference to mobility nor decrease the winged look.
    • Tried on a me-made choli based on older bodice block for comparison & was surprised to find that it actually had better sleeve mobility without excess sleeve width & winged effect. I had thought the shoulder slope & sleeve cap fit was off on that version, causing excess fabric folds pointing to armpits & draglines from centres of neckline as if the sleeves were pulling the neckline outward. Comparing the latest sleeve draft to that choli (don’t have the pattern anymore) that earlier sleeve shape was actually closer to my immobile fitted sleeve – cap taller & narrower than my latest drafts…WTF!?!?!

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A bunch of Ts

Not much interesting sewing happening here lately. I still feel exhausted & low from last two years’ craziness. To keep Meaning-Of-Life questions at bay, I tried to keep myself distracted by replacing boring basics in the wardrobe & made a bunch of easy-ish T-shirts that refine my stretch blocks.

Dartless 0-ease Knit Block designs:

Dartless 0-ease Knit Block (+Set-In Sleeve)

1. Envelope neckline T with set-in sleeves

This is a straight replacement for a couple of RTW Ts that I wore to death. The pattern is essentially my Camden Town Kids Wannabe top minus the puff over-sleeves & the funky hem. I also tighten up a bit at the side seams since the cotton (+lycra?) knit I used for this version moulds to the body better, so can take on a body-con shape without draglines – unlike the totally artificial fibre fabric I used for the previous top.

2. Shawl neckline T with set-in sleeves

This is a wearable muslin for a T that was planned for Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP. Yes, 2+ year late. But it’s a classic silhouette. So who cares right? I could have reused the altered Vogue 2980 which I made back in 2012. But I was hoping to improve the fit at the bust & the back neckline by using my own Blocks.

For the shawl collar I used V2980 as a guide to shaping the pattern using my own Blocks. I cut the collar as an extension to the back piece rather than a separate piece – my fabric stinginess won the day again! But I ended up having to stabilise (with bias tape) & stitch down the facing side of the collar extension along what would have been the shoulder-neckline seam. 6 vs half-dozen blah blah [roll eyes].

As for the shawl pleating at the side seams, I tried to minimise bulk by pleating only the top layer (ie not the facing layer).

Like my take on V2980 I again added a shelf bra (this time with double layer of stretch net), with elastics at both the bottom of the shelf bra &  its seam with the front neckline.

The initial result was a bit disappointing. The main problem was a gapping front neckline: I didn’t account for hollow at the chest that affects the fit of a lowered neckline. I also ended the shawl pleating too high up at the side seams. This resulted in the pleating being barely visible & the shawl not overlapping the front neckline enough, thus exacerbating the wide gapping neckline problem. To fix this I tried redoing the armscye – side seam: I narrowed the front neckline (cross-front width) slightly at the armhole, and reduced the depths of the pleats a bit so the shawl can end lower at the side seams (bustline now). It’s a bit better now. But I’m still not 100% sure I’ve cracked this silhouette.

3. Strappy T

This – along with a matching skirt – was actually an afterthought tagged on while making T #6 below. But as it’s based on the set-in sleeve block let’s talk about it first. It started with liking the fabric swatch combination. Unfortunately the result didn’t turn out like my doodle promised. The contrast band end up more wrinkly than planned. And my short straight figure just doesn’t do my doodle any justice. Last but not least, my attempt at built-in bust support with a darted shelf bra (as suggested by defunct Pattern School instruction for a Tankini) left an unsightly visible seaming bump. So a bit meh.

Raglan Dartless 0-ease Knit Block designs:

Raglan Dartless 0-ease Knit Block

4. Raglan short-sleeve T

This 2-bird 1-stone T attempted to use up the last scrap of cotton (+lycra?) knit from 1 above & retest my tweaked Raglan Dartless Knit Block at the same time (Test 3 in my previous Raglan Knit Block post). I had problem with the armholes feeling too tight – riding up against the armpit – despite the Block being derived from a set-in sleeve version which fitted fine. So I tried simply lowering the armpit a little bit. It’s been a while since I made the tweak, so I wanted to test the fit again in this forgiving cotton knit. No luck. Wearable, but the armpit is still a tad too close for comfort & the bodice still rides up slightly. The neckline is also a bit smaller – sit higher than I thought it would.

It’s good enough to wear, but not successful enough to make again.

5. Tweaked again Raglan T muslin 1

This time I tried adding length to both the raglan bodice & sleeve about mid-way up the armscye. This does seem to work better comfort-wise. But as the fabric I’ve used for this one – thin cotton jersey & lightweight power mesh – are both quite stretchy anyway, I won’t call this tweak a success just yet.

The design was inspired by Clio & Phineas’ cool cat V8670 Raglan T made with Alexander McQueen pima cotton jersey. I really lusted after one of my own. Then I was gifted the gothic looking black & red print by Giselle of London Dressmaker Meet-up Group. When shopping my stash for muslin victim I thought this might just about capture the spirit of Clio’s cool cat Raglan T. And I’m quite chaffed with the result, even though I haven’t got anything to wear it with.

6. Tweaked again Raglan T muslin 2

Exact same pattern as T #5 above. Wanted to test the pattern on a different knit. This time a less malleable artificial fibre knit. The very same fabric I’ve made a raglan T in before – Burda 2010-02-112. I got way too much of this fabric that was on sale, & that older raglan T is getting a bit tatty. Just the chance to replace & test my tweaked Raglan Block at the same time. Gosh I love my 2-4-1s!!!

To jazz this up I again turned to gold stamping/painting Queen B on the back, swarm of worker bees on the front, & barcodes at the wrists. Unfortunately my initial attempt resulted in a poorly positioned worker bee on the front bodice. For a moment I thought I’d just own it like a proper feminist should. But I chickened out & invited more bees to disguised the mistake. I don’t like the resulting mess of a print as much, but hopefully it’ll make the T more wearable.

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