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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gosh it’s been a long time since I finished anything wearable. And even longer since everyone else made their Gingers! What can I say, I have a streak of the anti-fashionista, a refusal to wear a trend while it’s still trendy. Can we make that a new trend?
Anyway, converting my 0-ease Pants Wrap Block into one with ease took 1 step forward & 2 steps back. I needed gratification sooner & thought making my first pair of jeans would at least put that 0-ease Pants Block to some use, ie by pointing to where I might need to alter commercial skin-tight pants pattern…like Ginger Jeans.
As I’m a tracer & reuse back of old A4 printouts, PDF patterns don’t bother me, even if they run over 30 pages (view B). (Copyshop printouts not really an affordable option in London.) Having said that, because I’m a tracer, I would have preferred if the pattern pieces can be overlapped like on Burda magazine pattern sheets, so fewer pages would be needed. The other hairy moment is trying to trace the correct line when the 11 sizes merge or cross-over! It would have been great if each size was on a separate layer so you can hide the sizes you don’t need. I’ve suggested it to Heather. It’s too late for Ginger, but she said she would consider this for future patterns.
I’m not a jeans connoisseur. Apart from opinions about fit & practicality I don’t really pay much attention to the details. So Heather’s guidance was really helpful – lots of things I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise like back pocket positioning, etc. The pocket top-stitching designs came in handy too as I didn’t have enough brain cells to come up with my own. I did have to adjust these designs slightly though because they seem to be for generic back pockets rather than Ginger back pockets. I also took inspiration from one of my RTW jeans & worked the rivets into my pocket top-stitching design.
Size 4, as recommended by the sizing chart. For once I didn’t have to second guess the size recommendation. Yeah!
Almost straight size 4
Final view A
Final view B
Must say the combination of this pattern & the stretch fabric fitted me pretty well even without much changes (just 1 & 2 below for initial fitting). But as I’ve just completed my pants wrap 0-ease Pants Block, I thought I’d tweak the pattern anyway to see if I can get it to fit even better. Also noting Melissa of Fehr Trade‘s advice – she has sewn many more jeans after all – I aimed for a skin-tight fit down through the thighs to counter any future ageing denim sagginess.
Shorten legs at knees
View A’s Stovepipe leg width for both A & B to accommodate my bigger calves
Crotch curve – initially just scooped more. Later tilted at bum crease level & shortened the inseams at the crotch in the process. Originally I thought maybe the negative ease (compared to my 0-ease Pants Block) should be distributed evenly between side seams & centre seams. But I get a little bit of bunching/excess fabric at the crotch – especially the front. I could pinch out a wedge at the crotch tapering to nothing at the side seams. I didn’t want the crotch length to become too short, so I took the wedge at the top of the leg/inseam. This also tilt the angle of the crotch curve / centre seams to match my 0-ease Pants Block more closely. So now the negative ease is at the side seams.
Leg tilt – my knees seem to rotate inward slightly, so that my knee bulges are closer to the inseams & my calf bulges are closer to the side seams. I ended up slanting the front legs towards the inseam like on my 0-ease Pants Block, & bulge out the back leg side seam slightly at the calf level. Strangely my alteration is the opposite of the one recommended for inward rotating knees in the Fitting & Pattern Alteration book!!!???
Skinny thighs – this only affected the back of my legs. I curved in the back thighs on both inseam & side seam. The front was left alone as my prominent front-thigh needed the full width. I think this help reduce the back thigh wrinkles slightly.
Originally I was going to only sew the high-rise View B as I hate how low-rise jeans feel like they’ll falling off my hip. But having a Scottish wallet 😉 I was going to squeeze 2 pair of jeans out of >2m of denim da**it! So pair two had to be the shorter length View A.
Shortened View A legs to Capri length – I do love my Capri length RTW jeans after all.
Raised View A waist slightly – to minimise that pants falling feeling.
My Scottish wallet also demanded that I fit with my final denim rather than source a cheap substitute. So I cut the main pieces with extra wide seam allowances: 1-1/4″ for inseams & side seams, 2″ at CF/CB waist tapering to normal 5/8″ at the crotch fork (where the crotch starts to curve). I had compared the original pattern to my 0-ease Pants Block before cutting to ensue these seam allowances were enough to accommodate changes should I needed to alter the pattern to match my Block with minimum 3/8″ final seam allowance.
For pockets & waistband facing: old John Lewis bed sheet. Sadly I don’t have any nice scrap of quilting cottons. So leftovers from my Pants Wrap Block muslins will have to do. I did my best to spruce it up with gold fabric paint, pressing my underused custom stamps into service, & paid homage to home-made by tracing the pattern piece info & listed the key supplies with a red marker.
Hammer & Cast Iron Frying Pan for the button & rivet – sorry neighbours!
Both the instruction & the sewing guide were excellent.
I did deviate in places. Eg for the crotch seam I tried a trick suggested by Baste & Gather Birkin Jeans to get the top-stitching centred between left & right sides. If you just stitch as usual, press to one side, & top-stitch on that side, then the top-stitching would be slightly off centre.
The denim I was using is on the thicker end of the recommendation. So I also didn’t double fold the hems for the pockets. I was worried my machine would choke on so many layers, especially as the pocket hems are interfaced as well.
Clamps to flatten bulk quietly!
To flatten bulky seams I had to use clamps instead of hammering because it would have been anti-social in my urban neighbourhood! It’s also quite satisfying to squeeze the bulk down hard! It helps to steam press the bulk first, & clamp asap. Also protect the visible right side with a scrap, otherwise the clamped area may acquire a circle of unwanted sheen.
Hazard of straightening denim – not enough fabric left!
BTW, DON’T try to straighten your denim grain by neatening the cut ends along a crossgrain/weft thread!!! The weft threads will always be slanted. I didn’t know this & did my usual cut ends straightening. Ended up losing a bit too much of my 2m of denim to make 2 pairs of jeans, even after shortening my patterns & using the pocket fabric (instead of the denim) for the waistband facing. I had ordered more of this denim.
For waistband I settled for the denim + stretch interfacing + pocket fabric facing option. The pocket fabric does have a slight give crosswise. So I hope the waistband won’t be too restrictive. But also won’t stretch out so easily like my RTW jeans. Hate that falling pants feeling.
Because I don’t have an extra machine to dedicate to top-stitching & I didn’t want to constantly switch threads, I re-ordered the steps so I can do as much regular / top-stitching as possible in one go before switching threads (Jeans-Consolidated-Instructions.pdf). It does make for more confusion for first attempt at jeans making. But once I get the hang of it I hope it’ll speed up the sewing.
My top-stitching still need a fair bit of work. I couldn’t get consistent stitch length. Plus even with my thinner top-stitching thread, I had trouble getting the tension consistent, especially when going over humps or back-stitching. The top-stitching thread slacks & loops on the underside in places. I didn’t want to increase the upper thread tension since in other places the tension seems just right. Strangely zig-zag bar tacks didn’t cause me much trouble.
My button & rivet attachment skills also need a bit of work. I banged a bit too hard, causing the button shank to slant a bit. One was so bad I had to replace it. The ring rivets middle splits quite easily too even with the extra length of the backing tack clipped to 1-2mm. But I just couldn’t get the rivet front to attach to the tack without the heavy hammering. I wasted a few rivets trying to get it right. Eventually I found that if I dull the clipped tack tip by hammering it into a placeholder (ruined) rivet front first, then replace this placeholder with the real/final rivet front & hammer it hard, the rivet middle doesn’t split as much. Good thing I ordered a few extra buttons & rivets!
As these are my first couple of pairs & I didn’t really stress-test at the fitting stage (eg by sitting etc for long period of time), they are really still wearable muslins. So I’m also cutting myself some slack for the less than stellar construction of these learning jeans. And boy were there plenty of oops. It got quite chaotic & somehow I ended up with one coin pocket practically hiding inside the right front pocket. Oops.
So if the stress-testing goes well, these will become my Skinny Jeans Blocks & I’ll have plenty of opportunity to improve my jeans sewing skills. I already bought enough denim over the last few weeks to make another 14 pairs probably! OK, maybe not all Skinnies – I still have Flares & Boyfriends to try out! Then I shall be victim of fashion trends no more mwahahaha!
Now on to the me-made bit in the outfit – the Choli Blouse… This is actually quite a simple top. Many choli blouses are. The most labour-intensive bit is in the embellishment. So after finishing the custom embroidery, I kind of lost interest, which made the simple blouse construction excruciatingly slow.
To recap, the outfit I bought was a copy. So while the blouse fabrics & trim supplied do match the skirt, they don’t look like the original design I wanted. I decided to make a blouse from scratch so I can incorporate as much of the original embellishment design as possible.
Original Gajiwala 7384 design
What I bought – details
I kept the front pretty simple & scale back the amount of embroidery because I wasn’t sure I can manage even just the hem & neckline borders.
There wasn’t any photo of the back, so I took inspiration from other designs I liked & went for a basic U-neck that’s as open & deep as the bra I was going to wear would allow, with tasselled cord ties at upper back.
I debated whether to keep the sleeves see-through like in the original design or use the same opaque fabric as the bodice. I went with opaque because I thought I might want to wear the top as a vest over something like La Chemise, in keeping with the cooler London climate. It sort of half worked: On the plus side, it hid the messy underbelly of my embroidery. On the down side, my top turned out a bit on the tight side, so I’m not sure how practical – or visually pleasing – it would be to wear this as a vest over something else.
Pivoted front darts to create Front Armhole Princess Seams. (I really should sort out my Princess Seam Blocks.)
Picked a fight with gravity by moving the Bust Points up a bit & closer together for a fuller look.
Pivoted back darts to create smaller Back Waist Darts that won’t disrupt the embroidery design much.
Shortened bodice & sleeves for a cropped top with short sleeve.
Lowered neckline per design & pivoted out about 3/16″ per side (3/4″ total) from the neckline to pre-empt any gaps opening up on drastic lowering of the neckline.
Made the sleeve cap more shallow & wider at the top for better arm movement.
Added 3-sets of bra strap/band retainers – at the shoulder, further down the back straps, & near the CB opening.
Added placket beneath the butted CB opening which fasten with bra hooks & eyes.
Added detachable underarm sweat guard to help prevent sweat stains on the diva silk fashion fabric.
Well, it wasn’t a great success, despite a fitting muslin being made for a change.
The raised bust line didn’t fit very well. Gravity won this round. My bra was no match for it. It also didn’t help that I had to wash the fabric after I finished the embroidery (I had some hay fever sneezing fits while doing the embroidery). The washing or the pressing afterwards shrunk the embroidered neckline, which then pull the whole top up a bit further. Slight draglines above the bust was the result. Thankfully the blingy necklaces & shawl hid these draglines on The Day!
The whole thing is a bit tighter than planned. I always forget the extra ease needed to accommodate the innards – eg lining, interfacing, bumpy underbelly of couched embroidery. A fitting muslin is no help in this case – unless you include the extra layers in your muslin as well. The shrunken embroidery mentioned above no doubt made it worse. So I’m glad I didn’t aim for Bridezilla Second Skin Look in the first place!
And finally & most importantly, my draft failed the only test that matters when it comes to a Choli Blouse: I can’t bust out any ‘Screw In The Lightbulb’ Bollywood dance moves in this! The sleeves are still veering towards restrictive tailored fit. Me bad for not checking this in the fitting muslin – I only checked for standing still fit & lounging around comfort. Good thing no dance off was planned for the post-ceremony luncheon!
So the hunt for a TNT Choli Blouse pattern continues.
Fabric & Notions Used
There were a lot more bought than used. It was impossible to find supplies that come close to the inspiration photo & match the skirt. I never knew there were so many different shades of gold & types of metallic threads! So the Stash got a feast in the process…
And here’s the list of what I ended up using…
Fabric: 2-tone shot silk dupion from A-Z Fabrics (Goldhawk Rd, West London)
Stabilise the neckline & hemline edges with fusible interfacing. This also supports the embroidery & minimise puckering.
Traced the embroidery design from the Skirt scrap. As the material couldn’t be the same as the coordinating Skirt, I tried to at least match the embroidery design as much as possible.
Worked out the embroidery design on a copy of the Blouse pattern, tracing from the Skirt embroidery design wherever possible. Because my left & right sides are not symmetrical, the differences are worked into the spacing between the flowers and vines to keep the design itself more symmetrical.
The embroidery design is traced onto the right sides of the fabric with a pen & a white waxy dressmaking carbon paper. Using a different colour pen allowed me to easily see which bit of the design has already been traced. The pen is easier to control & the ball-point tip produced clear fine lines without shredding the pattern paper. My waxy carbon paper lines don’t wash out, but I think it’s acceptable as they will mostly be hidden by the embroidery. Plus the sheen of the Silk Dupion masks the white line in certain light. In fact it can be damn hard to see the design when I needed to! I had to experiment with the positioning of the lighting a fair bit.
I chose the mix-n-match Siesta No-Sew Embroidery Roller Frames because of its flexibility & availability of sizes large enough to accommodate my sewing pattern pieces (they’re available in 6″-30″ widths & 7″-15″ lengths). Most frames are designed for dainty picture embroidery, so it can be hard to find ones big enough to keep the whole embroidery area flat. I didn’t want the embroidered areas to be crushed by the frame (as would happen with a hoop frame). Even rolling them up didn’t appeal. So I went for 30” roller bars (width) & 15” side bars (length) – just about large enough to keep the embroidery areas flat. I did still have to split the pattern pieces into 3 groups to make this work.
The other reason for choosing this frame was the Siesta No-Sew Table/Lap Stand Legs add-on that turn the frame into a table top / lap frame. This makes it possible to work comfortably at the table or on the sofa with the embroidery frame at the right height & with easy access to the front & back of the fabric. I did buy the optional cross-support bar, but ended up not using it.
Although the frame is designed to be “no-sew” – ie you can tape or staple your fabric to the soft wood roller bars – I prefer the sturdier looking sew-on method of traditional roller frames. So I stapled & taped strips of sturdy cotton ticking to the roller bars. (Twill tapes would have been the traditional choice, but I didn’t have any in the Stash.)
When it came to mounting the fabric onto the frame, I checked out this great YouTube tutorial…
…then did my variation of course! 🙂
Reinforced the fabric on the sides with ticking strips.
Baste the top & bottom to the roller bar ticking strips & rolled outward to keep the fabric taut lengthwise.
To keep the fabric taut crosswise, sew the buttonhole twist threads through the reinforced sides & looped around the side bars. Keep top end of the thread in place by looping it around the top end of the side bar & sandwich between the bar & the wing nut. Pull the thread tighter around the side bar, working the slack loop by loop towards the bottom end of the side bar. Tighten the thread through multiple passes & alternate between the right & left side bars to keep the fabric centred. Once the loops are tight, keep the bottom end of the thread in place by looping around the bottom end of the side bar & sandwich between the side bar & the wing nut.
The Embroidery Sweat Shop
Embroidery that may have shrunken the patterns
Flower centres & leaves at the neckline are satin stitches done in two passes: First with Krenik #8 Braid in 5005 Gold Coin, then with Krenik Blending Filament in 202HL Aztec Gold for extra sparkle. The Blending Filament worked better when wetted & used in single strand. The white strengthening filaments did still fray a bit. When this happens I just remove them before using the Blending Filament.
As the Braids are not cheap, I tried to keep it continuous to minimize amount wasted by knotting the ends. I pulled the Braid to the right side at the end point, then back to the wrong side at the starting point & knot this starting end. This way I can pull just the amount of Braid I need to the right side, & at the end any extra can be pulled back to the wrong side, knotted & cut with very little waste.
The two Back pieces were done while I was away visiting relatives. So I stitched the Metallic Mesh Ribbon border by machine first. The fabric & the frame were transported disassembled & the framing up done on location.
The Back Darts end in the neckline design area. To avoid bulk in the dart allowance, I stitched the dart points first before framing up. It does make the fabric less tautly stretched, but it’s not too bad as I only stitch as much of the dart points as needed for the flowers that span across them.
I reckon the embroidery stitching process took me about 18 long days. I was at best managing 12 flowers a day & there were 111 of those, plus vines & leaves! I barely made it what with all the travelling. And it can be rather back-braking. I had to take regular breaks. So hats off to all the Embroidery Masters all over the world!
I didn’t do much research on how Choli Blouse are typically constructed beforehand. But I did notice a few blouses were sewn with wide side seams that are sewn last so that they can easily be let out when the Middle Age Spread hits! In other words, armscye seams & hems are done before the side seams, and if there’s any lining, they seem to be treated more like underlining – ie sewn as one with the fabric pieces.
Of course I went ahead & did this my bog standard Western way. For one thing, practical as they may be I still feel funny about those wide side seam allowance possibly peeking out at the hems.
Back darts, front princess seams, shoulder seams, armscye seams, side seams. Repeat with lining.
Join fabric & lining at neckline – sandwiching the back neck tasselled cords between the layers, understitch, then join fabric & lining at CB opening.
Hem fabric & lining. I did a jacket-style jump hem in case the two fabric shrink at different rate when cleaned. (I had a previous silk choli blouse develop an unsightly pull at the hem because the cotton lining shrank more. Not keen to repeat the mistake!)
Make the placket (fabric & lining), bra bits retainers (lining), sweat guards (lining) – all sewn right sides together with a gap for turning right side out.
Sew hooks to CB opening, then placket. Sew bra bits retainers to lining. Sew snaps to these retainers, sweat guards, & corresponding lining areas. Tack fabric & lining at shoulder-armscye points & underarm to help keep lining from peeking out.
I’m still feeling exhausted from my stint in the embroidery sweat shop. But I’m proud that I managed it. I don’t think I would have had the patience if it were for home decor projects like cushions or wall decorations. But once in a blue moon for a garment I can just about manage. There’s certainly a lot of leftover supplies for many more. And I’m impressed by how the simple embroidery design elements like these straight borders & nothing-special flowers can add up to something that looks fancier.
It’s a shame that the fit was off. Got to respect the Bod innit! And must, MUST remember to add extra allowance for each layer of innards added. I hope I’ll get a few more wear out of this top before I get too plump or it gets shrunken in the wash!
BTW all that effort with the bra bits retainers was a bit wasted. On the day I was too hot & flustered to do up all three sets, especially as the neckline was too snug to get one’s hand in. I only managed the bra band retainers near the CB. I ruled out attaching the bra first before putting the whole thing on because the too snug neckline wouldn’t have allowed me to cajole the girls into position. I kind of wished I had gone traditional bridal dress shopping so I can study how bridal wear designers manage to make so many women look so fabulous on their big day.
A couple of things for sure, I’m definitely up for making more of these embellished choli blouses, and the search for TNT choli blouse pattern continues. Now I just need some proper Summer days in London to make these worthwhile making!
Moving swiftly along to the outfit itself…This spans the full spectrum from purely RTW (shawl) to partly pre-stitched (skirt) to purely me-made (top).
What I bought
The skirt completion / alteration turned out to be more involved than I anticipated… Partly because I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to customise & do some unnecessarily tidying of the invisible innards!
Lehenga skirts seem to be mostly panel / umbrella skirts. So originally I thought I just need to remove panels to reduce the circumference & shorten the length to fit, then sew up that last side seam & I’ll be done.
Well it turned out the top lace layer of this skirt is made from 34 panels which are each quite narrow from the top to the thigh, then spread out below that. Even if I remove some panels to fit my hip, this would still leave the top too wide for my waist (actually high hip, since many are worn lower down than the natural waist). Many lehenga designs simply use the tasselled cord to tighten the waistband to fit. But I didn’t like this haphazardly pleated waistline look, especially as the waistband can be quite stiff & bulky.
Cord gathered waist
vs Pleated fitted waist
I ended up removing one panel, then pleated the extra width into 4 pleats at the front & back princess lines. This is then sewn to the smooth & more fitted waistband. The weight of the skirt actually pulls the pleats apart & along with the textured embroidery you can hardly see the pleating in the end. But I got the more fitted waistband I wanted. Well, almost.
The weight of the skirt still pulled the waistline down too much. To keep the skirt from sweeping the floor I had to tie the waist cord tighter, which brought back the dreaded bulky pleated waistband look. I tried to fix this by adding waistband elastic, which kind of spoils the neat waistline finish I took ages to make. Boo.
The inner layers were simpler to alter width-wise, though again I ended up doing this differently than planned. Because the hems of the inner layer weren’t as wide as my free spirit would like, I decided not remove any panel. Instead I resew each panel side seams & tapered more at the waist. Thankfully there are only 6 panels for each inner layer.
Length alteration was done at the top for a more A-line / circle skirt result. Considering that I basically resewn the hem border, I could have shortened from the hem. But I wanted more swish, so it made sense to cut off the more fitted length at the top rather than the flared length at the bottom.
Mug Shots vs Original Design vs Pre-altered Skirt
Altered Samyakk skirt – Front
Altered Samyakk skirt – Side with tassle
Altered Samyakk skirt – Side
Altered Samyakk skirt – Back
Gajiwala Saree GS7384
Out of the box the skirt weighs a ton & could stand on its own! In addition to the lace, the shiny underlay, and the lining, there was stiff netting attached to the hem of the lining. The lining itself also has wide hem that’s stiffened with the sort of heavy fusible interfacing that you might find in men’s formal shirt collars. It felt formal, ceremonial, claustrophobic, which I suppose is what a wedding ceremony calls for. Most of the other bridal lehenga outfit I saw also look really formal & restrictive.
But it wasn’t what I attracted me to this outfit. The original design photos look bohemian. The model looked like she’s free to dance & twirl. I wanted a bit more of that romance. So off came the netting (fed to the Stash for some future petticoat of course!). The stiff lining hem interfacing had to go as well. The skirt still weighs just a touch under a ton, but at least I can twirl a bit better.
The more streamlined waistband, princess line pleats, & A-line silhouette I already mentioned above.
The only other change I made was to replace the tasselled waist cord so that I can have a matching one for the Choli Blouse. I did like the original cord & tassels design, so tried to look for similar material. But it’s amazingly difficult to find the exact same type of material. Part of the problem is not knowing what the bits are called – eg the type of cord that was used. I did eventually find the same type of cord at jewellerymaker.com which they called “zari ropes”. No luck with the beads, so I ended up getting my beads from firemountaingems.com & also had to get some Montana Gold spray paint in Gold Chrome colour to ‘correct’ the brassy colours of the filigree beads. I followed the threading pattern of the original tassels, but replace some beads with red acrylic ones to tie in the red from the shawl. And paranoid about washability, I made the tassels detachable – hooked on to the cord with carabiner catches.
What can I say, I have sewing OCD }:-)
Border innard tidied up
Gapnosis plackets added
Plastic beads crushed
All 33 panel seams on the lace top layer had the seam allowances re-overlocked to an even & narrower width so that the shiny underlay show through more.
All 8+ yds of the hem border interfacing were replaced & tidied up (with Pro-Sheer Elegance Light Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply that I had in the Stash), and the border facing darted uniformly to match the 33 panel side seams. Before this fix there were some excess folds in the interfacing & the facing dart shaping were done more haphazardly. Although neither problem really affected the look, I. Just. Could. Not. Help. It!
Added plackets to the waist opening / waistband with hook & bar closures for extra security against gapnosis.
But there one thing that I didn’t bother to fix which perhaps I should have, and that is to replace the plastic bead trim at the hem with metallic beads. It’s all too easy to crush these beads when you’re a klutz like me. My sewing room / photo studio is now strewn with bead carcasses. I predict by the end of the wedding day I’ll have 5 beads left. So why didn’t my OCD extend to this fix? Because the skirt already weigh too much. And there’s 8+ yds of zig-zag beads. And they would all have to be replaced one by one as there is of course no ready-made trim that fits the bill. I think I’ve done my time with the blouse embroidery.
I had enough of this limp & not-fit-for-a-Breton-T stripe jersey left to make another garment. As I wasn’t inspired, I just went for a long sleeve variation of the same old cowl neck fitted top idea. Figuring out how to add sleeves to Vogue 1282 would be more effort than I want to spend. So I picked another Vivienne Westwood design that looked easily achievable using any fitted Knit Blocks:
Pivoted side bust dart to shoulder so the dart allowance could be incorporated into the cowl drape.
Cut & spread the Front Bodice to create cowl drapes. I chose to do this from underbust up & to split the amount into separate rows of cut-n-spread because I thought this will give me cowl drape while retaining a fitted silhouette.
For more exaggerated drapes I added pleats to the shoulder seam & to minimise the risk of boob exposure I tapered the neckline back to a narrower width. For a more natural looking drape, I prefer to cut extra fabric & drape the cowl on Q, my dress form. I don’t like it when such drapes are too even / symmetrical. The extra fabric extends up from shoulder-armscye points, then across a bit above the shoulder-neck points. After draping the pleats I wanted, the excess fabric was trimmed to pleated shoulder seam + seam allowance.
Back neckline I was going to lower & maintain the neck curve. But I got lazy & went for straight line with cut on facing…because the Vogue 1282 top I was sewing at the same time had the same back neckline treatment. In retrospect, I should have used a binding like in my Burda 2013-12-119 top. It would have been cleaner & less chance of a facing flipping out on me.
Front bottom drape: This is essentially an unstitched dart.
After deciding where the bottom of the drape will be on the right side seam (ie the dart point), I folded the paper across to form one leg of the dart, then bring this up to where the top of the drape will be on the left side seam (ie the other leg of the dart). Across because you can see in the original design the fold line is almost parallel to a line of stripe.
Then I trace the rest of the Block below the fold.
Shorten to desired lengths:
Bodice to a couple inches above full hip, Sleeves to 3/4 length.
I made the hems straight to make it easier to sew a wider hem. But this meant the hem at the side seam could look weirdly pointy. So I reshaped the back side seams slightly to get closer to a right angle to the hemline. This also helps with the right side steam stripe matching as the unstitched dart modified the angle of the side seam blow the “dart point”.
Stripe-matching: See previous post about how I dealt with stripe matching in this PITA wiggly stripe fabric. It wasn’t possible to match the stripes 100% because of my pattern’s uneven front & back side seam heights. So I sacrificed the matching near the armpits – even going as far as letting the sleeve-bodice seam intersections not match. Somehow I managed to get a stripe going from the bodice to the sleeve in one armpit which I thought was rather neat. Too bad the other side was off a little bit. At the bodice hem, the left side seam draped area was never going to match. But on the right side I ended up trimming a bit of width off the hem & got the stripes to match pretty well.
Stablisation: Again, the back neckline & the armholes were stablised with fusible interfacing to fight the gravity-compliant tendency of this viscose jersey. As this is long-sleeved, the shoulder seams were also stablised so the extra weight of the sleeves won’t stretch out the shoulder seams over time.
Cowl: I’ve used the same technique on another VW inspired top. But this time it wasn’t so successful. The difference was the other top had a fitted lining which controlled the cowl drape. This top is unlined. So the extra width just wanted to spread & droop all over the place & get in the way of my forward arm movement, especially as my armscyes were all stablised & not stretchy. I ended up having to tack the drapes in place to maintain the folds. While the drapes still look a bit messy, at least the armsyces now feel comfortable & unrestrictive.
It’s an OK top. It’s one to slouch in rather than dress up in. It has just enough caffeine kick to keep me awake, but not enough to shout about.
There may be a little bit too much drape. My thin & droopy fabric doesn’t help. So it looks more sloppy than the VW original. I probably should have removed some width from the unstitched dart’s fold so that it hugs the body there & are less likely to spread open. But I just wasn’t interested enough to want to fix this in the top since it already looks sloppy in the cowl area.
So a caffeinated slouchy top it shall remain. And no doubt get more wear than its dressier siblings!