Do you ever do that thing where you think about an item of clothing you’ve never considered owning, and suddenly you HAVE TO HAVE IT? The other day I was on my way to work, and people watching, and I saw a few women in a row wearing variations on ‘wafty, loose white top’. And all of a sudden I knew, I had to have one. I had a clear picture in my mind – not too loose, but not fitted. Must be white. Must be flowy and drapey but not so big as to be sack like. Must have a high-ish neckline, but not so high it makes my proportions look weird. Must have set in sleeves, not raglan or cut on, and sleeves must be at least halfway down my upper arm. I don’t know why this was the top I needed, but it was.
I spent some time that day looking at patterns on the internet. Most of the commercial patterns were, unsurprisingly, terrible. If you only take the ones that come in my size, they were TERRIBLE. Not a set in sleeve among them. Barely a raglan. So so many kimono and cut on sleeves. Which are fine, but they look odd on me and really do we need FIVE plus size patterns in one pattern line that are variations on ‘sack, with cut on sleeves’? It’s bad enough that those are my options when buying RTW clothes. I debated buying the Scout woven tee, but it doesn’t come nearly big enough, and I resent paying a premium for something I then have to grade up. So I decided to look in my existing pattern stash, thinking that Ottobre might be a good bet for something like that – basic, but with SOME understanding that fashion at least exists somewhere in the world.
Ottobre came through, with not only my dream haircut but the exact shirt I had in mind. It’s called ‘Painted roses’ in the pattern list, and it’s in the 2/2014 edition, with the trenchcoat on the front. Quite a few nice basics in this one.
You’ll have to excuse my dead face in all of these. It was early and I hadn’t had breakfast. Also that’s pretty much what my face looks like…
I made a quick muslin, and decided the arms were too baggy and it made it look frumpy, so I took some width out of them, which turned out to be a mistake. They were far too tight when I tried them on. I let the seams out as far as they could go and it’s wearable but I should have just let them be, as you can see there’s still some pulling. The only other adjustments I made were to raise the armscye a tiny bit and taper the shoulders in a tiny bit at the sleeve, and also at the neck so the neck opening is about 1cm smaller. I made a size 50, and for reference my bust is 116cm.
Then I made another one! And….
They are all rayon, the white and roses from Lincraft, the teal from spotters. All of them were on sale, so none of these shirts cost more than about $14, which is pretty great in my books. I did buy 2m, the pattern says you need 1.5 but I only had about 30cm left. So I’d say budget for 1.75 and you should be right. They feel nice too, we’ll see how they wear. I should note that the white one was worn for one day, and when I took it off I hung it on the back of the bathroom door to air/get passively steamed. The next day it was as wrinkle-free as rayon will ever be. They do crease but not so that it looks messy. The other two are straight from the wash, just hung up quickly to reduce wrinkles. No iron involved.
The rose is not really my usual kind of thing but I saw it when I bought the white and couldn’t get it out of my head so I went back for it.
I set the sleeves in flat, and french seamed everything. The neckline is finished with a teeny bias facing, which I topstitched in two rows because it was flapping around – the instructions have you just understitch it but it wasn’t cutting it for me. I was worried I wouldn’t like how it looked but I think it looks pretty neat in the end.
The sleeves and bottom are finished by just folding under twice and sewing. This was a bit fiddly because the rayon is slippery and getting it straight was a bit annoying, especially for the bottom hem. I think it ended up a bit wonky in the teal one (or maybe just being pulled up by my boobs? Both?) but I intend to mostly wear them tucked in so… whatever.
The second two took exactly 1.5 hours, including cutting. I timed it. Really happy with this pattern, I’m definitely keeping it on my ‘basics’ list. I can see this made up in cotton or linen – I think it probably needs some drape but could be pretty versatile. My only regrets are the sleeves on the white one (the other two are sleeves as-is, from the pattern) and that I didn’t self-line it. I debated, because I thought the white would be a bit see through, and I talked myself out of it. But it IS see through, you can’t tell in the photo but it’s just enough that you can see my bra. Not too scandalous but too see through for work so I wear it with a cami, which is annoying. I’m thinking of making a cami from the leftover white rayon, which might be less annoying than the too-long, clingy jersey one I have now, but I wish I’d gone with my original plan to make a self-lining joined only at the shoulders, and stopping a few inches shorter.
Here’s a bonus one with the swoon cardi, and my princess line pencil skirt which I ended up doing some adjustments on (the waist ended up being too big. More on that later if I can be organised enough) and now is in high rotation in the wardrobe.
Most of my work wardrobe now is me-made. It feels really good. Both because my skill level is at a stage where I really CAN just whip things up, provided they’re simple, or I CAN plan and sew a more complex thing over a few weeks without quitting in a rage because I got stuck on a hard bit. And also because it means I am wearing clothes that fit me, fit how I want to look, and feel nice to wear. Such a luxury!