Thursday, July 17, 2014
Here is my latest make - an Imagine Gnats Bess Top made up in abstract floral print and solid rayon challis, and photographed right after work right on my front steps (is that a can of WD40 - or equivalent - on the table on the porch to my left? sigh).
This top actually started out life as a Washi Dress in the printed rayon. I had high hopes for it, but when I had put everything together, and tried it on, I realized I hated it. The rayon was too clingy with the shirring in the back, and it felt frumpy and maternity with the high waist. I briefly considered throwing it in the bin and crying myself to sleep, but I decided to immediately rescue the fabric and make something lovely and flattering with it instead. And I am so glad I did. Instead of dwelling on sewing failure, I am wearing a cute new top. My fragile self-esteem and sewing mojo remain in tact!
I made the Bess Top before (I actually helped Rachael test the pattern) and I wear that top often, so I knew that it is easy to sew and the style is flattering on me. A soft drapey fabric like rayon challis is perfect for this style and complements the loose fit. The shape works perfectly as a shell under a jacket or cardigan. And it is as comfortable as a t-shirt.
But since my lovely printed rayon was already mostly assembled into a Washi dress, I had a limited amount of fabric to work with. So I decided to make a contrast yoke in rayon leftover from my Zinnia skirt. The pattern includes instructions on how to colorblock the top, but I must confess I did not consult the instructions for any aspect of the construction of this top. Having made it twice (once a test muslin, and once in voile), I sewed it up by memory and common sense. I self-bound the neck and arms with bias, and hemmed the top with a very narrow hem. It looks cute, although perhaps not quite as flattering, untucked, as it has a subtle, curved hi-lo hem.
I made several other changes to this version as well. I cut the bottom back piece wider than the yoke piece, and gathered it softly in the center for a looser and more blousy back. I also gathered the front pieces to the yoke instead of pleating them, a detail that is not very visible in this busy print but which softens the lines of the front of the top a little. Finally, I raised the neck (the pattern comes with two necklines to choose from). The deeper curve of my voile Bess Top tends to droop a little bit, and although I tend to prefer lower necklines as a rule, I actually think the higher neck suits the shape of this top a little better.
I hate sewing with rayon challis - it is so tough to cut or sew with any accuracy! But I sure love wearing it! It is soft, washes well, and seems to have magically flattering powers when worn (except in the form of a Washi dress on me, anyway!). I am already planning more rayon challis tops.
And here is is the rest of the outfit I wore yesterday. The top fits into my work uniform of skirt, blouse, and cardigan/jacket perfectly! (I love these shoes so much. Light blue-green goes with everything! And they are old-lady squishy and supportive.)
I think I need a few more rayon Bess Tops ...