Hello and welcome to my birthday outfit! Sure, it’s three weeks late, but what self-respecting Leo doesn’t extend their birthday into Virgo season? We may be heading into autumn here in the northern hemisphere, but in southern California, these count as ‘transitional’ pieces…as in, transitioning from hot and dry to hotter and drier. Here’s hoping these will get me through those brutal triple-digit days!
When a friend was giving away some scarves on our local Buy Nothing Facebook Group, I quickly snapped up this fabulous orange one. Technically, bright orange isn’t my colour, but technically, I don’t really give a damn because this print is amazing. It also has many other colours that are in my palette, so I knew I could make it work. It didn’t have a tag or signature on it, so I had assumed that it was a high-quality polyester, but the more I touched it, the more I thought, “Is this silk?”. So I ran it through the tests:
- I held it up to the light…and it had a sheen even on the wrong side.
- I pulled it through a small ring…and it glided right through.
- I folded a corner and pressed it…and it made a sharp crease.
- Finally, I cut off a tiny piece and held it to a flame…and that baby burned to a fine ash.
Silk through and through! Given the small amount of fabric, my original thought of doing a simple camisole might have been fine, but I was inspired by the sleeveless versions of Friday Pattern Company’s Wilder Top and Gown that Alice Irvine ( @the.polka.dot.palace ) has been making. I had the pattern in my stash and figured this was the perfect time to give it a whirl.
There is a slash line on the front bodice piece for a full bust adjustment, so I took advantage of that for the muslin. I think if I were doing the full garment with a sleeve, this would have been alright — it’s intended to be a loose, breezy, Catherine’s-ghost-in-Wuthering-Heights type of garment. However, without the sleeves, it was just too baggy, especially around the arm. I had considered sizing down and doing some darts until I remembered that I had pattern tested the Poppy Blouse for Pattern Scout back in May. It has a very different neckline construction that kind of demands sleeves, but the bodice is similar and it has built-in bust darts! So I Frankenpatterned the two and they lived happily ever after. Sort of. I did end up adding another set of darts in the front armscye, but this was still way less work than if I had tried to hack up the Wilder on its own.
The Poppy has less gathering at the neck, so I only added part of the Wilder neck width, but I actually like having a bit less fabric bunched up under my chin. I also wanted to have the option of wearing the neck tie bow in the back (as well as the side — all the options all the time, don’t ya know!), so I added seam allowance to the centre back and sewed it the same way as the front. To finish the armholes, I made some matching bias binding.
The hem might be my second favourite thing about this top (the first being the fabric, of course). I bought some elastic thread at the beginning of the year with the full intention of jumping on the shirring trend…and then just didn’t. Apparently, the sewing faeries that live in my brain thought it was best to try this new-to-me technique for the very first time on silk, ‘cause they’re just that baller. I probably watched about seven different YouTube videos before I felt confident enough to drop in the hand-wound bobbin and slip my fabric under the needle. Lo and behold, with some minor tension adjustments, it worked! I’m glad I decided to turn up the bottom hem 3” and shir through a double layer of the fabric — it serves the dual purpose of adding some support for the shirring and giving the bottom edge a neat finish. I may be late to the party, but I am now a huge fan of this technique. As you’re reading this right now, I’m probably scouring my closet to see what else I can add it to.
The shorts are my tried and true Lander Pants pattern from True Bias, in cobalt linen leftover from some pants I made for the boy. I try something a little different each time I make these; for this shorts version, I went for cuffs. To do this, I:
- Added 3 1/2” to the suggested shorts length
- Pressed up the raw edge 1/2”
- Pressed the hem up another 3” and machine stitched
- Turned the hem up to the outside 1 3/4”
- Hand stitched the cuff using a pick stitch on the inside (which is invisible on the outside)
The pick stitching all the way around was probably overkill, but I can’t stand it when cuffs droop or shift or get all wonky in the wash, so I stand by my decision. I wasn’t sure how the marriage of cuffs and patch pockets was going to work out, but it looks promising — a little Lady and the Tramp, but I think they’ve got a shot!
Wishing everyone a lovely Pumpkin Spice Everything season (and very happy birthday to all the Virgos out there)!