Thursday, June 5, 2014

Anna Sui in Time for Summer

I know summer has started...

...when I have time to sew again!

Welcome to my first project of the summer! Even if it's a blouse that I've been imagining for a good year and whose commencement dates back to before APs...(how tragic!).

Well I'm finally done with school, tests, and don't have to think about summer reading for a solid two months, which means that I'm going to be pumping out garments for the rest of summer!

The first time I picked up this fabric, I said to myself, "This is kind of tacky but it's soooo cooooool." Well you should have been there to see it folks, because that is a once-in-a-lifetime-statement from Anelise Newman whose attitude is usually more like

But this sheer plum textile with threads of metallic gold lame was just too exciting to pass up. Even though its translucent, when light shines on it, it becomes so shiny it's almost opaque. It's so flashy that I had to justify its purchase by saying that I would make a New-Year's-Eve shirt out of it (didn't happen).

I didn't have quite enough of the metallic purple to make the style of shirt I was thinking about, so I purchased a contrast fabric from Mood.

I was kind of running contrary to some of my usual fabric preferences in buying this: I usually am not a huge fan of prints (by which I mean a pattern created purely by coloring the fabric as opposed to some structural, woven, embroidered, or beaded design) or anything that remotely resembles a floral. But in the final product, I really love how the two textiles work together. The parallel gold threads running through the two fabrics are practically identical, which is an amazing link. This fabric is light, drapey, and translucent enough that it tones down but doesn't completely block out my obnoxious inspiration textile. Making the shirt, you know, wearable. Plus, I like how it's a little bohemian ;)

Now let's talk about Vogue 2968, a collection of Anna Sui blouses. 

Hmmm, I have a love-hate relationship with this pattern. 

On the love side, I adore both of the designs in this envelope. View C (the middle picture) was actually the first real garment I ever made (pause for a moment of sentimentality). And excuse me if I decide that this project turned out very nicely as well.

On the hate side, the pattern for views A/B (the one I just made) didn't actually work -___-

Here's how this shirt is supposed to go together. The bottom layer is essentially a large tube of fabric that is gathered near the top to form a tube top and a ruffled skirt (which forms the lower tier of the shirt). The bodice is self-lined; that meaning, each of the bodice pieces is created by doubling a single symmetrical piece of fabric. The bodice is then sewn to the waistband of the tube top. Finally, the top tier of the skirt is hemmed, gathered, and sewn to the waistband over the other two layers.

Here's what happened when I went to make it.

First, I wanted the bodice to be composed of one layer of each fabric (instead of two layers of the same). So to form the large symmetrical pieces of fabric required for the bodice, I cut out half of the piece from each of the fabrics and sewed them together. When folded, it produced a bodice piece with one layer of each fabric.

My modified pattern piece: the original pattern folded along the role line and marked on each side which fabric was to be cut with that side up. I added a 5/8 inch seam allowance to account for sewing the two pieces together.
That process worked fine. However, when I went to baste together the right and left sides of the bodice, I noticed that it was not fitting right. There was too much overlap in the front and the garment was starting to look frumpy. I reduced the overlap on the two front pieces and increased it on the sides. That made the armholes sag strangely in the front, so I took in some of the fabric along the outside edges of the front pieces to take out the slack. Finally I got the bodice to fit the way I wanted it. 

I sewed the bodice directly to the top tier (overlay) of the shirt because I didn't like the babydoll ruffle that the original pattern has going on at the waistline. I then attached the bodice/ top tier to the tube top/ bottom tier by sewing the waistband of the tube top to the waistband seam between the bodice and overlay.

I ironed the seam downwards and using my machine sewed it flat to the side of the tube top. 
 Then I tried the garment on once again. The bodice fit. The tube top fit. The problem was, the bodice and tube top did not fit in the same place. When I pulled the bodice into the correct position, the tube top was too far down and was sitting around my upper abs. When I put the tube top in the right place, the bodice sagged and looked like a glorified potato sack. You can see the issue visually here:

 Please excuse the selfie-like setup here. On the left is me wearing the shirt with the bodice where I originally fitted it. On the right is me wearing the shirt with the tube top in place, the bodice sagging, and the high waistline combined with the loose bodice creating all sorts of unflattering.

I have two theories. One: the bodice is supposed to sag (it does appear to be sagging some in the line drawing and pattern envelope). The higher placement of the bodice causes it to fall open, creating less overlap in the front than I saw when trying it on, which means I jumped the gun by fitting it so well.

Theory two: the tube top is horribly designed. Which I think is true regardless of my misuse of the pattern. On the pattern piece, the height of the tube top is only 4 1/2 inches, irrespective of cut size. That was barely wide enough to fit me, so I can't imagine how it would fit someone busty. Furthermore,

This model is not wearing a tube top. And that's not just an aesthetic preference, because the waistband is seated much too low for such a top to be included.

So my solution to this problem was taking a pair of scissors to my garment and cutting the tube top out of it.

I serged the then-exposed raw edges of the bottom tier next to the waistband
I also decided that I liked the layering effect created by the glimpses of tube top you got through the back and sides of the top, so I left little insets of the original top peeping through. I serged these too and tacked them in place.
See the inset on the back of the shirt?
One other detail I added to my shirt that I think deserves a mention:

Haha, lame thread that exactly matches the strands in my fabric!
I bought this thread at Joanns, which has almost every type of thread known to mankind. It's pretty fragile so I didn't use it for seams or other structural junctures, but I thought it would look really cool in the hem of the skirt by adding a tiny little gold border that matched the glimmer of gold running through the fabrics (for pictures and instructions on how to make a very narrow hem for a flowy garment, see my narrow rolled hem tutorial).

I was so happy with finding this thread that I decided to, instead of sewing two pattern pieces together good-side-to-good-side to create the ties on the right shoulder, I hemmed each of the pieces individually with my gold thread and let them hang separately. The result in a shoulder tie that is very fluttery and voluminous and a little dramatic ;) 

Well get used to it folks, because there are a lot more stunning and summery outfits on the way!


  1. Would you mind me sharing this on Sassy Sewing Bees in the future? I link to your post and let you know when shared. SSB -