This little outfit has been another favourite in my wardrobe this summer. But frustratingly one of those that it is incredibly difficult to get decent pictures of that reflect how much you love it in reality. Ah well. You'll just have to take my word for some of it! One of my favourite pieces of fabric I brought home from my trip to the West Coast of the US last year was this amazing piece of mustard rayon from The Fabric Store. I've gushed about my love for this shop previously as I was so delighted with the carefully curated selection of dressmaking fabrics on offer. I really was spoilt for choice. I love wearing garments made with rayon and there were some beautiful prints so my instant draw to this solid mustard took me by surprise. It was such a great vivid shade with a touch of lime to it and top quality rayon too.
It's taken me nigh on a year to get around to turning it into something wearable. Purely because it is one of those pieces that I knew I'd never get my hands on again and I didn't want to waste it on the wrong thing. I'd bought 1.5 yards as I had a feeling I wouldn't want to make a full dress out of it as it can be a tricky colour to wear, particularly next to the face with my colouring. Separates were the way to go. The solution hit my slap in the face when I spotted a girl walking down a road near my flat looking absolutely amazing in a floaty pair of midi length mustard culottes. Rayon is made for summer wear and that was the perfect way to wear mustard in summer. I didn't have enough fabric to go with a super wide pair of culottes so opted to imitate the look with a simple skirt instead.
As it was such a simple shape I decided to get creative and draft it myself. I wanted the skirt full enough for the fabric to billow in the breeze but not so full that it became impractical to handle. I opted to go with a rectangle for the front and a rectangle for the back with the fullness coming from pleats into the waistband. I'm not a fan of gathers around my waist and liked the idea of how wide pleats would look.
To establish the width of each rectangular piece I measured my waist, divided that by two and added on 3cm for seam allowance (1.5cm at each side). Then I worked out how many pleats I wanted and how deep they should be and added twice the depth of each pleat times the number of pleats. You need to add twice the depth as the fabric folds back on itself within each pleat. A really easy way to do it without too much maths is to slash and spread your skirt pattern piece at each pleat position by twice the depth of the pleat. I cut the length of the skirt as long as my yardage would allow and adjusted the length to suit once it was sewn up.
I inserted an invisible zip into the side seam to keep the look sleek. Finding a zip to match this unique shape proved an impossible task! I quite like the little touch of neon but maybe I should try the trick of colouring my zip pull with nail varnish! I'm a fan of a fairly narrow waistband and used the By Hand London Holly Trousers pattern piece as a guideline for the size as I really like how that one sits. As the rayon is really delicate and prone to distortion I interfaced the waistband with a fairly sturdy fusible.
Rayon is notoriously shifty and this was one of the trickiest I have tried to cut. Getting nice crisp rectangles was a challenge. It does press amazingly well though so those pleats really hold their crease despite being a little tricky to iron in evenly. It comes out of the washing machine looking like a totally different fabric to after a good press! I wash my rayons on a 30 degree delicate cycle in the machine by the way. The only unfortunate thing about the fabric is that it does wrinkle quite badly and quickly. By the time I've done the morning commute it's looking pretty rumpled. It does look quite lovely like that in the way that linen does but sometimes I do wish it could look as chic and put together as it does when I put it on first thing in the morning.
I wasn't a fan of the midi length when it first came on trend and really didn't think I could pull it off with my petite proportions but now I can't stop wearing it! I think it's all about getting the hem length to hit at just the right point, getting the volume of the skirt right for your fabric choice. I'm so glad I went with a simple garment. I think when working with a special piece of fabric I sometimes have the tendency to overthink a project and try and make something spectacular, particularly when it's a solid colour. Really there's no need. A simple design lets the fabric speak for itself and that's certainly what this does. It really shows off the beautiful drape and flow of this rayon to it's full potential.
I had a couple of tops in my wardrobe to work with the skirt but decided I really needed a classic slim fitting tee to wear with it. Something which my wardrobe could still do with a few more of. I turned to the trusty Sewaholic Renfrew Top pattern as I've had great success with it in the past. It was really satisfying to return to a pattern I used quite a long time ago as it really showed me how much my sewing has come on. I had this one whipped up in a matter of a couple of hours and I think my finishing is the best yet!
I had just (and when I say just I mean JUST!) about enough fabric left over from my Turtleneck Top to squeeze this t-shirt out. It's a Heather Grey Cotton Spandex from Girl Charlee and is the perfect match for this pattern. I'm definitely going to be making more t-shirts out of this type of knit. It's a great weight with good recovery and has been washing up a dream. The high cotton content means it presses beautifully so getting that neckband eased in and sitting flat was super easy.
I opted for the round neck and used a slightly larger seam allowance than instructed on the neckband as I like it to be really skinny. I then twin needled around to help everything sit flat. All the seams were sewn with a narrow zig zag on my machine then finished on the overlocker as usual for me. I made sure to stabilise the shoulder seams with twill tape. This takes no time at all and will make a big difference to the longevity of the garment. I omitted the hem and cuff bands as I prefer the simple clean look of a simply turned and twin needled them. I also think this makes the t-shirt a better length for me. I'm pretty petite so don't need the extra length the bands give.
I basically decided to make the top when I saw how great the shade of grey marl looked against the mustard. It was a real whim and I wasn't sure how it would turn out but it's been worn so much already! This is definitely down to the fit. It feels snug but doesn't cling to the body at all. I'm still getting to grips with the effect different knits can have on a pattern and making up more of these tees might be a great way to experiment. The fabric choice makes such a difference when comparing this to my other favourite Renfrew (the navy and white striped version from this post) which is a much more slinky jersey with a bit of viscose in it. It doesn't hug the body in the same way despite being exactly the same size and finished in exactly the same way.
Overall two hugely successful additions to my wardrobe. Let the sunshine continue please!