Monday, 11 January 2021

Viscose Print Hilary Top

My first post of 2021 is actually about a project I made last year but never got around to posting. I was tempted to just forget about blogging about it (despite having taken and edited the photos) as I can't remember making it all that well. But as I mentioned in a recent post I've actually found reflecting on a garment after a few wears quite interesting and constructive.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

I was delighted with this top when I finished it but it has had very little wear. I think I was pleased that the design felt interesting with some unique details and it seemed like a very wearable take on the romantic big sleeve trend. However, once the enjoyment of making it had worn off I didn't find myself drawn to wearing it and didn't feel particularly myself or comfortable in it when I did. Sometimes this is down to colour choice (I often find myself drawn to fabrics in a colour or print I'd never chose when buying a garment!), or fabric choice. But in this instance the colours are very much within my palette, the fabric feels delightful against the skin, wears well and suits the pattern too! I've come to the conclusion that it must be the elasticated waist that doesn't feel right. Which shouldn't be surprising to me as I've never been a fan of them! 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

Anyway, enough rambling thoughts about the wearability of garments and on to the details of this project! I'm a big fan of Tessuti patterns and was browsing through their website one day on the hunt for inspiration when I came across the Hilary Top. I couldn't believe it hadn't caught my eye before as it had so many interesting elements. I particularly liked the unique and elegant neckline shape which is created with elasticated sections at the top of the raglan sleeves (which I've just noticed you can't see under my hair in the photos! It shows better on the pattern pics and there is a close up below). I enjoyed constructing this part of the top as the way the elasticated channels join the neckline facing creates a beautiful clean finish. The hems of the sleeves are also elasticated and I love the blouson effect created by pushing these up to just below the elbow.

What I really like about working with Tessuti patterns is that I almost always find myself trying out a new sewing technique or method of doing something. They always provide something of a challenge in that respect and I enjoy having to concentrate and work something out (although I do also enjoy the sort of 'muscle memory sewing' that some projects require!). One of the things I like most about sewing is that there is always something more to learn whether that be how to construct a new-to-you element of a garment or simply another way of doing something you've done a thousand times before. Whenever I take a chance and veer off my railroad tracks to try out a new Tessuti method I'm always pleased I did. I usually end up with a well finished and professional looking garment when following their instructions.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

So the elasticated waist...I'm fairly short through the body and always find elasticated waists tend to ride up and shift about on me trying to reach the narrowest point on my torso which is quite high. I've found I've had some success with wide elastic waistbands on pants and sportswear but narrow elastic waists on dresses and tops are never a success. I think to make this particular top more successful I could have taken some length out of the body so that the cinched in waist wasn't hidden by the bodice blousing down over it. However, I'm not sure that would have made me feel more comfortable in it. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

There are some beautiful versions of this top other sewists have made on Instagram. I've noticed that a few have chosen to omit the elasticated waist and peplum, lengthening the body of the top slightly to make it a relaxed fitting blouse. I think this might work much better for me as I could wear it tucked into high waisted jeans. Whilst I loved the idea of the peplum I probably should have noted the elasticated waist and eliminated it. The lovely sleeves and neckline are enough on their own. I feel it is definitely worth revisiting this pattern, perhaps in a lovely white cotton eyelet for spring?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

The fabric for this top is a viscose print which I bought from Fabric Godmother at The Stitch Festival last March. That was the last get together I went to before lockdown and the idea of being in a big venue like that with hundreds of people feels so strange and unfamiliar to me know! The print has an angle-poise lamp in it but I love that you don't notice that at first as the whole design is quite abstract. It reminds me of some of the more recent Atelier Brunette prints. It is a reasonably lightweight viscose with a lovely smooth and cool hand. The sleeves of this pattern really benefit from a fabric with drape like this and you don't want anything too thick and bulky around all the elastic but I wonder if the peplum would be more effective in something with a bit more structure? 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

The jeans I'm wearing in the photos are my third pair of Megan Nielsen's Dawn Jeans which I have talked about previously. I think they were fresh off the sewing machine in the photos and looking quite sharp! In contrast to the top these were definitely one of my biggest sewing successes last year. I love the pattern, think I've really figured out the fit now and used a denim with a little bit of lycra content for this pair which makes them incredibly comfortable. They've had a lot of wear but I'm definitely in need of more tops to work with this high waisted style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Viscose Print Tessuti Hilary Top and Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans

I never count projects which don't get much or any wear as a failure as I have always gained some enjoyment and learning in the process of making them. I donate/sell/gift the garment and hope that someone else will get the same enjoyment out of wearing it! This project taught me to remember previous experiences as I already knew I don't like an elasticated waist and can benefit from shortening a bodice! I am definitely going to think carefully this year about what makes each garment a success or not with the aim to hopefully help me make better choices going forward and have a higher success rate with my sewing projects! What are your recipes for sewing success?

19 comments:

  1. Love this! Now I want to make it for myself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go for it! I always enjoy the process of making a Tessuti pattern

      Delete
  2. Hi Fiona,

    I've just finished reading your post and my immediate thought was to take out the elastic if possible. I've never used the Hilary pattern so I'm not sure if this would even be an option, but from what I can gather the peblum effect is solely created by the elastic band probably kept in place by a tunnel of fabric on the inside. In that case I would consider taking it out and "saving" the top - though I think the colour, fabric and cut suit you well! We've all had a finished item that somehow feels off and it would be a shame for this top as it has so many lovely details and is so well executed.

    Best regards,
    Maike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for this thought Maike. I might give that a try although there is a seam where the elastic is and the peplum part is pleated on to the bodice so not sure how it would work. Worth a shot if I'm unlikely to wear it much though!
      It is so hard to pinpoint sometimes exactly what it is that makes a garment feel not quite right when worn isn't it?

      Delete
  3. I'm sorry you're not satisfied with the top because it looks so cute on you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carol! I don't particularly dislike it...it just doesn't feel quite right somehow! Hard to explain and hard to rectify!

      Delete
  4. My recipe (which I only recently figured out) is to ask myself when fabric shopping, “would you buy a rtw garment made from this print?” The answer is surprisingly often “no” and it makes it much easier to resist impulse purchases and has helped tame my stash. However it also means I struggle to find suitable fabric for projects as well! Especially T-shirts. But better than spending time and money making something that I don’t -really- like

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes that is a great way to go about fabric shopping, when I first started sewing I used to buy all sorts of bonkers prints which I would never wear! I also think it is a good way to think about making appropriate fabric choices 'If I saw this garment in a shop what would the fabric it is made of feel like and how would it move?' then try and find something similar!
      I am completely with you on the struggle to find the right fabric. Sometimes I buy a pattern and will be months if not years before I make it because I haven't been satisfied with the fabric I've found. Always worth the wait though!

      Delete
  5. Do you think it would work if you replaced the elastic with a loosely tied drawstring or a ribbon? It would still draw it in slightly, without getting caught up in the wrong place on you. I've got a RTW top like that, and it works better than ones with elastic as I have the opposite problem - I'm tall, and RTW never properly 'blouses' at all; at least with the drawstring, I can have it hang and still look like it was meant to be that way. It would be a pity to waste what is otherwise a lovely blouse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O I like the drawstring idea...hanging completely loose doesn't particularly appeal to me as I think the pleated peplum section would look odd but this might just work!

      Delete
    2. Good idea, or maybe use a longer length of elastic so it stays a fixed size?

      Delete
  6. That top is a 10! Fabric, colorway and design, all wonderful. It looks great on you, but I know we all have personal preferences for fit and such. I am inspired, thanks for posting this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah thanks so much! I do really like the top itself...just don't feel quite myself in it! I love that it is such a wearable style but still has some really unique details and features

      Delete
  7. Whole outfit is fantastic! I agree with other commenters that removing the elastic is worth a try if you really won't wear it as is.
    -lauraborealis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Laura! I'm going to give adjusting that waistline a go

      Delete
  8. Hi Fiona
    I also think your top is lovely and you've sewn it beautifully, however I've had exactly the same thoughts as you with elasticated waists. I've found that a wide belt really helps as it stops the top riding up. Another thought was if you had some of the fabric left you could insert a band at the waistline and gather the peplum onto it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Jenny! Both great ideas! The peplum is already pleated on to the waistline and I think if I gathered it any more or tried to keep the shape without the elastic I'd have to add a zip in somewhere, it is hard to explain the construction!
      Love the idea of a belt, will give that a go thanks

      Delete
  9. Hello, the blouse is adorable! Is there a pattern for the trousers by any chance?? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yes they are the Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans - the cropped and wide leg version

      Delete

I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!