Day six of One Week, One Pattern, and onto my next Belcarra blouse.
These are turning out to be good stashbusters. This one is using up a metre of some unknown black material that was originally bought to make a skirt with, until I realised how ludicrously many black skirts I’ve got. It was a bit drapey, so I thought I could use it for another Belcarra. I had to shorten the body by about 3cms, and I didn’t have quite enough fabric to do the sleeves as well as the body, but this pattern seems to be *made* for colour-blocking, so back to the stash I went.
This was my pinspiration:
It’s nothing like what I was actually sewing of course, but the Inspiration Fairy is a wily little so-and-so. She gets ideas sparking off other ideas. I thought mesh sleeves would be an interesting feature, and ever so slightly edgy. I had some white mesh that I had originally bought for the Elsa cloak, before I knew I could get pale blue mesh from White Tree Fabrics. So that sorted out my not having enough fabric for sleeves problem.
What could possibly go wrong?!
Well, pretty much everything. First off, this black fabric frays like a *#$!@~!!! Second, it’s bouncy- it doesn’t take ironing at all well, it’s a man-made fibre of some sort, so I had to keep the iron temperature down, and it’s just not as malleable as I’d have liked. Third, the mesh is stretchy. So all in all, a pretty stupid idea. But I was convinced it was going to end up looking good. Anything black & white is automatically cool, right?
I started this one on Friday night, and decided to give myself a break when I’d knocked my box of pins over for the third time. I had reached the tricky Adding the Bias Binding stage, and I felt it was best to approach that with a full night’s sleep behind me, and daylight, so that I could actually see what I was sewing.
I gave it another go on Saturday, and I was still not feeling the love. I can only imagine that this fabric just doesn’t like being sewn. So I was treating the whole process as an exercise in Zen Sewing, Being In The Moment and You’ve Got All Night, There’s No Need To Hurry. It was horrendously fiddly, and I’m just glad that I’ve used this fabric right up, so I don’t ever have to sew with it again. It turned out a bit tight in the body, because this is thicker fabric than any other I’ve used for the Belcarra, but also because I’d shaved rather too much off the hip flare. But I thought it would be ok, and I could go ahead and wear it.
On Tuesday, I was all set to wear this top to work, tried it on and decided it wasn’t right after all. I really wasn’t comfortable with it being that snug in the body, and it was really a smidge too short. So I changed to the Imperfect Polka Dots version, which I’d just finished, and spent the work day asking myself “What could I do to turn this into a wearable piece?” Add a bit more mesh to the bottom, that’s what. It gave me the extra length I needed, and allowed me to split the side seams a little, so that it wasn’t so tight around the abdomen. It’s one of those Design Features that is born of necessity, but actually works pretty well!
So altogether, I made a couple of very minor changes to the pattern – I didn’t add the cuffs, and used bias binding made from the black fabric instead, using the same for the neckline, to give the top structure as the mesh would be too floppy there. I wanted the colour contrast too. I did reduce the hip flare, but having mucked it up, I probably would go much more gently with that another time. I used French seams to make sure there would be no raw edges available to fray in future (which did make it that teensy bit harder to do the split on the sides). And of course, I added about 12cm of mesh to the bottom, to claw back some length, so it’s longer than the original pattern.
This was not a pleasure to sew. Not at all. But now that it is finished, I can be less grumpy about it, because it has indeed turned out pretty cool. I’m enjoying wearing it today, and I think it’s going to be a useful addition to my wardrobe. Looking on the bright side, I’m fairly sure it’s never going to need ironing, because it’s so resistant, and not having to iron a thing is always good in my book.