Pattern Magic

For part of my ensemble for the final sewing bee task, I made a silk top.  There has been a bit of a delay in blogging this top, because I was struggling to get all the words in right order for this project  to make sense.

I wanted something special and went in search of inspiration.  This took me to my bookshelf, where I rediscovered the Pattern Magic books.  I spent a soccer match flicking through the pages and deciding which idea I could get to work in the given (very short) timeframe.  The resulting top has a unique curved inset and drape that allowed for interesting use of the plaid fabric. 

Drafting the pattern

The "kakurenbo", or hide and seek, concept appealed to me, where some flare is subtly concealed on the underside of the fabric. In the example in the book, the curves are quite tight. My reading of other people attempts at this design indicated that other sewers have had difficulty sewing up this design. I didn't want to make my sewing any more difficult than necessary for this tight week, so I opted for a single, large, symmetric curve instead of several smaller curves. I ended up combining this with the book's fundamental concept of inserting a circular design line, thereby eliminating the need for darts in the bodice. 

I started with a tank top pattern that I had previously drafted and was happy with (not that I can remember which tank top I started with now, but I know that it meant I didn't have to worry about gaping armholes or necklines etc).

I would have liked to continue the kakurenbo design on the back, but I only had 1 m of fabric to work with. Instead I just added a bit of flare to the back draft.

Here is my pattern.  I made a quick muslin, but it really just a nod in the direction of pattern making procedure, as I knew that I did not have a lot of time to mess about with the design, or a lot of fabric to work with.  If I make this up again, I would like to add a bit more depth to the draping under section of the flare.

Cutting Out

There is some seriously good pattern matching going on in this top. I have pattern matched the shoulder seams, the upper side seams, the centre back seams and (my big triumph!) across the curved inset The pattern matching across the curved inset created a strong rectangular frame for the neckline.
Cutting out the pattern pieces to achieve the required pattern matching of the plaid in this slippery silk was quite a task. First, I laid out a linen table cloth on my cutting table. I placed the silk on top of the tablecloth, straightening out the plaid stripes as best I could. I then pinned the top and bottom of each and every stripe to the table cloth, so that the stripes would stay straight and not slip around during cutting. I pinned and cut the upper bodice, making sure to centre the stripes on the CF of the bodice. I then marked the major stripes on my pattern piece. I matched this pattern piece to the lower bodice pattern piece, transferring the marks where the stripes would intersect, and used this marked pattern piece to position the cutting of the lower bodice. I used the cutout front bodice to position the back bodice pieces to allow for pattern matching at the shoulders and side seams.

Constructing the top

I used 6 mm seam allowances for the curved sections, which allowed them to be sewn together relatively easily. Apart from that, construction was straightforward. I didn't have enough fabric for self facings, so I used a lightweight cotton instead.

I have had trouble making neat curved hems in silk tops before, so this time I tried out using a bias binding finish on the hem. It went much better than my previous narrow hemming (though I will unpick and resew a few sections in the leisurely week that follows this contest), so I will use this method again.

The back neck if finished with a hook and loop closure. 

Some more photos...

I like the play of plaid in the side view.  I do need to take in the underarms a little, which should be an easy fix (I just have not gotten around to it yet).  ALl the tank tops I made last year are a smidge tight (I found I made a tracing error when copying my sloper to oak tag...bummer!!), so I added extra ease to the side seams, but need to take a little bit of it back out.

The silk fabric is from deep in my stash, but I think it was originally from EmmaOneSock.   At the time of purchase, I thought it looked a bit Marni-esque.  It brings me much joy to have finally sewn it up.


  1. beautiful and wonderful. i always admire stripe play. when you were layering the silk and the tablecloth, where did the paper pattern fit in? was it above the silk with the stripes marked on it?

    1. Thanks Barbara, The paper pattern sat on top of the silk, which was on top of the table cloth. I cut one piece, then marked the stripes on that pattern piece, then lined up the seamlines with the next pattern piece, marked where the stripes needed to be on the next piece and then cut. First I cut the yoke, then the backs, and finally the lower front.

  2. The front stripe rectangular is just amazing! As well as your journey of self drafting your patterns. Reminds me always that I finally should start working through Suzy Furrers craftsy classes....

  3. I loved your entire outfit. So pretty and just perfect for our upcoming stinking hot Christmas season.