One Pattern, Two Wardobes: Grace

This post was first seen on The Monthly Stitch and entered into the contest One Pattern, Two Ways on June 9th, 2016.

When it comes to capsule wardrobes, I’ve always been a little uncertain about how they applied to my own personal closet. I’ve finally decided that it’s because I essentially have two wardrobes; one of flowy greens and creams, and another of elegant blacks and reds. So, in other words, this contest suits my closet needs perfectly!

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Enter the Grace Corset Top by Named Clothing! When I saw this pattern, I fell instantly in love! Grace is a lovely semi-fitted corset top with flat-felled seams to give it structure. While I love the way corsets look, I hate how constricting they actually feel. This top was the perfect compromise, so much so that I ended up making three (if we’re not counting a muslin), and I already have another almost done on my cutting table! In this post, you’ll see the ones I made second and third, so please look out for Version 1 in the RTW contest!

This is the first indie pattern that I’ve ever sewn, and the first PDF pattern as well! I have printed out a few, but this is the first one that’s made it past the muslin stage.

Downloading the pattern was almost problematic!  After flipping through all the paying options (never payed with PayPal before, which is what I had to use), I wanted to see right away what I got. I downloaded it on my tablet without actually saving it, which is not a good idea! Since I had been looking at so many pattern companies, I had forgotten that you can only download a pattern  a finite number of times (only 2 or 3) and just barely managed to actually save the download before I ran out.

Putting together the PDF was pretty easy. The Victory Patterns’ book, Boundless Style has a better layout with notches and paper trimming marks, but I didn’t have any issues with this pattern as there weren’t that many pattern pieces. I traced out a size 8, my RTW size, which the sizing seems to follow. I left out the shoulder straps, since I didn’t want big bows at my shoulders.

The PDF comes with seams allowances, unlike the paper version, but they changed with the flat felled seams, going from 1 cm (3/8 in) to 2 cm (6/8 in) depending on which one is folded over and stitched. It’s really confusing when tracing out the pattern and trying to envision how it’s supposed to go together, but once you sew it up, it makes a lot more sense.

That done, I played around with embellishment ideas, as most of my projects lately have seemed rather plain.

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(I ended up doing another sheet, but I used ideas from the most basic designs.)

The sketching helped me narrow down which colors I wanted to make; namely black, cream, red and green.

Next, I had to think long and hard about my fabric choices. I knew I wanted something with a woven pattern, like my favorite button downs, but I was worried about what sort of prices I would find for some nice quality shirting. These are the two fabrics I ended up with.

Oops, I meant oversized men’s shirts! It turns out, the best sources of shirting materials is at your local thrift store! I had gone in to buy 100% cotton shirts, but the white one is a silk/cotton blend, and the red one is linen/cotton! Since they werthrifted, I payed $4 for the white one and $2 for the red! Yea for cheap, luxurious material!

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Here’s an up close pictures of the cream fabric and buttons.

The cream shirt started off as a 2XT, so I had plenty  of fabric to work with, enough that I can make a nice color blocked version.

To pay homage to the original garment (and thinking of last year’s inspiring installment of the Refashioners), I wanted to incorporate as many of the existing shirt elements as possible.  While the pocket was too large overall to use, I let the flat felled side seams run across the side and back pieces, which looked very deliberate next to the larger flat felled seams. I also included the split hem detail, though it ended up more on the back than the side in the cream version, and re-used the button placket. For the straps, I folded over the sleeve hem one more time to make it a tube, which happened to be the perfect length for me.

Here is my finished look!

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Bonus pupcake: Shennany!

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So many images for this one, mainly because I was trying to find a spot where the shirt wasn’t back lit. Also, it was really, really hot (yea for heat of the day in Texas!) as evidenced by this hot pupcake:

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(A Princess in her pool.)

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Other details: I added some of the extra buttons (the spares found on the inside, and then one from the collar) to the front part of the side seam (the seam placement is delightfully unique). I’m not sure how much I like the high contrast of the dark brown on cream, especially in pictures, as the lovely, subtle print is lost.

This pattern is my first time sewing flat felled seams, and they were a lot easier than expected! This pattern is also really quick to sew, once you’ve got the details down, but this one took me just a little bit longer, as the added slip of the silk made the first dramatic curve of the princess seam hard to keep even when finishing the seam.

Other things I changed:

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While I meant to actually try button holes for the first time, I was lazy resourceful and used snaps, which are invisible on the outside. I like how hidden the snaps are and I wasn’t going to potentially ruin a shirt I really liked.

Another thing I changed:

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I omitted the facings and finished both the top and the bottom with bias tape.With the flat felled seams, I thought that the hem would get too bulky, but I also wanted to save length. I’m a pretty modest person, and I don’t like cleavage or crop tops. Since the bias tape had a 1/4 inch seam line, I gained 1/2 inch in length on the top and bottom. I can’t imagine loosing any length, so I’m really glad I did that. The finished size of the bias tape I used was the same as the flat felled seams, so it meshes very well.

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I also re-used the tags from the original garment (the brand name was embroidered with a giant pineapple on the inside yoke, so I left it out), mainly so I could keep the washing instructions, but also to laugh at the original size.

Construction-wise, this one and the red one are very similar.

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I used the same bias binding, so the length is the same, but added the tag to the side seam, since the brand tag was actually detachable this time.

Since this one was a large instead of 2XT, a few things changed due to the different proportions. The side seams became more apparent, which I liked, but the button distance also increased, which meant I had to add more snaps.

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The original seams began to blend in with the fabric instead of being a design detail. Luckily, I had a smaller lace that highlighted the seams perfectly, which I also ended up adding to the straps.

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So I guess you want to see what it looks like on.

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The red one, I think, is my favorite one yet, but we’ll see which ones I end up wearing the most. All in all, these are hands down the most beautiful garments that I’ve ever sewn and I desperately want to make them in every color I wear (not that I have many colors left) and embellish them to pieces.

Even more awesome, these are also some of the most sturdiest garment I’ve ever crafted! The flat felled seams give a completely reliable seam finish that looks incredibly polished, and the button-downs have washing instructions, so I know the exact care they need. It feels absolutely amazing to have an item of clothing that I know will last.

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I only got stumped two times, even though it’s an average level pattern; once due to user error (cut out the same piece twice), and the other because there was no image on how to line up the side and back seams (but there was a drawing for the front to side and back to back). For the first issue, I sewed it on backwards and then top stitched the seam to match the others. For the second issue, I lined up the pieces and it ended up being pretty clear which of the two ends was shorter without pulling out the pattern again. These issues, however, were only problematic the first time I sewed it up, so it doesn’t reflect these garments.

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(I forgot to change to the right bra, since I realized shortly before taking pictures that the cream one is a wee bit transparent)

The instructions were easy and nice to follow, but mainly I used them for how to sew up the flat felled seams and how to position the pieces.

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I didn’t do any other adjustment, no FBA or taking in the side seams, which I normally do (I’m a D/C cup with a ridiculously tiny waist and under-bust). I thought I might have to actually go down in bust size, but honestly, it’s all in the placement of the straps.

I might make the straps an extra 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger, maybe draft down the armpit curve (didn’t need another 1/2 inch there), but none of those things have really bothered me so far.

I would definitely recommend this pattern, 10/10, as it’s quick, can be made with either reclaimed fabric or a small yardage, and has very unique style lines, but I would suggest starting with a crisp cotton to get the feel of the pattern. I also recommend a fabric that has no wrong side, because you want the flat felled seams to the outside (or at least I did) and I had to flip it inside out a few times the first time I sewed it.

 

Also, keep an eye out on my blog, Tea and Pupcakes, for some styling posts, because this is an amazingly versatile pattern, that can be dressed up or down and worn in  just about any season.

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