a couple of projects never quite made it to the blog during crazy december, and while some will remain on the cutting room floor eternally, some, for example those for which my family suffered through frigid 7:30am photo shoots, i feel must obtain their deserved moment of internet glory.
i refer, of course, to the late lunch tunic by pattern powerhouse liesl gibson. liesl is like my sewing mom. i try to do right by her, but we have very different personality types–she, particular and exacting, me, freewheeling bordering on careless. even her simplest patterns are constructed in these unique and clever ways that makes it very difficult to alter or modify them unless you have a degree in fashion or architecture or maybe both, and for someone like myself who really likes to sew from the hip, i have had some tense late nights sewing with liesl. she just wants what’s best for me, but in the moment, i just get frustrated with her and wish she’d STEP OFF. and then later, i find myself using one of her techniques in another project because while it takes more energy, it ends up being easier and cleaner in the long run, and i appreciate what she was getting at all along. sewing mom.
anyway, i suppose it’s appropriate then that i made this top for my actual mom’s birthday, which unfortunately falls the first week of december, which was for me also the opening of art fair, my big job interview, and the week that all my good fortune leading up to art fair ran out. a nasty virus ripped through our house, leaving our throats covered in ulcers, our beds soaked with sweat, and our bodies aching. it was so bad that i took an entire 3/4 of a day off, from everything. no sewing, no knitting, not even any reading. i was so sick i just lay in bed unmoving, turned on the tv for the kids and let them fend for themselves.
i think i set a new record that week for number of needles broken, machine, serger, and hand sewing, and at one point i actually sewed right through my finger. i continue to wonder mechanically how this happened, but i can tell you it was a major pain in my rear sewing with a big old bandage on my middle finger those last few precious days. obviously, my mom would have been totally gracious had her gift come late, but…where’s the fun in that? i sacrificed so much for art fair, without any guarantee it would be worthwhile (and indeed, basically nothing sold). so, it was important to me that it not turn me into a total jerk, and that i continue to do basic thinks like acknowledge my mother’s birthday on time.
of course, this meant i had to not only sew it, but also photograph it if i planned to ever blog it, with enough time to ship it to michigan by december 9. with the major febrile setbacks, you can be sure i made david get out of bed, shoved the kids in the stroller in jammies and dirty diapers at daybreak, and made them all tolerate a photo shoot on the coldest day this year. they were good sports though. and look at that beautiful morning light on the field of thistle! so worth it, right?
anyway, when liesl came out with her new liesl + co pattern line, i admit i was pretty stoked. the patterns are modern, classic and simple (and this week, they’re also on sale!!). you know with liesl the quality can’t be beat. it wasn’t hard for me to find an excuse to snag one of them. i had the fabric laying around for a few months beforehand, a heavier weight grey woven with white dots from harts that is so cute. i had it pegged for a dress for myself, but thought it would suit this tunic perfectly, especially for my mom.
eh, kinda no. i had a few problems with this pattern, my fever not the least of them. i admit, i did not make a muslin for this very loose fitting item. i just cut it based on the provided measurements in a size 4…i don’t recall if finished measurements are provided. if so, i didn’t pay attention to them and i should have. i sewed it up, tried it on, and i was SWIMMING in it. any longer and it would have been a mumu. i will also admit that in my haste, i did not appropriately mark the gathering start and stop points, and so mine is gathered all along the front seam, though i think the gathering is supposed to be localized under the placket. the material i chose was also a bit too bulky, so between the bulk and the diffuse gathers, it looked downright frumpy.
perhaps it’s just my anatomy, but the seam falls in a sort of weird/unflattering place. for me, it was basically straight across the apex of the bust (i wrote nipples at first but i guess that’s not sewing lingo?), so my options were a bit limited for how to cinch it in to give it a more flattering shape. see the bulk billowing off the seam in the photo below?
i went with a good old pleat in the back, taking it in probably at least 1.5-2″. i’m not sure liesl would approve, but i do think it made the piece quite a bit more flattering and i actually do like the added visual stimulation it gives. after seeing these photos, i also added a snap to the placket, since it was sort of drooping/wrinkling. and, i noted that my hair has passed its peak of beauty, moved into gross/scraggly territory, and probably could use a good hacking soon.
anyhow, the top didn’t go exactly as i or liesl had planned. i think my fabric choice was off, and i can definitely go down a size. however, i’m not done with the pattern–it’s liesl after all, so it has cool construction and great finishing (except sometimes i feel like there are easy finishing options that are totally left out or overlooked on her patterns, considering how precise the rest of them are, am i alone here?). i’d like to try it again in a smaller size and in something much lighter weight, like a voile, with the right gathering and maybe stripes, which have a lot of potential with the interesting piecing of this top. i still think on my body, the horizontal bust apex seam is totally weird and unflattering, but it’s a comfy shirt, even if it is a bit shapeless. most importantly (and a little surprisingly), my mom loves it and wears it all the time (though clearly, it being made by her daughter has something to do with this). this pattern isn’t at the top of my list, but i do have several others set aside with fabric selections already made…really hoping to squeeze in some new pieces for myself in the next couple of weeks!