I was practically doing cartwheels last month when I was asked if I would like to test the latest pattern release from Amity at Lolita Patterns. As you probably know, once you reach the boundaries of “plus size” sewing patterns, choice thins dramatically, often veering dramatically into the ubiquitous human cube/circus tent silhouette. For me, that is not a good look, so anything I can do to help promote indie designers who graciously include plus size grading in their patterns is a given.
Olive is a little fitted peplum top, with a couple of options, from a sheer draped overlay to optional flower details and a lovely pleated sleeve head. The pattern comes in sizes 2 to 24, so there’s plenty of scope in there for almost every body shape! There have been some truly lovely versions on the blog tour (check them out in the links at the bottom) from crisp white linen to teal chiffon, the pattern can look very different depending on your fabric choice and styling options. I am always very cautious of flowery drape over my capacious bosom, so I thought View B was more my cup of tea.
This is the first Lolita pattern I’ve made and I was extremely happy with the way the pdf pattern went together. Maybe it was being able to match all the tiny little skull icons when piecing it together (appealing to my inner goth) that made it so quick and easy, or the fact that every single part matched perfectly (no, really), but it was a breeze. Do pay attention to the cutting instructions though, especially if you are making the version with the overlay, as many pieces should only be cut on a single layer.
I cut a straight 18 for this top and it was an almost perfect fit straight out of the pack. Amity does tell you to choose your size based on your hip measurement (so that you get a nice fit on the peplum) and that’s a really helpful note, as if I had started with the size 16 I think there wouldn’t have been quite enough booty room. I made my muslin from some really crisp cotton and was pretty pleased with the overall fit and design. Now, I don’t know about you but when I have made a muslin I do lots of parading around the sewing room in it, posing this way and that in front of my full length mirror to check I am happy with both the fit and the overall look of a piece. Normally I have pins in my mouth as I tackle any errant or ill fitting seams (yeah, I know, living on the edge). Apologies to any health and safety conscious sewers who are currently wincing (I blame my mother). Anyhow, somewhere in the midst of these proceedings my bloke walked in and made that face, you know, the ‘Hmmmm, I’m not sure’ one. There was a pause before he said, “Wow, you look like Krystal Carrington.”
My sewing brain screeched to an immediate stop. Could it be true? Was I really rocking the look of the ultimate 80s power dresser who could simply biff people out of the way with a twist of her shoulders if they pissed her off? She took 80’s power dressing and shoulder pads to a whole new level. Now, it’s no secret I am a child of the 80’s and spent my teenage years draped in ruffles and velvet waistcoats – thanks Duran Duran and the New Romantics. At the time, both myself and Princess Diana (then Lady Spencer), could be found sporting sheer blouses with lace inserts and ruffles teamed with burgundy velveteen knickerbockers. You did read that right first time, I said knickerbockers. *sigh* Please note, fashion police, I have paid for those crimes repeatedly over the years in all the photos of me in aforementioned outfit.
I checked out my puff sleeves in the mirror again. Yep, they were of an extreme puff level due to the firm and crisp cotton I was working in. I needed to find something with more drape. As you know, I have a lot of fabric in my stash. Actually, I have decided to adopy Carolyn’s strategy and start calling it my Collection (doesn’t that sound distinctly more purposeful?). So, back to … the Collection … despite rummaging in every colour set and storage box I couldn’t find any fabric that would work, everything was either too firm or the wrong kind of print – I have very little in the drapey section. As I sat back surrounded by piles of lush textiles, my eyes caught sight of this lovely polka dot print in the corner. It’s a funny kind of colour, like a slately grey purple which I’ve decided to call chocca-mocca-lilac. I picked it up on my last trip to Goldhawk Road. It would look lovely in the top, but … it was a knit fabric. Hmmm, controversial. Would the lovely Olive top work in a stretch jersey?
With no experience of making a pattern designed for wovens in a knit, I used a mix of luck and common sense to guide me. I cut a whole size smaller throughout (back to the size 16) and changed the order of construction too. With a knit I could do away with the back seam, side zip and the facings. The order of sewing was now construction of the main upper bodice I then serged the waistband front and back together before attaching and likewise with the peplum. The sleeves I sewed on to the bodice flat before doing the bodice side seams. Lastly I nicked the idea from my Moneta dress of simply hemming the neck edge which worked a treat.
It was a pretty fantastic fit for a renegade make and it was super quick and easy. The ultimate lazy girl make perhaps as it has minimal fit issues because of the stretch and no time consuming fastenings to worry about. Please forgive me the creased sleeves in the photos but I wore it to the office the day before so it has held up pretty well. I will be making a few changes to my next one, grading down a little more at the waist for a slightly more defined silhouette, narrowing the shoulders a smidge, maybe adding another inch to the peplum and reducing the sleeve width slightly, but these are all tiny tweaks to what is a suprisingly flattering top on me. How lovely to have a truly plus sized design that is figure defining rather than hiding. I still fancy a version in a woven fabric, especially after falling in love with Carolyn’s ethereal white linen make, and I have now learnt that as long as I avoid anything too thick or crisp I can avoid any previous shoulder issues.
A big thank you to Amity who gave me the opportunity to test her new pattern, you should also check out her other lovely patterns. I have seen so many wonderful versions of the Gunmetal Dressthat it is now firmly on my to sew list.
Lastly, a note about my newest bag. Bloke and I recently went to Brittany, France to celebrate our birthdays. In the winding cobbled streets of our medieval town on the hill we spied this lovely little shop with this bag in the window. Every day on one of our walks along the ramparts or across the town square to the market I would press my nose against the glass of the window to gaze at its floral lusciousness, yet the shop remained firmly fermé. We found out that as it was the May Day holiday many of the little boutique shops had closed for the week. I resigned myself to the fact that bag of wonder and I were destined never to be united. Then, on our very last day, I noticed that there was a light on in the tiny shop. I tentatively pushed the door to hear a tinkling bell announcing my arrival … and the bag became mine. Oh Bag of Floral Gorgeousness, your ability to make me smile has in no way diminished since we returned to English climes. My latest accessory love affair.