A butterfly print Pony Tank
Butterfly prints have had a pretty bad rap in the fashion media over the last few years. According to Cosmo’s list they are high on the list of things you shouldn’t wear as a grown up. Well, lovely readers, you know my unrepeatable response to that, don’t you? As a plus size sewer careering down the hill towards 50 with embarrassing speed, I think I’ve earnt the right to wear anything I darn well please. From kitties to elephants, Chinese lanterns to teapots, I never feel more at home than when sporting a conversational print. And so, may I present to you … butterflies. Bloomin’ huge ones at that.
Using up stash
This fabric has been lurking in the sewing shed for a good year (maybe even two). I bought it from myfabrics to make a Moneta, yep, you remember those years, before we realised that unfortunately the drafting on Colette patterns for us plus size gals was
appalling a slightly different approach that needed some work (I’ll let you decide which of those comments is more appropriate). And so I pulled out this pretty expensive viscose jersey and cut out a Moneta. It was a total pain in the arse to cut out, like some kind of shape shifting fabric river which should have been a warning to me! I persevered and decided that my wibly wobbly cutting lines would work out fine once it was made up, and so I pressed on with the bodice.
It was a disaster. I think the problem was the daisy Moneta I made previously was a much more forgiving fabric. It was more robust than this version and stretched in the right places, perhaps also my bust was a little higher in those days. I tried to sort it out, really, and forged ahead with adding a maxi-length skirt. I don’t know what madness it is that fogs your brain on a garment that’s obviously not right in the early stages, nor the heady optimism that makes you continue sewing regardless, hopeful that it will all come together in the end, but it’s pretty intoxicating. Sadly, all sewn together I looked like a butterfly coated sausage. Quite possibly one of my worst ever makes. I’m not going to lie, I had a bit of a tantrum and threw the whole gaddamn thing into a pile in the corner of the sewing shed.
A brief interlude
*Tumbleweeds blow through the sewing shed and fourteen months pass.*
I found it there a few weeks ago when I was having one of my new season sewing shed tidy ups and picked it up to throw it out. Dang, though, I do love those butterflies, I thought, as I caught sight of a beautiful acid yellow wing peeking out of the black plastic sack. I shook the dress out …. and decided I could salvage the skirt fabric if I chopped it off at the serged waist. A little hacking later and the metre and a bit for the skirt was refolded and eased back into the stash awaiting a project just right for its fragile fabric ways.
Cue Meg at Cookin’ and Craftin’ and her continually inspiring makes that pop up in my Instagram feed. When I saw her tester version of the new Chalk and Stone Pony Tank pattern, I knew right away that it was ‘the one’. It fit so nicely at the shoulders and then flared to cover any potential for wobbly bits. Perfect for me! I was in such a rush to get this pattern on the table that I had to email to my bloke at work (I was in meetings all day) so he could print it out for me to start that night … luckily we’ve been together long enough for him to know that these things matter and when I need instant sewing gratification I need it RIGHT NOW!
Assembling the beast
It was so quick and easy to tape together and then cut out (I used scissors for the main body pieces and my rotary cutter for the bands). Boom. I decided to risk cutting the straight 18 and see what happened. I am such a sewing renegade. It was really easy to put together and the instructions for the v neck were really good and broken down step by step. The only thing I did find was that after sewing the bands on as per the instructions I felt they were a touch on the slim side and maybe should have been another couple of mm wider. However, when I tried it on I thought the slender nature of the bands really made it look more RTW than handmade, so it was a nice design touch. The moral of the story? Trust the pattern designer.
Overall the fit is spot on, amazing for something with no alterations and most satisfying of all is the no gape cut of the armholes … perfection! I love the gentle flare below the bust, just enough for comfort and swingyness but not too much. I might add a little bit more width to the bottom on my next one just so it doesn’t cling to my arse quite so much (although my top half is a perfect 18 my bottom half not quite so much.)
I used the trick of knit tape to stabilise the hem, and it really is fantastic stuff and stops everything slipping around when you’re trying to get a neat hem finish. So there we have it … a simple, quick and immensely wearable staple for my wardrobe.
In other news
Since my last blog post much has happened – I’ve had a weird mystery illness that has resulted in episodes of anaphylactic shock, paramedics and epi pens (all very dramatic!) My auto immune system has gone haywire, and although it’s a little more under control now than in the spring, I have lost many months of useful sewing time in the zombie haze of horse strength antihistamines. I have slowly weaned myself off the drugs, and as long as I don’t use skin creams, add any new stuff into my diet or touch alcohol the effects are minimised and bearable. (Yep, the alcohol thang is hard, real hard.) Still, I am surviving till my appointment with the immunology specialist next week. Meanwhile, my bloke has been diagnosed with late Stage 4 renal failure, so we’ve both had a big run of medical appointments, visiting dialysis wards, making notes and frowny doctors. It’s been rough, but we are both starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
I also lost my sewing muse last year, when the last of my cats, Mr Ferris, aged a perfectly respectable sixteen and a bit years, purred his last purr and shut his beautiful green eyes just a few days after my birthday. My grief was immense. I stopped making things, whether sewing knitting or crochet and at work I found my creativity had abandoned me. I knew it would take a long time until I was ready for a new furry companion.
Now it’s almost exactly twelve months later, and we were asked if we could find room in our hearts to adopt two little tabby kittens, born to an unsuspecting parent (Charlie the Cat thought he was a boy til he got really fat, when to the vet to find out what was wrong with his rapid weight gain and his pregnancy was revealed.) We welcomed these little minxes into our lives at the end of May and they are just adorable. With their tiny purry presence my sewjo returned and I’ve been restudying patterns, sorting through fabric, cutting out and making ever since. It’s a wonderful feeling.
The ‘girls’ love sewing patterns, scissors and bobbins with a passion so they are fitting in just fine. It makes me smile every time they hear the rustle of a pattern pieces and like all cats, rush to lay across the middle of it all, just where you want to cut. #catternweights. Despite these furry handicaps I have a viscose Cashmerette Webster top all ready to go, alongside the must have of the season, a Vogue kimono dress, so details and photos coming soon.