Hello and welcome back to my blog!
I am especially excited about this post as its subject is one of the reasons I set up my blog in the first place. Today’s update is all about… [drumroll sounds] …the Simplicity Sewing Challenge. This is an annual sewing competition organised by the maker of Simplicity, New Look and Burda sewing patterns. In previous years entrants had to have a blog (hence why I set this up) but now anyone able to share their pictures on social media can take part.
The competition is split into five categories – Best Dressmaker, Best Vintage Make, Best Newcomer, Best Children’s Wear and Best Blogger Feature. I decided to enter the vintage make and blogger categories as I love retro clothes. I was so excited when my free pattern, Simplicity 1365, dropped through the letterbox.
As you can see, it is a 1970s pattern for a summer top, with four style variants available. However, despite its 1970s origins, the design strongly reminded me of the Tiki trends of the 1950s, when men and women swapped their smart suits for Hawaiian shirts, floral sundresses and flower garlands. Tiki bars were the place to be and rum cocktails were the drinks of choice – sounds good to me! The Tiki dresses worn by women were often halter neck with similar shaped necklines as those on the pattern and so they became the inspiration for my vintage make.
Now I had my idea, I set about searching for the perfect fabrics and you can imagine my delight when I discovered the amazing Alexander Henry print below. Despite how fabulous it is, I felt it would be too much to use it throughout the garment so I decided to opt for design A and use the print for the collar and waist sections. I could then break it up with a plain fabric in a bright colour, perhaps red or fuchsia. I was also keen to include a contrasting bright trim on the collar and so experimented with pom-poms and ric-rac. Underneath the picture of the fabric are photographs of my mood boards, which were so much fun to make.
By this point I had a clear vision of how I wanted my finished garment to look but I decided to spend time making a toile. As the top is simply tied at the front and back, it does not present the same fitting challenges as tailored garments with zips and buttons but I still wanted to be on the safe side. I also thought it would give me a greater understanding of how the top is constructed and, more importantly, whether to use pom-poms or ric-rac.
I made the toile from curtain lining in a similar weight to the cotton fabric I planned to use in the actual garment. The fit was pretty much perfect but I did add a small dart to take it in slightly at the bust, sadly I’m not particularly blessed in this area! I also tried out my trims on each collar section and, after much deliberation, opted for the ric-rac. I felt the print was busy enough already and the ric-rac would give a cleaner finish.
With all of the planning done, I was now ready to begin my top. I had settled on a lovely pink for my contrasting fabric and I was thrilled with the overall combination of this with the funky print and bright yellow trim. Top A comprises seven pattern pieces which have to be cut out two or four times from the fabric. This is because the top is fully lined, which gives it a wonderful weight and also means you don’t have to spend time neatening seams.
Because my printed fabric for the waist sections and collar has a white background, I bought half a metre of plain white cotton to line it with. I wanted the white to remain bright without the pattern showing through from behind. I also considered carefully where to place the pattern pieces on the printed fabric to make the best use of the design. I was particularly keen to have the three dancing ladies across the front waist section.
The pattern instructions are easy to follow and I actually made the top in a day, although this does not include the time spent pre-washing and cutting out the fabrics. The only part I found a little tricky is attaching the collar but I took my time and managed to get it to lie flat and meet in the middle.
Below are pictures of me wearing my finished top, kindly taken by mum, as well as a photo from my holiday in Madeira.
Thanks for reading and I hope you like it! #simplicitysewingchallenge