I decided to go with making my own version this blouse found on ShopRuche:
|Inspiration blouse by Ruche|
I suspect that my fabric choice might have partially been the source of some of the pain. If you read the "Suggested fabrics" on the pattern's web page, you might notice that they're all lightweight wovens: "Crepe, viscose, silk, any soft woven with drape". So what did I choose? A lightweight ponte. As someone who usually knows better, why did I go with the ponte? Because with all of that piping, it seemed like a lightweight woven might not be substantial enough--I had a suspicion (and this might be the case--this top hasn't been reviewed or blogged about much) that all of that piping, especially on that long vertical column would change the hand of the fabric, and I felt like I wanted something beefier than, say, a voile to stand up to the piping. I also thought that using a knit would increase the wearability of the top, since it would likely be much more comfortable than a piped woven blouse. In hindsight, I think I overshot a bit, and it was a huge pain to apply that much piping to a fabric with stretch.
I think that the end result is cute, but it's not my favorite thing that I've made:
|StyleArc Amber modeled by me|
The construction of this top was a pain, too, as I alluded to, which is probably coloring my opinion of the finished garment. The piping is applied to overlay panels, which are then topstitched onto the top itself. I feel like I would have gotten more precision had the panels been pieced and the piping applied directly into the seams. You can't really tell this from the line drawing, so that's why I'm telling you in this blog post. I went through a LOT of Wonder Tape to stabilize the edges of those panels and get everything placed accurately. (Note to others: Follow the suggestions in the pattern of fusing interfacing to all of the panel pieces. I omitted this step because I was afraid that it would add too much bulk, and I'm sure that didn't help things.)
Here's the back view:
|StyleArc Amber - back view|
As far as sizing goes, I sewed a size 20, which was the size I ordered last summer when I was about one clothing size smaller than I am now. (My current measurements match the StyleArc size 22.) However, I figured that between the ease in the top and stretch of my fabric, I could get away with the 20 without any grading. Doing a flat pattern measurement and comparing it to my Jalie raglan t-shirt pattern confirmed that the size 20 should be okay for me.
I know that some sewists are intimidated by the "minimal/order-of-construction instruction" companies like StyleArc and HotPatterns, so I'll be doing a blog post next week to show how the panels are constructed with the piping. Both companies are very plus size-friendly and offer some unique styles that you don't find with other pattern companies. Here's the front panel, a little more close-up:
|StyleArc Amber detail shot, complete with cat hair!|
Is anyone participating in Me-Made-May? I've sewn most of the tops that I wear regularly and all of my dresses and skirts, so I'm not sure how much of a "challenge" it would be for me. (Today, I'm wearing a SBCC Tonic tee with my Mabel skirt.) With the chaos in our house (toddler + dog), it would be kind of a pain to photograph my outfit every day, but I could certainly list what I'm wearing (including my me-made item) in a weekly roundup-style blog post, I guess. What are others doing?