Friday, September 26, 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Kate & Rose Zsalya Top


It's that time of year again, my dear goslings. Not autumn, which has yet to reach us here in Texas, but something just as exciting. Happy Selfish Sewing Week! Twice a year, the lovely Rachael hosts a week long celebration of that most joyful kind of sewing: that which we do for ourselves. 

If you've read my blog for long, you know that this is the only sort of sewing I do. For me, sewing is pure relaxation. It's an opportunity for me to revel in luxurious fabrics, interesting patterns, and indulge my love of pretty clothes. I'm proprietary about my sewing time, because it's exactly that. My time. So, it should come as no surprise that I'm a big, big fan of Selfish Sewing Week. We should all get to revel in that indulgence, from time to time. 

This week, I chose to make a pattern I've long had my eye on. The Zsalya is a beautiful yoked blouse and dress duo, from Kate & Rose patterns. There are two sleeve variations, one short and one long, each with embellishments that echo the blouse's subtle crossover v-neck.  It reminds me of the classic artist's smock, a look that lends itself well to such modern updates.

Y'all, this pattern is precisely what I love in a blouse. Each detail, from the crossover yoke to the shaped sleeve band, is thoughtful. This isn't a blouse you could easily recreate with a Big 4 pattern, but a work of true design insight. It's loose, without being shapeless. It's interesting, while flattering one's figure. It works beautifully in all those flowing fabrics we love so much: silks, lawns, and challis.

For this first Zsalya, I chose the green polka dotted cotton voile that was leftover from my long ago Anna Dress. With a bit under 2 yards, I had just enough to make the short sleeved version of this blouse. No, the sleeves did not actually make the final product. We'll get to that...

To begin, let's talk about construction. This blouse was an absolute blast to make! Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had this much fun sewing up a pattern. The Zsalya construction is a bit like a Choose Your Own Sewing Adventure. In the instructions, there are two ways to do all the hardest steps, depending on your skill level and current motivation. Instead of the Quick and Dirty, which I appreciated from afar, I chose to do everything the Clean and Fancy route. 

Of course. My love of fancy is so well-documented, it's in this blog title. 

This particular fancy method involved a series of pattern flips that ensured a lovely inner finish. The crossover yoke's seams are faced and top-stitched, just as pretty inside as out. For a relatively quick project, the techniques involved in getting a perfectly finished yoke made for a mentally stimulating bout of sewing. Each step was well explained, well diagrammed, and easy to accomplish. The instructions hold your hand every step of the way, if you're worried about the geometry involved. This is more than your average pattern, for sure. 

The back: I love the curved yoke, but the fit here is a bit odd. Next time, I will be making some adjustments there, as well.

Naturally, I made a few adjustments to this pattern. Going in, I imagined this blouse paired with skinny jeans, for those nights when I just can't be bothered to put on a dress. That doesn't happen often, admittedly, but pretty casual blouses are a hole in my wardrobe. To make it more suited for that purpose, I lengthened the blouse by three inches and omitted the sleeves. 

Well, I eventually omitted the sleeves. After attaching one short sleeve, I tried the blouse on and was unhappy. In any other fabric, they would have been so, so cute. Combined with the longer length and mass of polka dots, however, they just didn't work. I was overrun by dots! With the trusty seam ripper, I took them off again and finished the sleeves with self-fabric bias tape. 

My other alterations were fairly minor. When you have a generous rear end, as I do, longer tops can end up blousing in unfortunate manners. With the added length, that was something to worry about, so I added a four-inch slit at each side seam. Not only do they give a greater range of movement, but the slits preserve the draped quality of the original pattern lines. Additionally, I made a small (1/2 inch) full bust adjustment, then rotated the dart back into the pattern's original gathers. So easy! 

In the end, I adore this blouse. In fact, I already a have long-sleeved Liberty version halfway sewn up! I took a rounded shoulder adjustment on that one and left the original length, in my new quest to perfect the Zsalya. This top is exactly the sort of garment I love for chillier months. It dresses up beautifully with skirts and boots, but can be smartly casual with jeans and a cardigan. Plus, you know, it's super fun to sew. The Zsalya has tried-and-true Mary pattern written all over it. 

If you're interested in winning a copy of Zsalya, or any of the other patterns featured in Selfish Sewing Week, hop on over to Imagine Gnats. Rachael has a fantastic giveaway ending tonight, which will have forty-one lucky winners. How fantastic is that? In the meantime, check out the other featured stitchers and indie designers participating in Selfish Sewing Week. Happy sewing!

Featured Stitchers

Featured Indie Pattern Designers

Note: The Zsalya top was provided to me, as part of participation in Selfish Sewing Week. The opinions herein are my own and completely unbiased. Though, let's be honest, I chose to sew this top because its style is right up my alley!

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