Friday, February 22, 2013

Salme Peplum Top

Last year I read the following piece of sartorial advice: if you're old enough to remember a trend the last time it was in, you're too old to wear it the next time. While I think most fashion "rules" should be taken with a grain (or more) of salt - I have a very dear, very trendy and not-in-the-least-muttony friend of fifty - I was delighted to have a credible-sounding excuse for another very dear friend of twenty as to why I wouldn't be venturing out in a ra-ra or bubble skirt any time soon.

But I think I can squeeze in on the peplum trend; I vaguely remember them in the eighties, but was several years off ever wearing one. (Mind you, my Barbies sported a number of peplum dresses, skirts and tops, including a fairly nightmarishly garish fuchsia and purple one.)

Enter Salme Patterns. I came across this designer on the fantastic list of independent designers at A Good Wardrobe and was smitten. Her designs are so elegant, with a really timeless quality. And I couldn't believe the price - I would as happily have paid double what she charges.

I found a lovely medium weight red bengaline, which is a fabric I haven't worked with much before. It had a bit of stretch to it, but it doesn't seem to have affected the fit.(If it wasn't for the fact that I bought it three weeks ago, I'd suspect that subconsciously I was reacting to the knitting fail from the last post: ("Hello tailored red - take that, shapeless grey!") Here 'tis:

It's the first time I've used a pattern in which I've had to add the seam allowance (very glad I read through the instructions first!) Wasn't too ardous a task, though I'm glad I did up a muslin first. The back (which I've just noticed I didn't photograph - narrow keyhole opening, with a self-covered button - looove those - at the neck) fit like a dream; the front I had to tweak a bit, what with me not being a standard size. I'm very happy with the final fit though.

The pattern instructed that the front opening edges be sewn together. I didn't, simply because it sat so nicely as it was, thanks to the weight and stiffness of the fabric. I'd really like to try it in a similarly weighted but drapier fabric, which would need the neck edges sewn to sit well but also give the peplum a softer "flowier" look. This one's unashamedly a bit theatrical!

I don't often go for patterns that are too obviously trendy; if I'm going to go to the trouble of making them, I want them to last and pull their wardrobe weight. But this one seduced me with how classic the top section is. Plus, once the current trend is exhausted, I figure with a bit of extra labour I can reshape the peplum so it's tailored to the hips. So points awarded for fashionableness and longevity!

I learned a new technique in hemming too - how to ease and steam excess fabric into shape. I'd read - well, skimmed - this in my new copy of Couture Sewing Techniques (highly recommended. Just saying...), but this pattern talked me through it very clearly. Sew the widest possible stitch 5mm in from outer edge, then fold over and pin. Pattern warned that many pins were necessary. And it was so...

Use an iron to gently steam hem. With enough steam (and pins) fabric will shrink to fit. Then fold over again, repeat process then sew hem with normal stitch. There you have a pucker-free, excess-free hem!

So a slightly happier post this time around! PLUS, I've found my fabric for the Sew For Victory 40s Sewalong! It's not from my stash, since I donated all of my stash when we moved house two years ago, so it doesn't tick that particular "make do and mend" box in the guidelines. But I guess with a bit of creative thinking you could call it thrifty, since I chose the best quality I could afford - I want this dress to still be wearable in fifty years. And that, I'm told, is genuine economy! (Besides, I really, really wanted silk...)

I've managed to get past my momentary "I'm never bothering to knit anything again ever" sulk, and so now on the needles we have a lightweight cotton jumper for my almost twelve year old girl (Twelve! Still getting my head around that...) It's top-down and seamless like the last effort, so at least the experience wasn't a total loss (though Nessa gave me some very promising salvaging ideas...). I'm doing the smallest size which may still be a bit big, but since it's designed as a fitted style I'm thinking that for the first year it might just be more of a slouchy look. And it's nice after all to get more than season out of a jumper! 

The more I see of the online sewing world the more excited I become. So many projects, swaps, challenges, sewalongs and more to get involved in! It's so hard to restrict myself. I'm going to have to live (sew?) vicariously through other people's projects for a while I think....

Which projects/swaps/challenges/sewalongs are you involved in? How is it/are they progressing?

Have a wonderful week :)


  1. This top is great! It really suits you, and is really elegant. I love the colour and the idea of the keyhole back (which you can kind of see in the first picture). Lovely!

    My challenges/sewalongs aren't progressing much and I'm away on holiday next week, so will need to get myself into gear if I am to attempt to meet the deadlines!

  2. (very belated reply, sorry :/ ) Hope you're having a wonderful holiday, and that you come back to your challenges refreshed and doubly inspired! (Really want to see that coat...)