Down with OPP

Yeah, you know me! (yes, this is a reference to the Naughty By Nature song. What can I say? I have a soft spot for 90's hip hop. If you do too, definitely go and re-watch that video. Queen Latifah makes an appearance.)

In this case OPP stands for Other People's Patterns.

As you know, along with designing patterns for you, I make a lot of patterns for myself. Lately I've been experimenting with using other people's patterns when I would normally make my own. As a pattern maker, it's a great way to do research and it is also a great way to distinguish 'work sewing' from 'pleasure sewing'. I tend to make up patterns rather than use pre-existing patterns for almost everything, including recipes (as discussed here!)  So using OPP gives me an opportunity to relax and not think too hard about what I'm making. Which is nice.

This is my 3rd Aster shirt by Colette Patterns. When I first saw this pattern it spoke to me immediately. I love Colette Patterns' designs, but usually they're not quite my style. This top, however, fits the bill for something I've been thinking about a lot lately: variations on button up blouses (especially without collars). This was definitely a quick and easy sew, though I'll admit, the button band threw me off a bit (I blame this on not using Colette's instructions. There are some differing seam allowances I didn't expect! Note: Always read the instructions, even if you think you know what you're doing ;)  )

 

My first Aster was a a 'wearable muslin' made from a stripey cotton gauze. Colette Patterns are drafted for a C cup, so I already knew I would need to do an SBA (Small Bust Adjustment). The results were good, thought the fit was not perfect. Having a very petite upper body (not so much on the bottom), I found the fit comfy but a little too low cut all over to feel comfortable. I figured this was due to the bodice/armhole length being a bit long.

For this version, I shortened the pattern by 1/2" evenly at each shoulder seam, bringing the armhole up to a more comfortable place. I also narrowed the sleeve by 1" to compensate. However, I still found the neckline to be a bit gape-y. I think I should have taken 1/2" from the shoulder only at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the sleeve, like a sort of 'square shoulder' adjustment. The is usually an adjustment for square shoulders. I have what's often called a 'forward shoulder'. I think in subsequent versions, I can take out yet another wedge shape from the shoulder seam to eat up the extra length at the neckline (as shown in the pic above).

Tiny fit issues aside, it's absolutely wearable as is and I love it! As you can probably tell, I changed the V-neck to a scoop neck. I also shortened the sleeves and omitted the bias cuff. I see many more Asters, or at the least, more button down variations in my future.

Can we talk about this fabric for a second? This was one of those 'love at first sight' fabrics. I picked it up at Britex when I was in San Fransisco. Their selection is truly overwhelming, but luckily I was able to browse enjoyably without having a panic attack. I decided to treat it more like a gallery visit than a shopping trip.

I picked up this amazing Japanese cotton print. I find it super unusual in the best way (though who knows, maybe it's super traditional in Japan. A friend pointed out that a lot of the motifs appear in Japanese scrolls). The fabric was only 35" inches wide, which seems scary but in reality worked out quite well and resulted in less waste fabric. The color palette is perfect and the fabric feels sort of old and worn in the best possible way.

I couldn't wait to cut into it! I defied the oft held fear of charging forward on a project with beloved fabric. And it worked out well!

Have you ever seen a fabric in a shop and just knew it would make the perfect so-and-so? Did it work out?

 

More Cutting Layouts for A-Frame

One of my favorite things about the A-Frame skirt is the many opportunities for color blocking, print mixing and other ways of playing with fabric. I've provided some ideas and additional cutting layouts below, including some fabric suggestions from some awesome independent fabric retailers!

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There are many variations on A-frame that call for the same yardage and layout given in the pattern, but create visual interest by using both sides of the fabric. The sample version of the pencil skirt shown on the shop page uses an amazing double sided cotton. Since each skirt section is cut in pairs, you can simply flip over any pair of pieces to create contrast. Many double sided fabrics are available as lightweight upholstery fabric, which would work great for the pencil skirt. You could also use both right and wrong side of a fabric for a little interest. Fabrics like satin & sateen often have a crepe or plain weave back, allowing you to mix and match shiny & matte panels.

Here are some additional ideas that require special cutting layouts:

Version 1 - The Pencil Skirt

One way to play with the A-frame panels is to use both directions of a directional fabric, like stripes.

You can use striped fabric in coordinating colors, or simply re-orient your pattern pieces to create interest with horizontal & vertical stripes.

I love this woven stripe viscose silk from  Blackbird Fabrics . It comes in two colors ways and would be perfect for an A-frame pencil skirt.

I love this woven stripe viscose silk from Blackbird Fabrics. It comes in two colors ways and would be perfect for an A-frame pencil skirt.

This Cotton + Steel cotton linen canvas from  Grey's Fabrics  is another great choice for playing with directional print.

This Cotton + Steel cotton linen canvas from Grey's Fabrics is another great choice for playing with directional print.

You can also play with coordinating colors in either solid or print fabrics to get some awesome results.

Essex Yarn Dye in  Chambray  and  Indigo  from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

Essex Yarn Dye in Chambray and Indigo from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

Here's another variation where the whole side panel is a contrast color

Neon Clouds by Hokkoh from  Miss Matatabi

Neon Clouds by Hokkoh from Miss Matatabi

Pair with a complementary plain linen/cotton solid like Robert Kaufman Essex from  Purl Soho

Pair with a complementary plain linen/cotton solid like Robert Kaufman Essex from Purl Soho

Version 2 - The A-line Skirt

Using the original cutting layout from the pattern can produce some cool results when using fabrics with symmetrical geometric prints like checks or plaids. Be sure to use plaids that are balanced, so that the bias cut front panel will look balanced too. Check out this video from A Fashionable Stitch about balanced vs. unbalanced plaids.

A bold ikat grid cotton from  Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

A bold ikat grid cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Anna Maria Horner 'Loominous' check from  Fancy Tiger Crafts

Anna Maria Horner 'Loominous' check from Fancy Tiger Crafts

Here's a way to combine fabrics in Version 2.

Try combining colors in dreamy Bespoke double gauze by Cotton + Steel (In Aqua & Natural) from  Sew Biased Fabrics

Try combining colors in dreamy Bespoke double gauze by Cotton + Steel (In Aqua & Natural) from Sew Biased Fabrics

For a variation with the top half of the side panel is the same color as the main skirt, the pieces can fit into the same layout as above.

Above all, have fun! You could even go patchwork style and make every panel a different print in the same color.