I was one of those people that had the Breaking the Pattern book super early because of my Amazon preorder. And yet, I haven’t made anything until now. I had a bit of a list to get through of other makes I fancied and I also took my time deciding what to make. The couple of patterns by Named I’ve made I love and they fit me very well. However, if I’m honest, their styling isn’t always quite me. I know you have to look past that and so I do – by waiting until some other people have made their designs, haha. Inevitably I think, “Ooohh, now that I like” and bob’s your uncle.
I’ve seen so many lovely Saraste ruffle tops on Instagram now that this became my number one choice. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen a bad one yet. The fabric is a Cotton and Steel rayon (Once Upon a Time Love Flower in cherry) that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it – and it took me a while to get hold of some. I like those rayons anyway – the quality is excellent, making them easy to sew, a dream to wear and they last well through washing. I made: my Fringe dress, my Everyday maxi skirt, my Bridgetown dress, my recent Lela skirt … and now – the Saraste top all from those!
A quick run through the basics: the Saraste comes in three versions: the top that I made, a classic shirt with shoulder vents, long sleeves and a collar, and a shirtdress. Now that I’ve made the ruffle top, I may well be venturing onto the other versions, but let’s get to that in a bit. As you can see, the ruffle top is sleeveless with a mandarin collar and is described in the book as having a “loose fit with a bell shape and ruffles at the shoulders”. All true!
The Breaking the Pattern patterns come in a range of size 1 to 9, which corresponds to 25.25″ waist up to 39.5″ waist. It took me quite some time to figure out which size to make. My standard fitting practice these days it to start with the shoulder and pick a size based on my high bust measurement (40″) and then make a full bust adjustment. Usually I then need to grade out the waist and sometimes the hips too. However, there is a ton of ease in this shirt and when I look at pics I do see that some sewists have a decent amount of room in the armscye area. So even though my measurements put me at a size 8, I ended up cutting a straight size 7 and relying on the ease to take me through the waist and hips for a slightly closer fit, but a not-too-tight-one. It ain’t half complicated, this fitting lark!
As you can see from the pics that was pretty much the right decision. I say pretty much, because even though there is indeed plenty of ease, I have the slightest strain at my middle buttonhole. Gah. I think it might be a slightly incorrectly placed button actually, but it’s fine and fixable if not. Otherwise the shoulder is good and so are the hips and tummy. So it’s something to consider depending on how you are shaped and how you like your garments to fit.
The Saraste is also very pleasurable to sew. Now, I have to tell you that the bit before the sewing, i.e. the cutting part was a nightmare. But only because I’m an idiot. I decided to cut my pieces out merrily while at a Seattle sewing meetup, chatting away with everyone. Then I got home and realised that yes, the print was directional and yes, I had cut 60% of the pieces out upside down. ARGH. As I mentioned before, it was quite hard to find this print in the first place, but I scoured the net for an extra yard and found some -yippee- for not too bad a price. I paid, waited a few days and it arrived. That is, the quilting cotton version of this print arrived. Double ARGH. What an idiot. Scoured the internet again and finalllyyyy found one yard of it at Hart’s Fabric (thank you Harts!). That’s how much I like this fabric, but I’m glad I went to the effort.
Anyway, the actual construction was great. There are front and back pieces as you would expect, but also side pieces to create that bell shape. You gather the ruffles on the machine and then sandwich the ruffles in the side seams as you sew them. The nice thing about this treatment is that there isn’t too much finishing in this top. Because there’s a collar and the ruffles are caught in the seams, there’s only really the hem, plus bias binding for the armholes to do.
I usually prefer a regular collar with or without stand because I think sometimes a high neckline and mandarin collar can be a little unflattering on a large bust like mine. But in this case I really liked the look and went with it. I did have to ease in the collar more than I expected, which could be a little tricky if you’re a beginner, but a cursory search on YouTube should throw up plenty of videos to help. Basically, pin the notches first, use LOTS of pins and go slow!
Anyway, that was a long preamble to arrive at my verdict on the top, which is that I LOVE it! I LOVE FLOWER it! I ONCE UPON A TIME LOVE FLOWER IN CHERRY it! I’m sorry – I know it’s annoying when people write in caps, but I couldn’t help myself. This top is just sooo meeee. It’s the perfect colour red, with an equally perfect background mix of dark greeny/blue.
The shape is also perfect though. I am not a terribly girly girl (although I have my moments) and this fabric in a curly, twirly pattern shape would have enough saccharine to make me heave. And yes, I know there are more ruffles than a pair of Jane Austen’s knickers (probably) on the Saraste, but there’s something about the sharp angles and lines of the ruffles that make the overall effect a little masculine still. Or at least 80s power shoulder. I don’t know – perhaps it’s just me, but I LOVE it. Did I mention that? Clever, clever Named!
It’s quite a distinctive shape, but nevertheless I am absolutely going to make more of these tops. This is probably my favourite make of the year so far – and it’ll be a tough one to beat. Now I’d better go and look more closely at those other patterns in that book…