Monday, October 24, 2016

Spring Tops (for teenagers): the Hippie Top by Vanessa Pouzet

Like many thirteen year olds, my eldest daughter has a burgeoning clothing habit. I've been dropping hints about how useful sewing can be for a clothes-lover - how liberating it is to be able to make exactly what you want to wear or to even replicate a favourite garment or style, but I wasn't sure it was getting through. So when she recently asked me if I could reproduce a ready to wear top she liked, I was all over it.

Audrey wanted a simple, lightweight off-the-shoulder top. A couple of Google searches later, enter the Hippie Top by French pattern maker Vanessa Pouzet. A summery top/dress which can be made with or without shoulder straps. The pattern is PDF only, but mercifully the version we were after only needed 3 main pieces so it was printed and sticky-taped together in no time.

I decided on the size 36 according to Audrey's measurements (she's 173cm tall, so the smallest adult sizes are usually good for her now). Even though this kind of style is fairly forgiving, I decided to make a quick muslin and found a slightly faulty piece of lightweight organic cotton voile we had in the back room of the shop. But - bingo! - she actually loves this. If you're after something similar, this Japanese yarn dyed shirting we currently have in stock is very a close match. This top suits any light fabric with good drape - a voile, light washed linen or double gauze would be perfect.

Did I mention that the directions are all in French? This didn't cause too many problems, as the very clear diagrams plus a little high-school French were mostly enough.  The only part that really stumped me was the point at which the beautifully named "Volant" (much more elegant than "Frill"!) is attached to the bodice. Even though I couldn't quite get my head around why the volant seam allowance needed trimming as in step 7 above, I ended up just following the diagram and it worked out fine. Lessons learned? Sometimes trying to understand the process gets you nowhere. Also, this online translation service was much more helpful than Google translate (which in some parts was downright hilarious - although I hear they've just upped their game).

All in all this came together painlessly, and it looks pretty darn close to the RTW inspiration.  Even though it's a quick & easy make it was an interesting one to sew, what with the absence of sleeves and the whole off-the-shoulder thing. Plus french seams make it nice on the inside as well. The newly minted teenager even wore it on her birthday last month, and has since hinted for another version. Plus yesterday she asked me if I could reproduce another coveted top... so, wins all around. Thumbs up for sewing!

- Fiona & Jane xx

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