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2021 Sewing Bee – Round 3 – Pattern Matching Challenge

1When this challenge was announced, I knew immediately what fabric I was going to use. I purchased two 2 yard remnants of Japanese Dobby cotton batik fabric, last year. The panel contains a diamond shaped medallion in a field of subtle textured blue, and a gorgeous border print runs down the both edges. I promised the woman I bought it from that I would make something special with it. This would be the main focus of my print matching challenge.

The print matching in my outfit starts with the front and back princess seams on the blouse. The center back medallion is matched down the middle and conceals a zipper. The sleeves have small diamond shapes to repeat the motif. The side seams under the arms could not be matched. But I strived to create similar shape and placement, to maintain the balance of the garment. Luckily the sleeves cover much of those seams. I created a two piece collar, in which the print is symmetrical. The angle of the collar also repeats the angle of center medallion and the curves of collar is the same as found in the medallion print. As a compliment to the strong top, I wanted a soft flowy bottom, and a large scale gingham print in the same colors came to mind. The gingham is a lovely lightweight linen blend fabric with incredible drape. I vertically pleated the top three rows of gingham, to form the waist band stripes. The single seam is matched down the center back. For added interest I added four horizontal pleats along lower rows of the gingham to add dark bands around bottom of the skirt. I absolutely love both of these pieces.

I had recently purchased the Wren pattern from Chalk and Notch. I love the short “statement” sleeves. I imagined the bottom ruffle to be made with the border print. It just came together in my mind. But, as the project developed, modifications had to be made. The Wren has a front button placket, which was challenging from print matching with the limited amount of fabric. I decided to make a princess seam bodice with an invisible zipper in the center back. Matching the front and back princess seams were challenging. I basted together the center back pieces in preparation for installing an invisible zipper. I highly recommend Kenneth King’s method of sewing the Imperceptible Zipper. The neckline had to be raised to keep the front diamond intact. I was able to use the sleeves from the Wren but I had to add a seam below the sleeve puff in order to be able to use the fabric efficiently. I decided to line the blouse bodice to make it easier getting on and off, and to tidy the inside. I strived to save the border prints to make the lower ruffle similar to the one on the Wren. I played with box pleats in the border print, and I was having so much fun. After auditioning the pleated border, the length of the ruffle was too short and adding it on to the shirt at the natural waistline, threw the proportions off. I was so disappointed. The original concept was based on that border print. But, I stepped back and realized the blouse was beautiful. Being a pear shape, using attention grabbing and wider upper garments can balance out my overall look. It was tough setting aside that border print, but choosing what to leave off a garment is crucial to success. I added a sewn on facing for the bottom hem and lined the bodice portion of the blouse.

With the blouse complete, I envisioned a simple companion piece, which was soft and flowy. I had been contemplating making a skirt that I could throw on quickly over leggings when I needed to dash out the door. The skirt’s waistband had to be easily modifiable. My waist measurement often changes by several inches throughout the course of a day. I came up with a design for an elastic waistband skirt. The waist band consists of three channels, and I used button elastic to allow me to quickly adjust the waistband. I chose a lightweight linen blend fabric with 1.5 inch wide gingham check. My only regret is that the fabric would not support pockets. The skirt started as a little over 3 yards and was joined by a single seam after removing two small strips to even the edges. The body of the skirt contains 38 vertical pleats over four rows to form the waistband. The bottom of the skirt is then pleated four times to form darker bands. Each horizontal pleat required aligning 82 columns of color. Someone mentioned fork pins on the discussion board, and thank goodness, as the fork pins greatly improved my print matching results. The pleats created a subtle ombre effect on the skirt. I cut the hem off of the skirt and then reattached, after adding a featherweight interfacing. This is one of those skirts that you just want to twirl in the minute you get it on. I absolutely love it.

The blouse and skirt combination is really me. If you are lucky, while sewing a garment at some point, you just fall in love with it. You start to imagine the feel of it on, and how you will look in it, and how it makes you feel while wearing it, and that is the magic I hope for with the start of every project. This time, I achieved the magic in both pieces. Both pieces are welcomed additions to my wardrobe. I have done print matching in the past in plaid shirts, for the family, but this challenge, I took print matching to a whole new level and I love the results. After completing both pieces, I checked the weather and luckily bright sun was expected in the morning. I laid out the pieces so they would be ready in the morning. It reminded me of when I was young, and I would carefully lay out my outfits the night before a special day. I snapped a photo, and it became my favorite.

I am planning to make a beautiful Obi belt with the remaining border print., and I have fabric picked out to make the Chalk and Notch’s Wren blouse/dress as it appears in the pattern. Here is to never ending inspiration! Thank you!

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