The pattern calls for a "soft knit", so I chose a very floppy black and blue viscose knit I bought earlier this year. I'm not sure it'll have great longevity, as it's rather thin and not fantastic quality. Inexpensive viscose knits are never the longest lived garments, but it was by far my best stash option for this pattern as nothing else I have is nearly so drapey and the drape is absolutely vital. My fabric was moderately stretchy, but I bet this top would be even better in something with a lot of stretch as well as a lot of drape.
|StyleArc Issy in blue and black viscose knit, as modelled by Flossie|
When I made the Estelle cardigan, I started with a 10 and did an FBA up to the stated measurements for a size 14, and left the width in through the waist and hip. Since it's a loose, draped cardigan I couldn't see any benefit to tapering back in to a size 12 at the waist and hip. That seemed to work quite well, but then it's hardly a fitting challenge to get a cardigan with no closure or shaping to speak of to go around one's body. Really, the most I could say about the size I prefer in StyleArc as a result of making my two Estelles was that the shoulder fit of the size 10 seemed reasonable.
|Back view on Flossie|
Based on the pattern illustration/notes, reviews and measurements/comparison to my sloper, it seemed to me that this pattern is intended to be quite close fitting more or less everywhere except the bust where the drape is, where there is a lot of room. Many of the reviewers said they thought that there was too much drape at the bust, or at least very plentiful drape, and several people said they'd done an FBA and then wished they hadn't. I therefore decided to proceed with the size 12 almost intact, except for a small square shoulder adjustment that I always do, just to get a feel for the fit as is.
|The feature cowl neck, which I love. Note, that central, slightly diagonal seam is the one you are instructed to "neaten" right at the start|
When I first tried it on I posted a shot to Instagram and I was all like, uh, I REALLY should have gone up a size through the waist and hip. There's a LOT of negative ease in this pattern through the waist and hip so the problem isn't so much that it doesn't fit, it's that it fits a little too well for me!
|Sorry about the weird colour -- to get any detail to show I had to really mess with the exposure/light in my editing tool. It's true I'm at the very pasty and pale end of the white skin spectrum, but not actually as ghostly as I seem here.|
This photo suggests that the outcome is even more unflattering than my mirror suggested (hello, muffin top!) so whereas previously I was kind of on the "close-fitting" side of the is this close fitting or just way too small? debate, now I am pretty much in camp Actually Just Way Too Small. Some of the wrinkles and bulges on the side are from the ruching, honest, but, uh, most of it is my stomach. When I make it again and do an FBA, I'll leave the extra width in through the waist and hips for sure. It will still have negative ease if I do so but rather less of it.
|A couple more views on me. I hate side views in close fitting clothes, my body shape is basically the prow of a ship :||
1. The second instruction calls for you to "neaten" an edge between two points. At the time, I had no sense of where that edge would end up (would it drop into the cowl neck like other tops I have? would it be visible at centre front?) and therefore no idea what level of "neatening" was called for. Annoyingly, several other reviewers mentioned this but then didn't go on to say what they did or where the edge falls on their finished garment. So in case you're in the same situation: this is a REALLY VISIBLE edge. It's front and centre as the flat diagonal line in the cowl neck and lies against your skin with the right side clearly visible. Luckily, I decided when I couldn't figure out where it would end up that I would go for possible overkill and make it as "neat" as possible. I therefore coverstitched a narrow hem. Since it ended up front and centre, I am very glad I made that decision and didn't just overlock it or leave it raw.
2. The instructions tell you how to catch the edges of the cowl into the armhole seams. The pattern is actually really cleverly designed and notched so that when you stop going "what? WHAT?" in a confused sort of way after reading the instructions and actually try lining up the fabric to fit together it all becomes very obvious what you should do. Alas, this did not stop me accidentally tying one side into the back armhole rather than the front, but I fixed it easily enough a couple of minutes later. The moral of this story is: sometimes it makes no sense in the instructions but perfect sense when you look at the fabric.
I must also just pat myself on the back for my much improved gathering. Earlier this year I was like argh, gathering, why do people say it is easy, this is a hot mess with my first HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine tee at the front neckline. This time I felt like the gathering on the side front of the bodice turned out really nicely and it was actually very easy to do. I credit most of the improvement to a tiny change in technique prompted by a book I read. It suggested that rather than using a long basting stitch as is usually recommended, on knits try using a smaller stitch for gathering. It's a little more difficult to gather it, but once gathered it stays put much more reliably.
In conclusion: Although I've bitched neverendingly about the fit in this review, I actually still really love the design of this top and I don't think it will take much to get the fit more to my taste -- basically just an FBA and leaving in the width. Also, making it was another good antidote to the Simplicity 1063 debacle. I definitely want to make it again, and if I find a really nice slinky, stretchy, drapey navy knit, you bet I am going to make a version of that original designer top I coveted so hard. :D
Next up, I have one last easy knit top to make for autumn, this time a Lekala pattern (my first!).