Thursday, 18 June 2015


Although I have never quite got the hang of fashion, I apparently absorbed one particular fashion "rule" like it was divine law. At some point in my life, I became convinced that horizontal stripes were a privilege accorded only to the few whose figures were most suited to wearing of them, of whom I was not one. I could actually say a lot about the underlying rhetoric of "stripes make you look fat!", not least about how annoyed I am by any suggestion that every woman's goal when dressing should at all times be to take up as little visual space as possible. However, I will refrain, mainly because you've heard all my ranting on the subject before. I will say, however, that even as I blindly and unthinkingly obeyed the No Stripes, Because Fatness! rule for lo, these many years, I regretted the necessity of doing so. I LIKE stripes. I am a big fan of geometrics in general, actually, and it's always a major disappointment to me that there are relatively few interesting geometric prints in the world in amidst an endless sea of florals and animal prints.

All of which is a (inevitably long-winded) way of saying that when I found myself wistfully examining stripy fabric the other day, I had a sudden epiphany. I decided that damn it, I really like stripes and moreover it really ISN'T my job in life to carefully calibrate everything I wear to make sure I look as small as possible at all times. And thus, I bought some stripes, and I will doubtless buy and make up some more stripy garments in the future, and overall, yes: let there be stripy goodness all round.

Navy striped NL 6150 - I swear to you that the sleeves are actually the same length in person!!
First up was this navy and white striped top, my 6th rendition of a much-revised version of New Look 6150 View D. I am now thoroughly sick of making this pattern, but I do like the shape and fit of it that I've achieved through these multiple versions. There is nothing much interesting to say about this except that the stripe matching on this wobbly 4-way stretch fabric was rather a pain and I am a couple of mm out on the side seams (which I cunningly forgot to photograph, and since my shirt is now in the wash, cannot show you. Feel free to imagine it being utterly perfect!). As far as I can tell this is due to the way my overlocker feeds, as no matter how carefully I pinned and basted I couldn't keep it lining up once I started sewing. The only thing I didn't try was glue (suggested by a helpful commenter recently, thank you) because when I tested my glue on this particular fabric it didn't seem to want to come out again in the wash. D: Overall, it's not a very exciting top, but I love it because I love the fabric/stripes.

Here is a terrible bedroom mirror selfie of me wearing my navy top
Since I am utterly fed-up of NL6150 now, I have decreed that my next few knit tops should all be, as far as possible within the constraints of what I need/want in my wardrobe, more interesting than the very basic tees I've been turning out.

Line drawing, Ottobre 05-2012-11"Stormy Grey"
My second stripy top therefore used a new-to-me pattern: Ottobre 05-2012-11 "Stormy Grey", with the minor change that I attached short rather than long sleeves to it. I previously made up the minor variation (Ottobre 05-2012-13, which is gathered horizontally at the centre front of the necline) and it was an epic disaster (mainly because I made it about 3 sizes too big, I now realize). This time I picked my size using my knit sloper and ended up with something like a 40 through the shoulder, 44-ish through the bust, 42-ish through the waist and hips.

I didn't change much in the pattern. Short sleeves, obviously. Also, for reasons, I used a small piece of black cotton to cover my gathering (the pattern calls for you to use a self fabric strip). I am in two minds about how this looks. I was originally intent on putting a couple of little buttons on this placket, but I haven't decided yet whether to do so. Other than that I did my standard adjustment for square shoulders and made sure it was the right length on me.

Ottobre 05-2012-11 made up in black and white stripes

The main feature of the top is the gathered section at centre front. Once I started sewing, I realized I had to extend this lower down the top than suggested in the instructions because I have a low bust and it looked completely ridiculous to have the gathering perched on the upper slopes of my boobs. I don't like gathering ordinarily, but this was, for me, a rather good gathering outcome. However, because I gathered rather extensively and for a longer section than the pattern called for: (a) I ended up with a kind of stripe vortex over my bust, like a Boob Optical Illusion. (If we are all sucked into a black hole as a result of this vortex, I will take full responsibility, I promise); and (b) more pragmatically, it yanked up the hem at centre front. Since part of the reason I love stripes is the possibility of manipulating them in interesting ways, I find I very much like the Boob Optical Illusion effect. I can live with the hem problem it produced on this version. However, if I were making this top again I'd have to fix it.

The side view -- on the plus side, only look at my beee-yoo-ti-ful stripe matching at the side seam! On the minus side, yikes, the centre front!
Overall, I quite like this top and it IS a tiny bit different to the interminable parade of scoop neck tees I've been making, so I'm glad I tried this pattern out.

As modelled by yours truly. Observe my horrible neckline sunburn, which is what happens when someone as pasty white and pale as me remembers to put sunscreen everywhere EXCEPT  in the scoop neckline of her new stripy navy and white top and sits outside for 30 minutes.
For the next few days I will very tediously be sewing blinds for my hallway. I don't dislike the idea of home dec sewing, but in practice it's not very interesting to sew giant rectangles. Still, I've been living here almost a year and still have no blinds for my hall and landing so something must be done!

PS. I am sorry I am such a terrible replier-to-comments this week. I very much appreciated everyone's helpful suggestions for how to fix my New Look 6407 blouse and have formulated a Plan to try it again some time soon :D


  1. So much good stuff in this post! lol! Stripey boob vortex for the win!!!

    Also, can we just talk about this whole idea of "appearing thin"? Like, hey, I'm not. I'm 5'5" and weigh 185 lbs. not thin. And that's okay. I don't need to orchestrate my wardrobe to try to appear as such! Grrr! So bring on the horizontal stripes! And breezy tops. And other "should'nts" that I want to anyway!

    I love your new tops. And I actually have that Ottobre mag!

    1. I love my stripey boob vortex! I described it in precisely those terms on twitter, and one of my friends though I was exaggerating until I showed her the photo. She decided the black stripe at centre front was like a small and curiously oblong black hole.

      I AM SO OVER THE "LOOK THINNER" THING. Like, for a long time when I was younger I kind of let it wash over me/accepted it (and wore a lot of black as a result, because it's slimming!), because it's so engrained in our culture to equate thinness to beauty. But the older I get and the more angry and feminist I get, the more the whole "take up less space! If you can't take up less actual physical space then at least try to LOOK like you do!" makes me seethe with rage. I want a placard: TAKE UP ALL THE SPACE YOU WANT, LADIES. Wear giant voluminous EVERYTHING if you want to! Wear giant horizontal stripes that are scientifically proven to make you look twice your actual width if that floats your boat! IT IS NOT YOUR JOB IN LIFE TO VANISH INTO A SMALLER AND SMALLER SPACE.

  2. Nice tops! I think they look great on you! I love stripes and geometrics too! And nice stripe matching along the binding of top #2.

    My opinion is that the horizontal stripe 'optical illusion' is a bunch of hooey. It's hooey since, as you point out, what's up with women taking up as little space as possible? I also think that the horizontal stripe optical illusion theory is simply false.

    Also, ugh, neck burns. I feel your pain. I have a fair skin tone too, and I always spend the summer months looking like a robin redbreast.

    1. Thanks! I'm enjoying wearing my tops, and seriously I don't care if they make me look wider.

      I am usually so careful with the sun because I'm so incredibly pale and mole-like, but I just didn't think to slather on my sunscreen round my neck. Alas. :(

  3. I'm so glad you broke out of your stripes ban. I love stripes so much, and even though I don't think 'flattering' always needs to be a guiding principle, I do happen to think that stripes are flattering. Or maybe people just look happier in them or something.

    I do like the second top, but I think you might have been right to leave off the buttons. It's good the way it is, you don't want to mess with a boob vortex, right?

    1. I have really been enjoying wearing my stripes, so I definitely think there is something to the idea that stripes make people cheerful!

      You are right -- who knows what the addition of buttons would do to the boob vortex! Calamity might ensue!