Saturday, November 15, 2008

puff sleeves

I am not one for puff sleeves. They look awful on me and always have. And then a few months ago I started noticing them everywhere. On everyone. Large and small they seemed to always look great. So I decided that maybe it was time to re-examine my attitude.

I made the puff sleeve T from Ottobre 2/2007 (design 4) size 52. I slightly lengthened the sleeves since caps scare me a bit.
And the result was truly awful. Wearing it, I looked like a full forward in drag (to borrow a line). I chastised myself for thinking I didn't trust my well honed instinct and figured it must just be my body shape, rather than size that made them so wrong.

And then a few days ago while I was out with a friend looking at clothes I went into Autograph to have a look around. This store is more miss than hit for me, a lot of the clothes are poorly made and not really for my shape. Plus I am usually between two of their sizes. But occasionally I find something or other in there that makes a good plain addition to my wardrobe. I noticed for example that they had very nice and inexpensive rash vests for the beach (where were they when I was forking out a premium for mine?).

Anyway, I decided to try on a whole stack of their tops, including a number with various types of puffed sleeves and different shoulder constructions. Although this seems like a really smart and obvious idea, I've never really done this exercise and it was really interesting.

All the puffed sleeves looked reasonably awful on me, except for one which looked totally fabulous! Sadly the top had other aspects which weren't so great, so I didn't buy it, but I took a good long look at why the sleeves on that top were better. The puff was minimal (more puff=more awful) and the fabric was soft, so the sleeves sat flat, not elevated. The sleeves were also loose and set into the shoulder quite high (ie closer to the neck). This somehow made my shoulders look both slimmer and yet somehow in proportion to my body, giving an overall pleasing effect.

So I felt a bit of hope, came home and pulled out the disaster T. I cut off the sleeves, narrowed the caps, cut in the shoulder and reset sleeves in. This reduced the overall size of the top of the T-shirt since I cut the previous seam allowance off rather than unpicking the seams, and the volume on the top of the sleeve (and hence the puff factor). I also made the neck opening larger.

And the result is great. The sleeves make it a bit more a 'top' and a bit less a 'T-shirt' so I could get away with wearing to work (the antique dollies care of my grandmother help too!).

With lessons learned I'd make the pattern again, perhaps cutting the top half of the T in size 50 and the hips in 52, trimming a bit off the sleeve cap and taking a lot of care with the gathering on the necka nd sleeve to get them sitting exactly right.


SueeeuS said...

Once again, NICE job! The new top is very flattering. You are inspiring me - I went so far as to dig some fabric out from the stash to see what I have, and am thinking of designing and making something. Some sort of skirt or vest or maybe both. Thinking, mind you, not doing. Yet.

hollyonline said...

Very nice! I think the style seems to the narrow the shoulders a bit. Very flattering on you. Thanks for the analysis.

fatgirlslikeniceclothestoo said...

Your new top looks great! I admire your perseverence as I know I would have trashed it and moved on because I'm a bit impatient like that.

Columbia Lily said...

that looks great!

Janet said...

that top looks great sooz! I agree with you about the puff needing to be not too puffy. My favourite tops have what I'd call a half puff (ie a little gathering on the middle of the outside of the sleeve) and I tend to like raqlan sleeves or close cut set in sleeves too....

JulieZS said...

Very interesting exercise, thanks for walking us through it. I'd never thought to analyze shoulder construction in that way. I think the changed top is very flattering, great job.

Pam in Colorado said...

I don't like puffs as I have broad shoulders, large bust and really don't need any more attention drawn to my body. ;)

I must say I agree that the sleeves you did look good. I'm such a novice and have not tried clothing yet. When I do, I'll be taking your insight with me!

Deborah-lee said...

Wow! INSpirational job!

I'm glad I stumbled across this blog, because I am planning on some sewing this summer.

I haven't even thought about starting with some of the things I already own.

I bought a cheapish top from Best & Less that I love the fabric of, but its too long and shapeless. I might just keep it now and do something special with it!!