Friday 26 May 2017

Areli Want to Like This Top

Agh! I'm so conflicted about this project. On the one hand, it was super fun to make and feels lovely to wear. On the other, it's astonishingly unflattering. Kind of medical-gown-levels of unflattering. 


After falling through a Pinterest sewing pattern rabbit hole, I came across the Republique du Chiffon Areli pattern. I'm a sucker for a bib detail and I adore the proportions of this. Plus, piping. When doesn't piping make something better?! I seem to be steering away from more fitted silhouettes these days, and I could see myself wearing this with some jeggings as I chase small children around a playground on a warm day. 

(image source: Republique du Chiffon)

I was enamoured by the fact that it consists of just three pattern pieces. Not only because I'm lazy and that's less taping together and cutting out required, but I also think that shows some clever designing. Obviously I picked the top length, for breast feeding access and also because I'm concerned the dress version would look a bit sack-like (oh the irony), and I don't like having to belt things to give them shape. 

I made one modification to the pattern, which was to shift the inner pleats a bit closer to the outer ones, so that there is a bit more space between the inner pleats and the bib. I adjusted the pleats on the back in the same way to keep the garment balanced.  


Running with the French theme, I used some very gorgeous Atelier Brunette cotton for this project. Annoyingly, the colours in my photos are not very accurate. The fabric actually a rich mustard shade (although officially it's 'gold') but my images are making it look a bit washed out. I don't think it's a colour that I should wear so close to my face (for me, mustard is best worn 'indirectly', as a cardigan, trousers or tights), but I love it so much that I don't really care that it doesn't suit me. 

(image source: Fabric Godmother)

I would struggle to justify shelling out £15 a metre on cotton fabric, but ohmygod I can see why people do. I acquired it when working at one of the Fabric Godmother open days last year as payment for my time, which is pretty much the only way I could get my mitts on stuff like this. It was a total dream to work with. The only bit of the project that proved tricksome was applying piping to such fine fabric, but I used some light-weight fusible interfacing to the bib section which wasn't mentioned in the instructions but helped a lot. 


So I loved making this top, and it feels really soft and breezy to wear. But, unflattering colour aside, it's really doesn't look great, doesn't it? I'm trying to work out where it's going wrong. Even though I'm of average height, it seems a bit short on me, I think I'd prefer it to be to the bottom of where my thumb is resting in the image above. Plus, although I went with the size that tallied with my measurements, it's possible that the size down might look a bit better. 

I've just done a Google image search to look at other people's versions, and I can see there are a few other women whose tops sit a bit like mine does in the image above. I'm not particularly busty, but I'm wondering if this style suits smaller busted women. I really do enjoy wearing this top, and will definitely continue to do so, but I'd like to learn a lesson if there is one to be taken from this. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this! 


Pattern: €9 (approx. £7.80) available in PDF form here
Fabric: £0 (in exchange for my time, but it can be bought for £15 a metre here, you'd need about 1.5m for this top)
Piping: approx. £2
Total: £9.80, although I'd like to try using this pattern again if I can figure out how to make it look better which will reduce the cost-per-use of the pattern


Sophie said...

I think part of the issue may be where the horizontal seam is hitting on the bust. Most of the fullness is below this seam, so it is visually "pushing" your bust down, towards your waist. In knitting, this effect is sometimes charmingly referred to as "waist boob". I don't think the long, narrow bib is helping here either ☹️ The fabric is lovely though, and so are you! said...

Yep, I agree with Sophie. I think this top needs an FBA. That would leave the shoulders in the same place (they look fine) but lower and widen the bottom of the upper yoke. You could widen the lower portion too, so you don't lose the pleats. And the whole top needs to be at least a tad longer at the center front.

It has a lot of potential, this is just a draft!

Anonymous said...

I had similar issues with a summer Top I made this year, and I diagnosed my problem as being largely down to the fabric not being drapey enough. I wonder if more drape would help yours hang better below the bust?

To improve the colour to something that suits your skin tone better you could try dying it but your colour options would be limited, and you'd lose the pattern. How about wearing it with a lightweight scarf in a colour that suits you better? Or just slap on some lipstick to combat any washing out...

Anne said...

I agree with the others. I believe it needs a FBA which will lengthen the front. That might let the garment settle and get rid of the fold above the arms. What height are you? It seems to me that the front yoke seam falls at the wrong place. I fear you need to make a toile!

AuntyE said...

The mid seam definitely needs to move down, sorry! And I would widen the bib as well. What a PITA!

Fabric Tragic said...

How disappointing! Can things be improved with a nice navy cardi over the top?

Birgitte said...

I agree with several of the other commenters - a drapier fabric would certainly help, but I think the first thing I would do is move the horizontal seam across the bust up. I'm not convinced an FBA is necessary (perhaps it is), but moving the seam up would both divide the top in a more visually pleasing way, and it would work better with the gradual increase of fullness in the bust. Right now the top goes from being too tight across the chest too lots of volume, which I think also contributes to the bottom part of the top sticking out as much as it does.

It looks like the seam goes to the armhole, so maybe curving the seam up from this armhole point is the way to go? I hope that makes sense! I do think the top could work, but that seam is just working against you at the moment! Alright.... dissertation over. Dissecting fit challenges is kind of fun and intriguing though. Good luck! :)

Sewing Princess said...

How annoying! Perhaps you could wear a chunky black/navy necklace or scarf around your neck. I did this on a mustard top I made and it helped. I have to agree with you and other commenters...that line across the bust accentuates the fullness. If you look at it from the front (last picture) is not bad at all, but on your side you see it more. Despite being small busted I have similar problems with flowy tops (all French pattern lately have that style!)...they are not very flattering on my figure. Maybe you could add the bib detail to another top you like or slightly alter the top by removing that horizontal line.

PsychicSewerKathleen said...

I agree with what everyone has said as well - the problem becomes evident mostly from the side view - I would be tempted to bring in the volume at your waist - maybe add an elastic at the waist to bring it in or sew in the sides more to bring in more of that volume? Just a quick fix to this top I mean :)

Kimberly said...

I'd shorten the bib placket slightly (maybe an inch?) and move that horizontal seem down an inch or two on you. And yes, French everything = very small bust. Good luck!

Ann said...

Hi, i think your shoulders look quite narrow in this and your (ahem) bosom looks quite large (which happens with breastfeading). Probably all the tips mentioned earlier will help. And maybe it will look better in a different colour (navy?). If not, than maybe this pattern is just not for you..

Emily said...

Yes, I agree with what others have said - the horizontal seam should be moved up, at least an inch or maybe even two. Plus a drapey-er fabric. But this version would still look great under a cardigan; I don't think the color looks bad on you at all!

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

Tricky! 'm going to suggest sewing the pleats down a couple of inches. I love the Tova style of smock and wonder if forcing the fullness down closer to the bottom of the bib will counteract it being a bit big, by taking out fullness where it isn't needed and releasing it where it can do less stylistic harm?
I totally get the "colour I love vs the colour I suit" thing to, being a huge fan or oranges and mustards that do a lot less for my complexion than the fuschias and magentas I don't like as much do. Le sigh. Too bad, nothing a good lipstick can't mitigate eh!
I heard about Atelier Brunette today for the first time from one of my sewing students, and have read about their stuff on two blogs this evening. A sign!

Anonymous said...

Like the idea of wearing a chunky black necklace with it. How about a few pretty buttons down the bib? Both would draw the eye away from any fit issues and maybe give it a more finished look.

Beckyjopdx said...

Oh my, I read this and I hear your voice in my head now! So cute!

Ok, enough of that.

I see what you mean... the pleats almost need to be stopped higher up? Or? Oh I bet a snug and thin cardigan would frame this right up! But then you're at the same trap as a belt, right?

I love mustard gold yellow too and we have similar coloring... I like the comment above... I wonder if a good lipstick would help yellow on pale brunettes? Like I'd remember lipstick... ha!

Anonymous said...

This is the sort of blouse I would never get for myself. The trouble there is that your bust is full and so are your hips - very much like me. Since the pleats start in the fullest part of your bust, it visually cancels your waist making you look heavier than you are.

That's what I call potato sack effect. Think Jackie O, she could wear something like this because she had very little bust and narrow hips. Now think Marylin Monroe, or Sofia Loren, neither of them would ever wear a loose blouse in a stiff fabric.

Warm colors don't do you any good either, since your undertone is cool. I just learned about undertones and it changed my life. Check out these videos by Justine Lecomte and

Tania said...

I think it might help if the bib portion was shorter, so that it doesn't cross the horizontal seam; at the moment, it visually pulls down the front of the top, making your bust look lower than it really is (sorry if that sounds a bit brutal!).
Also, some detail in the bib, such as lace trim or buttons might help on this version.

Zoe said...

THANK YOU all so much for your comments!!!! I agree with you all, the horizontal seam hits at a weird place doesn't it? However, seeing as it also forms the armhole, it's going to be tricky to raise or lower, without doing some major redrafting involving curving the seam or something.

For a quick fix for this one, I'm liking @MrsC's suggestion to try stitching down the pleats a bit so that the fullness is 'released' somewhere else. But I think I'm going to let go of any plans to try making this again!!

Zoe xxx

Loganstitches said...

FBA was the first thought I had when I saw it. That would shift the bib to hit in a more flattering way and mean that the front hem sits lower.

Cathy said...

Hi Zoe,

I know you've had a lot of useful comments here, and you have already replied, but not mentioned so far is the bib itself. I'm afraid that the style lines of the bib are working against you. A rectangle in the middle of the chest is accentuating the boxiness of the top, and the piping has further added to that.

I recommend this interesting post by Maria Denmark ( ) which talks about how internal style lines on a garment influence the eye. eg, how the Y shape of a collared or V neck shirt, draws the eye in and down.

On a future make, if you could angle the bib lines inward to more of a V shape, rather than straight vertical lines, you might find that the top becomes more flattering, without needing to change the external silhouette too much. On this top, two or three large, dark buttons would have a similar effect.

Ros said...

I would just make a Wiksten Tova instead. Much more flattering shape with a similar style.

Rosemary said...

I think I would try a cardigan or scarf for now and see what happens when you finish breast feeding. You never know. That might make all the difference. And when the top has been washed a few times it will soften anyway. Not a very "sewy" solution but I think, in time, this could be a favourite.

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