It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Center For Pattern Design - Spiraling In Control!

The intrigue of the Center for Pattern Design's creativity absolutely captivates me!   When Sandra Ericson spoke at Canada College's Artistry In Fashion event last year I was hooked!   I bought 3 patterns, all inspired by Cristobal Balenciaga (a genius!).

My first make was the CB Bolero,  blogged here.   I have mixed feelings about this one, only because it's a little dressy for me, and also a little fidgity, so it doesn't really get that much wear.   The CB Spiral Blouse, however, is another matter - totally wearable, and in spite of the unusual design, it has a lot of possible ways to change it up.   Buttoned & closed, no buttons & open, drapey or stiffer fabric, collar, no collar, long or short sleeves - shams even made a knit top from it! 



One of the amazing aspects of Ericson's designs - her focus, really - is that she uses as few pattern pieces as possible & puts the seaming together in totally unique and ingenious ways.  The spiral top has one pattern piece, and if your fabric is wide enough, you can cut the entire top from ONE piece of fabric - rather mind-boggling, if you ask me!  I would take a pic of the pattern piece, but I have vague memories of someone getting in hot water for doing that, and I don't think it's fair or appropriate to the designer anyway.  Just trust me, it's impossible to imagine the finished product from the flat pattern piece without instructions - at least my brain certainly doesn't work that way!  The first time through I really stretched my mind muscles just figuring out how to put it together WITH instructions!

The description from the pattern: "This full scale pattern is fashioned after one demonstrated by Salvador who managed Monsieur Balenciaga’s tailoring atelier during the Golden Age of Couture in the mid-20th Century. It is a single bias-cut pattern piece which comprises the front, back and spiral sleeve of an easy fitting top. The back hangs in a cowl at the hip and there are no side or shoulder seams. It may be worn open or closed in front. Fits 8 - 16 with adjustments.
This pattern is is appropriate for intermediate or advanced skills."


The pattern itself comes in one size (Medium), and adjustments are made along 2 lines marked on the pattern piece. A muslin is recommended, since it's hard to tell how it will fit just looking at the pattern piece. The entire top is cut on the bias, so even if you have the sizing down in one fabric, another fabric may behave differently with a bias cut.

Step one is figuring out the layout of the pattern on your fabric.  With short sleeves, you might be able to use one solid piece of fabric.   With long sleeves, you probably will need a center back seam - it took me a bit of maneuvering to match things up & still fit it onto my (JUST big enough) piece of fabric!  In fact, Step #1 of the pattern instructions say, and I quote, "Study the pattern diagram carefully...."

Uh huh.

Instructions are fairly minimal.  To give you an idea, the last 2 steps are 
4. "Finish hems as you wish." and 
5.  "Finish CF closure as desired."

Be forewarned.  

Construction Notes:  Mark the dot at the underarm carefully (once you've figured out just where the underarm is...seriously, it does not make immediate sense!)   This dot you need.   The notches and other dots are handy more for placement guidelines than for exact seam matching.   These pics may (or may not) help:
 Matching the dots (tailor tacked with red thread) at underarm:

Biggify the pic and note that the notches do NOT match up.
This doesn't matter - as you sew the seam, just let the fabric come together where it wants to,
you can trim the bottom of the sleeve later.

The fabric I used was a yummy silk charmeuse, which worked great for this pattern.   I also used a thin cotton for my toile, which turned into a wearable piece (sorry, no pics of that one).   I've seen it made up in a number of different fabrics; the choice is very versatile!   The pattern calls for "softly woven wools, silks or cottons; wool or silk crepe, crepe-backed satin, silk velvet, georgette or chiffon, medium weight rayons and novelty fabrics with bias elasticity."   LOTS of choice here!

Here's how the center back comes together:

I decided to use double buttons and a single buttonhole with a bar tack in the center.
I started with a machine made bar tack, but ended up doing it by hand:


The finished piece:






The wind blew my collar into odd positions.   I'm way too lazy to redo another photo shoot, and if that's how it's going to lie, then so be it!  

I've already worn this one several times, and will likely make another version or 2 of it.  Love the fabric, love the design -  thumbs way up for this pattern!

17 comments:

  1. I'm fascinated by these patterns, your spiral top is fabulous!

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  2. Just found your blog - I do like this top, it's simple, wearable and unusual :)

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  3. I did like the original bolero, it was interesting with the different layers, and I do like the simplicity of this spiral top as well. I like how you've finished it off the double buttons add to the interest of a lovely top. Looks fab :-)

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  4. It's a really beautiful, wearable top, Jillian! I agree, Balenciaga was a genius!

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  5. I made one of these, it is a brilliant pattern. Your top is beautiful and it looks great on you too.

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  6. Very interesting top. The pattern sounds intriguing!

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  7. Wow what a neat and beautiful top!

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  8. You look great in this outfit! I love the blouse, and am so happy that you sewed it up and blogged it. I had thought to make it last year but really didn't have the time to do it justice. Perhaps next year...in the meantime, I will admire yours.

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  9. What fun! It's very cute and wearable too. My brain does not go there easily with the origami 3D effects. Amazing to me what some people can accomplish!

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  10. Lovely! It's a great lookng top, but II adore the details such as the intersection of the three seams. You look great!

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  11. Very nice! Hope to see it in person soon.

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  12. Yo Jilly!!!! This is just scrumptious!! You've really been hitting your stride recently - pieces stunningly beautiful and elegant on their own, but also very flattering to your shape and coloring, quite stylish, eminently wearable and practical. IOW, as far as i can tell flat out *perfect*!

    I want some of that mojo you are working, woman! Wonderfully inspirational, i am studying your recent work with a beady eye towards stealing as much of your ideas as i am able. ;) Thank you for sharing and enjoy your fantastic sewing and gorgeously enviable wardrobe - wO0T! Hope you got some sleep after that quake last nite, steph

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    1. lol Steph :D Do feel free to steal away..I'm honored!

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  13. Please post something...anything...so we all know you got through the earthquake OK. Thanks!

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    1. Awww Judi you're so sweet! I slept right through it :). A few of my friends had pictures a-tilt, but no one I know suffered any major damage. Not to dismiss the damage that some folks are going through, or the medical care that some folks need, but this wasn't even close to the damage and deaths the Loma Prieta quake caused 25 years ago.

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  14. Sleeping through an earthquake...yay!!!! So glad you are OK!

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