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...."
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."
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!