Back to Pink: A Belcarra

Well, hello there. It feels a little bit like it has been long time, no speak as I took as I took a little blogging break to coincide with returning from my holiday. I’m back now and will be sharing with you the rest of the makes from my sewcation over the next few weeks with a fancy dress costume thrown in for good fun.

Long-term readers will know that I have an odd relationship with tops. For some reason, I can never find ones that I like. There is always something that puts me off buying or designing them – perhaps I’m just too picky? Anyway, an additional top, at the very minimum, was needed for my capsule holiday wardrobe and I chose to repeat Sewaholic’s Belcarra.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse.jpg

The eagle eyed among you might notice that the fabric is different to the one I had planned. The main reason for this is the Liberty lawn didn’t match the rest of my makes as well as this pink. The fabric is an unknown cotton mix with embroidered flowers over two different tones of pink. I found it in one of my local charity shops for £6 when I was stocking up on old sheets to make toiles with. It had been overlocked into a tube with a rectangle of black cotton added to the top. The black cotton had faded badly and wasn’t worth saving but there was enough of the pink to make a top.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 2.jpg

While I was right about the amount of fabric, I had to spend quite a bit of time working out how to cut the pattern and make the most of the flowers. Because the two pinks are separated by a definite line, I needed to make sure it, and the flowers, lined up. This left small pieces for the sleeves and I just managed to squeeze them out in the lighter pink. I even managed to get a flower on each of the sleeve cuffs.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 4.jpg

I made a number of alterations on this version. On the paper pattern, I raised the neckline a couple of centimeters. The one thing that really annoys me about my first version is how the top falls off one of my shoulders. (Being hand wash only is also super annoying). Trying this one on after completion showed that I probably need to take the neckline up another 1.5cm in future. It also revealed that the pattern was one- two sizes too big around my waist. I hadn’t noticed this with the silk version due to the silk’s drape but it was glaringly obvious in this cotton mix. To make it fit, I kept taking in the side seams until I was happy with the fit.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 3.jpg

As you can see in the photos, the fabric crumples badly. The photos were taken after wearing the top for half a day, most of which was spent walking around Lucca. We visited the garden of Palazzo Pfanner which was beautiful and quiet enough to get a few snaps for this post without the risk of another tourist photo bombing. Lucca is a worth a visit if you’re in the area and I preferred it to Pisa.

Anyway, back to the top. The sheen of the fabric and the flowers means I can wear this top in a number of ways. It feels as at home with jeans and other casual trousers as it does with a smart black skirt. I still like the shape of the top, and with some customisation, I can see a few more of these coming out of my machine in the future but how quickly depends on when I can summon the energy to retrace the pattern…

Simplicity can be difficult - a silk Belcarra

I finished this project this morning, after starting it in July! The Belcarra was supposed to fill a gap in my summer work wardrobe. I wanted something simple, cool but stylish. Sounds easy, right? I mean the pattern isn't a difficult one to stitch and it should have been completed in a day or so. 

Sewaholic Silk Belcarra 2.jpg

Why did it take me five months to complete? The fabric. I choose this delicious red silk with white stars. I picked it up in Zadar, Croatia on holiday last year. It is lightweight, drapes beautifully and feels like air next to the skin. Needless to say, it is incredibly delicate and this makes it difficult to sew with. You can't put much pressure or tension on it otherwise you're left with pulls throughout the fabric. 

I tried everything I could think of when putting this together. I cut the fabric single layered on the carpet which provided more grip and stopped the fabric moving. I 

used small needles and tissue paper over and under the fabric to protect it from the feed dogs and needle. Gently hand stitched the hem and neckline in an attempt to ensure that the stitches are invisible. Unpicking is extremely difficult as the fabric retains the original stitch marks. All of this required patience, which I only had in small quantities for this project. Thankfully there aren't too many pulls in the fabric but those that are there are along the neckline and the sleeve bands. 

Sewaholic Silk Belcarra.jpg

Construction of the Belcarra is relatively simple. I used French seams throughout as it provides such a delightful finish but this would look just as good if you used another method. Attaching the band to the sleeves was the most difficult part as the silk wasn't stable enough. In addition, I don't really like the method of leaving 1.5cm open at the edges as I find it hard to match up the seam lines neatly. I didn't make any changes to the pattern, except my usual grading between sizes although I probably should have moved the neckline inwards by a couple of centimetres so it doesn't slip to one side and reveal the strap of my cami. 

While I missed the option of wearing this during the summer, the colours lend themselves very well to Christmas, don't you think? This was the impetus behind finally getting this top finished. I will definitely be wearing this a few times this month as the party season gets into full swing but 

I'll be honest - I'm not sure how long it will last. The seam lines and hem are causing some concern due to the pulls but still, it will be fun to wear it even if it is only a few times! 

Are you stitching anything fun for the party season?