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Pattern Review: Vali Top by Pattern Fantastique

Pattern Review: Vali Top by Pattern Fantastique


Vali, the new dress/top pattern from Pattern Fantastique, was one of those patterns that knocked everything off my to-sew list as soon as it was released. Nita always has a clever way of focussing on an exaggerated element in her patterns, and this time it’s the elasticated puff sleeve. Friends, this is one significant sleeve. Paired with a fitted yoke and flared bodice, though, it all balances out nicely. The dress iteration sports some nice looking pockets, too: tick, tick and tick.

 

Fabric selection

I went straight to black linen for my shirt because I liked the idea of a solid fabric showing the beautiful design lines of this pattern and - since the mega-sleeve is a tad outside my comfort zone - to downplay any extra frou-frou that would prevent me from wearing it. Also, in full disclosure, Nita featured a plain black Vali in her photos and it just really looked like something that I wanted to wear. Our washed linen has a beautiful weighty drape to it, and it would similarly be lovely in a double gauze but if you wanted to turn up the sleeve volume even more it would look great in or Liberty Tana Lawn, or a crisp seersucker.

 

 

 



 

Sizing

The Vali includes sizes 6 to 26. I measured between sizes and sized down based on the fit of other PF patterns I have made. Really happy with the fit! There’s a lot of helpful information about how to achieve best fit in the instructions.

 

Construction

The Vali is rated as intermediate. There are definitely some fiddly parts to this sew and some assumed knowledge.

 

Something I always enjoy about PF patterns is that Nita has you do all the preparation up front. It goes beyond the usual application of interfacing, to things like constructing ties and preparing all gathered pieces to exact measurements. Sure, sometimes you just want to get into the meaty bits, but sewing the garment happens satisfyingly fast once all of this is done.  Be warned, because this is a detailed sew, there is a lot of that preparation up front. This is a beautifully finished garment, too, so hat tip to Nita for making us do all of the boring but necessary bits first.

 

That said, there were a few times that I felt confused by this pattern, particularly around the construction of the yoke and its facing. First, I sewed the wrong end of the front neckline facing to the back facing (total user error, I should have checked the direction of the neckline curve before sewing). But it was where the neckline facing (piece F, for anyone playing along) joins the rest of the facing where I just couldn’t get my head around the instructions or diagram. Again, this was possibly user based, but I ended up pinning/basting it in two different ways, then laying it face down on the preassembled yoke to see how the two parts fit together. One (to the left of my mid-construction photo below) fell short by 5mm, the other worked, so I used that method to attach those two pieces. If you’re confused too, I definitely recommend basting. It’s a beautifully shaped yoke, and well worth the effort!

 

 

 

 

My other Vali related drama was with the hem. I felt the top was a bit long for me so decided to take a bit of length off; measured it on myself and against another similar top of favourite length. Despite measuring twice, I cut off too much hem and the top was too short and looked unbalanced. Sensing that this might be the black shirt of my dreams (spoiler, it is), I took to with with the seam ripper and replaced the bodice (so sad, I will do something with the leftover linen, also thank goodness we had a massive roll still from the same dye lot.) Anyway, please learn from my cautionary tale. Hem length can really make or break a garment.

 

 

Shop mirror selfie, please excuse mirror that needs a clean.

 

A couple of small modifications

 

I reinforced the seam where the split yoke at the front meets the bodice/skirt for strength, and hand stitched the two yoke fronts together at the base where they meet the bodice so that the turned up seam wasn't visible. I also squared off the hem and shortened it slightly.

 

I’m so happy with my Vali; it was totally worth the extra time and self imposed doubling back. Black shirt of dreams indeed.

 

- Fiona xx

April 30, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Fantastiqué Sleeveless Celestial Dress in Summerweight Denim

Pattern Fantastiqué Sleeveless Celestial Dress in Summerweight Denim

 
Over Summer, my much loved light-weight denim Aeolian dress met its sad, untimely end after a run in with a dropped bottle of black nail polish. It was replaced with a denim version of another Pattern Fantastique ‘classic’, the Celestial Dress. Made in the midi length, I enjoyed months of swishing around in it until the weather turned... so I promised myself that as soon as a suitable denim arrived in store, I’d make a sleeveless pinafore version of the same as its Winter alter-ego. 
 
Fast forward a few months and a fresh delivery of our beautiful Japanese denims, produced in the well-regarded denim manufacturing prefecture, Okayama. Among them Summerweight indigo denim. Winter swishing was on! This fabric feels a little stiff straight off the bolt, but starts to soften impressively after the first wash. It has turned out to be the perfect weight and drape for this generously skirted dress. 
 
 
Sizing  
The Celestial pattern has been kicking around for years, so I'll keep it brief. This is a multi-sized pattern from sizes 6 to 16, equivalent to bust measurement (the most important one for fitting this trapeze-style) 81 to 106cm. My measurements put me close to the top of the existing size spectrum, but the sizing/fit is spot on, especially for this version where I wanted some extra ease for layering. The only shame about this lovely pattern is that the largest size is a 16 - it would be great to see an expansion of the size range on offer.
 
Construction
To make the sleeveless version, you need to download the free pinafore ‘hack’ file from Pattern Fantastique here. This complements the printed pattern by replacing the sleeves with an underarm facing. You then cut double one of the yoke pieces and forego some of the others. There’s a bit of two-and-fro required between the printed pattern and ‘hack’ instructions, particularly while figuring out what is needed for each version. This is a good pattern for someone with some garment sewing experience behind them, or someone who would like to learn some new techniques like the burrito method, which is used to sew the enclosed seams on the yoke.
 
This midi length pinafore was cut from 2m of the 150 wide denim. You could also *just* squeeze the width of the skirt pieces on a 110cm wide fabric (but allow for more meterage to cover the yoke pieces, too!) For anyone interested, I squeezed the sleeved midi version out of 2.1m of 140cm wide non directional fabric rather than the recommended 2.8m.
 
 
Pocket love
My favourite feature of this dress is the roomy pockets. These are top-stitched to the front skirt to prevent any annoying pocket flapping, and conveniently provide some nice subtle stitching detail. I also love the length. This is sewn straight from the packet and is a proper mid-calf length on me, at 167cm/5’5” tall.
 
 
One more thing
It’s a personal preference, but I won't be wearing this without a shirt underneath unless with a strapless bra, as the neat 90 degree angle where the yoke attaches to the pinafore cuts right in at the front. But for layering, this is *exactly* what I had hoped for. I have worn it an almost embarrassing amount of times already in the month since I finished it. Already planing another for when this one is in the wash! Perhaps using one of our textured twills, or it would also work nicely in one of our new Japanese Fine Wale Corduroys.
xx Fiona
August 05, 2020 by Jane Goldney