Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Inspiration: Ivey Abitz

Since the inception of this blog, I've been on the trail of a few Tried And True (TNT) patterns to use for bulking up the closet. Recently I have nailed down another TNT pattern, and this one has some advantages over the rest. It is very easy and quick to construct, fits great, and allows a huge degree of flexibility in design details - you can make any version of sleeve from short to long, and the length of the blouse can vary from hi hip to dress length. Neckline and collar also allow many variations.

This new TNT is Connie Crawford's princess seamed blouse pattern for Butterick, 5538 (also available from Ms. Crawford's site here). This blouse pictured in this post is my second make using this pattern, inspired very heavily by Ivey Abitz designs. Now, you all know I am beyond picky when it comes to my clothes - I find things I would change in the Chanel boutique in Neiman Marcus, for goodness sake! However, Ms. Abitz's designs? I'll take several dozen, happily.

Sadly, my bank account has other ideas....but, in the ultimate ascent of this emotion-sartorial roller coaster ride, yay! I can sew! And Ms. Abitz uses quite economical materials in her designs.

This blouse is not a knock off or attempted copy of any particular design. What I did was prioritize the elements of Ivey Abitz clothing which I loved the most, the parts which really spoke to me. These I combined with what I know works for me in my own closet; in the practical, flattery, and aesthetic sense. This blouse is the result of that process. Here is a link to one of my favorite Ivey Abitz collections, Fall/Winter 2013, for those of you not yet obsessed with her clothing line.

What I wanted to take from the Abitz' designs:

Silhouette: IA offers a unique silhouette among lagenlook designers. She creates a classic fit in the bodice with waist emphasis created thru use of drapey fabrics with ties, buttons, and plackets in back rather than thru lots of darting or princess seams. The skirts are full, usually a-line, with lots of hem emphasis: ruffles, gathers, ruching both vertical and horizontal. I chose to create that silhouette using princess seams thru the shoulders. These seams offer ease of construction and fit, as well as perfect spots for embellishment if desired.

Fabric: luxe natural - cotton, linen, silk, a bit of wool. None of her fabrics are too heavy, all are quite drapey save the handkerchief linens. Colors are subdued, often overdyed, and IA often shows low-contrast prints, ginghams and stripes, as well as embroidered fabrics. No stretch for me, this is what i wear already.

Details: Ivey Abitz offers among the most subtle and small scale of lagenlook details. Signature touches include many small, vintage buttons down the entire front of garments; generously sized collars and cuffs, the aforementioned hem treatments, and small facings and plackets along center fronts.  Raw edges are also pretty common.

I'd purchased 8-10 yards of this beautiful cotton embroidered voile from Stone Mountain and Daughter - 2 yards at regular price, the rest when it went on half off later and i'd seen how well it held up. It would fit in perfectly Chez Abitz. I made a few changes to the Connie Crawford pattern (other than fitting thru the bust and shoulders): I lengthened by 4" and sewed up the side vents, shortened the sleeves and rolled them up to the elbow, and drafted a new collar based on the band from the Folkwear Gibson Girl blouse. I also changed the neckline, bringing it in to center front at the collar from a half inch overlap at the bust level and drafted an inch wide placket for center front.

To finish the princess seams, shoulder seams and hems I used 3/8" wide black rayon petersham ribbon. I sewed the seams inside out, pressed and trimmed, then topstitched the petersham over the allowances. So nice and clean inside, and a subtle embellishment. I handstitched the same ribbon on the neckline to the collar, with ends left hanging free at center front. In a change from the House of Abitz style, I only added buttons from bust level to a bit below waist. I just like this look, and it makes tying blouses at the waist much easier without added bulk from the buttons.

I'm really happy with this blouse and this TNT. My constant closet refrain is: 'I need more everyday clothes!". I cannot accumulate clothing if I'm reinventing the wheel every time I make a garment. This pattern is easy to make, easy to adapt for a variety of looks, easy to wear. It looks put together over a skirt, pants, or a slip dress which I appreciate when it is too warm for a jacket.

It's a bit strange when my style is known for being a bit on the eccentric side to find such a classic design works wonderfully in my closet. It goes to show that there are many many design decisions in any garment, and knowing your own signature style elements pays off big time. Now I am off to make version the third, and work on a post about the first version - a polka dotted pussybow.