A Mandala Print

I’m in a mode of making a pair of pants and then making a top.  Last spring when I put winter clothes into storage, I cleared out pilled, stained, greyed tops; also sweaters which had stretched out of shape. After discovering my butt had a new shape, I cleared out all my winter pants too. So that leaves both winter tops and  bottoms in short supply, as far as my wardrobe goes.  I purchased several long sleeve T-shirts from Walmart in November. But the fit left something to be desired. One was too tight everywhere and went into the donate box immediately. Another is entirely too long.  I wore it once because it’s dressy and then put in the closet to be altered. I suspect alterations will never take place and instead it will make its way to the donation box.  The others are wearable but I dislike the longer sleeve and mid-thigh length styling that seems popular at the moment. I should hem them to proper lengths but I’m not sure it would be worth the effort.  Most of them cost $5-6. They are the cheap crap from China that we sewists complain about and ecologists claim are ruining the world. I sincerely doubt that, other than a single shirt, any of these $5 bargains will be in my closet before the end of March.

But back to today’s shared project, the Mandala Top made with Pamela’s Patterns 104. (PP104)

I’m not sure who I purchased this fabric from. I loved the print and soft colors. The greys, black and white with touches of two warm browns arranged in a mandala pattern and printed on a rayon knit.  I wasn’t too sure about the rayon print. They don’t seem to survive in my wardrobe too well. Perhaps it is my cleaning method (warm wash, cold rinse, bake dry). That is my cleaning method and it is best to purchase fabric/garments that can survive my real life. I loved the print though, so home it came. I think from Fabricmartfabrics.com but it could have been one of several places.

I also wanted to use PP104 again.  The 6-PAC garment made from this pattern turned out too large. That was a surprise. I’ve loved PP104 from the get-go because of its wonderful fit. What happened?  I seem to remember using it in a short-sleeve version this summer without issue. For that version I had changed the half-pieces into full front, back and sleeve versions. It’s a simple process really. I put the pattern piece on tissue paper. Cut  and then tape together along the center. Had I somehow increased the size of the pattern?  To check that theory, I made PP104 when testing the mult-position hoop by folding the full size pieces back to halves.  To my chagrin, that version was also too large.

So how did the pattern get too large?  I think Mimie may be the cause. I refit Mimie, my dressform, cover sometime this year.  She’s not exactly my size and shape. She is a little bigger. I want her to be a little bigger. When she is exactly my size, I have a tendency to over fit my clothing. I forget that I need wearing ease until I try on the garment and can’t breath. However, I’ve now gone the other extreme and am making my clothing too big because I’m fitting my patterns on Mimie. I think I need to remove a little of Mimie’s stuffing! To fit the pattern, I made a 3/8″ tuck from shoulder to hem on both front and back pieces. I think I should let the back piece out just a little.

Wow these large mandalas make my back look super round (yes I am 60+ but don’t want to look hunched over!)

You really do have to do the math. The 3/8″ tuck doesn’t remove 3/8 from the back. It is 3/8 *2 which is 3/4″ on each back piece. There are 2 back pieces, so that 3/4″ must be multiplied by 2 and  1.5″ was removed from the back. Of course a corresponding 1.5″ was removed from the front for a total of 3″ removed from the garment.

The unfortunate placement of the mandala doesn’t help. I must remember not to buy large mandala prints. During cutting I attempted to center the mandala below the neckline on both front and back. I didn’t quite do that so I’ll always be wearing a vest to disguise the placement.

Rounded back and my tummy just pops out? This is not a good look for me. Must remember no large mandalas …. no large mandalas … no large mandalas

While I was using the same pattern and trying to tweak the fit, I still wanted to do something slightly different. I hunted in my stash and found  some lace:

I started attaching the lace by hand then switched to a narrow long zig-zag. It took me an hour!  I checked a RTW piece that I have and found they used a long straight stitch. I used the zig-zag along the edge hoping it wouldn’t be noticeable. My edges will stay flat. The RTW edges do curl in the laundry and have to be pressed into place. Well, I press all my garments after the laundry so next time I think I’ll try a long straight stitch.

My neckline binding is a simple up and over — no cover stitch. I cut the binding basted it to the neck edge and checked how it would lay. I like to join the ends using the quilters’ method which gives me a diagonal line across the back binding instead of a vertical join at center-back.  My neck seems to be especially sensitive to bulk.  I don’t like to use my cover stitch binders for neck bindings because the bulk irritates my neck. By that I mean I get a red, mildly-inflammed spot where the binding rubs my skin. The method I used takes a little more time. For one thing the cover stitch just seems to know how much to stretch the binding whereas I always have to baste, check and then permanently stitch. But then my method produces a smooth bulk free, irritation free finish. (After permanently stitching at the neckline, I smooth the binding up the seam allowance. Keeping the seam allowance standing, I wrapped the binding over the edge, down and below. I finished this time by top stitching on the front. Other times I do use the cover stitch for that final top stitching)

I don’t know if you noticed, but I’ve returned to adding shoulder pads to my garments.  WAWAK has 1/4″ shoulder pads. They are foam rubber (which I think is not really rubber any more??) and do have a little bit of body when compared to the 3/8″ fiber fill pads I previously used. I like that they just support the shoulders without giving me a football player appearance. Unfortunately, as stated earlier the placement of the mandala contradicts the shoulder pad’s visual assist.

Like the MPH test, I won’t be wearing this as originally planned.  I planned to wear the mandala print with my grey angel vest. But this is just so bland:

The grey vest and mandala top might look better paired with dark pants.  I just don’t know.  I’m not that good with color and contrast.

I had a few moments later in the day to add dark pants to the look. I tried on the mandala top with dark pants and a vest with an overall lighter tone. I’m leaning towards using a darker vest. The light grey vest doesn’t compete with the print but also doesn’t add any punch to the style.  The darker pants and darker but not dark (KWIM?)  is a more interesting style, but the mandala print loses the focus.

I do know, PP104 is once again a TNT. I need to make the sleeves shorter and remember to use shoulder pads or narrow the shoulder just a little more. Easy fixes. Good. Enough. and best of all DONE.


2 thoughts on “A Mandala Print

  1. I can really see why you like this print, and think that once you find which other garments work well with it that it will be a happy addition to your wardrobe. I think that the top picture in your post is the best one in terms of color values, that the grey vest and tan trousers are too much all the same, and the black pants disappear while the patterned vest almost competes with the mandala top… I wonder if the mandala top with the darker vest in your first photo would look good with the even darker pants in the final photo?

    I am wondering if this blog post about using value rather than color would be of any use in your experiments, though visual texture is also part of the equation…

    (Now that I have figured out how to photograph myself, it really has helped me see what looks better and what looks worse on me) combining things is an art form that is fun to do but rarely mastered, I am grateful for your willingness to continually share your journey


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