Now, I had considered this conversion on my own. It’s really not that difficult to create a surplice front from a pattern that fits. Problem is, most surplices don’t hang nicely on me. They gap; or they grow. I ended up taking in the last surplice I did 7 times, 7 inches. Finally tossed the thing in the trash along with the pattern (I think an Ottobre Design). I’m not fated to achieve better results by creating my own surplice either. But it wasn’t the surplice alone that got my attention. FFA has added shawl collar to the surplice; tweaked the surplice to have an upper insert, empire or curved hem or uneven hem created via side tucks. Most intriguing to me is the tulip sleeve. I simply had no idea how to go from the TRT long sleeve to the flutter sleeve. Alas, I will not be using the most interesting sleeve until fall. (I can’t stand sleeves or any kind mid-summer).
What they don’t advertise is the fitting procedure for the surplice which is included in the instructions. Generally I read through the instructions one and never consult them again. I’m looking for anything tricky rather than new. I’ve got lots of experience under my belt when it comes to sewing. Which translates to lots of preferred ways of doing things. I’m not doing something different just because it is in the instructions. Actually I’ve had several experiences where doing what was in the instructions made the process much more difficult and resulted in a amateurish finish. But I do at least skim the instructions and stopped short when I realized I had not seen this method of fitting the surplice. And I won’t be sharing that today either. It’s a process that requires either a genuine muslin that you plan to toss, or a wearable garment in which the needed change is discovered and then transferred to the pattern for the next garment. I decided upon the later because I’ve had so many surplices that fit nicely out of the envelope but as the day wore on needed more and more safety pins in front. I’d rather like to know the full extend of the needed alteration before slashing the pattern.
For $12 (plus shipping) you get a lot of pattern pieces. I don’t want to dig through all that flimsy tissue every time I want a new variation. Besides, you have to sort through different cup sizes for the same pattern piece. So even though it took an hour, I sorted through and traced all the size Large, A cup pattern pieces. I knew immediately I was not making a true surplice i.e. right and left sides do not have a surplice.
I don’t really think of this as a faux-surplice. It isn’t just bias tape or contrast band stitched to the front piece. It is a separate full left front and surplice right front.
I opted to stitch the 2 tucks
which create the asymmetrical hem
The pattern includes (and I traced) a pattern piece for a shaped front band and back band. Not sure why I traced those because I always intended to cut a strip from a contrast fabric to create the band. It’s a knit. A cross-grain strip will wrap around that edge just as easily as a fussed-with shaped band.
Well I take it, back I didn’t always intended to use just the contrast band. I did consider using the contrast fabric for the surplice front or maybe substituted for back or side panels. In my head, those variations always looked like the Art To Wear of the person trying to use up scraps rather than the artist selecting materials. KWIM? Let’s just say I have a limited appreciation of Art To Wear.
I am puzzled about the final fit. The back really surprised me. This is the first time I’ve seen such tightness across the back and really narrow at the shoulders.
I do remember narrowing the shoulders about a half-inch and of course sloping them. I expected to make a small adjustment to the front shoulder. But along with the other fitting concerns, I just pleated the front shoulder of the surplice to fit the back
I’m reluctant to blame the fabric. I’ve used that too many times. It sounds like a goto excuse rather than a bona-fide issue. But this was not the best fabric. It’s a 100% poly that has been sitting in the stash for numerous years. It’s the kind that pills and will be in and out of the wardrobe quickly. Which makes it good for a wearable muslin i.e. nice enough that I can stand wearing it several times and discover any issues but I won’t have to tolerate its shortcomings for very long. Back to the point, I don’t see any of these issues in my first sleeveless TRT nor any of the other sleeved versions. So are they fabric issues? Did they result from adding the surplice? Combining surplice with full front? So what’s the plan? Well I like it:
So I’m going to wear it and check the fit of the surplice. I’m going to review my previous versions of the TRT and see if any of the others have a tight-fitting back and see how narrow they are across the shoulders. After I take stock, another one of these is definitely in the works.