Sewing Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Pattern Size: OS - you will have to eyeball/adjust the size to fit you
Personal Opinion: Being an experienced sewist is helpful, but it is beginner friendly as there is a detailed video that you can follow!
Fabric Choice: Poly Silk Brocade: Black & Gold. $18/M (I used 1 M).
One of my best friend's got married last week & it's safe to say that I am still suffering the consequences of a fun Indian wedding a week later (it's totally worth it though). It was so nice to finally be able to celebrate a wedding in a normal-ish manner since COVID took that experience away from us for a little while! The wedding week included a mehndi night, ladies sangeet, wedding day & reception night. This meant that I needed 4 outfits...1 for each event.
I felt pretty confident that I would have all 4...that was until I started rummaging through my outfits and came to the conclusion that I was falling short on one outfit. There wasn't enough time to get something made (I'm very picky) and a lot of outfits I have don't fit me anymore. I knew this information 5 days before the reception yet somehow kept thinking an outfit would magically appear for me to wear. Well, that didn't happen - so on the day of the reception I had to make some quick decisions!
My wonderful friend decided to come in that day to purchase a custom made top. I was explaining how stressed out I was about not having an outfit to wear & being the awesome friend that she is, she offered to lend me a beautiful black lehenga for the evening. With this offer, my stress began to fade & I immediately knew which top I could quickly create to match the lehenga.
A few weeks earlier I had come across a Youtube video called "DIY Trendy Corset Top Tutorial" by a well known Youtuber named Nava Rose. I watched the tutorial, printed out the PDF pattern & got to sewing. I didn't follow the instructions/techniques to a tee, but had a good enough understanding of it and was happy with the outcome! Here's a picture of the 1st attempt.
Anyways, back to my story...
The idea of doing the corset came to mind when I was offered the lehenga. As soon as left, I my friend left I began scouring through the fabrics and came across this GORGEOUS brocade that I hadn't used or even put on the floor yet. Although the tutorial suggests using knit fabrics, I decided to go with a woven because I didn't have any knits with mature/flashy prints. I took my previously printed out PDF pattern, laid it out on the brocade and began to rotary cut. It is extremely important that those of you who decide to download & print the pattern keep in mind that you have to add your own seam allowance. Being that I was in a rush, I COMPLETELEY FORGOT. I had already cut out my body & lining pieces when I realized I did not add seam allowance, so I used the back pattern to help me create an extension piece for the grommets. I made the pattern piece approximate 2.5 inches in width to give me a total of 5 inches added to the back. PHEW - I guess the pattern making class I took in University came in more handy than I thought. With that crisis adverted, I began to sew like a MADWOMAN. Were my seams perfect? Most definitely not. But I was getting it done & that's all that mattered in the moment.
After sewing the body & lining seams, I pinned the two pieces together, making sure to leave one side seam open so that I could turn the pieces out to the right side. As for difficulties, the brocade I used is a Poly-Silk mix and it frays very easily, so I had to be really careful when sewing that the silk threads didn't get caught in my seams. The other thing I'd like to point out is that the bodice does include 2 princess seams which may be difficult for beginners, but with lots of pins and taking your time, it is do able! Other than that, the blouse was fairly simple to construct because I decided to eliminate the boning. My major stress boiled down to the time limit I was facing - I only had two hours to complete this top which included grommets (this was the part I was really worried about).
Once I had finished sewing the lining & body together, I steam ironed my blouse to get really nice crisp seams. The iron was truly the hero in this story because I was able to shape and mould my blouse to my liking & pressing always helps to give a professional looking finished product.
The final step was to insert grommets. I decided to use 1/2 inch grommets in black as they would create a cool contrast on the back of the blouse. The most nerve-wracking part about inserting grommets is cutting a hole in the fabric for the grommet to fit in & ensuring that the grommets are aligned. I like to use this technique where I create marks using chalk on one piece, align my pattern pieces & then press them together so the chalk marks transfer perfectly to the other piece. The technique worked which allowed me to confidently make small cuts into the extension pieces and then I simply followed the instructions for adding the grommets which are included on the back of the grommet toolkit (make sure you don't throw the package away!) PS. You will need a hammer to ensure that the grommet is inserted properly.
The best part of this story is that I FINISHED ON TIME & successfully made a blouse to wear to one of my best friend's receptions!
I want to give Nava Rose a HUGE shoutout for creating such a wonderful & figure flattering pattern. I would HIGHLY recommend this pattern & tutorial. After watching it once, I was able to memorize what I needed to do & Nava Rose has some cool techniques such as using zip ties in place of boning! Her video is extremely clear & concise - I will link it below. Check it out & let me know what you think!