Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Nicola Wrap Top

I was debating whether or not to blog this make, as it wasn't my finest sewing hour. Or should I say hours, as for a little top it seemed to take up a lot of time.  

It's the Nicola wrap top by Victory Patterns, and seeing it displayed on the hanger I do quite like it. I've just got it into my head that it looks a bit like an elephant!

See those big flappy elephant ears. I was becoming quite fixated with the Nellie the elephant resemblance until I caught sight of the back.  There I seem to have a big n' burly American Footballer look going on.  Hmmm, not the most flattering of looks!

In fairness I did go off-piste and deviated from the pattern when inserting the sleeves. I had started out religiously trying to follow the instructions, but for the sleeves there was so much excess fabric, no amount of wrestling with it was going to make it fit. It's an issue that I've also seen mentioned on Sewin' in the Rain's blog, so I'm thinking it could be a technical imperfection in the pattern markings or instructions.  

Not having much experience in sleeves I muddled through by increasing the overlap of the kimono sleeve until it fitted. I wish I had seen Sewin' in the Rain's post earlier though as it's really helpful in highlighting some issues with this pattern and how to fix them (she used two rows of ease stitching at 3/8s and 5/8s for her sleeves).

The pattern also included a technique called sausaging. This technique was meant to neatly enclose the raw seam allowance on the waistband, but the instructions were really confusing so I had no idea how to do this. Strangely, I've googled the technique and looked it up in my sewing books but it's not really mentioned anywhere and I couldn't find any tutorials. If anyone knows anything about the world of sausaging I'd love to know?! Does it have another name maybe? 

My googling for help with the instructions led me to discover a fair few stylish versions of the Nicola dress online, but hardly any wrap tops at all.  I can understand it as you can see from the pattern cover below how enticingly elegant the dress is.  
Victory Pattern Cover
Also for me the billowing kimono sleeves more suit the silhouette of the dress, as the flow of the fabric over the hips seems to balance the shape more so it's not as top heavy. A plus point for the wrap top though is that it doesn't use much fabric and I was able to cobble it together from a few off-cuts of purple chambray from my Mathilde blouse. I also suspect that if I had used a lighter fabric the sleeves would have looked more relaxed and flowing like in the cover photo.

I typically live in jeans and a strappy top, and so I like how throwing on this wrap could instantly and effortlessly smarten me up a bit. For this reason I'm seeing a black version with less puffy sleeves in my future, as I'm sure I'd get lots of wear from that.

No sooner had I completed this first Victory Pattern than another Victory Pattern has unexpectedly arrived on the scene. This was courtesy of the Perfect Pattern Parcel I bought last week which included the very pretty looking Ava dress and top (if you've not heard of the Perfect Pattern Parcel initiative check out this blog post by Dixie for more information). The Ava is an intermediate, so as I didn't find this beginner pattern a walk in the park I think I'll be saving it for a bit, but I'm keen to give Victory Patterns another try.

I just wanted to finish with showing you my new system for organising my pattern pieces that I came up with while working on Nicola.

I used to have my pieces scattered chaotically around my sewing room. It meant crumpled fabric and paranoid quadruple checks every time I reached for a piece to make sure I was taking the correct one. So I've now started pegging them all to a clothes horse with the paper pattern piece on top. Much more organised and fabric friendly, so I just thought I'd share it and see if anyone else does this or has any other good tips for what to do with the pieces during the project? 

And that’s a wrap, folks (geddit?!?!)


  1. I've heard of the term "burrito method" which is used to accomplish enclosing a raw edge. I've not used the method myself, as like you, found the instructions very confusing.

    1. Thanks for the tip, I've now googled the burrito method and found lots of tutorials on that which I'd be interested to try in a future project :)