Thursday, September 24, 2009

Strong Shoulders

One of the trends this fall, as reported by fashion sources, is Strong Shoulders. "Soft and billowing or big and dramatic, shoulders take a starring role this season." Here are some of the photo’s I have in my idea file.(click on picture to enlarge)
When I look at these pictures my first thought is "Oh my gosh! How did they do that?" Followed shortly by… "Is that wearable in my world?" The techniques used by the designers to create these strong shoulders include gathering, pleating, padding, folding and structural steel (just kidding). The designer versions are pretty extreme. But many of them, when scaled down a bit, are very wearable. Some of these big shoulders are created with big sleeves. Sleeves that create width at the shoulder line visually slim the waist and hips. Plus my shoulders are sloping and on the small side to start with, so I really like this trend!
Even the sewing magazines have articles about big sleeves. Sewstylish magazine had an article titled "High Style Sleeves" that had instructions for modifying sleeve patterns to make two styles of "exaggerated sleeves that capture the modernized shoulder style".

I appreciated the Sewstylish article because it explained how to make the dramatic expanded shoulder in a way I never would have thought of. The original sleeve pattern cap is enlarged considerably. To avoid problems making the sleeve fit into the armhole, the sleeve is sewn over the original armhole. I briefly considered making a dress with this kind of sleeve just to try the technique, but I just didn’t think I would wear it; too afraid something like this would happen.

To satisfy my urge for a wearable wardrobe update, I sewed a couple of blouses with unique sleeves. The first one was Simplicity 2633, a Project Runway pattern for a princess seam blouse with a variety of collar, and sleeve options. I made the version with the short sleeves with pleat details. The sleeves are a modified version of a tulip sleeve.

The fabric was silk linen blend. I originally bought the fabric to use in a bias draping experiment (more on that in a future post). It was too stiff for draping. I washed two yards to soften it up, which didn’t happen, but the fabric took on a slightly rippled texture, which I really liked.

My second blouse, with a totally different sleeve, was made from Simplicity 2501.

I made view D, which has elbow length sleeves with gathers at the cap and along the length, a neckline tie, inset waist band, and a peplum. The sleeve pattern is freakish elongated. The fabric is gathered to a shorter length by sewing a long casing to the center of the sleeve on the wrong side, and inserting a short piece of elastic in the casing. The armhole gathers extend from the armhole front notch to armhole back notch.
The fabric for this blouse was silk print twill. Not the easiest fabric to cut out and sew, but worth the effort. I used silk organza for the interfacing and the sleeve gathering casing. I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Now on to something different!