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Fall Tabula Rasa Design

As I return to the studio after almost 6 weeks away, I am itching to sew for fall.  It is such a refreshing time to be planning and sewing with the cool nip in the air each morning.

A lovely floral linen, purchased at the ASG Conference, was really calling to me, but I knew it needed some companion fabrics to quiet the large print, which features a number of muted colors.

A swirl of the fabric!

Every time I went to the studio, I searched the stash for a color or two to compliment the print.  It was a slow and frustrating hunt.

The peach was shiny and washed out.

There were many colors that could be called a match, but often, they became dominant with their strong hues, prominent sheen, or competing texture.

Blue crossweave and orange

In my mind, for this top to be perfect, it needed complimentary colors that vanished into the composition.

Floral and cross weave taffetta

Ultimately, I unearthed a very dull piece of dupioni in a grey/purple color.  It was an excellent complement to this luscious print, but not a good color to compliment my complexion.   That begged for a third fabric to use as flat piping to add a little more color to the composition.  A small scrap of cross woven silk taffeta in beige and blue seemed like the right bridge between the fabric and my skin.

The winning combination.

As an added bonus, both fabrics looked great with the antique button card Carrie found to match the fabric.

Once I washed all three fabrics, I knew the combination was a winner.  Fortunately, the dupioni became softer and more textural and the taffeta softened in both color and hand.

While I was searching for the perfect fabric combo, I was also considering the perfect design.  The fabric certainly informed my design ideas, as did my desire to use all 9 glass buttons.  Designing for the weight of the buttons and the lightness of the fabric, led me to consider a shirt or blouse with a well-supported center front opening.

At this point I reflected on my favorite Tabula Rasa tops; which design could pull all these elements together?  The first top that I considered was the dark red and eggplant Shirt Variation made last fall.  It feels great and elicits many compliments.  While I thought that would work, I worried that the buttons would get lost on a shirt in this print.

Detail of the quilted collar

My next thought was a light weight quilted jacket I entered in the 2016 Threads Challenge.  It was a variation on the Rain or Shine Variations and the collar and cuff design offers great opportunities for glass button placement.

Wearing the challenge ensemble.

Before I started cutting, I put on the quilted jacket to assess its strengths and weaknesses.  I decided that for fall, I wanted this jacket to have full length sleeves and a longer length, in fact, the length of the red shirt would be perfect.  My other observation was that the front collar sat too high on my neck for everyday wear, but I decided it could be lowered easily.  The front neck redesign required some pattern adjustment, but I think the resulting neckline will be more comfortable.  I tested it with the paper pattern and was happy with the new shape.

Choosing the print for the back.

The new neckline patterns were superimposed onto my full gridded Pelon pattern so I could finesse the placement of the print on each sleeve, front and across the back.  This is more of an art than a science, but it does save surprisingly lopsided or matchy-matchy placement of the print, neither of which seemed ideal for this blouse.

Sleeve print placement.

My week has been busy so I have not made much more progress.  With the 1½ hour window I had Friday afternoon, I tested and then chose interfacing for the neckline, center front opening, collars and facings.

Interfacing samples

I used a combination of the two interfacings found in our Knit Interfacing Sampler.  While this is not a knit garment, the soft fabrics were beautifully supported by these fine interfacings.

Testing seams with the interfacing samples.

Maybe next week I can carve out time to pipe and stitch up this fun top.  I know I will enjoy wearing it and showing it to you at the expo’s and classes on my fall schedule.  A special note about our upcoming Tabula Rasa Jacket class at Capital Quilts October 12-13 in Gaithersburg MD.  This class will be open to beginner students who need to make and fit a mock up and also to students who already have made a mock up and want to tackle a variation, a new fabric, or a complex pieced top.  Sign up now; there are a limited number of seats in their lovely classroom.

Happy Sewing!  RAE

3 thoughts on “Fall Tabula Rasa Design

  1. Thanks for sharing your design process. The floral linen truly is yummy! Thanks for the reminder too. I just signed up for the TRJ class – put it on the calendar, but didn’t end up getting to Capitol Quilts for their sale day to sign up in person. See you soon…and maybe you’ll be wearing your new jacket.

  2. I’m impressed that you were able to subdue and enhance that large print so beautifully. A terrific combo!

  3. Sharing your thought process is so helpful as a learning tool for my own thinking. Thank you!

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