Eight weeks ago I had a double mastectomy because I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not telling you this to shock you or for your sympathy, after all this is a sewing blog. I’m sharing this so you will know the true reason behind my choice of projects these past few months, and the months upcoming. But before I jump into sewing, I want to say that my prognosis is excellent, and I have the good fortune of not requiring any post treatments such as chemo therapy or radiation.
However, I am currently “under reconstruction.” My breasts are temporarily oddly shaped and uneven. That is why I am choosing tops and dress patterns that are loose and gathered above the chest. One week after surgery, I started to think about all the hot weather that is to come, looked through all my patterns, and choose The Kiomi Top from Lotta Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, as my first recovery make.
I thought this pattern would make up nicely in a quilting weight cotton fabric as I desired an opaque, more substantial weight fabric rather than a voile or lawn cotton which is my usual preference for a top or blouse. I ordered two fabrics from my favorite online store, Hawthorne Threads. (As much I prefer buying fabric in person, I think it’s awesome to purchase fabric online when you have drains attached to you, can’t drive yet, and really don’t want to leave the house.) I chose two fabrics – Iza Pearl Designs, Blush & Bloom collection, Floral Stripe in Aqua, $9.95 per yard, and Leah Duncan, Lore collection, Olympus in Navy, $12.95 per yard. I bought 1 3/4 yards of each.
After studying the photos of the Kiomi in the book, I decided I would prefer less flair for this semi-cropped top. Lotta Jansdotter looks taller and thinner than me, so she can pull off a more extreme A-line. I took out eight inches of width at the bottom of the top. I did this by cutting two slashes on both the front and back patterns pieces and overlapping the openings by an inch at the bottom. I found the width to be perfect and was very happy I made this adjustment.
LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The size range in this book is XS to XL. I made a Medium (bust 36 – 37 1/2) and it fit fine even though my bust size falls closer to the Small measurements.
2. I had an issue with the neckline on this pattern. With my first top, I followed the instructions to pull the neckline gathers to 3 1/2″ for the size Medium before sewing on the bias tape. This was too much gathering. It caused the neckline to be pulled into a kind of soft “V” shape and also pulled armholes towards the chest area. I studied all the photo examples in the book, and none of the necklines looked like mine which leads me to believe the measurements in the book were not adequately “tested.” For my second top, I pulled the gathers to 5″. I found this to be a much more acceptable result and looked more like the rounded necklines in the book.
Left: Gathers are 3 1/2″. Right: The gathers are 5″.
3. I had an issue with the instructions for the neckline bias tape. You are given a pattern for 2″ bias tape and instructions to iron it down the middle and then in on both sides 1/2″. This of course creates a 1/2″ bias tape which is to be used on both the neckline and arm holes. Looking at all the photos in the book and the illustrations on instruction page, the neckline bias binding is clearly wider than the armhole binding. In a couple of the photos the neckline binding looks like it could be as wide as 1″. There are no instructions that differentiate the binding widths of neckline and armholes. I like the way the wider neckline binding looks, so of course I made adjustments on my own to achieve that. However, small details are what make a simple design such as the Kiomi unique, and I think the creators of the book owe their followers instructions and patterns pieces which will enable them to create exactly what they see in the photos.
4. Despite my complaints above, I love actually these two tops and have already worn them both several times. They serve the purpose that was intended for them – in the hot weather, they hide my not so perfect chest AND I still feel cute.
5. This is my third project from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter. I have a post on the Esme Tunic here. I also made the Owyn Pants. I haven’t done a post about them, but you can see photos of them in this post.
I am especially grateful right now that I can sew. I am able to create clothes that I feel great in post-surgery. What about you, when have you felt grateful that you can sew?