Marbella/Alicia Combishort (Itch to Stitch Birthday Tour)

In the vast world of sewing blogs, this little corner is small fry. So I was pretty excited when Kennis invited me to participate in the Itch to Stitch Birthday Blog Tour. Celebrate a fab indie designer? Make something new? Give readers the chance to win a whole bunch of cool prizes? Yes, yes and yes!

Itch to Stitch Birthday Fun

The theme of the blog tour is “Hack an Itch to Stitch Pattern”. Now for anyone not familiar, pattern hacking is the act of modifying a pattern, either by tweaking it, adding new design elements or smooshing it together with a second pattern to create a glorious lovechild garment. I went for the latter.

My starting point was the Itch to Stitch Marbella dress, a chic pattern with interesting design lines – princess seams, front and back yokes and a pleated tulip skirt. I decided that for my hack I would use just the bodice and combine it with shorts to make a one-piece “playsuit”.

Side note: is anyone else a little creeped out by that as a term for grownup woman clothing? I have tried to make my peace with it, but it still feels uncomfortable. “Romper” is no better. The french call it a “combishort”, which I like much more. I feel like a woman in a combishort makes sensible decisions, runs efficient errands and has meaningful conversations, probably all with a Gauloise slung between two fingers. I think I might adopt that going forward (the term, not the chainsmoking). 

ANYWAY, I searched the interweb for a shorts pattern with pleats or darts that would allow me to continue the princess lines of the bodice and (hopefully) make it look like an intentional 1-piece, eventually settling on BlueGingerDoll’s Alicia shorts.

For fabric I went with this beautiful soft navy cotton covered in gold pineapples, part of my A/W fabric haul, bought on a recent trip home. I tried to be careful with pattern placement/matching but with all the curved seams and pleats and darts it was a little tricky. Since there was already a lot going on I didn’t add much in the way of trim, except along the line of the yoke. I’ve seen lots of lovely Marbellas where you can hardly tell there’s a yoke, but this seemed kind of a shame to me. It’s a feature of the design and honestly if I’m going to the trouble of cutting out extra pattern pieces, people should know dammit! So I stuck some superclassy gold pleather piping (previously seen here) along the front yoke seam. Yum.

Since this is a birthday party, I think I’m entitled to sing the praises of the host a little. Starting with the revolutionary Itch to Stitch approach to PDFs! Using the layers function, you can “switch on/off” as many sizes as you want. No more eye-boggling counting of lines! Hurray!! Equally creative is the approach to fit, as the Marbella comes with a choice of 4 different cup sizes. As someone firmly in the “curvy” camp, I alllllways have to do an FBA, or otherwise fiddle with fitting in the bust area. Not so with this pattern. I did make a couple of small alterations in other areas (nipped in the waist and took out a couple of small wedges from the back neckline) but the fit around the bust was perfect from the start. Double hurray!!

The shorts took a little more faff, to make them work for me. I have to say crotch adjustments still utterly mystify me. I would love to take a trouser-making course at some point and get to the bottom of it all (so to speak), but for now I just toile, adjust and repeat (aided by the internet). On this particular pair the crotch seam was crazy far back, so I added length to the back pattern piece… like, a lot of length… and it’s still not totally right… as a result I got weird pooling in the front, so I pinched that out and shortened the front crotch depth. I also added length to the shorts, top and bottom, to make them meet the bodice at my natural waist and give a little more leg coverage. Oh and I had to move the zip to the back seam for obvious access issues.

I also decided to make life more difficult by trying to achieve a totally clean finish on the inside. I think because the bodice is lined, I felt the shorts needed to step up too. Also once the thought popped in to my head I also just had to know whether it was possible. Can you french crotch seams? Can you insert an invisible zip into a french seam? The answer is yes on both counts. Jen at Grainline has a great tutorial on frenching curved seams. I think the key is to trim your allowance nice and fine after the first line of stitching, so there’s nothing there to cause wrinkle issues. Carolyn has a great guide on inserting an invisible zipper into a french seam. I am, as ever, so very grateful for the magical online sewist community.

I’m pretty happy with my hack. I really like how the lines blend from bodice to shorts, and I’m pleased with the fit I managed to achieve on the shorts. Irritatingly, despite my toiling, the bodice has ended up a little tight, but it’s not drastic. Certainly won’t stop me wearing this beauty.

SO I bet you’re wondering what else is going down as part of the Itch to Stitch birthday shenanigans, eh?? It’s pretty great, let me tell you:

Firstly, you should definitely check out all the other Itch to Stitch creations on the blog tour. There are a whooole heap of talented sewists participating:

Scruffy Badger Time | Call Ajaire | Wally and Grace | Sew Wrong
Bella Sunshine Designs | 
Seaside Notions | Made by Jaime
Sweet Little Chickadee | Inspinration | Friends Stitched Together
Stoney Sews | My Little Sewing Dreams | Allie J. | Love, Lucie
Creative Counselor | Girls in the Garden |  FABulous Home Sewn
Goddess of Sewing | Rebel & Malice | The Telltale Tasha
House of Estrela | Made by Sara | Sew Shelly Sew | Red Knits

Secondly, there is a great big megabunde of amazing PRIZES to be won from these sponsors (enter via Rafflecopter):

Itch to Stitch First Anniversary Sponsors

The Fabric Store – $100 Gift certificate, Elliott Berman Textiles – Fabric bundle from France & Italy, Craftsy – three online classes of your choice, Girl Charlee Fabrics – $25 Gift certificate, Indie Sew – $25 Gift certificate, UpCraft Club – $25 Gift certificate, Quarto Publishing Group USA – the SHIRTMAKING WORKBOOK by David Page Coffin

Thirdly: Each day of the blog tour, one of these featured designers will give away 2 patterns to a lucky winner:

Baste + GatherStraight Stitch DesignsMegan Nielsen Patterns,
Jamie ChristinaHey June HandmadeWardrobe by MeFilles á Maman

Simply follow Itch to Stitch’s blog to be in with a chance of winning one of these patterns!

And that’s about all from me. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY ITCH TO STITCH!! Here’s to another year of awesome patternmaking adventure!! 🙂

Siobhan xx

Disclaimer, as I know this can be a point of huffy contention: I got the pattern for free but all opinions are my own 😉

5 thoughts on “Marbella/Alicia Combishort (Itch to Stitch Birthday Tour)

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