I was over-the-moon excited to be included in the Sew, Mama, Sew Citronille pattern challenge, sponsored by Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. I first discovered these charming French patterns for children while traveling in Paris some years ago. Swoon!
Citronille is more well-known for their sweet, classic children’s patterns, but they also have a selection of adult patterns (many based on the same design lines as the children’s patterns). I made the Mia Top, a classic-looking asymmetrical tunic. I used some grey and white ikat Japanese cotton from my stash, because, well, evidently I can only sew black for myself. 😉
First off, a few things you should know.First, Citronille patterns are written in French. If you are not fluent (and I am not), Fiddlehead has done you a favor and provided a glossary of terms plus a translation of the pattern instructions so you can figure how to put these garments together. Thank you, Fiddlehead! Second, the instructions are rather minimalist. If you have ever sewn with Style Arc patterns, the “depth” of instructional information is similar for Citronille. If you are an absolute beginner, you might have a little trouble. The patterns themselves are simple with only a few pattern pieces, but the finishing details assume you have some sewing knowledge. Finally, there are no fitting alterations/adjustment lines included. No biggie for me, and you can (should?) get this information from fitting books anyway.
Now, let’s talk about the Mia top specifically. I was very attracted to this style because I love anything asymmetrical. It is just an edgier, more interesting design line to my eye.
Here are a few things I noticed when I started working with the pattern.
- I was very surprised to see the front dart was the same size for all pattern sizes. Generally, the larger the garment size the larger the dart size, so that set off a little alarm bell in my head. I decided to just go ahead and try it as drafted.
- The grainlines were marked on each pattern piece, but notching was almost non-existent. OK, I know where things are supposed to line up, so I could deal with that.
- The pattern included a front, back, sleeve, front facing, and collar pattern piece, but no back facing. OK, no biggie, I drafted a back facing pattern in about 2 minutes.
The only pattern adjustments I made to the Mia top were for a forward shoulder and petite-ing above the waist, because I need those 2 adjustments on every pattern. Every.Single.One. Ready to cut out!
Since there are only 5 (+ 1 back neck facing) pattern pieces, the cutting was fast and easy. I stitched the darts, then the shoulder seam, and then set in the sleeves. The instructions call for running an easing stitch first to help set the sleeve, but the Mia sleeve fits correctly into the armhole so I did not find this necessary. If this “no easing” technique is new to you, be sure to read over my How to Set in a Sleeve Without An Easing Stitch tutorial.
When I went to stitch the side seams and sleeve seam (in one continuous seam), I discovered a pretty major drafting flaw. The front and back sides do not match up. By a lot; specifically 3/4 of an inch. “Walking” the seamlines to ensure the lengths match is Pattern Drafting 101, so I consider this to be a major AND super-easy-to-correct pattern flaw that Citronille absolutely should correct. At this point, all I could do to my top was shorten the back to match the front. Depending on your preferred tunic length, you may prefer to extend the front and front facing pattern pieces to match the back length. At any rate, be aware of this pattern flaw!
The rest of the pattern went together fine. I did not follow the pattern instructions regarding the collar + facing technique, because I detest the no-back-neck-facing-kludgey-collar-system. Truly. I hate it and never do the sew-one-collar-layer-then-stuff-the-seam-allowance-inside-and-hand-sew-the-opening-closed method. Far cleaner and easier to sew by including a back neck facing. Two minutes of pattern drafting solves this issue, and is well worth it IMHO.
The rest of the construction was easy. All in all, this top sewed up very quickly.
Now let’s talk about fit and design. Despite my concern over the dart drafting, the Mia Top fit me very nicely, especially though the shoulders and armhole. There is good arm movement in this shirt, which is important in a woven garment! I think it fits well thru the bustline, but just barely. So if you are bigger than a C cup, beware. The fit through the waist and hip area was also just fine.
As for design, on my body I think it is just OK. It is a little too shapeless to be really flattering for me. Rolling the sleeves up helps, I think. Note that IMHO the overlap on the fronts is very odd; the extension is completely across the entire shirt front. This means that you are attempting to tie/button/snap the garment together in your armpit area. And just for the record, that is darn hard to do. The Mia Top would be much more wearable from my standpoint if it wasn’t so irritating to get into/close up properly, and reducing the front overlap would easily solve this issue.
Despite the fact I think this top is a little “meh” on me, I definitely plan to sew some of the Citronille children’s designs. Maybe it was my fabric choice, or maybe they do not design for my body type. At any rate, I definitely plan to sew up some of their children’s patterns because I love, love, love many of their designs and my darling granddaughter needs a few of them in her wardrobe.
Be sure to check out the beautiful things sewn up by the other bloggers in this challenge, who have all been posting this week—you might just fall in love with Citronille designs, too. And don’t forget to enter to win a free Citronille pattern at Sew, Mama, Sew next week!
Michelle Morris of That Black Chic
Sherri Sylvester of thread riding hood
Tenille Brien of Tenille’s Thread
Ari Green of Max California
Marisa of thirtynine
Sara Johansen of the Sara project
Natalie Strand of Vegetablog
Diane Reafsnyder of Gator Bunny
Jessica Wright of Willow & Stitch
Sara Homer of Now Try This
Kelly Donovan of Craftree