Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the Gorgeous Godet Top came to be, from the original idea to the final pattern available now. It’s a longer process than you might think - but also lots of fun. And I promise there is some ugly fabric to cringe at, a little Wilma Flintstone cosplay in between, and some pretty fabric to admire in the end!
THE BIG IDEA
I based the idea on an old ready-to-wear knit top. I liked it and got compliments on it, but I always wanted it to be drapier and more fun. So I played around with sketches (I am soooo not an artist) and sent some drawings with a description to Christine Groom, the patternmaker.
I wanted Style Falcon to always offer options for those of us who run hot or cold, so a sleeveless look and scoop neck for one version, and a long-sleeved cowl neck for the second version.
Christine took this sketch and my description and came up with a proper sketch on a croquis. Looks better already, right?
She had lots of questions about how drapey the top should be and the size and shape of the cowl so that it would fall into pretty folds without being droopy or collapsing inside the top. Also - note the date here - February 2021. This top was released for sale in March 2022 - it had been in the works for a year.
A TASTE OF SAMPLES
Christine got to work on the top, building off of the block we'd already made with Meg Greene, the fit model for Style Falcon patterns. Christine applied the design to the block to make the pattern, then sewed up the first sample to test the pattern out. Here it is, modeled on Ruby, my dressform:
The sample is made of knit fabric leftover from a lining Christine made for a client (she’s a custom couturier in addition to a patternmaker). Those of us who sew understand not using your best fabric for first draft sample. But my friends who saw this wanted to know why the top was the color of an old bra!
Meg tried it on and we made some fit and drape decisions from there. The shoulders were a little wide, for example, and the top was too long. But the cowl was pretty and the drape was excellent from the beginning!
Christine revised the pattern, and I sewed up the next sample. I haunted the remnant section of Jo-Ann and came up with this mishmash - a little Wilma Flintstone cosplay to make it fun:
I also tried samples in different types of knit fabrics to see how they behaved. Here’s one that was not successful at all:
I thought the top might look cool in a striped fabric. I also thought it might work in a light sweater knit. I was wrong on both counts. The top really needs knits with four-way stretch to work well. And the stripes? They just look sad because the drape distorts them. So I learned that stripes are cool for the godets, bands and sleeves, but not for the body of the top.
PUTTING THE "G" IN GORGEOUS
Now it was time for some nice fabric. It was also time for me to write down the instructions in short form and test out the construction order and techniques.
We had one last fitting session with Meg at my house in Connecticut (masked up, as Covid was raging) and Christine over Zoom from California in late April. Meg had provided feedback on how the top felt to wear and how it looked all along, but now was the final test. How did it feel to put on and take off? Did anything feel too tight or loose? Could you do the Funky Chicken in it? We also made sure to test the top seated. Everything was great.
Christine, Meg and I worked on other patterns this same way. This pattern and the others in development went to the pattern grader, Brian Lee, in late summer.
MAKING THE GRADE
Meg, as the fit model, is in the middle of Style Falcon’s size range - size F. From there, Brian graded the pattern five sizes smaller and five sizes larger, for 11 sizes in all, A through K.
Here’s what the cowl looks like graded. F is the black line in the middle. Grading took a while, as we had to decide on the grading rules - that is, how much larger or smaller to make each size. For most pattern pieces, the orange lines follow one rule, sizes G, H and I follow a different rule, and sizes J and K follow yet another rule. (For the cowl, just two rules were used, since you don't really want the cowl growing as much as the body of the top.)
Brian's graded patterns are pretty simple to look at. There are just the cutting lines, grainline, notches and label for each piece. This was enough for me and two other experienced seamstresses to sew up samples in September to test the pattern, grading and basic order of construction, seam types and other details. We all used the same fabric to ensure consistency. And we all came back with great results.
Once I knew the grading was solid, it was time to sew a version for myself in my size, D:
I am a fool for a poppy print!
At this point, the top was just called Style 2301 A and B. But now that it was ready to wear and share with the world, it needed a catchier name. I showed a friend the pictures, and she said "Wow, that's gorgeous!" TA-DA! We had a name!
MAKING IT EASY AND MAKING IT PRETTY
The samplemakers and I used a very basic order of construction to sew our versions. Here's what that looks like:
Most home sewers were going to need more guidance than this, so here's where Adrianna Aguirre, the graphic designer, came in. She made the line drawings, illustrated each major step, and made the patterns look gorgeous with bold, clear markings. She also created the layered .pdfs for printing at home or at a copy shop. Her work ran through the fall and winter on this and other patterns.
I wrote all the instructions and then sewed more samples to ensure they all made sense and were clear. I also wrote the pattern description and all the other copy for the pattern, Website and line. And I built the Website. I really missed my sewing machine during this time!
I called a local fashion school to see if any students would be interested in doing some illustrations for me. I really wanted traditional hand-drawn fashion illustrations for my line - I just love the artistry behind them.
I connected with a student who created several great looks. I especially love these, and they became the illustrations for the Website:
THE GORGEOUS GODET GOES TO PORTUGAL, UK AND CANADA
I needed one more round of testing to make sure everything was OK. I asked for help with a few home sewers I've known for years through blogs and pattern reviews. They all generously gave of their time - and fabric - to help me in February. (Note: I pay testers or make charitable donations on their behalf.) Their feedback provided valuable tweaks to the instructions and pattern markings, and ensured one last time that the pattern sews up as intended.
Ready for some looks?
Elaine in the UK (laineemakes on Instagram) made this pretty pretty pretty version and enjoyed it on her vacation to Portugal.
Janine in Canada (janineerm on Instagram) did a cool version with contrasting godets - an animal print inspiration so much better than the Wilma Flintstone sample I made.
This top already has been to more places in the world than I have been during the past two years! And since it went on sale in March, it's traveled even further.
I'd love to hear how you make out with the Gorgeous Godet Top and other Style Falcon patterns. I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look. Please drop me a line in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.