The Hortence, a distinguished yet whimsical bohemian style top offers a great combination of styling and comfort. The shirred yoke, standing collar and cuffed wide sleeves give this top a nostalgic feel. It is another fantastic pattern release from Fibre Mood.
I chose to make the Hortence top by simply lengthening the front and back bodice. The dress has two additional tiers that are added to create a flared dress with retro classic styling. Based on bust measurements I made a size large. An 8-10" ease has been added to the width measurements for a more comfortable fit. It is designed to have a looser cut but with the addition of the smocking the top fits nicely across the chest and shoulders, than drapes beautifully through the bodice. Depending on your preferred cut, you could easily go a size smaller or larger than your recommended size.
I made very few alterations to the basic Hortence pattern. I lengthened the sleeve by 4 inches so that there would be plenty of length after adding the shirred cuff. This allowed for a very small rolled hem. I lengthened the bodice by 8.5" to allow for the top to hit at my high hip. If you are making the dress, there will most likely not be any need to lengthen the bodice. Extra length can be added to the tiers, or simply add a third tier.
I used a crepe chiffon for my top. It was the perfect weight to allow for drape through the bodice but it isn't too heavy to create the smocked top by shirring the yoke. The weight of the fabric that you use is important for this make because of the shirring. A soft drape fabric is the only way to go for this romantically styled Hortence. Chiffon, gauze, crepe, silk, satin or viscose would all work well for the shirring option.
The shirring techniques outlined in this pattern are very helpful. I have not made a garment with shirring other than one with a straight band for a dress, waistband or cuff. So I was very interested in this pattern as it uses cut out yoke pieces once you have made the shirred fabric. The pattern come with 3 long rectangular pattern pieces that you cut out of your fabric and shirr first. Once you have done this you simply lay the yoke patterns on top of your shirred fabric, pin and cut out your regular size It is a fun process and it works really well.
Make sure you practise your shirring techniques on scrap pieces of fabric so that you can get your tension and parallel line spacing correct. I used a pink elastic thread that matched the fabric which you can find on Amazon. It isn't necessary to use a matching elastic thread just make sure that you are using a colour that doesn't shine through the fabric with too much contrast.
It is important to note that you should hand wind your elastic bobbin without stretching it too tight. Keep the elastic thread loose but make sure it is wound evenly. Remember to wind the bobbin the same direction that you machine would- just compare it an already wound bobbin. If you wind your elastic thread the wrong way your machine will not be hammer and it will not be fun process. Once you have sewn one row of thread simply stitch down the side of the fabric 6-5-6 stitches then pivot your needle and continue to sew the next row. Gently stretch the fabric so that you are sewing it flat. The gathers will form as you sew each row. After sewing your rectangular pieces, use the steam from your iron (without touching the stitches) to completely gather the elastic threads. This will give you an evenly shirred piece of fabric to cut your patterns pieces from.
The shirring does take a while and taking your time will really give you a consistently finished piece. It is well worth the effort. The great thing is that once your shirring is complete and you have cut out the pieces the rest of the top/dress goes together really quickly. It really is an easy sew that finishes with a creative design that is fun to style and to wear.
If you want to explore shirring and you enjoy a more relaxed, bohemian style top try the Hortence. It will work with so many different fabrics-the options are endless.
After all.... There is Sew Much To Design
Happy Hortence Sewing,