Late last year the girls over at Bombazine did a great week-long round up of tank patterns for summer, including the Tessuti Ruby. I'd been eyeing off Ruby top, after seeing all those elegant shoulders (such as Helens, and Rachels) but feeling a bit tight post Christmas decided to try my hand at the free Salme Sonja dress pattern which has a similar high neckline and cutaway shoulders (but with darts and much more fitted). To cut a long story short it was a fail fail fail and didn't get past the calico stage. Time was short as I had a plan whirling around my head for Frocktails so Ruby it was.
My first Ruby is made from a beautiful lightweight Merchant and Mills Indian Khadi slub cotton from Stitch 56. It is described as being woven from blue and gold threads but it's not shiny - probably closer to a beige than true gold but no less beautiful. It's quite narrow (120cm) compared to conventional fabrics as I suspect it is hand woven and somehow I wanted to use the beautiful selvage in whatever I made from it.
Out of necessity from fabric restrictions I had to shorten my Ruby. The hemline is drafted on a curve but using the selvage of the fabric on the hem as a straight edge did change the shape a little - that dipped curve allows for boobage cover and so my straightening inadvertently created a slightly cropped and high- low hem which I'm not unhappy with.
I made a size 8 and am very happy with the fit. Initially I ignored the instructions and bound the armholes and neckline more traditionally as one would with normal bias binding but found it too bulky. It also used up more seam allowance which just made the front armholes a little more cutaway, revealing slightly too much flesh in my armscye crease so I accepted I was a foolish fool, unpicked it all, and proceeded to handsew the exposed binding (rather than machine stitching in the ditch as directed). Side seams were frenched and thanks to my lovely selvage there was no hemming needed!
The only changes I made with future versions as a top has been to raise the armhole by 1cm, tapering to nothing a few cm each sided of the side seam. I've also added 2/8 inch seam allowance to the neck and armhole seams so I can use traditional bias binding. I made a thread loop and used a little pinkish pearly vintage button my stash.
I really love this neckline and arm shape - it's elegant and chic, but as many have mentioned they can be problematic when it comes to bra options. I've come to the conclusion that on me the traditional uber-padded stickyy strapless bra is no fun. But after much consideration and ferreting through my smalls draw I realised the perfect combination for this top is a triangle shaped bra, with a convertible back that allows either a crossover configuration or a racerback option. The triangle shape brings the straps in off the shoulders compared to a traditional balconette style bra. I shared my eureka moment with Instagram - here's a couple of pics of my dress form wearing both a convertible padded bra and a flimsy little teenager racerback crop top triangle thing I picked up for about 10 bucks (which is what I am wearing in the above pics). I hope this is of some help to others who have been struggling to match a wearable but hidden bra with a top like this one.
Stay tuned for version 2 of the Ruby pattern, which just so happens to be my Frocktail dress. And Version 3 is nearly finished!