The first thing that struck me about the Cielo was its versatility. As I did my usual stalking of the hashtag before deciding whether to buy the pattern, I came across quite a few sewers who had made several versions of the Cielo – always a good sign – and had hacked it in interesting ways. On the face of it, it’s a basic woven boxy tee / shift dress, with an interesting statement sleeve variation. But if you know me, you know I love a good basic – give me a simple, classic silhouette and I am sold! So let me tell you how I got on with the Cielo top…
The Cielo top and dress, by Closet Case Patterns. I made a cross between view A and view B.
The fabric is a white washed linen from Textile Express (100% linen, 230 gsm, £12.50/m). I’m on a definite linen streak at the moment – maybe because of all these sunny days spent at home where I can choose comfort over wrinkle avoidance – and this fabric was lovely to work with. I have plenty left for another Kalle, which makes me happy!
Sizing & Alterations
My measurements (#B34W29H37) put me in a size 6 based on the bust, with my waist and hips more like a size 8-10. I selected a size 6, and since it’s so boxy, I didn’t grade at all at the waist or hips. I’m about 5’6″ and I didn’t alter the length at all, in case that helps you guage where the cropped length naturally sits.
I made a wearable toile of the Cielo using a viscose from my stash – sadly I can’t remember where I got this particular fabric, but I do love the print.
I think the oversized/boxy fit is more evident in softer, drapier fabrics, and while I like this as a lazy woven tee, I definitely plan to size down when using similar fabrics going forward. But for slightly more weighty, structured fabrics, like the linen I used for this top, I’m going to stick with this size!
I photographed a bunch of cheesy poses SPECIFICALLY to answer the burning question you may have (at least, I did) – can you safely raise your arms in this top?! Yes. As long as you’re wearing something high waisted underneath. I’m wearing my favourite high waisted black work trousers here and, well, see for yourself..
I backed the darts off by approximately 1.5″ – for some reason they came out all the way to the bust point on me – but other than that, I didn’t make any fitting adjustments to the pattern, because I had been happy with the fit of the viscose version. However, the more structured linen has highlighted a couple of adjustments I will make to future versions. As you can see, there’s a bit of gaping/standing at the neckline, which wasn’t present on the (drapier) wearable toile. To resolve this, I pinned out a couple of dart at the back neckline to help the fabric follow the curve of my round shoulders. This is a round shoulder adjustment I’ve made before on many patterns, and when I’m sufficiently motivated, I can unpick the bias bound neckline, sew those darts in and then re-do the neckline binding. I am also going to adjust the slope of the shoulder seam. Both of these adjustments will reduce the circumference of the neckline, so I’ll just need to compare the adjusted neckline to my head circumference and possibly widen it a smidge if necessary. So for now, let’s just agree to ignore the gaping neckline in these photos – I certainly intend to!
I made two ‘design’ alterations to the pattern, with this fabric in mind.
First, I removed the back shoulder yoke because I didn’t want to have an extra seam on the back. With my skin tone, facings, pockets and extra seams have always been a bug bear of mine on white garments because they tend to be really visible from the right side of the garment. Whenever I’m sewing something white, I pay extra attention to the number of layers of the fabric that will be present in any given area of the garment, even if it’s not a particularly translucent white fabric.
This is a really easy alteration; I hesitate to even call it a pattern hack! Just draw in your stitching lines, fold the ‘seam allowance’ under on the shoulder yoke piece, and tape it down, matching the stitching line on the bodice back piece. Then trace off your single ‘back’ pattern piece!
Second, I knew I wanted the volume at the bottom of the sleeves, but I have never been a fan of gathered/puffy shoulders on me, personally. Something about my proportions – I think maybe I have a small head and shoulders, proportionally?! – means I’ve never found that style to suit me. So I hacked the short sleeve pattern piece to give me a clean fit at the shoulders, with a voluminous lantern-style sleeve.
To recreate these sleeves:
- Trace off the short sleeve pattern piece and lengthen the sleeve’s seam edge (on each side of the sleeve) to match the length of the gathered sleeve’s seam edge. I added just over 3″ of length.
- Measure the hem edge of the gathered sleeve pattern piece and work out how much longer it is than the hem edge of the short sleeve. If, for example, the difference is 5″, then we know we’ll need to add 5″ when we slash and spread the short sleeve in the next steps.
- Draw the seam allowance /stitching lines at the top of your new sleeve pattern, and draw some vertical lines from the hem edge to the shoulder edge. I would just space them out evenly along the width of the sleeve – e.g. you could draw 10 lines, to add 5″ of width, and spread each line by 1/2″.
- Cut away the excess paper around the top edge of the sleeve pattern, leaving a small surrounding area of paper. Cut along each vertical line, up to, but not through, the stitching line at the top. Then, for each vertical line, cut a line from the edge of the paper up to the top of each cut line, to form a hinge.
- Lay the cut sleeve down over a large sheet of paper. Carefully spread each cut line apart by the desired amount (e.g. 1/2″, for the example above). Tape them down in place as you go, and measure the new hem edge when you are finished to check that it matches the length we were aiming for – the length of the gathered sleeve’s hem edge for your pattern size. Draw the new hem edge, roughly following the original hem line you had drawn, but aiming to flow smoothly across the new gaps formed by the slash and spread.
- Trace off your new pattern piece, and follow the sewing instructions for the gathered sleeve (except for the step of actually gathering the sleeve head!) – easy!
Instructions and drafting
I thought the instructions were great. I get the impression that this is a given, with Closet Case patterns – and that they are drafting modern, yet timeless, patterns that you could be making for years. The pattern peices are clearly marked, nicely laid out, and a lot of thought has gone into construction details. For example, although there is only one bodice piece, the instructions have you set the straight/standard short sleeve in the round, as usual, whilst the gathered shoulder which has a wider, flatter sleeve head is inserted flat. This makes for easier and hopefully more accurate sleeve insertions!
I used a flat fell seam finish because I thought it would complement the linen nicely and make for a more durable top.
Pre-treating the linen probably took about a half hour of pressing (before and after washing), and cutting out was pretty quick as there are only four pattern pieces (plus a bias strip). Construction took me about six hours, but that includes time spent faffing about with photographing/filming the process (for planned IGTV posts and possible content for the #sewinlovewithlinen challenge I’m co-hosting on Instagram), and periods of packing away/setting up my sewing stuff whilst I’m home schooling etc. If I was sewing uninterrupted in my sewing room (which is now a full time study for working from home!) I think this top could be made in a few hours.
Drafting / fit
Overall sewing experience
I leave you with a few more photos: