Meet Onyx — Paprika Patterns' new minimalist hi-low woven shirt. When Lisa asked me for a review, I was excited because I love her work. But also a bit skeptical because I have a big anti woven tops bias. I prefer close-fitting clothes, but hate any restriction in my underarms and shoulders, so 99% of my tops are knits. Still, there is something so sleek and grown up about the structure of woven shirts, that for a while I've been waiting for a pattern that challenges me to get over my silly bias. And with Onyx, get over it I did. Like a phoenix from the ashes, this top rose from the pits of my blunders and skepticism and stole my heart.

I chose the cropped version because I thought the darts would make it more fitted. But that also meant the possibility of flashing my tummy and I am self-conscious about my tummy... I decided, hey may be Onyx is the universe telling me that it's time I got over that disempowering bias too. My third bias was, amusingly enough, against using bias tape because I always imagined that it would be crunchy, hard to install, gape-y, and motion-restricting. Lastly, after a year of knowingly (or unknowingly) going after projects that are a bit (or a lot) past my skill level, while also learning to deal (or fail to deal) with my weird shape, I was sick of pattern alterations. Just sick of them! So in my rebellious mode I decided to make it as is, come hell or high water. You just sit and watch (my tummy), World, you just sit and watch! 

Since I was throwing all caution to the wind, I chose a bright busy fabric unlike anything else in my closet. Lisa had suggested an "African wax print" which I'd never heard of. I looked it up and while I don't have any in my stash (but now am obsessed with getting some, thanks Lisa! ;p) I liked the idea of it and thought a bold quilting cotton might do instead. Plus I only had one bias tape and it was bright red. Clearly it was meant to be for Onyx.

My measurements fell between size 3 in hip and 4.5 in bust, so I cut a straight size 4. This version is only 2 pattern pieces (yay!) so I got to the scary bias tape part in no time. Halfway through the steps I remembered you're supposed to read the instructions ahead. So I did. And what do I see? A Tip Box: “For a fun alternative, you can stitch the bias tape to the outside of the garment to create a contrasting neckline edge.” And that my dear reader is how I discovered that not ALL bias bindings are visible....

See, I had assumed "bias bound" always meant using a contrasting edge strip visible on the outside. And I would be puzzled because while tons of patterns would say “finished with bias tape”, I did not encounter garments with a contrasting edge all that often. Turns our bias bindings can be hidden! WHOA! Creating crazy untrue stories in my mind, then puzzling over how they don’t seem to match reality is a thing I do. So I had to unpick and re-do the first few steps. But aside from that it was pretty easy. I couldn't get the edge stitching close enough to the edge but I figured it's good enough for a first try and you can’t see the seam much anyway because I had The Perfect Matching Red Thread. I told you it was meant to be!

After the bias tape was done I basted to check for overall fit. And SHOCKINGLY the top was too short. There is "cropped". And then there is “this was not meant to look like this.” Since I had quite knowingly done this to myself by refusing to do a long torso alteration I just had to laugh. I would have left it as is, to remind myself that fighting one’s biases is one thing, but willingly dropping a hammer on your toes is another. But I owed it to Lisa to not mislead the world into thinking that the Onyx is not proportioned right. (So to punish myself in another way I decided to French seam the sides). 

Since I was too attached to my successful bindings to start completely over, I thought may be I could add length by creating an “extension” strip that matches the hi-low curves on top and bottom. I also pinched out the bust dart from the front as I figured the extension should be dart-less. And then the real fun began.

First, it took me a while to figure out how to pin the pieces together since the opposing curves of the hi low hems were throwing me off. I then basted it all together to check length. It looked way better, yay! I thought the basted stitch could hold things together while I serge the seam and call it a day. But NOOO. I had to go and decide that since I French-ed the side seams this seam should be French too. Un-baste. Get re-confused about how pieces should go together because French seams are weird. Re-pin. Re-baste. Decide that I don’t want a French seam after all because if it doesn’t press down correctly it will stick out on the inside and flare the shirt out. Un-baste. Re-baste the way I had it originally. Curse self. Serge. At that point I was clearly too tired to make optimal decisions so I went to bed. The next day, on a clear(er) head, I decided that after ALL this I still don’t have enough length for a proper hem. So I decided to finish it with another round of bias tape, which by now I was clearly addicted to. I think it was actually a blessing in disguise since it seems to nicely highlight the top's structure.  My only issue with the final fit is that I need a sway back adjustment. I am not sure how to do that on this pattern. But I bet it will look ok without one if I use a more flowy fabric. Which I have already picked out.

After all my biases and mistakes I am surprised by how much I like how this came out. I have worn it a few times already and the underarms feel just fine, to my shock. And if you don't make bad decisions like me, this shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours at most. I love that I can wear it with jeans or dress up with a skirt. It's actually a lot less boxy than I expected. Give this a try, even if you have issues with the premise. I am proof that the Onyx can withstand whatever abuse you throw its way and still look nice. Thank you Lisa for allowing me to play with another one of your versatile (and resilient!) creations!

P.S. I am sorry for the weird angles and cropped photos. My boyfriend, it turns out, is a terrible fashion photographer. (All my other blog pics were taken by my mom when she visited). Le sigh.


05/30/2015 3:14pm

Your top looks gorgeous. I love the visible binding and I thoroughly enjoyed your review!

05/30/2015 11:09pm

Oh thank you so much! I hope you give it a try, it's such an easy and satisfying pattern that of course I had to mess up and complicate to the max but it really was just me.


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply