Search for Surplice

I like surplice styling.  The diagonal line across the stomach has always been flattering.  Even when I weighed 96 pounds ( that’s 4 pounds less than 100), I had a tummy.  Now weighing about half again as much, I have a large inflated beach ball to contend with and that diagonal line is even more desirable. But I have a real issue with surplice styles. I’ve never had one that would stay closed.  I was forever either grabbing the front of my top/dress or giving away free boob shots.   I’ve always attributed the problem to not having much in the boob department. Even though that has improved over the years, the gaping front surplice closure did not.  I’d even ask people what they did to keep their surplice closed. The replies boiled down to just pin it at the top.  Well pinning at the top, didn’t keep it from billowing open lower down.  True, I wasn’t making any boobs visible and with 2 layers of fabric, tummy wasn’t visible either. But I disliked the billowing and awkward draping. Multiple pins as in 6 or more, might close my surplice but then there were these “pulls” across the surplice. I tried stitching the surplice front down along the style line. that seemed to quadruple the bulk, make for a spot that didn’t dry in the laundry and difficult pressing sessions. While I was working, I really didn’t have the time to work out the issue; and I note that I may have had an ego problem.  I felt the issue was something I was doing wrong rather something that should have been adjusted in the clothing and pattern.  In the end, I just got tired of fussing with the surplice all day long trying to fix “my” problem. I banned all surplice styles from my wardrobe.

However, because of Stitcher’s Guild, I’ve seen some lovely surplice styles on women who’s body shapes were very similar to my own.  Now retired and having the time to work out these kinds of issues, I’ve been asking again, “What do you do to keep the surplice closed?”.  I’ve acquired a few surplice top patterns. Even tried one. I can say that one piece of advice I received  “look for one that crosses above the waist” was a good step in the right direction. The problem with that particular pattern (which I no longer have and can’t provide the number) is that the surplices were completely faced. I made both styles, one which crossed just above the waist. Repeated pinning didn’t keep the surplice together. The other style was crossed at an Empire line.  It might have been OK except being completely faced also made it very heavy, bulky and another laundry/ironing nightmare.  But it did improve my outlook. Enough so that when I saw Ottobre 5/2008 Style 17. I put it in my que.  It’s taken me this long to attempt this style and I share my experience    HERE


2 thoughts on “Search for Surplice

  1. I went on a surplice tee-shirt binge about a year and a half ago, (and I posted links to a couple of Marcy Tilton articles ( if you’re interested.

    In a nutshell, I learned that I needed to make the neckline curve end no more than 4 inches below the armhole. (You’ll have to figure out your own best spot; every ounce I gain goes up top, so I have major coverage needs.) I used several patterns, but I had good luck taking the front pattern piece from a tried ‘n true tee-shirt, mirroring it so that I had a full front pattern piece, rather than one cut on the fold. Then I took the French curve and drew a line from the neck edge to that magic point 4 inches below the opposite side armhole. I cut two of these (one left, one right), and hemmed them and the back separately before sewing them together. The only tricky thing about this for me was handling the bust darts, but most people don’t have those on tee-shirts.

    I’ll be really interested to know how you solved this!

    1. Gosh, Almost exactly what I ended up doing. I should have asked you first. I put my surplice about 2″ below the armpit. I have little on top. When I gain it all seems to go to the tummy and hips. I have another post coming in which I found I needed to shorten the surplice 3″. That really surprised me because I started with a TNT that fits nicely and is always comfortable. But it is what it is. Thanks for sharing. I feel so much better knowing that I’m not the only one.

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