leopard top

Animal prints have been in fashion for quite a few years now, so it is rather surprising that leopard spots are still an ‘in thing’. Normally I would not care, Lagenlook is much more long lived than mainstream fashion, so I am used to being able to wear my favourite pieces for many years. But when you venture into the obviously mainstream trendy such as a leopard print top, you want to avoid still wearing it when the trend has long passed. Fortunately I need not worry with this tunic yet, which is just as well because it is one of my go-to ones when the temps get chilly. The weather has suddenly turned cold, and while a top daily temperature of 17 degrees may seem balmy to some, here on the sunny Central Coast of NSW it represents the depth of winter.

The pattern I used is one i developed myself and has been a favourite for a good number of years. I initially got the idea from this Eileen Fisher top I saw on Pinterest.


And here are a few more versions of the ‘wide body with dropped shoulders halfway to the elbow and skinny sleeves’ silhouette.


Pinterest is a wonderful source of inspiration and you can even find this version with the pattern obligingly attached.


My own version has a hi-low hem and you can find the details about the pattern and sewing process here. Instead of the cowl I made a matching infinity scarf which I am wearing looped double. This was mostly because I could not decide whether I wanted a cowl or not, classic indecision, but I should have just gone ahead and made the cowl as I have never worn the top without the scarf.

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The skirt is a bengaline pencil skirt with a yoga style waistband, one of my all time favourites. I winged it when I made it, adding a little extra width for the bum, then tapering inwards towards the hem. It is the classic quiet achiever and I wish I had preserved the pattern to make more skirts, but bengaline is such a stretchy, forgiving fabric that a few cm here or there don’t matter and I can probably wing it just as successfully with the next one. The important thing is to make it just wide enough below my saddlebags so it doesn’t pull inwards, highlighting them unnecessarily.

I used Australian bengaline, which is the stretchy kind, not the ribbed unstretchy one sold elsewhere as bengaline. The fiber mix is similar to Ponte, but it is a woven, not a knit, despite the stretch. The best version is viscose, nylon and Lycra, NOT the one containing poly. I love ponte for tops and dresses, but you really can’t go past bengaline for pants and skirts, because it doesn’t bag, pill or wrinkle, and it wears like iron. You will be enjoying your pull on pants and skirts for years and years, which is unfortunately rarely the case with Ponte.

If you fancy a similar pencil skirt of your own, Maria Denmark has posted a great tutorial on her website. Hers is much shorter, but of course every sewist will adjust the length to their preference.