I am always in need of more casual knit tops – they wear out so quickly, don’t they? While I usually steer clear of anything that smacks of the 1980s, I was drawn to this pattern (views A and B, in particular) so I picked one up last week. I have been dying for a black/white striped top this summer but I thought that would really take this top all the way to New Wave so I resisted. Instead I used a rayon/lycra jersey that I bought from Textile Studios ages ago. This print is kind of sweet so it’s a nice contrast to the crazy sleeves. The color is more of a blush than the light pink in some of the photos.
This top is really quick and easy to put together. I had to laugh because the pattern piece for the sleeve looks much like a one-seam pant pattern for someone with really short legs. This is sized XS, S, M, L and XL. I used the size S which covers sizes 8 and 10. I made my usual forward shoulder and swayback alterations but skipped the FBA. I shouldn’t have so next time I’ll make a very slight one. I shortened the sleeves by 3/4″, not something I usually do on a short sleeve but it seemed long and I was right to do it. The top itself was really long so I took an extra 2″ off. I thought the shoulder might be too wide since this is an 8/10 but it actually is spot on. Actually, the sizing all around seems to be a solid 8 to me so you might want to check the measurements before you cut.
The neckline is not as wide and scooped as it appears on the model. The depth is fine but I’d like it just a tiny bit wider so I’ll make that adjustment next time. I used a double-fold binding at the neckline instead of the 5/8″ double-fold narrow hem as directed by the pattern. Why, oh why, do they insist on putting that in the instructions? Has that ever, in the history of sewing, worked well? That’s the sort of thing that would reduce someone new to sewing with knits to tears. I just trimmed off the 5/8″ seam allowance and ran it through my new right-angle binder set up (which I LOOOOVE, so look forward to seeing me bind even more than I already do!). This machine will be permanently set up for binding, what a luxury!
I saw a lot of these extended shoulder lines in the runway shows so I guess that’s what drew me to this pattern. I really like these sleeves a lot. It’s always nice to make something out of the ordinary.
Almost final, anyway. I still have to sew on the buttons and hem the bottom but I thought I’d go ahead and post it anyway.
As you can see, I decided to leave off the sleeve ruffles. They were just too overwhelming for someone my size.
Changes I made:
*Shortened the upper bodice by 1″ (I’d take another 1/2″ off next time, I think)
*Omitted sleeve flounce
*Shortened front ruffle 11″ (could be because my fabric is so drapey)
Because my fabric is very lightweight, I didn’t have any problems with all of the layers around the neck. However, the ruffle does pull my facing down just a bit at the front despite my having removed some length from the facing to draw the neckline in.
Word of caution: if you are making the optional back darts (which I did), the back casing will end up being too long. Be sure to shorten that piece before joining it to the front casing sections.
Conclusion: This is a very cute top that works well in a lightweight fabric. Hemming the ruffles was quite laborious (I will try to cover that this week) so I’d just leave the raw edges if I made this again.
A few of you have asked how I get my topstitching to look so perfect. First, it’s not always perfect (in RTW either!) but thank you for thinking so!
Almost always, I use a straight-stitch foot for topstitching. I like the sort of foot that has a slot where I can see straight up to the needle. I guide my fabric right along the inner edge of the right toe so that I’m stitching about 1/16″ away from the edge (if I want to stitch about 1/4″ away from the edge, I use the outer edge of the toe as my guide). Yes, this does take practice but having the proper foot really helps – you cannot do this with a zigzag foot!
There are also specialty feet available for my commercial machines that work very well if I am in a hurry or tired. This first set is unique to the commercial world. These are compensating feet in various widths. These are available with the spring toe on the right or on the left (mine are all right except for the first one).
Here you can see the right toe rides lower than the stationary left toe so the edge of the fabric butts up against it.
You can see here that the stitches on the left are a little longer (around 2.5) than the ones on the right. The thread I am using is heavier than what I’d normally choose for a silk crepe de chine so it looks better at a slightly longer length. Always run a couple of samples before you get started.
Next is a raising foot which is more similar to what is available for domestic machines. Raising feet also come in various widths, this particular one is a right 1/16 (these also come in left). A comparable domestic foot would be an edge foot or edge guide foot which typically comes in one width only but you can move the needle to topstitch further away.
Whichever type of foot you feel the most comfortable with, the key is to just do it and practice, practice, practice (a smooth, precision sewing machine is a huge help as well). Also notice that I like a shorter stitch length. To my eye, a long stitch length on a fine fabric looks cheap so I use a length of 2 to 2.5, depending on the fabric and the thickness of thread I am using. A longer length would be used on heavier fabrics.
Today, I attached the neckline ruffles, collar and facing. The neckline ruffles were very long for me possibly because crepe de chine stretches so much on the bias. I shortened them 11″ and they are still considerably longer than the pattern illustration. Although I’ve already hemmed the sleeve ruffles, I may leave them off since there’s already a lot going on here for a little person.
I narrow-hemmed all of the ruffles which took an entire evening! Had I to do it again, I’d just leave the edges raw since they are mostly on the bias anyway.
Here’s a close-up of the collar/ruffle.
I am making the ruffled front version – it’s so me!
The top has been fitted, altered and cut – all my least favorite parts are over with. The fabric I am using is a silk crepe de chine that I bought when Cloth World closed it’s doors years ago. I bought three yards of every color they had and this is the last of it.
I’m off to have a quick bite of dinner and then head to the sewing room to hem these ruffles and continue watching Season 3 of McLeod’s Daughters. Hopefully, there will be some progress to report tomorrow!
I loved this pattern so much that I decided to make another in this pink/camel paisley that so many of us bought from Lucy’s Fabrics about 5 years ago. This time I used the flutter sleeves for variety. This one is just perfect with little gold flats for running errands in this heat.
Being a repeat offender, I couldn’t resist making the elbow-length banded sleeve version in a marbled rayon/lycra (also from Lucy’s) for “fall”. Fall will be here on the calendar well before the temps ever reflect it’s arrival! I finished this in a couple of hours this afternoon. It still needs hemming but I’ll do that tomorrow while I’m cooking dinner.
This print was also offered in a coordinating chiffon so I used that for the ties and just made them a bit longer to take advantage of the drapiness of the fabric.
I know it’s weird that I’ve made three dresses from the same pattern but, aside from the surplice neckline, they won’t look like the same pattern to a non-sewer. Besides, half of the dresses in my closet have a surplice neckline! Now that I have a couple of new, cool summer dresses, I can move on to the next project! And, of course, I am planning jacket #8…