Archive for the ‘Tops’ Category

Vogue 8737 – One Pattern Piece Top

August 6th, 2011 9 comments

OK, it isn’t literally one pattern piece, since there’s a single facing piece, too, but close enough .  .  .

The front and back are identical, and the only “trick” to the construction is that the front and  back pattern pieces must both be cut right-side up, which is a little counter-intuitive.  (Ditto for the facings!)

I couldn’t help myself; I had to see how it looked in a stripe:

The upper half is pretty standard, except for the interesting neckline, but the lower half is gathered at the side, giving the top a twisted look.

The hem can look asymmetrical in back (I didn’t straighten it for these too-spontaneous photos), and I kind of like the look:

I cut a size 12, and did a fake FBA by bumping out the pattern at the bust a bit; this works pretty well with knits.  The fit is quite comfortable, but the neckline is a little too big; I’ll change that next time.  This is a quick and easy top to make up; the neck facing  gives a fast, clean finish that I like very  much.

Categories: Tops Tags:

Twister Dress

August 2nd, 2011 8 comments

OK, it’s completely wacky, but how could I resist?  It’s the BurdaStyle Twister Dress.  There is only one pattern piece; it’s placed on the fold of your fabric.  Here’s what the pattern looks like:

The angle at the extreme left is one armhole, and the curve at the top is the neckline.  If you orient to the neckline and the long sleeve, you can see that the top of the dress is, indeed, “twisted” and perpendicular to the skirt, instead of being attached in a linear fashion.

My version is hemmed all around, but if you chose not to finish this dress, you’d finish it in ten minutes, easy, on your serger.

I’m not so sure that stripes are the answer here, but this dress is so much fun!  ( I mean, did I need that swath across my backside???)  It’s also indecently short, and inclined to ride up, so I expect to be wearing it with leggings.  It may be more “top” than “dress”.  But hey, it’s just so easy!  Easy to make and easy to wear:  It pulls on just like a tee shirt.  A twisty tee shirt, but a tee shirt.  Here’s the back view (it’s maybe a little “toga”, but why not?):

Yeah, it really does look a bit carbuncular, but in person it flows much better than it seems to here.

The English version downloads with two sizes:  I think it goes up to Burda size 42 (in spite of what it says on the Burda site), but it’s altered by adding width along the fold line.  That’s easy, on the one hand, but potentially limited, you’ll be restricted by your fabric’s folded width.

Since there was no possibility of an FBA, I added a couple of inches to the width before cutting; some people might want to widen the long sleeve a bit, which is theoretically possible.

I added the strap.  I’m not a member of the “it’s OK to have the bra strap showing” school, so I tacked this on afterward.

Not only is this dress a whiz to make, but it takes just over a yard of fabric.  This print is a light, four-way stretch from JoMar; total cost for the dress was about five dollars.  Or is it a top?  Either way, the pattern is a lot of fun, and worth fooling around with a bit.

The pattern is a free download from the link below, and will use up about about 22 sheets of paper and about an hour of your time to tape them together and cut the thing out.   I’m not wild about this pattern-delivery model; if this one hadn’t been free, and if it hadn’t had only one pattern piece (22 8.5 by 11 inch pages!), I wouldn’t have bothered.

I can see, maybe, a print-on-demand pattern delivery model, where, for instance, you ordered one day, and it was printed to order and posted to you the next day.  But assembling 22 or more sheets of stiff standard paper is a pain; sewing from it is clumsy, ands is storing the bulky pattern afterward is awkward.

Of course, I may be a bit put out because I had some unexpected help:

When these guys saw me spreading all that paper out on the floor, they came running, yelling “Par-tay!  Par-tay!”

Download:  Twister Dress pattern from BurdaStyle

Categories: DIY, Dresses, Tops Tags:

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

July 26th, 2011 Comments off

I’d originally planned to make a wrap jacket as part of my Threads wardrobe plan, but changed my mind, and decided to make a couple of  sleeveless tunics instead, figuring that I’d get much more use out of them in a summer wardrobe.

I used  the same Christie Jonson pattern as the one I used for my reversible tank top; the only difference is that I lengthened the pattern to turn it into a dress (or tunic).   Here’s one version, with the vee neck worn to the front:

When this pattern is worn backside-to-front, you can see that the armholes are cut in a bit more; it’s a slightly more athletic look worn this way, as you can see here:

This was a very easy alteration to make; I just continued the lines down the side seams, making room for my hips.  The fit is very  nice, and, like the tank itself, the dress was quick and easy to sew.

I like wearing this print in a sleeveless tunic much more than I do in the dress I previously made.  The “less” of the tunic minimizes the “more” of the wild print, making the overall effect less overwhelming.

I’d originally intended to make both of these reversible, but that didn’t work out well.  The two fabrics I used for the solid version — one black, one blue — did not have compatible stretch.  The black side has what I’d consider to be typical spandex stretch — kind of loose, and equal in all four directions.  The blue side (which you can’t see in this post) has a slightly stiffer hand, not quite as much stretch crosswise, and a fair bit less stretch lengthwise, than the black.

Here’s the side with the vee neck:

Because the two fabrics would not lie compatibly, I ended up hacking off the skirt on the blue — the stiffer — side, which gave me a perfectly nice tunic, if not the versatile reversible dress for which I was hoping.  Turning the reverse into a bodice lining saved the garment, but not the reversibility.  Here’s the way it looks with the round-necked “back” worn to the front:

Each garment can still be worn two ways — with the vee neck in front, or the rounded neckline in front — but not by switching off the external and internal fabrics.  It’s two-way versatile, rather than four-way, now.

I didn’t even try to make the print reversible, but the light mesh I used for the lining turned out to have a worrisome tendency to roll toward the main fabric, even though I’d edgestitched carefully all around.   I added an elastic band at the bottom of the lining to keep it in place, rather like the ones used for shelf bras.

Honestly, I knew better than to try to use two incompatible fabrics in a reversible garment.  The blue I ended up discarding was chosen because the color really was perfect for my wardrobe plan.  Color, however, is not the only consideration.  I knew, even when I bought it, that the variation in stretch was likely to be a problem.  (And yet I forged ahead!)  Let this be a lesson to all and sundry!


Making a Reversible Tank

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

Categories: Dresses, Tops Tags:

Making a Reversible Tank

July 6th, 2011 5 comments

Trena asked me to share my method for making reversible sleeveless tops like the ones in my wardrobe plan.  I’m glad she did, because when I sat down to make the one right after her request, I completely blanked on how to make this thing work!  So, as much for my sake as anyone else’s, here’s how it goes.  (These instructions are for knit fabrics; without a closure, you’ll need the stretch to get in and out of your garment.)  Here’s the first one I made:

To prepare:  Select a tank top (or dress) pattern and do any alterations needed.  If you use one like Christine Jonson’s BaseWear One Top 622, one reversible top will give you four looks, since the back and front can be reversed, as well as the inner and outer fabrics.  (Check to see if you need to make any alterations to the back to allow room for your bust first, though.)

But on with the instructions:

First, cut out two complete tanks, front and back.  No facings or bindings; just the fronts and backs.  You’re essentially lining your tank, so  you won’t need those extras.  (You could make a tank top or a tank dress using this method, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to use the word “tank” to cover both.). You will need seam allowances, though, so if your pattern calls for binding, make sure you’ve added the seam allowance you prefer before cutting.

Sew only the side seams together. Here they are, both layers, with only the side seams stitched:

Arrange the tanks so that the right sides are together, one tank inside the other.  Stitch around both armholes and both necklines (front and back). DO NOT stitch the shoulder seams!  Here are the tanks with just the armholes and necklines stitched. They’re arranged so that you can see the black contrast, but the two tanks are now joined:

Beginning with the garment lying flat as in the picture above, take one shoulder strap, and pull it out of the garment so that you are looking at the right sides of that one strap.  You should have one strap that is wrong side out, some fabric bunched in the middle, and one strap right side out:

(Sorry, I’m all about the sewing, not so much about the photography.  What we’ve got here is the “wrong side out strap” on the left, the bunched tank fabric in the middle, and the “right side out strap” on the right.)

Update: Same view of another tank, same position:

Hold onto the “right side” strap and push it through INTO the “wrong side” strap.  Make sure the CORRECT strap pieces are meeting!  Don’t do any crossovers here .  .  .  keep those straps on the correct side of your garment.

Notice what just happened?  You’ve got “right-sides-to-right-sides” for one shoulder strap.  Just what you want!

Update: Here’s a view of a different top, from a different angle, looking down into the same strap as the one shown above, after the edges have been evened up:

Trim before you stitch; you’ll be glad you did.

Your straps will be open at the top of the armhole shoulders, and there will be a seam going from the bottom of the armhole to the hem of your garment.  If that seam’s not in the right place .  .  .  weeeelllll, then you’re probably joining a neckline instead of an armhole.  Don’t do that!

Make the edges of the straps even, matching the seams carefully, and making sure that your straps haven’t twisted, and that each fabric is right side to itself.  Both sides of my black fabric are right sides together; ditto for the blue sides.  Black to black, blue to blue. (Update:  Print to print, solid to solid.) You’ll see that you’ve made a small circle with the straps, and you can look down into the tube that will soon be the inside of your finished tank straps. (Update:  Exactly as in the updated image above.)

Baste, pin, or take your chances — your straps are now ready to stitch!

Stitch all around the tiny circle you’ve made with your “right sides together” straps.  Don’t be misled by the photo below:  DO NOT stitch across all four strap layers.  It looks as if that’s what I did here — NOT SO!  You should be stitching only TWO layers all around the top of your straps, forming a tube, NOT closing the tube by sewing it shut.

This is what the stitching looks like, finished and folded so that the two contrasting sides show:

Repeat for the second strap.

Then reach inside your tank, and turn it right side out.  Voilà!  All you have left to do is edge-stitch around the armholes and neckline and then hem all around.

A few tips:

  • I let my hems float freely; sometimes I cut one side longer, so that I have a stripe effect at the bottom of one side.  This eliminates the “how on earth do I get the hems to stay perfectly in line?” problem.
  • Putting lightweight, nylon snaps between layers at the side seams (or even along the hems, for a tank dress) can help keep floating hems aligned, yet let you separate the layers for faster drying.  (Great for travel!)
  • If you’re using a serger, change your outside needle’s thread to match one side of your tank, and then serge with that side facing up.  (I’m assuming the rest of your cone threads will be consonant with your second color.)  That way, if your seams flex, it’s more likely that any thread color showing will match the side being worn.
  • When edge-stitching, use one contrast in the bobbin, and one in the machine needle.  Check your tension carefully to be sure that your stitches are even, and that the opposing color isn’t showing through on the contrast side.
  • Better yet, choose either two prints for your tank, making sure that they share at least one color that you can use for stitching all over (hides a multitude of sins), or use one solid and one consonant print.  Either choice will be more forgiving when it comes to edge-stitching:  Use the solid color for edge-stitching, and it should disappear into the consonant print on the other side.
  • If you don’t want a reversible tank, you can use this method to line a tank with a lightweight mesh.  It’s faster than binding, and gives a really professional look to your finished garment.
  • If you’re into color-blocking, use a different color for each of the four sides of your tank.  Your backs and fronts won’t match, but you’ll have that many  more looks, and you might like the effect!

This whole process may seem counter-intuitive, and may be confusing the first time you try it, especially if you’re impatient!  But it’s actually very easy to do, and, once you understand it, very easy to repeat, especially if you bookmark this page!

Update 7/19/2011: Two additional photos to (hopefully) clarify things.

Categories: Dresses, Tips, Tops Tags:

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

June 20th, 2011 7 comments

Here’s the illustration from the cjpatterns site, which is, as usual, pretty but not useful.  The tank, in particular, has a lot more shape in execution than you’d ever guess from the illustration.  It looks blocky and puffy in the drawing, but in reality it’s actually got a nice, body-hugging shape.

This tank isn’t meant to be reversible, but I decided that’s what I wanted, per my wardrobe plan.  I used a print/solid combination; here’s the print side, with the V-neck worn in front:

I made the solid side an inch and a half longer, so that it would show under the print.  Part of my wardrobe plan includes a matching print skirt, and the line of the combined pieces is one long, unrelenting, bright print, so I liked the idea of breaking it up a bit.  Here’s the V-neck version of the solid side:

(Yeah, my dummy lurches to the left.  I probably should compensate for this when taking pictures, but I never remember to.)

This is a super-simple pattern with nice shaping, and the simplest of construction techniques:  It’s meant as exercise wear, so Jonson just has you turn the edges down by 3/8ths of an inch and stitch them in place.  To make my reversible tank, I just used a 3/8ths inch seam on my serger.  No trimming was necessary; the narrow seam and the stretchy spandex fabrics worked well together, and made this one fast project.

The top can easily be worn backwards or frontwards, although I don’t think Jonson points this out, and the instructions don’t offer the reversible alternative, but if you chose to line the top and turn it around at whim, you’ve got lots of wearing options.

Here’s the print side, worn with the round neckline at the front:

When you  make a reversible top, one method involves sewing the hems together, so that they are exactly the same length.  I’m not wild about this; it seems to constrict the flow of the garment and make its movement less “natural”, unless the fabrics involved are weightless.  On the other hand, if the two hems float freely, it’s difficult to keep them lined up perfectly so that the underside doesn’t show when you don’t want it to.  Making one hem intentionally longer solves this problem.

Here’s the round collar side of the solid tank:

Whether you make the hems the same length or not, a useful tip is to sew a small snap at the lower edge of each side seam, inside the garment, between the layers.  This allows you to keep the tanks aligned, but without constraining the fabrics unnecessarily.  If you’re traveling, this also allows you to separate the layers for faster drying if you’re rinsing your garments out in a sink, and hanging them up to dry.

Rather than make an FBA, I cut between sizes at the bust, which was lazy and (ahem) not too bright, especially since I failed to take the armhole back to my proper, smaller size.  This made the top gap along the armholes above the bust.  I considered running elastic thread along the edge between the layers, but ended up using double strands of thread, hidden between the layers and run between the edge stitching and the edge of the garments along the relevant parts of the armholes.  The resulting fix isn’t perfect, but made the top wearable.

Every now and then, someone asks “What’s the point of reversible clothing?   You probably want to wash it between wearings anyway, right?”.  Well, yes.  But a tank like this makes up most easily if lined, so why not make the lining a wearable, different color?  And, of course,  a reversible tank might give you the option to go from day-to-evening by just turning the top around, which might be a bonus when traveling, or staying out for the evening after work.


This is another piece in my Christine Jonson/Threads wardrobe plan.

Making a Reversible Tank

Threads Wardrobe Storyboard

Christine Jonson Princess Dress 1117

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Top 622

Christine Jonson Skirt 1219

Christine Jonson BaseWear One Leggings 622

Tunic/Tank Dress from BaseWear One Pattern 622

Wardrobe Wrap-Up

Categories: Christine Jonson, Tips, Tops Tags:

Vogue 1085 – Betzina Top

June 12th, 2011 10 comments

I think this view of this pattern has gotten a bum rap.  (It’s View B, the wrap top.)  Yes, it has a huge error — the instructions tell you to attach the ties to the hem, not the sides, but once that’s straightened out, the top works fine, if you wrap it correctly, and use one other little tip, which I describe below.

My version is made from a jersey I saw last summer at a PR weekend.  We were standing in line to get coffee, and right there, in Robin’s bag, was fabric in a print I liked, in the exact colors I had been looking for!  I’d missed the bolt at Spandex House.  Robin very kindly let me run back to SH with her fabric in hand, and I was able to buy my own yardage before racing back to have coffee with the gang.  (See the wrap dress Robin made from this fabric here Scroll down; it’s the second dress in the post.)

The top is reversible, and, except for the ties, is cut all in one piece.  (I do love me some wonky design!).   Here’s the V-necked version:

Instead of attaching my ties to the sides of the wrap, I attached them about three inches up.  I didn’t want it to wrap below my waist.  This does give a little peplum effect to the area below the wrap, but I kind of like that.  Do not attach the ties to the hem, as the pattern instructions tell you to!

(The fabric looks like chocolate-and-teal here, but it’s really black, not brown, by the way.)

Here’s the cowl side:

Some people have noted that the wrap would go more smoothly if there were side slits on the top.  This is undoubtedly true, and there’s no reason not to add them.  Unless, of course, you’re speed-mad, and want to blitz thorough the construction on your serger, which is what I’m all about these days. If you want the openings, they’re easy to do; just leave the seams open where desired, fold allowances under, and edge- stitch around the opening.

Here’s what you need to know about wearing this top:

  • Remember that, no matter which side is front, the seams run from your underarms to your waist.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to put this top on upside down.  Remember the seam orientation, and you’ll be fine.
  • To ensure successful wearing, attach bra strap holders to the top of the armhole openings, directly above the underarm seams at the shoulder.  This bouse looks awful if the top of the armholes slip off onto your arms; it becomes a shapeless blob, and looks like one hot mess! You can buy the bra strap holders at fabric stores for a ridiculous price, or you can make your own, as I did, by sewing clear nylon snaps to twill tape.  Takes two minutes.
  • I lengthened the ties by cutting them to the correct length for a size three or four sizes up from mine.  I prefer the flexibility of slightly longer ties.

Here are the two back views (apparently, I only took one; I’ll add the other later).  This one shows the back when you’re wearing the cowl side forward:

Contrary to some other reviews I read, I had no trouble at all making sure my bra didn’t show when wearing the cowl forward.  The trick is making sure that the armholes stay where they belong.  Wrapping so that the back is covered is no problem if the top isn’t slipping all over the place.

One last note:  The instructions have the sewist finish the garment by gluing the hem with iron-on tape.  What???  Hey, if I wanted to use stick-um, this hobby would be called “scrapbooking”, not “sewing”.  I finished everything by the standard methods.

*Hey, Vogue (and other patternmakers), isn’t it high time you had a corrections page?  Communication is what the Internet is all about; it would involve minimum effort, and gain you great good will.  How about it?  Even the New York Times publishes daily corrections.  Surely Vogue can manage corrections for seasonal releases of patterns, no???

Categories: Tops Tags:

ABdPM 60021: Pull A Col Revers “Muslin”

April 18th, 2011 12 comments

I used the wrong fabric, and so the garment’s a fail.  But the pattern isn’t, and now I know how to put it together.  Hey, that’s what a “muslin” is all about, right?

Here’s the picture on the Au Bonheur des Petites Mains website:

Cute, isn’t it?  It’s a “pull” or sweater (or maybe a “pullover sweater” — I’m not up on current French slang).  It’s a pretty simple-seeming pattern — back, sleeves, a decorative pleat in front where the two sides overlap.

This pattern’s been out since 2009, and I’ve only been able to find two other examples of it made up.  One was turned into a cardigan, and the other is a blog post with no notes at all.  (I’ve noticed that this is often the case with many French bloggers.)  That seems particularly strange since it’s relatively simple to put together, and it’s so darn cute.  Here’s my “muslin”:

This “pull” is meant to be made from a thicker sweater knit.  My fabric is “mystery composition” from Jomar, and I’m pretty sure it’s full of wool of the acryl.  It loves itself, and sticks together as if it’s made of hook and loop tape. See those sleeves?  They’re stuck that way.  Icky, really.

The material did have a nice hand on the bolt, and I assumed, wrongly, that it had a lot more rayon than it seems to.  Nevermind, it has served its purpose.

The pattern directions are almost non-existent, but they’re not really  needed.  Basically, they say to sew the shoulder seams together, and then attach the sleeves, sewing in one long seam under the arm and along the sides.

Then you are supposed to place the right front on the left front, and stitch down from point A on the pattern, matching the center front lines as marked on the pattern.  This is a less than perfect instruction due to vague lines that are the same for all sizes, and no matching points A.  On the other hand, it’s not difficult to figure out what’s meant.

This stitching line does not show on the line drawing that comes with the pattern, nor is it shown on the website.  However, if you look closely, I think you can see a hint of its existence.. The knit fabric is supported vertically to the left (as you look at the photo) of the angled flange.  (And, by the way, the asymmetry of the hem is far more exaggerated on the pattern than in the drawing, too.  That point is actually quite far left.)

On Stitcher’s Guild it was mentioned that it looked as if the model garment were pinned to the form underneath; it’s not.  That center front stitching line is what keeps the garment together.  This line would presumably completely disappear in the correct, bulkier fabric.

Though it’s actually pretty hard to see even in this thin solid.  You probably just barely can see the vertical stitching line to the left of the pleat.

Then you make a pleat, matching two lines that are not of corresponding lengths, and stitch along where the lines join.  Folding the right collar at the top of this pleat gives this top its distinctive style.  Although the directions have you make the pleat after stitching the front down, I found it easier to reverse the two steps, and form the pleat first.

The pleat is folded in toward the garment; that’s not stated in the directions, but it’s the only way to get the same look as in the line drawing.  I stitched-in-the-ditch to keep this pleat in place; without this additional step, all definition was lost due to my thin fabric.  I’m not sure it would be necessary in a sweater knit.

The neck, front, lower, and sleeve edges are left unfinished, or finished as you please (lettucing, etc.).  I used tape to stay the left neck edge and the back neck — a colossal mistake, as you can see.  These edges do need support, but clear elastic would have been a better choice.  Or maybe I just did this badly; by the time I reinforced the neck, I knew this was probably something I wouldn’t wear.

As previously mentioned, the back hem is far more asymmetrical than the line drawing indicates, and it also doesn’t work at all in this clingy fabric, since it just sticks wherever it lands.  If I ever wear this top, I’ll have to cut away the dip in the back hem.

If I were attempting this in another lightish knit, I’d probably cut the shoulders a bit narrower, as my dummy is larger than I am, and this is pushing the limits on the large end of my personal scale.  This size would probably be just right for a sweater, though.

Here’s the cardigan version, from the French blog Passion Plaisir in wool:

She hasn’t sewn the pleat in; she’s created the effect with a pin, and she’s not sewn the center vertical line, either, of course.  It makes a very nice cardigan, doesn’t it?  You can see in this example, as well in Au Bonheur’s model, how much better the thicker knits work.

The verdict:  Pattern success; execution fail.  I’ll bring this pattern out again in the fall, once I’ve found a bulky knit I like, preferably in lovely, luscious wool.

Categories: ABdPM, Tops Tags:

Vogue 8151: The Gathered “Dart” Version

February 24th, 2011 18 comments

I made this darted tee a little while ago in an attempt to get a better fit for my full bust.  Shams commented that she generally skipped the darts, and just eases them in.  I decided to try that when I recently needed a slew of tees.  First, here’s the pattern:

And here’s the finished tee, front view, made with the “darts” eased into the side seams:

And back view:

Looks more or less OK, right?  Not so fast, folks.  Something’s a bit wonky here.

For the first tee, I eased the dart’s fullness right where the dart was placed on the shirt.  Big mistake!  Somehow, this left me with a lot of extra fabric just below my bust.  It was a weird fit failure; kind of as if I’d located the dart point three inches below the “point” of my bust.   Amusing, but  not amusing enough for an immortalizing picture.

So I re-fit the thing, and placed the ease directly across the rather broad expanse of my full bust.  This meant that I began easing the extra fullness right at the armpit.  Strange, but it worked.  Sort of:

The ease covers a pretty broad territory, and the alteration is pretty obvious, isn’t it?  But I really couldn’t have bunched this up any more –not only does this represent the true height of my bust’s fullness, but if I’d crammed this “ease” into any smaller territory, we’d be calling it “gathers”.  It’s perilously close to gathering as it is.

See how the side seam pulls to the front a little across from the bust?  You can’t see it in the picture, but it straightens out so that, at the hem, it’s exactly where it should be.  Also weird; I guess that’s the proof that I really do need this extra space in the bust and not elsewhere.  But somehow this just doesn’t seem quite right.

Because I needed a bunch of shirts in a hurry, I whipped up four of these:

Good colors, no?  But these shirts are  flawed, deeply flawed.  They’re quite comfortable to wear, but that ease is just .  .  .  strange.

This is a much nicer shirt to wear than the darted tee.  Tee shirts just don’t want to be constrained the way darts long to be; the knit fabric wants to shift around a bit too much, conforming, as knits do, to the moving body.   The easing on these versions really does make the shirt feel more like a tee, and there is enough room here for my bust, but the alteration is just wrong.

Any advice, fellow sewists?  I do have a brand new copy of the Palmer DVD for the “Full Busted”.  I probably should have waited to make these until after it arrived (ya think?!?).  I’ll be checking out the DVD before I try the next knit top; it can’t hurt!

Reminder:  My duct tape dummy is larger than I am now, for what that’s worth.  It’s really obvious if you compare the fit my the darted tee (on me) and the fit of this one (on the dummy), but is, I think, irrelevant to these alteration issues.  It’s just easier to get fast photos using the dummy, even if the bod is not exactly mine any  more.

Categories: Tops Tags:

SewStylish Tunic

January 5th, 2011 8 comments

There’s  nothing like the phrase “month-long trip with one suitcase” for getting my attention, so I took one look at the “Comfy Cowl Top” article in the Winter 2010 SewStylish/Quick Stuff to Sew or Whatever — see note below and ran with it.

The idea is that the top in question (really a tunic), made in an interesting fabric, would work as a top layer, and equally well all by itself, covering a multitude of temperature/social situations.  Perfect!  I”d show you a picture of theirs, but I can’t find one online, and I’m not going to go through the hassle of scanning it.   Too bad — theirs is cute in a gold mesh.

I knew that I had just the right fabric for my version — A couple of years ago, I bought this light silk bouclé from Kashi at Metro Textile:

It was an unusual purchase for me (so bright!), but the colors were wonderful, so I couldn’t resist.  My mother-in-law also bought a length, which was quite adventuresome for her, as she leads an utterly monochromatic life, clotheswise.  The wonderful thing about this fabric was that it looked terrific on me (rosy skin tones) and just as wonderful on my  mother-in-law (for whom orange shades are most flattering).

My mother-in-law’s monochrome tendencies reasserted themselves once she got home, so I ended up buying her yardage, which meant that I had so much that I didn’t have to feel at all badly about experimenting with any of it!    So I took a yard, and washed it in the machine.  It’s the law in the Noile household:  silks must be washable.  Ditto for anything with which I travel.  This was the result:

A denser weave, deepened colors, and oooh-la-la!  I loved it, and quickly tossed another couple of yards into the machine.  (Delicate, of course, and cold water wash always.)

I was lucky that the fabric was wide to begin with, and that I had lots, because, of course, there was a bunch of shrinkage.  I have notes somewhere, but the loss was probably a good 15%, maybe even a little more.  If Kashi’s prices hadn’t been so reasonable, this tunic would never have seen life!

The SewStylish pattern is very simple, and there are only three pieces:  the front, the back, and the cowl.  You either scale it up by hand using graph paper, or you take it to a copy shop and get it enlarged by 800 per cent.   I didn’t bother to scale the cowl, as all you really need for a rectangle are the dimensions.  There’s a center back seam, which I’d just eliminate whenever possible; there’s no good reason for it if your fabric is wide enough to accommodate the piece.

Construction couldn’t be simpler:  Make the cowl; sew the center back seam; sew the shoulder seams (I added twill tape to limit stretching);

sew the side seams; finish the armholes; hem.  The instructions call for finishing the armholes with “Seams Great”, but I couldn’t figure out why I’d ever want to do that, so I settled for serging and turning the edge under, then hand-stitching so that nothing showed on the right side.  (I used four threads to serge; this is a very ravelly fabric, and that fourth thread was extra security.)

The result was kind of cool:

(Forgive my poor duct tape dummy — she’s lopsided, too big, and needs replacing.  Not to mention that I’ve not perfectly arranged the tunic, which isn’t helping.)

The tunic fit nicely, and it was a lot of fun to wear (lighter than a sweater, a really nifty shell on its own, goes with everything, etc.), but there was a problem.  Here’s a side view of the original version, which hints at what’s at issue.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the original back):

You can’t tell for sure in this picture, or in the one published in the magazine, but the back is voluminous — really, really full.  Too full by waaay too much to ignore.  It traveled the distance from “interesting” to “baffling”, so I made a radical change.  After the fact.  Which, of course, destroyed the structural integrity of the garment, but, hey, it’s not as if I had a choice.

Rather than pick stitches out of the tiny, tiny bouclé loops, I simply cut up the back, and took in a pie-shaped wedge, beginning at nothing where the center back met the cowl, and ending by removing a full five-and-a-half inches from each side of the center back.

The center back, of course, is supposed to be cut on grain.  Sigh.  I’m going to wear this around a bit in the privacy of my own home, and if I love it, I’ll make it all over again (I can probably salvage the cowl).  There’s a huge incentive for making it right:

It just happens to coordinate with every one of my Burda polos!  Next time, though, I’ll eliminate the center back seam completely (now that the pattern piece is narrower, that should work fine).  Others should beware the armholes — they look impossibly small on the pattern, but aren’t quite as small as they seem because the tunic falls off the shoulders, and arms exit lower than with a conventional armhole.  These fit perfectly on me (I wouldn’t want them bigger when wearing the tunic without a shirt underneath), but this would be worth checking, as I’m on the small side.

Other notes:

SewStylish seems to be having an identity crisis.  I almost missed this issue on the stands because “SewStylish” is nowhere in the header on the cover.  (It is in small print — “” — on the lower edge of the cover, and on the spine, neither of which are visible when scanning hundreds of magazines in a rack.)

I went to the SewStylish website, but it’s an awful mess, and finding information about the current issue was an exercise in futility.  Except that I learned that this is Vol. 4, even though there’s nothing in the magazine that identifies it that way.  Which is too bad, because this issue is great, and it would be nice if it were more findable, on-line or in-store.  I’d call this a branding failure.

Categories: Adventure/Travel, Tops Tags:


December 18th, 2010 5 comments

I finished a whole slew of my very favorite fall/winter tops just before taking a recent trip.  These are polos (those of us in the USA would probably call them “turtlenecks”)  from BurdaStyle’s 09/2010 issue, pattern number 121:

They’re all made in some variation of JoAnn’s silky polyester/rayon knit, which has the distinction of being the only fabric I’ve bought at JoAnn’s that hasn’t had some unfortunate issue.  (The only issue with these cuts was the careless chopping done by the sales person at the cutting table, but that’s for another day.)  These tops weigh nothing, and roll up so compactly that I could have packed ten of them if I’d wanted to!  The colors are deep and rich, and the fabric’s very nice to wear — perfect for everyday or traveling, all-around.

I used my new serger to add stabilizing tape, about six inches of it, to each shoulder seam.  There’s a slot in the presser foot that perfectly feeds 1/4 inch twill tape under the foot so that it’s sewed automatically into the seam.  This process could not have been easier.  Whoo-hoo!

Summerset Banks  has a fantastic (and illustrated!) explanation of a great finish for this collar, and I used it on each of these shirts.  Check it out if you’re making this pattern; you’ll be glad you did.

Summerset also suggests tagging the back of the shirt, which is good advice, since it’s almost impossible to tell the fronts from backs at first glance.  She uses a little bit of folded ribbon, but I dislike tags, so I just added a short, white, line of zigzag stitches.  I can spot these easily inside the tops.

This assembly line was also a chance to use one of my ancillary presser feet:  Pfaff’s “seam guide foot with IDT”, which  made short work of my hems.  It’s got a small blade-like edge on one side, and seam allowance markings all along the very wide foot:

I wouldn’t call this exactly a necessary accessory, but it really is an incredibly efficient way to keep my hem stitches the same precise distance away from the edges.  When whipping out multiple items as rapidly as possible, this is a great advantage.  If things get too rote, my mind tends to go numb; this is an antidote to forgetting exactly where I should be stitching that hem.

Related: Burda “Polo” #121 09/2010

Categories: Tips, Tops Tags: