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Tops

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With so many things on my endless sewing queue I had to ask myself- what do I want to make the most? what will I get the most wear/enjoyment out of. Wouldn’t have guessed that would be a crop top, but for some reason making a woven crop top has been on my wishlist for a long time!   Note: I didn’t make the skirt in the above pictures, I only made the top. I know the skirt is fabulous! (I do want to make my own similar version because it is very easy to wear)

I have been seeing lots of these fabulous two piece sets and I’m still not sick of the crop top trend (not that I’m one to follow trends, but when it’s right for me I just go with it).

Anyway I had a muslin/toile lying around from a past project (my Marimekko shift dress), so I thought, (to make things easier) why not adapt this pattern by marking and cutting up this toile that I already have?! Then it was quick and easy to check the length and create a new neckline (by cutting directly into the toile). I marked the muslin/toile with the design changes I wanted, retraced the paper pattern that (that the toile was made from) and then made my design changes to my traced pattern: transforming the shift dress pattern into a cropped top (of my own design).

Was all the pattern making tedium going to be worth it? I wasn’t sure if it was going to work because I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to pattern-making (I am NOT a maths person- maths is what I’m worst at, so I’m kind of scared of drafting) but there was no horrid maths and It was all pretty intuitive.

I gotta say I was surprised- the system worked! 😉 It was just the kind of top I saw in my head. YAY!!

The finished product feels a bit more sophisticated than cropped knit top and because I made it reversible the extra layer adds structure to the piece. I also love it because I have and I have a lot of high-waisted skirts so it fits surprisingly well into my wardrobe (I am wearing the top as I type this). If I travel again, I just may take it with me because you get two different tops that take up the space of only one.

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By the way I have used this black and white spot (cotton/poly poplin) fabric before. I made a dress from it in 2012!

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The black fabric on the reverse side is a black cotton voile (light and lovely to work with) I bought in bulk when on sale of course 😉

I almost forgot to mention that I designed the neckline so that it would be low enough for the top to slip over my head (no fastenings or zippers needed)

I thought of drafting a facing for this top. Facings do make for quicker sewing but I figured since the top was so small I would go all out and just line it (more time consuming but a better finish). Did I want to make my life easier and add a center back seam? Heck no! Was kind of a blessing in disguise because I had to put my problem solving hat on when lining it and now I remember the trick I was taught, which is impossible to put into words. If i was to explain I think id need to do a video…not because it’s smart or hard, but simply because its so dam tricky to explain.

I got some good pictures of my (sewing) process so i’ll show instead of tell…

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I was on such a high after making this! Don’t be surprised if I make, like, a billion iterations in different prints and colours. I have already cut out the 3 (linings included) 😉

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I made a loose woven tee! As usual I had to ham it up for the cameras and play dress ups with my new tee, please forgive me, it’s all in fun!

(Click to enlarge the images. My annoying wordpress template shrinks them. Must get on that soon!)

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I think this is a good top for wearing with skinny jeans or tight fitting bottoms, the loose fit of the top makes it a bit more relaxed and I guess ‘demure’.

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The top goes with a lot of accessories…Gingham is practically a neutral right? well I’m sure that’s debatable!

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With a leather brooch I made. Is it too silly/clown like? I kind of love stylized daisies (perhaps it’s a 60s thing)

Sewing/Fitting notes: 

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Above: I did an invisible hem on the sleeves and the bottom of the top. Still obsessed with my invisible hem foot!

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Above: up close and personal with my tee!

Sewing notes: The original plan was to make a shift dress using the pattern New look 6225, which was the same pattern as i used for  this dress. I thought this quick project would be a fabulous antidote to drama I had with my Mad Men Megan dress.

LOL have a look at my pattern notes (perhaps I need a better system)….

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I remember transfering all the alterations/changes to the pattern tissue, the last time I made this dress, but somehow the fit was looser and it came out a lot more boxy than I wanted it to!

Unlike my first shift dress using new look 6225, this one does not not have a CB seam (but that’s what the pattern intended) perhaps that had an effect on the fit?

The gingham I used is also less drapey, it’s a bit crisp and has a lovely hand. I bought it during a 40% off sale at lincraft around $6 a meter. Anyway really not sure why the fit is so much looser…

I always intended this fabric to be a shift dress but I tried it on and it looked like hospital scrubs (not cute). So I thought “wow I better shorten it!” -That’s when I went far too crazy and shortened it too much. It seem’s to be a mistake I often make. I like short dresses but this is too short. It was that weird no-mans land between ‘top’ and ‘mini dress’, just covering the bum.

As you can see below it was too boxy, but also too short to be a dress and I didn’t feel like taking it in at the side seams

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I could either add a contrasting band to the bottom or shorten it into a top.

I’m so glad I shortened it and made it into a top, because this top goes with almost anything! I like how it’s slightly cropped, but its still a little modest because of how loose it is.

I cut this dress/pattern some time ago, but I decided to time my sewing. It took about 3.50 hrs (not inc cutting time), then an additional 2 hrs when I umed and erred over shortening it for the 3rd time.

A loose woven tee is actually the perfect addition the my wardrobe. It’s one of those basics that’s not super exciting when blogged, but when added to a wardrobe like mine, its a real workhorse. After trying it on in daylight, I think the top is actually too wide, if you took some excess fabric out of the cf it would sit much better, but it’ll do 😉

That was a crazy long winded post for such a simple project, need to learn to edit!

Time for me to go eat and vacuum up the endless sewing threads that cover my living room/sewing nook and thanks to this project I leave you with this “sewing wisdom”

 

 

Here’s something I discovered today I wanted to share (in case it could help someone else)… I have a new theory on why tops and dresses tend to gape on me at the neckline.  Allow me to demonstrate with a picture…

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Yes it makes sense now! Most peoples shoulders slope more than mine, I have quite square shoulders so by taking excess out from the shoulder seam it fits better.

Note: The diagram is exaggerated and inaccurate but you get the idea! Perhaps it counter-intuitive to remove fabric near the neck if you have boxy shoulders, but for some reason it worked for this pattern. I did remove a lot less, and it what I did take out was less slanted than what I drew in mu crude drawing.

Simplicity 1693 was the pattern used. I am not exactly over the moon with the results…

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Anyway this is the top before the alteration…

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And after…

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So it is an improvement, but I don’t know if I like the loose fit on me but I do love the fabric!

I had a dress in the same colour and print when I was a little girl and it was my favorite dress. I have plenty more of this fabric left, so I am sure I will make something much cuter with it.

I am happy I tested out this pattern in a fabric I had plenty of, because I dont know if it is worth making again. If I do make it again, I want to do the bias binding before I sew up the site seams, and it will probably make it 100 times easier!

I did cut out and sew a peter pan collar, for this top, but I left it off, because I felt like the girly fabic and combined with a collar in the same colour would be too sickly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look a bit twee, but I am supposed to be a bit more grown up at this point in my life…

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Perhaps I can use it on something else. I just discovered a quick way to get the collar to look good:

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Tip: Its worth investing in some good quality pinking sheers. I used my new ones to grade the seams on my peter pan collar and it worked a treat! Just grade the seams with the pinking sheers and go over the seam line with a point turner and press. Super quick!

I left of the interfacing, to see how that would change the look of it.

Anyway thats the end of my story.

I have something much more exciting for the next post, it just may be my favorite dress ever.

Heres a teaser (from when it was a W.I.P)…

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I have enjoyed reading everyones 2013 recaps. All of the sewing blogs I read are full of sewing inspiration but its reassuring to read that everyone has sewing fails from time to time.

Sometimes it’s impossible to predict which projects will be the highlights and which ones will go unworn, but no matter how the projects turn out its good to know we are always learning more and advancing our sewing skills!

Hope everyone is having a good 2014!

-Kath

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That black and white pixelated-looking fabric on the right (that looks like QR code) is my favorite. Too scared to use it. Don’t you hate it when you are too scared to cut into a fabric you love?

Today I had fun going through some of my fabric. I would look at my fabric and ask the fabric “what do you want to be? a dress? a skirt? what era, look or style? I am a strange individual. I have never denied that.

All plans are subject to change at any moment of course!

Anyway below are the ones I could make a decision about. Not necessarily my favorite fabrics, just a selection that I thought would suit a particular style or sewing pattern….

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Above: Vintage Vogue 8789 View A. With the stripes on the bodice cut on the bias creating a lovely chevron. yum!

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Picture the Blue fabric on the left as view a. A sleeveless dress with a drapey neckline so it’s kinda ‘hillybilly-does-Vivienne-Westwood” type of deal. The dull-looking fabric on the right could be a wearable muslin of the same dress. There is not a lot of this blue fabric so we will see…

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I want to be the kind of person that has a dress that is covered in zebra heads!

The fact that I don’t have much yardage/meterage to work with made it easy to decide, as this dress uses the least fabric. I have made this dress before

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This fabric has that cute 60s vibe that I love. Perfect for a A-line dress. Should I add a collar? or perhaps waist tabs

This is the most recent dress I made, so I already perfected the fit, or at least thats the theory anyway…

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Red denim to be made into a basic A-line skirt with pockets, mostly to test out the pattern. NEXT!

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If the red skirt goes well would like to try the A-line style in this DIVINE ikea fabric!

I know, I know Tilly already made a skirt in a similar fabric. I love her version (and everything she makes). But for my skirt I want it to be shorter and more streamlined (no pleats) It’s a heavier fabric too.

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I am not mad about this fabric. I like it, but I am not head-over-heels for it. I have LOTS of it, so its a good one to test new patterns on. Also its a sateen so it has a bit of stretch, great for fitted dresses.

I want to make the above pattern from it, sleeveless, without the peplum fin things and with the square neckline.

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Don’t you love my penguin fabric? It was a left over from sun dress I was/am still making.

I want to make the top in view D of the pattern but with no sleeves and I suppose I would make the contrasting peter pan collar black.

I did not manage to capture the true colour of the fabric on the right, it’s much more of pink than in the photo it would be a good choice for wearable muslin to test out the pattern because I have a lot of it.

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I have 6.28 meters of this fabric, so it’s a good one to test out new patterns.

How do I end up with so many meters of the same fabric? when I worked in a fabric shop I would buy up big when the clearance fabric were reduced again, so I often got fabric that was $3 or under per meter. So a nice cotton poplin that is cheaper than the price of calico…those were the days!

 

So yeah. Those be my plans. What should I make next?


Loving the dressy retro look of the finished top.
I also made the skirt, it was a pattern from a Burda Style magazine as well, but I made the skirt so long ago, I can’t remember which issue the pattern was from.


I like this top best when its tucked into a fitted skirt. Sorry not really sure why I am doing that weird thing with my hand haha.


I will definitely be making another version of this top. It’s cute and it’s quite practical to wear on occasions that require a more formal/dressy look.


Here is the top sans skirt so you can see the altered fit. It’s still a relaxed fit, just a little bit more defined at the waist. I added darts and took the side seams in quite a lot. I didn’t bother putting darts in the back.

The button spacing is not quite right but I’m not too fussed about it because I will only be wearing it tucked in.

I have almost finished this top. I have been enamored with this pleated top for a while, it seemed dressy and versatile with vintage flair.

I was worried It wouldn’t suit me, but after sewing the buttons and trying it on I love the affect of the pleats around the neck! There is only one thing that needs some tweaking and that is the fit. I do prefer more definition at the waist.

It really needs more shaping. Because I made it in a medium weight poplin when I belt it or tuck it into a skirt it creases like crazy!

So if you are making this pattern and prefer a more fitted silhouette bear in mind it does have a lot of ease at the sides.

I am going to take some width out of the side seams and add darts to the front. There go the fancy side seams I made. I must remember to fit as I go. I should have pinned where the buttons were to get a better idea of the fit before finishing the side seams of.

Ah sewing, you never stop learning from your mistakes :).

This is how I felt

(imge credit http://www.cowboylands.net)

Getting this pattern to fit has proved to be a good learning experience but a tedious one all the same. I have made 7 muslin/toiles.

Because I don’t understand fitting and pattern making that well I am not at the stage where I have standard adjustments that I make to new patterns to suit my body.

But I often notice the same problems. Such as…

Gaping/excess fabric above the bust. (Theory 1: My back is a little hunched or my front is shorter. Theory 2: Because I am a bigger cup/lower or bust size Theory 3: Hollow Chest)

Gaping at my back near the neck  (Theory: Slightly Curved back)

Who knows?

Anyway this is how it fits now  (I win Burda 7494 I win!)

The sewing is not fantastic but it is a trial run so I was messy.

Heres a little break down of what I have been through:

– In early versions I got rid of fabric from the side front bodice only (none on the center front) hoping it would get rid of excess fabric above the bust. This helped only a little little

– I then made a gape dart on the centre front pattern piece and pivoted the excess into the dart. Below is a picture showing how I did it.

Yey no more droopy fabric and the front but THEN I had these darts and the pannel lines that looked like pointy nipples. Not pretty! The darts were WAY too high on the dress.

Another problem was the neckline way WAY too high which is unflattering and uncomfortable.

– I lowered the neckline so I had to re-drafted the collar. I got a similar shape of collar by looking at the finished shape (without seam allowance) sewn up (muslin version 1) tracing that onto my new center front piece and lengthening it slightly. Had to factor in seam allowance to work out where the front of the collar would meet.

OK now to get rid of the darts the picture below shows how bad they looked.

– So to remove the bust darts I had to put the dart excess in my side front piece. It kind of defies explanation so here is an image so I can remember what I did.

– I originally added 2cms to the waistline but that was to much.

So I decided to make the waistline more curved. You can actually see it in the above image how the waistline kind of tapers upwards but is longer on the sides and back.

I shorted the skirt and added a slit but I have yet to figure out how to correctly sew a slit…

– I cut a big chunk out of the back neckline and that got rid of most of the gaping there.

-In my latest version (version 7) I took a little out of the waist. Hopefully with will work out because I am cutting it in my fashion fabric soon.

– I re-drafted facings for the new neckline and then drafted lining pieces to go with the facings.

Phew Perhaps I should sew with another pattern before I sew the Burda 7494 in my fashion fabric. Even writing the pattern number is tiring now.