Category Archives: Tops

Polo Anyone?

I wouldn’t go out of my way to search out a Polo-style shirt but I was swayed by these great colors, MY colors.

PASS
For this teal one I convinced my LH that teal is not his color and he surrendered it to the sewing studio without much fuss. Coincidentally teal IS one if my colors.  No really.  A total coincidence.  Really.

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I removed the sleeves and filleted the shirt opening it up at the sides and shoulders with only the collar holding everything together. I then recut the shoulders, armholes and sides using my trusty SLOPER! Yeah sloper!  Instead of side darts I eased in about an inch of fabric at the side seams at the bust which lent itself to a subtle  hi-low hemline. I can see in the photos though that I should have made the “dart” larger as I see some drag lines at the bust.  I kept the original hem and added flattering side slits. I also recut the sleeves maintaining their original hem as well.

So now I have a sassy little tunic I can wear as a beach coverup or with leggings.

FAIL

I picked up the turquoise Izod shirt at the Salvation Army for a few dollars knowing that it would get a make-over. It was 80’s vintage, wide shouldered and loose, with puffy sleeves.

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Photobombing by Waffles

I removed the sleeves and took in the sides. I used fold-over elastic on the armholes and stitched it to the inside of the garment. This type of binding is a first for me and I don’t think it’s quite right. There’s really no need for elastic here but the FOE color was a good match so time for experimentation! The armholes are now a little too snug which means I must have stretched the elastic during installation. The shoulder slope is off too.  I keep walking around yanking my shirt down so too snug in the bust. Considering that I only paid $2.50 and its second hand, I’m calling this one a fail and It’s going back to Salvation Army. Eew!  It’s not woth my time to unpick.  I am calling it a learning experience.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • In some knits you can’t ignore or reduce the bust “darts”.  This is very firm stable knit that deserved a bit more shaping and ease.
  • Fold over elastic is too bulky for cotton knit pique.
  • Don’t stretch the fold over elastic or binding at the armholes. I don’t need ease here.
  • Slopers are awesome!
  • Learn how to SMILE for the camera!

Meg dips her toes into the Indie pool

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When I was searching for patterns for my vacation ensemble I decided it was a great opportunity to try a few Indie patterns. Many of the Indie patterns I see are dresses, which I don’t wear very often, and knit tops.  I’m a jacket and pants kinda gal so most of them don’t appeal to me although I always need something to wear under the jackets.  I thought I should at least try one or two Indie’s to see what all the fuss is about. I don’t think twice about downloading PDF’s and I pay little attention to instructions so my focus is on the details and the cut.

I had a white scoop neck woven top listed in my SWAP queue and thought the Sorbetto might fit the bill.

I had originally envisioned a “chemise” style in a loose weave to wear under jackets so I ordered a cotton/Lycra blend that turned out to be too stiff for a chemise style. Duh!  In my pre-vacation delirium to make all things SUMMER I then decided that it would make a great Sorbetto. Not!

I surged the side seams and used bias binding on the inside of the neck and armholes. Instead of a straight stitch I used a wing needle and a decorative stitch to stitch the binding down. This technique looks lovely on a linen but is quite muddy here.
The pattern has no darts in back so there were gobs of fabric at the back waist all puffed out. I tried to tame it with some pleats but they look a bit snug in the photos.

I’m giving this project a FAIL mostly due to the wrong fabric but also because I should just stick to my style of more fitted garments.  I also want to change the shape of the neckline to something more square and perhaps add a center back seam that I can tweak.  You live and you learn.

Next up was Maria Denmark’s Day-to-Night Drape top. I had never tried a draped neckline but  was smitten by Sew Busy Lizzy‘s  awesome version.  It’s a very simple pattern that gets its “cool” from the drape of the fabric.  I had purchased a very thin sorbet colored cotton knit which feels luscious but really needs to be a bit heavier for this pattern. I tried it with a weight at the neckline but found it dragged it down a bit too much for me.  This is more on the “night” end of the scale rather than “day”.  I could see it in a more liquid-like material, a metallic, or sequins.  There is also a lot of fabric pooled down the front below the bust which I suspect is inherent for a cowl neckline.  Hmm…maybe I’ll try to marry this neckline to my sloper and have a two piece front.  I’ll give this one a passing grade.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  • Simple is not necessarily better.  I need more fitted styles.  This is not the same as tighter.
  • Start relying on my sloper more.
  • Pay more attention to the drape of the fabric. Both of these projects could have been better with different fabric.
  • Check sloper to make sure their are no drag lines at the bust.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Just checking in. I made item #4 of my SWAP a few weeks ago but it’s pretty basic so not worth a photo shoot. It’s a navy vee neck tee in a super soft cotton/Lycra from Emma One Sock. This top is a further development of my tee pattern. I followed a tutorial from the ASG website to make the binding for the vee neckline which was well worth the time to watch. (They have free online tutorials for members.)

I decided to create a bodice block before moving on to item #5 of my SWAP. It’s a silk blouse but I couldn’t find what I wanted in a pattern so I decided to draft one. IF, big IF, I get the block right then it will make modifying future patterns much easier. It will also help me to draft my own pattern for the blouse.

I started Friday night by draping the bodice on my custom dress form, and then spent some time this weekend drafting and true-ing. I have no training in draping so I’m just winging it! I’ve got Helen Armstrong’s book Patternmaking for Fashion Design to keep me in line but it doesn’t include any draping so this process is going to take a little time. The photos show my second pass at the first muslin. It’s looking pretty good in the front, but the back still needs some tweaking. Once that’s all set I’ll move on to the sleeves.

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Note the drag lines on the back under the arms and across the waist. I think I just need to lower the armholes a tiny bit, and maybe do a 1/2″ sway-back adjustment. There is plenty of room side to side so I know the waist is not too tight.

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Any ideas for adjusting the back?

Shawl Collar Bubble Tee – Frankenpattern

Excitement abounds! I get to check off item #3 on my SWAP list and, based on the changes I made to the shoulders, I now have a TNT Tee!
This type of shawl-scarf-draped neckline is one of my favorites because it’s soft and works well with a typical jacket neckline.  The top is intended for work, but here I am modelling sans makeup on a Saturday morning sorely needing a cut and color!

IMG_8893Fit: I made some changes based on what I saw on the Caramel Vee-neck Tee. This meant lowering the right shoulder and making adjustments for forward shoulders. I also adjusted the sleeve accordingly. l am pretty happy with the fit so far.

IMG_8902Pattern: The body originally started by tracing a RTW tee to make my Caramel Vee neck Tee. I then superimposed the neckline from #250 Pam’s Blouse by Silhouette Patterns. I made this blouse once before and had raised the neckline a few inches. (I promise I’ll post it.) In converting this from a blouse to a tee, I introduced a horizontal seam at the bottom of the collar just under the bust to collect the overlapping collar. Brilliant if I do say so myself!

IMG_8914Fabric: Another tasty treat from Emma One Sock. It’s a jersey called “Bubble Tea”. I picked it because I was looking for a print with teal/tan/brown. I have hard time fining prints I like and therefore don’t have very many, but this one is perfect.

IMG_8912Construction: Serged seams. 1 1/2″ deep hem made with 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam then stitched with double needle.

Lesson learned: Don’t just use the dress form (aka Helena) to fit. Helena is a few inches bigger than me so I really need to try it on myself before I get too far. The drape on the collar is a bit too loose so need to shorten it next time.

Caramel Vee-neck Tee

Item #2 of my SWAP (Check!) is a caramel colored tee to wear under jackets to work. I know, not very exciting, but if I hadn’t put it in the SWAP it would never have been made. This type of make is super quick and I’m starting to feel more comfortable sewing with knits.
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I have a favorite RTW jersey vee neck top that I love so I laid it down and traced it. The fit is great but what I really like about the RTW top is that the entire front is a double layer of fabric so there is no binding or seam finish at the front neckline. The back of the neck is bound.
Techniques: I’ve used the double layer front technique before but I didn’t have enough fabric to do it this time. Instead I created a facing that extends all the way into the shoulder seam. On the outside face I then stitched the edge of the facing down with a small zigzag stitch. In hindsight it would have looked better with a twin needle topstitch. I was trying to avoid ribbing or binding because I wanted a dressy clean finish.

Construction: In the past I have serged the seams of similar jersey fabric with woolly nylon in the loopers. I tried it with standard serger thread here and I like it better because it’s less bulky than the nylon.
Sleeves and bottom are hemmed first using 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam and then a twin needle topstitch. I haven’t had much luck with a cover stitch on such lightweight fabric.
Fabric: Rayon/Lycra jersey from Emma One Sock, lightweight with a lovely drape. She stocks it in a number of colors.
Pattern: Self-drafted
Fit: Great at bust, waist, and hips. Good length for 3/4 sleeves. Needs work at shoulders.

Lessons learned:
1. Knits aren’t so hard.
2. Zigzag finish is not so nice for a dressy tee. For the next one I want to morph the facing/double front idea into a faced yoke.
3. Always check shoulder slope! I should have lowered the right shoulder and moved it forward as usual. I didn’t notice this problem on the RTW but of course I’m not looking for it.

Tan Tank – Self-drafted

Item number one on my SWAP list – tan tank.  Check!  This is a top intended to put underneath jackets and sweater for work.  (Not with lumpy jeans.)

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Fabric: Rayon/Lycra jersey from Emma One Sock.  (They have it many colors.) I made another top from this fabric last year (which was a fail) and had a just tiny bit left for the tank.

Pattern:  I copied and old cotton ribbed RTW tank and then tweaked it a bit.  You can see the shoulders are cut in. I actually made them wider than the original by an inch on each side to make it bra friendly.

I used a 4 thread overlock for the seams and bands.  I then used a long single needle straight stitch on the sewing machine to flatten the bands.  In the photo below you can see I added a 2″ wide band to the bottom which I think was easier than using Stitch Witchery and a cover stitch.

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Lessons learned:

  • No need for woolly nylon in the loopers with this fabric.  That’s what I have used in the past, but it’s really not needed.
  • For the rayon/lycra, cut binding at 75% of armhole and neck openings plus 1/2″ for seam allowance.  Bottom band is cut at 100% of bottom width.
  • Rotary cutters are not so bad.

BurdaStyle #114 04/2010 – The Chambray Shirt

I’m pretty excited about my new make as it’s my first shirt. Shirtmaking had been floating to the top of my list but jumped to first place when my ASG group decided that 2014 would be the Year of the Blouse.

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This is Burdastyle #114 from April 2010 which is a classic style shirt with yoke, collar and collar stand, cuffs, and bust darts. I figured I had plenty to learn about shirtmaking without getting too fancy so I went with an inexpensive cotton Chambray that I got from Metro textiles in NYC last summer.

BurdaStyle 04/2010 #114 Line Drawing

The only pattern alterations I made were to fit the yoke and shoulders and move the bust dart a bit. It’s not a very fitted style to start with so it wasn’t that difficult to fit. I also omitted the useless pocket at the bust.  Also, to maintain a clean line under a jacket, I eliminated the loop at the back of the yoke.


To make this I used all of the techniques and instructions from David Page Coffin’s Shirtmaking with two exceptions. Mr. Coffin instructs you to remove the ease at the sleeve cap which I did not do since I was using a pattern with a reasonably deep cap. I also inserted the sleeves in the round after stitching the side seams. This is opposite from his recommended sequence in which the sleeves are inserted flat before stitching the side and underarm seam. I even used welt seams to attach the sleeves. I wasn’t sure I could even attach the sleeves flat due to the ease, but I just saw Pam Howard do this in her Craftsy video class with a similarly shaped sleeve so maybe I’ll try installing it flat next time.

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IMG_8689[My dressform is a little bit larger than me and in reality there are no strain lines at the bust.]

This make had a whole series of firsts for me which made it a challenge, but also made it quite satisfying:

  • First welt seams. Not too hard if you have the right seam allowances. I would like to try again with a welting foot to see if I can make it a bit neater.
  • First collar stand. Yikes, this is tedious work. There has got to be an easier method out there somewhere. The stand is tiny, and the two sides have to match, and then there’s the topstitching out there for everyone to see, right near your face!
  • First successful rolled hem. I think I finally got the knack of the rolled hemmed foot. Yeah me!
  • First use of a glue stick for basting. Not a bad idea.

I’ve collected a few fabrics that are destined to become shirts so I’m glad that this was a successful introduction. Now I need to decide whether to re-use the same pattern or to fit a new one. I would rank shirtmaking somewhere between pants and jackets in terms of difficulty, and easier than both in terms of fitting. I certainly could have pulled out the serger to speed things up a bit but it might be considered cheating. I found only one RTW shirt with serged seams in our closet.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t over think the button locations. I shifted them down an inch to align with the bust point but now it’s a teensy bit too low.
  • Front of right armhole needs another 3/4″ or so removed to eliminate wrinkles below the arm. Requires right and left front pieces as well as right and left arms. I wasn’t ready to go there for this make.

Have you made a classic tailored shirt? How did you handle the collar? Do you cheat?