This pattern (View B) was brought to my attention, like many others lately I suspect, by Jane Marland of Handmade Jane who blogged recently on her makes with it. Having read Jane’s post I immediately thought two things; first, a quick easy make that looks like a true wardrobe staple? Yeah, I’m having me some of that and so duly ordered the pattern. (On reflection, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion I already had it in my pattern stash, I now daren’t check!) Secondly, and this what really piqued my interest, was the simple fit alterations Jane made to this, in itself a simple top, to make it a great one. The effect of some simple pattern redrafting is transformative and makes this pattern, in my view, a classic.
Jane mentioned from the outset that she graded this pattern down i) one size at the bust and ii) two sizes down generally everywhere else and iii) added two inches to its length. Whilst bearing this in mind, I decided to make the top straight out of the envelope to show you what you’re starting with. So I cut out my size based on accurate measurements. It does state quite clearly on the pattern pieces that this top is designed with 4″ of ease. I winced as I cut it out as it was clearly a behemoth from the outset! And, tra la la, I put the whole thing together in a couple of hours or sew (seewhatididthere!?)
A few things were immediately apparent with this first ‘straight out of the envelope’ make; although it’s only two pattern pieces, with no darts, it had a shape; there’s some sort of fit there. It fit nicely over the ‘boobage’. I liked that it hung longer at the back, the curved hem, boat neck and its kimono-esque ‘grown on’ sleeves etc. However, and this is my personal bugbear, whilst it fitted across my chest, it also hung down from that point (see pics below) making me look like a 30lb heavier walking chest freezer or something! The fact that it was made up in a non-stretch, not overly drapy fabric only served to emphasise this.
So let’s think about Jane’s alterations. On the comparison second make I also added two inches to the length to stop it looking ‘boxy’. I know I’ve got slightly rounded shoulders and my ‘rack’ is somewhat oversized for my frame, so I graded down two sizes everywhere, as Jane did, but kept to the original sizing in the chest area as I was using a non-stretch woven. What this means, in practice, is that I traced out two sizes smaller generally and then, from the end of the sleeve down through the underarm seam I traced from my actual size, grading back down two sizes smaller again, by increments, upon reaching the shortening/lengthening lines on the pattern pieces.
So the revamped version is better, no? But still, I wanted more from it!
What this top really screams for then is a fabric with drape and perhaps some stretch. I used this stretch Viscose (from Minerva Crafts). Given its drape and stretch quality, importantly, this time I graded down a single size in the bust area too, a la Jane.
And let’s just take a moment to admire my self-covered button and thread loop on the keyhole opening at the back can we? Mastering the thread loop almost took as long, if not more, than it did to sew the top itself. That’s only a slight exaggeration by the way. I love that I can do thread loops now – I feel like some sort of Sewing Ninja – aren’t they just a perfect closure on light and/or delicate fabrics!
Now it’s love. LOVE I tell ya! This top actually feels better than the sum of its parts; it just feels effortlessly classic and supremely comfortable on. I expect to make many more of these; all the silks, crepes and, help, would a lightweight jersey work?! This pattern goes straight into the ‘capsule’ wardrobe classics pile. (It’s such a quick fix make too. I can see myself reaching for this pattern after finishing a more complex one, as a ‘comfort sew’ if you know what I mean!)
Until next time…
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