Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Tale of Two Tops

Confession: I don't always use the right fabric for the job. After several really good pattern reviews, and specifically Trena's recommendation, I picked up Vogue 2980 at the last Vogue one-day sale. It's a Sandra Betzina pattern, which is both good and bad - good, because I like the fit and construction, but bad because I find most of her patterns kind of boring, in the way that can't be remedied by fabric choice or embellishment. But this is a cute little top and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in a chocolate brown stretch jersey that I had in the stash.

The pattern requires four-way stretch fabric, with about a 25% stretch in the width. Which, of course, is why I ended up using a rayon-blend sweater-look knit with almost no stretch. Don't ask. But as soon as I saw the fabric I knew that's what this top really wanted to be made in, so I crossed my fingers, picked up the rotary cutter and proceeded on by the seat of my pants.

Not my greatest idea. In SB sizing, I'm normally a C. For this lack-of-stretch-knit, I cut a D, with slightly wider seam allowances. Which was good, because I ended up making this with about 1/4" seam allowances all around with the exception - for some reason - of the top of the side seams where the faux shrug joins the front and back. That actually required the full 5/8" seam tapering down to 1/4" at the ribcage. Since when are my boobs the smaller part of my torso?

Even after that, the straight neckline was still a little gappy. I tried pinning a dart along the sideseam, where it would be hidden by the collar, but that just reinforced the point that I didn't like the way the collar rucked up under my arms. I think part of that is just the design of the top, but in a lighter, more flexible (dare I say, more stretchy) fabric, it wouldn't be an issue.

In the end, the lack of stretch didn't affect the basic construction very much. In some respects, like setting in the sleeves, it actually worked better - once again there was a decent amount of ease (too much) in the sleeves and ease-stitching and sewing set-in sleeves in stretch knit is right up there with sticking pins under my fingernails as far as I'm concerned. This knit took ease-stitching well and steamed beautifully on my pressing ham. Have I ever mentioned that I love my pressing ham? And for something I didn't think I need, I now think I need a second one, because I left one sleeve to sit overnight last night, pinned it in this morning and left the other sleeve steamed and sitting to be worked on later. Now, if I had two hams . . .

All things considered, I really like the idea of this top, and I still want to make it in that chocolate brown jersey. If a pattern works this well when you're using the wrong fabric, just think how cooperative it will be if I do what I'm supposed to.

But for now, it's going in the "salvage" pile, to percolate for a while. And here's one from that same salvage pile, which turned into something for the Wardrobe Contest: the completed rust tie-neck t-shirt.

This fabric was from Spandex House picked up at Patternreview Weekend 2006. Loved the color, loved the drape. Decided to make the KwikSew wrap dress with it, with the crossover portion of the bodice from a small piece of accent fabric that I got in an Emmaonesock bundle. Don't ask, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Cut it out, basted it together, and it looked like a big droopy orange bag. The fabric didn't seem that weighty, but the skirt pulled the bodice all out of whack and I couldn't think of any way to redeem it. But instead of chucking it, I threw it in the bag and when I was on my autumn colors binge with the wardrobe, it wandered back into my head. I salvaged the original sleeves, and cut the front and back of the shirt from that poor sad skirt. The bands and ties were just leftover bits of fabric, but I think they save it from being too plain.

This is my last top for the wardrobe, and I'm just finishing off the last skirt. Then all I have to work on is the bag, which is all over the workroom right now because I changed my design mid-cut.

Onward and upward.


Alexandra said...

I love both tops! The story about the not-stretchy-enough one is funny.

Meg said...

Good information on knit tops, especially since I'm about to plunge back into knitdom.