Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Simple" is not in my vocabulary

I wanted to make a quick, easy summer top. I've had two pieces of summery-type cotton fabric in my stash for about year, maybe two and I thought I'd just whip out a couple summer tops to wear. Yeah. Right. I finally finished the first top, which I started over a month ago. It really shouldn't have taken me this long and it wasn't all because my time has been taken up with work, French class, and the garden. Oh, and knitting.

First, I chose to make the top in plaid. And it was an unbalanced plaid (arrangment of stripes is different in horizontal and vertical direction), so it was even more difficult. It wasn't until I was almost finished with the top that I saw on the back of the envelope: unsuitable for diagonals and plaids. That would explain why some of the seams would never match but I still think it turned out ok.

Summer top

It's a little more loose fitting on top than I like, but I think it's wearable. I sure learned a lot about plaids and will hopefully be more prepared the next time I attempt to sew with plaid.

Here's what I learned about sewing with plaids:

  1. You need a lot of fabric . The pattern envelope often says "extra fabric needed to match plaids." Of course that's only on patterns for which plaid fabric is suitable.
  2. Match, match, match. There are so many places where you have to match the plaid and things you need to be aware of. Match plaid at side seams, shoulder seams, collar to collar stand, sleeves. Make sure plaid is even and balanced across the front, back, sleeves, and collar.
  3. Cut out plaid on one layer of fabric. This is a necessity because there is so much matching required. It is also a good way to make maximum use of the fabric. But you'll have to trace your patterns onto tissue or trace the other half and attach it to the pattern piece. The back piece and "skirt" pieces of this top were cut on the fold, so I just traced one half and then flipped the pattern over and traced the other half. When I laid out a pattern piece, I took the adjoining piece and marked references on it to where the plaid should line up. It was tedious.
  4. Baste, pin, use a walking foot, or a combination of these. The careful matching of all the plaid is wasted if you can't sew the two pieces together precisely.
Here's the rest of my review, which I posted on

Pattern Description:
Semi-fitted, unlined tops with side zipper, stitched hems, and side seam slits. Two different front styles with options to include a collar and short sleeves.

Pattern Sizing:
8-14 and 16-22. I made the size 18 in bust, increasing to 20 at waist and hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes. I was hoping to have a closer fit than shown on the model but mine came out a bit loose fitting as well. If I get up the guts to model it, I'll post a new picture so you can see how it fits on me.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
No problem with the instructions. They were easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the style and the finishing. The sleeves attach to about 2/3 of the arm hole and have a bias binding that encloses the seam and the lower 1/3 of the arm hole. The collar is 2-piece, which is nice. It looks like it's a one piece collar on the other front style.

Fabric Used:
100% cotton I bought from Joann's either last year or the year before.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I used an 18 for the top and increased to a 20 at the waist and hips. I could have gone smaller in the bust. I based the size off my full bust and also pin-fit it on my dress form. I thought it would fit. It's wearable but opens a bit low in the front. Better to be a bit loose than too tight though! I also increased the sleeves by 3/4 inches because I have plump upper arms. I marked a line through the middle of the sleeve pattern from bottom hem to the shoulder, slit it to 1/16" before the cutting line, spread it 3/4 inch, and taped it to a new piece of tissue.

I cut the lower part of the top on the diagonal, hoping to make it more interesting and avoid horizontal lines around my waist. Looking at the end result, I'm happy with the look but wish I'd made it longer than the pattern called for. I think the proportion is a little off and it may look that way because I put the bottom on the diagonal.

I put the zipper in per instructions but next time I would use an invisible zipper. I like the cleaner look of an invisible zipper and don't find them any more difficult to put in.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I do recommend the pattern but check the fit if you want something more fitted.

I was going to make this up again in a second, similar cotton that I bought at the same time, but I think I'm going to make something different. It's not that I don't like the pattern, it's because the other fabric is a stripe and I'm not sure it would work in the alternate style and I don't really want two similar shirts.


  1. Lori, I think that's a cute, happy-looking top! You made a difficult fabric choice work...great job!

  2. That looks great. Seeing your finished items on your blog really inspires me to get out my machine's been a loooong time. You are obviously a perfectionist - your home-made clothing looks anything but.

  3. oh how lovely, you did so well and i just know the care to detail you have given this, at every stage you must have needed so much concentration! The diagonal bottom bit looks great! Looking forward to seeing this 'on'!!

  4. I really like the top - you did a GREAT job!

  5. Cute top! I remember buying plaid for a top back in my sewing days. I think I still have the fabric in a box somewhere--the thought of matching was too much for me.