Tag Archives: tops

A qualified “meh”

Anthropologie knockoff v. 3

For this third iteration (see 1 and 2), I didn’t change much from the last; re-narrowed the neckline a wee bit, and lengthened the cowl portion so there would be more drape higher up.

This fabric is meh. The colour is drab,  it’s very, very thin, and worst of all it has very poor recovery; to get it to fit like anything other than a sack I took both sideseams in by over an inch. But it’s got great drape and cost about $1.50/m, which is about as good as it gets, at least around here.

For those of you who are insanely interested in the exact alterations, I think I’ve “curled back” the side seams/armscye too much. I needed to do it a bit more than in my first iteration to get the cowling to drape a little deeper, but not as much as I did. As usual, I overshot. I think there’s a sweet-spot somewhere between my pattern the first time and this iteration; mostly it looks good except that there’s some oddness in the folding of the pleats at the armpit; basically the first pleat is turning into a dart, which isn’t what I want. Solution? probably rotate the armscye back by the amount of that dart, and make up for the extra distance in cowl height.

Like my accessory?

Which sounds like gibberish typed out, but will hopefully remind me of what I’m trying to do… so I apologize to the rest of you for my opacity.

The other upside—this colour goes really well with my corset-waist circle skirt, which almost nothing else in my wardrobe does, and the corset-waist covers up the somewhat-more-meh lower portions of the top. Yay!

For honesty’s sake, I’ll include a shot of what I was wearing earlier in the day before I “finished” (for that unhemmed, threads hanging everwhere, value of finished)  the top. See? Not a good combo.

Previous outfit.

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Temptation!

Curses. Just as I’m grappling with the fact that I really need to decrease the sewing-to-grad-school ratio in my life, I get not one, but two tantalizing sewalongs dangled in my face.

Peter, as you know (since everyone and their chihuahua reads MPB) has pencilled in a jeans sewalong for May. Now, obviously I’m in no need of more jeans for me—I have no less than five functional me-made pairs, plus the RTW, which I think is more pants than I’ve had at any one time since I was 12—but it would be an excellent place to tackle the terrifying prospect of sewing jeans for my husband. The only thing more frightening than the prospect of sewing jeans for him is the prospect of jeans shopping for him… well, that and the fact that it’s very, very hard to get him to model anything I make him…

And then, as if that weren’t enough, Sherry comes along offering a RTW tailoring

New book!

sewalong! Just days after I splurged and bought Coats and Jackets by Wendy. And washed the 5 m of off-white wool I found at VV ages ago… So now I’m sitting here doodling sketches of empire-waisted spring coats. So much inspiration… so hard to choose!

All this is in between madly running over alterations to the knock-off cowl pattern. Fortunately, when knocking off a $90 shirt, you can justify an awful lot of iterations of $3/yard jersey.

For the next version, I sacrificed some of my striped

Muslin #2... not as awesome as #1

knit (visible on the right here), as I was too impatient to wait for the weekend when I can get to Fabricland (which is allegedly having an awesome sale). This was a bad idea, as it doesn’t have the stretch and drape of the pink fabric. I’m not 100% convinced it’s wearable, although it’s not awful, but worse is that because the drape isn’t right I can’t really compare it to the first version. So I’m not going to dwell too terribly much on the results except to say that next time I’ll add back a bit of the width I took off the shoulders, to give me more room for deeper pleats.

Much happier with my first version… sigh…

Speaking of which, guess what I wore today?

Me-Made March, day 11

Fluttery cowl-neck
Ellen pants

Apparently my spring-like outfits have in fact brought on spring… and these white pants are now very, very muddy. 🙂

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It’s possible I may have overdone it…

Anthropologie original

This is all Steph’s fault. She tempted me. First by posting this luscious Anthropologie shirt on her blog, then by showing off her version of it.

Well, mostly. There was also this thin, drapey coral knit showing up in the clearance section at my local Fabricland. And the cardboard, no seam-allowance version of of my knit TNT that I made up over the weekend, which makes tracing out and altering the pattern a cinch.

Hmm. Maybe a little too much pleating? Also, I don't think my shoulders are always this lopsided.

I haven’t quite replicated the original (I think I may have overdone it a bit, however). But I think I am pretty close to how they shaped the pattern, requiring just a bit of tweaking on the exact length, width, and pleating of the drape.

I started by attempting to drape the pattern on my duct-tape double (wearing one of my Lydia tops so I could pin to it; this also helps since my DTD doesn’t really have all of my features. Like, oh, armpits). This wasn’t super helpful, since I wasn’t prepared to hack up all my precious $3 fabric for pattern pieces, but it did give me some broad parameters for the width of drape and length of pleated pieces I was looking for.

My pattern alterations

There was a lot of debate on Steph’s post about whether this kind of drape, combined with the fitted lower bodice, could be achieved without seaming. I, too, was sceptical. At this  point, I am going to officially change sides and say that it can, at least in a 4-way stretch knit.  Although the result creates some interesting grainlines.

Knockoff shirt

I started my slashes below the armscye, about on the level of my bust; I suspect that this is still a bit high, the original shirt looks like the drape begins a bit lower, on the level of the underbust (you wouln’t want it to go any lower than that, though, or you’d lose the fitted look of the bodice). I used wedge spreading for the bottom part, and used the draping as a reference to give me the depth of the drape (pink line) and the length to be pleated (blue line). The green line shows the piece of the upper front I transferred to the back of the pattern (there’s no shoulder seam, just the dropped seam you see in the front.

Back view.

Obviously I still haven’t quite nailed it—I think I have a bit too much fabric in the pleats (or perhaps my fabric’s just heavier), and the Anthropologie shirt’s pleats are arranged a little more thoughtfully than mine where they’re sewn to the shirt. I also need to remind myself that the anthropologie dummy in the photo has a much longer torso than I do… if I were to try on the same size shirt, I’m pretty sure the draping would begin about at my waist, and not give me that lovely shelf-bust illusion.

For those who are interested in the technicalities, here’s a quick closeup of the inside of the pleats:

Cowl pleating at front shoulder

You can see the inch-or-so facing folded over from the outside (on the left of the picture; the armscye seam is to the right. I stabilized the pleated seam with clear elastic, and sewed it on my regular machine for greater control (and ability to sew over the pins. Very slowly and carefully, I’ll add.). You can also see that I arranged my pleats regularly (each pleat was 2″)… the original has them clustered towards the neckline edge, and I’m not sure how deep and how many of them there are; it seems like they might be fewer, and deeper towards the armscye.

Flutter sleeve

I also drafted my first flutter sleeve; I’m not convinced this is the best look for this particular top; as a small-busted girl cowl necks work well for me, but this one is so bulky it visually moves me into large-bust territory, at which point my broad shoulders become something to be minimized, not enhanced with flutteries. So I think in future versions (can I really justify multiples of

Another view, just for kicks.

these?) I would stick with a narrow sleeve. I love flutter sleeves in general, though, so I’m sure I’ll use it in the future.

Incidentally, those bust-framing folds (in my shirt and in the original) are created by puling parts of the drape down below the bust. This works well enough for posing (especially on a cloth-covered dummy) but I suspect won’t really stay put in the general course of life.

Still, what a lot of fun! And a bit reassuring after my last attempted-cowl fiasco. You can see that it’s not finished—serger threads hanging everywhere—but I really wanted to just show it off. I’ll neaten it up later, and if the weather improves, I may even get to wear it for MMM!

Me-Made March Update:

Me-Made March, day 9

I’m thinking of this outfit as an invocation of spring. (Actually, it’s supposed to get above freezing here today. Hooray!)

JJ blouse
very plain tank-top
Ellen pants

Ok, now I’m going to go put on my sweater… and socks. 😦

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Using up the Blue

Blue raglan-sleeve top. See below for the reason I look so irate.

After the stegosaurus shirt, I had just under 90 cm (one yard) of fabric left. Possibly I should’ve made it into something for one of the kids, since it’s a bit of a distinctive colour, but for whatever reason, I was determined to get one more long-sleeved shirt for me out of it. Wiggle as I might, I couldn’t quite get the Pattern Formerly Known as Lydia onto the available amount of fabric. I didn’t want to cop out and go with short sleeves, as this is a warm, wintry knit.

Fortunately, Lekala patterns came to my rescue once again; the raglan top pattern that I made before just fit, helped out by the fact that the pattern pieces are full-width, not to be cut on the fold. This was annoying when it was eating up all my printer paper, but with careful jiggling I was able to get it all in place.

So, I have another raglan top. As this is a much more stable knit (though without any redeeming factors like cotton, as far as I can tell), it fits considerably more, ah, sleekly, than the white version. Thus far I haven’t bothered with the ruching on the front; I kinda like the round neck (though it is pretty similar to the stegosaurus neckline, isn’t it?). We’ll see how boring I find the top after wearing it today.

Aww... no back ruffle. Plenty of wrinkles, though, as usual...

Really nothing to say about the construction. I did the seams all on the serger, which is really easy for the raglan construction, and twin-needled the sleeve and bottom hems. The top edge is just folded under around a narrow clear elastic and twin-needled as well. I have a Schmetz twin needle right now and I can’t tell if it’s just in my head but it really seems to me like the Schmetz needles (especially the twins) break a lot less readily than the Klasse (the other brand I have ready access to…) Oh, and you may have noticed you’re getting a glimpse of something other than my usual, draped-sheet photo background. This is the brightest corner of my kitchen (at least at 8:00 in the morning), and you are being “treated” to it because my darling children trashed the basement yesterday and my sheet is now in a limp little pile on the carpet, buried under an avalanche of… not even toys. Just stuff. Urg. I love my children. I love my children. I love my children. I…

Versatile Blogger Award

oh, yes, and before I forget, the amazing Magda passed on this “Versatile Blogger” award to me, and then the equally mind-blowing Oona Baloona did as well. And I want to thank them both very much, but I think I’m running out of interesting things to reveal, so I’m going to bail on spreading the meme and just point y’all to my previous exposees: Stylish Blogger and Beautiful Blogger.

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The Stegosaurus Ruffle strikes again.

Blue long-sleeve top

Nothing like a me-made month to get me off the fluffies and back on track making practical clothing. Today’s version being rather more successful than yesterday’s.

I made a couple more tweaks to my ever-evolving “Pattern formerly known as Lydia“. Since at this point I’ve altered the waist curve, the shoulder angle, the sleeve-cap, sleeve length, sleeve shape, and the neckline, I should probably give up on calling it a “Lydia“, and just call it my “Knit top TNT” or something equally generic. This time, I tweaked the sleeve-cap again, removing a bit more height, and attempted a seam-free swayback alteration, which creates much the same change in the angle of the back shoulders as Sherry’s method, except that… well, I dunno, I like the funky pivot-and-slide stuff. I then decided, on a whim (actually to optimize my pattern layout) to cut the back on a seam, so I took the opportunity there to add a teeny bit of shaping as well. If I decide to make the CB seam a regular feature, I can do a much more thorough swayback fix in the future.

No-seam swayback alteration. Yes, it affects only the shoulder.

Anyway.

My previous Lydias have been scoop-necked and plain. I didn’t want to just make another version in blue, so I decided to try a boatneck and a back ruffle, a nifty little feature I am blatantly stealing from Heather of Feathertysews. Thanks! I was a little hesitant about trying it in such a heavy fabric, but it actually worked out really well. Yay!

Flatlocked seam (open)

So, back to that CB seam. I didn’t really have enough room to add a seam-allowance, so I decided to try flatlocking the seam. This is a trick you can do with a serger, where you basically turn the needle thread tension way down. That way, after you serge the seam, you can basically pull it open so the ends of the fabric butt up right against each other. One side looks “serged,” the other side has these horizontal loops of thread—actually quite decorative; I have a RTW tee that features it (and I thought it was a super-cool feature when I bought it). It works best with a fairly beefy fabric, and I gather is used a lot in active wear, for butting fleeces and things like that. Here’s a better overview than mine… Since my knit is a fairly sturdy athletic/winter knit, I thought it would work, and after a certain amount of messing around (my serger’s tension settings are wonky at the best of times) I got it to work. I wasn’t too concerned with it being super-even, as my next step was to cover it with my little stegosaurus ruffle.

Ruffle closeup

I cut a piece of clear elastic just a little bit longer than my shirt back, and a strip of

my fabric about twice as long. I was originally planning to be quite scientific and match my ends, halves, quarters, etc., but it seemed like that would require too much stretching of the elastic, not to mention require more precision than I’m truly capable of. So I just held the elastic as taut as was comfortable, and slowly let it out as I stitched (a narrow zigzag) along the middle of the fabric strip, though both elastic and fabric. The result is that the strip isn’t gathered as evenly as it could be, but it doesn’t really show (and even if it does, I can’t see it 😉 ). Then, using the same narrow zig-zag, I stitched the ruffle overtop of my flat-locked seam.

Stegosaurus ruffle!

I used Sherry’s binding method here for the neck, which I attached in a C (that is , after sewing one shoulder but with the other one still open). It’s a wee bit gapy but I’m hoping that will go away in the wash. I didn’t include any clear elastic this time as the fabric is already fairly bulky… we’ll see if I regret that in the long run.

You can see that, although an improvement, my swayback alteration attempt was not enough to remove folding at the small of my back (the fact that the shirt is riding up on my belt isn’t helping, but I promise even when tugged down the problem persists). I’m happy to say the change in shoulder-angle doesn’t seem to create a problem, which I was worried about. If I try a CB seam again, I’ll do a real swayback tuck.

The further reduction of the sleeve cap seems to have hit a sweet spot (finally!); it went in (flat) essentially flawlessly, even on the serger.

I have to say, beefy, stable knits are such a dream to work with. I twin-needled the hems without needing to stabilize, with no problem at all.

Whew, I needed that after yesterday’s fiasco.

These posts will also double as my Me-Made March day 6 🙂

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I meant to do that…

Mini-cowl

Bleh.

I’ve been saving the rest of the fabric from this top, trying to find just the right project. I love this fabric so much. Eventually, I decided that it needed to be a drapy pattern—a cowl neck, maybe.

Last night, I decided that a reprise of this super-quick cowl neck top by Ichigogirl on Burdastyle would be perfect.

But. It’s still about -20C around here. I wanted to add sleeves.

I pulled out the pattern-pieces for Ichigogirl’s cowl-neck, and my “trusty” (aka much altered) Lydia pattern to compare. Armscyes were about the same size, as far as I could tell, but a radically different shape. I thought it seemed simpler to try to draft a cowl neck onto the Lydia than to try to fit sleeves to the odd-shaped armscyes of the sleeveless cowl pattern.

Of course, it was 8:00 at night and I was far too impatient to read up on cowl

Inner folded facing of cowl neck sewn over rear of shoulders, to enclose the shoulder seam.

drafting… I had the pattern pieces right in front of me. It’s not like I’m a stranger to frankenpatterning.

Ehm. I had actually wanted a little bit shallower of a cowl than on the original pattern, which is a bit, ah, risque if you bend over.

But, not quite this shallow. Urgh.

Rear view. Meh.

I was very proud of myself for figuring out a neat way to attach the inner fold of the cowl-neck to the shoulder so it neatly encloses the shoulder seam. I’m not sure if the picture will make any sense at all, but you’re looking at the back of the shirt, inside-out. I folded the facing portion of the shoulder-seam around to the back, enclosing the entire shoulder-seam between shirt front and facing. This makes for a lovely finish on the inside.

I then proceeded to do an impatient bodge-job of setting in the shoulders (I think I

still need to remove a bit of ease from the Lydia sleeve-cap, and add a shoulder-point notch). Didn’t do such a good job on the back-neck binding, either.

Bleh. Can I just pretend I meant for it to be this way?

In Me-Made March news:

Here’s today’s outfit, which is my first one this week not to feature some (or entirely) items I didn’t have last September. It feels a little boring because of that, but on the other hand these are some of my absolute FAVE pieces so far, so… yeah!

Classic pose

Funky dancing pose

Frankenpatterned top
More self-stitched jeans

Also my new, awesome, but hyper-uncomfortable boots. They will be great once they’re broken in.

I was wondering how long it would take me to break out the goofy poses this time around…

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SFOs (Semi-Finished Objects)

Zena of Blood, Sweatshop, & Tears once commented that “wearable is climax. Done is denouement.”

She is so right.

Lekala twist-top, v. 2

In that spirit, I give you my second take on the Lekala 5675, a.k.a. the twist top. The hems are serged but not completely finished, and it’s been like this most of the week. I am disinclined to fuss with trying to stabilize them for topstitching. Bleh. This red knit is wiggly, super-stretchy, and much more like the kind of fabric I imagine the shirt was designed for than my last attempt. It’s also an amazing example of the difference fabric choice can make for the exact same pattern (only difference is I added perhaps an inch more extra length to the red version, just in case, bringing the total increase to about 3-4″ in the sleeves and 4-5″ at the hem. The first version was roomy and sweater-like, with a surprisingly perfect fit in the shoulders. This version is second-skin tight and the shoulders look really narrow. Although about the same as they look in the pattern illustration, actually.. The twist still doesn’t pull naturally into the kind of tight twist the illustration suggested. This might be a drafting problem (maybe they should just have widened the upper front piece a bit so that a full twist was required), or it might just be that my doubling of the front (makes the finishing easier and never a bad idea in a thin knit) gives it a bit too much body. I think in my head the slit below the twist should be wider, but again it’s actually quite comparable to the illustration. Some day I shall use Sherry’s post to attempt to reduce a swayback in a knit. Someday.

Simplicity 5728

Simplicity 5728

In a similar vein, my (wearable muslin?) version of Simplicity 5728 is at a try-on-able phase in construction. Yay!

This is such a peculiar fabric. I would’ve sworn it

Simplicity 5728, side view

was a diagonally-ribbed knit, but it frays like a woven. It’s stretchy, very slightly in length, significantly in cross-grain, but fairly stable. It does have that cling-to-every-lump-and-bump quality of a knit.

In the stretchy (whatever the heck it is), I should probably have used the original bust-length, as the extra length doesn’t seem to be necessary. I had narrowed the bodice sides 1/4″ on the pattern, since it seemed a bit roomy under the arm,

Back (lightened to show lack of swayback wrinkles!)

tapering to nothing at the waist, and I took it in another 1/4″ here after trying it on (adding up to a substantial 2″ reduction in the total bodice width). I did a swayback alteration as per Sherry’s instructions (sooo easy when you have both waist and CB seams), taking off about 1/2″ (12mm) both above and below the waist seam. I gave the CB seam of the skirt a bit of an S-curve to it as my swayback seems to be rather below my waist in this area. And then I cut, inserted zipper, and hoped. And—well, look!

Can we say, happy customer?

Also, like what I did with the back neck? I did a brutal job of finishing the top of

Simplicity 5728, full back

the zipper, but otherwise it’s snazzy! Er, and yeah, the zipper’s pink. I thought it coordinated/contrasted nicely with the muted purple of the fabric, but probably it’s just too light. But the only other zipper I had of suitable length was white, and an invisible one, which I don’t actually know how to install. It’s vintage and metal, though, so it’s cute enough to deserve to be looked at.

Simplicity 5728, front closeup

You will recall that I received excellent advice from Kay and others on my sleeved muslin to raise the bottom of the armscye to improve my sleeve mobility. So I raised it a full 2cm, on the principle that it’s easy enough to lower it after the fact if I need to.

(It occurs to me that I probably annoy nearly everyone with my flitting back and forth between metric and imperial measurements. Can I call it a Canadian thing? I prefer to do my seam-allowances in metric because the metric markings are at the front of my sewing-machine face-place, making them easier to see than the imperial markings, which are at the back. On the other hand the width of the regular foot is definitely 1/4″, so I tend to do things like small alterations in this increment. It also depends on which ruler or measuring tape comes to hand first…)

I should also mention that I added 5″ (and we’re back to the imperial) to the hem of the skirt to get it to this luxuriously long length. That’s supposed to include 2 1/4″ of hem, which would bring it to a perfectly respectable heel-length, I think, although I’m not convinced a 2″ hem will be desirable in this fabric. I’m wearing a 3″ heel in the photos. I love these crazy-long 70s skirts.

Coming soon: the great sleeve adventure!

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