I really debated whether to post this photo or not, but you guys tell me all the time you value my sharing my misses as well as my hits. And I do think it’s important, having learned so much from others that way, so even though this is making me a little queasy, let’s talk about this top — the second of my pledged makes for Me Made May, and another near-miss. In the sketches, you can see what I’m wanting (thank you, Fashionary) — a floaty, loose-fitting top for summer that can be layered over in fall. I don’t know of a pattern for the exact thing I’ve sketched, so as with pretty much all of my knitting and sewing, I’m picking a pattern that’s close and adapting it to my liking. In this case, I decided the first thing I would try was Purl Soho’s Sewn Raglan Tunic. The Purl top is cut a little more straight up and down than me or my sketches, but it’s pretty close, right? To make it a bit floatier, I cut the third size but graded it outward at the side seams to the fourth size. I also cut the front tunic length for back and front, rather than a dropped hem, and I drafted sleeves that were wider/poufier and elbow-length, rather than choosing between super-short sleeves or 3/4 length.
Apart from that, I made one significant modification: The pattern calls for an elasticized neck binding (and same with optional sleeve treatment). An elastic neckline is not what I had in mind, but it also seemed unnecessary to me, since there’s a slit at the back already for your head to go through. Instead, I gathered the fabric at the neckline and sewed the bias facing on flat, so the fabric is gathered but the binding is not. And same for the sleeves.
I’m super proud of the craftsmanship on this one — it’s a big step forward for me — and I also enjoyed every minute of making it, which is not typical of me and sewing. The pattern is very well written and I had fun tampering with it. So I have a lot of good feelings about this garment — I do! Here’s why it’s a near-miss for me instead of a win:
1) The fabric is all wrong. I knew I needed to make a muslin of this, given how much I would be changing, but didn’t have any actual muslin handy. What I did have was this Brussels Washer (same fabric as that skirt) in olive, which Rebekka had given me. There were a lot of flaws in this cut of it, but I worked around them as much as possible on the off-chance the shirt turned out to be a winner. Unfortunately, in this color and fabric, the finished top looked super drab on me (as you can see). It needed to be with someone who would accessorize it, so it’s gone to live with Meg, and it looks perfectly darling on her.
2) The critical difference between this shirt and the sketches is the neck. I want a smaller, higher neckline, and could have had it here — again, because of the slit at the back. But because I had gone with a larger size, it was a lot of fabric being gathered at the neck. Even having left the neck a bit wider than I wanted, it’s just too much fabric gathered up around my big shoulders; had I kept going, it would have been ridiculous. So if there’s a second attempt with this pattern, I’ll cut a smaller top but still grade it outward toward the hem, for the same basic silhouette as I achieved here, but with less fabric at the neckline.
3) Not sure about the sleeves. In my mind and the sketches, the sleeves are a little bit poufy, which means they are at least minimally gathered, not just hemmed. But maybe a hem would be better, or again, just less gathering. That’s one to play with once I sort out the fabric (next attempt will be heavy 100% linen) and neckline issues.
But I’m not sure if the next attempt will be with this same pattern as the starting point. The other key difference between it and my drawings is the gathered sleeve tops. I’m only envisioning the little gathers or pleats at the front of the shirt, not all the way around the neck. I think that’s just never going to work with my shoulders, nor look like the top in my head. So it might need to be a modified woven Linden instead, or some kind of hybrid of the two.
Regardless of the fact that I don’t have a finished top in my closet after the seven or eight hours I spent on this (did I mention I’m slow?), sewing this one was a great experience from start to finish. Technically and design-wise, I know it put me one step closer to being able to make the top I’m dreaming of. So it’s all good!
p.s. I got in some more of the red vintage fiber mill spindles on Friday and managed to get a photo this time! And if you were here Friday morning before Knit Wit Issue 2 arrived, there are now photos in the shop of that as well. It’s a truly stunning issue — multiple fantastic studio visits, among other things — and I can’t wait to have a good sit-down with it. Go have a look!
PREVIOUSLY in Me Made May: May make No. 1: the Gathered Skirt