My first top, finished at last! So, my lovely new Lady Valet dress form has been patiently standing in the corner, looking ever so pretty covered in the new fabric I’d got. I’m making some tops from Simplicity’s New Look pattern 6356, which has 5 nice variations for a ‘simple’ top and boasts that it’s an ‘easy2hour’ job! Hmmm, maybe for some but it’s been years since I’ve made any clothing items. It’s been all bags, bags and more bags…
The fabric I chose for this top is called Josephine by French General for Moda Fabrics. I adore old-fashioned style fabrics and this is just so lovely, with it’s deep red floral design on an oyster background.
I’d forgotten how vast clothing pattern sheets can be, I was a bit overwhelmed for a little while! So first of all I zig-zag stitched all the pieces to keep all the edges nice and neat. I stay-stitched the neckline (straight stitching within the seam allowance of the neckline to stop this edge from stretching) and stitched the bust darts. It really helped having a tailor’s ham here for pressing and shaping the bust darts. A new book I’d got recently – The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction by Christine Haynes – has a good section on pressing and shaping darts properly; such as pressing the dart on the wrong side first and then pressing it on the right side and shaping the tip of the dart around the ham. Another useful tip for sewing darts, to allow them to lay flat, is don’t back-stitch or tie a knot at the end of the dart; instead change the stitch length down to 1.0 as you approach the point and stitch off the end. Trim the excess threads off. The stitches are secure because of the tiny size and you’ll have no lumps and bumps!
I’m glad I’ve inserted quite a few zips before, otherwise I think I would have struggled with the next bit. I strayed a bit from the instruction here though and did the zip in a slightly easier way. I used a long basting stitch to sew up the zip opening, pressed the seams open and laid the zip on top of the fabric’s wrong side with the zip face down. I lined up the teeth with the seam and pinned in place, stitched around the zip (I did a double row to reinforce) and then I used a seam ripper to remove the basting stitches. Yippee, a neatly installed zip!
Once I’d sewn the front and back pieces together, it was time to add the facing around the neck line. I was a little nervous about this bit as wasn’t sure if I’d get the under-stitching right. I ended up forgetting to turn the top right side out and began stitching the facing on the wrong way around! Out came the trusty seam-ripper. Try again! Got it right this time and, after pressing the facing (with the seam allowance pressed toward the facing), I did the under-stitching – short straight stitches all around the facing, staying really close to the seam line. Then the facing was pressed to the wrong side of the top and the neckline was pressed so that the under-stitching of the facing was just inside. Phew, did it!
Now for setting in the sleeves, another little wobble here! I didn’t get the easing in exactly right as there’s a couple of little puckers but overall I was quite pleased. They’re not perfect but I’m happy with them and both sleeves look pretty even.
To finish off the top, I decided to stray from the instructions again and did a neat rolled hem around the sleeves and the bottom of the top – the narrow hem sewing machine foot is a fantastic accessory, makes it so easy to sew a barely-there seam; although it’s fiddly to get the fabric to go into the foot at first as you need to roll over the beginning edge and feed it into the slot. The pattern suggests slip-stitching the hems by hand but I prefer to stick to machine sewing where ever possible.
I really enjoyed making this top (took me most of the day though, where do they get 2 hours from?) and I have some fabric lined up for the next one, which I think I’ll do with either a rounded or squared neck this time. The pattern is quite easy to use and follow, once you get to grips with it, and I’ll definitely be using it again to make more. So here’s the finished top!