“Top”-sy Turvey

I have had the pattern for this top – Butterick 5495 – for a long time now; it is one of the first ones that I purchased, months ago.  After my bag disaster, I wanted to try another “quick and easy” project.

I’ve had issues in the past (on a different tunic and a dress) with the fact that all patterns are created with a B-cup in mind.  This has resulted in seam lines in unseemly (unseamly? hehe) places.  My goal was to prevent that on this project, so I very haphazardly added some length to a few pieces of the pattern.  Measuring is overrated.  In case you are wondering, I will be eating those words in the future, I am sure.

The first step of this pattern was to deal with the neckline facing.  I had to press a portion of it under, after cutting the bottom center of it a bit.  Below is a picture of the original center front piece of the tunic.

After the facing work, with the edges pressed under and overcasted.  The fabric I used is a rayon woven print, and that stuff frays like crazy.

Another note on the fabric.  I blatantly went against the pattern’s suggestion of using a stretchy knit fabric.  The rayon has pretty much no stretch in it.  That came back to haunt me later.

After the facing, it was time to work on the side front pieces.  These are the pieces that I adjusted slightly for bust fit.  The one on the right is the piece after I cut it.  I had to do some stay-stitching around the point of the ‘V’ in the center.  After I stitched the ‘V’ together, the pieces looked like the one on the left.

This is an in-between shot – after some work on the V part of the seam.  I had to press and reinforce the corner a bit for reasons I did not understand.  Later I discovered I should have stitched this seam to the “almost point”, leaving a hole near that reinforcement.  Instead, I stitched all the way to the reinforcement.  And the best part is, I had no idea I was doing anything wrong.  Thank goodness for Fred 2.0.

I connected the two side front pieces to the center front piece next.  In the picture below you can see the curved seam goes between the two yellow arrows.  Remember when I said I adjusted the side front pieces for bust fit?  It turns out this curved seam actually is the one that crosses the bust line.  Ooops.  I am not sure how I could have really modified this curved seam in any effective manner for a better bust fit.  And adding fabric to the side pieces certainly didn’t hurt anything.  So I guess that mistake worked out in the best possible way??

Once both side front pieces were attached, I came across the following in the instructions:

I read the first line of Step 11, and said some four letter words.  What front openings?!  Based on the picture, I could guess that the front openings were related to the strange side front pieces and that reinforcement mess I had to do in stitching the V closed … what I didn’t understand is how I was supposed to know to leave the openings.  I turned back to the crazy side front step of the pattern.

Nowhere in step 5 or 6 do the instructions say “LEAVE A HOLE HERE”.  Really?!  OK, so I did not mark my fabric (shame on me), therefore I did not know where the large circle actually was.  I’m also not sure exactly what the little gray polygon next to the reinforcement is supposed to represent.  Maybe someday I will be good enough at this sewing stuff to make my own patterns, and therefore write my own pattern instructions.  What is more likely is that I will someday get so frustrated with a set of instructions that I actually do try to make a better set of instructions and send a copy with a very long piece of hate mail to some poor sap in the mail room of one of the big pattern companies.  Because surely I could do better.  Usability is my day job after all … /rant off

OK.  Where was I?  Right.  I had a problem to fix.  Whenever I have problems, I generally call Fred 2.0.  This time was no different.  He helped me rip a few stitches at the end of the seam, enough for me to fit the loop through, and then when I was done I would restitch the seam closed so there would be no gap.

I had a plan, and I felt good about it.  I created the loop piece easily – folded, pressed the ends, stitched one side, trimmed the seam, and turned it right side out.  I used my elastic threader to help me get it through the two openings and while the instructions said to slipstitch the loop closed, I ignored that.  The seam of the loop is never going to be seen, so no reason to create extra work.  At this point, I attached the back of the tunic to the front at the shoulder seams, and then sewed one of the side seams.  I always try things on at this point, to see how I am doing fit-wise.  It looked like a tight fit, so I used a smaller seam allowance than normal on the other side seam.  Then I tried on the tunic.

Remember earlier when I said I chose a non-stretchy fabric?  This is where I realized my error.  The tunic fit ok, but getting it on and off was a challenge.  There was no give in the fabric and no elastic or zipper to help.   Also, the loop looked small – there was a lot of fake pleating going on between the loop, which was supposed to happen, but you could tell it was not right.  The fit was off.  Now what?

I cut the loop off, made another longer loop, and tried again.  I got some improvement out of it, but not enough.  I was beginning to panic a little bit; this was my second failed project in a week.  I cut the loop off again.  And then I went to bed, decided to think on it a bit.

I decided during my time away from it that I would make a third longer loop, and that I would turn the loop into a casing for some elastic.  This would help with the pleating and with the issue of no give in the fabric; it would make it much easier to pull on and off over my head.  Here is the final loop after elastic but before I closed the casing.

The third time’s a charm, I guess.  My alteration to the pattern seemed to work.  I added narrow hems to the shoulders and a narrow hem to the bottom of the tunic.  I actually cut the tunic at the bottom about two to three inches, made it shorter by a good bit.

It is still not my favorite tunic, but it is certainly wearable.  The thing I don’t like about it?  Something about the fit still feels a little funny, as if maybe some of the seam lines are not in the correct place by just a little.  Also, from the side, the tunic looks like this:

I will never be a super skinny girl, but the front of the shirt is not laying against my belly.  The blousing effect in the front due to the pleating is not flattering.  In fact, I look pregnant.  Maybe if I iron the pleats down a bit this will lessen?  I am not sure.  This effect was worse when the tunic was longer, which is why I took some inches off the bottom.

From the front, the tunic looks better.

Can you tell I love fabrics with fun prints?  Anyway, this project was a bit of a challenge, but I think it went ok all said and done.  Still, it was enough of a headache that I decided my next sewing project would be something TRULY easy … can you guess what it is?


4 comments for ““Top”-sy Turvey

  1. April 30, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Overall, I like this. You look great in purple, my friend. Still…pajama pants to the rescue!

  2. April 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I love this print too- I’ve made 2 pieces in the burgundy version. I think I need to try this pattern out.

  3. matt hannen
    May 1, 2012 at 12:03 am

    ! Great Blog ! Trendyest Fabric Print 2wo.

  4. Kim
    May 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Love the fabric! I do think the reason it doesn’t “feel right” has to do with fabric you chose. But I do think it’s beautiful! And I agree, purple is a great color for you!


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