Well we literally had an hour’s break from the awful rain, wind and fog that has plagued us for the last week here in North Wales. For the first time, in what seemed like ages, the sun came out and it was just gorgeous. Now most people would think, brilliant, I’ll go for a walk/ do some gardening/ shopping or some other ‘normal’ activity. However, my first thought was “I’ll get hubby to photograph my backlog of sewing projects”. A great idea in theory but not so good in practice. I think dragging him out of a warm, cosy house, especially when he had just made a cup of coffee was probably not the best idea I’ve had this week. Although it looked nice outside, it was pretty chilly and I think he just wanted to get the task over and done with as quickly as possible. The final result was an array of blurry photographs with wind blown hair and clothes and even a few photobombed by the dog. Luckily there were a handful of shots of each project that I’ve managed to salvage so I won’t need to drag him outside again for a few days. A note to myself in future, perhaps just ask him to photograph one project at a time!
Anyway, onto today’s project – another knit. Do I work with anything else? Not very often it seems. This is made from the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern.
I was initially a little concerned about using this pattern as the largest size on the packet is a size 16 with the following measurements: B:41″ (finished 43″), W:35″ (finished 39″), Hip: 47″ (finished 45″). Now that is nowhere near my ample measurements of B: 46″, W: 41″, H: 52″. However, I reasoned that with it being a knit pattern and if I graded up somewhat I could finish with a top that would fit me.
The fabric I chose was a medium weight knit from Guthrie and Ghani 144cm wide and £10.50 per meter. It is a mixture of polyester, viscose and spandex (the website doesn’t list the exact proportions) and it has a 25% crosswise stretch which although not a huge amount for a top is adequate for this pattern.
I wanted to make View A and for the largest size the pattern suggests 1.6 m. I knew I was going to grade the pattern up and with having stripes to match I didn’t want to risk running out so I purchased 2m.
Changes I made to the pattern
- I graded the pattern up to a size 18 at the shoulders, 18/20 at the bust and 20/22 at the waist/hip area
- I added in a traditional FBA and dart. I know that darts are a bit of a strange choice on a knit but personally, I would rather have that extra room and good fit and to be honest, I don’t think you can really see the dart unless you look very closely. In the past I have tried this method on knits but I seem to end up with puckering under the arm and being of the ‘ample bust’ variety, I find that I still get a lot of stretching across the front. However, I know that this method works for many other people so I guess, as is the way with sewing, there are different ways of doing things and you need to use the method that works for you.
- I shortened the sleeves by 1.5″ – the perils of short arms
- I chose not to use the attachable cuff or waistband sections. With the grading up I had done I would have struggled to get the waistband to fit me properly and as I had already shortened the sleeves I didn’t want to then add on extra length in the arms.
- I lengthened the bodice front and back by 1″ to compensate for not using the waistband
- I narrowed the shoulders by 3/4″
- I did a forward shoulder adjustment of 0.5″
- I pre-washed my fabric and tumble dried it. I know you are supposed to dry knits flat but in reality everything I own goes into the tumble drier.
- I used an 80/12 ball point needle to sew this project with.
- I used a sewing machine to attach the seams together with a zig zag stitch set to 2.0 length, 1.6 width. I then overlocked the seams to neaten the seams
- I used clear elastic to strengthen and stabilise the shoulder seams.
- After attaching the neckband to the bodice I top stitched just underneath the neckband seam with a zig zag stitch to ensure that the seam lay flat.
- I handstitched the cuff and bodice hems by hand using a herringbone stitch so that it had some stretch but would not be visible from the front.
Things that didn’t go so well or things I would change next time
- Even though I pinned my bodice very carefully to ensure that all of my stripes matched and I used a walking foot on my machine the fabric still slipped a little and the stripes shifted just a tad. Probably not enough that most people would notice but I’m sure that you fellow sewers will spot the mismatch immediately. Besides using washable fusible tape on every seam (which would get expensive) or hand basting everything I’m not sure what else I could have done. Do any of you have suggestions on how to keep stripes perfectly matched whilst sewing them?
- I’ve got a small diagonal crease from the armpit down to the chest area. This tutorial explains how to remove that crease so this is something I need to look into when I next make this top (I have two more versions waiting to be blogged about I apologise in advance that the same issue is present on them also.)
- I didn’t get the neckband to lie perfectly flat. I cut the neckband as per the pattern and I also measured it against the bodice to ensure that it was around 10% smaller. Despite carefully stretching it more around the tighter curves of the neck it doesn’t lie as I would want. I did wonder if this might be because the fabric is a fairly stable knit with only 25% stretch – or am I just looking for an excuse when it is really an operator error?
- I think I would like an additional inch added to the length as I tend to prefer my tops to be on the longer side.
The finished top
I’m really pleased with my new top. I’m happy with the fit, I don’t think there is a lot I would change next time. The fabric looks and feels lovely, my only gripe is that I wish it was available in other colours as I would like to make it again.
Cost to make:
Fabric £10.50 per meter – I used around 1.7 meters = £17.85
1 reel of thread – £1.65
10 cm of clear elastic for the shoulder seams – 10p
Overall Cost = £19.60