Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Top #2: Inspiration.

Apparently the pain of sewing lightweight rayon knits is extremely short-lived, because I am already planning another loose, flowing maternity top for Made by Rae's Spring Top Sew-Along, this time in a soft navy and white horizontally striped rayon jersey.

Because what every pregnant woman needs is horizontal stripes, right?

Oh, shush. I think it's going to be very Parisian chic, like a maternity version of this classic top from Coco Before Chanel. (I will also magically morph into Audrey Tautou.)

Photo from this awesome post on striped shirts in cinema.
Alternately, I will appear to be the size of a house. We shall see! Here is the look I am going for:

(I love the top, but the combination of high heels and bad posture here is making my sciatica act up just looking at it.)

This is the "Long Sleeve Tee" from the Hatch Collection. If you're the slightest bit interested in maternity clothing, be sure to check out their collection. It is sophisticated, fashionable, and a little edgy - all very rare qualities in maternity clothing. (And most of their garments seem loose, comfortable, and soft, which is a big deal for this sensory-challenged pregnant lady.) I certainly would not wear every piece in the collection - some of the styles are a bit too trendy for me; others would require the wearer to go bra-less, which just seems crazytown in a line of clothing aimed at pregnant women with giant, tender bosoms - but this simple, urban collection is certainly a refreshing change from the usual maternity fare.

Basically, I really wish I could buy this lovely top, but alas, I do not have $98 to spend on a long sleeved t-shirt right now. I do, however, have some striped rayon jersey, stretch needles, thread, and a sewing machine. So I will be grateful that copying is generally allowed in fashion, and I will try to knock it off instead.

Which brings us to my current (very minor, in the scheme of things) difficulty: I don't have a pattern for a drapey, long-sleeved top like the one above.

The shape of the top seems very simple, however. You can see it a bit better in this photo.

Okay, it's basically just a rectangle with sleeves. No problemo, right?

Now, I really ought to be able to wing something like this without any pattern, and I'm sure a lot of talented sewists could do so in their sleep. But I am still relatively new to sewing with knits, and I have never really veered into drafting my own patterns. So that sounds pretty scary to me right now. Since I'm venturing into unknown territory, I would prefer to have something to start with, even if it's pretty different from what I'm going for.

To that end, I surfed around Burdastyle, looking for a pattern that might suit my purposes. There are several that might work here, but the Long Knit Top has the most versatile appeal (it looks like a practical pattern that one might get a lot of use out of even when one is not pregnant). It is long, it has the right sleeves (that is, it is not a dolman or raglan style), and it has a boatneck, all of which are similar to the top I'm trying to knock off here. I would only have to modify the width and shape of the top and the shoulder/sleeve seams. And the pattern only costs $5.40.

So that my readers can follow along without clicking, here is the Burdastyle model shot, which reminds me of that dream I sometimes have where I get to work and only then realize I have forgotten to put on pants:

And here is the boring line drawing of the top (note: top, not dress*):
A very basic, practical knit top, to be sure. So that could definitely work, and I had almost resigned myself to clicking on "buy," assembling a million 8.5 X 11" sheets of computer paper into a pattern, tracing them, and having to add seam allowances (Burda patterns are awesome, but what a pain, right?), when I had a sudden brain wave.

Guess what I currently have sitting on my sewing book shelf, in brand-new, untouched, mint condition? Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics. I bought it a couple of years ago last year (according to a comment I left on Jane's blog; my memory sucks), and I am ashamed to admit, I don't even think I have cracked it open since I purchased it. At the time I purchased it, I was apparently not quite ready to tackle sewing with knits. Since then, it has been collecting dust.

Well, now that my knit-related fears have subsided significantly, it might be time to dust it off and dip into it. Check out the cover of the book. Do you see what I see? Yep: There is a (rather loose) long sleeved, boatneck knit top, right there! On the cover of the book!

Ding ding ding!

I think that could work! And, best of all, I already own it! No expense or additional seam allowance required (that is, I think that the patterns in this book include seam allowance - better double check that before I start cutting).

So that's the plan for now, although I reserve the right to change my mind (I am pregnant and extra-changeable right now, after all) and download the Burdastyle pattern if, for some reason, I decide that would be easier.

In the meantime, if any of you have (1) Franken-patterned one of the Sew U knit patterns; or (2) Made a loose, drapey knit top; or (3) Have any suggestions, thoughts, or encouragement whatsoever (you can keep your skepticism about horizontal stripes and pregnant women to yourself, ahem), please let me know!

* I know, I know. I'm an old lady.


  1. That maternity top inspiration looks great although yeah, the posture??
    I have made that Built By Wendy top! It worked pretty well - I actually wear it quite a bit despite the fact I got my stripes a little wonky. (Stripe placement is not as easy as it looks!)
    stripey version here:
    muslin-type version here which has a bit more detail about the pattern and what I did:
    I think you could make this work just by widening considerably at the shoulder seams. The sleeves are fairly fitted which the inspiration top seems to have too. I did find the boat neck pretty wide so maybe just check that on you (but I have narrow shoulders).
    May the sewing force be with you!

    1. Thanks Jane! Your prior posts are so helpful! I'm looking forward to making some tees from this book after the baby is born too - the t-shirt pattern gets a lot of positive press on the 'nets. The funniest thing about your old blog posts is that I had commented on them, and then completely forgotten that you had the book and had sewn from it! I have no memory!

  2. lol audrey tatou. the top idea looks fab. you can do it!

    1. I have a little bit of a girl-crush on Audrey Tautou. Her eyebrows! And I think she looks even better with hardly any makeup, as above. She's lovely.

  3. Nice! One thing i noticed of the original top is it has a dropped shoulder which gives it the super square look where the stripes fall off the shoulder, cute!!! When working on the pattern i would recommend playing with removing any shape from the sleeve cap and extending the armhole out, removing the standard "armhole curve" there as well. Can't wait to see the final project, happy sewing!!!

    1. Andrea! Just the person I was hoping to hear from! I cut some pieces last night, and this was exactly what I was thinking - that it might actually be a giant rectangle attached to smaller (tapered) rectangles, with no shaping in the sleep cap whatsoever. I did cut a very slight curve in both pieces, but I will sew it up and if it doesn't look right, remove the sleeve cap.

  4. hehehehe - this post gave me the giggles! Love the top - good luck with getting it done!

    1. Happy that I got a chuckle from someone other than myself (I do find my little jokes to be oh so funny, of course). Thanks! :-)

  5. I don't know, I've got a bit of a fear with knits and when you mentioned last week about using the walking foot I had a look to see if I had one and I don't think I do, and now I'm thinking about how I really shouldn't attempt any more knits without it. But stripes, yeah. I love those. Do it!


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