Monday, 19 March 2012

Stop draggin my hems around.....Simplicity 3750

A skirt, a dress and now a top......I almost have a wardrobe. Just don’t tell me it would be so much cheaper, a lot quicker and potentially less chocolate consumption to just head down to la la, not listening to you naysayers.

 After last weekend off, this weekend it was back in the living/tv/gym/dining/sewing room on official sewing business to tackle the latest project:

Simplicity 3750 –the peasant blouse.  The front of the pattern says “6 made easy”, I ask you what more could a beginner sewer ask for.   However I am no longer the wide eyed, stars in my eye beginner sewer I was before tackling that Simplicity “Learn to Sew” pattern two weeks ago - I can read between the lines and know what they really mean is “6 made easy if you have 20+ years of sewing experience, speak fluent pattern and have Tim Gunn nearby yelling out the occasional inspirational ‘make it work’”. 

So like any good engineer it was off to do research via pattern review (definitely the best resource to go to before tackling any commercial pattern) – common problems being reported back was 1. Too low neckline 2. Expect some trickiness with attaching the belt 3. Probably worth following instructions regarding the seam binding of neckline.  But general consensus was most people happy with the outcome.   So by all means, please proceed....
Be prepared....organised and ready to go
Fabric: Just Wing It - Flight in Water.


I chose the sleeveless E version (no....not because I’m afraid of sewing sleeves on, more because I was afraid the long sleeve version would make me look slightly oompaloompa-ish).  The fabric I was using was extremely busy so wanted to keep the top itself fairly simple – so no ruffles & no optional trims.   Checking the sizing I went with a 12 - so out with the professional stock of homebrand baking paper and I was off and running tracing out the pattern pieces.  Looked promising with only 4 pattern pieces for the top and another 2 for the belt.

Like with the dress, I did a muslin version first (reusing the muslin from the shift dress....was a proud moment to celebrate my first recycling effort in sewing).  This will definitely become a routine for me because suprise, surprise there were a few issues with the top when constructed.

1.     Neckline too low.  I read all about it in the reviews so I can’t say I wasn’t forewarned and yes indeed the neckline sits about 1” too low.  I went into this pattern liking the elasticised neckline concept because I thought it would give the illusion of a larger chest to those of us not so well endowed in that area – however, with this neckline the secret is well and truly out there along with the colour of my trusty push up bra.    Solution, I ended up putting about 1” onto the upper front pattern piece and took the same amount off the yoke front (shoulder pieces).  Much more comfortable fit.

2.     Too much material in the bodice.  I was able to hold the contents of my handbag in my top with all the extra material that was floating around which would be convenient & practical but not really the effect I was going for.  So....not really a great top choice for those around an A/B cup in size.  Solution, I ended up taking out 1.5” of width of the bodice front (back from the centre fold).  The elastic neckline still holds tight but a lot of the bagginess is reduced – now I can only store my chapstick and maybe my mobile in the bodice/storage compartment.

3.      Too long.  I am both vertically challenged and a pear shaped so a top hitting me at the top of my thighs is not my greatest look.  Though given I have to wear bright orange and steelcaps for work everyday, can’t say my benchmark for looking good is set too high.  The hem had to come up 4” to get it at around the right height.  So......really, really not a good top choice for my body shape.

4.      A two piece back panel.  I knew with my fabric I wanted a single panel back but it wasn’t immediately obvious how I could do that as the back pattern pieces were very curved.  I made the two piece back first and realised there was too much material anyway across the upper back and waist.  Also figured it was a tie back top so having the back contoured to fit was not really a necessity so re-drafted the back piece so that it was a single piece and took out a lot of the excess fabric up top without having it too tight across the hips. 

5.      Belt too wide and too short.  After shortening the top, the belt looked out of proportion so I knocked about ½” off the width and added 2” to the length (because a bow needs to look like a bow and the original ties were very stumpy)

Bulky out back

too long, too low

old and new pattern pieces

Loki supervising

6.      Side seams.  After Vanessa from crafty Gemini showed how easy it was to do French seams I knew I wanted to do them on this top to make the finish neater.  Given the side seam allowance was only 3/8” and I am not that kamikaze on the sewing machine that I could do a french seam with that amount of allowance I ended up redrafting the bodice, front panel and back panel with a 5/8” seam allowance.
Construction day was a perfect rainy Sunday in Gladstone.  Somehow I thought with all my prework - pattern redrafted and fabric cut - being done that I would have this knocked up quickly (I think I had visions that I would make both the top and a matching skirt to go with it...perhaps I had low blood sugar levels at the time which might account for my delusion).  Officially it took me 4.5 hours to complete so I am well and truly back in the reality that is beginner sewer-land.  I could probably knock off 45 minutes of that time when I painstakingly pinned then sewed then trimmed the bias binding to the wrong (and I do mean the wrong) side of the fabric.   See I even took photos. 

Some unpicking and creative resewing later and no one would know any better...shhhh!

Some additional tips (from one beginner sewer to another).  I would disagree with the pattern on  pushing the seam between the bodice and the front panel up towards the bodice.  If your fabric is sheer then this seam will be very obvious and possibly look tacky.  I pushed and pressed my seam down and will likely stitch it in place after I take out some of the bulk as the belt will hide the stitching nicely.  
The belt attachment was very simple provided you make sure you attach it outside the side seam allowance on the bodice and the front panel.  I had about 3/8” gap between where the belt finished and the side seam allowance – any closer and my machine would have needed a warp speed run up to get up and over the speed bump created by the bulk of the belt near the seam.  Just make sure you finish the seam on the bodice and the front panel all the way to the seam allowance. 

Another tip would be reinforce the belt seams at the corners as it is going to be under a lot of stress from being pulled back.

So after starting out as not a great choice - with alternations this pattern is definitely getting the thumbs up.  I think I may make at least one more top in this style possibly taking more fabric out of the bodice. 
working the headless look

Next week I am going to revisit Simplicity 2226 and make the skirt in the same fabric that I made the belt out of which will give me a top/skirt combo.     

Title ref: Stop draggin my heart around, By: Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty

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