Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Simplicity 2594 - bias top. Entry to PR Sewing Bee Round 2

After some procrastination, I finally got around to making a garment for Round 2 of the PR Sewing Bee.

Because of family visiting Friday to Sunday and 3 important golf matches during this time, including today, and a tooth infection,I didn't have a great deal of time. I couldn't just decide not to do it, as then I would have deprived someone who might otherwise have got through of a place.

I looked through all my patterns - and there are a few! I looked through all my fabric of which there is quite a bit. I didn't come up with anything.

I had a pattern for a short formal dress cut on the bias - and even suitable fabric (crepe back satin) to make it but realised that really  I just didn't have time as fitting too would be crucial.

At this stage, stupidly, I decided to hack a RTW top I had. Well, it would have been okay if the top had been a perfect fit, but it wasn't. I was then going to swap the grain to the bias. The idea has merit but not when there are under 10 hours to sew.

Pattern envelope image of shorter view

I found the pattern for the above top - only two of the views are cut on the bias. I went shopping to try to buy some fabric with a large check or stripe. I didn't come up with anything.

So I decided to use a silky woven patterned fabric I had in my stash - I believe I bought this as a potential MOB fabric, because I love the colours. I thought it was viscose but then realised that it probably wasn't when it wasn't going to take more than a cool iron without melting. I asked Rory at class if she could identify the fabric - she did a burn test and concluded that while it looked like a polyester crepe de chine, it wasn't polyester or viscose but rather a monofilament polyamide.

I did quite a bit of reading about bias.

One of the important photos for the contest was a photo showing bias cut. They ask if someone who didn't know could look at your garment and know it was bias cut. You can't see the grain on my fabric. The best I could do was to take a photo during cutting out. This may not meet the criteria and I may be disqualified but I've finished the top and entered it into the competition, anyway, so I'm happy whatever happens.
Trying to show bias placement and cut. I do use a rotary cutter.
I managed to cut out on Friday night before the family arrived. I got some sewing done on Sunday evening after they left, managed a little on Monday and worked on it this evening, which is the last night it can go in.

Construction was relatively simple. It is labelled as an easy-to-sew pattern. I did struggle a bit with the yoke but really I think it's the same as a shirt yoke. I didn't use the burrito method - as I was so short of time, I followed the instructions to the letter. Next time I would have a go to see if it still works when the front is not split. Everything went swimmingly. In fact, the hardest part was getting the photos. David was out and in any case I hadn't finished the top - so the photos had to be taken in artificial light very late tonight. I don't look very happy in the photos, do I? I had to go to the dentist earlier this evening - I had a tooth out last week and there is infection now. I'm in quite a bit of pain but have started on antibiotics now.
Trying to show the back yoke and gathering beneath this.

I followed the instructions on the pattern The only modifications I made to it was to lengthen above the waist to bring the waist down lower and to cut to a larger size below the waist. I made the longer tunic to be worn with the belt but now think I'd actually prefer the shorter version. I might modify later or make another. I will wear this.
Front view without belt
Front view with belt
If I do make another, I will have to do a FBA. I will try to reduce bulk where the shoulder seams are turned under.
Back view with belt
Neckline detail
Here is my sewing bee entry:

Sewing Bee Round 2 - A Bias Garment 

Pattern or style, and how it fits the criteria: 
This is a woven top with the back and the front cut on the bias. There is a back yoke, which is cut on the straight of grain. I used a commercial pattern for which lighter weight woven fabrics such as charmeuse, crepe back satin, crepe de chine, double georgette etc. are recommended.
Fabric used - material and yardage:
I thought this was a woven viscose I bought online while I was gathering fabric to make a MOB dress (never made). I wanted a breathable fabric as I get very hot. I began to doubt that it was viscose, though, as it could only take a cool iron - a warmer iron and the fabric melted. I took it to my class and asked the tutor to try to help me identify it. She did a burn test and concluded that it was polyamide, which I couldn't list on the drop down menu. It did not burn like polyester or like viscose for that matter. My tutor thought it was a bit like a polyester crepe de chine, though not polyester from the burn test! There were strings of melted nylon like material. It is quite silky, light to medium weight, and has a nice drape. I used around 2 metres.
What other components did you use in your garment (closures, pockets, trim, etc): 
My garment has a draped neck and the bias cut allows the top to go over the head without the need for a separate closure. There is a self-faced yoke on the shoulder and to the back. I have also made a belt to go with the top. I made this extra long as I fancied tying it in a bow. I'm not sure I like the belt on, though.
Describe how the bias grain was used in your entry, and why:
The front and the back of the top were cut on the bias. The yoke is cut on the straight of grain, for stability. The use of bias cut fabric allows for greater drape, particularly for the neckline, and greater shaping.
Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:/
Shaping is achieved by:
·       The use of a yoke
·       Small pleats at the front shoulder
·       Gathers in the back centre, below the yoke
·       Waistline contouring; I had to lengthen the pattern to bring the waist to a better position.
·       I had to give a little extra space at the hips and shaped the pattern outwards to a bigger size.
Have you included at least 3 pictures, including minimum one on a live model and one photo showing the bias grain? 
Yes. I found it impossible to actually show the bias grain as the fabric is print and quite fine and silky. I have shown pieces laid out ready to cut, clearly showing the fabric selvedge.
Describe what you like most about your entry:
I love the fabric! I think the bias top shows off the fabric rather nicely, although of course being a pattern rather than a directional print, stripe or check means that the fabric doesn't use some of the bias directional variations. I like the simplicity of the top. I also like that it is very cleanly finished on the inside. One advantage of using the bias was that the seam edges did not fray. I wasn't sure about this top and love that it looks like I can actually wear it.
Describe your biggest challenge in sewing this bias garment:
My absolutely biggest challenge was being realistic about what I could achieve in the very limited time I had available. I haven't sewn on the bias previously. I read through a number of articles and got a number of tips - including what fabrics NOT to use when you are starting out. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy suitable fabric locally so had to go with what I had - and that is one of the fabrics they suggest avoiding. Another challenge was finding a suitable pattern. I didn't have time to fit and make the bias dress I have planned for 'one day' (I even have the fabric for it) and decided to make a pattern for a simple top based on a RTW one I have and like - I started to pin it to make a pattern to change to bias but gave up through lack of time. Recommendations, however, when starting out are to use a commercial pattern - this was one of only two I had. Unfortunately this is not a TNT pattern.
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?
I chose a pretty simple top for my first attempt at bias sewing. I didn't expect to get through to round 2 of the sewing bee - I only entered round 1 because of the garment required. However, having made it through, I was completely committed to following through - I certainly didn't want to deprive someone else of the opportunity. The sewing bee certainly stretches me. It also makes me do things faster!! In addition, I tend to procrastinate and there isn't time to do that in the sewing bee! That must help me in the long run.
I have read quite a bit and looked at a lot of info on bias sewing and will feel more confident about it on a future occasion. To be honest, I didn't find it that difficult.
I followed instructions to hang the top for a while before hemming it as I understand that hems can drop unevenly.
Overall, I am delighted that I have made a wearable garment within a very tight timeframe (due to other commitments), without first making a toile and getting totally tied up by and turned off by what is usually an interminable fitting process for me. That's not to say I think this top is perfect - I will make it again and alter a few things about fit and about the construction order.


  1. This style of top in such a highly patterned fabric does not have to be perfect. It drapes nicely and is soft, so it still looks good. I think you have done very well - and no wonder you look a little wan, dental pain is no fun.

    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. I'm actually pretty pleased with my sewing here. I would reduce bulk at the shoulder but that's it. Then a couple of style changes - slightly shorter for no belt I think but a FBA before that. I'd hoped I'd wake up this morning pain free but not yet, I'm afraid.


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