Sunday, 8 January 2017

Bias cut top for my Mum, using modified Simplicity 2594

Simplicity 2594, modified

Back - modelled on Missy

Front - modelled on Missy

I used the same pattern, Simplicity 2594, version B, as I used in my PR Sewing Bee round 2 to make my mother a bias cut top. It's her birthday on Wednesday coming; she'll be 89. She always says we give her too much for Christmas, she doesn't need anything etc. This year, as part of her Christmas, I made her an infinity scarf using a remnant of fabric from fabric that she gave me when she could no longer see to sew (she's registered blind/partially sighted from macular degeneration). She absolutely loves the scarf - not so much for the scarf, I think, as she would have preferred it longer, I'm sure - but for the fabric. This fabric really brought back memories. Memories of happier times. Because of her response, I decided that I would try to make her a top using this fabric, which she had also given me. There is actually a fair amount of fabric, so I wasn't short.

What to make?
My mother loves cowl necks
I didn't have any sizes for her, though I could make a guess based on RTW sizing.  She is becoming more 'wizened' with age
My mother has a marked spinal kyphosis (I don't like the term dowager's hump combined with significant forward thrusting neck!). She doesn't have the fat pad over the upper part of the back that is often associated with this. She has lost a bit of weight (she doesn't need to lose weight and is trying to put it on again) and is actually rather bony - each of her vertebrae is visible.
My mother was a tall woman for her generation - she was 5' 8 1/2" which meant she towered above her peers, male and female. She has shrunk considerably as can be seen from the photo of her with my two older daughters. They are about 5'9", I think, both less tall than either Helen or me.

My mother, wearing the infinity scarf , with Alison and Joanne

She has a hiatus hernia and finds bras uncomfortable - I therefore didn't know where any bust fullness would fall in a top
There was too much fabric simply to make another scarf. You can only wear so many scarves, anyway!

Most of my patterns were in a bigger size range.
I didn't want to make her a pattern with side bust darts
I found a couple of patterns but was really unsure as both required a fastening at the back of the neck and I wasn't sure if my Mum would manage that.
I had a pattern for a nice top with a cowl neck which was for stretch fabrics and this isn't a stretch fabric, but I thought I could adapt. However, I had got the pattern in a pattern swap or some such and there were many pieces missing. It wasn't worth trying to develop the missing pieces and try to adapt from stretch. I gave the pattern to Rory who said it would be pretty easy to recreate the back, which was the major piece missing in my mother's size range. All of the pieces were missing for my size range.
I therefore realised that the only potentially suitable pattern I had was the one I had used for the PR Sewing Bee.
I say potentially suitable, as I had to downsize the pattern.

I ran into problems when I thought I had lost the pattern and instructions. I asked for some advice on PR about the instructions but fortunately found them - where they had been all along and where they should have been!

So, the pattern:

I decided I would make a size 14. I hope this isn't too big, but it's based on my mother's RTW size UK14. Some of her current tops are too big, for her, though it's difficult to be sure how much of that is due to her body shape.
I didn't have too much difficulty scaling down the pattern.
At that stage, I had still lost the pattern and didn't have the yoke pattern pieces. I did have the yoke piece I had done for me (size 18). Thanks to David, who asked me what I needed to do about my mother's kyphosis - I hadn't even thought about that! I read up about the pattern modifications required and realised that she needed more length in the centre of the back. I took the pattern to Rory for some advice. She advised that the yoke neck would need built up and that I would need additional length in the body portion of the back, rather than the yoke portion. I made the pattern modifications in class but didn't cut out the fabric.
This is the amount added to centre of back - tapered to sides

Overall view of half of modified back. The back piece has a very marked curve
Modified neckline - don't worry! The peak is just from the way it is lying. The curve was smooth

Detail to show amount added at neck. Note above comment re centre.

Rory felt that the cowl fullness would mean that I didn't need to alter the front. I had wondered about a reduction in shoulder to bust length but was also aware that my mother's bust is lower than it used to be. Rory hasn't met my mother, of course, and I realised that she had started by assuming that my mother had a mild kyphosis, rather than the marked version she has. Everything was guessing as I have never measured my mother. I hadn't intended until now to make her a top.

So, I made up a pattern guessing my mother's sizes and guessing at the amount of curvature of her spine. Not a good start, really, is it?

The fabric is a rich, colourful silky fabric, labelled 'Dishine crepe high count CMY no 2514'. I hadn't used it for myself as these are not my colours. I'm not sure of its composition. There is no stretch in it. It wasn't too difficult to work with, though a couple of bits slipped without me realising.
I had no major issues making up the top, except that I was using a fine needle on my machine as this fabric is fine and silky and the needle basically couldn't cope with the seam junctions when I was topstitching around the armholes/yoke. There are several layers there.

I used the burrito method for the yoke
The shoulder is turned over the seam allowance of the front and topstitched. This is how the pattern says to do the yoke but I prefer the cleaner finish of the burrito method.
The hem and the armhole hems are double turned and topstitched.
Not a difficult top to make.

I'm posting the top tomorrow, so she will get it for her birthday on the 11th. There is zero chance that she can let me have a photo of her wearing it. I hope it fits.

Edited to add. It's my mother's birthday today and she told me the top fits. I haven't seen it,  though. She told me the fabric was silk bought in Thailand in 1992.  I asked Rory to test the fabric at my class tonight - regrettably, as I suspected, this isn't silk. I won't tell her,  though.


  1. How lovely of you going to all this trouble for her. I do hope it fits and she has a nice birthday K xXx

    1. Thank you. We won't see her on her birthday but next year's 90th will be rather special, God willing. A x

  2. What a wonderful present! You time and love will definitely be treasured. Happy New Year Anne! xxx

    1. Thank you. If something is appreciated, it is a joy to do and I'm happy to do more. Happy New Year x

  3. How very lucky to be able to gift your mum in a special way. The top looks lovely and will likely skim over the problem ares . Happy New Year.

    1. Thank you. My fear is that it will drown her! Happy New Year to you and yours.

  4. She looks lovely Anne. I can tell the girls appreciate her.

    1. Thank you. I look forward to seeing her wear the top - she says it fits.


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