Sunday, 2 September 2018

Last Chance Saloon?

Follow up to self-drafted top from earlier post (see here). Gosh, that was nearly a month ago.

An overall view of modified top. I think it could do with more waist shaping - but that's the least of its problems!

I took the top to sewing bee before the summer break for Rory and Dan to critique.

Both agreed that the issue was at the armhole as I thought. I thought it was too tight and needed enlarged. Rory suggested the top was unbalanced but didn't continue that theme. We looked at the possibility of further scooping the armhole at the particularly tight point only but not above that as it would show too much flesh. Also, there was enough space under the arm. I asked about the possibility of reducing the seam allowance at the shoulders which would drop the top and help both the armhole tightness and the bust dart position. Rory investigated that but demonstrated that this would cause further problems including gaposis.

We agreed that I would remove the bias binding (I know I said I wasn't going to!!). Rory wondered if this could be the problem.

I think it's relevant to highlight three points before I continue.
1 Cutting the excess fabric away left a rather acute angle rather than a more gentle curve
2 When sewing on the bias tape I attempted to correct this by taking a smaller amount of bodice fabric with the seaming ie a smaller seam allowance on the bodice. This was difficult.
3 My bias tape wasn't wide enough and I tried to make do.

I removed the bias binding (I'm getting good at this!) and tried on the top for Rory. The top did not feel tight and the bust darts were sitting okay. Rory immediately confirmed that it had been my bias binding causing the issue. She said that as I was going around the tighter curve, I had pulled the binding too tight rather than working some extra binding into it as required. This in turn pulled the fabric towards the sides and caused the tightness and distortion seen.

I was pleased to have this identified but I confess I was disappointed to realise I had put the binding on so badly! I thought I had achieved a decent finish. However, I had certainly struggled with these curves, particularly with binding that was too narrow meaning my seam allowances were small.

I found some extra fabric and cut new, wider, bias strips. They weren’t quite long enough and had to be pieced.

I planned a 1cm seam allowance as that is the seam allowance I added to the pattern. So my strips needed to be 1cm +1cm + 2x required width of exposed tape. I wanted my tape 1.3cms wide as that's the width of the neckline bias. So I needed to cut my strips 1 +1 + 2.6 = 4.6cms. The strips I used were only 3.3cms wide so it's no wonder I was having problems!

Rory said she'd show me how to put the binding on properly and she did in our last sewing bee before the summer holiday break. First she prepared the binding. She folded in two down the strip as I had done and pressed but then also folded in one side and pressed, but not the other. If I had done that, my too narrow width could have been identified.

I pin and baste to get even seam allowances - with her experience, Rory does it freehand without a single pin.

Another difference was that Rory pinned to the wrong side and the finished binding, already folded, was folded to the right side for stitching. I found this much more difficult as the stitching line was a little irregular and had to be covered. I would certainly have found it easier to stitch to the right side as I did and fold to the wrong side.

Anyway, I did the best I could. I had to join the bias binding before completing the sewing. That wasn’t without its problems, but I managed. I then first pinned and then tacked the binding to the front, ensuring the stitching was covered. Then I edgestitched.

My top was finished and I tried it on for the first time (I was wearing a dress at the last sewing bee and wasn’t willing to model the top!).

At the time I thought the pulling was sorted and that the darts lay at the right place. Since then, I have changed my mind – see photos. The darts are still too high and, I feel, a bit too long. Worse, the top feels constrictive.

To show darts. Photobombed by a large stone frog. The right side of the top is less baggy under the arms than the left.

The top still doesn’t work. I feel I am showing rather too much flesh at the sides, the armhole is too low, the curve needs to be less acute but the biggest thing is that the armhole is incredibly baggy on the left side - it would need to be taken in by quite a bit. Even at that, David felt that the bodice was still tight at the armhole at the previously tight point -  not the binding, which was no longer tight. I would say it is tight at the stitching line

My bra shows in certain positions and you can perhaps see that there is a lot of excess fabric under the arm. I think you can see that the binding is not tight but that the stitching line is.
Is this armhole too low?

The back feels tight

The tightness here is clear to see

Side view of lower half

Too much to consider fixing.

I don’t like it. It is uncomfortable to wear. It is going. I won’t be making another top from this pattern. I like the fabric and found some more when I was looking for a fabric - I thought I had given it away. I may try to make a different top. I'm not sure if the issue is all about fit, though you would think that would be sorted by now after several iterations and all the advice I've had or whether it's a case of this top style simply not suiting me.

Update and photos

I haven’t been sewing for the last fortnight. Today was a lovely warm sunny day, so I tried on the top again and asked David to take some quick photos – he was still working on our pond. I found the top uncomfortable, digging in under the arms and showing my bra. The back felt too tight as I reached forward. Have a look at the photos and see what you think. I start back at sewing bee this coming week and may ask again, for the future, not for this top.

Helen was here a couple of weeks ago, to attend the wedding of a schoolfriend. While here she enjoyed an article in Threads magazine and ordered the Vogue pattern that was being discussed. She approved of the green silk for her dress (and liked the blue silk I had also bought) and suggested she'd love a pair of shorts/culottes like Joanne's - she liked the patterned fabric rejected by Joanne. She still hasn't decided on the style for her tartan skirt. I have a long list of items as you can see!

I've told her that I'm making for me for a bit but the green dress is promised for her birthday in November.


  1. Anne
    I dont remember all that you have done or all the comments made, so please forgive if I make a repeat. What strikes me most is the back. You repeatedly say it is too tight and the armscyes look like they cut into you. I have this issue when I dont add a round back alteration. I cant tell from your pics if this might be one of your issues. Usually ladies of our age need just a little more length and width across the back. I need 5/8” length but no more width. I understand if you are just tired of fussing with this one, Ive been there too.

    1. Thank you. Yes, in third of finishing with this one - yet I'd like to understand what the issues are. Your comments are most welcome. I haven't previously felt that I need a round back selection but yes, I'm getting older.

    2. Sorry - that should be tired of fussing

  2. I would be tired of fussing with the top as well. May be time to move on. I think one of the things that no-one explains is that we are not measurements alone, but curves. So when sewing, you have to remember that - so ease into binding, ease necklines etc. It's as much a feel as anything else.

    1. I've had quite a bit of professional help fitting this top and am really frustrated that in some ways it's worse than the top I originally made (from a RTW top) which I can wear without the same discomfort.


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Please leave a comment. I welcome each and every one. I value criticism (constructive of course! ), love hints and tips and would appreciate suggestions for future direction.

Flip and Fold Cushion

I’m really quite excited! I finished the Flip and Fold cushion from Lesson #4 of the Sweet Pea ITH Course, and I love it. This rather surp...