Rae announced her annual spring top sew along, and I excitedly once again participated this year.
Last Christmas, I got a surprise Christmas present by winning a giveaway that Chie was hosting on her blog, Vivat Veritas. I was super thrilled because it had been a goal of mine to own a Japanese pattern book, and I got one! So it’s been sitting in my craft room since I received it after Christmas. So, when Rae announced the sew along, I decided to pull my book out and I settled on Pattern V. I was attracted to the flowy look of the top, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the sleeves. After digging around in my sewing room, I determined that I didn’t have any fabric that A) I didn’t have enough of, and B) wouldn’t make me look like I belonged in a Peruvian Flute Band. (Thanks, Southpark for giving my husband that idea and term) so I browsed around online and settled on some Anna Maria Horner voile that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads; they’re kind of my go to for AMH fabric and overall favorite online fabric store. The fabric I picked is from her latest collection, Field Study, Coordinates in Midnight. I determined that I needed a yard of it. I bought it last Sunday, and then I got it in the mail on Wednesday, took it with me to Joann’s to purchase some matching thread.
There was a bit of a challenge with the pattern. In US sizing, I need around a medium due to my relative bustiness. I was concerned about the size of the pattern pieces. I looked at the sizing requirements and while I was quickly able to determine that the numbers were in cms, It was all well.. Japanese to me! I could tell that I needed 4 measurements, but I wasn’t sure what was what, so I took a picture and posted it to reddit in the proper subreddit asking for a translation. I was able to get one quickly and at that point I was on my merry way after determining that I would need a small. I actually traced and got my pattern pieces ready sometime on Monday. I almost ran into another problem with the determining the back and front pieces, but by looking in the book at the other patterns, I was able to figure out which characters were for the front and back so that was at least a personal victory without having to ask anyone for help again.
I prewashed the fabric and dried it on Thursday and spent a total of 3 or so hours on Friday finishing it. I ended up bringing my serger out for this project.. something that makes it go much quicker. Rather than fold, press and fold press the seams in for neat finishes, I was able use the serger to create neatly finished edges. I also think this was the first project that I didn’t have to pick out my serged stitches either.. so that was a victory unto itself!
I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I started out by serging the right shoulder seam together. I didn’t buy serger thread, but I did have some brown serger thread that I decided would work best versus black or white. I lost one of my black cones anyway… Next, I ran a long basting stitch across the entire neckline to create a gather for the neckline to close it a bit. It was a bit tricky because I need a hole large enough to fit my head through. Afterwards, I created a small length of bias tape and finished the neckline by serging the bias tape to the neckline, and then top stitched it under.
Next, for the ruched neckline part I cut a strip of fabric that was about 2.75″ wide by 40 inches long, serged the long edges, and then folded and pressed a 1.5cm seam allowance and then I took a needle and a VERY long piece of thread and hand basted the the edges down with a running stitch. Then I hand based the short ends to the left shoulder seam, and then using a TON of pins, I pulled on the running stitch near the opening of the top to gather the fabric, arranged and evened out the gathering, and then topstitched that down. I then decided I wanted to make a tag, so I cut out “Free Spirit” from the selvage and used that as a tag; folding and sewing the raw edges under. Luckily because of the ruched collar, the stitches on the back of my top are hidden! I then placed it back onto the dressform, and repeated the process again. After that, I serged the left shoulder seam. I debated on spending the time to using hand basting, but I’m pleased with the end result since it came out so nicely without having to undo machine stitching.
The pattern did call for sleeves, which I didn’t do since I didn’t purchase enough fabric to create them. I decided instead of using bias tape to finish the armholes, I decided to serge the raw edges and then fold them under and topstitched the sleeves in. I serged the bottom hem on the back and front, and then serged the sides, and folded the hem up and did two rows of top stitching. I used the dark blue-ish color for the stitching that was hidden, and for the exposed top stitching I used the pink/purple. I think it was a great choice for detailing.
And now, the obligatory pictures of me wearing the top:
I was surprised at how wide the top ended up being… I’m used to wearing my clothes a bit more fitted. But there’s a trend with Japanese clothing -in the sewing books anyway- of having flowing, drapey loose clothing. I had debated on bringing the sides in at the top a bit, but ultimately I decided to leave it alone. The armholes do come down a little lower and you can see the wing of my bra, so if I sew the top again -and I can see myself doing so!- I may end up increasing the seam allowance on the shoulders a bit from 1.5cm to 2cm.