When Gabby said there were some new patterns from Simple Sew to try out, I called dibs on the Jersey Top and Cross-Over Back Blouse pattern.
I fell off the stashbusting wagon a little while ago, and I now have an impressive collection of jerseys and knit fabrics to choose from. I bought this exotic floral print viscose jersey from Mad Jak in Shere, last year. It’s beautifully soft and drapey. It’s possibly not in my usual colour schemes, which are usually either black or bright jewel colours. But its deep pinks and purples really spoke to me, and I can’t resist a massive floral print!
Since I got my new overlocker, I’ve been trying to use it as much as possible, to get used to it, and to see what it can do. I checked through the pattern instructions, to see how much of it I could do with the overlocker, and realised that basically I could make this whole top with it. Which isn’t to say you need an overlocker for this top. You can TOTALLY make it on a sewing machine, using a narrow zigzag stitch. If you’re feeling particularly fancy you could even use a twin needle to top stitch all the various bands down. But I saw this as a personal challenge.
I did my usual grading up of the pattern, using a combination of adding a centimetre to the centre fold (which I knew would add width to the neckline, so I also added those centimetres to the neckband too), and adding a Full Bust Adjustment, which gives extra fullness around the bust and adds length at the front, to account for the extra “projection”.
The main top sewed together very easily, and I took care to make sure I matched the sleeve backs to the back bodice, and the sleeve fronts to the front bodice. I also marked the back piece with a little snip at the centre neckline, because once the sleeves and bodice pieces were sewn together, it’s very easy to lose track of which is front and which is back.
The most challenging element was adding the sleeve and neckline bands. Not because they are difficult, but because this jersey is quite floppy and needed quite a bit of pinning.
When I tried the top on, I wasn’t sure about the shaping of the underarm of the sleeves. I looked at the photos on the Simple Sew website, to see how it looked there, and it may work when the sleeves come quite far down the arm. But they don’t on me, and it looked a bit odd, so I’ve done a bit of trimming and reworking to get them to a shape that works better for me and my arms.
I decided to leave out the waistband, because I didn’t want to create gathers around my hips – I like my tops to tuck in at the waist, or to skim smoothly over my hips. I also wanted to try a new-to-me finishing technique that I’d just learned about last week. I’d signed myself up for a Get To Know Your Overlocker workshop, and the teacher had demonstrated a mock band finish, though we didn’t have the time to try it for ourselves. This was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
The technique requires you to create a fold, turn it up on itself, then overlock the raw edges of the fold to the main fabric. That sounds convoluted – it’s much easier to show in diagram form:
I created a little width marker for myself, from card, so that I knew I was turning an even width all around the hem. Once pinned, you press it to keep everything tidy.
The fold needs to be wrong sides together, so that the right side of the fabric will be showing. Go on, ask me how I know!
I flipped the fake band up, and overlocked:
This finish is nice and neat on the inside, and there’s no hemming to do. It doesn’t provide any gathering or easing, so it doesn’t reproduce the pattern’s original waistband effect. But it meets my needs for smooth hip-skimming. It might not work so effectively with a heavier weight of fabric, but I’m very happy with how it has turned out.
I have to say, this top is not one for the work wardrobe. It’s definitely off-the-shoulder, so it will be kept for weekends and holidays.
And now I need to delve into the stash for a woven to try the Cross-Over Back blouse.