I made the Stylish Shell earlier this year and it struck me as being quite an easy pattern to tinker with and adapt for different looks. I’d already added longer sleeves, the first time around. At the time, I also had in mind a hack for the collar, but I didn’t have enough fabric to do what I wanted, so I left it, but I couldn’t quite let the idea go. So I thought it would be good to revisit this top, and see if I could add that collar, and make it look like the garment I had in my head!
I wanted to use the same fabric throughout, so you could either say I was using View D but adding the sleeves, or that I was using Views A, B or C but amalgamating the two bodice pieces. In practice, I’d used the View D bodice piece when I first traced it off.
The fabric I used was a gorgeous minty green cotton chambray from Doughtys Online. It’s really pretty and cool-looking. It’s a little on the firm side for the hot weather we’ve been having, but it’s going to be fab for when the heatwave dies down! It’s proved to be a pleasure to sew with.
Fun Fact for Fabric Fans: Chambray is a plain weave fabric with coloured yarn in the warp and white in the weft. You can tell which is the weft, because it goes from weft to wight (that joke works best if you say it out loud!)
I cut out the bodice and sleeve pieces in the normal way, lengthening the sleeves the same way as I’d done before. For the funnel collar, I cut a rectangle on the bias. I made sure the fabric was folded on a 45° angle, so that it was the true bias. This piece would need a bit of flexibility that the bias cut brings.
The collar would be folded in half, so I was cutting on the fold. I used my quilting ruler because it helps me keep the lines true. I wanted the collar to stand a total of 5 cms tall, and it would need a seam allowance of 1½ cms, so I was measuring 6½ cms up from the fold, to get the right width. (If I was cutting it flat without folding the fabric, it would be a total width of 13cms). Next, to make sure I had the correct length, I measured carefully along the neckline of the front and back pieces, taking out the seam allowances on the shoulders of both. This gave me a net length of 69 cms. I added 1½ cms seam allowance at each end, to give me a total length of 72 cms.
The basic pattern is very easy to make up:
- Sew in darts
- Sew the shoulder seams and side seams
- Insert the sleeves – this is probably the most challenging element of the make – but you can check out Angela’s and my handy tips for sleeve insertion. Remember, it’s only a 1cm seam allowance here.
At this point, in the basic pattern, you use bias binding to neaten the neckline, but I was adding my funnel collar, so I needed to depart from the given instructions. I still wanted a bias binding on the inside of the neckline, but it wasn’t just to encase the raw edge of the bodice fabric, it also had to encase the raw edges of the collar.
I sewed the collar piece at the two short edges to make a ring of fabric, then folded it in half lengthways, wrong side to wrong side.
I pinned the collar to the outside of the bodice neckline, to make sure that the sizing was right. At this point, I might need to adjust where my collar seam was, if I hadn’t been accurate enough, but all was well.
Next I measured my bias binding so that it was the same length as my collar piece had been (72 cms), and stitched that into a ring too. I made sure I pressed the seam flat, but then pressed the folds back in.
I pinned the bias binding ring in place. I opened out one folded side, and placed it on the inside of the collar, so that the fold mark was right on the line where the collar would be sewn to the bodice, and the other folded edge stood up against the collar. In due course it would flap down and cover the raw edges, but not yet.
Once everything was pinned, I tacked it all in place by hand, because my bias binding was satin and slippery, and I didn’t want it to shift or slide while I was sewing it. I was brought up to tack everything before sewing, and it still seems slightly transgressive to machine sew with only pins holding my fabric together! But sometimes, it’s worth spending a bit of time to secure your pieces before machining, and keep everything neat. I stitched carefully, using the fold mark in the bias binding as my guide to the seam allowance. I took the precaution of marking a few dots along that fold line, with my trusty frixxion pen, to help keep me on the straight and narrow!
I snipped the seam allowances for the neckline and collar edging, so that they wouldn’t pull the bodice out of shape when they were sewn, and I trimmed them so that they would fit within the width of the bias binding, and so that they would sit reasonably flat.
Then I folded the bias binding down and pinned and tacked it into position – again, I wanted to be sure that it wouldn’t slide around. I hand stitched the binding, as I wanted it to be as invisible as possible
The last thing to do was hem the sleeves and the bottom of the top, and job’s a good’un! I like how the funnel neck has worked with this crisp chambray. I’ll admit it’s slightly Russian Peasant in styling but I’m sure I can rock that look! I’m keen to try this hack with a more drapey fabric some time, to see how that comes out.
Béa blogs at Béa’s Sewing Adventures