Hi everyone, I’m Deb and this is my first ever blog post for the Simple Sew Blog.
I’m writing this at the start of the first week of more stringent restrictive measures in the UK, a time when people have been actively encouraged to stay indoors because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps you now have the time to start a new hobby or to revisit forgotten ones; if you’ve decided to try your hand at (or revisit) dressmaking, then the Shannon top from the Simple Sew “Shannon Collection” is a perfect beginners’ project!
I do like to make garments for myself with the concept of a capsule wardrobe in mind – I prefer to make garments that will co-ordinate with each other rather than making a standalone piece and the Shannon is a brilliant wardrobe staple especially as spring is just around the corner.
I made my Shannon top using a piece of pure white 94% cotton 6% lycra fabric that I had in my stash. It was originally purchased from Tia Knight Fabrics a couple of years ago but it’s still available on their website. The fabric code is Q35 and there are lots of glorious colours to choose from should you wish to buy the same fabric. I’d already laundered and dried my fabric as suggested in the pattern instructions before cutting out as I didn’t want my finished garment to shrink on the first wash!
So, let’s get cracking…
After checking my body measurements against the finished garment measurements on the back of the pattern envelope I opted to make a size 10 top but grading out to a size 12 at the waist and hips. I like to trace my pattern pieces to preserve the original pattern so it was an easy job to blend by drawing a gentle line between the two sizes. I did notice during tracing that the neckband pattern piece (piece 4) instructs you to “Cut 1 pair fabric” but you only need to cut a single piece and not two as directed.
I also noticed that the fabric requirements for the top are not given on the back of the envelope, only the requirements for the dress. I managed to cut my top from 70cm of 158cm wide fabric although I did cut my pattern pieces as if the fabric had a ‘nap’ or ‘one way design’. This is because jersey is a knitted fabric and the finished garment can appear to be a slightly different shade in certain areas if the pattern pieces are cut in different directions.
I decided to make the top on the overlocker (or serger) as much as possible as it’s a much quicker method of construction. If you’re new to constructing garments on the overlocker then the Shannon is a really good place to start as the seams are very straightforward and the seam allowance is 1cm throughout. If you don’t have an overlocker, you can just as easily stitch up your top on a standard sewing machine, although you’ll need to use either a zig zag or functional stretch stitch.
I sewed the shoulder seams first as per the instructions but then skipped to the neckband application as I felt it was easier to do at this stage rather than after the side seams had been sewn. Again, I used my overlocker to do this using the quartering technique: this is done by placing pins at the halfway and quarter points of both the neckband and neckline, then matching up the pins and pinning the two together. You can then overlock (or serge) the neckband together with the neckline, stretching the neckband piece slightly, as you stitch through all three layers. This ensures that the neckband piece is stretched evenly across the whole neckline. *A quick tip here – always make sure you take the pins out as you run your work through your overlocker, the knife will be ruined if you accidentally stitch over a pin*
Once the neckband had been applied, I pressed the seam towards the body of the top and topstitched the neckline close to the neckband from the right side. I didn’t use a stretch stitch for this as I’d already tried the top over my head and it fitted nicely, so didn’t need any extra stretch.
I then went on to sew the side seams, again with my overlocker, and applied the sleeve bands in exactly the same way as the neckband. This time, I top stitched the sleeve bands using a zig zag stitch as the bands need a bit more ‘give’ than the neckline.
Once the sleeve bands had been attached, I tried the top on and decided on the length; I took an inch hem which I again top stitched using a zig zag stitch to give a bit of elasticity when taking the top on and off. A final quick press and I was done!
The Shannon top really is a quick and easy make, it took two and a half hours in total from starting to the final press, although I had prepped my pattern and cut the pattern pieces out beforehand. I’m not a particularly fast sewist as I like to take my time with garments I make for myself and I do spend a lot of time pressing at the ironing board, so you could probably make it quicker than me!
I’ve already worn my Shannon top with a pair of cropped jeans at the weekend and I can see many more of them in my sewing future as it really is a basic staple for anyone’s wardrobe; I’d love to see your Shannon tops and the fabrics you make them in!
Until next time, happy sewing and stay safe,
Deb used a quality jersey from Tia Knight, that she’d be saving in her stash for the perfect top and the Shannon seems to be it! We think that these jerseys that we’ve picked out from our fantastic fabric suppliers would also work too.
Top left – Bobbins and buttons
Cotton/elastane jersey fabric – Stripe and star fish print
£14.00 per metre
Top right – Minerva Crafts
John Kaldor Cadiz Plain Stretch Cotton Jersey Dress Fabric
£13.99 per metre
Bottom left – Abakhan Fabrics
Herringbone Jersey Knit Fabric Green 145cm
£8.99 per metre
Bottom right – Bobbins and buttons
‘Rusby’ ivory & black striped cotton jersey fabric
£8.95 per metre