I have somehow managed to stack up four projects with hard deadlines in these two last weeks of April. The first, a dress for a friend, I finished last week (in time for her birthday, hooray!), and then I turned my attention to a top for Rae‘s Spring Top Sewalong!
Last year sometime, I bought just a yard of Anna Marie Horner Little Folks voile in the Four Square pattern with the idea that it would make a great spring/summer top of some kind (I’m fairly sure my purchase was inspired by a top Rae herself made at some point), but spring and summer passed and no patterns jumped out at me as perfect for the fabric. It fell to the bottom of the Stash Monster’s belly and I forgot about it. Then a few weeks ago when my mom was visiting, we popped into the Anthropologie and saw this tank on the sale rack:
Of course, the first thing through my mind was “$39 on sale?! I could totally make that.” Which is pretty much what I think when I see anything in a store nowadays, but my follow-through is abysmal. But then I suddenly remembered the Spring Top Sewalong, and my long forgotten voile, and off I went to hunt for a pattern. I knew I’d have to draft the back, since it was unlike any blouse pattern I’d ever seen, and I thought I’d probably have to figure out the pintucks in front and the front neckline too, but wouldn’t you know, I lucked out with New Look 6104. Bingo – the front is almost identical! The tucks are a little smaller, and it has bias bound edges, but it was a fantastic jumping off point. So I dug out some tissue paper from my gift-wrapping bin (yeah, I pretty much never trace patterns), drafted some back straps and a front facing, and cut into my precious voile (using literally every bit of it). And much to my surprise and delight, it turned out pretty much just right!
Here’s the front view – basically no pattern modifications. Amazingly, the bust dart actually works for me, and the bust isn’t too large (I made a straight size 10). I actually really like this pattern – it fits me well with no adjustments. I did convert the bias neck/armhole finish to a facing, since that binding wouldn’t really work with back straps (of course, the one time I’d rather have a pattern with facings and I have to make them myself). I basically just traced along the neckline/armholes, and arbitrarily drew a straight line across about an inch below the lowest underarm point to make the facing pattern. I totally failed to take into account how I would finish the top of the button bands, though, and I didn’t make the facing long enough to include the bands… so I ended up sort of binding just the top of the button bands. It’s not ideal, but it’s okay and not too noticeable (or maybe it could be considered a design feature?) I also actually put in functional buttonholes, even though I can absolutely pull the shirt on over my head. Why did I torture myself with making buttonholes when I could have just sewn up the front and attached decorative buttons? No idea. I guess it was just a weird momentary deviation from my usual lazy sewing self. Also, these are my favorite. buttons. ever. I thought I’d be standing at the button wall for hours, debating between a bunch of not-quite-right options, but nope, I walked up and saw them first thing. And good buttons were vital, because I think they make the back:
If I like the front of this top, I love the back. It’s so fun, and it actually wasn’t hard at all to figure out. I took the pattern piece for the back and cut straight across one inch above the top of the side seam – I wanted the top edge across the back to come straight back from the lowest point of the armhole, and the extra inch was my self-facing for the top edge that forms the channel for elastic between the straps. I also laid out the pattern piece about an inch and a half away from the fold to add a total of three inches across the center back to gather. Obviously I omitted the back darts. I sewed a channel across the top just between where I wanted the straps to be (since that’s how the original was done) then cut about a 5 inch piece of 3/4 inch elastic, secured it to one side of the channel, pinned the other side and tried it on for fit before securing the loose side as well. Here’s a closer look at the back, and you can also see the front facing and my jankety button-band-binding:
I did not make real buttonholes on the back straps, because the uninterfaced voile puckered really badly on my test sample. I just sewed the straps on with the buttons. I did belatedly iron on a couple scraps of interfacing to the back facing under where the straps attach just to reinforce the area a bit.
Overall I’m really in love with this top! It took kind of forever, but I also took my time to get it right (after my debacle with the button bands, anyway). I don’t know that I’ll get to wear it for a while, since our springs here tend to be mostly foggy and dismal, but for now I’ll just admire it in my closet and revel in the success of my first Anthropologie knock-off!