Sunday, July 10, 2011

The devil is in the details!

Oh, the weather has been beautiful the last few days! So we've been out a bit more than usual, which means less sewing time. It's a good trade though, I want to enjoy what little sun we get!

I started on my One Pattern Many Looks contest project this week. I posted the fabrics and beads I had in mind a few weeks ago, and I decided to start on the metalic silky charmeuse fabric. I have quite a lot of it, so I could recut a piece if something went wrong. I'm glad I chose to use this fabric first!

Reading a lot of the previous reviews of McCalls 5388, it is repeatedly noted that this pattern runs VERY large. The common recommendation is to go down 3 full sizes and ALSO pinch another inch or so out of the yoke. I was a bit skeptical of this, especially after looking at the finished garment measurements. I'm a 36 bust and usually cut a 12, which meant I should cut a 6. The finished measurement on the size 6 was 41", that's not a lot of ease for a "loose" top. I went ahead and cut the top at a 6, basted it together, and found it was indeed a tad more snug than what I'd find comfortable. I set it aside for about a week, not even sure now if I liked the style, and finished my picnic shirt instead.

It was sitting on my sewing form this whole time, and the color, texture and drape of the fabric and pattern were so pretty, I really wanted to salvage it. I tested it with minimal seam allowance (1/4" most places, 1/8" sleeves), and the fit was quite good! What a pleasant surprise.

With that all worked out, I went ahead and started laying out a design for the beadwork. I decided early on to use a celtic knot design, something that I could curve and taper off near the shoulders. I settled pretty quickly onto a design. Here it is finished.

I realized the fabric was far too lightweight to hold the extensive beadwork I planned, so I dug out some interfacing I had from Jo-anns from their 1/2 off remnant bin marked "featherweight". Let me tell you, it isn't light or featherweight, it is clearly a medium weight interfacing, and made the yoke a tad stiff. Still, I had nothing else, and it wasn't bad, so I proceeded.

To create the design, I first drew it right on my traced pattern piece. Then I laid that over the interfaced yoke, and transferred it to the best of my ability right onto the interfacing. I have to say the interfacing made a great guide to follow while actually beading!
Having never actually beaded directly onto fabric before, I had some advice and a quick lesson from a friend. She told me to go 2 or 3 beads forward, then stitch backward 1 or 2 beads. Since my beads are a size larger than standard seed beads, I only did 2 at a time, and I went back through both on every stitch, so this was a LOT of hand sewing. I took me about 8 or 10 hours total, and although my beading is slightly uneven in places, I am pleased with the finished look. It's something I'd like to try more of in the future.

I thought this fabric would look pretty bad with a machine sewn hem, so I attempted my first real hand rolled hems. I did both sleeves, as well as the bottom hem. This took me another 5 hours of hand sewing.

Although it is very labor intensive, I think all the hand sewing is really worth it. The way the hem hangs looks good and natural, not stiff or flat like I was afraid it would if machine sewn.

Here are a couple of shots showing the finished garment, inside and out. I would like to point out that I used french seams, despite my narrow seam allowance. This meant 1/8" seams, trimmed to 1/16" and then another 1/8" for the finished seam (total = 1/4"). I NEVER used the foot petal while sewing this top, what little of it is machine sewn is all hand cranked, since I was using such small seam allowances. I also carefully topstitched the neck opening, which gives the top an almost quilted look.

I was a bit desperate and pinked the armhole seam, but I am still very proud of how the top looks inside-out. Since the beading is all on the front yoke, the yoke facing covers it. And the hems just look neat :) I think this top is really fun and creative, something I can wear out daytime or evenings, a bit dressy, but also a tad rock-n-roll.

Sadly, I think this will be "dry clean only"! lol

Next, I wanted to make my black and white version.

I had the most interesting remnant with a bit of boarder print on it. It is very drapey, but there wasn't enough of it to make a full top. It was about the size of my coffee table.

I had to cut creatively to get the top out of this. I had just enough left in the middle to use for the bias strips I planned on using.

I think the sleeves are a bit too puffy with the elastic in them. I prefer the way they hang and feel on the gold beaded top. If I make this again, I'll leave out the elastic.
I am very glad I used the black bias strips on the neckline, and for the elastic casing on the sleeves. It gives the top a lot more definition.

I'm happy that I found a good use for this pretty piece of boarder fabric. :D

I hope to get some pictures of myself wearing both of these sometime later this week, and I'll add those as soon as I get them taken.

I may make this top one or possibly even 2 more times for the contest. I have a purple knit jersey I think would work well with some fabric flowers near the shoulder. I also have some sky blue striped fabric I think might look interesting with ruffles on the hem, sleeves, and center of the yoke with some buttons. The problem I'm having is that I'm not sure how much I actually like the look of these 2 tops wearing them. They are very loose, and have no waist definition, and I'm afraid they look a bit like maternity wear. I am going to wear them both out and about a few times in the next week before I decide if I'm going to make more or not.

Until next time, happy sewing everyone!


  1. This is very pretty!!! Glad you were able to salvage it.

  2. Both tops are great! The hand beading and hems were well worth all the time it took. The bias binding on the neck and sleeves of the second top are a beautiful addition.

  3. The beading on your top is lovely!

  4. I like both versions very much-and applaud you for all that hand sewing. While this style *is* hard for some of us to wear, it is super comfy and I think looks good with skinny pants. Have you tried them with a loose hip belt?

  5. I think a belt is a great idea Mary, I'll give that a try! I did enjoy wearing the black and white one out the other day, and it was extremely comfy and easy to wear. And thanks so much for all the nice comments everyone :)

  6. Wow - I didn't even realize you had a blog! Glad to have found it - your tops both look wonderful :)