Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Leopardy Layering

Clearly I'm not very able to show you through photos the details of my new top, so I'll have to rely on my powers of description to explain what's happening here. Last week at work we had a delivery of lots of sample lengths of fabric that had been donated to TRAID by a fabric producer. Most of it was ditsy floral jersey and lengths of muted solids, wierd lace and some randoms. And THIS leopard fabric! My boss and I both virtually lept on it, thankfully it was a couple of metres long so we were able to purloin it and divide and conquer.

As well as this exciting acquisition, last week also saw the shrinking of my only two wool cardigans, beyond respectable wearability. So being cold has been firmly on my mind as this stinking Winter continues therefore I thought this fabric might serve me well whipped into a long sleeved T-shirt to provide a toastier alternative to a T-shirt layer.


I have no idea what type of fabric it is, other than something between a knit and thick T-shirt jersey but with a lovely cotton-y handle. I cut the pieces out by hybrid-ing about three different patterns, all of which I had developed and adapted using 'Sew U: Home Stretch' and existing garments as a base. Actually, if I'd spent a little longer at the prep-stage, rather than trying to get it during my lunch hour with a sandwich in one hand, the neckline would have come out a little better. You can't really see it from the photos because my hair's in the way, but I find it just a little too wide at the shoulder points.

I'm not going to lie to you, once all the pieces were cut and ready to go, the actually construction only took about 20mins flat. The cuffs are finished by making a band which gets folded in half and overlocked to the ends of the sleeves, right sides together. The neckline is finished by cutting two bias strips, one for the front neckline, one for the back. I measured both sections of neckline, and cut the bias strips 2cm shorter than each measurement (this helps the neckline stay tight and not go loose). Like the cuffs, these strips are double the width that you want the final neck band to be, plus maybe 1cm for seam allowance. These strips are folded in half width ways and overlocker the front and back necklines, easing the strips around the neckline curve, making sure I matched up the CF and CB points to the midway notches I made on the strips. For the bottom hem, I just overlocked the edge and flatlocked it. Had I been at home using my sewing machine, I would have used a three-step zigzag stitch to provide a little more stretchability, but I was at work and don't have that stitch on any of the machines there. If you aren't just skim-reading this construction bit, and actually are interested in the construction method of this top but am a bit confused by my rubbish description, leave a comment and I'll try to elaborate. Alternatively, if you would like me to make a How-To with pics (like my Undies-making one), let me know and if enough peops are interested, I'll make it happen.

As I say, this top was meant to be just a casual layer, which is why I didn't go crazy with Peter Pan collars or button details, but that evening my boy and I were going out for a pre-Christmas dinner and I didn't know what to wear. I find it really tricky trying to work out what to wear to look nice and keep warm, so I decided to try this (meaning I could still get away with wearing my vest! Umm, wait, I think a vest to me is a singlet to Yanks and Aussies, but I could be wrong) with my Beignet skirt and heels, but to yank it in at the waist with a wide belt to make it look more feminine for the occasion.

To summarise, I will definately be making another version if this top if some similar weight fabric comes my way. However, I will make a small adjustment to the width of the neckline, and perhaps will make the width of the neckband slightly narrower, though maybe not. All I want to do right now is dream of summer holidays and sew pretty short-sleeved blouses, cotton dresses and high-waisted shorts, but I know my time will be spent more wisely cranking out a few of these. How is your Winter sewing going? Have you stumbled across any styles or patterns than are keeping you toasty?

18 comments:

didyoumakethat said...

I love it! Did you really whip that up in a lunch hour? Great tip on making the neckline bias tapes a couple of centimetres smaller than the neckline to stop baggy stretching.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, fast shirt.
This Yank would call your "vest" an "undershirt." My mom would call it a "camisole."
I'd love to see a how-to on this neckline.

lazystitching said...

So cool and chic!

bagqueen said...

Lovely top, I wish I could find some similar weight fabric cos I would love some cosy tops that are easy wear like that!!

Hair looks fab btw!

Gail said...

Its cute. I love the way you've styled it with red.

Cindy said...

I love a leopard print. Your top is great. I bet you will get a lot of use from it. You can dress it up and down!

tanitisis said...

As a Canuck I'd probably call your vest a tank top, or a camisole if I were feeling delicate :). Love the shirt! I can't even look at short-sleeved patterns right now without getting cold. I have some great red knit I acquired a few weeks ago that needs to become a nice long-sleeved shirt---I may give your cuff a try!

And I love LOVE how you styled it with the Beighnet

Carolyn said...

Your top looks great! I like making tops like this too; they are so quick and easy, as long as you can find suitable warm and high quality fabric. Finding the fabric is often the most difficult step...
I've always finished all my sleeve and neckline edging with tubular "cuffs" as you described too, except I usually just use a straight cut strip, comes out just as good as bias cut and uses less fabric. I also edge the lower hemline in the same method.
A cool variation is to make the sleeve cuffs long enough to be elbow length.

Minnado said...

Love it - fast and warm! My winter sewing consists of a skirt for spring -oops- and currently a cotton blouse...oops again. But I did make a simple looped jersey scarf which is serving me very well and keeping my neck warm.

Minnado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlotta said...

I love your new top! Leopard works really well with red (and more unusually with emerald green too, now that I think about it), this fits really well in you palette. Oh, and as a french I can't really get the difference between a vest and a singlet, but I understand camisole...

And yes, I would be very happy to read a tutorial about how you make your stretch tops! I got a serger for Christmas and would love to know more about knits ; I have already read 'sew u : home stretch' a few times, but it lacks a bit of proper step-by-step illustrations to my taste.

I'm also very fond of one of your earlier stretch projects, the bustier t-shirt. One of my hopes for 2011 is to be able to make a bustier-like dress in the same manner (with puff sleeves), so if you ever make a similar garment, I'd love to know more about it too!

Veronica Darling... said...

Hi babes!

I love this bit: "I measured both sections of neckline, and cut the bias strips 2cm shorter than each measurement (this helps the neckline stay tight and not go loose)"

That explains a LOT of why my necklines are loose and annoying and baggy... thank you!!!!!

Ali said...

Lovely! Practical (baby, it's cold outside) and totally fun.

Lucy said...

I really like the way you've worked the jumper into an outfit, it looks really nice! I have a leopard jumper (not handmade) and I never know how to wear it, I have no imagination!

Clare said...

I'm another fan of the fabric and styling of this. It would be a shame to layer over the print but even just a peek of animal prints is fun.

Alessa said...

That looks really nice with your red beignet and the belt! I've gladly escaped the winter drab and have been spending the last 2 months in (mostly) sunny Down Under, with no chance to sew whatsoever, but come February I'll have to get out my layering pieces again... A print long-sleeve would actually be nice...

Kara said...

Great outfit! I love the combination of the leopard with the red. And how do you have a skirt and belt that are the same shade?!

I'm curious. I know what you call a "vest" is what I would call a tank top or camisole. But what do you call these: http://bit.ly/hb6L1B ?

Zoe said...

Thanks Kara! Hahaha! I would call those 'waistcoats'!
xxx

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