Friday, 6 July 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Boxy Top

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

I'm not sure what's up with the weirdly orange tone of these photos, hopefully it doesn't distract too much from what's going on with the top. The Peppermint magazine website is small treasure trove for those seeking free garment sewing patterns. The magazine teams up with pattern designers to release a pattern alongside each magazine issue. I'm sure I'll return to their selection for future editions of my 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, but today I'm checking out the Boxy Top (AKA Harvest top) pattern designed by Pattern Runway. Thanks to both Pattern Runway and Peppermint magazine for offering this pattern up for free. 

(image source: Peppermint magazine)

Pattern type:

This top (called the 'Boxy top' on the website, but the 'Harvest top' on the actual pattern pieces and instructions documents) has a square silhouette formed of three panels and a bias-cut sleeve band detail. It buttons up the back, but is loose enough to take on and off without unbuttoning (I stitched the buttons through both layers after reading this review of the same pattern). 

Sizing info:

The pattern has been graded to span five sizes: 36 to 44 (bust sizes 33" to 39.5"). Based on my measurements, I picked the size 38 for the bust and shoulder area, grading out to the 40 for the waist and hips. I also folded out 2cm from the centre panels to account for my short-waistedness. 

Fabric info:

The fabric suggestions for this pattern are 'lightweight to medium weight fabrics with a soft drape; cottons, cotton blend, shirtings, light weight linen'. I think this pattern could potentially also handle  rayon, silk or double gauze. I decided to bust out a lovely piece of light-weight, 4oz, washed denim from Fabric Godmother. I bloody love this stuff, it's what I used to make my beloved denim Tova top that I wore almost constantly for years. The softness and slight drape worked well for this pattern. 


Downloading this pattern and the instructions was very easy, with no subscribing to newsletters or signing in to a website required. Pattern Runway patterns are printed on top of an inch grid, which makes some pattern alterations you might need to do (like my short-waisted adjustment) nice and easy. The instructions were easy to follow with very clear illustrations for each construction step. I found the construction of this top was really enjoyable. In part that was thanks to the lovely, clear instructions, and also because the construction method itself is both simple enough for a beginner to try, but not so simple that a more experienced sewer would switch on to auto-pilot. 

As for the garment itself, there were a couple of points that made me like the finished top rather than love it. I'm not mad keen on the sleeve bands/cuffs. I think they stick out in a slightly odd way and I'm not sure what value there is to cutting them on the bias. This next point is super pernickrty but I'll add it in here anyway; seeing as the top can easily be taken on and off without undoing the buttons, it would have been nice if the instructions mentioned this to give the option of avoiding making the button holes. Personally, I felt the suggested five buttons looked a bit sparse, and opted for six instead. 

And then there's the shape. I knew the fit of this pattern was going to test the limits of my boxy-silhouette comfort zone, but I found that the fit is more boxy and loose than both the modelled version and the spec (line) drawings led me to expect. 

Customisation ideas:

With those panels, you've got heaps of options for making your own unique version. You could:
  • Make a feature of the topstitching along the panel lines. I've emphasised the denim fabric here by using jeans-style thick topstitching thread. You could add an additional row of topstitching for a faux twin needle effect, or use a decorative stitch if your sewing machine has any in a contrasting colour
  • Take inspiration from the brown and white striped version and monkey around with grain lines on directional print fabrics
  • Use entirely different fabrics for each of the panels to create a scrap-busting, quirky patchwork or classy tonal look. 
  • Topstitch the edge of the facings so their shape is visible through the outside of the top. I think that can be a really nice detail on fairly plain, simple garments like this
  • Use contrast fabric for the facings, perhaps a print if your outer fabric is a solid. That always looks cool and fancy, even if it's only you that sees it when you're getting dressed!
  • Use self-covered buttons up the back
  • Add a patch breast pocket, or even a subtle and clever inseam pocket set into the seam between two of the panels
  • Leave off the sleeve bands and finish with bias tape turned under to the wrong side instead

Would I make it again?

I would definitely make another Pattern Runway pattern again if one caught my eye, but although I thoroughly enjoyed making this top, I won't be making this particular pattern again. I decided it really was too shapeless and boxy for me personally (the Grainline Scout tee pattern is the outer limit of woven boxiness for me!), and gave it to my awesome friend Sophie instead. She is one of my favourite people in the world, and passing something on to her that I made myself has probably given me more pleasure than stuffing my adequately filled wardrobe with another garment, so it's all good. 


Roni said...

I think this shape works well for you and I find the sleeves flattering, so I was surpried to read you didn’t like it.
I would like to try more free patterns but I worry that they would be less well drafted than the costly ones. I’m not sure if it’s just in my head, from your experience do you find a significant difference in quality between free and more expensive patterns?

Pupuk Hayati M-BIO said...

simpy cute <3

Jo said...

Thanks for the link. I think you need a more fitting top than that so I agree with you on the style notes. Lucky Sophie! Jo xx

Zoe said...

Thanks for your comments lovelies!

@Roni, when I begun actively seeking out free patterns to try for this series of posts, I was interested too in what I would find when comparing them with paid-for patterns. From my experience, the patterns have been of equal quality to the paid ones by the same designers, which makes sense when you think that often the motivation behind releasing free patterns is to entice customers to by other patterns the designer has for sale. I would say, however, that the free patterns are obviously (almost) always way less complicated projects than the paid-for options. That's great for beginners, those with limited time to sew, and those seeking quick-fix projects. However, it may be frustrating for a passionate sewers if you plan to always use free patterns!

Love and hugs to all xxx

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Ajmeri Seo said...

There are some interesting points in time in this post but I do not know if I see all of them center to heart. There’s some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good post , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner at the same time

Mireya said...

Thank you for the fantastic pattern review! I took your recommendations and sewed it up without the back button placket. It fits over my head just fine so buttonhole crisis averted. I also am going to skip the sleeve band and use bias tape to finish the armholes. I know this pattern wasn’t your favorite but it is working for me. I think I’ll make a couple more for the upcoming Texas summer. 👍🏻

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