Tuesday, 4 April 2017

wardrobe essentials 2017 - the Sailor top





Just noticed the chalk F... it is not always easy to tell front and back apart with this top and I tend to scribble a memory aid on both until I have sewed in a label.

I am always keen to make something new but there are also tried and tested patterns that I go back to every year, sometimes more than once. The Sailor top by Fancy Tiger Crafts is one such pattern. I have made it for three years now, sometimes with woven fabric, sometimes with knit fabrics. It works well with either. This year I want to replace a green knit Sailor top that I made two summers ago. The replacement is navy blue and should go with just about everything.

I found a very slippery but oh so soft knit fabric in my stash. I can't remember where it came from and I can't remember what it is, something man-made in any case: I melted a hole in it when I pressed the neckband. Yes, I did swear. I don't often wear man made fibres* and I don't know why I bought it. The fabric probably had a name that I don't associate with plastic. I fell into the same trap with another fabric, which you'll see soon (top under construction). I was too worried to melt the finished top and decided to let time and washing machine take care of the seam bobbles and wrinkles. I am sure I can be forgiven.

I am not very confident with knit fabrics and this one was particularly challenging to work with. It is slippery and quite obviously prefers to remain a flat piece of fabric for it resists attempts to turn it into something else. I did get my way in the end! I have some fabric left if you'd like it, probably enough for a child's top.

The dark navy didn't make it easy to decide which is the right and which is the wrong side of the fabric. I actually used a magnifying glass to determine it and I am by no means sure if I chose the right side. I am also not sure about the grain line, which by definition runs parallel to the the selvedge. It is how I cut the fabric but it looks a little bit like the knitting direction is wrong, horizontal instead of vertical.

I used the overlocker for most seams, after practising with a few cut-offs. Boy this thing is fast! I had to re-thread it from scratch because a thread broke when I tried to change colour by the quick method, which involves tying the new thread to the old one and pull it through - ever so gently. It is such an faff, threading an overlocker from scratch. I still don't understand why the four threads have to be threaded in a particular order.

image link
Every time I make a Sailor top, I say to myself this is my last one. You can see on the small image on the left that it is gathered all around the front, back and shoulders. I don't enjoy making these gathers when attaching the neckband. I am a stickler for accuracy and there is a lot of fabric to gather. I did it in four sections, halting each section, then again, and once more, ending with lots of pins. Only then did I start pulling the gather threads, gently gently. With woven fabric I would change the sewing machine tension to gather the fabric evenly when sewing the gathering lines but I wasn't sure if this would work with knits. Then I hand basted it all in place, not once, not twice but three times to secure it tightly before sewing it. There is no room for mistake with the overlocker.

This particular Sailor top had me nearly in tears. I got the neckband gathers neatly sewed in place but struggled with the next step. The neckband is folded over and then stitched in the ditch (where the neckband meets the top). I had to unpick the first attempt, it took 90 minutes because I used a narrow lightening bolt zigzag stitch and all was dark blue. I used a normal stitch for the second attempt, which was much better. There is not much stretch in this part of the top needed and no real need for a zigzag stitch. I am thinking that I need a coverlocker....


As always with the Sailor top, I like the end product and as I write this, all the hassle is forgotten. It is a shape that suits my ageing body. The neckline is not too deep but does leave skin exposed to show a nice necklace. I don't wear much jewellery but when I do, it is likely to be a necklace.

I have already started working on my next top, it is the revamped Colette Sorbetto top, a free pattern to download if you like a bargain. The updated pattern includes a sleeved version and Colette now have a block for big bosomed ladies. Watch this space.

In the meantime, enjoy Spring while it lasts. It is in full swing here, I know because Sam has been complaining about pollen and cat hair allergies. The animals are shedding so much hair that it is astonishing they are not bald.

P.S. You can see previous iterations of the Sailor top here, here, here and here. We also made a one for Annie but I can't find the link.

* Bras being the exception

18 comments:

  1. Nice job Christina, well worth all the trouble. I know enough about sewing to know how tricky it must have been. And you look lovely in it, so you should be very pleased. I shall look forward to seeing the next one. CJ xx

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  2. It looks great, worth the trouble. I love navy blue, it suits my skin tone and I really like the neckline.

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  3. I loved seeing your newest Sailor, Christina, especially since I'm about to try my hand at one too. I love this fabric, it drapes beautifully. You did a great job and it looks so nice on you.

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  4. Well done you. You put me to shame with all your lovely tops. I have the sewing machine and some patterns, time to buy material and get busy. B x

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  5. It looks really great! Well done you! Oh, and I am sure that the F is just to remind everyone how FABULOUS you are!

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  6. Congrats on making your new top.. I think it's very admirable to make your own clothes. I think I only made one thing for myself.. an a-line skirt in high school.. out of black and white houndstooth and I wore it with a black top.. I thought I was so hip. LOL! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  7. Impressed at your skill and patience, Christine. You look lovely in your new top and funky necklace. XxDoris

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  8. You've made such a good job of it, despite all the hassle, and the colour and style really suits you. Lots of moulting going on here too, I could make a second Archie out of the hair I vac up off the carpet.

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  9. Hey Christina,
    Oh it's lovely! I love that style; very forgiving. You look lovely in it. Bravo.
    Leanne xx

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  10. Firstly I love your smiley face, secondly I love the neckline on your top. On the left side bar of my blog there is a tutorial for sewing jersey hems with a strip of paper which you might find useful for knits in the future. It helps stop the fabric rippling but does need a bit of practice on a spare piece first. No wonder you revisit this top it really suits you and navy is a great choice to wear with everything. Jo x

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  11. Just been and visited the other ones - such a great pattern. PS. I didn't know you could get sleeves for the sorbetto. I have enough fabric for one of those. Jo x

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  12. It is beautiful, great job, lovely shape and it looks like it's a great fit too. The previous versions look great too, that's the beauty of home sewing, even if you make the same top your choice of fabric always makes them all look unique. Hope you enjoy wearing this one as much as the previous versions

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  13. Hey look at you rockin' that sailor's top with your sunnies on your head and a gorgeous necklace - it will be summer before you know it, the cat will have stopped moulting and you'll have forgotten what a pain in the whatnot, the sailors top was to make! Enjoy!
    Wren x

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  14. That looks good on you. I always pin a small bit of paper to my back piece if it is not obvious which is which and if I'm not doing a label which can irritate I put a small piece of ribbon at the beck. xx

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  15. You did such a good job, it looks fab (love the pendant, too). If I managed to sew something I could wear, I don't think I'd take it off. Ever! Have a brilliant weekend.

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  16. I admire your perseverance Christina, I think I would have given it up. It is very nice looking though, you made a great job of it. X

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  17. I have a large piece of beautiful knit fabric that's sat in my stash for about four years because I am terrified of sewing with it. I'm not sure you've reassured me here! But the top is lovely and I can see how it would become a firm favourite, easy to wash and wear and very flattering. x

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx