This is my third and final entry for Spring Top Week 2010 over at Made By Rae. The first two can be found here and here.
My first top came straight from a pattern, with minor adjustments for fit.
My second top was based on a simple pillowcase top with some added character.
I decided to really challenge myself on the third top, which I sketched and created myself. The process was a lot faster than I had imagined and a lot more fun than sewing from a pattern! I wasted no time mulling over pattern steps, and instead I was pinning and basting until I had things just as I wanted them.
I purchased the fabric for this top at the same time as the fabric for my second Spring Top Week entry. It's a floral "Linen Look" from JoAnn Fabrics. I couldn't make up my mind in the store, so they both came home with me. And I'm really glad that they did, because this yellow floral is gone now!
After playing around with some ideas, I decided to try a different style for the yellow floral fabric. I sketched a bit, and spent a lot of time just thinking about what I wanted the top to do for me. With my sketches as a reference, I started draping muslin (on myself, since I don't own a dressform) and drawing directly on the fabric. Once I had a general shape, I cut the muslin pieces and basted them. All I really wanted to do was start cutting into the floral fabric, but I continued with my muslin pattern. The fit wasn't quite right, so I pinned and measured until I was confident in the shape.
And then I held my breathe as I cut into the floral.
After some quick seaming at the shoulders and sides I tried the top on. I trimmed, pinned, sewed, tried it on again. I took a bit of extra time with the fit, because my goal was to produce a top that I was making up excuses to wear all spring and summer! Once the bodice fit well, I added a facing and some topstitching. Notice the tiny pleating at the neck! I just love little details-and I don't really have the need for large pleats. :)
Then I moved onto the sleeves. I cut a scrap of muslin into a crescent moon shape, and started playing with how it laid on the shoulder. My first muslin piece was a great fit, so I altered it slightly and cut into the floral. With both sleeves cut, I pin basted one down without gathering it. With the other sleeve, I gathered it at the shoulder a bit before pin basting. When I was sketching this top I imagined a soft flowy sleeve, which the gathering really enhanced-that was an easy design decision! With just a few gathering stitches my top had sleeves! To ensure that the sleeves laid flat, I pressed towards the bodice and top stitched around the opening.
To finish the top off, I turned the hem in by a 1/2" and pressed. I turned the pressed edge in 3/4" and pressed again. With the hem pinned well, I topstitched a 5/8" brown ribbon to the bottom edge of the top. The ribbon topstitching also created the perfect casing for elastic! I left a scant 1/8" of floral peeking out at the hem (I think that detail is my favorite part of the top!), and I also left a 2" opening when I topstitched the top edge of the ribbon. Using 1/2" elastic, I threaded it through the 2" opening to created the gathered hem. With the elastic cut and sewn together, I finished the hem off by sewing the 2" opening closed along the ribbon.
I'm really happy with the results, and slightly less intimated by sewing without patterns now! It's still a tiny bit too cool here for this top, but I may just wear it this weekend anyway!