Sunday, August 16, 2015

Asymmetric Hole-y Top - McCalls 7194

A month or so ago I acquired a fabulous fabric from Marcy Tilton. This novelty fabric, made from polyester and spandex if I recall, contains almost more holes than fabric:

Marcy had the fabric in two colorways: black and bone, or navy and bone. Mine is the black and bone.

Once the fabric arrived, I was in a bit of a quandary.

What to do with it?

Dither, dither, dither...

I had an idea on how I wanted to use it, but I didn't have a pattern that had the lines I wanted. I spent some time altering a pattern to fit my vision.

A niggling voice made me doubt myself, so I abandoned that idea.

I then remembered a high-end boutique cardigan I purchased maybe 6 years ago. I've always wanted to trace it off and I thought it might be very interesting made up in this fabric, so I spent some time tracing it off.

I thought better of it, so I put the tracing away...

I then decided that I wanted to use a new-ish McCalls pattern, but I didn't own it. I had to wait for a sale to order it.

By the time it arrived, I had my doubts. I decided to mull it over a bit longer...

I saw another Butterick pattern and thought, that one might work! But I didn't own that one, either.

It was then that I decided that enough was enough!

I forged ahead with the McCalls pattern, which, by the way, was almost identical to the first pattern that I altered.

See, after playing with the fabric, I decided that I wanted to use it on the bias. Not on the true bias, but on a bias angle. (True bias is 45°.) I wanted an angled, asymmetric hem, and I wanted to put the hem of the top directly on the selvedge of the fabric. So a 45° angle would have created a hemline that was too angled.

The pattern that I ended up using, McCalls 7194, view C, had almost all of the features that I wanted. The features that it didn't have were easy to change.

Alterations and Modifications

  • I didn't want to do an FBA in this fabric, and this pattern is described as "close fitting", so I had to size up substantially so that there would be enough fabric to go around my bust. I cut an XXL (24-26), instead of my usual L (16-18). The finished bust measurement for the XXL is 49". My full bust is 45", but the fabric is less stretchy on the bias, so I wanted some extra room.
  • I omitted the cowl collar and finished the neckline with a doubled knit binding. I cut a 3" wide cross-grain strip of black stretch jersey (which I think contains some wool). I folded it to 1-1/2" and stitched the raw edges to the front with a 3/8" seam allowance. I then folded the doubled edge to the back of the neckline and hand stitched it in place, encasing the raw edges. I like the chunky 4-layer binding that resulted. It makes for a nice juxtaposition with the airy fabric. I didn't otherwise change the shape of the neckline.
  • I omitted the contrast band at the hem.
  • I wanted a hem with more of an angle, so I added 5" to the long side of the hem, tapered to nothing on the short side.
  • As mentioned, I cut the angled front and back, and the straight-of-grain sleeves, so that all hems were directly on the selvedge. As a result, I left the hems "raw".
  • I spent considerable time finessing the fit of the side seams. I tapered in about 4" at the waist (1" at each s/s) and I tapered the hip on the short side seam.
  • I narrowed the shoulders by 1". (Typical for me.)
  • The pattern comes with two sleeve lengths. I used the shorter length, but the finished sleeve is almost full length on me, so the longer length is long indeed.
After taking these pics, I felt ready to go clubbing. Except it was 9am on a Sunday, so instead I went to the grocery store.

Awwwwww, it's a kitty kat watch!

Late breaking addition!

Several comments asked how I handled sewing the hole-y fabric. For example, here is Martha's query:

Great job! And it looks terrific on you. How did you handle the side seams? Recently I made a shrug for my granddaughter out of a very open weave fabric, similar to this. It wanted to ravel away where ever I cut it. I hand-bound the edges but kept thinking there had to be a better way. So I am anxious to know how you handled this.

I should have addressed this before. Marcy said the following when selling the fabric. (Thanks to Margy for this visual record!)

I do have some Totally Stable, but I decided that I would first see how it worked to just sew it up. It just so happens that I have this in-process pic, which I posted to Instagram while at the machine.

As you can see, I sewed the seams using my conventional machine. I found that I could sew the fabric without any stabilizer. It did not ravel - the open holes don't ravel. I did find that it helped to sew the seams slowly as the top thread on the machine broke several times when I didn't slow down. I'm not sure if the breaking thread was due to the open areas, or due to a slight tough ridge around the open holes, or something else. I did not pull or tug the fabric through the machine.

After sewing, I pressed the seams open and then serged them. Here is a close up of a finished seam, where you can see the thread of the sewing machine inside two of the holes. You can also see the selvedge at the wrist which folds back on itself, just a bit. If this becomes an issue over time, I will machine sew it.

Thanks for your feedback and comments!