Saturday, August 29, 2015

Updated: Sunny Knit Top: An Interim Perspective

Updated: OMG, I finished the second version and it is fucking awesome. My self image is only marginally enhanced because my kid is actually wearing hers (the grey one in bamboo jersey described below). I offered it to her (expecting the usual rebuff), her eyes got big like saucers and she snatched it from my hands. I don't recall a thank you. I dare anyone to turn down fabric that feels like this.

In brief, the French terry is also perfect for my Sunny top - not just because I basically redrafted the pattern, but because it's very slim, drapey terry. I'm going to post a photo of me wearing this (shocking, I realize) because its real success is in its fit on me. That'll have to wait till I recover from the post-sewing glow.

I can't say I'd recommend this pattern. I actually think it's a pretty tough sell right out of the envelope. But I've come to see all patterns as road maps. I'm never going to simply cut and sew. What's the difference if I make subtle or broad-stroke edits as long as the fit works in the end?

OK, a propos of yesterday's proposed or actualized alterations, here's what I can tell you:
  • My bamboo jersey is a fucking dream. My sewing machine isn't nuts about hemming thin rayon jersey (unless I knit-stay tape it, which sometimes messes with the fit or drape). This stuff hems, serges, washes, dries and looks spectacular.
  • As such, it's too bad my first version isn't wearable for me. Don't misunderstand, it's wearable but I've got to the point that I can't stand fit imperfections. I'd just rather start again. So happily this version is going to the kid (who knows good shit when she sees it). I may be the only person I know who muslins with 22 dollar a yard fabric but seriously, when I get it right - I want to do it in the fabric I'll eventually wear, to know that I've called all of the variables. Can't say I'd take this kind of hit on large yardages, but on a yard and a half, I'm living on the edge (at least for the moment).
  • I chose not to mess with the sleeve, as a means by which I might impact armscye length, and I'm glad. Sometimes you're wise to realize a garment before you continue to tinker with it. In this instance, the sleeve's alright. BTW, it is on the tight side - esp. if one has large bones or the arms aren't the slenderest zone. But I'm on the small-boned, slender-armed side of the equation and, with fabric having 50% stretch, there's more than enough space for me. I wouldn't make the arms narrower, but I wouldn't expand the circumference.
So what constitutes imperfection?
  • I opted not to fix the back length in the bodice and it was a big mistake. I've now altered the back bodice such that there's 1.5 inches less fabric at the mid back length tapering to nothing at the side seams. That makes the horizontal "waist" seam hang level given that my boobs are using up the front length that I don't need on the back bodice. It also removes a massive pool of fabric that looks pretty meh on my body. The impact on the look of the pattern piece is that it's become almost straight at the hem, rather than maintaining the original curve.
  • I've added an inch of width to the skirt hem circumference to give a bit more room in the hip. It's not strictly speaking necessary but this jersey likes to cling and I'm looking for a soft-fall at the hip. Using other fabrics, this might not be a requirement.
  • But it's always good to include one crazy-ass, experimental alteration: I've removed fabric from the front bodice, below the full bust by creating, on each side, a vertical dart that stops at the bodice hem. This is to remove excess fabric in the midsection that really isn't doing me any favours. Here's the thing, I smushed out the darts (using some, ahem, intuitive method that involved cutting into the paper above the dart and smoothing things out to prevent three-dimensionalness of the pattern). Each "dart" is 1 inch wide. I don't know the impact of this which is why it's high on drugs that I've cut that French terry for the next version, using the altered piece. I'm a risk-taker. What can I say?
What was right about my first muslin? Quite a lot, actually.
  • I called it on the removal of width. It raised the arm, shortened the length and improved the fit of the shoulder. It also removed an absurd amount of girth throughout the bodice and skirt which would have been really unattractive. Saves a lot of fabric too.
  • The crew neck is good, though I did have to recut the fabric and pattern, mid-sewing, as my first version was too tight to get over my head?!
I had enough of the navy French terry (1.25 yards) to use it for the next version, which I hope to complete this afternoon. Not bad when you can get an oversized garment out of 1.25 yards of fabric - albeit fabric that's a good 50" wide. It's true that I don't know whether the drape and weight of the terry will be optimal. I think it will be, but it is stretchier (and has less tight recovery) than the bamboo. I guess that's the joy of cozy softness. I may have to start pulling out a bid of width at the seams and the final version may not suit the look I'm going for, but I won't know till I try.

I can't say that my version looks like the other Sunnys I've seen. Mine may be more of an homage - same lines, different proportions. Nonetheless, that's why we sew, right? To make the garment fit our needs - not the other way around.

Stay tuned...


  1. I can't wait to see it! I'm glad you daughter likes the first version - now get sewing #2! I want to seeeeeee it!!!!!

  2. I'm in the middle. Lord - I LOVE French terry. How have I lived this long without touching it????

  3. French terry is awesome! And I CAN"T WAIT to see the version that worked on you!

    It's also awesome that your kid has snaffled the first version... reminds me of last time we were buying the kids jeans and all the ones that were just a bit too tight for Tyo fit Syo perfectly, and the ones that fit Tyo but were too long fit me perfectly...

    1. It's actually absurdly awesome. I had NO IDEA. And the fact that M grabbed the first one (and it looks so chic on her!) makes me so thrilled. It brings to mind a time when she might value my sewing skills and we can connect on that level. I love your analogy. You were having a kismet shopping moment with the kids!

  4. I can't wait to see it. I believe it will be nice because you are so great at sewing.