DRAFT IT YOURSELF, THE NEW D.I.Y

After my recent triumph drafting the (extremely) well-fitting trapeze top I was eager to make another attempt at a bespoke pattern; and I’ve had fabric in my stash for ages, bought for this exact purpose – so I figured it was about time it fulfilled its destiny. I’ve previously made an Emmeline top in the pink colourway of this Fabricland cotton; but when I saw it in green, I knew I HAD to buy some since green is my favourite colour! I decided it would make a good fabric for a simple self-draft and so I snapped up 1.5m with a rough idea in my head of a summer top I wanted to make. I also found some perfect colour matching buttons on sale for a ridiculous price, and some suitable bias tape for the arm and neck openings.

I wanted the top to be sleeveless; to have a pretty straight, rather than a curved, hem; side seam / bust darts; and have a relatively high neck with a gentle curve (I’m not a big fan of round or too low necklines). Initially I intended to make a button back top, similar to a RTW shell top I have; but as I started sketching my thoughts out, I was drawn to the idea of a button-up side seam instead. And it was only PARTLY because I didn’t want the hassle of pattern matching this fabric down a back placket….honest!

The process of drafting the pattern pretty much followed the same course as the self-drafted Trapeze top I made. Tracing my bespoke bodice block, I transferred all of the suppression from the waist and shoulder dart into a side seam / bust dart, lengthened the pattern to the desired line and then took out the side seams with a gentle curve making sure to fit my hip measurement at the hem. Next, I added on all the seam allowances and the plackets to the side seams, and I was ready to go.

Of course I made a quick calico version first, and then whilst wearing the toile I used a sharpie to mark up where I wanted to make any adjustments to the shoulder, arm, neckline, and the overall fit – it’s a funny little process, drawing all over yourself, but it’s a really useful way of seeing where the fabric doesn’t sit quite right. Once I had transferred all the modifications onto my paper pattern, I could put scissors to my beautiful fabric.

As I started to sew, I was listening to one of Sewisfaction’s vlogs about how to make your sewing look less ‘home sewn’ and more professional, and one of Sheona’s tips was to make sure to stay stitch. This is just sewing a row of stitching along the curve of the openings (neck / arm etc) within the seam allowance, to stop the fabric being stretched out when handled since the curve will at some point cross the bias (AKA the stretchiest, most unstable grain). I hate this step; it feels like such a chore to be sewing while not actually achieving anything. But in that moment, I felt like Sheona would judge me if I didn’t stay stitch – and so I did. This turned out to be a great decision as the bias binding to the first armhole was such a pain to manipulate into place that I ended up unpicking it to draft and sew a facing instead. Without the stay stitching the arm opening would have most likely stretched out of shape; and I reused the bias tape to finish the bottom edge of the facing instead.

Once the top was almost complete I did a quick try on to see how much length I had to play with for the hem. I wanted a fairly chunky hem depth, however my test drive of the top showed the unfinished length was pretty much perfect, leaving no spare fabric to turn under. Instead I drafted a 4.5cm hem facing, attaching it to the main body with just a 5mm seam allowance.  Once the facing had been turned under 1cm along the top edge, the finished hem depth was 3cm, giving it a nice weight.

It seems I have once again made the neck opening a little on the slim side, although it’s much better than with the trapeze top I drafted. So I need to make a couple more modifications to my pattern for next time, but otherwise I’m quite impressed with how my self-drafting is going. I can see a real improvement in the quality of my sewing, and the little finishing touches really add a professional hint to the final garment. Thanks to the use of facings, bias tape and the side plackets, the inside looks just as good as the outside!

This top is great for the summer; I love how well it fits and how comfortable it is across the shoulders. And I already have plans for a linen version (hopefully with a perfect neckline!), which will also double up as a Me Made May inspired refashion project.

Hope you like it,

Kx