Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Fashion Fix: Summer Staple Sleeveless top from scratch

Photo Amanda Thomas
I have always loved clashing a print and a colour. These days anything goes, fashion wise, but the enthusiasm for confident clashing is going to be around for a while.

This top was a project that came around because of the tragic demise of one of my favourite tops: A green and white striped Whistles number that went with EVERYTHING! so, what to do?? We all know that when we go out shopping with an annoyingly specific item in mind it will NEVER turn up (this has turned into a regular occurrence in the life of a costume designer and stylist.)

Therefore, if you can't replace then you must replenish. Use that worn out unwearable item as a pattern for your new garment.

You will need:
  • calico to make pattern pieces
  • iron
  • dressmaking pins
  • dressmaking scissors
  • paper scissors
  • fabric (check you old garment's label for fabric info and then take it with you to the shop to work out how much you need.)
  • bias binding for edges
  • fastenings (I needed a zip, but decided to make a feature of it so got a gold chunky one).
  • thread 
  • fabric marker
  • zip foot.
I got all of these things from Fabricland

How to do it:
  1.  Take a deep breath and cut your old garment along each seam to have individual pattern pieces.
  2. iron each piece flat
  3. pin each piece onto calico and cut out leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance. 
  4. label each piece so you remember where they go!
  5. pin to your new fabric and cut out the new pieces. You will now have a collection of fabric pieces complete with seam allowances.
This is the point where our paths part. Each garment is going to be made in its own way, so I can only tell you how I went about reconstructing my garment. I am pretty sure this will be useful reading however if you are making any kind go flat fronted top.

My top consisted of four panels, two front and two back. 
  1. Whilst always referring back to the original garment (admittedly now cut up, but my memory of it served me well) pin the two front panels right sides together down the centre front of the top. Machine a running stitch, remove pins and press seams open.
  2. repeat with the back two panels leaving space at the top for the zip. If your fabric has a pattern try your best to match up the design so it looks continuous. (see photo...can you see the front seam?! hopefully not)
  3. now match up the side seams, pin right sides together and machine a running stitch. remove pins, press seams open.
  4. for the sleeves, you could either...carefully snip a 0.5cm cut at 1cm intervals all around the sleeve edge. Press right sides into the sleeve hole. Machine a running stitch around the edge. 
  5. Or you could bind the sleeve edges, either with a contrasting colour or you could  make your own bias binding: see below.
  6. Before folding the binding over the curve, snip small triangles from the raw edge of the binding. This will     help ease it round the curve.  Pin in place on the right (outer side) of the sleeve hole and pin in place. Machine a running stitch in the fold of the bias binding. Fold the binding in and hand sew in place.
  7. To insert the zip in the back,you will need a zip foot for your machine.  They are narrow in size and have a notch on the left for the needle and a notch on the right. 
  8. sew up the seam at the back of the top that will hold the zip with a long stitch length (basting stitch).
  9. Then, turn to the ‘wrong’ side and press the seam open.
  10.  Wherever it is, place the end where it needs to begin and place your zipper face down.  Then line up the center of the zip teeth along the center of that open seam.  Pin in place.
  11. Then flip the fabric over and place a pin right above where the bottom of the zip is.  This will just show you where the end is.
  12. start at the bottom of the zipper and work my way towards the top. Position your needle all the way over to the left (so you don’t break your needle) and now you’re ready to begin sewing along the right side of the seam.  Slide your fabric (right side up) underneath the presser foot and find the pin you used to mark the bottom of the zip.  Machine a running stitch up the side.
  13. Keep sewing all the way down the zip until you are about 2 inches from the end., then raise your foot and zip up the zip so it has zipped past the foot. Continue sewing to the end.
  14. once at the end of the zip length, keep your needle in the fabric, raise the foot and pivot the fabric round until the foot is facing across the bottom of the zip. machine a running stitch across the bottom of the zip. 
  15. once at the end of the zip width, keep your needle in the fabric, raise the foot and pivot the fabric round until the foot is facing up the side of the zip. machine a running stitch up to the top of the zip.
  16. unpick the basting stitch. 
  17. for the neckline, repeat the bias binding step 6.
  18. to hem the bottom edge of the top fold the raw edge once and pres, and then once again and press again. Sew either with an invisible hand sewn hem or with a running stitch on the machine to make a feature of it.

 Make your own Bias binding.
a. Mark out strips of cotton 5cm wide, at 45’ angles across your piece of cotton. Cut
b. Sew each strip to the next to make one long length. 
c. Slowly push the cotton strip through a mouse binder and press with an iron as you go. 

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