My two most recent makes are simple tops that will be the basis of a lot of outfits. The more time I spend stitching, the more I realize it is important to be thoughtful about what I make. It’s so easy to see all of the beautiful pictures of Alabama Chanin inspired clothes and want to make them all.
The first top I made was an unembellished single layer white panel tank. Who can’t use another white summer top? This was the first time I used a The School of Making (TSOM) pattern ordered in the paper format. The package came not only with the pattern but also with clear instructions.
I personally like to transfer the pattern onto muslin and cut that out, rather than cut the paper pattern. I guess I’m nervous that I may need a larger size in the future. I was very lucky to inherit a light box to make transferring the pattern easy.
The panel tank is very flattering as it has 16 panels and a great flare. It used about 1 1/2 yards of AC jersey. One of the first inspirations for me to make this top was not only the TSOM DIY kit where they put the fern stencil on, but I saw a top on-line made by Featherstitch Avenue. It looks so good on her how can you not want to make it! Hers was the inspiration for the feather stitch I used on the seams.
Before I stitched the seams I wanted to make sure the top fit. I was a little nervous after cutting the pattern because the straps appeared to angle out toward the shoulder much more than any other top I’ve made.
The straps turned out fine but the top itself was a little too tight around the chest. The center seam gapped quite a bit and I’m not going to show you a picture but the top, let’s just say, did not flatter my mid back. I decided it needed to have a little more room so I made another 1” stripe to put down each side. Actually, I made the stripe one and one half inch to allow for a ¼” seam on each side. So, essentially, this is now an 18 panel top.
I think that the added panel made the neckline gape just a little. I’m one of those stitchers that usually is so keen to finish a garment that I don’t baste around the neckline but this time I knew I could not get away without it. A quick baste and a little tightening up was all it needed.
I used the feather stitch around the neckline also. By this time I was a pro!
It doesn’t fit perfectly – I’m not formally trained in how to fit a garment and the straps gape just enough on my back shoulder that my bra strap shows. I think this may be something that I wear under a bolero or cardigan, rather than just on it’s own … but it still looks great. I think next time I’ll size up. Glad I didn’t cut that paper pattern.
For my next top I was inspired by my good friend that I met through our shared love of Alabama Chanin, Jan Hodges. She worked up some samples that I love! You can check out how I was inspired by her swatch with the faded fabric and Ochre in this Me Made May blog post.
I still had the faded fabric I purchased as a scrap bundle a while back. If you haven’t read my blog post about faded fabric, check it out here. I knew I wanted to use the pieces I had left over for some sort of top (to match the pencil skirt I bought from AC while I was there for a workshop in 2016).
The piece I had left to work with is the medium dot so I decided it would look better as the bottom layer of a reverse appliqué. Although I love it with the Ochre, for this project I wanted something more versatile … so I copied Jan and just used the natural. I also copied her small stitches but I didn’t have the patience to copy her design choice of putting in two rows of stitching around the shapes.
I went with the tank top because that is what fit best with the pieces I had and I was ready for something with a few less seams than last time. Even then, the bottom layer pieces do not reach all the way up the shoulder in the front so I didn’t cut out those shapes by the shoulder seam. You can’t really notice.
I would have loved to copy Jan’s Aurora stencil but alas, I don’t have that stencil…yet. I decided the Magdelena was the closest I had and I went about stenciling using silver Createx paint and my airbrush. I’m not sure if the paint was old, or if I haven’t done a good enough job cleaning the airbrush gun but it kept clogging and I eventually gave up and finished stenciling using a pouncing sponge. It definitely goes on thicker but I was able to get a sharp edge around the shapes.
I think it I got so frustrated with the airbrush that I once again didn’t pay enough attention to stencil placement. I ended up putting two very similar shapes on the front and left side front piece. I considered doing it over but my son talked me out of it. His suggestion: if I really don’t like it, I could add more shapes to the right side front to even it out. I can consider this since I pounced the paint rather than airbrush, but I don’t think I’ll have to. Now that I’ve worn it, it doesn’t bother me.
I decided black binding would really pop and I love the way it worked out. I ended up using the cretan stitch on the binding because I wanted something simple and quick. That said, the cretan stitch is one where I still need to use the grid from The Geometery of Hand Stitching. I think it’s important for that stitch to be even to look good.
I had a really fun time styling this top with several pieces I’ve already made or bought. It really is very versatile and I look forward to wearing it many different ways!