Monday, June 6, 2016

Draped/cowl Necklines and perfecting armholes! Summer Sewing

Last month we had a couple days of quite warm weather for spring in Chicago. As I went to grab for some of my warm weather clothes I quickly realized that my supply of well fitting clothes were rapidly dwindling. I tried on a couple of tops and they were just swimming on me! A couple of them I decided that I could probably easily make adjustments too so they will fit. However, the majority were just too much work to try to redo. These went into the donate pile! (In fact I ended up going through my entire wardrobe and collecting quite a few garments to go to the donation center.)

I decided I need to make several new tops. I also needed to re-make a good TNT knit draped cowl neck top. I like having a drape necked top in my wardrobe. It adds a little interest and softness. The thing to be careful of is that depending on the knit fabric choice the drape can be quite different! 

Top #1
 I started with the knit snakeskin cotton/Lycra. 
This top started with some adjustments to the garment width to take into account my weight loss. I first made this up with no sleeves to see how well the armhole would fit on me. It needed some fairly good changes. From this muslin I made several changes to the pattern; scooped out the back armhole, added height to the lower armhole and flattened it out, as well as adding ever so slightly to the front armhole. 
Since I had the sleeves already cut out I decided to put them in to see how well they fit. The entire fit is okay. Good enough for a wearable muslin for the summer. You can see in the photos of me wearing it how the armhole is just not right.
A great summer top but changes were needed in the armhole!
To make the changes, I literally stand in front of the mirror with my small clear ruler and measure with top on with no sleeves in. I measure from the cut edge to where I think the armhole should be and make the changes to the pattern. Sometimes I will also place a couple of pins and/or masking tape to mark areas. This took me a while to feel comfortable doing this and feeling like what I was doing was correct. All I had to lose was my time and maybe a bit of frustration... Using muslins and making several mockups is such a valuable tool to try out changes.

Top #2
Once I made the changes to the pattern (which also included a change to the depth of the drape) , I cut out a second top from a fabric remnant to make a sleeveless version to really test out the armhole fit. I love how the changes worked out. This knit is a bit beefier, spongier and heavier so when the neckline was draped the double weight was pulling to low for me so I added the tucks to the upper neckline. Win-win for me!!! This make it work moment gives the neckline a lovely interesting design detail. I played with pinning up the fullness to see how much I would need to change and ended up liking how the tucks looked pinned in. 

This is the same bodice pattern pieces as top#1 but with the armhole changes. I really liked the changes but since I did not have enough fabric for sleeves this became a sleeveless summer top!

These 2 photos on the dress form show the tucked drapes on either side of the neckline.

Top #3 
This fabric is a very lightweight poly/Lycra knit from a 1 yard remnant.  Perfect bright and fun summer top.The last top I made was to make changes to the actual sleeve. I used Sarah Veblen's technique described in her book The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting to give the sleeve more room and shape yet still fit in the perfected armhole. For this sleeve I split it into 2 down the center line and then walked each pattern, marking the shoulder point and just added the amount of ease that I wanted. My first try resulted in a  seam that stuck out to much for the look I was going for. I flattened the outer seam curve quite a bit to make it fit nicely. The second try on the sleeve, which you can see here, is much better. Not quite perfect but much better. 

I am done with this pattern for a while. I will probably pull it back out in the fall to make several 3/4 and long sleeve versions and at that time I will perfect the 2 piece sleeve.
The armhole fit on this top is so much better than the first one! You can see in the pictures where the upper bust area meets the sleeve how much better it looks and feels.
Side by side comparison!

My Last draped garment is the Colette Myrtle

The last draped neckline garment I made was a Colette Myrtle dress. I wanted another easy knit dress pattern to add to my Appleton knit wrap dress pattern.
This is the same fabric as my first top above. A very soft, light-mid weight cotton/Lycra knit in a snakeskin print from my stash. 
This is a sleeveless dress and very easy to make with a cute shoulder sleeve detail.
Likes: the armhole fits well. The shoulder detail. Inseam pocket. The front bodice is a double layer. The elastic waist is cute and comfortable. Perfect length. ( I used the longer length) 
Dislikes: the draped neckline is slightly deep. I just have to be careful when bending over or reaching down to get something from a bag. I will change the pattern for the next time I make it.

Fun, comfortable, cute summer knit dress!
Shoulder detail. I put this on so that it could be used as not just a detail but also as a bra strap keeper!

Love the inseam pockets!

I have to be honest. I originally didn't like this dress too much. Not sure why, maybe I thought it was too simple and too casual. But, it has grown on me and I find myself reaching for it quite often! This dress will be great on its own when the weather gets very warm and with a cardigan for spring/fall weather.

With this dress addition, I am done with draped necklines for a while! time to play with some other styles. 

Happy Sewing!
Me, My daughter, Melissa and my granddaughter, Princess Victoria enjoying time together at the Morton Arboretum.

Happy Sewing!

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