Friday, July 11, 2014

Jersey and lace top

For my summer wardrobe, I needed to get back to basics. I don't have enough tops that I like, especially comfy knit ones I would like to wear all day. At the same time, my fabric stash was giving me a bad conscience; you know with the old ones glaring at you every time you come home with something new and pretty. I pulled out a leftover piece of red viscose jersey that I had just enough of and bought some red polyester lace to go with it.

And here comes a first for me - a RTW knock-off! I took one of my favorite RTW tops and traced around the edges of both the front and back pieces. I wasn't too meticulous, but I checked that my shoulder and side seams were the same length for both pieces. I cut both the front and back pieces on the fold.

My inspiration. The lace is so cute!
Now that I look at this picture I realize that the original top has some gathering at the center front.
Whoops, that might explain why my knock-off turned ot too snug.

Next I decided how low I wanted my lace to go. I measured where my bra was, both at the front and back, and drew the seam line accordingly. As long as I get to decide, I won't be flashing any underwear.

I then cut both the front and back pattern pieces into two separate pieces along the lines I drew. This seam doesn't include seam allowance, so I made a note on the pattern pieces so that I would remember to add it when I cut the fabric. 

When adding any kind of seam that begins at the arm scythe, whether it's a princess seam or a vertical seam like mine, take a minute to check how the positioning of the seams look from the side. I think a safe way to go is to try and match the seams so that they are at the same height. You can position the seams just the way you like though, just be aware of the side view as well. 

I found the original RTW top a bit snug, so I wanted a bit more ease. I did this by shifting the front pattern piece 1 cm away from the folded edge of the fabric at the hemline. This way I got two more centimeters at the front hemline, but the vertical seam at the top stayed the same length. The result wouldn't have been exactly the same if I would have added the extra ease to the side seams instead of the centre. My alteration however was so small, that you probably couldn't tell the difference. It also depends on the drape of the fabric. I did no alterations to the fit of the back piece.

Then on to sewing. It wasn't easy. I don't sew knits a lot, and this viscose was slippery as... I used a lot of pins to match the edges of the jersey and the lace. Be aware of this if you draw a curvy line -the matching is... challenging. Of course I was lazy and went straight on to sewing all the seams with my serger -which means that there's no room for error. Even as I was sitting at my sewing table I was asking myself: why do you do this?! At least baste the goddamn pieces together! But no, rational thinking has nothing to do with sewing sometimes.

I was apprehensive of the finishing of the neckline and arm scythes. I decided to take the easy way out and turned my 1,5 cm seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric, steamed it into place and stitched it down with a double needle. I'm not a big fan of the double needle, I'm usually not pleased with the way it turns out, but this time the stitching looked better than I expected. Surprisingly, the lace was very co-operative, but the jersey just pulls in all kinds of directions. I already gave it a good steaming, which helped, but I'm hoping that it will settle completely when I wash it.  

As always, I tried to cut too many corners. I tried to do the stitching without pressing the seam allowance to the wrong side first. Major error -no time won there. I also -which upsets me even more- had to admit that my mom was right all the time: you shouldn't backstitch with a double needle. The backstitching under the arm ripped in no time, apparently the backstitches aren't elastic enough. Tying the threads together from now on then...

The top turned out okay. I like the red lace, despite the risk of it looking christmasy (as my dear sister pointed out). It's too snug for my taste though, and I have no idea where the extra ease in the front disappeared. Is it the viscose that makes the jersey cling to my stomach for dear life?

I have already plans for another one, and again the knit is from my stash! Next time I'll make some further alterations to my knock-off -pattern:

- Check the shape of the arm scythe, the angle at the side seam is too sharp
- Remove 1 cm at the centre back fold at the neck line. Didn't notice this problem with the RTW top, but my lace is heavier and that causes it to stand out
- Don't like the shape of the front neck line
- I ended up taking 2 cm off the length
- Oh, yeah, and remember to avoid viscose jersey like the plague

There you have it folks. Have you had any difficulties when copying a RTW garment? Any tips and tricks to share?

PS. This is my first make for the Summer Stashbust 2014, yay! Thank you Sally for looking after all of us sewists out there who don't have the will-power to stay away from fabric stores. My wallet salutes you! 


  1. despite all the challenges, i think this top turned out lovely! i really like how the lace meets the jersey in a nice swooping curve

  2. This is so cute!!! Great job at copying and great tips for anyone else who wants to try it. You made me laugh talking about stash fabric...I knew there was a reason I couldn't make eye contact whenever I brought in something new!

    Also...viscose or rayon jersey is so. annoying. It feels sooooo soft but it's such a pain. And I sew exactly like you, all crazy with my serger and then ask myself why I didn't baste.

    1. It's good to know that I'm not alone with my problems with viscose jersey, or my desire to put everything together as fast as possible with my serger :D

  3. I love that red colour so no matter how difficult it might have been to put together, I love it!

    1. Thank you, it makes me feel like it was all worth it :) The viscose was a left-over piece from a cardigan, and I sure love the red color too!

  4. I do like the lace yoke! I think you should revisit this, try it again with the gathers. I sure love wearing viscose jersey but boy do I hate sewing it. It's a difficult fabric to work with.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I have already made a second version (coming up next week), but maybe I'll have to try the gathers with a third version :) And yeah, me and viscose jersey sure are on a break for now...