Sunday, August 16, 2015

Asymmetric Hole-y Top - McCalls 7194


A month or so ago I acquired a fabulous fabric from Marcy Tilton. This novelty fabric, made from polyester and spandex if I recall, contains almost more holes than fabric:

Marcy had the fabric in two colorways: black and bone, or navy and bone. Mine is the black and bone.

Once the fabric arrived, I was in a bit of a quandary.

What to do with it?

Dither, dither, dither...

I had an idea on how I wanted to use it, but I didn't have a pattern that had the lines I wanted. I spent some time altering a pattern to fit my vision.

A niggling voice made me doubt myself, so I abandoned that idea.

I then remembered a high-end boutique cardigan I purchased maybe 6 years ago. I've always wanted to trace it off and I thought it might be very interesting made up in this fabric, so I spent some time tracing it off.

I thought better of it, so I put the tracing away...

I then decided that I wanted to use a new-ish McCalls pattern, but I didn't own it. I had to wait for a sale to order it.

By the time it arrived, I had my doubts. I decided to mull it over a bit longer...

I saw another Butterick pattern and thought, that one might work! But I didn't own that one, either.

It was then that I decided that enough was enough!

I forged ahead with the McCalls pattern, which, by the way, was almost identical to the first pattern that I altered.

See, after playing with the fabric, I decided that I wanted to use it on the bias. Not on the true bias, but on a bias angle. (True bias is 45°.) I wanted an angled, asymmetric hem, and I wanted to put the hem of the top directly on the selvedge of the fabric. So a 45° angle would have created a hemline that was too angled.

The pattern that I ended up using, McCalls 7194, view C, had almost all of the features that I wanted. The features that it didn't have were easy to change.

Alterations and Modifications

  • I didn't want to do an FBA in this fabric, and this pattern is described as "close fitting", so I had to size up substantially so that there would be enough fabric to go around my bust. I cut an XXL (24-26), instead of my usual L (16-18). The finished bust measurement for the XXL is 49". My full bust is 45", but the fabric is less stretchy on the bias, so I wanted some extra room.
  • I omitted the cowl collar and finished the neckline with a doubled knit binding. I cut a 3" wide cross-grain strip of black stretch jersey (which I think contains some wool). I folded it to 1-1/2" and stitched the raw edges to the front with a 3/8" seam allowance. I then folded the doubled edge to the back of the neckline and hand stitched it in place, encasing the raw edges. I like the chunky 4-layer binding that resulted. It makes for a nice juxtaposition with the airy fabric. I didn't otherwise change the shape of the neckline.
  • I omitted the contrast band at the hem.
  • I wanted a hem with more of an angle, so I added 5" to the long side of the hem, tapered to nothing on the short side.
  • As mentioned, I cut the angled front and back, and the straight-of-grain sleeves, so that all hems were directly on the selvedge. As a result, I left the hems "raw".
  • I spent considerable time finessing the fit of the side seams. I tapered in about 4" at the waist (1" at each s/s) and I tapered the hip on the short side seam.
  • I narrowed the shoulders by 1". (Typical for me.)
  • The pattern comes with two sleeve lengths. I used the shorter length, but the finished sleeve is almost full length on me, so the longer length is long indeed.
After taking these pics, I felt ready to go clubbing. Except it was 9am on a Sunday, so instead I went to the grocery store.

Awwwwww, it's a kitty kat watch!

Late breaking addition!

Several comments asked how I handled sewing the hole-y fabric. For example, here is Martha's query:

Great job! And it looks terrific on you. How did you handle the side seams? Recently I made a shrug for my granddaughter out of a very open weave fabric, similar to this. It wanted to ravel away where ever I cut it. I hand-bound the edges but kept thinking there had to be a better way. So I am anxious to know how you handled this.

I should have addressed this before. Marcy said the following when selling the fabric. (Thanks to Margy for this visual record!)

I do have some Totally Stable, but I decided that I would first see how it worked to just sew it up. It just so happens that I have this in-process pic, which I posted to Instagram while at the machine.

As you can see, I sewed the seams using my conventional machine. I found that I could sew the fabric without any stabilizer. It did not ravel - the open holes don't ravel. I did find that it helped to sew the seams slowly as the top thread on the machine broke several times when I didn't slow down. I'm not sure if the breaking thread was due to the open areas, or due to a slight tough ridge around the open holes, or something else. I did not pull or tug the fabric through the machine.

After sewing, I pressed the seams open and then serged them. Here is a close up of a finished seam, where you can see the thread of the sewing machine inside two of the holes. You can also see the selvedge at the wrist which folds back on itself, just a bit. If this becomes an issue over time, I will machine sew it.

Thanks for your feedback and comments!

63 comments:

  1. Very creative and neatly finished. I really like it!

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  2. It was worth the wait. How creative.

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  3. Such a lovely interesting fabric and your design choices have worked so well. Its great!

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  4. What fabulous fabric! Perfect pattern to showcase in the end.

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  5. Beautiful Shams! Great fabric, love it cut on the bias. Interesting your pattern dilemma - I'm trying to cut down on patterns and use what I have -- it's always so tempting to order something new but so many we have already can be redesigned into what we want!

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    1. Thanks, Fran! I do understand the temptation to downsize! There are definitely patterns that I pass by if they are too similar to what I already own, but those BMV sales are pretty tempting. ;)

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  6. Clever of you to use the selvedge as the hems and a perfect neckband. So much thought and planning went into this garment and it shows...a real designer piece to draw in compliments! The color will certainly compliment any black pieces you already have and love! The shadow photo is cool too. Great job, once again!

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    1. Thanks, Mrs Mole! Most every garment I make involves lots of dithering!

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  7. Very cool. Great use of this fabric. Beautiful.

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  8. Great job! And it looks terrific on you. How did you handle the side seams? Recently I made a shrug for my granddaughter out of a very open weave fabric, similar to this. It wanted to ravel away where ever I cut it. I hand-bound the edges but kept thinking there had to be a better way. So I am anxious to know how you handled this.

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    1. Hey, Martha! Your fabric sounds harder to handle than mine. In any case, I've added a section above that should answer your questions. Please let me know if you would like further clarification!

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    2. Thanks, Shams. I really appreciate the update. Yes, I can see where your fabric is quite different from mine. It is still so interesting that sewing through the *holes* worked out. And good to know about the stabilizer option from Marcy's web site.

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  9. this looks smashing on you and would be a great winter look for me. We do have a few chilly days here. Still warmer than in SF in summer!
    As usual a creative and interesting review.

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    1. Thanks, Susan! We just had a very rare hot spell where I hid inside and sewed, with my fan nearby. But today we are back to foggy and cold. I like it! :)

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  10. That is fantastic, and I love the fabric. I never would have known what to do with it!

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    1. Thanks, duck bucket! I tend to like a challenge, even when it makes me crazy sometimes.

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  11. Using the fabric on an angle is brilliant! Perfect pattern adaptation for a fantastic, although challenging, fabric. Definitely worth the dithers...

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  12. That fabric may have intimidated many but your rendition is elegant. Like Martha, I'd like to know how you handled the side seams, and armhole seams, for that matter.

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    1. Thanks, Carol! I have added an addendum to the post with more info on sewing the seams.

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  13. The grocery store is kind of like a club. . . and from now on I am going to consider how my clothes look as shadows before I commit to anything! What a fab look!

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    1. LOL, Claire! Actually, some weeks ago I also took shadow pictures of the perforated pleather skirt I made. I was walking home in the late afternoon and enjoying the patterns on the sidewalk through my skirt. But then I've always loved shadow pics!

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  14. wow that is a perfect use for that fabric, and you look great.

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  15. Stunning! Your vision is so clear and right.

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    1. Thanks, Glenda! I'm glad you think my vision is clear, but it doesn't feel that way on this side of things. I'm a major ditherer!

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  16. Love it! And I, too, am wondering how you sewed the side, shoulder and armscye seams without leaving gaps where the holes met the seamlines. Please tell!

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    1. Thanks, Margot! I added an addendum to the post. Let me know if you have further questions!

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  17. I love the pairing of the fabric and pattern. Thanks for such a clear explanation of your design and construction choices.

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    1. Thanks, badmomgoodmom! My middle name should have been Dither. ;)

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  18. You look marvelous! I love the top and the creative way you used the fabric. Brava!

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  19. Love that top!!! And the watch is adorable, too. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ann! That watch was surprisingly hard to photograph. ;)

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  20. What a cool top! You look great.
    I like the watch also. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like it doesn't have anything to show where the numbers are located on the face. I use to have a watch that only had the hands on it. You can not believe the number of people who asked me how I told the time!
    Always enjoy the blog. It is so much fun to see what you are creating!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! No, this watch has no number on it and I can tell time without hands. But let me tell you a secret. I wear watches as jewelry. I don't bother about using them to tell time. Many of them don't even work. :)

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    2. Find so many interesting, great-looking watches that don't work----have always passed them by, until now!!! thanks.

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    3. LOL! Yup, who cares if they work! I have a cell phone for that. ;)

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  21. On break on a long (over) 12 hr day reading, ' ready to go clubbing...' and spitting out my energy bar. Thank you for the chuckle snort.

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    1. :) Thanks, Kathy! Don't choke on that energy bar!

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  22. Great top. I do the same when using a special piece of fabric and anymore I just try to buy special fabric. Back and forth over pattern decisions! I have a question about your shoes. How are they to walk in? Are they stable?

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    1. Hey, Denise, I think buying only special fabrics is a great plan! I do try to be more discerning than I used to be, but my stash is deep. :) These Trippens are COMPLETELY comfy and stable. I can ride a bike in them. I can run. I can drive a car.

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  23. Love the fabric, looks wonderful on you--very flattering!(love shoes and watch too)
    Love reading your blog, informative and enjoyable reading.

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    1. Thanks, Jean! What a kind comment.

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  24. Shams, I love that you share all the things you consider when choosing an appropriate pattern especially when working with such a unique fabric. Placing your fabric on a near bias gave such visual interest. I acquired a similar fabric many years ago in 100% cotton and made a swimsuit coverup. I did have a little trouble sewing finishing the seams and used some 'seams great' as I didn't have a serger at the time. Thanks for your tip as I may use it later. Karen

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    1. Thanks, Karen! I don't always share my dithering process, but I'm glad people find it interesting. :)

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  25. I'm so copying this! I gotta find a new style for work and this works...so when you look up and see me looking like you that's because this is a dayum fine top! Dayum fine!

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    1. I consider this to be a HIGH compliment, my friend! THANKS!

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  26. Love this top! I thought it was Marcy's 9057 top at first glance, but clearly is more involved. Just fabulous. You look great too!

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! I considered many patterns, including that one, I think.

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  27. That is a seriously gorgeous top made from a slightly scary fabric! It was worth the extra thought you clearly put into it. And I love that kitty watch 😃

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  28. Love it! This is a wonderful top and so versatile. You've styled it really nicely, as always.

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  29. This piece is absolutely the bomb!!! Perfect fabric and love how you
    worked with it. Also you wear it well - extremely flattering.
    Thanks for sharing...
    Lurker from NV

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  30. Hi, I know you from IG, but I think this is my first time visiting here! Just wanted to say I adore this top! :)

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  31. Thanks for the instructions. We are 50 something but fabulous, love, love your boots. You go girl!!!

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    1. Thaks, Denise! And, yes, we are over 50 but fabulous! At work yesterday, a young colleague described 65 as "elderly" and I corrected her, but fast. :)

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