Note: I finished this garment January 1st 2012. Yep, over a year ago. But this post sat around waiting for pictures. Then I had photos taken in June 2012, by the wonderful Sarah. Yep, 9 months ago. Then this post sat around waiting for me to upload the photos. And then kind of got forgotten. So for my amusement if not yours, here it is…
Pattern: Butterick 4988
Fabric: teal blue crinkle stretchy synthetic something
Made when: October 2011 – January 2012
Techniques used: princess seams, experimenting with the mock overlocking stitches on Mum’s fancy sewing machine, crying and coughing until Mum fixed my mistakes
Alterations made: shortened the straps; interfaced the straps; and lengthened the button placket to be the same length as the top.
Wearing history: not worn much yet (EDIT: not worn much since)
Likeability: love the colour and shape so much!
What I learned: do not sew while sick
It is a miracle that this top exists and is vaguely wearable, as it has been nothing short of a tale of woe.
This top was one of two garments I started in October 2011 as part of my ill-fated holiday at mums. The other was my leopard print circle skirt, yet to be blogged (EDIT: still yet to be blogged).
I really wanted this top to fit me well. I really wanted this top to be made well. Although it doesn’t quite hit the score on either count, given its story of creation, I am just pleased it exists.
I started this during what was meant to be a crafting holiday with my wonderful Mum. I had great plans – I had two weeks to spend at her place, I’d packed my suitcase full of patterns and fabric (with a small corner left for my clothes and toothbrush), and we were going to sew up a storm.
I’d been (successfully, I thought) fighting off a cold over the couple of weeks before my flight to Auckland. The day before my flight I was feeling great! The day of my flight I woke up feeling a bit rubbish. I determinedly ignored it and took my fabric- and pattern-laden luggage to the airport. But by the time my plane landed an hour later I knew I was going to have a doozy of a head cold. And I woke up the following morning with that head cold which rapidly became bronchitis. I spent the rest of my holiday coughing, panting, wheezing, and living off a great assortment of drugs.
But I was determined I was going to sew damn it. Oxygen be damned!
Note to self. Do not sew when you are oxygen deprived. The bronchitis messed with my brain. I couldn’t think. I got puffed while sewing. I had to keep having a lie down so I could function. And I stuffed up my sewing constantly.
I started by making a mock-up out of a sheet. I successfully cut the pieces, but damned if I could get the first princess seam to fit together. Why was there so much ease on one piece? Why was the shape so off? Mum eventually took over and figured out that I had reversed one piece so was sewing the right side of one to the wrong side of the other, and therefore the princess seam on one to the centre front on the other. She fixed it, whipped it through, and ta-dah! But that was just the start…
I finished the mock-up, making more mistakes along the way. Once it was done, I threw it on. Satisfied with the fit as it stood, I cut the top and got started. But I stuffed up another two seams the same way as I had on the mock-up. I had to unpick one button placket because I forgot to interface it. Then I discovered I’d made the two plackets different lengths. I cut two straps the same so had to recut one strap. Mum and I spent about 6 hours trying to get the shoulder straps to sit right because although I did a mock-up, I didn’t include the strap and they were too wide set for my frame. We spent ages pinning then basting then adjusting to try to get them to sit nicely. Of course, that included the time I spent basting the straps on only to discover I’d put them on back to front. I think I did that twice.
Every seam has been undone and redone multiple times.
While this was happening, every half an hour or so I’d get too puffed from coughing while hunched over the sewing machine and would have to go and lie down and have another shot of ventolin, my wonder drug of choice. And then when I returned to my sewing I’d discover another mistake I’d made.
Really, I should have given up on day one and stuck with surfing the net and coughing on the couch and watching Mum sew. But it was my sewing holiday goramit! I WAS GOING TO SEW
So with Mum’s help through the tears and the mistakes and the brain fog and the trips to the doctor and the pharmacy I persevered and got most of it done. I bagged it in the UFO pile until my Christmas holiday, when I took it back to Mum’s and hemmed it and added my pretty flower buttons. And just like that, it was done! And it was made nicely! And the fit seems mostly ok! Yeah!
I’ve noticed two trends in the blogosphere for referencing garments. The first is the practical, named by style or colour or pattern. “My Mcalls 1234 dress” “My pink and black skirt” “The scalloped blouse.” Then there are those who name their garments with something a bit more creative – “The Daisy Goes Wild dress” – “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon pants.”
Me, I refer to most of my garments the first way. There are posts for my “pink polka dot skirt” and “The skull and roses dress”. But although this top should probably be called my “blue sleeveless top,” I am branching out and calling it my Triumph Over Adversity top. I am just so pleased to have got through the struggles and have this to show for it!
And that’s the post. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t end well though. After wearing it only once or twice I realised thatthe fit issues were worse than I first thought. Although it’s meant to be fitted blouse I could pull it on and off without undoing the buttons. The straps STILL don’t sit right and annoy me immensely. In my attempts to make the straps sit well I think the top got hoiked up too high under my arms and it rubs just a fraction too much. Despite lengthening the button placket and checking the overall length it untucks when I wear it tucked in and shows my belly button when I wear it untucked. But I was determined that my perseverance would not be in vain and that I would wear it! And OH I love the colour!
But the last time I wore it I had it on for about 10 minutes before I took it off in anger and shoved it in the rejects pile. No more. It may be a triumph over adversity that it is constructed, but is not a triumph in fit.
I think that the crinkle in the fabric has relaxed, making it looser. I suspect the fabric has stretched across the centre back from being worn un-faced (and un stay-stitched) for hours while Mum and I futzed with the straps. I think that my mock-up wasn’t really examined well enough to identify if it actually fit me properly. And I think a series of stitching errors just combined to make it just not fit right.
Its fate is yet to be decided. At the most ambitious, I’ll take off the facing, add a centre back seam to reduce the back width, and try to get the strap placement more effective again. Most likely I’ll harvest the buttons and add the fabric to my craft scraps box.
My triumph over adversity is short-lived. I am defeated. Now, it is just the Adversity top.
Luckily, my other make from the same period (the leopard print skirt), while as plagued with issues, is a fabulous garment that I’ve worn and worn and worn. Yay! And that happy story will come soon.
Tell me, have you ever had a garment that you’ve laboured over and cried over and then, after it was done, STILL had to abandon? Do you have any ideas for resurrecting this top that you’d like to share?