*I have no actual proof of this. There has been no rigorous scientific testing (or indeed, any testing of any kind, scientific, rigorous, or other). But I’d like to posit that this ranks pretty highly.
Because I finished it in 2014.
And I started it in 2002. Give or take a year. I figure I can be vague on the details when it is more than a decade old.
This top was part of the transition from Making-Mum-Sew-For-Me to What-Do-You-Mean-I-Have-To-Do-It-Myself??? that occurred around the turn of the century, when my mum finally cottoned on to my devious undertakings. As such, I still hadn’t figured out a bunch of the finer details, such as the fact that the size on the envelope bears no relation to either (a) the size in your RTW or (b) the measurements the envelope suggests go with that size. I cut it, sewed it, discovered it was far too small, and shelved it pending a solution.
I also made this before my natural-fibre-snobbery had taken hold, and the fabric is a highly synthetic, very stretchy woven with a metallic sheen and a slightly plastic touch. The Arthur Toye of last decade sold it as Technostretch. My then-favourite RTW shop sold lots of pencil skirts and fitted tops and jackets in this stuff, and I was enamoured by it, so I coveted all the colours when I found it in Arthur Toye and finally bought this dark blue, shot with black.
When I moved to Wellington in 2003, this came too, and continued to languish in the corner while I fumbled around teaching myself things. Finally, in about 2005, I started going to weekly sewing group, which was amazing! It was a small group, and was not quite a sewing class. Each person made their own projects in their own way, but the teacher would provide advice, guidance, bail you out off difficulty, and provide some specialist tools. I decided to exploit her knowledge and asked her to help me fix this top. I dug it out and we had a look at it.
I used Vogue 7234 because I loved the panelling and princess seam details. The panelled nature of the top was my saving grace. I picked it all apart, and reconstructed it using 0.5cm seam allowances, and miraculously it fit! The suuuuper stretchiness was my other saving grace (are you allowed two? I’m having tw0). It’s a very forgiving fabric and this helps get the fit just right, without mock-up or adjustments (other than seam allowance). So between the changes it fit and I was stoked!
But… something still wasn’t right. The underarms gaped. So we shortened the straps slightly. They still gaped. We shortened. They gaped. Shortened. By now there was no more left to shorten and it still gaped, so I abandoned it to my sewing cupboard, thinking I’d figure it out one day.
I was privileged to meet MrsC and co-adopt each other in 2008. At some stage over the next year or two it occurred to me to ask Maryanne for her ideas on the technostretch top. Like the guru she is, she told me how to fix it! The top is faced with narrow binding and this had stretched a bit. So I laboriously unpicked the binding and used her magical tape technique to stabilise the underarms. Tadah! It was now sitting great!
This highlighted to me the benefit of having lots of sewing mentors; and the difference experience makes. My teacher was a very experienced RTW machinist and taught at a fashion institute. She told stories of how when she started she had to sew 40 collars, 40 cuffs, 40 plackets, etc etc, and get them all perfect before she was allowed to start assembling garments. But as a RTW machinist, she’d never really had to worry about fit. MrsC on the other hand had garnered her experience from, amongst other things, theatre and custom bridal, where every garment is made to fit someone. She has all the tricks to making one garment conform to its matching body.
The downside of solving the underarm gape was that I realised the strap shortening meant the underarm binding now sat right up in my pits, slowly rubbing and driving me crazy. ARGH! Luckily one of the things I was taught a long time ago is never to throw out your scraps until a garment is completed (and I tend to hold onto them even longer than that). I had no scraps long enough to cut new straps BUT I did have one actual strap I’d made and left scorch marks on when pressing! I’d also recently bought some rectangular rings** for bag making wit mum, and I realised that that was the solution! But the rings were at Mum’s in Auckland, and she didn’t know where they were. And I forgot to dig them out when I was next at her place. And forgot the time after that. And forgot and forgot etc etc yadah yadah yadah.
Finally, she found them and posted them to me! Yay! Of course, I then lost them for at least six months. And then sat on the project awaiting motivation for another, oh I don’t know, year, or two, or three.
And then about March I finally dragged the top out, unpicked the two straps at the front, sliced off the scorched part of my surplus strap, sliced the remnant in half and inserted the halves. Then I figured out where the rings go, cut off the surplus, stitched them in place, and WHOLLY FREAKING MOLY I FINISHED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Of course, I then realised that the scorched strap was ever so slightly wider than the new two. And the straps are fractionally too long now. And it doesn’t quiiiiite have enough room for my ass so it rides up a bit at the back.
Don’t care. DON’T CARE. It is done and I love it. Now I just need summer to get here so I can wear it on days that aren’t freak weather anomalies! (Who am i kidding. It’s Wellington – I’ll need freak weather anomalies during summer too!)
**I am aware that by their very nature rectangular rings can’t be rings. But I don’t know what else to call them!