I’ve made great friends through blogging, and always felt particularly connected to Canadian sewists. We’re such a huge country, but with a thin line of dense population right at the southern border. (Did you know that the whole population of Canada is smaller than Tokyo, the last place I lived?) The Canadian blog scene is small but mighty!
Which is why I suggested a plan to two of my online friends, Heather from The Pug and Needle/Heather and the Pugs and Margo from Creating in the Gap: Let’s get the same fabric and sew matching clothes!
It didn’t take us long to decide that our fabric should come from Blackbird Fabrics, which is undoubtably the most famous indie fabric shop in Canada. We asked Caroline if she would pick a mystery fabric for us, so it would be a surprise. Because she is awesome, she offered to send it to us for free – thanks, Caroline!
The fabric she picked is perfect for all three of us! It’s a rayon/poly doubleknit with a fuzzy sweater outer face, and a soft mesh inner face. It has about 30% stretch widthways, and is pretty stable vertically. It’s sold out already, but there are lots of other pretty things in stock.
So, what to make with special fabric? I wanted something that would get worn lots, but also something a bit unique. I got obsessed with the idea of this bow sweater, and voila! I made one!
Except of course, nothing is that easy, right? I used my TNT Tessuti Isla pattern, hacked to have a neckline facing and open keyhole at one shoulder. But when I first made it, I put a big hem band on and finished the sleeves with bands, and the whole thing was sloppy, bulky, and awkward to wear. Turns out, this pattern works really well with drapy four-way stretch materials, but the shaping isn’t right for a more stable knit!
See how the Isla pattern has a dramatic batwing shape? Well, in a stable knit, that underarm seam was too short to comfortably raise my arms, and the bodice was way too boxy. I thought about it overnight, then made the following changes:
- cut off the arm and hem bands, and did a folded hem instead
- cut down the length of the bow by half
- brought the underarm seam closer to the body
- narrowed the hips
In other words, this was a classic Gillian project! A good quarter of things I sew need some adjustments after the fact, and sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s frustrating! In the end, I like how the top turned out, and that’s what matters.
The fabric is so pretty, and fits right in with the muted colour scheme I’m adopting this winter. Watch this space for greyed-down versions of all my favourite colours! (Also, watch out for 2 more pairs of these RTW knit jeans, because I’m wearing these grey ones all the time, and I’m not in the mood to sew pants!)
Now here’s the requisite front/back/side collage, because I know it’s nice to see things from all angles:
Obviously, the signature part of this top is the bow on the shoulder, so let’s look at how I did that!
Step 1: Create a seam along the arm and add an inch of seam allowance. Sew the front and back together, stopping halfway. Sew the other sleeve normally.
Step 2: Attach a neckline facing. Attach the ties (long tubes turned and topstitched) to the facing and seam allowance.
Step 3: Topstitch from the wrist up the sleeve, around the neckline, and back down the sleeve. This finishes the seam allowance for the keyhole and holds the facing in place.
Step 4: Tie the bow before you put the top on! The only way I could get it to sit neat and flat was to tie a loose knot with the ties, then tie them into a bow with the “rabbit ear” method. Voila! All done!
I really enjoyed this project from start to finish. It was fun to be surprised with fabric, and equally fun to have a shared project to chat about with friends. Thanks again to Caroline for being so generous with the fabric! Heather and Margo are posting their projects today too, so head over to their blogs to see what they’ve made!
How do you hang out with your sewing friends online? Instagram chats, Facebook messenger, email, or blog comments? Are you lucky enough to have sewing friends nearby that you can meet often?