Thursday, 22 January 2015

Navy swallow shell top with narrow hem

I had a tiny piece (60cm x 112cm) of swallow print polyester fabric in my stash, picked up for £2.40 from the John Lewis remnant bin. I've been meaning to make this into a little shell top, and with my recent "diversion" to knit fabrics, I fancied a quick woven project in familiar territory. As someone who really enjoys learning new tips and skills, however, I took this opportunity to try out a new technique - using a narrow hem foot. 

I used New Look 6483, which I have used once previously for the Crazy about Coral top. Unfortunately the shoulders on that top was a little narrow in the end, resulting in a unsightly permanent line across the shoulder, and with the spirit outlined here, also resulted in it ending up in a charity shop. That doesn't stop the pattern from being a good one, though, and this time I made view E in the graded down 2 again. 

I shortened the pattern by quite a bit, to allow for the narrow hem as opposed to the 5/8 hem as called for by the pattern. the other thing I tweaked was to remove the centre back seam, the back button closure, and the side slits. I wanted a simple shell top, with minimal break in the fabric pattern.     
I explored to find the right balance of tension and stitch length for the delicate fabric with my new machine (which I'm yet to introduce to you, or give it a name, but it is a complete delight to work with and we are getting on very well indeed). And the result? Not a pucker in sight! 

As I had very limited fabric, I finished off the neckline and armholes with a Liberty lawn bias binding using this method, and omitted the facing. You probably know by now that this is my go-to method, but I just want to say again that it's wonderfully useful for delicate fabrics like this one. 
Here's this little number inside out. You know, I'm so tempted to wear it this way - I love the subtlety of the blue on this side, and of course the Liberty bias tape. 
Now the narrow hem foot. It took a little practice, but I'm liking the lovely wavy hem. I found this post really helpful when figuring out how to use this little gadget, but honestly if I can figure it out, so can anybody :)

I'm happy to add the narrow hem foot to my family of very useful and much treasured machine attachments. I've always been amazed by how these little attachments work wonders and how much of a difference it makes -- you may remember my first encounter with the overcasting foot (much used until I got my overlocker), my excitement over the gathering foot and the button sewing foot, and my recent discovery over the walking foot. If I had to pick a favourite, at this point in time I would say it's got to be the walking foot - it has transformed my sewing completely and lowered my blood pressure significantly (who knew that "top-layer creepage" was so easy to avoid!), and I constantly find myself reaching for it. The real question is, why did I choose to torture myself for so long before buying one? 

How about you? Do you have a favourite sewing foot for your machine that you wish you bought years ago? Or a recent discovery of a new gadget? 

14 comments:

  1. This is so cute! It always feels like a complete triumph to squeeze a garment out of a small piece of fabric! For me, my favorite foot has to be my 1/8" compensating foot... it makes my topstitching perfect!

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    1. Thank you! I love when you move about the pattern pieces to make them fit on a tiny piece of fabric, and are left with little bits of scrap afterwards. Great efficiency ;)

      Woo I'm off to check on what a 1/8 compensating foot is! Thanks for the tip!

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  2. I got my walking foot about 6 months ago and I can't believe how I lived without it. I thought it was only for quilters (I had just started quilting), but when I used it for garments, MIND BLOWN! I really should try more feet.

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    1. Yes a walking foot is fab, isn't it! Hope you are enjoying your new quilting adventures!

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  3. Lovely. Love the new blog name and cards. Fab.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, as always!

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  4. I ought to try more feet, I have several it's just a matter of using them. . .

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    1. Yes do try them! You won't regret it :)

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  5. I love to finish with bias tape -- so much quicker than a facing. Very pretty top!

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    1. Thank you Annie! Yes, me too. Facing is great (and necessary) sometimes, but most of the time I find it much better/easier/quicker/less bulky with bias tape :)

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  6. Hi, just come across your blog via a Google search for this top pattern. It looks amazing on you and I love the fabric you've chosen! I want to make the same top (I'm a newbie sewer and have only made a couple of skirts so far, so this is my first top). I'm usually a UK size 8/10, but according to the measurements on the back of the packet I need to make a size 14 (I'm bust 36", waist 28", hips 37"), which is fine. However, I've just cut out the four pieces, and on the front panel where the dart markings are it says that a size 14 bust is 40", so it's a bit contradictory! According to the dart markings a size 10 dart is a 36 1/2" bust, sooooooooo do you think I should use the 10 dart instead of the 14, but still stick to the size 14 overall? Or should I use a smaller size overall? It's a bit confusing for this novice, and I'd really appreciate your feedback. Thanks so much. Jo x
    (Incidentally, I followed the size charts for the skirts I've made, and they've all turned out huge, so I've had to take them in! All good practice, I guess!)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, and also your kind words.

      On the sizing issue, the first thing I would say is that I generally use my "high bust" measurements to compare to the sizing chart. In case it would be of help, here is an article that I think explains choosing the right size pretty well: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4964/choose-the-correct-pattern-size/page/all

      Regarding the sizing on the dart -- I believe these are the sizes of the finished garments. There is a big difference between the ones on the envelop and these due to both "design ease" (i.e. is it designed to be a tightly fitted or loosely fitted top?) and "wearing ease" (for comfort, so you will always need some of this even if the design ease is minimal). To answer your question, I would stick with the size 14 dart, and don't let the sizes next to the dart confuse you. However, do measure round (and perhaps measure some of your ready to wear tops) to see whether the size of the finished garment for size 14 might fit you.

      In my experience, as I like things that fit closely (i.e. I prefer small design ease), in addition to using my high bust measurement against pattern bust sizes, I would tend to still cut smaller sizes depending on the pattern. Generally speaking I have found Simplicity to be more true to size for me, with New Look and McCalls running much larger. This is just a generalisation though and the only real way to get the fit right is through trial and error...

      I hope this helps and sorry for rambling on!

      Good luck with your top! Looking forward to seeing your version!

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  7. Im with you on the walking foot. It's been the default in my machine since I got it. The other thing I love is the straight stitch cover plate. I got a machine from the 70's and was amazed at how much better it made my straight stitch. I didnt even know they existed until I got an older machine!
    Love your blog, came here from burdastyle, upon checking the construction of the neckline in the pattern instructions, I knew I wanted to do different... thanks for the clear explanation and pictures.

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    1. ooops, was talking about the lottie pattern neckline pics and explanation.... forgot to mention

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