I've been going through my patterns in preparation for moving, sorting them and trying to figure out which I should donate because I'm unlikely to ever make them, wondering why I ever bought some others, and remembering how much I want to make a Sewaholic Cambie. In the process I came across the very first sewing pattern I ever bought: New Look 6939. At the time, I fell in love with the ruffled sleeves and the lack of darts, but somehow I hadn't sewn it or even cut the pattern pieces in the three years that it's been in my stash. I do remember that when I first opened up the instructions, I was intimidated by the underarm gussets, talk of understitching and slipstitching and finishing with bias tape, and so I promptly folded it back up and forgot about it...
After all my historical sewing and other random projects, I was looking for an easy, modern top pattern to use with this floral rayon challis that I had in my stash, and NL6939 fit the bill. Of course, I was also slightly swayed by the fact that View C is illustrated in a floral print that's very similar to mine. It's a testimony to how far I've come that when I reread the directions yesterday, they seemed so easy and understandable! Cutting and sewing this top was fairly smooth sailing, minus a tiny bit of panic about fitting all my pattern pieces onto my available fabric. The pattern envelope calls for 1.125 yards of 60" fabric, while I only had 1 yard of 54" fabric. I ended up merging the underarm gussets with the main pattern pieces and scrapping my plans for making self-fabric bias tape; I don't think I've ever had so little fabric left at the end of a project.
|I've mentioned before that I am loving tops that cover the butt.|
|See? Covered! I also added a tiny reverse box pleat in the back to bring in some of the excess fabric. The back yoke is very, very wide; I will probably take some out of the center next time.|
|A better look at the swoop in the hem.|
Besides understanding the instructions after three years of sewing experience, I was also able to make more educated decisions about fabric choice and appropriate techniques. Had I gone ahead and made this back when I bought the pattern, I probably would've chosen some slinky poly-charmeuse like the model photo, and then been frustrated with the slipping and fraying and difficulty pressing. I would've made up a too-large size 12 because that's what my measurements dictated, and I wouldn't have known what it meant when the pattern said there was an ease of seven inches (!!!). I wouldn't have known about French seams, interfacing, or had experience with making neat bias tape finishes. It would probably have taken me over a week, and resulted in a poorly made top full of bad memories. I'm glad I waited on this pattern (although I probably could've just waited a year and half), because now I know to use rayon challis as a compromise between drape and ease of sewing, I know about the ridiculous amounts of ease in Big 4 patterns and can size down/modify as necessary, I'm a pro at French seaming and narrow hems, and I'm a recent convert to quality interfacing. So, it only took three years, but now I have a cute top that was exactly what I envisioned, that I love and can be proud of.
|I look so smug and self-satisfied.|
|The insides are pretty too -- all raw edges enclosed!|
Fabric: 1 yard of 54" floral rayon challis from the stash, originally purchased a year and a half ago from SAS Fabrics in Hawthorne.
Notions: Rayon bias tape for the armhole finishing, also from the stash
Hours: Three (plus the additional 26,280 hours of incubation time!)
Will you make it again? I'd like to actually try the ruffle sleeves that attracted me to this pattern in the first place!
Total cost: $3
Final thoughts: This is a great top for summer -- nice and breezy, breathable, plus it's got the trendy high-low hem thing going on (without going overboard, like in this ridiculous RTW example). Since it's sleeveless, it'll be easy to transition into the fall with a cardigan. That's cake in my book!
|Actually, now that I look at these pictures, I realize that the front yoke is really wide too...more modifications for next time!|
Even though I've really enjoyed all the historical sewing I've been doing, it's been really lovely to sit down and whip up a modern top where I don't have to apologize for not sewing by hand, and I can work all the way through from start to finish without having to stop and research some more about where a seam is supposed to fall or where trim would make the most sense. And of course, it's nice to actually sew up my first pattern purchase!
Fellow sewasauruses, what was the first pattern you ever purchased, and did you use it right away? How was that experience for you? Does anyone else have a too-difficult first pattern purchase that they've been saving for some nebulous future date?