Desperately in search of a productive way to fill my spare time this is the project I came up with. I think its funny how I managed to entertain myself for months and the second I find a job, boredom strikes. I bought the original top something like five years ago and wore it until it literally fell apart. It has been in the fabric box ever since in the hope that I might come up with something to do with it. So I decided to resurrect it, or at least replicate it.
I began by recording all the dimensions of the old top and taking it apart, this was much more difficult than I anticipated, the damn thing was way too well made! (Trust Boden, or at least Boden as it was back in the day). I had intended to keep all of the seam allowances but I soon realised this was impossible. Once I had all the pieces separated I unpicked the darts and the gathers.
Second job – draw out a pattern. This was relatively painless once I had cobbled together some scraps of paper to get big enough sheets. I tried to make notes of the darts, gathers and the line of the grain as well as adding the required seam allowance in the relevant places. I decided to add enough extra to allow for French seams along both side of the empire band (don’t know what else this is called) and at the shoulders.
The fabric I chose is a light weight cotton, probably made by Laura Ashley or Liberty’s. It was bought by my mother before I was born. I wanted something similar to the original fabric in weight and in a summery pattern. I think it hangs really nicely though it would be even better if I had made the effort to cut it on the bias.
Cutting out the fabric was tricky due to its slippery nature and tendency to skew. I did my best to stick with the grain and to get the two front panels to line up. Despite being very careful to ensure that the pieces were laid out on the fabric prior to cutting in the most economical way I was amazed how much fabric it used. I guess I am quite generous with my seam allowances due to a better-safe-than-sorry attitude.
After carefully ironing all the pieces I began by pinning my darts and tacking my gathers. I then put the back together, first sewing all the darts, then joining the top to the empire band with a French seem and the bottom by the same method. I am unsure if managed to get the empire band the right way up as it seemed dramatically narrower than the top and bottom pieces but I did it the other way up in the font and it didn’t seem much better. I think the problem must have been in the pattern or the cutting.
I cut strips of fabric and attached the to the raw edges of the neck as bias binding. Now that I had an idea of the shape and width I used the back to line up the two front panels and pinned them together. I then treated the two panels pinned together as the top piece of the back and joined them and the bottom to the empire band as before. As previously mentioned the band around the middle was a bit narrow and so next, to avoid loosing any of my seam allowance at the sides I cut four strips of fabric and attached them to each side of both the front and back to aid in sewing the side seams. In retrospect this actually made the placement of the zip much easier.
Sewing in the zip was surprisingly easy though I had to add a line of running stitch by hand at the end as it gaped slightly. Without a zipper foot on the machine I find it very difficult to get the stitching close enough the actual zip. I then sewed up the other side.
As with the raw edges of the neck I cut strips of binding for the back of the neck and arm holes. I attached these before joining the shoulders with French seams. Finally I secured all of the binding and sewed up the hem by hand with hemstitch and added the label in the back.
As you can probably gather I am rather pleased with the result. It was very satisfying to create something which I can wear out in public without (I hope you agree) it obviously looking handmade. The whole project I think took me about fourteen hours to complete but other than that it is an item of clothing that was completely free for me to acquire (I even had the zip lying around). Of course I would be happy to try and recreate one for you too though as you can see my methods are a bit haphazard and perhaps unreliable. Below is a gallery of all the images I took to document the process.
P.s. I hope this post looks reasonable on your PC. I spent ages fiddling around with the layout and got pretty angry with the whole thing. If anyone has any bright ideas about text wrapping in WordPress then get in touch!