Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Testing my skills....

This broken leg has made life run at a slower pace and kept me out of my sewing room! Everything takes twice as long and having this leg-in-cast protruding ahead of me all the time is awkward to say the least. I get easily bored at the best of times, so when I came across a child's top in an advertisement I decided to see if I could duplicate it for my American Girl Doll, Samantha.

My version

I set up shop on the dining room table as this would be a small project. I could reach pencils, ruler,tissue paper and I even had some taffeta gingham close at hand. My husband agreed to bring down my little portable Lotus sewing machine and I was "in business"!

The first thing to do was analyze the photo. It appears to be a swing top with three box pleats in the front and circle sleeves - you don't see those very often. The top looks as if it ends just below the waistline of the low rise jeans. The neckline looks a bit lower and as if it is faced with bias, top stitched in place. The hem, since it is so flared is probably hemmed with a bias facing.
Now that doesn't sound too hard and we can guess that the back is the same as the front but with some sort of opening.

So take a basic pattern (I used my basic blocks which I had created for drafting Samantha's wardrobe) and trace off a Front and Back onto tissue. Determine the Back length and square across for the side seam. Make the Front side seam the same length and square across to the CF.

Flair the side seams at the hem the same amount. (I pivoted the hem out about 1/2".) 
Lower the neckline on the Front and Back 1/4". Now trace off the second side of the Front so you have a full Front pattern. Draw a line down the CF from neck line to hem. Find the mid point of the neckline (between CF and shoulder point on either side of CF) and the mid point of the hem on either side of CF and the new side seam. Join these two points so you have three lines and put cross marks at different points on each line. 

Make three box pleats of tissue.(I made mine a total of 1" wide.) 
Now cut the pattern on these lines - you have 4 pieces. Tape the box pleat in place. Fold up the pleat and cut the neckline to get the shape of the box pleat insert at the neckline.

Repeat these steps for the Back of the top.
Verify the hem shaping. If you don't have a French curve and most of you won't, use a plate to get a nice curve. Join the tissue pieces along the side seam.

Smooth away the point at the side seams. Line up the edge of a French curve or the edge of a plate to the bottom of the side seam and the slashed line of the box pleat closest to the side seams. Note: use the far side of the box pleat in each case. Draw a line to join these two points. The hem will be straight from CF (CB) to the side of the box pleat on either side of the centre points.                    

             Add seam allowance to attach hem facing.

Add seam allowance to the CB of the Box pleat. Create an opening using the seam allowance.

Estimate the size of the sleeve. Draw a circle based on the length of the sleeve at the under arm, plus the depth of the armhole, plus the length of the sleeve that drapes down from the shoulder. Fold the circle in half lengthwise and crosswise.

Trace off the arm hole of the front an back bodice without side seam allowances. there will be a gap at the top. Sketch in a curved line to join the top points. Fold it in half lengthwise. The extra fabric will be gathered in over the shoulder to make the sleeve sit better. Fold the armhole in half vertically. 

Place the new armhole on the vertical line of the circle. The distance from the bottom of the sleeve to the armhole should equal the length at the under arm.

You are ready to cut out and sew!!

Samantha's little top is not bad for a first try, if I do say so myself. It still needs tweaking to get it perfect. I used rick rack to turn the hems on the sleeves and top and a bit of red embroidery at the neckline.

If you like this top let me know. this could turn into a little pattern if you need or want more detailed instructions. I have a couple of additional ideas of how this could be done for a little person too. So let's hear from you.

Meanwhile, keep stitching....