Friday, 23 February 2018

Forest Green Merino and Lace Sirius Top (and giveaway winner!)

Today I would like to introduce the winner of the award for most impossible top to photograph! Neither the rich forest green colour or beautiful back detail of this sweater was feeling very cooperative when it came to being captured on camera but I persisted and hopefully you will get the gist of how beautiful this garment is! If there is one thing I love making (and in turn wearing) its comfortable everyday clothing with a twist and the Sirius top from I Am Patterns totally nails that for me. I also love challenging myself and trying something new with my sewing and the pleated section in the centre back which runs into a placket at the top was certainly that.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

I've had my eye on Sirius since it was released a while back and when I met Marie-Emmeline in London in January she'd brought a selection of her patterns with her to very generously give out as gifts so I pounced on that design right away! She was actually sporting one herself that day. There are many things to love about the design including the shallow stand collar and elbow darts but the real draw is the surprise of the pleated section in the back. I love that this feature has movement to it and allows you to play around with combining different textures and colours. When looking at the fabric suggestions for this pleated panel I was really taken with the idea of using lace in combination with a solid. I was just about to place another order with The Fabric Store and remembered that I always ooh and ahhh over their laces but never find a reason to buy them; I finally had an excuse to try one out!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

I chose this Hunter Green Italian Floral Lace as it looked like it would be a good match with the Forest Green Merino Jersey which I've had my eye on for a while (yes my merino addiction is still going strong! I'm currently trying to resist this incredible floral merino blend!) Obviously colour matching online is nigh on impossible as fabrics are never quite the colour they look on screen but a bit of experience with the accuracy of the way TFS represent their fabrics online gave me some confidence and I was delighted with how well they work together when it arrived. The jersey is their standard weight 195gsm and as you'll see later on is actually probably a little fine for this style which meant I had to make a few changes. Jerseys of the appropriate weight for sweaters are recommended as are woven wools. I think it would be lovely made up in a lightweight boiled wool.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

I chose the lace as I thought something with quite a dense design would be better to hold the pleats than a more delicate version. This once is soft but with some thickness to it and the flowers are edged with a little ridge in a darker green which makes for a bold look. The ridge gives the look of a corded lace but it is finer than that. The blend of cotton and nylon means it holds a nice crisp pleat but it still has a softness so it moves well. I think it would make an incredible fitted party dress! I've had a piece of really fine cream silk lace in my stash for years which I think would be great combined with a soft grey marl and a wonderful contemporary use for a fabric which despite being stunningly beautiful felt a little too girly to fit with the rest of my wardrobe.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

Going by the measurement chart I was between the 38 and 40 so cut the larger to be on the safe side. I ended up taking a whopping 1 1/4" on the double out of each side seam and continuing that alteration all the way down the sleeve. I like slim sleeves anyway but the whole thing was a bit of a tent. This merino jersey is quite fine so in something thicker with more structure I think the extra ease would have worked and I can see that my top looks quite different to the sample. If I make it again I'll definitely go down a size as this is still a little wide on the shoulder and then repeat the alteration under the arm and side seam but to a smaller extent. It made a huge difference on this one and I'm really happy with the fit now.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store
Attempting to recreate the side on sample shot showing the swing of the back pleating and failing! 

As my merino was on the lightweight side I added a fine fusible knit interfacing to both the collar and collar lining piece to give it a bit more structure and also added a small piece under the plackets to give the area around the snaps an extra bit of strength. I really like the shallow depth of the collar and the way it sits out from the neck. It definitely would have collapsed in on itself without the interfacing but you wouldn't need it for a more stable or thicker knit like ponte or sweat-shirting. I used my same merino to line the collar but the pattern does recommend using something else if your fabric is thicker so it doesn't become to bulky. I also added twill tape to the shoulder seams to prevent them stretching out over time.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

The pattern calls for a rolled hem on the pleated centre back piece but I thought this might get a little messy with this fairly open lace so I used a really thin and soft poly binding from my stash to neaten this edge. I did this before pleating the piece and overlocked the other raw edges too as I thought this would be quite fiddly to do afterwards. The pleating actually didn't take too long once I got into the swing of it but I think a little extra guidance in terms of whether to start your pleating right or wrong sides together would have been useful. I got into quite a pickle when inserting this piece into the back and assembling the placket and I feel like it may have been to do with my pleats starting the wrong way. I'm still not sure if I've done it right now but I got it to work and love the effect. After spending some time trying to figure it out I discovered this great photo tutorial for the pattern on the I Am Patterns site. My pleating had definitely not ended up looking like that and I ended up putting in an extra little pleat to get it to sit right! I definitely recommend following the photo tutorial if you make this. The instructions and tutorial make it sound and look quite straightforward so perhaps I made a small error somewhere along the way and when I try it again it would all come together just fine. I chose to change the line of stitching securing the top of the pleated piece at the bottom of the placket to a square so the raw top edge was fully enclosed. I think assembling the placket in woven fabrics might be a lot more straightforward with a woven or less stretchy knit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

With regards to the pleating, it occurred to me while I was sewing that washing this top might be a bit problematic as all the pleats would come out. I couldn't face pressing them back in every time but didn't want to end up with a dry clean only top! As my lace hand some texture and thickness to it already I decided to topstitching very close to the edges of my pleats to both emphasise and in a way set them. I'm really pleased with the effect and have washed the top a couple of times now. The pleats do need a press but the stitching gives you a quick and simple guideline to follow and helps everything fall into place. This obviously wouldn't look great on a finer fabric like a chiffon, georgette or silk lace so you could buy a pre-pleated fabric but then may have to alter the construction slightly to suit the width of your pleats or if you're based in the UK you could try using Ciment Pleating to heat set your pleats. I've used them a lot for work and they do all kinds of styles of pleating and turn things around really quickly. They advise dry-cleaning when natural fibres are pleated but man-mades like polyester can be washed on a low temperature as they take the pleating really well.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

The pattern is designed for woven as well as knit fabrics and most of the construction techniques seem more relevant to wovens and I think it would perhaps make for a slightly easier sew. For example the hem is turned up twice which I'd do with a woven but usually just once for a knit. The elbow darts are an absolutely gorgeous touch but I think perhaps a little more effective in a woven fabric and I would have thought bust darts would be unnecessary for a knit pattern but they do actually give a nice shape to the way this hangs on the body. If your knit has a good amount of stretch like my merino jersey you could definitely get away without a functioning placket and just sew it closed right up to the top on the collar. I can pull this on and off easily without making use of the snaps. I'd like to try a woven version using perhaps a georgette or something a bit less structure and bulky than this lace in the back section as I think that would make for a totally different effect. What are your thoughts on patterns that are designed to work with both knit and woven fabrics? Do you think it works or a pattern will always be better suited to one or the other?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Forest Green I Am Patterns Sirius Top in Merino Jersey and Lace from The Fabric Store

Despite the slightly rocky construction process I really enjoyed sewing this up and have been getting a lot of wear out of it. This is actually another of the projects on my #2018makenine; I've definitely made better choices for my wardrobe this year! It is also another adventure in my mission to try some different indie designers this year and I'll definitely be returning to I Am. I love their unique yet wearable twists on everyday classic styles. I know the Cassiopée is popular so perhaps that will be next. I'll certainly be making Sirius again as I'd love to see how differently it sews up in a woven and there is a lot of potential for playing around with different fabric combinations to make the most of that unusual back feature. But mainly I want to make it again to see if I can do a better job next time! Ever the perfectionist.

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of the Half Moon Atelier Anegada Top and a lovely length of bamboo jersey from Offset Warehouse to make it. You left me some really great stories and tips about ethical sewing and I've been checking out all the fabric suppliers you've recommended. Its great to hear that ethical sewing is at the forefront of so many minds and often one of the main drives behind sewing your own clothes. The giveaway has now closed and selected by random number generator the lucky winner is...Natalie! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy sewing and wearing your own Anegada Top. I'll be in touch shortly via email to arrange delivery of your prize.

4 comments:

  1. I’ve had good luck heatsetting pleats with vinegar. Usually I do this with dress pants where I want a pleat that will survive through multiple washings. I iron the pleat in, then spray with a vinegar water mix, and press again, at the hottest temp suitable for the fabric. It’s amazing how well this works on most fabrics. I don’t know where I first heard about this, but have been doing it for years.
    Love your top!

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    1. O what a wonderful tip! I'm going to try that with my lace and will definitely be doing it next time I make this.
      Thanks so much for the advice!

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  2. Great top, and you answered my query about washing the pleats. Really I think a pattern is fir woven or knit not both, though of course you can hack it. If pattern companies do it they need to provide 2 different sizings and different instructions, so really two different patterns. As you say you don't really need the placket. I think if they have darts it means it is really for wovens. I was very happy with my knit Joan dress but I did different sizings and left out the zip.by the way just made th casiope and sadly it will be one for the charity shop. Looks like a sack on me. It came up really big so I would think about siting down. My babycord fabric may have been too stiff or maybe I'm just not used to baggier styles on me.

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    1. Good to hear your thoughts about multi-fabric patterns Mags...I too can't help but agree that surely a pattern must ideally suit one or the other. I have been known to try out patterns fabrics they are not intended for but usually it takes a bit of adjusting as with your Joan dress!
      Also really appreciate your honesty about the Casiopee. I've been mulling it over for a while as I feared the sack result. I noticed Elisalex made one the other day with waist ties which might be a route to go down in a soft a floaty viscose...but I'm sure there are a million dresses out there I could try! Even in my stash...haha

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!