The Carnegie Hall Knit Top
How do you get to Carnegie Hall the old joke goes? Practice, practice, practice. Which is apparently my mantra for the last two weeks. Yesterday, I spent a good part of the afternoon “practicing” on my coverstitch machine’s binding attachment. Sheesh. I’m a little over with the practicing thing right about now I have to admit.
But let me backtrack. When my family was visiting last week, my sister had a few tops that I couldn’t stop looking at. They were oversized (hello 1980’s!), burnout cotton knit tops that looked so effortlessly summery and chic at the same time. I loved them. Something along the lines of this top I found at UU Clothing…
Isn’t that super cute? And I had to make something similar right away.
Of course, I couldn’t just go looking through my patterns or Burda magazines to find a similar pattern. Noooooo. I had the great idea to significantly alter a pattern I have already made up, Burda 60-2009-109, the batwing top, here and here. I’m always a sucker for masochism I guess. Basically, the changes I made to the existing Burda pattern were:
- Scoop out the neck to round it out more
- chop off the sleeves to make wide kimono-ish short sleeves with squared off instead of tapered sleeve openings so I could easily hem them (I used my french curve to add the curve for the underarm)
- add 12 inches of ease to the torso/waist/hip of the top for the oversized flowy look that my sister’s tops had
- lengthen the top by 3 inches.
I wasn’t sure if this “experiment” would work. And I wouldn’t know until I put the finished top on either because I was going to bind the neck and you can’t try it on mid-process as one shoulder is left unsewn until the binding has been attached. I just thought what did I have to lose? A couple of yards of fabric that I bought in the Michael Levine’s dumpster dive shop in LA in April. So I just went for it. 🙂
And here’s where the practicing came into play. My knit, a two-way stretch striped knit, just would not play nice in the binder. It kept twisting and twisting. So much so, that for a minute, I considered whether I could call it intentional twisting or not. I tried everything in the book to fix it. I changed the pressure foot pressure. I tried changing the needle tension. I tried changing the stitch length. After no setting changes alleviated my problem, I then resorted to interfacings. I tried all different kinds. They all stopped the twisting, but they were too thick and stiff for this knit. They made the binding stand at attention, not a good thing for a slouchy top IMHO.
Finally, I thought to use starch on my binding but I couldn’t find my starch in any of my boxes. After my birthday dinner last night, we stopped at a store to pick up some starch, but when I got home at 9pm, I found out that the nozzle had been broken off. Dang it! That’s when, in desperation, I thought to make my own starch spray. I used this tutorial on-line. I found that this ratio of starch to water was pretty good, but my binding needed heavy duty starch, so I added about a tsp more to my solution and it worked a treat. I finally had binding that was stiff enough to bind without twisting. Eureka!
So I bet you’re wondering how my top turned out. Well, I love it! It has just the right amount of ease that I was looking for, the sleeves turned out just like I imagined them and I love the neckline. It’s low, but I planned it that way because I wanted to wear either a t-shirt or cami under it for a layered look. I’m pretty lucky that this experiment worked out. It had nothing to do with drafting skill as I have none. It was just an idea, a great pattern to start with, and plain dumb luck. I am pretty lucky in life though. *knocking on wood*
Here’s the proof of the pudding…
Jack was my photographer this morning. Didn’t he do a great job? Here’s a little extra pic of my photographer.
I think I might need to make another of these tops pronto, maybe in a solid knit. I love the neckline. Isn’t it cute? (If I do say so myself.)
Happy sewing everyone!