Boston area schools are back in session today, so it’s fitting to share a project in my high school’s colors — black and silver. Go Falcons!
This is my second go ’round with the Ella Top by Liola Patterns. I wasn’t crazy about the wearable muslin, to the extent that I gifted the fabric to the fabulous Gwen at Calm Under Tension, and donated the muslin to Goodwill.
That being said, I’m glad I blogged it because the photos helped me see what alterations to make for the second attempt. There were so many! Nothing was wrong with this pattern, sometimes that just happens. Maybe there was a mismatch between my shape and the garment’s shape or the pattern company’s block. Who knows? At any rate, these are the changes I made for Ella #2:
- Lengthen the bust dart by 1″ and raise the whole thing by 2″. On my first Ella I lowered the dart by 2″, so this put it back in the same place. In hindsight, I probably should have only raised it 1/2″-1″.
- Raise the bottom of the armhole by 1/2″ in the front and 3/4″ in the back. The difference came from moving the dart around; somehow the front became longer than the back. So I threw the difference into the armhole change.
- Narrow the shoulder seam by 2cm. Yes, I did make adjustments in both metric and imperial measurements! After awhile it’s just numbers.
- Widen the back pattern piece by 3cm at the hem. This was a slash and spread operation from under the armhole to the hem, which I then had to true up. Blah. Also, this means I widened the back hem, *but not* the front hem.
- Adjust the pleat in the lower back piece to match the narrowed back yoke.
- Lengthen the whole top by 1/2″, which was my first adjustment. A few years ago, I decided to always do my length adjustments before my width adjustments. Not sure how much of a difference it makes, but having a system helps immensely in getting through all the changes some patterns require.
- Reshape the neckline along the original curve and lower it at center front by 5/8″.
Yeah. I put WORK into this top. And then it had the nerve to require bias binding for the neckline and the armholes…bias binding which I originally cut on the cross grain, not the bias. Which I then sewed to the neckline in its entirety…which I then felt compelled to unpick and do correctly. Wah!
Sewing this Ella Top was complicated by the fact that I’m team #press-as-you-sew, but the foil print on this cotton sateen melted under my iron even at the lowest setting. Confession time: I never use a press cloth. I used to, when I began sewing, and then got all ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’. Needless to say, this top is not constructed to my normal standard because I used a crochet doily as my press cloth (!!) and it was not an effective solution. Sooo, press cloths of all fibers and textures will soon be a part of my sewing toolbox.
Also complicating things was the fact that this fabric, though lovely, behaved oddly. It draped like a dream and it really did suit the nature of the Ella Top, but all the cut edges frayed like a beast. The only edges that didn’t fray were the bias binding edges (of course). But it was controlled fraying! Never knew such a thing existed. I think the fabric was woven so tightly that it held itself together better than your average cotton. The curved edges didn’t have as much spring to them as other wovens, perhaps due to the tightness of the weave. So I didn’t have to staystitch the neckline or armholes and they held their shape perfectly…but it also meant that it was awkward applying the stretchy bias binding to their fairly rigid, frayed edges. Made for puckering that I’d normally press out, but…see above. Sigh.
Despite all this, I finished Ella — on Saturday — threw her on, and evaluated the look. Not really impressive. The fabric was lovely, but I felt generic wearing a style everyone else is wearing. For better feedback, I wore Ella to a couple of dates with friends. On a gorgeous day in Boston, it served me well through a movie, hanging out on a rooftop, dinner, and drinks. It transitioned easily from a sunny afternoon to a laid back evening, never bunching, wrinkling (hm, maybe the fabric isn’t 100% cotton), or making me hot/cold. I had no complaints, yet at the end of the day my feelings were unchanged.
Once again, photos save the day. I had a blast doing this photo shoot, and was finally able to see how well the Ella Top works. The extra length and back hip width make it lay nice and snug around my full hip without ever getting stuck. It would be even better if I added 1cm to the front hem width. The curved hem dips and rises at all the right points. The armholes are just right. The neckline is the right depth. However, I should have done a full bust adjustment through the dart instead of just increasing the uptake. The lack of width through the bust causes pulling at the upper side seam which makes for tightness through the back yoke. Otherwise, Ella fits perfectly.
In the end, I’ve put this pattern away and am moving on to Simplicity 2406 (next project) and Lekala 4541 (next sleeveless top project). Though it finally worked out, all the fitting adjustments I had to make to Ella left a bad taste in my mouth. I have never had to make a full bust adjustment — team #pearshaped — and the idea of doing one for a barely shaped tank top doesn’t rock my world. I’m also not keen on making or sewing bias binding for a simple tank top pattern. There are many people in the online sewing community who love the Ella Top pattern, but right now I’m not one of them.