Sewing Project: Bias Cut Top – My First Attempt At Pattern Matching

My last project before I went away was a bias cut chevron top. This garment falls into the category of a simple yet deceptively difficult make. Now of course there aren’t many difficult techniques of garment construction involved, what makes this difficult is a) pattern matching and b) working on the bias.

Project Details

  • Pattern: Bias Cut Top, GBSB From Stitch To Style
  • Fabric: Daisy Striped Viscose, Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn

Step 1: Pattern Cutting

I kid you not it took me well over an hour to cut these pattern pieces and it was nerve wrecking. The aim of this garment was not only to create a top on the bias to create a chevron pattern from my striped fabric. On top of that, as you will see from the fabric below, I made things even more difficult for myself because my stripes were not even. They are in groups of diffident widths and numbers so matching to an incredibly long time. To pattern match a chevron on the bias you need to cut your pattern pieces at right angles diagonally, and honestly I used my first pattern pieces cut my second to ensure the match. Eventually I gained enough confidence in my matching skills and cut my pieces but it really was a learning curve. Pattern matching is something I’ve avoided for years because I didn’t think I could do it but this garment has increased my confidence and shown me that I shouldn’t be scared of new techniques! Everything is a chance to improve.

3 Things I’ve Learnt About Pattern Matching
  1. It takes TIME. Seriously it took me an hour to cut out my pattern pieces because I spent so long making sure that the stripes lined up. I made things even more difficult for myself than I realised.
  2. Iron your fabric beforehand to make sure that you can match accurately and remember to include your seam allowances.
  3. Transfer your directional markings on to the pattern pieces, it’s such a help when pattern matching on the bias and particularly when you are creating a chevron.

Step 2: Stay Stitch The Neckline

As always an incredibly important step but no less so when working on the bias as you want to make sure that your garment doesn’t warp. At the time I felt like Ihad done this well but afterwards I realised that it wasn’t my best work. This is entirely because I went to fast and allowed the viscose to slip and slide all over the place as it often does. Even more so when working on the bias. In fact this project has made me reflect on how rarely I cut anything on the bias. One of the wonderful things about this project is that it has helped me to understand my fabric better and the literal mechanics of fabric use.

3 Things I’ve Learnt About Working On The Bias
  1. There is a lot more mobility that you think there will be. Even in stiff fabric the bias still provides a lot of stretch so just imagine how I was working with a slippery viscose. I had to handle the fabric incredibly carefully to ensure it didn’t warp as I sewed it.
  2. If you’re pattern matching on the bias use a lot of pins and sew slowly. Louder for everyone at the back. Sew slowly, sew carefully, keep both hands on the fabric and match carefully as you go.
  3. Cut a single layer of fabric at a time and if possible use a rotary cutter and mat, this stops the fabric from shifting or stretching when you cut it.

Step 3: Centre Seams

Take your time matching your front and back centre seams and sew slowly with control. Make sure your machine doesn’t pull the layers of fabric apart at all and continue to check the match as you go. I went so slowly and carefully at the time I had to keep reminding myself to breathe but the sense of relief when I finished sewing and took it over to the iron was unbelievable. Remember to sew the back just as carefully at the front and if you want one tip, especially for matching chevrons, start sewing the seam from the top of the garment down, this makes sure that if anything does move it won’t spoil the finish at the neckline.

Step 4: Shoulder Seams & Side Seams

I forgot to take pictures of these as I went because I was so focused but here they are on the machine. Treat these carefully as you don’t want to warp the shoulder of the garment or stretch the silhouette. Shoulder seams press towards the back so you can include both sides of the seam in the neck bind and in the armhole hem.

Step 5: Bias Binding the Neckline

Now this top contained a lot of firsts for me, I’d never worked on the bias, I’d never done pattern matching and I’ve never really used bias binding let alone made my own. I’ve learnt a lot from this, I’m proud of my first go but it definitely isn’t quite right. When I look at the photo below and the garment itself I can see that I’ve bound the raw edge but not actually bound the neckline, you can’t see the binding which is a mistake. Next time I will definitely be pressing my binding more carefully so that its easier to use.

3 Things I’ve learnt about Bias Binding
  1. You’ve got to treat it gently especially if you’ve made your own and cut it carefully, its got to be even.
  2. Stitch slowly and carefully around the neckline so you don’t stretch it as you bind.
  3. Cut it carefully and iron it out fully before you fold it and then iron in the folds.

Step 6: Finish Raw Edges

The final step is just to finish the arms and bottom hem. Depending on the weight of your fabric you could use a double hem or, as I’ve done, just a quick rolled hem. Then you have your very own bias cut top!

I adore this top and I’m very proud of it but there are definitely a couple of bits I would change if I made it again. The fit is nice but I think the neckline is a little high for my figure so I would make it slightly deeper. My sewing has improved just making this top and I would definitely consider a garment with pattern matching again albeit with caution and careful fabric choice. Let me know what you think in the comments below, love pattern matching, hate it, have certain tricks you use? Tell me everything. Until then, go forth and pattern match!

2 Hour Sewing Project: Sew Simple Gwen Top

Happy Monday Everyone! I am half way through my week off from work and I’m feeling good. The stress is starting to dissipate and I’m beginning to really enjoy my time away. We are still in Colchester so no live sewing for moment but I want to talk about a top I whipped up in 2 hours last Sunday and it’s one I am really proud of. We all have those moments when inspiration runs dry, when we just can’t think what to sew and none of our projects are appealing to us. On those days it can be hard to find the enthusiasm for a single stitch, I had tried to pattern draft for another project but I was just too tired so I had a lie down. Adam and I then had a chat about what I could make and in particular what my current wardrobe lacks. The answer to this is actually pretty easy. I really lack tops. I have knitwear coming out of my ears and plenty of shirts and fancy going out tops but I have very few just tops. There aren’t many t-shirts that I feel comfortable wearing and most of my evening tops are more drinks than office appropriate neither are they especially comfortable. I don’t need any more dresses for the moment so tops seemed a good place to start.

Out of desperation to do something sewing related I had a little look through my sewing magazine, just browsing really, when I came upon one of the free patterns that week. A lightweight batwing top which would be perfect for my red viscose crepe remnant from Sew Me Sunshine! The pattern said it required 1.5m but I can confirm that, at least for a size 8, 1 metre is absolutely fine. I gave myself 2 hours and just went for it, I didn’t really want to plan or think about it, i didn’t want to make too much of a production of it, I just got a cup of tea and starting sewing. I had been lacking inspiration all weekend and I just wanted to make SOMETHING to break the deadlock. I was a bit nervous, especially as I’ve never printed an A0 pattern at home, but I am really pleased with the result. Its not the neatest garment in the world but it was a very quick and easy make and I would definitely recommend the pattern for beginners or anyone who wants to start in the morning and wear the garment out to lunch.

Project Details
  • Fabric: Red Spotty Viscose Crepe, Sew Me Sunshine (1m Remnant)
  • Pattern: Sew Simple Gwen Top
  • Sew Time: 2.5 Hours

Step 1: Cut Out The Never-Ending A0 Pattern

This honestly was the longest step of the entire project. I had to print out 20 pages, cut all the edges off the A4 pieces, tape them together then cut out the actual pattern pieces. It definitely reminded why I get my PDF patterns printed in A0 by somebody else and sent to me! Honestly though I didn’t mind too much because the pattern itself was free and it was a quick Sunday night make. I ended up with something like this. I didn’t want to waste sellotape and we have a hold load of parcel tape so its not very pretty but it did even up as well structured(if hard to fold) pattern pieces.

Step 2: Cut Out The Pattern Pieces

One of the things that makes this pattern so quick and easy is that there are only two pieces for this garment, front and back. I could have done with sharper scissors because no matter how simple the project is viscose is always slippery.

Step 3: Shoulder Seams & Side Seams

The first step is to carefully stay stitch the necklines 1cm in from the edge, as above, and then stitch the shoulder seams and press open. Move on to the side seams, stitch and press again. The side seams in this garment are less that 6 inches long because this top is about 90% sleeve!

Step 4: Finish Raw Edges

The pattern asked for bias binding however that would have been far too heavy on my fabric so I just did rolled hems everywhere and I think it worked very well with the viscose crepe. And you’re done! Thats genuinely it. A simple, easy sew that produces an flattering and attractive garment. I was so happy with it that I even went out in the thunder storm to get pictures

This top was quick, easy and didn’t require too much brain power. I love the drape, I adore the neckline and its a wonderful pattern to just make without having to think or plan or toile. It would also make an excellent remnant buster as you really can squeeze it out of a metre. It looks great with jeans or shorts and you could even tuck it into a pencil skirt for work. This pattern is a massive win in my book and I would recommend it to absolutely everybody who sews. If you just need an easy win then this pattern is for you.

Sewing Project: Shell Top / My First Forays Into Viscose

Hello lovely people, I hope you have had a wonderful weekend so far. Yesterday I hit 300 followers on my Instagram in just under four weeks! If you follow me on Instagram then, thank you! If you don’t then look me up @sowhatifisew . Anyway, on to this weekend’s challenge. As I had hit a little milestone and it was a miserable rainy day, we put a new series on Netflix and I decided to do a one-day sew. After my six month long dress project I needed a little palette cleanser so this project was ideal.

Last week I received a fabric haul from one of my favourite suppliers. They had a massive sale on so I went on a small fabric buying binge and I bought some beautiful fabrics. Not only that but I bought fabrics I was either nervous about using or had never used before. One of those was Viscose. As per usual when I work with a new fabric I spoke to my mum to check if there was a thing special I needed to do and she said that I didn’t need to use anything special but to mind out as the fabric can be slippery. I definitely found this to be the case. Once I got it into the sewing machine it sewed absolutely beautiful but oh my goodness I think I used about a million pins when I was attached the facing as it slips and stretches so easily. I will explain more as we go along but viscose definitely isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

For this challenge I chose a simple shell top from the British Sewing Bee and used my gorgeous yellow floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn. This fabric has the most stunning drape and although it wasn’t a recommended fabric for this pattern I found that it worked very well. I’m glad that I chose a simple-ish pattern because as I have mentioned above, viscose is tricky to work with and I needed the simplicity to allow me to truly get to grips with the fabric. Also I realised recently that my wardrobe is pretty woeful in terms of tops and this pattern fits me really well so you may see a few more of these creeping into my DIY wardrobe.

Working with viscose is different from step one. Viscose is a little easier to work with if you iron it first so that’s what I did. Easier in comparison to what I shudder to think. When laying it out to be cut I had to enlist my partner, we took an end each, arched them up and laid the fabric down incredibly carefully. It was so slippery that I couldn’t actually manage to do it on my own and I wanted an even cut. Next time I use viscose I will cut with a rotary cutter because you get too much stretch in the fabric with scissors.

First Steps

The first step of this pattern was stay stitching the necklines. Now generally I’m not great at remembering to staystitch but I always do necklines and I’m extremely glad I did in this case. There was a fair amount of stretch in the fabric so I was very careful working with it and used a lot of pins. On that note, I was so impressed with my darts on this top. They are the best darts I’ve ever done and sit really well on my bust when I wear the top. Then it’s a simple stitch together at the shoulder seams.

Facings & Interfacing

I had a problem here as I thought I had lightweight interfacing but I only had medium weight so instead I cut double of the facings from the fabric and stitched them together to stiffen the structure without having to use interfacing. This has worked very well in terms of structure but is a touch bulky. If I was doing it again, I would snip the seams down a little bit more.

The step that confused me the most was pulling the top through the facings once they were stitched. It was incredibly simple in actual fact but it looked impossible. The trick is to feed the back pieces through to the front and then voila! Remember to give it a good press.

Then it’s a case of side and back seams and a hem! I used a hook and eye for the back fastening rather than a rouleau loop and button because I find them easier to use and I couldn’t find a button in the house that felt right for the garment. Then you’re done! It was a full day sew, 10am – 5pm, because viscose takes care and patience and the way I did the facings takes a little more time.

Here is the finished garment! This is a firm favourite and I’m going to make a few of them I think as they are perfect for work and home. I love the pattern so I will definitely make a few more and as they don’t take much fabric I might even be able to get a few more out of my fabric remnants box. Today we are having a friend over for a socially distanced lunch and then Adam and I will watch TV and I’ll do some more mask sewing for my grandparents.