I bought a few pieces of Nani Iro fabric from Miss Matatabi a few months ago and have been looking at them every now and again since then. I said I’d make a bag for my mother-in-law after she admired the Noodlehead Cross Gatherer bag I made a few weeks ago, and her favourite colours are red and yellow, so I thought I’d use this gorgeous red flowered brushed cotton I have from the Nani Iro pile. However, that’s going to use very little fabric, so I looked for a pattern that I might be able to squeeze out of the remaining 1.75m. I’ve been admiring the Beatrix top for a while – it was the View A + placket version I saw on the Made by Rae website that finally sold it to me – and it seemed the perfect project to show off this vibrant design.
I duly got the .pdf pattern from Rae’s website and a quick readthrough immediately told me what I subsequently discovered to be absolutely true working on this project: this is easily the best set of instructions I have yet come across and is a perfect example of one way in which independent patterns are absolutely worth a premium. This is virtually a sewing class, and they come at more like $80. Here are a few very nice things I noted about this pattern/project:
- The pdf pattern was the best I have yet seen. I have put together a few, some with more success than others, but the Beatrix pattern has lots of extra markings for lining up the pages. I particularly liked the “bullseye targets” where four different page corners join – it really helped keep me on track
- The pattern has an A/B or C/D cup option that you print separately. Yeehoo! I am a D cup and this was just heavenly
- There is a cool summary sheet at the back of the pattern that you can use to tick off completed steps/items without having to go through the wholeeee thing
- There is a whole section on Rae’s favourite seam finishes, simply and clearly explained. This was great and I almost went with French seams, but wanted to test out my recent zigzag with an overlocking foot finish on a more stable fabric to see how it worked (spoiler: brilliantly!)
- You only have to print out the pages you need for your particular variation
- There is an entire sewalong on the Made by Rae website complete with cool variations. It was superrrr helpful.
Alrighty, so anyway – I decided to make the View A with View B placket version I mentioned earlier. First things first – make a muslin. Rae stresses this pretty strongly and it’s a good idea anyway, so I used some light cotton I have yards and yards of to do that.
I made a size L and the fit was actually pretty good, although it took me a minute to realise the example on the sewalong was after the seam allowances had been taken into account – hence why it looked a different shape. The main problem I had was that the bust darts were a little too high (you can kind of see on the right hand side it’s up high). I decided to lower them by about 1/2 an inch.
I have never done such a thing, so looked up Megan Nielsen’s dart adjustment instructions as well as a couple of others. I followed the instructions, but I must admit that trueing the darts at the end has me a little stumped. Nobody really covered this part in much detail, so if anyone knows of any good references, do let me know. I’m pretty sure I screwed that part up. Overall though, it basically consisted of creating a box around your dart, cutting it out and moving it down. Then filling in the gap and… something else… -oh yeah, trueing – the bit I can’t do.
Onto the real fabric cut out. Oh, I love the feel of scissors cutting into fresh fabric. Especially amazing fabric. I decided to go for something pretty bold as my contrast fabric – an equally bright Cotton & Steel cotton, but I think it works. I really like it, in any case. Egad, my hair is like a bomb of frizz in that picture. Seattle. Rain. Ah well.
The fabric cut like a dream and I put the alternative view plackets on first after adding interfacing to the relevant pieces. Then I had to sew in the bust darts. I did not do well at this. I’ve sewn a few before and it wasn’t too bad. But for some reason I couldn’t do it this time. First, I made them too long because I was trying a tip I’d read. Then I veered off the line, and finally I did a third correction and declared enough was enough. They’re not perfect (there’s a bit of a pucker), but they’ll do the trick. At least they’re in the right spot after the adjustment.
Funnily enough I was much more concerned about the sleeves. I haven’t tackled set-in sleeves before, and I tell you what – beginner’s luck does exist, because I really didn’t have a problem with these! First I liked Rae’s tip for gathering the sleeves. I whacked the tension and stitch length both to max and look what happened. Frilly sleeves! I ended up letting out a lot, but it made life pretty easy.
Next, I fitted them and sewed them in. I was super happy with the result, so here are some gratuitous photos of the sleeves:
Oh yes, and you can see that seam finish: zigzag using overlocker foot on the shoulder there. Soooo neat, so pretty! I like!
Ahem, anyway. I hemmed the sleeves, and also prepped the main hem at the bottom. This involved a 1/4″ turn and press, and then the same again. This was made easier having previously stitched the first turning line, but I also used a little tip from one of my classes and finger pressed the hem first. This meant I didn’t need to iron press every teeny bit, but could do it in larger chunks. Worked well with this fabric. I also prepped and sewed my first facing. It seemed pretty straightforward, but I can see why it could be annoying as it’s a tiny bit flippy. I think I will go back and “sew in the ditch” of the shoulder seams as Rae suggests, to keep the facing in. It’s really ok though. It’s funny – I’ve always associated neck facings with “posh clothes” before (as that’s the only place I’d really seen them) although I had no idea they were called facings. It’s funny to be making something myself now with one!
Finally, I sewed round the hem and button plackets before making the buttonholes. I made a bit of a mess of the plackets. I think one slipped out of place and I ended up with it uneven. I’m really considering redoing it as it’s kind of obvious on the back in some places, but… let’s see. The buttonholes were straightforward and I used the old “pin at the top of the buttonhole” trick to stop the seam ripper heading on up my blouse. Rather than just telling you each button should be 3 inches apart or whatever, Rae thoughtfully provides a template so that you can easily find the spacing. Her instructions really are full of tricks, help and tips – very impressive.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and I’m definitely going to make another one to straighten out those little issues I had. The Beatrix top is comfortable and more flattering to my shape than I had anticipated. I will probably lengthen the back by an inch or so to cover my bum a bit more as mine seems a little shorter than some. As already mentioned, I can highly recommend the pattern itself and I look forward to delving into more of Rae’s work as she’s really done a wonderful job. Nice one!