New top: The Cuff Top from The Assembly Line Patterns

You may have seen this top knocking about on Instagram or Facebook, as I have. It’s a simple enough design, but there was something about those cuff sleeves that kept piquing my interest.  Since I have no shortage of simple woven top patterns, I managed to resist until I saw the paper version at Drygoods Design stall at Sew Expo this year (pretty much my last social occasion pre-lockdown) and had a moment of weakness. I’ve made two versions, the second being more of a mash-up with the Maya, and I have some mixed feelings about the project, although mostly positive.

The Cuff Top is a woven top with grown-on sleeves and a boatneck collar, which is finished with a facing. It also has those namesake elasticated cuffs and is a slimmer fit through the body compared to other tops I’ve made, which I actually prefer now that I’ve made a couple. It’s quite flattering to the old tummy area, particularly in profile.

Cuff Top #1

The pattern is designed and produced by The Assembly Line, a Scandinavian company, and, as we all know, Scandinavia is a very expensive area of the world. I bring this up because this pattern costs 19 euros for the PDF version and 26 euros for the printed version on their website. It cost me $25 for the paper version, so in the same ballpark. It’s not to be sniffed at and is definitely one of the reasons I held off so long. Yes, it comes in an aesthetically pleasing A4/letter size envelope, with suitably clean (one might even say austere) Scandi illustrations to satisfy any minimalist-tendency heart (I am not of that ilk), but still. 

When I opened the pattern packet, I realised that, because of the grown-on sleeves, there are only three pattern pieces: the front, the back and the neckline facing. One other thing I didn’t realise is that there are two size ranges, which is slightly puzzling to me. Assembly Line advises to choose according to your bust measurement, which would be the upper end of XL for me. Normally I would start with L and grade up to XL, with possibly a FBA as well. But I didn’t have the XL, because one range is XS-L and one is XL to 4XL. The larger range has a slightly different armhole and a bust dart, so I guess that’s why they couldn’t nest all the sizes, but I don’t know, it was a tad annoying for that price.

As it turns out, there’s plenty of ease in the top and I ended up getting a decent fit by effectively sizing down a size for the body and two sizes for the shoulders and armhole. For my first Cuff Top I made a M at the shoulders and graded straight into a L at the armhole. The design lines are very simple, so it’s a really easy grade. I made the first top in this gorgeous Kokka lawn, which has beautiful watercolour detail and is so soft and high quality. Japanese lawn has become one of my favourite fabrics to wear, no doubt about it.

Construction

For my second top, I cut the upper part on the fold and used the centre seam for the lower

Construction is very simple and nicely explained. There’s a centre seam, although I’m not entirely sure why – perhaps because the piece is quite wide with the grown-on sleeve? It would be a good area to add something decorative like piping, but I just went for the straight stitch and topstitch as detailed in the instructions. You do the same for the shoulders and then add the neck facing, which is secured by stitching along the neckline close to the edge. This left my facing flapping a bit, so I also stitched in the ditch along the shoulder seams for extra security.

Hemming was a little strange I thought. You’re instructed to serge/overlock the bottom of the garment and turn up a hem and stitch. I’ve never seen this for a woven before, although plenty of times for knit garments. Kind of odd – especially if you don’t have a serger. Pick your own favourite hem finish here, I guess. The top is a good length; perhaps I’ve just been getting used to all the cropped tops recently, but it was actually quite nice to make something that covers yer bum. You can always crop it, of course, if you prefer things a bit shorter.

The cuff construction was likewise easy and effective. You just need to wrestle a little to keep the elastic stretched as you topstitch, but it wasn’t too difficult. The only part of the top that gave me issues was the neckline, and that was really just because it was the wrong shape for me. I do like boatnecks sometimes, but this one was too high and narrow – and it sat up from my neck a bit. I could have redrafted the facing, but decided for a second version to graft on the neckline from the Marilla Walker Maya top, as that one fits me well.

Oh – and I had a fairly major idiotic moment when I put my scissors through the front – so I decided to add a pocket! Now you can’t tell – and I also rather like the pocket. So it worked out!

Cuff Top #2

You may well recognise the fabric I used for my second Cuff Top, because it’s the remnant from my recent Seamwork Dorian trousers and I always had in mind to make some sort of matching pair. However, I forgot that it was a Japanese fabric and therefore much narrower than other woven fabrics you might use. I could get the trousers out of it okay, but that left me with precious little for a top and certainly not the Cuff Top, which has large pieces.

I considered various options: sleeveless top, colour-blocking, scrapping the idea altogether, and ended up putting the conundrum aside for a few days, to work on the Adrienne blouse instead. I was pretty sure I had a suitable pattern somewhere in my stash and thought I’d wait for inspiration to strike, as it sometimes does unexpectedly.

My solution ended up being of the colour-blocking variety. I had this Robert Kaufman pink clay linen in my stash as well and thought the two went quite well together, in an analogous kind of way. It’s a good solution in several ways, because these are actually not my favourite colours. The clay linen I bought probably because those kind of shades have been EVERYWHERE for a while and it just lodged in my brain, but it’s also in that wheelhouse of colours that can look awful against my face. The pink double gauze looks a little different in real life than it did on screen and it’s also just a little wishy-washy for my skin tone. The combination of the two, however, I think I just about get away with. It’s amazing what a strong lipstick will do for an outfit, too.

As I mentioned before, I used the Maya neckline for this version and I feel like it worked really well. It did end up narrowing the sleeves somewhat, so I had to cut the elastic down quite a bit. I also got a neat finish on my facing by stitching it around the bottom as per the Maya instructions and using WonderWeb tape to hold it down. It’s alllmmoosst perfect – I just didn’t quite catch the edge properly on the inside, but so close. So close!

I also felt the armhole on the medium was a little low from the first top, so I graded to the small just there and out to the arm, but this was my only other adjustment from the first top.

I really like this top! It’s much heavier-weight than the lawn top and will be a perfect spring/autumn shirt, especially with the trousers. Overall, I do really like the draft of the Cuff Top and it’s not put me off the other patterns at all. On the contrary, I’d like to try some more by Assembly Line, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for a sale! Ha.

My son insisted I pose like this. Not bad, eh?

10 thoughts on “New top: The Cuff Top from The Assembly Line Patterns

    1. Haha – some of the other patterns are pretty tempting! Yes, I was rationalising it the same way and, to be fair, it definitely gave me extra incentive to figure out the neckline. Now that I have, I’ve no doubt I’ll be using it again, so perhaps it will work out after Shirt 24 (just kidding). Looking forward to seeing your projects – I loved your Augusta recently! Also – I think I saw your name on a certain Slack channel recently… so will see you over there too? 😉

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  1. I like what you’ve done but the design doesn’t look that special enough to justify the extra expense. Regarding the 2 coloured one I made a similar design from a very easy vogue pattern and the top piece was curved to add some bust shaping. The high end of the curve was pointing up.

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    1. Yes… I guess that’s the question. I definitely don’t begrudge anyone being paid the value of their labour. Far from it – and I think Big 4 patterns in the US, for example, are extremely undervalued in Joann-type sales and that it’s totally unsustainable. However, this does seem to be quite high for a fairly simple woven top. Having said that, I bought it, so what can I say? Heh heh. Yes, that’s a great point you bring up on shaping. I really just took my best guess at proportions and wanted to avoid the seam going right across my apex, which I managed to do. Whew! But I do like the idea of a curvier shape and will make a note! 🙂

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