Now here’s a blast from the past way back in 1995 folks … Butterick’s 4009 Ellen Tracy/Linda Allard take on a coordinate outfit which includes pants, long sleeved blouse and the STRIKINGLY GORGEOUS TOP!!!! When I was perusing through some vintage patterns, my eyes became fixed on this beauty. I was under the sewing trance. I had to make it. Looks easy, just a couple pattern pieces, tiny little gem of a top… so I thought. Let me tell you, this project took all three “P’s” to accomplish.. 1) patience 2) precision 3) perseverance. From the … oh by the way.. it’s lined, to the curved seams for the bust, to the precision neck line pivot stitches I thought “what have I got myself into”? But I will say this… it was worth every stitch and seam ripper pick. It is a beautiful pattern. It is precise. And it is versatile. Here’s a sneak peek:
SEW… Here We GO!!!
For my first make of this top, I chose to use a less expensive, easy to sew fabric that if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t be that disheartened. I suggest if you decide to tackle this one, do some type of muslin or mock up before investing serious cash into fabric. This top is designed for a light to medium woven fabric like a silk dupioni, or a thin brocade or jacquard, or you can do what I did and get some thin denim. Whatever you decide, don’t forget to prewash your fabric (if it’s washable). Nothing worse than putting all this effort into a beautiful garment to see it SHRINK after the first wash and become unwearable. UGH!! Yeah.. I’ve done that.
Step one: as always, get a new needle in your sewing machine and clean that baby out before you begin. Do a test seam on a scrap of your fabric to ensure your tension is spot on.
Step two: Lay your pattern pieces out on your fabric. Since this is a vintage pattern, I didn’t want to cut it up, so I traced a size 14 onto tracing paper to use as my cutting pattern. Now piece number 1 is cut with 2 mirrored pieces for the front and 2 mirrored pieces for the facings AND 2 interfacing pieces. That’s a total of 4 pieces out of your main fabric just for the first pattern piece and 2 out of interfacing. The remaining pattern pieces (2,3 and 4) will require only 2 mirrored pieces from the main fabric and 2 mirrored pieces from whatever lining you have chosen. I had a yard of nice polyester silky charmeuse on hand so that’s what I used for the lining. As far as interfacing is concerned, a rule of thumb is use an interfacing that is similar in texture and weight as your main fabric. I used a very thin interfacing for my project that actually was made to be used with knits. It gives the strength needed for the button and button holes without being stiff. Ensure that you mark all your dots and notches as precisely as possible. Remember the THREE P’s and one being PRECISION.
Step 3: Let’s get going on the sewing! Oh… but wait… first fuse your interfacing to a set of mirrored #1 pieces. OK, now let’s get this party started. Seam allowance for this pattern is 5/8″. Not 1/2… not 3/4… PRECISELY 5/8″. There are a couple of corners and pivot points of this pattern that need some special attention. I decided since there is a bunch of those places, that I would just stay stitch the ENTIRE edge of pattern piece #1 and did a little double duty stitching at the corners and pivot points. Glad I did. This helps the pattern pieces stay as drafted and not stretch out of shape.
Now that all our pieces are prepped for precision stitching, we are going to attach the side front to the front piece that you have fused the interfacing to. Now I won’t lie to here… This is an absolutely tricky seam to sew. Why you ask on such a simple seam? Well, it’s a curved seam. And there is no stretch to my woven fabric. And it’s a 5/8″ seam. And you must be precise. And it taxed my patience. And I persevered though it. You will want to clip a bunch of clips up to your stay stitch line around that curve. That will give you the ease to fit the pieces together. Match the notches. Pin it in place. Ensure your dots align perfectly and your hem line is spot on. Go slow and methodically. If you screw up, rip it out and start over. I did. Look at it as a lesson in time. (I needed a YOGA class after this one).
WHEW.. over.. done… good job. But wait! You get to do this again on the other side… and the two front facing/lining pieces, and the back pieces. YAY!! It’s a party!!! (Don’t cry). Speaking of the back pieces, sew the center back seam and press open. Trim your seams and press. I have what’s called a pressing “HAM” which is super cool. It looks like a ham, but it’s a wonderful tool to press darts, curves and unusual seams.
Sew pattern piece 4, side back, to the back piece. Do the same thing to this curved seam as you did to the front. Take your time and remember BE PRECISE in your pinning and stitching. Trim seam and press.
Notice the Front piece has a portion that jets out from the top. That’s the collar extension. Sew the two front pieces together at the collar extension. Trim seam and press.
Cut a notch into the pivot corner DOT that you should have reenforced with some extra stitching. NOW… this is a bit tricky. We are going to sew the front to the back at the collar extension and shoulders. Clip into the neck edge if you need a little extra ease to get the job done. REMEMBER PRECISION. Match those DOTS and NOTCHES and BACK SEAM. I started at the back seam, sewed to the pivot notch, pivoted, and sewed down the shoulder. I did the same for the other side. It worked really well and ensured everything fell into place without any hitches. Trim seams and press.
Remember earlier I said you would need to do all these things to the lining???? Well… go ahead and sew your lining pieces the same way you did the main bodice. This is where the FRONT FACING is the same material as the main pieces. All the rest of the pieces you may have chosen a different lining material. This is what my front facing looks like sewn to the back lining.
Now with right sides together we are going to sew the lining to the main body on the bottom hem area, armscyes and neck edge, leaving the sides open and un-sewn , matching all corners, notches, seams, etc. Try to understitch the lining to the seam allowance in places you can, but don’t go all the way through corners and such. Trim your seams and corners. Turn right side out at the sides and give it a good press.
Sew the side seams together by placing right sides together and start sewing the lining about 2″ below the armhole, up and around the front and end about 2″ up from the hemline on the lining, leaving about 4″ of the lining unsewn. It will be similar to sewing a circle. Sounds counterintuitive, but it works. Slip stitch the last part of the lining together by hand. Finish your top with button or snaps or whatever you have chosen as a front closure.
WELL DONE!!! Will I sew this pattern again??? maybe … once I have enough yoga and wine. (BIG SMILE)