Saturday, January 29, 2011

Update - Summer Top

A few months ago, as summer was just starting, I lamented on Facebook that I didn't have my pattern library here, because I wanted to make some summer clothes.  A friend commented that I should just choose a top I currently have and like, and make a mock-up off that.  This comment struck me two ways.  One, I supposed I could do that, but it would be so much less work to just have a pattern; and I hadn't actually gone through the copying-a-garment process in about, oh, almost 6 years now and I wasn't sure I was up to the task.  Also, I don't have many summer tops that I like and are woven, as I just spent 3 years in a place where 3/4 length sleeves are fine for most of the year.  So I stewed for about a week, before I decided to just go to the (one) fabric store and see if inspiration would strike.  It did.  I bought two fabrics, one of which I promptly figured out what to do with and you'll see in this blog post, and one of which is still sitting in my closet because I know what I want to do with it, but don't have a top to mimic, or a pattern to use.

The top I decided to reproduce is a really simple one.  It's a green tunic top, V-necked, with elastic just under the bustline, and very few seams.  No buttons, no frills.  Simple.  And once I figured out how exactly to mock it up, it was.  First, however, I spent another week figuring out how.

There are two basic ways of creating a garment.  Draping, where you take the body form and create the shape directly on it, manipulating your fabric on the form until you have what you want.  And drafting, where you create paper patterns from body measurements which you then transfer to fabric.  (I know I've just grossly oversimplified the two techniques, but if you want more info, go wiipedia it.)  I started my process by trying to drape fabric over the green top, trace basically.  But I kept getting different results.  I couldn't really tell where my grainline was, and the elastic wasn't making things easier.  Also, I'm not really good at draping.  So after chucking my seconed attempt across the room, I decided that first off, I had to take the elastic out to better see where the darn grainline was.  I quickly realized that the top half wasn't really on the grain at all, and I decided to forget the draping and start drafting (which I'm considerably better at).

I began by following the grainline on the green top, and marking it with pins, to give me a reference point when drawing it out.  As you can see, the grainline, especially in the front, DID NOT follow the seam line.  Then I followed the grainline perpendicular to that up and over the top of the tunic.  This I marked every 1" with a pin across that vertical line.  From these two lines, I created my pattern.
I know it's kinda hard to see, but first, forget about the dark black lines in the lower right--they're left over from a failed project.  The light horizontal line running from the USB drive to the right is my grainline running over the top of my tunic.  After drawing that, I measured out from that line to either edge at my 1" marks.  I continued to sketch out the top until I had an accurate representation.  And it looked kinda funny.  Center Front is at the USB, and Center Back is at the pins.  They're not on the same line.  And my armhole is the slightly curved line at the top, which is not the usual shape for a armhole.  But it was what the garment told me.  I had already measured out the bottom of the tunic, it was a simple trapezoid shape, so I was ready to cut out my fabric.  It sewed together really well, and below is the finished product.
 Yes, I know it's wrinkled, but overall I'm extremely pleased with it.  It's almost exactly like the original (the sleeve caps were gathered slightly on the green, but I omitted this and now have more sun coverage) and I've gotten a couple compliments on it, which really makes me feel peachy, and I think it's the first modern top I've made that I've actually wanted to wear.  Yay me!

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