What is better than a loose, gathered tunic top when you want to look put together, but feel like you are wearing your jammies? This pattern is now out of print, but I think that it is a classic casual style. As a Very Easy Vogue pattern, I approached it as an intermediate level of difficulty. Like most Vogue patterns, the instructions are written assuming a certain level of experience.
You can always modernize a look by using on-trend prints, such as this white on black elephant print I picked up from purpleseamstress fabric a few months ago. The pattern specifies only lycra blends, and I wasn’t sure that my double-brushed poly-spandex fit the bill. I had to go to the internet to verify that indeed it does. Apparently Lycra is the duPont brand name for spandex (and spandex is elastane outside the US).
It’s a medium weight, which will be great for fall, winter, and early spring. I would not go any heavier than medium weight if doing the long sleeve version, otherwise there will be too much bulk to do the gathered cuffs and neckband.
Seams and particularly seam finishes on knits are a great fit for a serger, if you have one. My serger, a 20 year old Simplicity Easy Lock with differential feed is just about as basic as they come. But while today’s sergers are more user friendly, the actual mechanics are the same. Before starting my project, I changed my needles to brand-new ball-points. As with all projects, I did some test sewing to make sure my settings were correct. Since this fabric was so stretchy, I set the differential to maximum stretch. I threaded the machine with four threads so it would cut and sew an overlock seam with safety stitch. Testing revealed a problem – the machine consistently pushed the first bit of stitched material down into the throat plate. Not pretty! After a little experimentation, I found that putting a “bunny” under the back of the presser foot stopped the destruction. (bunny = sacrificial bit of cloth used to start tricky seams).
I usually do some pattern alterations, but this design is so forgiving that I really didn’t need to. I followed the instructions, but I would change a few things next time. I would sew the cuffs onto the sleeves before closing the sleeve seams. Trying to sew the small diameter cuff was pretty tricky. It just barely fit over the sewing machine’s free arm. I might even make the cuff about an inch deeper, just to give some wiggle room for fitting. The instructions don’t say anything about clipping the excess from sewn gathers, but if you skip that unwritten step, it would not work at all. I think with a lighter fabric, just doing an elasticized cuff would look really nice. It could be done with or without a casing.
The neck opening is quite large, just as shown on the illustration. To make the top a little more user-friendly, I have added carriers for my bra straps. In addition to keeping my straps from showing, carriers keep the neck from slipping toward one shoulder or the other.
Probably the most important thing I would do differently would be to make a left and a right sleeve, instead of two righties. It happens to everyone…
In the end, I have a new wardrobe staple. It is wash and wear, wrinkle resistant, and goes with just about everything. This one stays in the keeper pile.