A sheer, chiffon Nichoals top for 385 inspired my floral sweater knit top. The designer top is lovely but SHEER! Way too sheer for me. Instead of chiffon, I picked a light sweater knit.
The inspiration top features decorative trim along the princess seam lines. As if the sheer chiffon did expose enough, the decorative trim is open cutwork.
Aside from the ephemeral sheerness, the inspiration top has some lovely style lines. The princess seam from the shoulder is slimming. The sleeve ends in a delicate double flute. The upper flute looks like it might be from a border print or matching print. A decorative band accents the flutes. Tiny ruffles edge the neck.
I had a piece of black open cutwork trim that I knew would look nice along the from-the-shoulder princess seams. I thought about lining the open trim with flesh colored mesh. Then I stumbled across an old scrap of fabric. The odd, not pink, not red, not brown color of the polished quilting cotton blended wonderfully with the roses on the sweater knit. So I cut strips of bias from the quilting cotton, and used them behind the openwork on the decorative trim.
The biggest obstacle proved to be finding a basic princess seam from the shoulder top. There were none in my stash. There were none on the commercial Big 4 sites. There were none on the smaller, independent companies sites or the overseas downloadable pattern sites. I did find a LOT of coats and jackets with a from the shoulder princess seam, but no tops or dresses.
Finally, I decided to start with a from the shoulder princess seam jacket pattern already in my stash.
The next problem was a pattern for the flute sleeves. My stash offered up caftan sleeves that should work.
But, I just didn’t have enough fabric to cut double flute sleeves. Back to the stash. This time I discovered a vintage pattern with different flounces on a short sleeve. So I switched to the vintage sleeve, with a double flounce. The inspiration sleeve is full length, mine is only 3/4.
The vintage pattern showed a plain short sleeve, and three different flounce options (but it did not show multiple flounces). I picked two of the flounces to imitate the double flute sleeve on the inspiration top. The under flounce is a semi-circle. The upper flounce is shaped and comes to a point at the elbow, exposing the under flounce.
I assembled the sleeves first, just to see how they would turn out.
I finished the hem of the sleeve flounces on the serger with a version of faux piping. I was too lazy to remove the right needle, so I used four threads instead of the three normally used for faux piping.
I used ordinary Maxi-lock thread in the needles, and black wooly nylon in the loopers. I reduced the stitch length to slightly less than 1. I tried hard to NOT stretch the edge into a lettuce leaf. I wanted a bit of flare, but not ruffles.
Next I basted the princess seams together along the front and back. I pinned the shoulder and side seams along the stitching lines. Then, I tried it on, expecting it to be a touch too big because it was loosely based on a jacket pattern. I was right. I took all the seams in just a touch, and it fit well.
The strip of quilting cotton I used behind my cutwork trim covered the garment seam. I sewed the front and back princess seams with the serger. Then, I topstitched the trim over the front princess seam lines.
Finally, I sewed the side seams with a serger, then inserted my pre-assembled sleeves.
Now, I had to decide what to do about the neck and the hem. Originally I thought I’d make a neck band and a small rolled hem. But, as I looked at the almost finished top, I realized the cutwork sections were really bulky. The cutwork trim was stiff, it was backed with quilting cotton, and layered over the top. I wasn’t sure a rolled hem would work!
I realized the finish I used on the sleeve hems didn’t require turning the edge under. I simply serged along the final edge over a single layer of fabric. The test run over a scrap of the trim came out beautiful, so I that’s how I finished the hem.
Finally, I decided to finish the neckline the same way. I worried that it might be tugged out of shape, so I reinforced it with a slim strip of fusible interfacing before edge stitching with the faux piping.
Still, it was missing something. It needed a touch of something on the sleeve. The inspiration garment had a band of cutwork just above the elbow where the upper flute started. I didn’t have enough trim for that. I tried a bow, then a piece of lace, and last, a tiny ribbon flower. The ribbon flower was just a touch too small by itself, and I had only 2 dark red ones, so I added a black one on each side.