The rayon jersey I really love is knit from yarns spun from longer fibers. This gives the jersey an almost crepe texture, and a very dry hand. It is truly beautiful fabric, but harder to come by, as the shorter staple rayons are more popular in the marketplace. It's those shorter fibers that fluff out and become pills. The way to tell a short fiber rayon jersey? Does it feel soft and cottony? If so, my experience has shown it's likely to pill.
So, no more short fiber rayon jersey for me, I said. And I really meant to stick with this conviction - until I saw this lovely color of rayon/lycra jersey on Marcy Tilton's site. One look, and all promises were forgotten.
This rich jewel tone green is a great color for me, and hard to come by. I requested a swatch and found it was a soft, drapey, short-fiber rayon. Yes, it's likely to pill. But the color just hooked me. I swore to take very gentle care of it - short cycle in the washer, and hang to dry. It's too early to tell how it will hold up, but I hope it does, because I really love this top.
I've been wanting to make Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8710 for some time. This fabric told me that's what it wanted to be, and that it wanted to be painted. So, I jumped right in. (Call me crazy, but fabric does speak to me, if I listen carefully. It's all part of the wonderfully mysterious creative process.)
Since this top hadn't been designing itself in my mind for long, I began by looking at paint colors to see what enhanced the color of the fabric. All three are Lumiere. Then I pulled out all of my silk screens to find a nice combination. A Japanese theme came to the forefront.
I still have a lot of practicing to do to get the silk screening process refined. Sometimes I push too much paint through the screen, and sometimes not enough. Several parts of the screen used on the right edge of the back didn't come through well, so I touched them up with a fine brush. It's a tedious procedure, but I'm glad I had a way to save this top, as the pieces had been cut out before I painted them.
As for the pattern, I can't say enough good about it. It is cut very well for my figure. Wanting to wear this in warmer weather, I cut the neckline a couple of inches lower. In hindsight, I could have left it as drafted. I shortened the sleeves to 7/8 length. They could have been tapered more, but I don't mind their width as they will be cooler.
The real bonus of this design is the side front insert. I'm always looking for an opportunity to add some bust shaping, and this piece provides one. I had sewn both of them in and inserted the sleeves before realizing the top could use more shaping in the bust area. So, I figured out how much of a "dart" to take out of the armscye, and pinned the insert that much farther into the front piece.
That's the front piece sticking out above the side insert piece. Here's a view from the other side, showing how much I was able to remove from the front - a good inch.
This adjustment made for a really pleasing fit at the side bust and armscye.
The only sewing change I made was to hand sew the neck band on the inside. The pattern calls for stitching in the ditch from the outside, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stay in the ditch. I think it had something to do with the relative bulk of the band and the size of the presser feet I tested. I ended up turning the inner edge under and hand sewing it, only to discover that diagonal wrinkles had formed, mostly on the front. In an effort to save enough fabric for another garment, I had cut the band on the cross grain, rather than on the bias, as recommended by Katherine. Apparently the jersey needed to be lined up perfectly on grain in order to lie flat. So, I removed my stitches and started again. I inserted a pin at the sewn edge, followed the grain and inserted another pin at the raw edge. This told me which two points had to meet in order for the band to lie flat. I pinned a couple of inches, hand stitched it, pinned a couple more inches, and proceeded around the band. It turned out nicely, so I don't mind having put the effort in.
Little did I know at the time, but after a washing I discovered the hems behaved just like the neckline. Fortunately the wrinkles pressed out okay, so I'm not going to resew the hems. They are machine stitched, and would be a pain to remove and redo.
The swing fit of the lower front and back are great for a round, full figured gal like me.
Thinner women have mentioned on PR that they don't care for the extra fabric. For me, it means not having to add width at the side seams. If you have a protruding midriff and belly, like I do, this top may just be for you! I will definitely be making it again, as I love the "dart" I can hide in the side front seam.
Thanks to Katherine for another winning pattern!