Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simplicity 2580, Empire Waist Cowl

Simplicity 2580 Thumbnail

I buy just about every knit dress pattern that comes down the pike and am always looking at knit top patterns to see if they can be made into a dress. But it rarely occurs to me to turn a dress into a top. Melissa of Fehr Trade showed a cute cowl top made of the Simplicity 2580 and I tucked it into the back of my mind for the next time I had some odd-shaped scraps I couldn't do much else with.

I just got this fabric from Fabric Mart ($5.99/yd, pricey for me!) for my Turkey wardrobe and immediately sewed it into a long sleeve knit dress. The scraps were too big to throw away, but had to made into something pieced.

I am not crazy about empire waist tops lately, because they can be neither belted nor tucked and I have apparently turned into someone who wears a belt nearly every day. The tucking is more theoretical, but theoretically I am open to it. But I decided to throw caution to the wind and make it up in this pattern. I actually already made a top from this a while back; the fabric didn't have enough drape and it doesn't look great, but I knew it was a solid pattern and the fully self-faced cowl that will always sit perfectly and requires no rearranging sold me.

My one gripe is the instructions, which involve a lot of fussiness and inefficiency. Most cowl patterns these days seem to use the modern, all-machine-finish way; I was really impressed with the instructions for the McCall 6069 double cowl dress. So if you pull out one of your patterns it will probably do a much better job of explaining things than I am about to. What I love about this method is that you can do the whole thing with a twin needle in your sewing machine if you use a serger for construction. No switching back and forth between twin and regular.

Finish Back Neckline & Armscye Start by finishing the neckline and armscyes of the back piece. For both, I just fold the seam allowance to the inside and twin needle in place. I fold the neckline over a piece of clear elastic slightly smaller than the length of the neckline to keep it in shape; the front cowl is heavy compared to the back so the back benefits from a little support. (If you're using a sleeve, obviously you don't need to finish the back armscye.)

Shoulder Seam All In One Next, fold the upper bodice and self facing along the fold line. Slip the back shoulder edge in between them. Snug the finished back neck to the fold line at the seamline. This is crucial. I am generally guilty of matching and pinning the edges rather than the seamlines, but here the you will have an unsightly bump if the back is not matched up to the fold at the seamline. Note that the unfinished edges of the front armscye will overhang the finished edge of the back armscye. Pin and serge.

Finish Front Armscye Now match up the edges of the front armscye outer fabric and self facing. Here it is important to mark exactly where the finished back armscye is hidden in between the two layers of the front (OK, fine, I admit it; I don't mark). Serge the front/self-facing armscyes, right sides together. At the shoulder edge, make sure your stitching line is exactly at the finished back armscye edge. Be careful not to catch the back into your seam (especially with a serger!).

When you turn it all right side out, you have your finished neckline and armscyes all done. If you've correctly matched everything up, the front and back will be seamless (well, not literally seamless but you know what I mean).

Snug Bodice Back Between Fronts at Armscye Next comes the side seam. As with the shoulder, you are going to sandwich the back between the front and front self-facing. This is a little easier because you just have to match up the raw edges. Again, it is important to snug the back finished armscye up into the front/self-facing serged together armscye at the seamline. Serge.

Finished Self-Faced Cowl If you want to complete the clean finish, you can leave out the self facing when sewing the upper bodice and lower bodice and then hand-stitch the facing in place. However, a serged finish is good enough for me here.

Serge the side seams of the lower front and back and center seam of lower back. I used the center back seam in the lower bodice for some swayback shaping.

Treat the front and front self-facing as one and pin the upper bodice to the lower bodice. Serge.

Simplicity 2580 Your machine is still set up in a twin needle so you can easily hem the top and voila! A nicely finished cowl top with a minimum of effort.

I am really happy with the top, despite the empire waist. It's a fantastic way to wear my lace Burda 09-2008-108 skirt for summer and in a casual way. If I'd had enough fabric I would have liked to avoid that big circle that's almost at center front on the lower bodice but it was a top with a big circle at center front or no top at all.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

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I am sewing like crazy for my Turkey trip! It's still a little too early to know exactly what the weather will be, so I have been making both long sleeve and short sleeve items. It seems to be tipping toward cool, though, low 60s (16-18 C for my metric readers). I can handle cool weather, I suppose, but it is also looking rainy. Much less fun for sightseeing. I will have to ponder whether it will be worth it to bring a pair of boots. They take up so much room, but shoes are really no good to be out in rain for 8-10 hours. I suppose much depends on my therapeutic boot situation. I go to the doctor this afternoon so keep your fingers crossed for me!

30 comments:

Little Hunting Creek said...

I hope that your foot is better in time for Turkey! And I love your "free" top. Sometimes I like the things I make from scraps better than the actual item I bought the fabric for.

Trudy Callan said...

This is a very lovely top. You always make the most amazing fabric choices with such fun prints.

Sewfast said...

That's a great top and would work well under a jacket. Fingers and toes crossed for your doctor appointment...hope you can give the boot the boot!

AllisonC said...

This looks like the perfect cowl top, no slippage! Thanks for the heads up on the instructions too.

beangirl said...

I really like this top on you (empire waist and all). But then I like empire waists. So exciting to be close to getting the boot (heh) and going on your trip. I hope you're taking LOAD of photos.

MushyWear said...

I hope you receive good news at the doc, and leave the boot behind! Cute top, and great instructions for putting it together. Thanks for the tips!

Uta said...

Cute! I like empire waists for the small-on-top, and I wouldn't worry about the circle - it falls right where a big pendant might fall. Consider it jewelry. Good luck at the Dr's.

Adelaide B said...

Fingers crossed! I love a cowl on you. They don't look so great on me, so I have to enjoy them through you.

Rose said...

The top is adorable as is, but I'll admit, I've worn belts with empire-waist tops and dresses.

kbenco said...

Ooh, very nice, and your instructions sound very sensible, and quick!
Good luck with your booting of the boot.

Jane M said...

OH, I love empire waists and love this top on you. Thanks so much for the detailed explanation. I'm going to give this one a try, too.

Faye Lewis said...

Such a nice top and pretty fabric. Hope I have that pattern.

KID, MD said...

This makes a great top! I think the big circle is in a good position actually. It could have been highlighting one of the girls...

HeathersSphere said...

Cool looking cowl top on your svelte figure! Thanks for your very informative review. Hope you get to wear the stylish boots very soon!

Eugenia said...

Love the beautiful top. You have got a really nice fit with this - it drapes just right and fits exactly where it is supposed to without being clingy. I do hope you get some good news from your doctor.

Isabelle said...

Adorable top - I love the print. I hope the visit to the doctor was positive!

BrusselsSprout_Katharine said...

Fingers crossed--boot update?

Brenna said...

very cute top! I love cowl necks. You're brave, sewing everything for your trip. I am always afraid that they are going to lose my suitcase when I travel and that all of my hard work would disappear.

STL Mom said...

I never used to take boots on trips, thinking they were too big, but sometimes you need a boot. A comfortable, waterproof leather boot would be perfect.
I was in Turkey this summer, and in Istanbul I loved Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace (don't miss the harem), the Spice Market, the Bosphorus cruise (and the fish sandwiches sold at the dock), and the Cistern. Outside of Istanbul, Ephesus was amazing. The Rick Steves guide to Istanbul was great for sites, not so much for restaurants. The Tripadvisor forums were mostly useful. Have a wonderful time!

Sigrid said...

Fun print and cute top. Hope you have good news for your foot.

gwensews said...

Cute top. Love the cowl. Oh, but your poor leg! Good luck at the doctor!

Valerie said...

fingers crossed!

sewabeginner said...

This top is so flattering on you. I love the fabric. Beautiful!

Susan said...

I love how your dress pattern came out as a top. This looks great on you!

McVal said...

Too cute! Plus I never wear a belt, so this type of thing would be perfect for me! I"m going to try it soon.

Tany said...

You have been sewing like a storm! That's a beautiful top and I loved the dresses on your previous posts as well! Great job!

Angela said...

Lovely top! I always love your detailed notes on construction! Hope you get some good news from the doctor!

TE said...

SOS, please. Or SMSM (save my sewing machine).

My BabyLock Crafters Choice machine just DIED MISERABLY for the second time this year. The first time, back in February, I drove the 2 hours to the nearest authorized service center to get it fixed. Yeah, right.

Has anyone else had experience with Baby Lock? Are they always this junky? I'd love input from the sewing community. Thanks.

melissa said...

This looks great, and your visual instructions are way better than mine! I've made a few of these tops and they're the ones I wear most often from my wardrobe!

Silanna said...

Wspaniały blog, jestem zachwycona Twoimi dziełami, wow!