Tova: a weekend sewing project.

I don't remember how I connected to Wiksten in the first place but designer extraordinaire Jenny Gordy has released two patterns, my favorite being Tova-- I see many varieties of this shirt in my future. Excitingly, just two days ago she announced on her blog that sewing patterns are now for sale in a downloadable format! It will save you money (cost is a jaw-dropping 1/3 of professionally printed price) and while I swear the printed version is one of the most beautiful/durable patterns you'll ever handle, I'll probably download the tank and see if I can manage with that format.

Let's start with a picture of the finished product and then move through a couple of modifications and lessons learned.

To begin I cut the actual pattern pieces from the large sheet of paper then laid the pattern onto my fabric. The yardage required from the pattern is 2.5 yards for the shirt (3.5 for dress) in 42-45" width. And so I knew I'd have a problem... because I had just a smidge over 2 yards in this woven plaid and my heart was set on using this first. I bought the fabric from goodwill and then the pattern, wanting to combine the two into some awesome project.

I accepted that in order to cut the sleeves there would be a notch in the seam allowance that might require short sleeves in the end and that I'd take a risk and cut the collar on the cross-grain. The pattern calls for gathered fabric at the inset, the sleeve cuff, and a bit at the shoulder portion of the armscye. My sleeves wouldn't have as much puff but they'd be okay-- so I angled from the armsceye to the cuff and cut off an inch of width at the base. In theory I should have done the same to both sides because symmetry is good and I didn't want an angled seam... but that wasn't an option. I'm a cheater!
The sewing began with the inset and the cursing started early. Turning those clipped corners while navigating a sea of pins was hard!
 At numerous points that pattern instructs the sewer to serge the edges after sewing seams (see lesson learned about reading ahead). Since I'd jumped right into the project and didn't have the right color cones of thread for my serger, I opted to use the double overlock stitch on my sewing machine. It's a fine alternative for people that don't have sergers or are too excited to pause and run to the fabric store.
And I think the final mod was to the hem-- I shortened it by 3 & 5/8." I didn't think the length was flattering on me and I realized after the fact that my shoulders and bust call for size medium but my hips are closer to large. It didn't have enough drape to look right. The next time around I'll do a couple pattern adjustments, allowing myself extra ease in the hips if I keep the intended length, and slashing the bodice back to remove some of the length. One of the most useful classes I took at the Sewing & Stitchery expo was on Pattern Alteration from one of the authors of Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (2nd Edition). That book is in my queue and I look forward to getting the perfect fit in my clothes.

Lessons learned in no certain order:
  1. Have the proper yardage.
  2. Read through the entire pattern before beginning (as the instructions say). Turns out a seamstress is like a knitter in the way we both have a tendency to get started and worry about what will come later. This was a problem for me when pinning the collar because it says "Pin at center front, then shoulder seams, then collar ends, easing everything else between." Perfect. WHY WON'T MY COLLAR LINE UP?! This was the most frustrating point for me because I continued to have gaps where gaps should not exist. Well... the next line of text says something like, "Collar should have 3/8" overlap at each end." That would have been helpful to know before I was trying to ease 3/4 of an inch where it didn't belong. Read ahead, silly.
  3.  Properly mark your fabric pieces. Your collar will continue to have issues lining up if you've marked center back ~5/8" from where it should be.
  4. Baste the plackets together (at the bottom) before sewing inset into bodice. This will help keep things in line next time when I'm busy cursing the pins and the corners and watching my seam allowance.
  5. Don't sew around young children or people offended by strong language. At least not if you're going to be using a seam ripper or going in circles because you've measured wrong, and pinned wrong, and tried the same thing at least 4 times with different (and still wrong) results. I find those curse words to be motivating and soothing.
  6. I love the way topstitching really finishes a project. Also, next time I'll probably give myself extra seam allowance and finish the inside of the garment with french seams for an added touch.


    1. Thanks for the tips. I'm jumping back into sewing myself. I don't feel comfortable sewing for myself just yet. I have to do my sewing late at night. Great job on the top!

    2. It looks great! I'm totally impressed.


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