I recently joined the pattern testing group for the Collins Top. I enjoy a bit of pattern testing, especially for Emily of In the Folds. The reason is simple, she is my friend, we share a studio space together AND her patterns rock!
I am always interested (read: nosy) in what she is up to. I love seeing all the new toiles hanging around in the studio and I have been known to try the odd one on when she isn’t looking. I knew I was going to love this top. I made a very early incarnation when it was in it’s design stage infancy. She often takes pity on me and shows me the goods!
The Collins top is a loose-fitting trapeze-shaped top designed for woven fabrics. It is A-line in shape, perfect for hot summer days (nearly here!) It features a round neck, panel lines, a high-low hem and a centre-back opening, with a button and loop closure. One of my favourite things about this top is the colour blocking and pattern direction opportunities. I saw some amazing versions while part of the pattern testing team. There is lots of inspiration if you check out the instagram hashtag.
I didn’t intend to make this top three times, but when you are part of the pattern testing team, it kinda just happens.
My first version (view B) was the sleeveless version. Here the neckline and armholes are finished with an all-in-one facing. This is my favourite version of the top.
When pattern testing I often use second hand fabric and here is no exception. I used a vividly coloured polyester fabric I found at Achieve Australia last year. I wanted to try a drapy version of this top. It was probably not the easiest fabric to work with in hinesight, but ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’, to quote Mastermind’s Magnus Magnusson.
My main concern was adding the facing. I really shouldn’t have been concerned. Emily has added a really cool way of installing the facing, the instructions here are faultless. I have never added facing like it before. You will understand what I mean when you make this top (which you should do, by the way!)
Here are some detail shots.
I used a magenta button on the closure and I self faced which I really love as it’s super neat and tidy. The only thing I changed here was the hemming, I didn’t add bias binding as suggested, I just sewed a small hem on the machine.
After this first round of testing there was a tweak to the pattern so I put my hand up to try the second round. This time I tested the short sleeve version.
The short sleeved version (view A) includes a three-piece raglan sleeve. I can’t go past a raglan sleeve as you know. The neckline is finished with bias binding, so no facing needed here.
I really like this sleeve construction. As always Emily’s design aesthetic shines through. This is a fun sew. I used second hand fabric again, this piece was sourced at Vinnie’s. I love the colour and the miniature check but I can’t help thinking it looks a bit like the colour of scrubs from a distance. Hey ho, I’m wearing it anyway.
Here are the detail shots.
I used a button closure again and this gifted emerald green button. I made my own binding using some lovely tartan lawn cotton. I used it on the hem and the neckline.
Armed with my pattern testing knowledge it was now time to make the ULTIMATE version.
I had been lusting after this fantastic fabric from Drapers Daughter in the UK. It is designed by Kokka fabric called Paint Brush. The fabric looks like it has been made up of layers of brush strokes. The lovely teal blue colourway in tones of petrol blue on light beige really appealed to me. I love me some blue.
It’s 85% cotton, 15% linen and is a mid weight canvas, a much heavier fabric than I had made before. It’s a damn sight easier to sew than the first two versions. It really was a super quick sew. I am wondering if muscle memory played a part here!
You will see that the fabric has a light beige feature border which runs, unevenly, along the selvedge on one side of the fabric, and which ranges in depth from 12cm to 18cm. I decided that this part of the fabric would run along the top edge with the darker colour at the bottom edge of the garment. I am so thrilled by the uneven and random look.
Here are the detail shots.
You will see that I removed the button closure. I can fit this top over my head so decided to omit it on this version.
I was also short on fabric, I didn’t have quite enough to self face and I suppose it might have been a tad heavy anyway. I searched my stash and found this beautiful piece of gifted Liberty fabric. I love this little surprise fabric inside, it pleases me no end.
I did decide to add make my own bias binding for the hem. I used the scraps from my top and managed to make the full length required (although it’s in about 4 pieces). It looks super neat, well worth the effort.
I think this is my favourite of the three, but interestingly because of the difference in fabric, they all feel like very different tops. I have already worn my ‘paint brush’ top about 10 times and I know there will be many more outings. There is also an interesting story to tell about my first version, but I’ll save that story for my next post!