Sewing a Rayon Challis Top – Making pattern adjustments and fixing fitting

What is it with fashion designers these days?  Go into the stores looking for a pretty spring print and all you find are ugly prints and the ever present solid colors.  Is the concept of florals for spring so clichéd that no one will do them?  But, but… that is what I want now, planting flowers in pots and pretty floral prints to wear.  Even Macy’s let me down, and that doesn’t often happen.  I am sick of solid, color blocking and I need something else to wear to work.  So, back to the fabric stash to finally sew up at least one of the rayon challis prints I have been hoarding for no good reason.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Now the problem is a pattern.  What I want is a sleeveless, tailored, fitted shell to wear under a spring pastel sweater.  I have been through the pattern books multiple times, and the styles aren’t appealing.  I found some on sale recently, so I decided to try this one with a cowl style neckline in the front.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

This little symbol is my best friend on a pattern, do you know what it is? Because I am short, I usually need to adjust the pattern for a petite size. This symbol is the center bust, and if it lines up where it should, I am good to go. Otherwise, I have to fold out about an inch on most patterns above the center bust and below the shoulder. This pattern is sized well for me, so good to go.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

The pattern said that the center back would be 3 and a half inches below the natural neck, and I didn’t want that.  Knowing that any pattern can be modified to suit my needs, I redrafted the cutting line to be higher and closer to my neck.  Use a curved ruler and make both sides even.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Next, I cut out the pattern pieces and ironed them.  I know most of you don’t do this, but I find that there are fewer fitting mistakes if I do.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

This pattern called for shortening at the waistline, so I did shorten it by about two inches.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

One thing I know, a new pattern may or may not fit like the same size I last sewed, so making a quick muslin was in order. I used some cotton fabric that is badly damaged from the sun and not suitable for a quilt.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

The great thing about this pattern is there are only two pieces, and it is cut on the bias. So I cut out two pieces of the cotton, and did a quick stitch of the side seams and shoulder seams to try it on. It seemed to be true to size, so I went ahead with the rayon.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Placing the pattern was critical, one doesn’t want flower centers in certain places, LOL!!  I can see the print through the pattern so that was easy. Once again, that little bust symbol came in handy.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

The pattern calls for finishing the edge of the cowl, but it doesn’t say how. There were several confusing instructions so I read through the instructions completely first.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

I threaded up the serger with black thread and put a line of serging around it.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Then some stay-stitching at the clip point for the cowl self-fabric facing.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

The pattern calls for the back neck edge to be finished before the shoulder seams are done.  Weird, but OK. I serged the raw edge, then turned under and topstitched.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Serging the seams does well for rayon too, so I did those.  Changing the settings on the serger to a rolled edge, I serged the bottom edge meaning to leave it this way.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

It took several readings of the poorly worded instructions to understand how the shoulder seams and cowl neck facing was to be done.  The use of the words inside and outside were confusing, as it said ‘turn to the outside’ which was actually the inside of the garment turned inside-out.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

I serged the sleeves, then turned the serging under and topstitched. I thought I was done.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

I think is goes well with my pale yellow sweater. I can also wear it with the other short sleeve sweaters I have for spring, since there are other colors in the print to bring out.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Trying it on, the fit was fine, but this time I turned to look at the back.  Oh crap!  The neckline in the back was sticking out, when I wanted it to lay flat.  I didn’t notice this on the muslin, I think because I was in a hurry to get started sewing.  That would have been easy to draft that extra out of the pattern before cutting.  So now, I have to make a dart in the back to take that out. I measured it while I had it on, and figured out how low the dart would go.  Small rant, why do pattern makers think that because I need a certain size to fit my chest, that means I have the shoulders of a linebacker? I had to take six inches out of the middle back neckline.  Pulling up the back made more folds for the cowl in the front, so I didn’t have to adjust the front.

Rayon Top | From My Carolina Home

I took out the finishing topstitching on the center back neck.

Rayon Top | From My Carolina Home

The dart was sewn along a drawn line. Then I serged off the excess.

Rayon Top | From My Carolina Home

Sewing tip – to make your clothes look professionally sewn, iron the outside of the seam as well as the inside.
Press the edges of the sleeves and the bottom too, flattening the creases and smoothing the topstitching.

Sewing a Rayon Print Top |From My Carolina Home

Finally, all finished and ready to wear this week.

Rayon Top | From My Carolina Home

How do you feel about florals for spring?  Do you sew clothes?

16 thoughts on “Sewing a Rayon Challis Top – Making pattern adjustments and fixing fitting

  1. What a lovely spring top. I feel your pain about finding clothes in spring prints! I, too, am tired of only seeing solid colors. I’ve taken to shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops….not for the price, just for older styles that I miss. (Although I will admit it’s the best place to find wool for my crafting….). I used to sew all my clothes as a young wife and for our 3 children. Alas, they are all grown with children of their own. I suppose it’s time I started sewing for the grandbabies…especially while they are still toddlers. I will admit, seeing your top (really love the cowl—and don’t clothes cut on the bias fit exquisitely???), makes me want to stop quilting for a few minutes and make something quick to wear. Thank you for sharing….blessings from WV.

  2. Florals for Spring are fabulous! I have not looked at any new patterns, but have been considering some new tops from patterns that I already have and fabrics that I have on hand also. I think the fabric that you chose for this pattern is very pretty and compliments one another. So enjoy wearing your new blouse and show off all the beautiful florals! Have a fantastic creative day!

  3. Classic issues using one of the tissue patterns, imo! Very pretty fabric in the top and the cowl is great.

    I have made a number of dresses for my two year old granddaughter this year, which has been fun. One great pattern, the Charlie tunic/dress by madebyrae, is a PDF and the short version would be very cute for boys, too.

    I am very tall, have long legs and making clothes for myself has never been much success. I am thinking of trying a nice knit to make some long-enough lounging pants to keep my chilly legs warm early and late in the day. Will see how that goes, maybe start with some bargain stuff to get the cutting fit worked out.

    I have found that the landsend Starfish pants and lululemon yoga pants are long enough, so wear those almost exclusively – think I have about 8 pair, all black. Retired, so no office wear, but day/exercise clothes are all solids, with some bright tops. I have one solid dress that works for me fine! Boring, but easy!

  4. I used to sew clothes when I was younger and when my children were young. Remember stretch-and-sew? They were great. I’ve noticed patterns these days omit many directions. I don’t know how a new sewer would be able to sew any of the patterns. I tried to make an open front simple jacket piece that all the quilt shops were showing but I got to a certain point and couldn’t figure out the pattern. I even took it to a few places to have the directions explained to me, but no one could figure them out. I gave up and haven’t sewn any clothes since.

  5. Cheryl

    I haven’t done as much garment sewing since starting to quilt, and was never very confident if I had to adjust a pattern very much. This tutorial was really good and I will remember it if I need to adjust a curved neckline again. Thanks!

  6. Deanna Bishop

    I love your fabric. I have tried to make some tops for myself with not much luck. I’m hoping that Brenda can help me make some simple tank tops for summer. I havent asked her yet though.. Hey Brenda…will you help me make some tank tops? There I asked her. LOL
    The only clothes sewing Ive done are some shirts for my husband (never sewed before we got married my sister taught me how to make them) And in the end I made 42 shirts for him. He would pick out the fabric and he knew he needed 2 1/2 yards unless it was directional fabric and he knew to get 3 yards. I figured if he picked out the fabric himself he would wear the shirts and he did he wore every single one. We were mentors at the elementary school helping 3rd graders with reading and he had the coolest prints on his shirts (florescent planets, colorful frogs all kinds of different prints. One day I asked him why does he get that kind of fabric and he said to make it a bit more interesting to the kids to get them in the mood for reading. And it did. It was like a race for the boys to see who could get to the the library and get a book first just so they could get my husband for their tutor.Many times he would have 2 or 3 boys at the same time.

    Anyways, I love your fabric choice. I really love floral colorful prints. You did an excellent job and hope you can make yourself lots more.

  7. Melanie

    I’m right there with you in that spring florals are somehow missing on the racks! I am feeling that I need to sew clothes again, and seeing your pretty blouse makes me even more inspired! Thank you for sharing your techniques and fixes (the latter often stops me from getting to the finish line). Great job, beautiful print!

  8. Maga

    It seems geometric prints is all the rage here at the moment and unless you are willing to pay for Liberty fabric there isn’t much choice. I like the pattern you have used here and will see if I can find a shop selling McCall here. I make all of my clothes except lingerie and use a lot of quilting cottons for tops, tunics and dresses. I love that more companies now make voile as part of their range. I can’t wait to see what fabric you use for the next top

  9. dezertsuz

    I avoid it like a plague – the product of making most of my own clothes from teen years on. And then the clothes for my young boys. Your blouse looks lovely, though, and the flowers are just right.

  10. What cheery fabric. I do the occasional dress or skirt. I first learned how to sew by making clothes, but I enjoy quilting a lot more.

  11. Your top is lovely. For donkey’s years I sewed all the clothes my two daughters and I wore. There was a lace factory nearby with tricot and stretch lace, so I sewed panties and fancy nightgowns, as well. Alas, fabrics got expensive, and I found that ready made clothes were much less expensive. From the comments here, it seems patterns are not easy to follow any more. Bummer!

  12. Barbara Jenkins

    Beautiful job Carole. That is really lovely.
    Been busy moving these last couple of weeks – hope things settle down soon.

  13. That is a lovely top, Carole. I have a short sleeved shift dress that I need to finish. I think once the sun comes out, I will have more interest in completing it.

  14. Mildred Plaskett

    Love your top. I used to sew easy skirts and vests, but after retiring decided to try quilting and other projects. I agree on the lack of info on the pattern sheets. New sewers do have problems following some of the directions. If you make another top from this pattern, you will now know what adjustments to make before cutting the fabric. Keep sewing.

  15. Although I love solid colours, I am always drawn to the prints in any fabric shop. You are my kind of sewist – altering something to suit rather that just going with the standard pattern. Beautiful top. I hope you enjoy wearing it.

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