Sunday, April 11, 2010

The 'Easy' Empire Waist Top

Not sure where to start with this blog post, there's so much to say about the top I just made my daughter.

First of all let me say I love Amy Butler. Her fabrics are gorgeous and her clothing designs are lovely. BUT - and it's a big 'but' - the actual patterns and instructions leave a lot to be desired.

I own her book Little Stitches for Little Ones and to be honest it's one of the reasons I started sewing (that and the fabulous O+S patterns that I saw at a market one day and just had to have). It's got so many cute projects with lovely photography and gorgeous fabrics. I've made a couple of things from the book before without too much drama, but this top was really difficult.

First of all, the sizing. The patterns in the book only go up to sz 9-12 months. Disappointing, as my daughter is 2 years and 2 months. I decided to have a go at enlarging the empire waist top pattern for her and was really shocked to discover that the 9-12 months size was actually too big for my 2 year old. Now she is not a tiny kid by any means, she's bang on average weight for her age, and super tall, right at the top of the height chart. Yet I had to shorten this top by 3.5 inches and it still reaches down to just above her knees. I realise this top is meant to be roomy but it would absolutely swim on a 1 year old.

The pattern instructions are really flaky. I read and reread them several times before I cut into my fabric (which I love by the way) but still found them so confusing. I doubt very much the pattern was tested. I persevered with them to construct the bodice but after that kind of gave up and did my own thing. There are very few diagrams too, and the ones that are there are frankly a bit silly and point out the obvious. They don't really help much with the construction of the top.

All in all I'm happy with the finished result, although it's not as polished or well thought out as many other patterns out there. The bodice is quite bulky (6 thicknesses at one part of the shoulder) and as I said before, the sizing is way off. There are some good bits though, the top itself is super cute, and there are some lovely details, such as the slit on the cuff and the double stitching around the v-neck and sleeve.

If you're going to attempt this one yourself, be prepared to adjust the size considerably (especially for a child younger than 1) and be prepared to improvise when the instructions just don't make sense!

I used fabric from Annette Tatum's House collection: Lilac in navy and Garden Vine in lilac. I love it. Blue and purple is one of my favourite colour combinations.

The finished top. The lilac band at the bottom is my own addition to help tie it all together. I took 3.5 inches off the length but added 3 inches to the sleeve to make it a 3/4 length sleeve.

The back. It fastens with a loop and button, which I haven't sewn on yet.

It's got some cute details - I really like the little bow and the cuff slit.

I really like the double stitching.

My daughter taking it for a test drive. She's scrunching it up here - it actually falls to about an inch or so above her knee

1 comment:

  1. I love Amy Butler fabric too but I also found her patterns confusing. I have hesitated buying one of her books because I thought one of her free patterns that I used was so bad. The designs are great but the instructions and actual pattern leave much to be desired. I'm glad to see that you stuck with it and finished the top. It came out beautiful!