I didn’t think I was going to participate in #sewfrosting as I had kinda gotten fancy sewing out of my system this spring when I made the sequin dress for my birthday party. But then, I remembered, that I had dreamed of making a cosy, but very extra sweatshirt last year. I had the inspiration too late to make it for the 2017 holiday party season, but banked it for this year. The idea was to make the coziest top ever but also for it to be super fun and festive and also something I would want to wear after New Years (ie. not festooned with reindeer).
I took me a ridiculously long time to settle on a pattern for my slightly stretchy black velvet. I knew I wanted something wide and short-ish with dropped sleeves. There is a ridiculous amount of these patterns on the market. I considered all of the following: The Mandy Boat Tee, The Elliot Sweater, and The Jarrah Sweater. Finally, I decided on the Nora Top by Tilly and the Buttons – mostly for the split hem, but also because I had still not sewn with one of their patterns!
Considering how simple this top is, it took an insanely long time to finish. I cut a straight size US 10 and opted for the shorter neck band. I also accidentally cut out the mock turtleneck band thinking it was supposed to be cuffs. That was some wishful thinking/self-fulfilling prophesying there as that exactly what the ended up as later.
I usually add 2 inches length onto anything labeled “cropped,” but the pattern looked pretty long, so I didn’t. Don’t fall into this trap, friends! It is definitely short enough that I need to wear a top underneath to tuck into my jeans when I wear it to work. The hem allowance on this is CRAZY wide.
Okay, so. I sewed it all up (except hems) and was very, very disappointed. It was sloppy, floppy and frumpy. I left it for several days while I decided what to do. I had some leftover fabric and very seriously considered cutting it up and making an entirely different pattern. I decided, however, to give it a chance and see what I could come up with.
I decided that the biggest issue was the really, really baggy, long sleeves. I sliced a solid 6-plus inches off the length and cut an inch off the side seam starting at the wrist and tapering to the armpit and then added my neckband-cuffs (which are the perfect size, BTW) which solved that problem pretty quick. I am realizing that I really dislike floating sleeves and need tight sleeves or cuffs on literally everything. #weirdthingsiknowaboutmyself
I then set to hemming to see if that would take care of the frump-factor. I didn’t like the idea of zigzagging my hem as I felt it would be really obvious with the nap of the velvet. I decided to hand hem with a catch-stitch, but it would hang right. I ended up going over it with a straight stitch and that solved that. Because the fabric isn’t under any kind of stress at my hips, I’m not worried about popping stitches and the straight stitch looks okay. The proportions are also pretty bang on once this top is hemmed and it does not look frumpy. Even in velvet with pearls on the shoulders.
But no! I was not done! Then, I had to hand-stitch more than 80 beads onto the shoulders, which took me four whole episodes of This is Us. I sewed the beads in vertical lines down from the shoulder seam so that I wouldn’t have to worry about popping thread as I stretched the top over my head. I didn’t do as much research as I could have and am likely going to have to re-do some of this. I’ve only worn the top twice (and never washed it) and already I have two beads loosening. I’m also not totally in love with the placement or the idea that I have to hand wash this top. There is a solid chance I’ll get it to limp through the holidays and then just take the beads off.
Conclusion: Give the Nora Top a chance because it will probably look awful until it you’re totally done. Also, velvet isn’t too complicated to work with, but hand-beading is tedious and not for the impatient.