i’ve been busy at work on another shirred top, after going a bit mad in Abakhan Fabrics! One good thing about this kind of top is that you actually don’t need a great deal of fabric, and thus i can pick up all kinds of bargains in the bargain bins there. i think the material for this top cost around £2, which is pretty good going really.

me in my snazzy new top, all done!

I am really pleased with how it turned out, although, as with the first top i made, i’ve learned quite a few lessons from making it.

(lessons behind the cut, along with more photos…)

1) there are limits to how tight the elastic will pull, and making a top twice as big as you is pointless (i had to take this top in quite a bit).

2) 30 rows of shirring is a thankless job that takes absolutely ages – and uses up a lot of elastic thread! Not helped if you’ve made the top too big as well. duh.

3) if you think the fabric isn’t going to be long enough and you want to add a bottom bit (like i did here) then add it before you sew the initial tube. matching two tubes together is NOT as easy as it sounds.

4) plan, plan and plan!!! i made this up as i went along – it came out well, but not recommended, i think.

5) this shirring i did quite close together – i spaced them apart by using the width of the machine foot. While this makes it easy for eyeballing, it also means the shirring is quite close together – and this means you have to shirr more rows in order to avoid the shirring ending on the nipple line and you looking like you’re rather pregnant (This top makes me look a bit like that anyway, without encouraging it!). Experiment with spacing, and mark the lines before you start sewing with tailor’s chalk, don’t eyeball it.

6) the colour of the elastic thread, provided you’re not using black on a very seethrough pale colour fabric, doesn’t matter (the final 5 rows were made using pink elastic after i ran out of white).

7) when the instructions say hold the material taut either side, its so that the machine doesn’t run over folds as it sews. It doesn’t literally mean holding it all taut – just taut enough to prevent the folds (Its much easier to not have to pull all the elastic out to hold the material taut. and that will make more sense if you ever do this for yourself. I know what i mean…).

detail of honeycomb stitching i put around the hem of the top. This is picked up with similar stitching in the straps.

some of the shirred rows. 30 in total!

Amanda (from here) has really turned me on to finishing the seams (and all the bits that will never be seen) as well as the outside and the bits you do see. its about pride in accomplishment. While this isn't brilliant, its a lot better than what i would've done before - zigzagging. (I can just hear my old needlework teacher, with whom i had many many arguments about sewing, hitting the floor with a thud and a muttered "well, FINALLY!".. heh.) This is a mock french seam.

the inside of the straps.

and the outside of the straps. You can see the honeycomb stitching that i picked up from the hem. Its the first time i've used stitching on that machine other than straight lines or zigzags, and i'm pleased with it.

the finished complete article.