Just before the warmer months arrive, I wanted to highlight these 2 long-sleeved knit tops that have served me stylishly well this winter. Both are designed by independent designers and both have alternative short-sleeve views that can extend their wearability into the summer months. Besides these similarities, the 2 tops are completely different with very unique design elements.
Actually, both look great made up in striped fabric as well. I made both tops in the same fabric so as to accentuate their contrasting features when juxtaposed next to each other. This black and white striped polyester ribbed knit was gifted to me by Minerva as part of the Minerva Brand Ambassador Program (BIG thank you!!!). There is also elastane in the fabric make up, which gives the knit a whopping 110% stretch percentage in the length and 80% in the width. Besides swim fabric, this is the stretchiest material I’ve worked with and the magic of it is that it has wonderful recovery. It’s also incredibly easy to handle – very stable when cutting it and surprisingly obedient at the sewing machine. And because there is considerable stretch in the length and width, I could afford to play with the placement of stripes in both garments without worrying about busting any seams.
Let’s zoom in on the patterns with the Lou Top by Capsule Patterns, which also has the option of being made into a dress. The shorter sleeve version has sleeve hems that end just above the elbow. The short sleeve version of the dress and the top is constructed from only 1 pattern piece, which is the genius of this design. It’s an asymmetrically draped garment with a boat neckline, and a pleated detail at one shoulder. Because both front and backs are the same pattern piece, this top is reversible – it can be worn front to back and back to front. It’s an added bonus so the shoulder pleat can be moved from one shoulder to the other depending on what you prefer for the day.
Sizes for the Lou Top/Dress come in US 2-14 or UK 6-18, and I made a US size 4 with no modifications. The best part about sewing this top is that it can be done in under an hour, and is suitable for beginners. I made mine mainly on my sewing machine, and it’s probably my quickest sew ever. And the result is quite dramatic – I really like how the shoulder pleat creates these cascading folds across the bodice, and how one sleeve is more voluminous than the other. It has a very contemporary look and makes me feel like a modern dancer in an avant garde performance piece.
The Eva Mockneck Top by Cool Stitches, unlike the one-pattern piece Lou Top, has 6 pattern pieces for the bodice construction alone. It comes with options for long sleeves, short sleeves and sleeveless. What’s unusual about this pattern is that most of the seams are exposed for this mock turtleneck top. There are curves following the bust line and two seams below that give the top bustier vibes. I find these extra seams quite flattering.
With all these extra seams, it astonishingly didn’t take that long to sew it up. It took around 2 hours, and a huge chunk of that time was dedicated to figuring out the best serger settings to use for those exposed seams. Oh yeah, for the intended look of the Eva Top, a serger or overlocker is a required tool, so it’s a bummer if you don’t own one. However, there is a version with faux flat-felled seams that can be sewn on a regular sewing machine. This tutorial is available on Cool Stitches Instagram Stories.
My serger is a relatively new piece of equipment for me and I took this opportunity to learn a little more about it while working on the Eva Top. I played around with the differential feed and stitch length knobs until I found the right setting for the seams. This pattern doesn’t come with written instructions. Instead, there’s a sew along video on Youtube which gives how-to-sew details for the top. There is a chart of serger settings on this video that is a helpful starting point. But every serger is different, and I had to do some tests before I found the right ones. This is probably the most crucial step for making the top. I highly recommend investing the time and energy to figure this out before moving on. When I got that done, then the rest of the sewing took no time at all.
This top comes in sizes S-XL, and I made the size S with no modifications. It’s not a wide size range unfortunately, so the pattern scores points on its unique design. It’s important to find knit or jersey fabric that is capable of stretching at least 60% (about 8% elastane) to get the mockneck over your head. Also, the fit is intended to be close-to-the-skin, so it’s best to get knits that stretch both ways for best results.
I’ve paired both tops with my new pair of Tatjana Trousers by Just Patterns made in heavy weight white linen. To see my first pair made in windowpane checked wool, go to my blog post here. Somehow, these 2 tops give me the poise and feel of a dancer. Even though I am NOT a dancer, they are giving me the itch and gumption to go on stage to do some choreography. They are threatening to release my inner Baryshnikov. In the meantime, some kitchen-floor prancing will suffice.