I’ve been ogling choker tunics and dresses since last summer, and finally had the right fabric and pattern.
Simplicity 8425 is a very simply designed tunic or dress with a choker style collar, long sleeves, and 22″ zip in the back. I’m at a point in my life where I like covering my neck – so really selected the pattern for the collar.
This pattern suggests lightweight cottons, silky types, georgette, pontes and lightweight stretch wovens. So I picked up this very sweet, Alice in Wonderland themed Cotton + Steel x Rifle Paper Fabrics quilting cotton at Topstitch Studio this past weekend (it’s called Wonderland Navy Metallic). Alice made me think of the Queen of Hearts so the intent was to have a Valentine’s day top.
I washed the fabric and held it up against me. I wasn’t sure if the drape was right for this pattern, and I like it too much to screw it up. So I set that aside (thinking this fabric needs to be a simple tunic) and dug through my stash until I found this Nicole Miller ‘scuba’ that I picked up at JoAnn last year. I always liked the colours and pattern, so thought I’d use this for a wearable toile. From my measurements I determined that this has 15% stretch from selvedge to selvedge.
There wasn’t enough design ease for my taste, and I didn’t want this tight anywhere. So I cut an 18 then did a quick pivot & slide to add 2.5 inches to the bust, tapering down to nothing at the hips. I also lowered the bust apex by an inch.
This fabric was a puzzle, and not just from a layout perspective. It’s a bit like a piece of foam. I found a blog – Me Sew Crazy that had good information on working with this scuba so used that as my guide.
Extra time was needed to balance the pattern and make sure lines were straight, plus I wanted the choker to have a design right in the middle.
A couple of quick basics I learned working with this particular 100% polyester fabric:
- Use a rotary blade when cutting out the pattern (and I sense it dulled the blade)
- Sew with a ballpoint needle
- Use a lightning bolt stretch stitch, and walking foot.
- Use wonder clips instead of pins
- Avoid picking out stitches. Needle pricks leave marks
- Following the instructions from Me Sew Crazy, I did not use interfacing.
This is an easy sew, but as I went along I made a few changes:
- Sewed the sleeves in flat, gathering just slightly on the back side of the sleeve between the shoulder seam and notches.
- Before sewing the centre back seam I basted and tried it on. The 22″ opening was unnecessary for this fabric. Instead, I used a 7″ exposed zipper (not sure I’m thrilled with that look). I did not extend the zipper on the collar, and instead used a single clasp.
- The front neck opening was top stitched to keep the fabric flat. That didn’t turn out so well. Wound up cover stitching instead (photo above). This fabric is springy!
All of the seams were basted, then serged.
My cover stitch made all of the difference in finishing the garment! On the sleeves and hem I used a 2-needle narrow cover stitch. After picking out the original top stitching (above), I used the same stitch around the neck opening.
The choker didn’t want to cooperate and it rolled slightly to the front, so I used a chain stitch there. When on the mannequin it doesn’t lie perfectly, but it’s good when on me. And that’s what matters.
- 90 minutes tracing pattern & cutting
- 6 hours sewing
I’m so glad I trusted my instincts and didn’t use the cotton fabric for this top because it simply wouldn’t have worked.
Lots of observations about this pattern:
- This pattern has minimal design ease – at least for someone over 40 who doesn’t like tight clothes. Check the finished garment measurements carefully if you’re using something without stretch.
- The sleeves are narrow – they would have been very uncomfortable in cotton. Another blogger found them to be short, but the length was fine for me.
- The neck edge is a bit lower than it appears in the envelope photo.
- Use a fabric with at least some stretch. Try it on before you stitch up the back seam because you may be able to get away with a shorter zipper.
- I didn’t need to move the bust dart. It’s awfully low now!
Bottom line: I love this top. This isn’t just a wearable toile, it’s something I would have bought off the rack. The fabric pattern worked well, the lines are straight. So it won’t be particularly comfortable when the weather warms up, but I’ll get lots of use out of it now.