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  • Helen Puddefoot

An Easter Agnes with handmade buttons!

Hi stitching fans,

I actually got to do some full on clothes sewing this week and decided to make the Agnes top I've had in mind for a while. I bought some jersey fabric in a nice spring/Easter yellow a while back while it was on sale and got about three metres for mere pounds so it was time to try it out.

The Agnes top is a pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and is a great staple - long sleeved or short sleeved, with a ruched v-neck or scoop front, not to mention the option of some rather lovely ruched sleeves into the bargain. You can team it up with any other item in your wardrobe for an all-handmade outfit. I was so pleased when Tilly released this pattern - I'd been looking for a nice simple top I could pair up with 'bottom halves' that I tend to make more often and this fitted the bill perfectly.

The last Agnes top I made was with delightful (my favourite) birch organics cotton which is soft and great quality and has some stretch but not as much as this fabric, which felt like it might be mostly spandex. Here's the previous Birch organics version:

Because this yellow fabric is thinner, lets be honest, cheaper, and had more stretch it was always going to be a bit of a trickier sew but I ploughed on regardless.

It's such a simple top to make, and now that I have an overlocker it made it super quick too - but you can sew it very happily on a regular sewing machine so don't let a lack of complicated machinery put you off making one.

Because it's designed for stretch fabrics there's no messing around with darts or zips or anything so you can just sew the pieces together once you've cut them out and within about an hour you're done!

The only fiddly bit is the neckline and I have to admit that it caused me issues on this occasion - mostly due to me sewing far too fast. I successfully managed to sew the neckline band on three times whilst still missing out a two inch section in the very centre front EVERY SINGLE TIME. How do you even do that?! This means that the front has a bit of a bulge in it where I eventually managed to attached it but got too impatient to then correct the bulge - when it's on it actually smooths out OK, Doris my mannequin doesn't quite have the same shape as my torso clearly as you can still see it in the picture.

The narrow neckline band is slightly smaller than the neckline hole, intentionally so it holds the neckline straight and doesn't let it bag out anywhere, but it means you need to stretch the neckband slightly when you attach it to the neckline.

I found that to get the stretch even around the neckline the best method was to pin the seam of the neckband (there's only one as you sew it in a bit loop) to the shoulder seam of the main bodice and then find the mid point of both the band and the bodice and join those. I then just kept pinning the mid points together. You can find the mid point of each piece by simply folding it in half and marking the fold with a pin - match up the pins and you'll ensure you are pinning corresponding points on both the band and the neckline of the bodice.

I've tried to illustrate what I mean in the above diagram - with the numbers indicating the order, starting far right with the seam on the neckband and the shoulder seam of the bodice. I've only shown up to point 6 but you'd continue to do this around the whole neckline to pin the whole thing evenly. Doing it this way meant that the stretch was pretty even all the way around which is important as otherwise you can end up with kinks in your neckline - and nobody wants that.

The only thing I considered and didn't do was to double up the bodice pieces because the fabric is so thin. I slightly regret not doing that now as it's quite sheer, but with a very good t-shirt bra it's OK. I've made a bodice in jersey before with a double layer of fabric for front and back and it works really well. You just cut out two pieces for the front and back bodice and sandwich them together, then use them like one piece. I think next time I'll trust my instincts and take the time to make it up like that so it's a bit easier to wear without raiding the underwear drawer - but you live and learn.

I decided to add some buttons to the neckline just to add some interest. I've been rediscovering a new craft this week - Fimo. I haven't touched the stuff since I was about 9 I think but I've found a world of Fimo makers on YouTube, many of who do truly amazing things with it, and it inspired me to have a go myself.

I realised I could make very functional buttons out of Fimo and also therefore design them myself. This was my first attempt but they turned out really nicely, here they are in close up:

I made these using Fimo canes and I'll post a tutorial about how to make them soon - they add a really nice touch and of course I know nobody else has buttons like them, which is nice.

This top is a great addition to my ever expanding wardrobe, and it's yellow, which means it goes with pretty much everything else I own! Winner!

Happy Easter everyone!

Love and kisses


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