I binge-watched Netflix’s Next in Fashion last month. I’m so inspired by the Minju Kim and Angel Chen’s designs. I’ve had a hard time nailing down my style and figuring out what I want it to be. I honestly gave it up for a while, but seeing their work inspired me to really think about how I wanted my wardrobe to look. Two words: fun and modern.
I’m not a frills person, but Minju Kim’s designs are all about embracing feminine details. I decided to go with a pattern already in my stash.
The Saraste Top from Named Patterns is from their book, Breaking the Pattern. There’s several different versions of the Saraste: a dress, a split-shoulder, long-sleeved button-up, and this top. It features shoulder princess seams and a ruffle detail that accentuates the shoulders. The bodice has a loose, flared silhouette, which is nice for pear-shaped bodies.
I wanted this Saraste top to have an edge to it. I used cotton ikat shirting from local shop Tissu. I jokingly call it my cow fabric, even though I don’t think it’s a cow print. The instructions call for fabric with more drape. Since I used a shirting fabric, the ruffles ended up more dramatic and structural as I expected. I’m not mad at it, though. I was aiming for Minju Kim vibes.
I used warm wood buttons I purchased ages ago from Super Textiles. It’s a local button store that was destroyed last year from tornadoes. (They’re now on Etsy!)
- High and low round back: I expected this due to my general shape. For the first time, I tried using darts at the shoulder to keep the curved shape, while still cutting the back pattern piece on the fold. Usually, I just add a seam allowance and cut two pieces, but I didn’t want to add extra bulk to the collar. I’m told I could just cut the back on the bias, but as you’ll see below, me + bias = ISSUES.
- Shorten waist and armhole: I expected this as well. I’m smaller on top generally and Named Patterns drafts for people who are around 5’8.
- FBA: This surprised me. I’m not a particularly busty person. I’m a 30DD, which translates to a 34 or 36B if you go with straight bra sizing. If you’re more blessed up top than me, you’ll have to make a major adjustment here.
- Armhole width: I shaved off just 1/4 inch. I finally figured out where my shoulder is! I had been measuring the wrong bone in my shoulder, which I realized when I was sewing up a knit shirt. This time I picked the shoulder dimple, per instructions from a vintage copy of Simplicity’s Simple the Best sewing book.
I had never sewn ruffles before, but it was pretty easy to do. Overall, the Saraste top was not difficult to sew. Any issues I had was due to my own ineptitude, which is apparent when it comes to anything with bias tape.
I serge-finished the seams. I hand-sewed the collar instead of machine stitching in the ditch, as well as hand-sewed the buttons. I bar-tacked the finished edges of the ruffle seam in the correct direction to prevent the seams from flip-flopping in the wrong direction.
The bias binding as facing for the armhole gave me trouble. I had a hard time attaching it without it wrinkling. I was also highly-confused over the 1 1/4 inch bias binding prescribed in the instructions. No one stateside sells packages for that. (Not that I was going to purchase any, but it would’ve been nice to have a frame of reference.) I think I initially made the binding too wide, and even after shaving down, I still think it’s too wide. Luckily it’s a feature I can always return to in order to fix.
I also had to redo my buttonholes because black thread on black-and-white fabric makes it hard to see where you’re cutting. I sliced a few of my buttonhole thread with my cutter accidentally as result. I’m still on the fence as to whether the cutter is better than the old-fashioned seam ripper method.
For next time
I think if I was to do it again, I would add slits at the sides to make it easier to french tuck the shirt. Because the Saraste top is drafted to have a flared shape, tucking everything in was a time. It looks great in the front, but I have a lot of excess poof in the back. I think I can go back in and redo that part, I just don’t feel like it right now.
- The Palmer-Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting. For now, I mostly tissue-fit tops until I find a better method.
- Vogue/Butterick Step-By-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques. After reading a million blog posts over the years, their instructions for continuous bias binding finally clicked. I found this copy at Half Price Books, but it’s also available on Amazon.
- Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book. Another Half Price Books find, this is the older, spiral-bound copy that sewists salivate over. The measurement section was really useful. I think my copy is from 2001-ish, which doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but math.
The instructions for the bias binding facing and the collar was a little perplexing. I only understood how to do the collar because I had sewn one before in a class. Also, flipping between different sections for instructions was annoying. I don’t think reprinting the instructions would’ve made the book that much bigger. This has been a common complaint with Breaking the Pattern, though.
On a separate note: I cut a US size 8 for this pattern. The number doesn’t really matter, since there’s no correlation between indie and Big 4 sizing. However, I’m a petite pear, so I have some doubts that Named’s sizing is inclusive when it comes to body types at least when it comes to the upper half of the body. Those are just my observations, but I’d love for others to chime in on this.
Would I make the Saraste top again?
Probably! I may not make a ton of Saraste tops, but maybe I’ll make a folklorico-inspired version of this top later on, perhaps in October for Dias de las Muertos. I see my baby blusas in storage and I get intensely jealous of my childhood wardrobe.