Sunday, October 21, 2012


I now have a new top to wear with my new skirt. Yay me. ;-)

This morning, the "fabric" looked like this, a too-big dress that I didn't think would be flattering anymore even if I took it in. The problem was, I couldn't just toss it either because I really like the fabric. It's just one of those perfect knits — it feels good, drapes wonderfully, and the print works well with my wardrobe.

So after I altered my pattern pieces for skirt #2 — and then chased down Dani who I thought had escaped the yard but apparently had turned invisible instead and was in the way back behind big full plant-y things stalking something in a hole for over an hour (was I ever mad and happy) — I put the skirt aside in favor of a no-brainer palate cleanser, which was repurposing the dress into a top. Enter McCall's 6078, which I have made before, although my pattern is now a morph between the original McCall's (front) and my ever trusty TNT Ottobre tee (back, armholes, and sleeves).

Many knit tops use a narrow self-fabric facing strip to finish the back neckline, which is usually a royal PITA to sew nicely with an ornery, slippery knit. Instead of fighting and swearing, I'll opt to bind with my coverstitch machine and or use clear elastic as the "facing." I couldn't bind today even if I wanted to because I didn't have any fabric to cut for a continuous binding strip. So it was the clear elastic method. I took a couple of pics so you could follow along. :-)

First, if the neckline has 5/8" seam allowances, you need to trim it back to a 3/8" seam allowance (to match the width of the elastic). Then, using a Teflon foot so it glides over the clear elastic, align one edge of the elastic to the cut edge of the neckline and attach to the wrong side with a small ZZ stitch. (f you don't have a Teflon foot, GET ONE. It's great for sewing those ornery knits and lots of other things too.) Leave elastic "tails" at the start and finish so you have something to grab onto when starting and finishing. Trust me, don't skip the tails or there will be swearing involved after all. Also, don't stretch the elastic (but pre-stretch it before you attach it). Just keep it taut against the fabric.

Next, turn the elastic to the inside of the neckline just the width of the elastic and use your coverstitcher to topstitch. If you don't have a coverstitcher, you can use a twin needle or a ZZ stitch. And that's it. See how nice and flat? No ripples, no stretching out. No swearing.

This (below) is what happens when you decide on a pattern and cut out the back piece before determining if you actually have enough length in the rest of the original dress for the cowl front piece. Uh, yes, I did and then I didn't. I ended up piecing the rest of the cowl onto the top edge. In this print and with the drape, it doesn't show at all. But since the shoulders have stitched pleats, close up the piecing seam looks like another stitched pleat anyway. It all worked out in the end. Whew!

Here's skirt #2 altered and laid out to cut. The alterations were minimal but since I do not have a flat tummy, I needed more room for it. I added 1/4" to the sideseams and front princess seams at tummy level, which you can below. Because the waistband fit in the muslin, I had to taper back IN to the waist after adding for tummy, which makes for a weird pattern piece, but hey … if it works …

I may cut tonight or I may just veg in front of the TV. Anyone want to place a bet? ;-)


  1. Great re-purpose of fabric. You top is adorable.

  2. Nice job "up-cycling!" It looks just right with your new skirt.

  3. Gotta love when you are able to re purpose a great fabric. Lookin good!

  4. Great top! Aren't you glad you can sew and you don't have to just let go of beautiful things, you can turn them into more beautiful things!

  5. Thanks for the tip about using the clear elastic as a binding for the back neckline. I will try that sometime!!!

  6. Just visited your blog it sure looks like you love to sew. It is such a wonderful feeling to make your own outfits. They look amazing and I love the shot of your Marine just amazing photos they should be enlarged and framed.
    Nice blog. bunny

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  8. Hmm, I think my comment got eaten. At any rate, nice save on the dress/top and thank you for the clear elastic tip. I usually use CE to finish my back necklines, but tediously turn under the seam allowance sandwiching the CE. This looks a lot easier.

  9. I love what you've done with the neckline - that really makes it spesh. :)

  10. Thank you SO MUCH for showing how you did the elastic neckline! Your pictures and explanations are always so much clearer than the %#&$^@ instructions that come with the patterns! ;-)

  11. Thanks for the clarity of the elastic tip! This is something I really want to try.


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