Puns N Needles

Dispatches from my adventures: sewing, knitting, and otherwise.

A really fun top

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I shared some pictures of this top with a facebook group and there were some questions about the pattern, so I thought I’d write a little more about it.

It’s the Painted Portrait Blouse/Dress pattern from Anna Maria Horner. I think that no matter a person’s personal style, it’s hard to deny that this pattern has the potential to be really fun. Just do a Google Image search and see all the different variations: sleeveless, sleeved, or the dress version; solid yoke in the same fabric as the main top; solid yoke in a contrast fabric; or my favorite, the pieced yoke.

It’s comfy, easy to wear, and cool.

I made this once last summer entirely from scraps. In fact, I cut up a favorite linen dress for the main pieces of the top because the dress no longer fit and the armhole edges were fraying something fierce. I used bits leftover from soft voile scarves that I made one Christmas, and some leftover eyelet sort of fabric, all in shades of coral.

Not long ago, I noticed that a lot of the garments I’ve been making are shades of navy blue. I also happened to have some scraps of navy blue linen from a pair of pants I made long ago, so it seemed the right opportunity to make the top again. I had fun carefully choosing the fabrics for the yoke pieces and the yoke facings. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Then I set to putting the top together. I remembered having some trouble with the instructions the first time—nothing too taxing, but enough to slow me down and pause while I read and re-read the instructions. On my second go-round, I was ready: I had one 99% successful Painted Portrait top under my belt with my recollections of the trouble I had making it. I was also prepared to just take a deep breath and know it would turn out fine.

Here are the challenges that I found in the instructions:

  • It’s a lot of text with few images, and it’s crowded onto one (large) sheet of paper. This is not ideal for visual learners or very new garment sewers.
  • Some of the terminology is different from most other garment sewing that I’ve done. For example, one step instructs to “edgestitch the neckline through facings and seam allowances…” I believe that this is usually called understitching in other patterns.
  • There seems to be a typo or mistake in the instructions. The armholes are finished with bias tape and the instructions say to cut 1” wide bias strips. Then we’re instructed to sew the strip to the armhole edge with a ⅝” seam allowance, then press the strip toward the armhole, fold to the inside and topstitch. This leaves a raw edge, if you can even get the bias strip to fold inside. You need about a 1 ½” wide bias strip which you can stitch to the armhole at ⅝”. Then you trim the seam allowance to about ¼”. Press the bias strip up, toward the seam allowance. Then fold and press the strip (around the seam allowance) so the edge of the strip is just inside the stitching line. Finally, press that all to the inside, so you don’t see the bias trim from the outside. Pin and topstitch (or handstitch) around the armhole. You can find tutorials and videos describing this if you search Google for “bias finish armhole” (or something like that).
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Author: Accacia

I'm a librarian at a college in Lexington, Virginia. I sew, I knit, and I cook.

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