Having completed Love At First Stitch followed by a quick win project (Fifi Eye Mask), I was hoping to get one last summery top done before autumn sets in and chose the Sagebrush Top by the Friday Pattern Company. I have loved seeing so many of these on Instagram and knew it was inevitable that I would make my own version. It was the ruffle that had me, but those pouffy sleeves were a nice bonus :)
This was the first pattern I’d bought in tissue paper, feeling like I wanted the joy of the original packaging. I had previously sewn patterns from the book Love At First Stitch which is on normal thickness paper, and have done a couple of A4 PDF patterns taped together on 80gsm printer paper. The tissue paper felt so delicate and had a couple of holes already in it when received. It wasn’t torn, just looked like it was too thin in areas so in future I’d consider buying the digital A0 version if available and getting it printed on slightly thicker paper.
I cut out size S and then traced round it onto thin paper (spare packing paper) so I could make fitting adjustments without fear of destroying the tissue paper too much. In hindsight I should have traced the pattern so I could have used other sizes as I did need more width on the yokes as described below.
I had the Sagebrush Top Sewalong available which is done as a series of articles with photos. The instruction booklet that came with the pattern is sufficiently detailed to not really need this, but I found the photos very helpful.
Although I have not seen many do any fitting adjustments to this top due to its loose fit, I have an upper bust measurement that is slightly bigger than my full bust which causes me fitting issues with most bodices. My rounded back also generally needs more room. So I made a toile and documented the entire fitting process with photos in this blog post.
I used Liberty Tana Lawn Felda fabric for this top, I just love the delicate floral print. I was fortunate enough to have visited the actual store in London a few months ago. It is an incredible fabric wonderland and I took ages choosing what to buy. This fabric is soft and smooth and behaves well when sewing. Being a light colour it is very slightly sheer and so I used French seams as described below and in a separate blog post.
The pattern includes a centre notch on the back bodice and top of the front yoke, but I also added one to the front body, bottom of the front yoke and the ruffle. This was to ensure I more evenly distributed the gathering on the ruffle and front body.
There is some debate as to whether this helps or hinders the process. I used to do it as suggested when I was following Love At First Stitch. However, I have come across several who feel the process of stay stitching itself can stretch the fabric. I am inclined to agree, or at least I feel it can distort it. Each time I have done it the fabric doesn't look quite as flat, which may be down to incorrect tension but I feel it's a step that in my hands may potentially do more harm than good. Even in the Sewalong photo as shown below, you can see some waviness. Instead I just try to be careful when handling the fabric to avoid stretching it as much as possible.
I use a walking foot to sew over gathers to prevent them from getting too squished or all being pressed in the same direction.
The fabric was very slightly sheer so I used French seams throughout including the armholes which was fiddly but doable. I also love how neat French seams look. The instructions suggest overlocking the ruffle seam which I would ordinarily have done if at home, but I sewed this while away in Wales and didn't pack the overlocker. I stuck to a French seam on this instead, but was worried about it looking bulky with the ruffle seam also folded over twice. I therefore decided to trim the ruffle seam so that it only got included in the second pass and it looks great, better than if I had overlocked it. I put all the steps in a tutorial in this blog post.
Folding under the back yoke
The instructions ask you to fold over the inside edge of the back yoke by 1.27cm twice before attaching it to the back body piece. For better accuracy of the final fold, I did the final fold first of 2.5cm (2 x 1.27cm rounded down to nearest mm) using the Clover Hot Hemmer, and then folded the inner edge in to meet this fold. I doubt I would have ended up with the right measurement doing it the suggested way.
The instructions direct you to sew the binding to the neckline, then to sew up the loose part of the tie from the edge towards the neckline 6mm from the edge. I stitched the opposite way, from the neckline to the end just in case I ended up with a bobble if one side was slightly longer than the other, then pivoted at the end to sew across the end. I also sewed this much closer to the edge, around 2mm as I thought this would look neater.
I added 12cm to the length of the sleeves but if doing this again I’d add an extra couple of cm as the elastic cuff just catches my elbow when bending the arm up, something I didn’t notice with the toile as I didn’t add the elastic.
If sewing this again, I’d probably take out some of the volume unless using a more drapey fabric. I tamed the gathers a little on this by pressing the top of the gathers, the first 1cm or so at the armhole seam to encourage them to sit down the arm rather than standing up. This is personal preference so if you like pouffy sleeves, this is the pattern for you!
After making the toile I was almost certain I wanted to take off some of the length but I'm glad I stuck with it because it's just right. The deep hem is 5cm folded over twice, adding a little substance and weight to my fabric and it's a good length for either a French tuck or leaving untucked. It is slightly shorter than most tops, so if you plan on tucking this in all the way round, I’d think about adding a little more length (I'm about 5'5" tall).
This was a lovely straightforward pattern to sew, and I adore the ruffle in the front. I'm loving the pouffy sleeves, and I think the pattern really suits ditsy floral prints. However, I can see me sewing one in gingham or dobby fabric in the future. Most people won't need to do much fitting as there is a lot of room for manoeuvre. It's a lovely fun top to wear.
Update 3rd June 2022 - 2nd Sagebrush
I made a second Sagebrush Top, and made adjustments to reduce sleeve volume and move the armhole seam up the shoulder. Read all the details about how and why I did this here.
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