Saguaro Set Top
I fell in love with the Saguaro Set pattern as soon as it came out, yet if I’d seen this in the shops I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. I accept that this has nothing to do with the clothing and everything to do with my lack of vision, as I often dismiss clothing on the hangers, then see it on the mannequin and think, “Oh that looks really good!”. In this case, I saw hundreds of posts on Instagram of sewists looking amazing in their sets.
I made the trousers first. You can read my review of the Saguaro Set Trousers / Pants, 4 mins, which links into my fitting post, 4 mins). Some aspects of the construction e.g. waistband are similar between the two.
This is the first wrap-style top I've sewn, so I made a toile to check how it fit and see how much cleavage and midriff would show. The pattern pieces are such that the shoulder seam is horizontal. This already made me think that I'd need some adjustments as I have quite sloping shoulders. Indeed, my toile showed excess fabric, particularly around the back.
I pinched out a large amount (5cm each of front and back) from the shoulder seam going to nothing at the neck to reduce some of the excess fabric. You can see the difference in the photo below where I only pinned out the right side.
This was the shape of my final pattern pieces.
Read my post Fitting the Saguaro Set Top (5 mins) for all the details, sizing, photos of my fitting process and of the finished top.
I used Merchant & Mills linen from their 185 range in Calamine. They describe it as pale pinky grey with a slight lilac tone. I have a fair amount of grey in my wardrobe and it’s a really pretty pink without being too pink, so this suited me perfectly.
I generally don’t follow the recommended washing/drying advice for fabrics, as I tend to put everything through at 40 degrees and into the tumble dryer. If I need special settings or effort for an item of clothing, I know I just won’t wear it (or wash it!). It survived just fine and I used a tip I picked up on the Patternreview.com forums for overlocking the two raw ends together before washing to help prevent it rolling up into a big ball.
MISTAKE! - Step 10 clearly says to understitch. Standard stuff and yet somehow I decided to just ... stitch. I essentially stitched the bias tape in position on the garment including the seam allowance, rather than stitching just the tape and the seam allowance. This meant a double layer of stitching on the right side of the garment once it has been edgestitched but no one but me will know.
Gathering the waistband
The instructions advise you to leave a 5cm opening in the waistband for you to insert the elastic. The elastic itself is 5cm and so pretty stiff, and I found I was stretching the opening in order to insert it. If sewing this again, I would leave a longer opening to avoid stretching the fabric here.
I wanted to make sure that the waistband gathers were even all the way round. The technique I describe below relates to my Saguaro Set Trousers project but is exactly the same for this top. The instructions recommend stretching the waistband several times and then pinning it before sewing the casing to the elastic.
After stretching the waistband, I placed one pin and then stretched the waistband again to ensure it didn’t look like it had pulled on the waistband fabric. I did this with each successive pin.
If it did look like the waistband fabric was being pulled as in the photo above, I repositioned the pin and checked again. The photo below shows much less pulling after repositioning the pin and so I would then add another pin and repeat.
This technique works if you’re sewing this alone. If you have a willing helper, they can hold the elastic stretched while you pin it, or clamp / stretch it between two points. It is similar to the technique in this short Instragram reel from Jen Hogg, but this would work best on lighter elastic.
I sewed this top to finish it before a trip to Barcelona. If I had more time before the holiday, I would have finished the sleeve hem in the same way as the trouser hem - by overlocking the raw edge and then handsewing a catchstitch so you couldn't see it. However, I was in a hurry so I followed the instructions to fold the hem under twice and edgestitch. This was 10pm at night before the flight the next day so I was really excited to give it a final press and try the finished top on.
My heart sank as I saw the sleeves jutting out like a trumpet.
The hem felt stiff and I wasn't sure why this had happened. Was it because I pressed it a certain way, or because the hem was doubled-folded and thick? After wallowing in disappointment and trying to problem-solve for a while, I decided to try washing and tumble drying it see if that would help soften it up and reshrink any stretching I'd inflicted. It did indeed help and I was finally holiday ready :)
Things I'd change next time
Having seen other reviews, I would apply stay tape to the front wrap section to help stabilise this area. Since it is on the bias, it will have a tendency to stretch, exaggerating any gaping.
I would lessen the overlap of the waistband elastic when securing the ends together. The instructions do say to overlap by 1.3cm and I probably did something closer to 2cm. I found that this area becomes very stiff when in 2 layers and so once it is topstitched, the gathers of the fabric over it are more flattened in this area, indicated by the arrow in the photo below.
I absolutely adore this set. It's nothing like anything I've owned before but it feels so chic to wear. As mentioned in my fitting post, I'd consider using some breast tape to help secure it from gaping when sitting down. Stay tape mentioned above may help avoid any stretching of it here, or I would consider increasing the overlap as described in this article by the Friday Pattern Company.
If making it again, I'd consider using a more drapey fabric like viscose which I think would look lovely for both top and trousers.
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