For Miss Crayola Creepy’s Crazy Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I made a Bess Top by Imagine Gnats with two fabrics from Lizzy House’s Catnap line. (Yes, I previously made two garments out of cat themed fabric, but I wanted to make a new one for this challenge. So there.) Initially, I had planned to make a knit garment, but when I couldn’t find a fabric I liked, I pulled the Bess Top from my nascent pattern stash and went from there.
I have admired this pattern for a while, ever since I first saw the cover art. Without disrespecting other pattern garment models, I was impressed that the models used were very different from each other, and different from slimmer models that I don’t relate to. Generally, I do my best to be inclusive of all types of people, but when it comes to garment sewing, I want to see pictures of people that look like me. Knowing my interest in the pattern, my mom gifted me with a paper copy.
The deeper I get into pattern sewing, the more I think I might like PDF patterns better than traditional printed patterns. For this pattern, I had two issues, but both of them may have just been a tracing failure on my part. I trace all my printed patterns, because in my mind cutting them up would be ruining them. PDF patterns I can print again and again.
The first issue I had was with the Y-seam that turns the back piece into sleeves. Once I figured it out, it was a clever bit of sewing, but the first time I attempted it, I could not wrap my head around it at all. After folding and pinning the pleats, I had sewn to the marks as per the instructions, but my version didn’t look like the picture in the pattern at all. It was late, and no matter how long I squinted at the tiny black and white photo, I couldn’t work out where I was supposed to cut to. I left it be and came back to it again after a full night’s rest. The next day, I just marked where the ½” seams should be and found my new marks that way. Well rested, I could follow the instructions easily enough. The rest of the shirt came together quickly.
The only other issue I had was that the high-low hem didn’t line up initially. Again, it could have been a tracing error on my end. I trimmed it up so it matched and continued on my merry way. I didn’t have any light colored knit scraps on hand, so I finished the neckline, armholes and hem with self fabric.
I think one reason this pattern is flattering on a variety of body types is that it had a generous amount of ease. It has so much ease, that next time I make it, I might size down. I would definitely use a fabric with more drape next time. Even though it’s listed as a fabric option on the pattern, with this shirt, the quilting cotton stands out too much from my body for my liking.
The end result is a comfortable and fun shirt that I can wear on the weekend when I’m hanging out with my kid, but probably won’t make it into my workday wardrobe, more’s the pity. At least it coordinates with my Navy Julia Cardigan! Maybe I’ll try again in the spring. The sleeves sure are clever.