Friday, 3 April 2015

Made: HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee

In June last year, I made a horrible dress using the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress pattern and a patterned turquoise knit. Despite some helpful advice from commenters and subsequent surgery on the waistline, addition of longer sleeves and other attempts to improve it, I never wore it and continued to glare hatefully it every time I saw it hanging in my closet. Earlier this year I therefore took it apart with a view to somehow re-using the fabric. Due to a disassembly error (my scissors slipped and I made a big hole) the main part of the bodice was a dead loss, leaving me with the elbow length sleeves and the skirt to reuse, as well as just over 1m of the fabric left over from my original 3m piece.
HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee, as modelled by Flossie
I suppose eventually I'll probably hack together some kind of waistband and make a skirt from the skirt of the dress (very original of me), but in the meantime I decided that the 1m of fabric plus the sleeves from the dress could be usefully employed in making a wearable muslin of the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee. I am not really sure how actually wearable it is, due to the problems described below, and also because the more I look at this fabric, the less I like it. I like the base colour, but whether it's the print or the drape, or both, I don't know, I just don't like it. There's something very juvenile/pyjama-y about it and I am pretty sure if I saw it for sale now I wouldn't buy it. At any rate, other than the possible skirt rescue I am now done with it, which is probably a good thing.

This is the only paid for HotPatterns pattern I own, although I also have many free patterns from HP on my hard drive. I've never made any of them up though, and so I was starting from scratch with sizing. The Weekender Sunshine Tee was quite popular back in 2009-10 so there are a good number of reviews, and when I seemed to fall between sizes based on measurements I decided to go with the smaller of the two based on comments from other users. Thus, this is an HP size 12, with very few alterations.

As modelled by me. Clearly visible fit problem at the back! Also, the whole PHOTO of my back is crooked, due to camera user error, and I couldn't correct it without cutting my shoulders off. It's not that I'm that asymmetrical.
I could really do with a bit more room at the back hip, as is clearly visible from this photo, but other than that I think the size worked out pretty well -- I definitely did NOT need this top to be any larger at the neck or shoulder, and I got a surprisingly good fit through the bust and upper back, my usual fit problem areas.  However, the most notable thing about this top on my actual body is the depth and width of the neckline, which is to say, wow, it's really low, and really wide. I knew this was a known issue from reading reviews, but I didn't want to mess with all the yoke etc without seeing what it was like unaltered on me. My conclusion is that, as drafted, it's definitely not a top to wear if you spend a lot of time leaning over, shall we say. I haven't worn the top yet, so I don't know how it's going to hold up to normal life at all. I fear it may turn out to be a real nuisance, constantly requiring adjustment to cover bra straps and cleavage.

I cut the top to the "t-shirt" length in the pattern, but I hated it at that length, not least because I didn't have enough room in the back bodice to go over my butt. I ended up though in that terrible spiral of cutting it and then realizing I had a problem with the hem and having to go a little shorter, and eventually I was like, OK, I have to stop now and live with the hem I have, which is why I ended up with this not-entirely-flattering length.

The other widespread criticism I noticed in reviews of this pattern is that there is a problem with the sleeves/armhole. However, I circumvented this potential problem as I wanted to use the sleeves from my dress. I therefore drew the armhole from the original Lady Skater Dress pattern onto the pattern for this version. I am not entirely convinced that I put the sleeves in the right way round, because it was so long ago that I took them off the old dress that my note to myself no longer made any sense to me. /o\ At any rate, the wrinkles and fit problems with the sleeves are probably due to that.

Internal construction of the yoke
I quite like the way the top is constructed, except for the fact that gathering is my nemesis. I am always quite embarrassed at how crap I am at gathering, especially when gathered garments are the sort of thing beginners are told to do for their first project. I just don't seem to be able to get my gather on very successfully. In this case, although I spent ages trying to get the front bodice to gather neatly and evenly, by the time it had been through the overlocker it didn't end up the way I'd hoped at all. I feel like there is probably a secret trick to getting gathers to stay put while you sew them that I have yet to learn. I had, conservatively, 8 million pins in the gathers to hold them still, but maybe I should just bite the bullet and start hand-basting them in place as well/instead. At any rate, despite my ineptitude at gathering, I found the clean finish you get on the yoke inside to be very pleasing.

Overall, I am in two minds about this pattern. On the one hand, I can see a glimmer of a really nice top in my wearable muslin -- I like the way the gathers fall, I like the construction of the yoke, and I like the overall shape of the tee. On the other hand, I will have to wear it to know for sure, but I am pretty much convinced that the really wide and really low neckline is not going to work for me just from wearing it to rush around taking photos. Whereas with a regular knit top I would just cheerfully slap a different neckline over the pattern and trace it, the yoke and gathers make altering this top much more complicated, especially since one of the things I like about it is how the gathers are positioned on my body. I am not sure how excited I am to spend a lot of time getting the neckline to work perfectly when there are a million other knit top patterns in the world.

In conclusion: I'm glad I've made up this pattern, because I bought it right back at the start of my garment making adventures and it's therefore been on my To Do list just about forever. In fact, the first time I ever posted about making it was in May 2012 /o\. For now, though, I think I might shelve it again while I think about whether I want to keep working on it.


  1. I've shaken my fist, more than once, at the recommendation to make a gathered skirt for a beginner...I mean, sure it's "easy" to sew but getting *GOOD* looking gathers takes some serious dedication and I actually think a straight skirt would be "easier". I get fitting the hip and all that but still...gathering can be so frustrating!

    I think it looks cute on you!

    1. I am definitely with you on the difference between it being easy to make a gathered skirt and how hard it is to make a NICE gathered skirt. I made one last summer with a chiffon overlay and oh my god, the gathers went so very very wrong, even with all the basting in the world.

      What I really haven't got the hang of is stitching gathered fabric on my overlocker. I'm sure there's a way to set the differential to help me, but as it is I find my gathers tend to drag in the direction that I'm sewing and the whole thing ends up askew.

      I like how the top looks, but I just think it's going to be a constant nightmare of checking to make sure I'm not showing off my boobs to the world, which, ugh.

  2. I've made a bunch of Sunshine tops, but it's been a few years since the last time I made it. One thing that I love about this top is that once you get the fit through the neck/shoulders right, with the gathers + a drapey fabric, I can wear these through a fair amount of weight fluctuation (and my weight fluctuates a lot).

    The main alterations that I remember making to this pattern were to pinch out a bit of vertical length on the front band (between the shoulder and armscye), which brought the neckline up a bit, scooping out the armscye a bit, and doing a full arm adjustment on the sleeve. These aren't typical alterations for me, but they were easy to do and gave me a top pattern that I think I've made about a half dozen times at this point.

    1. I originally bought the pattern because I saw you recommend it so highly and I know that we have a lot of fitting issues in common! I was thinking I'd have to completely redraw the yoke, but your description of how you fixed your version makes a lot more sense. I don't really have a good drapey knit though in stash. Hmm, an excuse to fabric shop, maybe! :D