Sewing with Stripes – a Collins Top

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Hello Sewcialists! My name is Vicky and I am the face behind Sewstainability. You can find me sharing all my makes on Instagram (@sewstainability) and over on my blog. Today I am thrilled to be sharing my contribution for Stripe month! I absolutely love sewing and wearing stripes, I often like to wear a lot of patterns, so basically I consider stripes a neutral (Anyone else? Or is it just me?!). I love sewing with stripes even more if I don’t have to stripe match, and this is where my most recent make comes in – The Collins Top by In the Folds.

Anyone who has come across me on social media will know the whole idea behind Sewstainability is that I am turning 30 this year and at this junction in my life I am trying to live a little more sustainably. I could declare undying love for all the ways the Collins Top helps me do this – firstly, it is made up of lots of panels – that means it is PERFECT for using up scraps! Emily of In the Folds suggests loads of ways to slow down and enjoy the process of sewing the Collins Top, both in the pattern and in the Sew-along. There is also a great Love to Sew podcast with Emily talking about ‘Cherishing the Process’ … if you haven’t heard it you should check it out!) I am really trying to slow down my sewing this year and produce fewer, more well-made garments that will hopefully last me way longer than some of my earlier projects. This is why I took the opportunity to slow down and sew the Collins Top with a few special finishes.

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Gah! When will there be a portable iron I can use when I get to locations?!

More than anything else, the Collins Top is absolutely perfect for STRIPES! Not stripe matching (unless, of course, you want to!) The panels absolutely scream out for stripes running in all different directions! Check out the hashtag #collinstop on Instagram to see plenty of other fab striped versions that other sewists have made. Fortunately, to help people with planning the panels for the Collins Top, there is a handy ‘Project Planning Template’ included with the pattern, to help you sketch out ideas for the way the stripes should run on your version. I took my time at this stage as I wanted to be really happy with all the different angles the stripes were creating.

Before I even touched my fabric I added 3 inches to the lengthen/shorten line as I don’t wear a lot of high-waisted trousers and knew my lovely new top wouldn’t get worn if I had any midriff on show. There is an excellent blog post on the In the Folds blog that helped me to lengthen all the different panels and I was really happy with how it went.

Once I was happy with the pattern, I was ready to cut fabric. Part of my sustainability pledge for this year is to either buy only sustainable fabrics or use up my stash! I had this organic quilting cotton in my stash from when I started sewing years ago. (Does anyone else do this? Start sewing and buy up all the pretty prints on quilting cotton before realising it’s unsuitable for A LOT of dressmaking projects?!) Even though it is quilting cotton I had seen several Collins Tops on Instagram made from stiffer fabrics and loved the structured tent-shape this achieves.

So, fabric in-hand I started cutting; the front and back panels were easy as I was cutting those with vertical stripes but the side panels I wanted to do at an angle. The way I made sure that my angles were exactly the same on both sides of the top was to cut out one side then flip that piece over and put it face down onto the fabric and move it around until the stripes underneath match up to your cut piece perfectly – then cut around the piece. This ensures you have mirror images AND the stripes are running at identical angles. See below for an example of how I would do this:

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I went to town on the details. I want to make less clothes this year as I really don’t need any more, but don’t want to stop sewing so I am slowing down and this is the first garment I have ever wanted to wear inside out! I made my own bias binding for the first time, it was easy and fun – I made it out of a shirt I bought from the thrift shop so the colour doesn’t match perfectly, but it was cheap and sustainably sourced. I used the bias binding I made to Hong Kong bind the facing pieces and the back seam as well as bind the hem. All the seams are flat-felled seams. This was the first time I had sewn them but I really enjoyed the technique and I like the topstitching detail it gives on the outside.

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Overall I am really happy with my new top and am looking forward to making another Collins Top in some drapier fabric and, of course, working with stripes some more. In fact, as well as writing this post for the Sewcialists, I have also put together another stripey outfit for stripe month over on my own blog – come join me here and check it out! Thanks so much to the Sewcialists for having me, and thanks to you for reading!

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I will leave you with a picture of me freezing my butt off without a coat on, in Yorkshire, in January!