Molly with double fold neck binding, a double sewn curved hem, and a splash of color.

In December, I made a Molly PJ top as part of a promotion for 5 out of 4 patterns. I used some very thin cotton jersey from Kathy’s Lace and Elastic, and ended up dyeing the fabric. It started out in a sweet baby pink. I like purchasing deadstock fabric (or using from my stash) something that I would not be heartbroken if the pattern did not fit. Since this was my first attempt at this pattern, I would call it a wearable muslin.

There is no lycra in this fabric, and being thin, I found that holding the threads when sewing the short band seams was critical. Also not cutting the thread in between sewing the pieces helped to keep the fabric from meandering its way down below the feed dogs. This is called chain stitching. It is often used in quilting small pieces together. Saves thread and frustration in garment sewing too. Just leave 1/8 to 1/4 inch between pieces and clip them apart later.

Short band seams being chain stitched.

I lengthened the top. The lower edge of the ruler shows where the pattern stops. I had planned for a solid tunic length top that I could wear over my crazy patterned leggings. This ended up being 8 inches longer in the center and curved up to where the original hem line ended. At first I thought it was too long, but this has quickly become one of my favorite tops. I added this length to the front and the back.

Used differential feed. As part of hemming, I serged around the hemline. By using this setting, I slightly gathered one curved edge of my hem. I switched the differential feed to neutral for all the other parts.

The portion of the hem that was serged with the differential feed naturally wants to roll up into position.

This makes hemming so much easier. If your fabric has lycra or a greater stretch, I would recommend testing your stitches on scraps, till you are comfortable that you have a good match. Pin, clip, press or use the guides on your machine to make this hem as even as you possibly can (or wish to) sew. Since this fabric has little stretch, a slight zig zag worked well.

The thing about curved hems is that they want to twist like the photo below. I solved this by edge stitching with a teflon coated open toed embroidery foot, and edge stitching the front side of the hem. The teflon was not necessary, but this is my favorite type of foot. Other machines call it an open toe embroidery foot. It was easier than I expected to manipulate the fabric by finger pressing from left to right just before the foot to eliminate this wrinkle that wants to form. The edge stitching keeps everything in place. You may have another foot with a guide that will help sew a straighter seam.

This is fast and easy and flat. A cover stitch machine or double needle could be fun to try too.

What about the other openings? The pattern calls for a neck band, which normally I love, but this fabric did not have the recovery that I like in a band, so I used a double fold binding. Cut the band length along the stretch, at 1.75 inch wide. You saw that I chain stitched the ends earlier. I may have needed to piece this one, as I see seams on either side of the neck. Double fold bindings work nicely with thinner fabrics. I like that you can see where you are sewing and make sure your edges are covered. Pins, clips or wonder tape can help tame fabrics that tend to slide.

  1. To double fold band, sew right side of the band to the wrong side of the neck opening. If you need to baste first on a sewing machine that is great, you will ultimately want a serged edge here.

2. Double fold part two. Wrap the binding up and around that firm serged edge. Have the raw edge of the binding meet the finished edge of the serging and fold over the binding to fully cover the serged seam. In this photo, I moved the needle to the left and top stitched with a slight zig zag. This is a good time to start in the back and test the first few inches for stretch. Widen or shorten the stitch for more stretch. I finished the sleeves this way too.

Did you notice my fatal error yet? Ouch! I realized that I had sewn the front on inside out. Hard to tell. Solved this by adding a little color.

And done. Up close you can tell that this is a tiny zig zag. A cover stitch might be fun here.

First time ice dyeing. In this batch are some Penny PJ’s for my grand child too!

This post contains affiliate links that cost you nothing, but may net me a small commission from the pattern designer if you purchase their pattern with my link. I thank you if you do!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing! Joan

A twist on the racerback.

Note: This post is only for those adventurous or curious sewists who are adept at making this kind of bra. If you are new to sewing please, just look away, or skip to the bottom for links to other bra posts. This one gets complex. No whining allowed. Alternatively, you can follow to step #2 and add binding.

It all started with some Rambouillet wool a friend found on line. I bought all three colors, cause 92 percent wool and 8 percent lycra should be washable, and it is and very very comfortable. I also found some ready to dye white cotton ribbing fabric. I cut out my favorite Raglan and favorite Tank, which happen to both be in the same pattern. Spent a good deal of a morning cutting out 8 tops for me. The wool was to keep me warm or cool, wool is awesome that way. The white was to dye later, but that is totally another rabbit hole to fall into. When I tried on the white ribbing tank, I realized that since the back has a slight racer back cut, I needed some skin toned racerback bras to go under. So I hopped into my fabric stash, and pulled out some of this that I bought for the higher Lycra content.

I had made the Resolution bra and tank from 5 out of 4 patterns before as a reversible bra in a Nylon Spandex Tricot to go with the reversible Ultimate Bikini Bottoms . So I knew where I was in the fit.

  1. I started by printing and gluing the pattern. Scotch quick drying glue is really a special glue. Use what makes you happy. Then traced it onto a larger page of news print, so that I could get a full pattern piece without the vertical fold. The next step was to locate the normal cut line for me. There are several cup sizes, each with different cut lines. Then I backed that up to 3/4 inch shorter. Since there is no extra to turn under -being two layers. Made that my new horizontal fold line. And cut these crazy cat dog tee shirt pieces of bra parts. Below the back is on top of the front with all four shoulder seams sewn, one side seam sewn, and the other side seam sewn only for one inch at the arm pits. leaving a huge opening on that side to manipulate this while sewing. Use a stretch stitch. I used a triple stitch here. Pro Tip: Make a notch in the center front and center back of your neckline. And if you are cooler than me, you will make a notch or marking on the edge of somewhere center on those arm openings too.

2. Reconfigure your bra so it is wrong sides together. At this point, you could finish that side seam, pop a you sized under bust elastic band in there, top stitch that, bind away and be quite happy with your bra. Did I do that? Hardly. I had this idea in my head that needed to be executed. So I started with the neckline. At the center back take both pieces and flip them so that just they are Right sides facing. . A twist of each piece away from each other, then back together RSF. clip that. Imagine couples dancing in the Regency era. He turns left, she turns right, and they are facing each other again. However we are only doing a half turn here. We start with backs facing. He turns left a half turn, she turns right half turn and suddenly they are right sides facing. There will be a clear direction to sew, and one that looks like an up hill battle. Take the easy road.

3. Apologies that I was more into sewing than taking photos here. With the majority of the bra wrong sides together and just the center back, zig zag baste the edges of the two right sides together. Sew a few inches, then re-arrange the piece, then sew a few more inches, then re-arrange. you will end up meeting yourself back at the start, and turning the bra completely inside out again. That is how it works. If you followed my direction and marked centers, then you have nice road signs to tell you that you are on the right track!

Then take this to your serger and add some clear elastic to that seam. Since you have already zig zag basted it in place, this part is fairly easy. Keep your elastic firm, but not too stretched. You just want to firm up the edges. Go all the way round. Push any fabric inside the bra away from the seam. Pull this right sides out.

4 Align arm holes wrong sides together. Flip at the arm pit, so that right sides are facing. Zig zag baste from arm pit to shoulder seam. Due to the narrowness of the shoulder seam, you will not be able to go all the way round. So get that far, then cut threads and start the process and go from the arm pit to the other side, to meet previous stitches at the top of the shoulder seam. Then pull this out. In the photo above one arm seam had been zig zag basted. The neck has the elastic serged.

To finish the arm opening, start at the top of the shoulder and serge clear elastic on top of that basting seam all the way round till you meet or come really close to the top of the shoulder from the other side. Repeat for the other arm.

I generally cut my sports bra fronts 3/4 inch to an inch longer in front than back, and ease the difference in the side seam. Giving me more bust room.

5. Mark the center of the side seams that were left open. Sew that side seam closed from the center up to one side, easing as you go, then from the other side as far as you can get to the center also easing as you go. This can be done by hand too. Cut your you sized elastic band. 3/4 inch is what the pattern uses. Snake it through the bra and stitch it closed. Arrange it so that it is fitting snugly into the bottom of the bra. Clip in a few places, then top stitch.

6. I used a wide serpentine stitch on my 9 mm Bernina and hardly needed to stretch as I stitched. With a #20 coded foot, and my needle halfway to the left I triple stitched the open arm and neck edges.

And done. Halfway through I thought it would be easier to just do bands. but this worked out nicely. My first attempt was a hot mess and I had to cut the shoulder seams more than once. This one fits better. Although I am not sure how “invisible” it worked out to be. It will be great under all the Taylors I made in testing.

After being diagnosed with Costrochondritis, many years ago, I resolved to making my own bra and swim tops. I write about my journey in these other posts.

This post includes affiliate links. By using those links, when purchasing the seller (at no cost to you) may compensate me with a very small commission. These add up, and I appreciate any support you show.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Sewing! Joan

Mini Merryweather Modification

I tried out a new to me pattern last year. It has been in my collection for a while. The cover photo is super cute, and I decided to style it a tad differently. I modified it in a couple places for a better fit, and an easier to sew neckline. What I loved was the option to color block. It is fun to make a statement top with two different prints. One print may be overwhelming. Tone it down with some stripes. Or you may love a certain print, but that print, or the colors in it may not love you back as much. Easy, color block the part closest to your face in a color that suits, and pick up that color in the print. Also a great use for scraps. I ended up making three modified Merryweathers for me and wear them often.

A recent photo of me and my grand daughter wearing pants from the same fabric provided me some inspiration. I was wearing the Merryweather made with a Bicycle print from Art Gallery, and she was wearing her Piscean pants made from scraps of my Sculthorpe pants. It was when she noticed the print and said the word bicycle, grandma mode took over. That is three syllables! I checked to see if there was more of that fabric. Sadly that one was gone, but this one is still available. Love the weight and wearability of these fabrics. While I am waiting for the bicycle, taco and tiger fabric, I put together a top with cars.

Mini Merryweather top

I projected the size 3 Neverland tee onto my pattern paper and traced. Picked a spot about 3/4 inch below the arm pit and made that my seam line. The cut line is 1/2 inch above that as marked with the dashes and scissor icon. Pro tip: Write the measurements of your bands on the pattern pieces. You will thank yourself later. I had previously made the Neverland tee in scraps from a white shirt for her uncle. Love how it fits.

Mini Merryweather top from Neverland.

To get the top yoke of the Mini Merryweather, I traced the top of the Neverland Tee down to my seam line or stitch line, then added half an inch for the seam allowance. Easy Peasy! On the photo below, I added a notch to the center front of the top, and the center of the sleeve and I should have added one to the center back, for ease in stitching. This fabric is an interlock and worked really well. I planned this top to use the cotton lycra print for the bands, so these pieces worked fine in interlock.

Yoke and sleeve cut from Interlock fabric

Yokes made from stripes. I cut the stripes by hand with scissors so the bottom of the stripe would be perfectly even.

Note for adult sizes. This color blocking is an awesome spot to add some shaping. Add a slight downward curve on the yoke front and a slight upward curve on the body front, ending up with 1/2 to 3/4 more at the center to create a subtle dart like seam, that no one will notice, but you when you try it on and it fits great, and doesn’t pull up in the front!

The toile I made before Christmas used a cotton lycra doodles from Joann, and a cotton interlock from Kathy’s Lace and Elastic. I like to use dead stock and deep stash/destash fabric for my first try.

Do all the sewing, just as the Merryweather pattern instructs. Topstitching adds a professional touch, keeps the serged seams flat, and makes for a sturdier garment. It is fun to play with colorblock options. I often let the type and amount of fabric I have available determine what goes where. Just use the fabric with best recovery and lycra content in bands.

Mini Merryweather toile

And here is the same photo with the wonderful Art Gallery fabric, and stripes from the SUAT site. Have fun playing with different prints in the sleeves/yoke/body/bands.

Mini Merryweather with stripes and cars.

I chose to make cuffs from the stripes to help push up too long sleeves that will grow with the baby. When I cut the stripe to straighten the fabric along the stripe, I cut close to the previously cut spot, which rolled a bit. To solve that, I could have cut off an additional couple of stripes, but I am too frugal to waste fabric. I used an overcast foot here to pre baste with a wide zig zag, which will seal the edges of the cuff together, and make for an easier time attaching the cuff to the sleeve. This basting if close enough to the edge will not need to be removed later and will stretch beautifully.

Control the roll by basting.

Clips can help get started and are useful if the roll is particularly strong. Pro tip: When using a foot like this that has a finger to keep the stitch from tunneling, walk the first stitches by hand to be sure the needle easily clears all metal parts of the foot.

clips can help to control the roll during basting

The question is to stitch with the bands up, or with the bands down. Here is one way. I clip the seam line and the opposite point around the circle and start in the middle of the clips. Serge or use a stretch stitch. Wow, you can see the tiny clip in the band in this photo.

Attaching a cuff with the band up.

This illustrates the waistband of the matching joggers, which is made quite stable by zig zag basting first, can be stitched on the bottom. A stabilized band can be sewn on the bottom since it will behave itself a bit better. Place the main fabric, which may still want to roll, on the top where it can be seen and controlled. Clip in several places and start stitching in the middle of a pair of clips. Bands can be attached either way. Try both and see what works best for you.

Bands up/Bands down, try both and see what works best for you.

Two finished Mini Merryweathers with different color block options, and either cuffed or hemmed sleeves. Both were made with pants to match/coordinate. More on those later.

This post is filled to the brim with affiliate links. If you purchase a pattern or fabric with these links, it will cost you nothing extra, and the seller of those items may pay me a small commission, which is greatly appreciated. Thank you, and Happy sewing! – Joan