Neverending Toile top: a tutorial

So I took a few pictures along the way when constructing my Neverending Toile top… but I wasn’t sure whether it was worth blogging about, or if it was, well, blindingly boring.  But then I read this comment on the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle:

What a great idea. Would you give us some details about how you constructed the collar? I would really love to use this idea…

Of course, Nora!  Here goes:

The top I used was made from a vintage pattern, but it’s virtually identical to the Sorbetto from Colette Patterns, so I used that to draft the new collar.  First, on the original top, I cut straight across on the front and back bodice pieces (about 2 inches higher than the top of the side seams, so that some of the armhole curve was left) and hemmed the new edges.  The side seams and darts were already stitched, so it basically looked like a rectangle with the upper corners cut off.

On a folded piece of paper, I traced the front piece of the Sorbetto, excluding the pleat (you can just fold the pleat section under).  No need to trace the whole length, just the upper half should do:

I drew a new curve from the top of the neckline down to the fold, to create the upper curve of the collar piece.  It took some some trial and error –  I found it helpful to fold out the pattern and lay it over the main top, to see how much of the bodice would show above the collar.  (I lined up the darts on the drafted pattern against the darts I’d sewn on the top to get the positioning right).  Then cut along the curve:

To form the lower edge of the collar,  I measured the width of the Sorbetto shoulder section (about 2.5″) and kept this constant all the way along –  I just measured out 2.5″ from the top curve at regular intervals, then joined up the dots to form the lower curve. 

Open it out, and that’s the collar pattern!

I cut two complete pieces from my chosen fabric for the front collar.  Then I used the upper sections (not including the curved part) to cut the back straps: 2 for each side = 4 pieces altogether. 

The pictures don’t exactly correspond now, as I assembled it in a ridiculously complicated way – so don’t do as I did, do as I tell you! 

First, the shoulder seams: stitch one back strap to each side of the front ‘u’ pieces – so you end up with two longer ‘u’ shapes.  Press the seams open.  Lay one piece on top of the other, right sides together, and stitch all the way along the inner curve.  Repeat all along the outer curve, leaving the tops of the ‘u’ open.  Finish the edges (I used a zigzag stitch) and clip the curves.

Turn it the right way out and press:

Then pin in to your main bodice piece – again, I used my master Sorbetto pattern to help, laying it under the stripy bodice piece and lining up the darts; then laying the collar over the top and lining up the shoulder seams to get the placement right.  Make sure it’s centred! 

Pin the ends of the collar to the back bodice, and try it on to adjust the length and position of the straps.  You’ll probably want to position the straps a little bit further in from the armhole edges, see?

Now, the straight hemmed edges of the bodice pieces need to be trimmed, so that the edges don’t stick out .  On the back, I cut it so that the armhole curves line up with the edges of the straps, and on the front so that they’re hidden under the curve of the collar.  Here’s the back – can you see what I mean?

Unpin everything (sorry!) and finish the armhole edges with bias binding. 

Then pin the front of the collar back on to the front of the bodice.  Topstitch along the whole length of the inner and outer curves to attach it:

Finish the raw edges of the collar piece – again, I used trusty zig-zag stitch.  Pin the ends of the collar piece to the back bodice (so that the zig-zagged collar edges lie under the bodice), and top-stitch to secure in place.

And you’re done!  Woohoo!

I hope that sort of makes sense – please let me know if anything’s unclear, or overly/underly technical.  And of course, please let me know how it works out if you try it! 

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