top-halfs wardrobe

In The Folds – Collins Tops

sakijane - collins top

Like many of my readers, I grew up in the age of the internet. In middle school, I searched for Spice Girls fansites that annoyingly played MIDI tracks of Two Become One in the background and were hosted by Angelfire. I chatted with boys on Aol Instant Messenger, staying signed on for days at a time and carefully crafted my away messages with ~*`///tHeSE kINds oF SPaRkleS\\\`*~. I later kept an angsty teenage Xanga and used Myspace to find new music. When I lived in Japan for a year, it was my only gateway to my friends and their busy lives back home. It might be typical ’90’s kid stuff, but I don’t even remember what life was like before the internet.

I often think about what beautiful life things the internet has brought me; I actually met one of my best friends on an OKCupid date seven years ago (it was a double date of sorts and she was the partner of my date’s friend). We found we had a lot in common, became rock climbing buddies, and our friendship has only grown stronger through the years. Through her, I’ve met basically the entirety of my close community, and through them, my favorite human, John. If I hadn’t gone on that date, my life would be so different in so many ways. It’s really quite incredible how the internet can bring people together, and that it’s a phenomenon that’s existed no more than a few decades.

sakijane - collins top

sakijane - collins top

So, here’s another positive internet story; several months ago, Emily from In the Folds put out a call on her blog for somebody to shoot sew-alongs for her patterns. I had never shot a sew-along before, and to be honest, I had never made a pattern more than once either, but I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I love sewing and I love photography, and a freelancing gig that included both in the comfort of my own home sounded too good to be true.

Fortunately for me, it wasn’t. As it turns out, Emily had already gone through the process of remotely outsourcing certain tasks in her pattern development that she found uninspiring, and she found that it made it so much easier for her to focus her creative energy on what she loved: namely, the design, creation, and grading of her patterns. After Emily had finished her testing phases, we started the process of defining the ins, outs, and expectations of the finished product.

Since this was both of our first times working remotely on such a tangible product, there was a bit of a dance in figuring out how to make such a thing work, but in the end it flowed quite beautifully. Emily was really adamant that, while she needed the photographs to work for her in the sew-along, it was important for her that I wear and love the shirts I make. She ordered fabric that we both loved with the help of Karen from The Draper’s Daughter and had it shipped to my home in Germany. I then pre-washed, cut, sewed, photographed and processed the photos, and sent them off to her, and on my end, I ended up with these two beautiful shirts I’m showing you today.

And the finished product is what we see here! Errr… kind of. Because in a lot of ways, my finished product and Emily’s finished product are two separate things. The entire reason behind me creating both can be found on the In the Folds blog with the Collins Top sew-along; she was even kind enough to feature a little Q&A of yours truly before starting the photographed portion! But here you’ll find my finished product and processes, and the tops I now enthusiastically wear on a somewhat-weekly basis.

sakijane - collins top

As a disclaimer, while this post is neither sponsored nor affiliate, I did receive the pattern for free and compensation for both the raw materials and time that went into producing the garments and photos. However, all opinions are my own, and I’ve written this blog post on my own accord.

The Pattern: The Collins Top by In the Folds, views A & B
The Fabric: All fabric from The Draper’s Daughter c/o In The Folds
View A: Offset Warehouse Handwoven Striped Cotton & Robert Kaufman Railroad Denim
View B: Merchant & Mills Handprinted Cotton
The Size: A
Alterations: Shortened sleeves on View A by 2″ and shortened hems on both Views by 2″

sakijane - collins top

sakijane - collins top

The difference between View A and View B is that one is a raglan-sleeved tee and the other is a tank, respectively. I debated on whether or not to write separate blog posts for each, but since the construction is so similar (and essentially happened concurrently), I thought it would be too repetitive to write two. So, for both your convenience and mine, I’ve got both tops rolled into a single, picture-heavy post.

The pattern itself is labeled beginner-friendly, and I think that’s accurate; if you can sew straight seams, you can sew this top. However, it’s a bit of a time investment since there are so many pattern pieces, and it’s definitely a leveling-up-pattern. Emily’s theory, which I whole-heartedly agree with, is that making your own clothes should be an investment, and taking a bit of extra time in the construction will garner you even more awesome and long-lasting results. Even though it may take a bit more time, you’ll walk away with a plethora of new techniques, including bias-binding, rolled hems, sewing a very slight contrasting curve in installing the raglan sleeves, all-in-one facings via the burrito method, and under-stitching.

sakijane - collins top

I tend to hack my patterns quite a bit, whether it’s altering a sleeve, skirt, the back, or adding darts. Sometimes, the biggest challenge when it comes to sewing garments can actually be following the directions as written, and unsurprisingly, when photographing a sew-along, you literally have to make the garment exactly as instructed. However, I did make a couple basic alterations to each top; I shortened both by 2 inches to account for my short torso and the sleeves on the raglan tee by two inches.

As per usual, there were no instructions on how to finish the seams, so I chose to finish all seams via flat-felling. The only place this “got in the way” of the instructions was at the side-seams, where Emily instructs to press the seam open.

sakijane - collins top

I used some pretty basic buttons on these tops, because, as many of you know by now, I’m moving piecemeal to Germany via suitcase, and on John’s last visit to Portland, I sent him off with an extra duffle bag packed with stash fabric, all my leather, and half my collection of buttons. Long story short, everyone’s worst traveling nightmare came true, and the airline lost his luggage. While they reimbursed us for everything we could remember without making a fuss, I still haven’t done much replacing as far as the collecting-type items go, and the only buttons I had readily available were from a RTW top. I might end up replacing them in the future, but for now, my hair usually covers them anyway, and as closures they work just fine.

sakijane - collins top

The finishing details on the raglan tee include bias binding the neckline (where I used the leftover bias tape from the tank top), hong kong seams for the back center seam, basic folded hems for the sleeves, and a rolled hem on the bottom. Everything except for the hong kong seams are as written in the pattern instructions, but Emily will be going over hong kong seams in the sew-along anyway.

While the photos of me wearing the raglan tee were taken pre-wash (and on day 7 of our Morocco trip, so please excuse the wrinkles!), all of the detail shots of the garment on the table were taken after I washed and ironed the vacation stink out of it. My only gripe about the end result of the raglan is that I cut the back bottom panel on the cross-grain, and despite my pre-washing all the fabrics, that back bottom panel ended up shrinking post-sew in a different direction than the rest. You can see that there’s a slight wave to it, but when it’s on, you can hardly notice it.

sakijane - collins top

sakijane - collins top

The finishing techniques I used for the tank top include rolled hems for the center back seam, an all-in-one facing installed using the burrito method (a first for me!), under-stitching the facing and stitch-in-the-ditch hong-kong seams, bias binding the bottom hem, and hand-stitching the button loop out of Sashiko thread. The rolled hem on the center back seam isn’t included in the instructions, but it’s a simple, optional way to finish a seam that’s pressed open. You just have to keep in mind that a rolled hem does eat into the seam allowance, so it helps if you adapt the pattern in advance for that reason. And while the hand-stitched button loop isn’t included in the PDF instructions, Emily will still go over the steps to stitching one up in her sew-along. Also included in the sew-along is the directions for the burrito method of all-in-one facing, under-stitching, and finishing a hem with bias binding.

sakijane - collins top

sakijane - collins top

By the way, let’s have a moment of realness and simply admire this total lack of pattern-matching that happened on the center back panel. The Merchant and Mills fabric was a beautiful hand-dyed cotton, where the pattern didn’t repeat itself for 3 meters. While I was intentional in my panel placement, I totally overlooked the fact that I’d have to consider pattern matching for the back piece because of the center seam. It wasn’t even something I noticed until I stitched them together (post-rolled seams) and took the panels to the iron. Unfortunately, due to the irregularity of the fabric, I couldn’t actually cut a new piece out, and I don’t think I had the patience to backtrack that far anyway. It doesn’t actually bother me as much as it did initially, but it’s definitely a lesson I’ve jotted down in the books now.

And while I sewed both tops in size A, I think I may go for one size up in the tank on a future make. There is just the slightest bit of restriction in the armholes on the tank that make me think it’d be a bit more comfortable with a size B armscye and bust. I’m still super happy with it as-is; this may be the top I’ve received the most compliments on in a long time. And now that I can make a version that deviates from the OG instructions, I’ve started daydreaming about how a View B trapeze-style dress would turn out. So many sewing dreams, so little time…

Emily is meticulous in both her pattern design and testing phases, and I’m not just blowing steam when I say I’m really impressed with the quality of interesting patterns she produces. Her instructions are detailed, her seams all match up, and she’s not afraid to go back and fix any hiccups, big or small, in the testing phase. I’m super stoked for our future collaborations on photographing her sew-alongs! Thanks again Emily! I can’t wait to see what you come out with next!

sakijane - collins top

14 Comment

  1. They’re beautiful and Emily has found herself a terrific collaborator! I’m hoping to make the tank this summer…

    1. Thanks Sarah! I can’t wait to see your version of this tank… it’s simultaneously easy to wear but with interesting style lines, so it gets a lot of compliments!

  2. Love both your tops! I’ve seen this pattern on the site and been VERY tempted however I’m not convinced this style would suit me – I have a couple of patterns similar but not identical and once I’ve made those up and see how they look I think I’ll be back for this one. All those seams are just the sort of fiddly challenge I love. Beautiful makes!

    1. Thanks Kathleen! It’s hard to know with an unconventional fit like the trapeze to know if it’ll fit or not. Have you checked out the tester round-up? You can see it on all different body types and you might be able to get a better idea 🙂

  3. Love these but not sure how I can obtain patterns???

    Can you please help, want to make for my daughter who is going on holiday September.

    Much appreciate if you can help..

      1. Thank you Saki

        I am sorry I thought this was a free pattern, I will try to get it at a later date.

        My apologises

          1. Thank you, that was very kind.

            I will keep an eye open for all other patterns from you.

            Kind regards,

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