I hate being cold. I also hate the vast majority of RTW nursing/breastfeeding clothes. The few that I’ve purchased are pretty ugly, badly fitting and poorly made (oh dear god the absolute craptastic quality…. gives me hives…). Sitting under a small person for a few hours a day gives one plenty of thinking time, and I got to thinking about making a warm sweater-type top that had some sneaky boob access without lifting from underneath, exposing my belly to the cold. I remember when Lisa from Paprika Patterns altered her Jasper to have invisible zips in the princess seams but I wanted something even more discreet than that.
One day I was stroking fabric down at The Cloth Shop and I saw a sample of the Style Arc Keely Knit top – a knit top with ruffles sewn into angled princess seams. Those ruffles would completely hide some boob zips! I tried on the sample to confirm I wouldn’t look utterly ridiculous and was convinced it was a cracker of an idea. The sample was a 16 – I’d normally wear a 12, but I liked the relaxed fit of the 16 on me and I figured a slightly more relaxed fit would allow more layers underneath and help me avoid an FBA. It was clearly too wide in the shoulders but fit nicely everywhere else, so that was the size I went with.
Using this tutorial from Itch to Stitch I did a narrow shoulder adjustment of 1cm. I also did my standard forward shoulder adjustment of 1cm. I increased the princess seams SA to 15mm to make the zip insertion less fiddly. The seams were stabilised with fusible knit stay tape before basting the frills to the CF pieces, overlocking each edge separately and then inserting the invisible zips. My fabric is a deep charcoal felted wool knit from Rathdowne Remnants. To make the zip insertion as stress free as possible I used bright pink tailors tacks to mark all the notches rather than snipping into seam allowances. I chose 20cm zips, centred right over the apex of my bust thinking that would be plenty of room, but sadly didn’t take into account the curve of my bust and the actual size of the openings…. more on that later….
I decided to finish the sleeves with cuffs and a hem band to continue with that sportier sweater vibe, but didn’t have enough fabric for a hem band. I got around it by overlocking the hem and turning up once to make a wide casing and threading with elastic.
And the verdict…. it’s so close to being awesome. So damn close. But the zips are just a wee bit too short to be effortlessly practical. I thought about changing them, I really did. But the fabric has turned out to be not that great (it pills like crazy) and I just couldn’t bear investing more time in what was a pretty mammoth project for me. So disappointing! I still wear it of course, and have used the zips a couple of times, but to be honest I just yank it up – the little bloke got so frustrated with me gaffing through the holes that it just wasn’t worth the hassle…. so the lesson here kids is if you want to try this at home use zips that go from the shoulder seam to well below the bust. Then you’ll be winning. (BTW I am wearing a pink top underneath in this pic…. just so you know!)
In terms of the actual pattern as you’d expect with Style Arc is beautifully drafted. The neckband went in perfectly, and those frills taper so perfectly. The only uncertainty I had was whether the top edges are to be caught in the shoulder seams or not. I ended up catching just a little of the top edge to stop them flapping about. I’m not sure I’d make this again with the frills and princess seams, but I really like the pattern as a basic crew neck slim fitting sweater, and will no doubt use it as a basic sweater block in the future.
I’ve not given up on the idea though, and have my sights firmly fixed on View B of the Hey June Halifax hoodie and those angled side seams….