Thursday, October 22, 2020


It is always such fun for me to open and make up a new pattern. I so enjoy the puzzle. The Bristol top (or dress) is not a new pattern from the Sewing Workshop, as it has a 2015 copyright but it is new to me. It took me a while to warm up to it.  

This is an interesting knits-only shirt pattern with a yoke that extends across the shoulders into the sleeve area. The sleeves are made much like raglan sleeves. There are deep cuffs. There are no side seams as the front piece wraps around to the back. The back is narrow at the bottom which can be flattering, I think. Then there are bands attached to the angled front hemline. So this is definitely a little different from an ordinary tee shirt pattern.

It has mixed reviews over on Pattern Review. And I was uncertain about the fact that the back hem is higher than the front. Ultimately I decided it would be a good layering piece, and I always need those. And, as I said, I do love digging into a new pattern.

The mixed reviews on PR are more about the shoulders. They may droop a bit unless the shoulder fit is spot-on. In fact, mine are not perfect. You can see in the line drawing that the yoke hem is to curve down in the front/back and up at the shoulders. This is hard to achieve with a very soft and drapey knit fabric. 

My selected fabric is one of those Alabama Chanin organic cotton knits. It is a stable knit and firm, with not a lot of stretch. The pattern does not include a stretch guide and so I was actually a bit lucky that it did not end up too small. A few pounds ago, it would have been a wadder, for sure.

So I traced the pattern tissue and cut out the shirt. Then it just sat on my cutting table. After months and months, we are still waiting for our bathroom make-over to be finished. I don't like to work in my sewing room when workers are here because we share the guest bath in my room. And I was wanting more hand-work. 

One day I pulled out an older tank I had made in AC knit to wear and noticed how droopy the neckline looked. It looked like an old sweat shirt to me. The neckline was constructed following TSW instructions for knits, with a slightly smaller circle of fabric attached to the neck opening, and then top-stitched to hold the SA under. This works really well on most knits.

I searched my stash for some kind of woven fabric to use to replace the neckline. My idea was to cut it on the bias and attach a bias binding to draw the neck in a bit. I found a few possible pieces but nothing that I loved. As I unstitched the band, I decided I might like it better if I just reattached the original band using an old Stretch-And-Sew technique. This technique involves sewing one layer of the band to the neckline and then wrapping it around the SA and stitching in the ditch. Do you remember that?

I hand-stitched it in the *ditch* using a beautiful variegated pearl cotton. Then I added feather stitch to the surface. I'm think that, because the pearl cotton shrinks a bit in the wash, this will draw it up even more as I use it. In any case, it was satisfying to add this stitch. Sewing zen, for me.

So that motivated me to finish the Bristol, just so that I would have another opportunity to add the feather stitch. And I was lucky to find another variegated pearl cotton to match this gorgeous burnt orange knit. 

I think the fit is pretty good. I was surprised at how long the sleeves were though. My arms are not short, relative to my body. Then I noticed that in all the pictures online, and on the front of the pattern envelope, the cuffs are rolled up. I like the deep cuffs showing. So I removed the cuffs and cut off an inch. They are still pretty long, but they feel cozy when the mornings are chilly here.

I was going to make this up again in a rayon knit from stash, but after noting the problems people have with droopy shoulders, I've decided against that. I really think this pattern works best in a very stable knit fabric. All in all, I count this as a success and recommend it.

On another note, I recently came across a reference to ball-pointed pins. For me, ball-pointed needles are essential to sewing knits like this, and sometimes, it's hard to push pins through knits so I thought these might be helpful. 

They are not, at least not with this project. My ordinary pins are easier to use because they are longer and they are sharper and slide into the fabric much more easily. 

Go figure!


  1. I own this pattern, but bought it to make the dress-length version, as top version is too short for me and lengthing it looks like it would require more focus than I'm likely to possess these days.There's a picture of Linda Lee herself in a version made up in several different print fabrics that has me eyeing the stash, though.

  2. The color of the top is beautiful and the hand stitching is a perfect accent.

  3. Love the fabric that you chose, but you had me at “feather stitch!” What a lovely accent it adds — to the orange top and the other neckline. It’s an interesting design - not sure it would be flattering on me, but I like your version.

  4. You look very pretty in that luscious color. Admire your use of hand-stitching to personalize your garments -- distinctive and classy.