24 September 2015

White Linen Bamboo Shoot Top

It was only after finishing my broderie anglaise top that I realised that I actually made something n theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong this month. As is this top. The theme is "Outerwear / Seasonal Change", so both tops qualify as new tops for summer! This is actually my second attempt at making the bamboo shoot top from Pattern Magic. I tried to make one once before, using white cotton poplin, but thought I could do the front in one piece, extending to the hip. It turns out that I couldn't.

I'm kind of glad that I left trying it out again, as not only do I now I have a better starting point with the block that I've been working on to fit me better, but I discovered that I have enough white linen in the stash which will made up much better than the cotton poplin would have.

Starting with the same block as my recent broderie anglaise top, I took out some of the extra ease that I had added into the waist area, and drafted the pattern. (It's on page 84 in my copy of Pattern Magic if you're looking for it). This didn't actually prove that successful, and I ended up with a big fat headache. So I pulled out the pattern I made the first time, and transferred all the lines onto the new block.

The reason for my headache, in case you're wondering, is that on other versions that I have seen, the lines were drawn in at 90 degrees, with the bottom of all the 'Vs' joining at centre front, oh, and they're usually parallel to each other. I was going to do this, but I just couldn't get it to look right, no matter how many times I rubbed it out and started again. If you look really closely at the picture in the book, the lines do not all meet at CF, it's actually the centre of the end of each of the pieces that go down the centre front, with the centre of the Vs all meeting up when you draw a straight line through them, as I have done below in red. The lines are also not drawn in at 45 degrees from the CF line in the book, making it even harder to work out how to do it in the first place.

Making sure the pattern works
I thread traced my fold lines, then pressed them in place. I learnt from my first attempt that marking out where the folds are going to go is not just a way to postpone sewing something right now, but a fool proof way to match up your folds before you try and sew anything in place. You know, so it fits!

Here's an interesting fact that I discovered whilst pressing the folds in place. If you leave your iron on the linen setting, and iron your folds to match up your thread tracing, your Gutermann thread will melt. And the colour will bleed out of it and stain your linen. Good to know! Would have been better to know before I used green thread though!

I also cut the ends of each pleat, so I didn't end up with an excessive amount of fabric bulk, and overlocked the edges of each of the seams. If you do this on your pattern to start with, you can trim off the excess, then you'll be able to cut out the right shape the start with.

At the back of each of the pleats, I tacked the end of the V's down so that the pleats wouldn't gape open all the time.

To extend the top down to the hips on the front, I added two layers from the waist down, with the top layer shorter, and slightly flared, peplum style! The neckline and armholes are finished off with an inside bound made from scraps of cotton poplin. (I actually cut up my first version that I had been playing with, and used it for binding on both this and my broderie anglaise top).

For the back I used pleats at the waist in the place of darts, and finished it off with an invisible zipper in the centre back. In hindsight, I should have put the zipper into the side seam, as the top is on the snug side at the waist, and I could do with a bit of help when taking it off. I am so not used to having clothes actually fit at my true waist. I keep tugging this top down, but it's generally already sitting in the right place.

I tried to take photos outside, but I was getting blown away, so had to go back inside, windswept hair and everything!


  1. Wow, you've done a beautiful job on the bamboo shoot. I am doubly impressed by this success after attempting a Pattern Magic top myself a couple of years ago. They are a brain strain!

    1. Thanks Megan. I found this one particularly challenging, although I don't remember that from the first time I tried to make this pattern. Go figure.

  2. It's gorgeous- a top to really be proud of, even though it took some doing. And regarding polyester thread - I have a big note by my iron to remind me - polyester melts!

    1. Thanks Sarah Liz. You don't usually think about the fact that your thread can melt, do you? I just merrily iron away, usually on a setting that's already too hot!

  3. This looks gorgeous! I made one of these a few years ago; it was my favourite top for years! Interesting in a quiet way. I added length by adding a wide folded band to the bottom :)

    1. Thank you Carolyn. I had a look at yours before I started. Did you find that every time you washed it you had to spend hours ironing the creases back in? I've only washed mine once so far, and can't seem to face ironing it so I can wear it again!