Lost Project: Beatrix Top in Liberty Cotton

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This is the Beatrix Top from Made By Rae, which I made up in Liberty lawn before ever making a muslin, and learned a valuable lesson.

The pattern itself is really excellent—I love the sleeve styling and length, and the buttons up the back (mine are faux, see below).  The pattern also includes adjustments for various cup sizes, which is great if you’re someone who always needs a full bust adjustment every time you sew up a new pattern.  Here’s where I went wrong, though: the bust adjustment used most frequently doesn’t work for me.  So I made up a “muslin” version of this top in the final fabric and didn’t take into account that I wasn’t sure the shaping would work for me.  #sadtrombone

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As far as I’m concerned, Liberty is basically the best fabric for pretty much anything.  It costs a fortune, I’ll give you that—but the softness and drape of it is unparalleled, and the patterns and prints are at a scale that seems to make every design look better.  This particular print is one of my two favorites (Wiltshire in red is the other one, although even typing that makes me feel like I’m betraying the other eleventy-billion Liberty prints that I adore and have been known to purchase yardage of when I’ve had too much hard cider), and appears to have been a seasonal colorway of a print called Manuela that’s only available in a few shops internationally.  Which makes the pain of having been careless with my fitting even greater.


My preferred full bust adjustment is one introduced by the late Nancy Zieman, an absolutely flawless technique that allows the increase of the bust dart size without the accompanying increase in the amount of fabric at the waist and hip, which every other FBA I have ever seen does.  We worked on Nancy’s technique as part of the League of Dressmakers two years ago, and I promise you that it changed my sewing forever.


So in this Beatrix, where I used the bust adjustment straight out of the package—which I should note is a solid method, and works for a lot of bodies, just not mine—I inadvertently introduced more volume along the torso of the garment than I really want or need.


The simplest solution is to take the volume out along the side seams.  It’s not ideal, because it changes the shaping of the shirt front and makes it ride up just a bit when I’m wearing it.  I would have been way better off if I’d used another bust adjustment method and allowed room at the bustline but not along the center front, because taking it out of the side seams means the garment is pulled toward the sides rather than narrowed from the center front outward.  But as a solution after the fact—like if you find a great top for a huge discount but it isn’t *quite* right, or if you use in-gettable fabric for a muslin without checking the fitting properly first—taking out volume at the side seams will do the trick.


Because all bodies are different, it can take some time to figure out the best way to fit yours.  None of this is about my body being the wrong shape, and it isn’t about the pattern drafting—it’s about finding the meeting point between the two.  I think one of the greatest leaps we all make when sewing is the moment when we say AHA! Because we see that even if a pattern is designed to correct for something, it might not be the *right* correction for my shape.


The neckline for this top is dreamy on me, for example. I am unreasonably prideful about my collar bones, and I love a boat neck that skirts the lower edge, like this one does.  In fact, I can think of very few women who aren’t flattered by a nice boat neck top or dress.


At the back the shirt is designed to have buttons, which mine does, I just never bothered to put in any buttonholes.  When Rae was writing about the pattern, she mentioned that she always puts hers on over her head even though it has buttonholes, and so when I got to my usual avoidance of installing buttonholes—why do I always insist on putting it off??—I realized I could just NOT DO IT.  These buttons are sewn through both facings, and are 100% faux closures.  I’ve never had a lick of trouble getting the top on or off.


The hem is a nice curved shirt-tail shape, and it hits very prettily at the mid-hip.  Looks great over skinny jeans, makes a solid addition to the mom uniform that requires that we not have to suck anything in, but that we look like we made some effort to take off our jammies before dropping off that forgotten lunch box at the school.


And there you have it!  The story of how I used up some irreplaceable yardage and learned a valuable lesson at the same time.  It’s basically an after school special that looks like a shirt.

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  • Maureen
    March 30, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Deborah,

    I have missed reading your posts and I am excited to see you back on your blog. You always have something interesting to say. I love Liberty fabric, but I haven’t had the courage to cut into mine yet since it is so expensive and I am an inexperienced sewer. Your tuxedo top is lovely. I purchased the Beatrix top because I read it works well for a large cup size, but it is still on my to-do list. I am curious to read your thoughts on the pattern, but most of your post has gone missing. I have been a big fan of yours for a long time, and I look forward to reading more about your me-made wardrobe.

    • Deborah
      May 22, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Ha! That was a big WHOOPS. All fixed now, so glad you’re still reading! 🙂

  • Rae
    May 23, 2018 at 10:13 am

    OOH beautiful Liberty!!!

    I’ve so been there — the making of the pattern without the muslin.

    I’m super interested in reading Nancy’s FBA w/o waist width post — this is something I’ve been puzzling over for a long time now, but the link is to a narrow shoulder adjustment?

    SHARE!!!! xoxo

    • Deborah
      May 30, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      Wait, really? Ack! There’s a video here, but without watching all 28 minutes, I can’t tell if she does a bust adjustment–but she does shoulders and sleeves and swayback and hips, all the same pivot-and-slide technique. https://wpt.org/SewingWithNancy/Video/solving-pattern-fitting-puzzle-part-two

      I learned to do the FBA that way from her book Pattern Fitting With Confidence, which is so thin that it seems like it’s not worth it but is a TREASURE. For reals, we all owe her so much. <3