Inspiration No. 20: A Transitional Topper

Between Seasons; A Transitional Topper

By Kathryn Brenne

Pattern: Vogue 1590 Modified

Fabric: Viscose/wool blend boucle’ knit suiting- bright moss

**Editor’s note: To see all of our viscose/wool boucle’ colors, click here!

In that time of year between seasons, when the weather is still fluctuating between chilly and mild, it’s great to have a lightweight topper that still provides some warmth! While navigating around town, doing errands, getting your kids (or grandkids) to soccer practice, etc. this viscose/wool boucle’ suiting fabric is the perfect choice. Made from a knit construction with a low pile, it does not ravel, and because it is blended with viscose the fabric has a lovely drape.
I chose the bright moss color and combined it with purple stitching to make an unlined mid-thigh length coat with pockets and a statement collar. The loose fit allows me to layer it over sweaters for added warmth, or I can easily wear it on its own on warmer days.

Fabric Prep

I ordered 3.5 yards of fabric. I wanted to experiment with the fabric by felting it slightly, so I cut a 6 inch square swatch and tossed into the washing machine and dryer with a load of towels. I was very happy with the results! My 6 inch square felted slightly and measured 5.5 inches in width and 4.5 inches in length once it dried, and the finished texture was very pleasing. Although the fabric shrank in both length and width I still had enough to make a 31.5 inches finished length coat. Using my sample as a guideline I would recommend purchasing an extra yard of fabric if you intend to felt your fabric.

Pattern Prep

I liked the simple lines of Vogue 1590 . The original pattern includes a hem allowance, but I left the hem as a raw edge, which you can do with this boucle’. I lengthened the pattern pieces by 4.5 inches. With the 1.5 inch hem allowance that was included on the pattern, this lengthened my finished garment by 6 inches, bringing it to mid thigh length.
I omitted the belt, instead opting for a loose silhouette with a one button closure.
I reshaped the very full sleeves by straightening out the underarm seam and omitting the dart at the sleeve hem (details below).
I lengthened piece #3 the side Front by 1.5 inches bringing it to the same length as the other body pieces before adding the same 4.5 inches to the new length. NOTE: After completing the pocket, I saw that I could have lengthened piece #3 1.5 inches and left it at that length. At the time I was unsure of how deep I was going to make the pockets so it was better to be safe than sorry!
I cut my garment as a size D. I am 5’9” tall.

Layout and Cutting

If possible I would recommend using a nap layout. Once my fabric shrunk I had to turn piece #3 against the nap. It did not show as different but when possible I prefer to cut all pieces running in the same direction.
I cut the collars on the lengthwise grain and put a seam at center back. These would work equally well on the crosswise grain if your layout permits.
I used pattern weights and a rotary cutter to cut out the pattern pieces. The rotary cutter gave a nice even edge to the unfinished raw edge hems.
Mark notches and circles with tailor’s tacks.

Needles, Thread and Notions

I used the following:

-Universal size 80 needle throughout.
-Guttermann 100% polyester all purpose thread for the garment construction in a slightly darker shade of green.
-One spool of wooly nylon serging thread and 2 spools of Gutermann all purpose thread to create the lettuce edge on the collars with my serger. All serger threads were purple.
-One large button and 1 small anchor button for the inside of the coat.
-Two strips of woven featherweight woven interfacing cut on the lengthwise grain, one inch wide by the width of the top edge of the pocket.
-Two strips of woven featherweight interfacing cut 3/8 inch wide by the length of the shoulder.
-One roll of 1/4 inch wide water soluble double sided transparent wash away tape.
-Chalk marker.
-Sharpie permanent marker in a color to match your serger thread.

Lapped Seam Construction

Non-raveling boiled wool is the perfect fabric for lapped seams. With lapped seams, one seam allowance is removed from the seam before it is lapped over the under layer and stitched. This technique creates a very flat seam. The raw edges give definition to the lines of the garment.
To complement the lapped seam construction I used raw edges along the neck, front and hem edges.
I cut all of the pattern pieces with 5/8 inch seam allowances. As I constructed the garment, I removed seam allowances as needed. When planning a lapped seam garment, generally the seams lap from the front towards the back. This means that the seam allowance would be removed from the front as it laps over the side front. Usually the side front would overlap the back, but in this pattern, the side front of the garment included a pocket detail with several layers. It was easier and smoother, in this case, to construct the pocket first and then lap both the front and the back over the side front. All of the other seams were done in the usual way: The front overlaps the back at the shoulder, the front sleeve seam overlaps the back, and the body overlaps the sleeve.

Sewing Machine Settings

I used the utility triple straight stitch that is a standard stitch on most machines. The machine stitches forwards and backwards and has a two-stitch repetition This stitch is often used to reinforce the crotch seams on pants. I lengthened the stitch to 5 mm. The triple stitch provides extra strength as well as stitch definition. The longer length highlights the stitching. But please note: this stitch is best suited to long straight seams. It does not work well around tight curves.
I used an edge stitching or edge joining foot and moved the needle to the left when stitching the seams.

Serger Settings

I created the lettuce edge stitching around the collars by setting my serger as a 3-thread rolled hem. The settings on my Bernina serger were: right needle 3.5, upper looper 3.5, lower looper 7.5, differential feed 1, cutting width as narrow as it will go, and the stitch length .8. The rolled hem lever was pulled forward. Test out your settings on both lengthwise and crosswise scraps of fabric and adjust as needed.
The wooly nylon thread in the upper looper puffs up and helps to fill the stitch. It is the upper looper thread that wraps around the cut edge filling it in. The tight tension on the lower looper pulls the upper looper thread over the edge to the underside. Regular all purpose thread in the needle and lower looper are barely visible.
I used purple threads to create a contrasting lettuce edge. Although the wooly nylon covered well, there were a few places where a bit of the green fabric showed through my stitching. I used a purple Sharpie marker to color the green that showed through. This was a personal choice. My husband thought a bit of show through was fine!

Construction Techniques

Pocket

  1. Chalk the pocket fold line on the right side of the fabric pattern piece #2 pocket. Press under.
  2. Fuse a strip of interfacing to the pocket hem allowance.
  3. Chalk a 1” topstitching line. Stitch to hold hem allowance in place.

4. Lay pocket piece #2 over side front piece #3 side front. Chalk a line parallel with the top edge of the pocket 10” down. Pin and stitch the two layers together.

5. Turn pocket/side front over and trim the lower edge of side front 1/2” away from stitching. Pin layers together along side seams.

Stitching Lapped Seams

  1. Chalk 5/8” stitching line on each edge of the side front/pocket sandwich.

2. Chalk 5/8” seam allowance onto the inside edge of the front. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to remove the seam allowance from this edge.

3. Apply double sided tape in the seam allowance of the underlap layer (side front in this photo).

4. Align the raw edge of the overlap to the chalk line of the underlap. Press firmly on tape to hold. Pin. Use the triple stitch to sew in place leaving long thread tails at the hem.

Stabilizing the Shoulder Seams

1. Cut two lengthwise strips of wool boucle 5/8” wide by the length of the shoulder seam. Fuse with a piece of featherweight interfacing.

2. Pin the shoulder stay tape to the underside of the back piece #4. Set up and stitch a lapped shoulder seam catching in the stay tape with the stitching.

Collar

  1. Lap the center back collar seam and stitch. (I cut each collar with a seam to make better use of my fabric layout, but you may be able just cut it on the fold.) On the underlap, trim the seam allowance close to the stitching using duck billed appliqué scissors.

2. Stitch the lettuce edge on the serger. I stitched the long edges of each collar first. Pull on the fabric slightly to stretch it as it feeds into the machine. Too much stretching creates too much green showing through. Practice first to obtain the best results. After stitching the length of the collar, stitch the ends beginning at the neck edge and working out towards the already stitched outer edge. This will mean that one end is stitched from the wrong side but it does not show as different and the control offered by beginning at the neck edge is better than starting at the outer edge. Leave long thread tails. Thread the tails into a tapestry needle and weave through 1/2” of stitching to bury the tail. Trim excess tail.

Neck and Front Edges

  1. Chalk neck edge seam allowance on front and back. Trim away the seam allowance along neck edge. Trim away the seam allowance on the front edges of the front and front facing.

2. Baste the two collars together along the neck edge. Chalk 5/8” on both the right and wrong side of the collars.

3. Align front and back garment neck edges to the chalk line on the wrong side of the widest collar. Hand baste layers together.

4. Apply tape to the wrong side of the front edges. Align the edge of the front facing with the raw edges of the front.

5. Place the garment on the stand to ensure that the length of the front facing works with the shoulder seam of the back neck facing.

6. Join the front facing to the back neck facing with lapped seams.

7. Pin the front facing in place along the neck edge. The edge of the front facing should be sitting 5/8” above the chalk line on the collar.

8. Hand baste the collars to the seam allowance of the front facing. (shown in yellow basting thread)

9. Machine stitch up the front, around the neck edge and down the other front from the good side of the fabric.

10. Trim the excess seam allowance away from the front facing around the neck edge.

Sleeves

  1. I removed the sleeve dart from the bottom of the sleeve. Straighten out the under arm sleeve seam.

2. Set up lapped seam. Use lots of pins to hold the edge in place. Alternatively the seam could be basted by hand. Turn sleeve inside out. One sleeve will be sewn from the underarm down towards the cuff while the other will be stitched from the cuff up. The sleeve is wide enough and the fabric stretchy enough to stitch into this tunnel, but take your time and sew slowly.

3. Set up the armhole to overlap the sleeve. Pin the sleeve into position. Hand baste very close to the edge. Machine stitch beginning at the underarm.

Buttonholes

These will be the easiest buttonholes you will ever make! I always do a sample first to test size.
1. Measure the length of your button and add a bit to allow the button to slide through easily. For my almost 1 1/4” button I chalked a 1 3/8” buttonhole.

The buttonhole opening should sit half the width of the button away from the front edge. As buttons get bigger, this spacing can decrease slightly.

2. Chalk two lines 1/8” apart. Chalk the beginning and end of the buttonhole.

3. Stitch around the buttonhole opening. I used the triple stitch but once I turned the corner I hit the pattern begin button on my machine. If your machine doesn’t have this feature try stitching around the buttonhole twice to reinforce it. I shortened the length of the triple stitch to 4 mm. Stitch again 1/4” away from previous row of stitching. Knot and bury thread tails.

4. Cut down the center of the buttonhole. If the sample is suitable repeat the technique on the garment. I added a smaller button to the opposite inside front and stitched a smaller buttonhole to the left front. This second button helps to anchor the front and prevents the hem from dropping.

Finishing

  1. Knot off thread tails along the hem edges. Use a self threading needle to bury the thread tails into the seam allowances.

2. Pin the facing in place.

3. Use a loose hem stitch to hold the facing in place.

7 thoughts on “Inspiration No. 20: A Transitional Topper

  1. Laura Marston

    I am currently making the Transitional Topper. The instructions are fabulous!
    I wondered if the collar pieces are actually half of the pattern piece width as at full width they would be 10 -12 inches wide!
    Laura Marston

    Like

    Reply
  2. Pat

    Thank you! I bought some of this fabric before I read your tutorial. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough to felt it as you did. But I still got a lot of great information from your write-up.

    Like

    Reply

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