Sleeveless Elwynn Top in Silk and Velvet

Today I'm here testing the first pattern from Fig and Needle, a new company by sewing bloggers Ping and Sandra. Having followed Ping's blog for quite some time, this Elwynn Top is definitely a reflection of her girly style with its collar and gathered sleeves. As you can see, mine is a bit different, but more on that in a minute.

If you've been following along with the recent conversation on size-inclusivity in sewing patterns, one way you can support this movement at any size is by sewing size-inclusive patterns like this one. The Elwyn Top ranges from size 0-12 in a D cup and 14-26 in a DD/E cup. How fun!

Pattern: Fig and Needle Elwynn Top
Fabric: 1 yd velvet applique on sheer netting and 1/2 yard silk lining from Stonemountain 
Cost: $35

I've often heard people wonder why anyone would bother testing patterns. While you get the test pattern for free, the fabric and time are your own, and there's often quite a bit of work involved sewing it up and providing feedback. Personally, I volunteered to test this pattern because I've been curious about this company and wanted to check them out as well as have the chance to work a bit with the founders. Every once in a while it's interesting to see people's pattern development process, check out their instructions and drafting, and hear from them throughout. Plus, as I mentioned above, I love their commitment to offering their patterns in a wide range of sizes.

As you may have seen, Fig and Needle are actually releasing two patterns - the Elwynn Top and the Faron Dress. I couldn't make up my mind about which I wanted to try, so I volunteered to test them both. However, gone are the days when I jump right into a new pattern brand with my expensive fashion fabric. I sewed each up in one of the old bedsheets I've been hoarding for making muslins, following the directions exactly and cutting the pieces without making any modifications. This allowed me to test the pattern as written, and pinpoint any fit issues before I decide if I will make it up for real.

Here's how the Elwynn Top fit straight out of the envelope, with the one modification being that I graded to 4-6-8 at the bust-waist-hips.

Not bad, right? The bust darts were a little low on me, and there was some slight puckering where the yoke met the front bodice piece. It also looks like I didn't need to grade out at the hips, where it really flares out. The tester version of the top was also very long, almost a tunic length. Bedsheets are very unforgiving fabrics in terms of draglines, so this helped me see all the little things that weren't working for me in the testing stage.

I sent my feedback to Ping and Sandra, and they ended up shortening the top by two inches and removing some of the flare below the waist. I then set about making plans for my final version.
I tweaked my muslin by bringing the waist and hips back in, shortening it by 2 inches, raising the dart by half an inch, and shaving a quarter inch off the top of the front.

While I sewed up my test version exactly as drafted, I also had a few modifications in mind. The peter pan collar isn't really my style, and I wasn't in the mood for sleeves, either. I also had visions of making the top yoke in a sheer fabric, taking advantage of those seamlines to play with the fabric a bit. Here's what I did:

Tips for sewing a collarless, sleeveless version of the Elwynn Top with a sheer yoke and binding: 

Cutting:  Cut the yokes and main body from your sheer overlay fabric, and the main body pieces again from your lining fabric. Optionally, you could just cut the yokes from sheer fabric and use a contrasting opaque fabric for the body.

For cut-in shoulders, I modified my pattern using the cut-in shoulders of another pattern.

Skip the sleeves and collar.

For the yoke opening, neckline, and sleeves, trim the entire 5/8" seam allowance off to prepare for the bias binding.


Binding: Finish the yoke opening, neckline, and sleeves by binding with bias tape - when working with embellished fabrics, it can be very difficult to turn the raw edges under, so binding offers a much easier finish.

For a softer look, use a home-made bias tape from your lining fabric. Another option is to use a quality foldover elastic like I did in this project.


Construction: If using a sheer overlay for the body, baste the two front pieces together, laying one on top of each other. Repeat for back. Then assemble the pattern as instructed. I finished all raw edges with my serger.

When attaching the front yoke to the body, I also inserted a piece of decorative trim.


Seam finishing: 

Remove the basting stitches from the hem at front and back. Open up the layers, and understitch the side seams and yoke seams to the lining fabric so everything lies nice and flat. Re-baste the hems, noting that things may have shifted as you sewed and they may need to be basted at a different place than before.

Finish the raw hem, turn under with a narrow hem, and hand sew to the lining.


I think it turned out rather lovely! Ping and Sandra had asked in the feedback survey where I would wear my top. This is definitely a nice top for a night out - paired with jeans it's casual, but it could also be dressed up to make it fancier. I've paired it here with my faux leather skinny jeans.

The silk and velvet feel really divine against the skin. I'm happy with my modifications and feel that the top is quite wearable for me now.

As for the rest of the testing process? During the testing phase, the directions were pretty sparse. It looks like they have been fleshed out considerably since then with illustrations, tips, and other information. They also provide a lot of detailed measurements, like the torso length that the pattern is drafted for, along with the cup size.

As you'll notice, I didn't end up sewing the Faron Dress. Originally the pattern was described as being drafted for a C/D bust, but the final version is labeled as a D bust. That's just a bit too big for me without a small bust adjustment, so I let others do the testing on that one. Very convenient though if you normally have to make full bust adjustments!

I wore this top for the first time at Thanksgiving and most recently out with friends. It even survived a trip through the washing machine (!). Congrats to Sandra and Ping on their new patterns!

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