Have you heard of #MeMadeMay?
It’s the month of the year where sewists dedicate time to make clothing for themselves and to actually wear it, too! Check out #MeMadeMay on Instagram to see all the cool pieces people are whipping up and modeling for us!
While 99% of my sewing has to do with quilts, I thought I should use the month of May as a reason try something new! I actually grew up sewing garments and didn’t learn to quilt until college. Before quilting, I made shirts, dresses, handbags, and the like. My mom actually taught me some of the basics of garment sewing when I was in middle school, and then in high school (while all my friends were busy taking Physics or Calculus) I took a class called “Fashion Design” which was basically a beginner level sewing class!
I’ll be forever grateful for the sewing opportunities I had in my early years. Cultivating a love for fabric art & design, and getting myself comfortable with a sewing machine, were incredibly influential and pivotal in my life.
For this Me Made May, my challenge for myself was to make a nice summery tank top out of Rayon fabric. This is crazy to me since I have sewn with nothing but 100% cotton for the past 5-ish years! I chose the pattern Peppermint Peplum Top because it looked easy and I found it for free online. (Just google “Peppermint Mag Peplum top” to find the free PDFs!)
Here are 5 reasons YOU should make this peplum top:
- No zipper
- Easy & fast finish (only took me 2 days)
- The pattern is FREE
- You can see a bunch of different versions here
- It’s beginner-friendly!
I used an awesome Rayon floral print, designed by Rifle Paper Co. and manufactured by Cotton and Steel. I really loved working with this rayon because it was such great quality. It was definitely more slippery than cotton, but overall, very manageable and super breathable.
If you do decide to take the plunge into garment sewing with this pattern, like I did, here are some things I learned along the way, and things I plan to change in the future when I undoubtedly decide to make this top again!
Pattern Hack: after reading through way too many posts on Instagram, I discovered that some people choose to add length to the top part of the bodice for this top. I do have a rather short torso, but I decided to add an inch and a half to the pattern pieces so the peplum would start a little lower. I am SUPER happy with how it turned out and would definitely suggest lengthening the bodice.
Cutting Tips: If you’re not used to cutting Rayon, like me, I suggest using lots of pins and doing it all on a steady, high surface. I used my quilting cutting station and actually used my small rotary cutter to cut out all my pieces. I took the curves slow and used a small quilting ruler to guide the blade.
Sewing: Use some of your scraps to practice sewing with your material, and be sure to know which guide lines on your machine are 3/8 inch and 5/8 inch marks. Trust me when I say that you’ll want to use a nice, sharp needle and polyester thread. I really like this Gutermann thread.
Binding: I’ll be completely honest here, I had no clue what I was doing when it came to the technical aspects of sewing on the armhole and neck hole binding. I know it is far from perfect and I did not even really follow the instructions, but I did my best and I am happy with how it turned out. If anyone in the Orlando area wants to teach me the proper way to do this step, give me a holler! 😉 Looking back, I wish I had used a small zigzag stitch for the topstitching instead of the boring straight stitch. I used a small zigzag stitch for the hem and I am a little bit obsessed with it!
Raw Edges: If you have a serger, this step will be a super great opportunity to use it! I do not have one, so I simply used a zigzag stitch on my machine to finish the raw edges (to keep them from fraying). My thread kept breaking during this step, so I suggest taking it slow and lowering your tension to avoid issues like I had.
Gathering: The peplum pieces themselves get gathered, and thankfully this is a skill I have done a time or two with my mama. If you’ve never gathered fabric before, I suggest using different threads in your top and bobbin, so it is easy to tell which thread is your top thread. Leave plenty of thread tails at each end of your piece, set your machine stitches to the biggest (longest) option, and sew two (or 3) lines about an 1/8th of an inch apart within your seam allowance. I like to aim for 1/4 inch from the edge and 3/8 inch from the edge. Be extra sure these lines do not cross over each other. You’ll then take your top threads in your hand and shimmy the fabric into a gathered piece. Be sure to play with the gathering to make it as even as possible around the whole garment. I like to stay stitch my gathered pieces in place with the normal stitch length once I get it just right to hold it in place.
Overall, I really enjoyed making this top and even more importantly, I really love how it fits and feels! If you want to venture into the world of garment sewing, this is a great pattern to start with!
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Never miss a post! Be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow @homemadeemilyjane on Instagram.
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