Tessuti Rae Tops 1 & 2

If ever there was a time to lament not making a toile first (a mock-up in cheap fabric), this was it. Since there were hardly any online reviews to suss out pitfalls, the thought did cross my mind. The only review I found (by a distant acquaintance of mine) seemed to work out well, but she has wider shoulders so maybe that had something to do with it. My main regret is that I used adorable fabric from my stash – not once, but twice! Ayayay…. Will I start making toiles now?

I know there are others out there who are equally allergic to toiles so I hope my review helps. This pattern is so nearly awesome. It’s the perfect top for hot summer days, with no buttons and only three pieces to sew together.

I first made it in size 10. The problem was that the armhole (‘armscye’) was far too long and ‘gapey’, as you will see if you scroll down for the full review. The rest of the top was lovely and loose, but I wasn’t sure if it was looser than intended. Maybe I’d made the wrong size because I’m between an 8 and a 10 normally (= around 6 in US patterns). 

After doing some guerilla-tucks on the first garment to make it wearable, I decided to make a second version in a smaller size (the 8). Unfortunately, that turned out too tight. Hmmph.

If I try this again, I will add an inch to the bottom of the size 10 armsyce, as per the image below. I should probably grade to the size 8 across the neck too, because I felt that fitted better, while the bodice was better in size 10. I’m hoping more reviews pop up online to see if it’s just my body shape that’s out of kilter with this pattern or the pattern itself.

I used the Tessuti Rae dress version, not top version. I can’t understand what the difference would be, other than changing the length of the pattern. (The dress version has a unique hem construction but I just overlocked and folded my hem for the top.) Of course I’d rather buy the dress version to keep my options open. Below you can see what the finished items should look like, according to Tessuti: 

Tessuti Rae Top 1 (size 10)

I had never heard of shibori but Kazu (from Kazuyo’s Collection in West End, Brisbane) sold me some from a remnant kimono. This shibori is tie-dyed cotton with convex peaks on one side and concave hollows on the other. It is a lovely, forgiving fabric. Unpicking was easy because it was hand-stitched with long basting stitches. This revealed 4 long sections. Cutting out was a bit tricky, since the pieces weren’t very wide. I made seam allowances for the front because I wasn’t cutting on the fold, as per the pattern. I also had to join 2 pieces together to form the back (these look like side gussets).
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Construction of the neck was pretty straightforward. 

The armholes called for ‘vilene shields’ (lightweight stabilising fabric) to stop them being pulled out of shape during construction. …Way too fussy for me so I just staystitched instead. The fabric seemed pretty stable and it didn’t look pulled at any point. 

The pattern also said the armhole binding should be turned inward to the wrong side but I could already see that the holes would be large so I chose to bind both sides. Also, I thought the contrasting fabric might look interesting. For the first time ever, I used a pre-made binding strip and it was fabulous. Anything that takes a tedious step out of sewing is a win … and it was oh-so-neat. I definitely recommend ready-made bias tape, which is probably cheaper than cutting nice fabric on the diagonal.

These were the resulting, gaping armholes….

I won’t bother describing my attempts to rectify this (like pinning down the side seam). What worked in the end was lifting the bottom of the armhole by adding a high dart, as per the images below, where the darts have been pinned.

The dart is pinned here.

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That worked well enough but since these photos were taken (below), I’ve tightened the elastic in the neck to stop it from gaping also. 

As you can see, the top has a lot of ease, which I love, but I wondered if the next size down would still work while fixing the armhole problem. I tried that next.

By the way, I sewed the hat in the photos below years ago out of denim and Japanese cotton. It’s a great style for rolling up and slipping into a bag.

UPDATE - May 2021

I never ended up wearing this top much. I found the neckline annoying (too high on the neck but if I gave it more elastic, it didn’t sit well). So I sewed some ties (like a belt) around each shoulder to make it asymmetrical and pull it away from my neck. This is the result and it’s more comfortable. Given the amount of fuss I had to spend on this pattern, I doubt I’ll be making it again. 

Tessuti Rae Top 2 (size 8)

For some reason I was feeling pretty confident about the size 8. Otherwise I’d never have chosen to use this fabric from my stash – a lightweight cotton-silk blend. As with any light fabric, I was worried about how difficult it might be to work with. I swapped needles to #60 microtex and adjusted the thread tension from 4 to 3. I also went the extra step of stabilising the armholes with ‘vilene shields’, as instructed. I usually avoid tedious steps like that but this fabric was too nice.

It looked like the length of the armhole was about the same from size 10 to size 8, and since this had been a problem in the previous version, I added 1 inch to the bottom of the armhole to raise it. I figured I could cut back during construction if they were too small but I couldn’t do the reverse if they were large. As things went, the top felt tight during construction (which I later realised was to do with the bust, not the armholes) so I ended up chopping back the extra inch that I’d added. It was worth a try. I bound the armholes as described (turning the binding in).

This is the end result. It is too tight around my modest bust so size 8 was actually not the way to go. I love this fabric so I’m hoping one of my girls can wear it in a few years’ time. Into the storage bag it goes…. 

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