Sewing with Stripes – a Collins Top

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Hello Sewcialists! My name is Vicky and I am the face behind Sewstainability. You can find me sharing all my makes on Instagram (@sewstainability) and over on my blog. Today I am thrilled to be sharing my contribution for Stripe month! I absolutely love sewing and wearing stripes, I often like to wear a lot of patterns, so basically I consider stripes a neutral (Anyone else? Or is it just me?!). I love sewing with stripes even more if I don’t have to stripe match, and this is where my most recent make comes in – The Collins Top by In the Folds.

Anyone who has come across me on social media will know the whole idea behind Sewstainability is that I am turning 30 this year and at this junction in my life I am trying to live a little more sustainably. I could declare undying love for all the ways the Collins Top helps me do this – firstly, it is made up of lots of panels – that means it is PERFECT for using up scraps! Emily of In the Folds suggests loads of ways to slow down and enjoy the process of sewing the Collins Top, both in the pattern and in the Sew-along. There is also a great Love to Sew podcast with Emily talking about ‘Cherishing the Process’ … if you haven’t heard it you should check it out!) I am really trying to slow down my sewing this year and produce fewer, more well-made garments that will hopefully last me way longer than some of my earlier projects. This is why I took the opportunity to slow down and sew the Collins Top with a few special finishes.

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Gah! When will there be a portable iron I can use when I get to locations?!

More than anything else, the Collins Top is absolutely perfect for STRIPES! Not stripe matching (unless, of course, you want to!) The panels absolutely scream out for stripes running in all different directions! Check out the hashtag #collinstop on Instagram to see plenty of other fab striped versions that other sewists have made. Fortunately, to help people with planning the panels for the Collins Top, there is a handy ‘Project Planning Template’ included with the pattern, to help you sketch out ideas for the way the stripes should run on your version. I took my time at this stage as I wanted to be really happy with all the different angles the stripes were creating.

Before I even touched my fabric I added 3 inches to the lengthen/shorten line as I don’t wear a lot of high-waisted trousers and knew my lovely new top wouldn’t get worn if I had any midriff on show. There is an excellent blog post on the In the Folds blog that helped me to lengthen all the different panels and I was really happy with how it went.

Once I was happy with the pattern, I was ready to cut fabric. Part of my sustainability pledge for this year is to either buy only sustainable fabrics or use up my stash! I had this organic quilting cotton in my stash from when I started sewing years ago. (Does anyone else do this? Start sewing and buy up all the pretty prints on quilting cotton before realising it’s unsuitable for A LOT of dressmaking projects?!) Even though it is quilting cotton I had seen several Collins Tops on Instagram made from stiffer fabrics and loved the structured tent-shape this achieves.

So, fabric in-hand I started cutting; the front and back panels were easy as I was cutting those with vertical stripes but the side panels I wanted to do at an angle. The way I made sure that my angles were exactly the same on both sides of the top was to cut out one side then flip that piece over and put it face down onto the fabric and move it around until the stripes underneath match up to your cut piece perfectly – then cut around the piece. This ensures you have mirror images AND the stripes are running at identical angles. See below for an example of how I would do this:

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I went to town on the details. I want to make less clothes this year as I really don’t need any more, but don’t want to stop sewing so I am slowing down and this is the first garment I have ever wanted to wear inside out! I made my own bias binding for the first time, it was easy and fun – I made it out of a shirt I bought from the thrift shop so the colour doesn’t match perfectly, but it was cheap and sustainably sourced. I used the bias binding I made to Hong Kong bind the facing pieces and the back seam as well as bind the hem. All the seams are flat-felled seams. This was the first time I had sewn them but I really enjoyed the technique and I like the topstitching detail it gives on the outside.

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Overall I am really happy with my new top and am looking forward to making another Collins Top in some drapier fabric and, of course, working with stripes some more. In fact, as well as writing this post for the Sewcialists, I have also put together another stripey outfit for stripe month over on my own blog – come join me here and check it out! Thanks so much to the Sewcialists for having me, and thanks to you for reading!

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I will leave you with a picture of me freezing my butt off without a coat on, in Yorkshire, in January!

25 thoughts on “Sewing with Stripes – a Collins Top

  1. Beautiful!! You’ve given me loads of inspiration 🙂 I have the Collins pattern winging it’s way to me (in the newly released printed format). Making it with stripes going in different directions is inspired. I will do this for sure. I did this same thing with the Barcelona top by the Sewing Workshop but in a bamboo/cotton knit and so many people (including hubby) say it looks wonderful on me 🙂 I also love your mention of “slow sewing”! YES I’m all in 🙂 I’ve been curious about why so many young sewists are in such a rush to pump out as many garments as they possibly can (copying fast fashion perhaps?) when they claim to love to sew! Isn’t that love about taking your time and enjoying each step along the way? Crafting a garment should be pondered, relished, and savoured like a special prepared meal 🙂 Like your Hong Kong finish!

    1. I absolutely love this comment and love your analogy of savouring your sewing like a special meal. I totally agree, I want to get away from fast fashion and that means getting away from fast sewing too. Your Barcelona top sounds lovely and I’m sure you will look amazing in your version of the Collins when you receive the paper copy – the packaging looks like it’s going to be divine!

  2. What an absolutely gorgeous top. I love the colours and the way that you have placed the stripes. It is such a strong shape. I have a ton of quilting cottons but am now going to keep them for quilting after a shirt disaster. They are so pretty though. It is hard to resist all the lovely prints. Xx

  3. This is such a beautiful project from start to finish! I too love your polished insides!!! How amazing it looks with just the right amount of time and effort! You have me convinced that slow sewing is the wave of the future…again! Love it!

    1. Yes I am pleased to hear there are so many people out there enjoying slow sewing. I sure don’t need any new clothes so I am sewing just for the pleasure of it, and when you get such pretty insides – why not?!

  4. I’m crushing on this top so much. The bamboo-ish stripes, the colour, the shape, and the way you combined the stripe directions. Then there’s that beautiful tailoring of the seam finishes! I want to stay here and fan-girl for the rest of the day, but I have to rush over to In the Folds and get that pattern.

    1. Haha thank you so much for such a kind comment! I would love to see if you do make this pattern – all the panels give so many options for playing with stripe/pattern direction or colour blocking. So many ideas!

  5. Oh – that’s beautiful! You have a very good eye for pattern placement. And it looks perfect inside, too! (I have a drawer full of quilting cottons, too. Most of them are being used for charity makes these days.)

  6. I love this top! Beautiful sewing too!
    I’m still not a stripes person. I love making tops with patterns like this and piecing them. I often cut up all my patterns like that!
    In my day there was no “quilting” cotton. Only 100% cotton fabric. So I have sewn with it for 90% of my projects/wardrobe for a long time. It took me a while to figure out what is quilting cotton when I first it labeled that! Maybe its old fashioned to sew clothing with it now? ;o)

    1. I think what is manufactured as quilting cotton is a little stiff for lots of garments that require drape, but it can still work brilliantly for lots of garment sewing. Something like a cotton lawn will still be 100% cotton but have more drape so it all depends on what look you’re after!

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