An Experiment: Twist Back Top in Chenille

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This was a top I’ve had rolling around in my head for a while, and after I used another colorway of this amazing Sincerely Rylee chenille for a M4M Aspen (also a deliciously slouchy cozy sweater), I knew I had to try it. It did involve some hacking to adapt the pattern to Chenille fabric though, so buckle in! It wasn’t too hard, but does require quite a bit of elastic.

For this top, I used the P4P Twist Back Top pattern. As chenille is VERY prone to stretching/distorting and also unravelling, I changed up the construction techniques to suit the  fabric.

Step zero (lol) I added 1/4” to the sleeve length so that I had a bit more room to hem; this is optional but I like to have a bit extra because I want to make sure and catch all the chenille edges to avoid unravelling. 

Step one – after cutting all the pieces, I basted all of the edges. This is NOT a step that can be skipped, as the fabric will absolutely distort during the next step, and it won’t look right. 

This next step I used a fun new tool for – an elastic foot for my serger!! THIS FOOT IS AMAZING!!! I just ordered it for using when making swimsuits (this is the one I got) and it applies elastic AS you serge! GENIUS. I can’t say enough good things about it. There is a dial on the side that allows you to adjust tension to stretch the elastic as you go, and I did increase the tension during the next step (another reason that basting the edges is a must!!) I love that it kept the elastic out of the way of the blade too, so I didn’t have to drop the blade and could do it all in one step. I do usually drop the blade when attaching elastic but with the .5” seam allowances in this pattern, that wasn’t an option because they needed cut. It worked PERFECTLY! (Side note – I tried to upload a video clip showing this, but wordpress won’t let me… sorry for the blurry screenshot!)

Ok back to sewing. I serged the shoulder seams, adding clear elastic to reinforce them as I went. The clear elastic I used is 3/8″ so it did extend a bit past the seam; I intended to trim it but actually can’t even feel it with the sweater on so I’m planning to leave it!

This next step is the biggest change I made to the pattern. I used fold over elastic (FOE) as *bias tape* to go around the edges, instead of bands per the pattern. I applied it to the *right* side of my garment, so I could turn it inside later. I came to this decision by considering that I needed something stretchy (so standard bias tape wouldn’t work), and I also needed something wide enough that I could turn it in and topstitch it down (so clear elastic was out). I used the elastic foot to apply this too, turning the tension around 1 or 1.5 (just keeping an eye on the elastic and making sure it had a *very* slight wave to it, so that it would round the curves nicely without flaring. I did not measure my elastic, I instead kept an eye on the tension as I applied it (cutting the elastic to the length of the band pattern pieces would have resulted in the pieces being too short, as the elastic is slightly stiffer and higher recover than fabric).

I then turned this all the way inside, with the chenille wrapping around the edge, and the FOE laying flat, never folded. I wanted this look as I didn’t want to see the elastic at all.  I did add clips to make sure everything remained tight.

I used my coverstitch to topstitch it down. This step could easily be done with a sewing machine and zig zag stitch too- the chenille is great about camouflaging stitches!

Because of the slight bulk created from the folded over chenille, the edges do have a raised edge, but this doesn’t bother me. They would be slightly raised from a band as well. 

Once the FOE was all attached and topstitched, I hemmed the front, sewed the side seams, and hemmed the sleeves. All done! 

I really love the slouchyness of this top, and paired with chenille, it is the ultimate combo for cozy yet cute!