Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spring Tops Series - Cashmerette Springfield Top in Cotton + Steel

Jane here! Grab a cuppa, or scroll on down. Musings ahead.

Genetically, I was unlikely to ever be the willowy type. I'm 5ft3", decidedly pear-shaped and I've had an on-off relationship with a bit of extra plumpness most of my life. Last ten or so years, it's been more of an 'on' relationship. I'm mostly good with it.

During my twenties I maintained a size 8-10 figure with quite some effort. If I knew I was going out for dinner, I'd often starve myself the whole day beforehand. Eat literally nothing. Maybe a few cups of tea. I lived alone for some time and maintained a fridge and pantry that contained pretty much two minute noodles, cheese and beer. Sometimes I'd have half a packet of noodles for lunch and the other half for tea. And I was riding my bike to and from work or walking or doing yoga. So yeah, I looked in good shape. But looking in good shape was a priority for me then and I'd hardly say I had a healthy relationship with food, looking back.

Twenty years on and there are bound to be some changes, yeah? So much of it for the better. I'm not going to waste time wishing my body was different. Besides, my husband is a sensational cook. And I love to bake for our hungry boys. And we love to share a drink or two (or three).

Sewing most of my clothes has been a double-edged sword for body-positivity. On the one hand, I can create clothes that fit me well, regardless of my size and shape. On the other hand, this requires constant measuring, adjusting and technical scrutiny of oneself in the mirror and photographs. And then there's putting up photos online, and comparing oneself to other sewists who might make the same garment. It's not necessarily negative, it just involves a lot of thinking about one's own dimensions.

It's not all about the numbers, either. Sewing has taught me so much more about the differences in individual bodies. Short-waisted, long-waisted, broad or narrow shoulders, full or small bust... and on. Statistically there is an 'average' figure but pretty much no-one fits it!

Which is a bit of a long-winded way of saying that I'm so glad that there are different pattern companies that design for different body shapes. (This is becoming like one of those food blogger posts where you have to scroll past reams of childhood reminiscences all the while thinking "just give me the recipe already!" Where's the flippin' Spring Top??)

Cashmerette Patterns by US-based Jenny Rushmore are specifically designed for curvy women. All the common adjustments that Jenny herself used to have to make to other patterns, like full bust and sway back, are already built in, people! They range from US size 12 - 28 and have separate pattern pieces for cup sizes C-D, E-F and G-H. Halleluja! Being a sewing enthusiast and blogger, rather than professionally trained pattern designer, Jenny has the Cashmerette patterns professionally drafted. Smart move. I've only heard good things about the patterns so far and my experience backs this up.

I tried the Springfield Top, a simple sleeveless summer basic but with shape!
 And let me tell you, there is so much amazing shaping built into this thing. Both View A and B have a back yoke, and I chose View B which also has back princess seams for extra fitting.
Cashmerette patterns are drafted for a height of 5ft 6", and I'm 3" shorter. I made a muslin and found the bust darts were sitting about 1" too low on me. When I pinned up the shoulders, they sat well and I found the back also fitted better.

To adjust the pattern, I removed an inch from the front below the shoulder seam, and an inch from the middle of the back yoke, and then lowered the bottom of the arm holes an inch to add that space back in there. I also took out an inch at the waist 'lengthen/shorten' line which fixed that fabric pooling you see at centre back. In total a 2" length adjustment, nothing more. See those grey grid lines on the pattern peices? Not only did they make it much easier to stick the printed pdf together accurately, they also made for easy and accurate pattern adjustments!
Front bodice with shortened shoulder strap and re-drawn armhole line
Back yoke, shortened horizontally by 1" and side back panel with re-drawn armhole line
I was so pleased with the fit I decided to move right on to some fabulous Cotton + Steel 'From Porto With Love' fabric I'd put aside. Check it out. Technically just a quilting cotton but that metallic fish print turns it into something so special!

 Check out the way the back of this garment sits (slightly oddly) on the hanger, below. You can see how much clever pattern shaping is going on right there.
 And on?

The side splits and back panels give this simple top some lovely design detail as well as shaping and comfort. You can see by this side view that there's pretty much zero armhole gaping yet it's not at all restrictive.

I can imagine making up a few of these in different fabrics. I'd be particularly keen to make it in something a bit drapier next time; a linen or possibly a rayon.

I have a question for the collective sewing mind out there though. I love the way the back of the Springfield looks on me, but for my personal style, I think the front is kind of plain. The bias bound neck and armholes, the plain round neckline. What do you think I could do to 'dress it up' a bit next time? A stitched down neck facing? A small Peter Pan collar? Squaring off the neckline? I'm also thinking this would be great extended into a shift dress, but probably with the same wish for 'dressing up' the front. I'd love any suggestions!
PATTERN: Cashmerette Springfield Top, available only as pdf, here
FABRIC: Cotton + Steel gold fish print on 100% cotton
SIZE: 12 C/D
ALTERATIONS: took out 2" in length as detailed above
COMMENTS: I'm really impressed with how much thoughtful shaping is put into an essentially simple garment. Very nicely drafted, great instructions. I think I'll be reaching for this a lot!

PS we currently have printed copies of the Cashmerette Appleton Dress in store/online. Her other patterns are on our (long) wish list.

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. I enjoyed your musings Jane & it's a great top. For dressing up a bit... I'd just go for beads or a summer scarf! But I'm an accessories junkie! 😆

  2. Thanks Anna! Glad to know my ramblings make some sense. Ah yes, accessories! Actually I have a great enamel necklace that works well with this and makes quite a difference to the look. Good point :)

  3. I love that fish fabric too. A great account of your adaption of the pattern and the relative peace we can make with our bodies. X

    1. Thaks Kay :) 'relative peace', yes, that's the perfect term for it.

  4. I really like this top, and I agree that a chunky/contrast necklace would be a good option- maybe a patch pocket made with contrast fabric?

    1. Thanks Jax, and YES! What a great idea, a pocket! I can use the Deer and Doe Arum dress pocket. Perfect.

  5. What about adding in something down the middle front like the 'Sorbetto top' pleat? Or do sashiko on the back panel and repeat the design on the front but have it 'creaping' up from the bottom/right?

    1. Oh, lovely suggestions! I love a bit of hand-stitching (looks particularly nice on linen) and yeah, some sort of pleating could be great. Thanks!

  6. Its a lovely top, you have achieved a great fit too. Jenny Rushmore has a number of hacks for the Springfield on her blog which may be of interest for changing it up.

    1. Thanks Judy! Yes I'm interested in trying the little cap sleeve from her expansion pack which I think works for this too :)


We love to know who's reading and what you think so please leave us a comment! We'll also try to answer any questions you may have.