It’s like Johnny Cash sings, “I’ve got stripes, stripes around my shoulder.”
I can see why the Sew Over It Molly top from SOI’s City Break Capsule Wardrobe has been blowing up the online sewing community. It’s a fast and flattering sewing project. And it looks great in stripes.
In fact, I have another striped Molly top cut out and ready for stitching; watch for that on my socials (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) sometime soon!
But let’s talk about you, my fellow sewists, and your sewing plans. I’m all about YOUR maximum stitching success. In that spirit, if you’re hot to sew the Sew Over It Molly top, here’s my in-depth review, including tips!
Ooh la la, Part I
Ooh la la, Part II
Molly is my second make from SOI’s City Break Capsule Wardrobe. (Here’s the exhaustive review for my first City Break make, the Sew Over It Erin skirt.) The Erin skirt (see above) and Molly top play nice together, and who doesn’t need more ready-to-rock outfits in her closet?
Feel the swish
I picked a winner when it comes to fabric. This drapey cotton knit flows wonderfully and is super soft. It’s pretty much exactly what you need from a swingy knit top. For the record, I added an inch of length because I’m long waisted.
This top would be super cute with a floral body and striped lower sleeves and neckband — kinda sporty with less stripe matching. (Back in college I was really into wearing long-sleeve T’s under T-shirts. It was the early 2000s; judge me kindly.)
This top would be great to size up and sew in a cozy sweater knit.
What could be better
Avert your eyes
I did a great job matching stripes on the sides and arms. But the shoulders are not executed as well (see above, along with my photobombing cat, El Gato). It’s not distracting, and the stripes are better matched than most RTW garments. #brightside
The riddle of kimono sleeves
I have mixed feelings about kimono sleeves. There’s almost nothing easier to sew (yay!), but the front and kimono sleeves create odd draglines across the upper chest/front shoulders (boo!). I can deal, but it’s something that’s always bothered me about kimono sleeves. Not enough to avoid patterns with kimono sleeves (obvs).
Stripes (shakes fist)!
This would have sewn up in approximately 21.7 minutes (estimated) if I hadn’t used a striped fabric. Stripes, I love you, but matching you takes patience.
Tips for sewing the Sew Over It Molly top
Become a stripe master, Part I
I didn’t have problems matching stripes as I was sewing. My challenge with stripes came when I cut the pattern pieces. With a lightweight striped knit, it’s hard to ensure that the lines are straight as you cut on the fold.
If your stripes are not aligned top and bottom as you cut on the fold, they could drift across the garment (see below — exaggerated for effect).
I found a great tutorial from Sewaholic for keeping stripes straight when cutting knit fabric. (Note: This alignment trick only works for stripes that are knit into the fabric, not printed on the fabric.)
Here’s what you do:
- Fold striped fabric in half on the grainline, with selvedges touching.
- Shift and smooth the fabric — bottom and top — to align the stripes as best you can.
- Insert a pin along a stripe from the top layer, through the bottom layer, and back up through the top layer. Turn over and look at the bottom layer. (You can see this in the above photo.) Does the pin pass along a stripe the same way it does on the top layer? If no, keep adjusting the fabric and testing with the pin until the stripes are aligned.
- Add additional pins to ensure straight stripes from selvedge to selvedge.
- Cut out your pattern piece, confident that your stripes will be straight!
Test your stitching on a scrap
The directions suggest a zigzag stitch with a width of 1 millimeter and length of 1.5 millimeters. When I tried this stitch, the needle jammed the fabric into the throat plate and activated a safety setting on my sewing machine! YIKES. Thank goodness I only was testing on scrap fabric. I ended up using my trusty “lightning” stitch.
Build in strength
I added stabilizing stay tape (affiliate link) to the shoulders. This will keep the shoulders from stretching out over time. The directions didn’t recommend this step, but I think it’s essential for knit shoulders.
Think before you press, Part I
For the neckband, I ripped off the opposite stripes Lisa Comfort sports in the City Break ebook (see above). (Actually, my navy and white striped shirt is the spitting image of the ebook version — what can I say? It’s a good look.) The pattern calls for cutting the neckband so the stripes are parallel to the long edges. I cut my neckband so the stripes are parallel to the short edge. It’s a playful design touch. If you go this route, too, be mindful about how much you stretch the neckband. I’m tempted to try cutting a striped neckband on the bias for a candy-cane-stripe effect. If I try it, I’ll likely cut the band a little short because I’m sure it will stretch like mad.
Fall in love with basting, Part I
Don’t skip machine basting the neckband to the neck opening. The ebook even notes that if your band doesn’t lay the way you’d like it to, you should unpick and give it another go. It’s MUCH easier to unpick basting stitches than zigzag stitches. Plus, once you’re happy with the basting, you can stitch your final seam with no pins in the way. Score!
Hold off on trimming the seam allowance
The directions call for trimming the neckband seam allowance to 5 millimeters. I didn’t trim it down. I wanted to ensure that when I topstitched the band down that the seam allowance would be secured in that line of stitching. If I felt so inclined, I could trim the seam allowance after I topstitched.
Think before you press, Part II
One of my favorite sewing bloggers, Lladybird, likes to say, “That’ll steam out.” And that’s mostly true. But PLEASE be careful. Especially when there’s synthetic fiber in your fabric. When you try to steam out silly little tucks, you could scorch your fabric and leave shiny spots. I came REALLY close to permanently marring this shirt around the neckband. I must do a better job at using a press cloth!
Become a stripe master, Part II
When matching the arm and side seams, I pinned pretty much at every stripe. I’d rather be meticulous about matching when I’m pinning than spend QT with my seam ripper. When it comes to matching stripes like a boss, I don’t think you can pin too much.
Fall in love with basting, Part II
This hems are sweet, little 1 centimeter things, and they’re curved. To ensure maximum hem awesomeness, I first pinned the hem (a lot) using a seam gauge (affiliate link). Then I gave it a gentle press to set the edge. Then I basted the hem. Then I did my final stitching. This was futzy, yes, but my hem looks amazing.
I took my time hemming the sleeves, using the seam gauge and making sure the right and left matched as much as possible. I also gave the sleeve hem a gentle press before I did the final stitching, again to set the edge. Because the sleeve circumference was small, I took my time adjusting the hem under the needle, making sure every bit of stitching I did was nice and flat.
Respect the wonder of Wonder Tape
I support the liberal use of Wonder Tape (affiliate link) to keep seam allowances open. For the record, Wonder Tape is double-sided tape that washes out. I should have used more Wonder Tape on the seam between the kimono sleeves and the lower sleeves. When I stitched the arm and side seams, some seam allowances flipped (see above). This doesn’t affect how the shirt looks from the outside, but let’s just say it could be prettier on the inside.
Over to you: What’s your favorite knit top sewing pattern? If you’ve made the Sew Over It Molly top, did you do it in something other than stripes (I feel like that’s been the default choice around the blogosphere — not complaining, because I’m obviously on Team Stripes)? Do you also have a like-meh thing for kimono sleeves? Please sound off in comments!
P.S. You have to have a little fun when you take photos of yourself. I’m not sure if this is “Blue Steel” or “Le Tigre.”
P.P.S. Check out these other sewing pattern reviews by yours truly, especially the Sew Over It Erin skirt: