I don’t make separates very often; I have to really love a pattern to take a break from ‘dressmaking’. I couldn’t resist the latest offering from Peppermint Magazine, though: The Paddington Top. It’s a free pattern (although there is a suggested donation of $2 if you would like to pay for it; if not, you can still get it for free). It’s a simple pattern, but elevated to have a bit of a dramatic feel by way of its puff sleeves; we all know by now that I have a penchant for puff sleeves. This is definitely a wardrobe staple.
The designer of this month’s pattern is South African patternmaker Sarah Steenkamp of French Navy Patterns; I have never actually used any of their patterns, although I’ve noticed their size charts are much more limited than the pattern that has been designed for Peppermint.
The Peppermint size chart isn’t wholly inclusive but it does go up to a 50″ bust and a 52″ hip (and it’s a very roomy pattern with a lot of positive ease). While the hip size goes up to 52″, this top barely even reaches the top of the hip (although there is a shorten / lengthen line if you prefer your top longer). I actually sized down in this top after studying the sizing. The size charts are interesting as they are not traditional numbers; the size range is created in letters from A-K which I think is generally a good thing because when you don’t have a number chart to go off you’re more likely to really look at your body and measure yourself without paying attention to the preconceived notions of what you think you are – I think we can all be a little complacent when it comes to sizing sometimes.
I have to say, though, this is a perfect beginner pattern – the raglan-cut sleeves make it a great beginner project (and for more experienced sewists this pattern is a welcome quick make. Because of the amount of ease, too, I didn’t have to do any alterations – I usually have to do a 2″ FBA so this was a particularly welcome pattern.
Another feature I really loved was that it has a button closure down the back of the top. Now, again, the roominess of this top allowed for a total cheat. As I can get this top over my head without undoing the back, I was able to skip buttonholes and just stitched the buttons on to hold the back closed. I love patterns that give me cause to rummage through the box of vintage buttons, too.
The back is also a really simple construction – there is no separate button band to sew – the back bodice is just folded in on itself to create the band and is then affixed to the facing, top stitched and hemmed. It’s the first time I have ever encountered this technique and I love it.
The sleeves are what makes this top something special, though. For so little effort, you get a really dramatic look. It’s so easy to achieve, too. It’s just a voluminous raglan (the sleeve pattern pieces dwarf the front and back bodice pieces|), hemmed by way of an elastic casing.
My fabric choice was a Dear Stella mythical constellation print – it was a remnant I had to buy from Frumble when I saw it but it was sitting for a long time as I only had 1.5m (minus shrinkage) so I was never going to squeeze a dress out of it. This pattern is really suited to lightweight woven fabrics – it doesn’t need drape, especially if you want a proper full puff sleeve. But it the puff sleeve isn’t for you, then you could easily make the pattern in a fabric with drape like chiffon, rayon or silk and just hem the sleeve instead of using an elastic casing and you’d have a lovely floaty flutter sleeve.
I’m one step closer to embracing separates after this make. Why not give it a go?