When I was in New York City last, I was walking down the street in the garment district behind a woman who was wearing the most fascinating top. It looked like she was wearing an impressionist print. I wish I had had my camera at the time. As I looked a little closer, I realized that she was wearing a black mesh top over a black camisole. What gave the impression of a print was the play of mesh on top of her tattoos. It was a gorgeous effect! I don’t have any tattoos, and I won’t be getting any in this lifetime (I have an aversion to needles that don’t have doctors’ orders attached to them), but I think that a little mesh top over a tattoo or wild print top gives a really nice change to your look without drowning it out completely. And making a top like the one that woman wore is so easy. You can do it in less than an hour and for less than $10. All it takes is a good tricot mesh, a simple pattern and a zigzag sewing machine or a serger.
I decided to make a tie-front bolero. I used an out of print New Look pattern, but you can use a pattern like McCalls 5241 with great results.
For the fabric, I used Black Tricot Knit from Gorgeous Fabrics
The only notion I used was serger thread.
I did all my construction on my serger. I used a three-thread, right-hand needle setup. My stitch length was just under 2.0 mm. You can make this just as easily on a zigzag machine. If you use a zigzag machine, use a medium width (2.0-2.5 mm) stitch and set your stitch length to 2.5 mm.
One thing to note when you are cutting tricot. Most tricot knits that I have worked with will take stress in one direction, but not the other. Here are two pictures that show you what I mean. I cut a rectangle of tricot about 8 inches wide by 7 inches high. In both cases, the lengthwise grain line is running toward the camera. You can see that when I stress one end of my fabric rectangle by stretching it on the crossgrain:
The fabric runs along the lengthwise grain. But when I turn the same rectangle around to face the other direction and pull:
I don’t have a problem. When working with a tricot knit, test your fabric, and use a nap layout so you align the tops of your garment pieces, or any parts that might get crosswise stretch, with the end of the fabric that doesn’t run. You don’t want to have your fabric running if you are trying to set a sleeve or match up uneven length seamlines.
On to the actual construction. First thing to do is stabilize the shoulders of your top. To do this, fuse strips of tricot interfacing to the back shoulders just in the seamline.
Stitch your seams together as you normally would. Here you can see the serged armhole.
Finish sewing your top as normal. To finish the edges, I used a narrow overlock stitch on my serger. It’s similar to a rolled hem, but it tends to use less thread and gives a lighter finish. I like the way it gave a picot effect to my hems. Here’s the sleeve
And here’s a closeup of the neckline edge:
And here is the finished top:
Wont this be fun over a really loud print? And if you are decorated, this is a very cool alternative when you want to partially cover up. I made my top from New Look 6543. But you can use almost any simple tee or long sleeve top pattern, or any other bolero pattern with good results. Here are a few to consider. Pamela’s Patterns Versatile Twinset:
Jackie asked to see the shrug over a print. I am waaaaay behind on laundry, so all my fun knit tops that would look good under this are in the washing machine. But here you see it over a piece of rayon woven print that will be up on Gorgeous Fabrics tomorrow. I hope this helps!