Helen’s Closet Ashton tops

One of my New year’s resolutions was to fine-tune the fit on some basic patterns, and the Ashton top fit the bill perfectly. It’s a simple A-line, sleeveless top, with the option of a facing or bias binding finish, and two lengths. I made the cropped version, because I only ever wear high-waisted trousers.

Version 1:

My first version of the top was actually a wearable toile, made using leftover ramie from my Safiya dungarees. I cut a size 2, although I probably should have cut a size 0 (I accidentally mistook the high bust measurement for the full bust!). I was more picky about the fit than I normally would be, because I wanted this to become my tried and tested top pattern, so I made lots more adjustments than normal:

  • Shortening the bust darts: This is a pretty standard adjustment for me, so no surprises there!
  • Adjusting armscye: The armholes were too tight at the front, but didn’t give me enough coverage at the back. I removed fabric at the front and added it at the back by redrawing the curves, and adjusting the facings accordingly. However, as I’d already cut out the fabric for the wearable toile, I was only able to adjust the front (because I was only able to remove fabric, not add it!). The results of both adjustments can be seen on the white cotton lawn version of the top I made.
  • Forward shoulder adjustment: Again, a fairly common adjustment for me. I was only able to do this on the white version, not the black one.

Version 2:

This next version is made out of the ubiquitous Crowded Faces cotton lawn:

I used the facing finish on my wearable toile (which worked well) but I used bias binding on my cotton lawn version because I wanted to compare the two, and because the lawn is slightly see-through, so I didn’t want the outline of the facing to be visible.

Turns out that bias binding and tightly woven cotton lawns don’t go well together! The layers of fabric sandwiched in the binding make the armhole fabric a lot stiffer and less flexible, so even though I made the armholes bigger they still feel very constricting, especially if I lean forward at all. It also makes the neckline sit weirdly; it bunches up at the centre front. To be honest, this might be due to how I sewed it in. My machine really hates cotton lawn, so getting it to sew through all those layers was an uphill battle.

At first it was difficult to tell which issues were caused by the binding, and which were actual fit issues. However, I’ve since made several more Ashtons (all with facings) and the fit seems to be spot on!

One downside of the pattern is its incompatibility with bra straps, even with the adjustments I made. In future I might try adding bra strap guards using this Seamwork tutorial.

My favourite thing about this pattern is the hem facing. I absolutely love the structure it creates, and how it makes the garment sit away from your body (I hate the feeling of close-fitting clothes). I’ll definitely be keeping this technique in mind for use on future garments!

Overall, I love my Ashton tops. The instructions were great, and I wish this pattern had been available when I first learned to sew. I would recommend it to everyone!

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