A Tale of Two Plantains

No, not plantain the banana-like tropical fruit; I mean of course the new FREE pattern from Deer and Doe, the Plantain Top! This is my first time taking part in making a brand new, hot-off-the-press pattern, and it really was fun! The pattern has a wonderful fit: fitted through the top but relaxed through the bottom – perfect for gals like me with a little bit of a tummy who get tired of trying not to let it show in public. And it’s super easy to make, too! A major “win” all around.

I started out making a “wearable muslin” from some black rayon/poly/something else fabric I had order way too much of in order to test the fit. I had cut out a size 38, grading to a 40 from the waist to the hips to give myself a little more room. Out of curiosity, I compared it to other knit tops I had made, and noticed that the shoulders were squarer (good for me) and the neckline was lower (potentially scary for me). I tried on the top before putting in the sleeves and sewing up the side seams, and the neckline was suuuper low. I freaked out to my husband about it, and he encouraged me to finish the top instead of trying to take it apart and raise the neckline. I’m glad he did, because adding the sleeves made all the difference! Now I’m much happier with the fit – and I finally have a basic black t! (Hard to believe I didn’t have one of those….oops)

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Success! So, after checking the fit with my muslin, I really wanted to come up with something awesome for the Plantain Challenge – my first sewing “competition”! I had originally planned to make a top out of a beautiful ivory sweater knit I recently bought, but the fabric was mysteriously marred during prewashing (has anyone ever discovered stains on their fabric as a result of prewashing??! This is truly a mystery….I’m wondering if some of the dye pooled up as the fabric was drying??), so I had to figure out something with the fabric I have on hand. So I decided to try colorblocking some remnants from my stash, and it worked surprisingly well!

I started by sewing together my knit pieces to create a “new” piece of fabric, instead of cutting out all the pieces separately and trying to figure it out from there. Here’s a pic of that step:

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I then layed my pattern pieces on that and cut:

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It was a surprisingly quick and easy process! And I even managed to do this without a rotary cutter and mat – a feat I am particularly proud of! I was especially pleased with how the fiber contents of the various fabrics I chose worked out. The blue and green fabrics are bamboo with some Lycra, which gave some stability to the neck and shoulders and worked well for the fitted top section, while the lower brown fabric is rayon, with less stretch but more drape for the bottom. It was also the only way I could piece it all together and have enough fabric :P. Hooray for serendipity! And here is the finished top:

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You can probably tell from my billions of photos that I am super proud of this top! And also that the self-timer is making my poses more…varied? 😛 Anyhow, the true validation of this project came when my husband got home from work this evening, and when I asked him how he liked the new top I made, he responded, “oh, I didn’t even realize you made that! It looks so good I thought you bought it.” (Not that making ready-to-wear look-alikes is our goal in sewing, but y’know)

So if you haven’t downloaded this top already, go do it!! It’s easy, flattering, and super quick to make!

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9 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Plantains

  1. I like the second top in particular, how you managed to turn a bunch of leftovers into something cute! I haven’t made this one yet, but I did just get the pattern printed out yesterday, so I guess that’s a start.

    • Thanks!! I had really wanted to make something combining those three fabrics, as I love the color combo. The inspiration for that particular method probably came at least partially from my years as a quilter – piece together the big strips first, then cut it up!

  2. I love the way you’ve used a range of fabric leftovers to make this top! The way you’ve switched the green and blue positions on the sleeve compared to the body of the top is also nice – really quirky and more interesting!

    • I’m so glad to hear you liked how the colors were switched – I actually didn’t have enough fabric to do it the other way, and was a little worried it would look funny. It’s kind of nice when those sorts of design decisions are “made for you”!

  3. Thank you for the “scraps à la quilting to make “new fabric”” instruction.
    I want to sew sweaters together to make a piece of fabric big enough to make a skirt/dress from a pattern. I have a lot of sweaters I can use of varying sizes and colors. They are wool, wool blends and cashmere. Some are light weight and some are heavier. I can sew by hand and use basic stitches on a machine. I need good and simple directions. Any suggestions you can offer would be great!

    • Great question! I’ve never tried working with old sweaters, but my guess is that they would be similar to sweater knits. I would start by cutting your sweaters into whatever size strips you think would look good – it could be wider or narrower depending on what you want. When cutting, make sure that you cut along the “v’s” – this will keep the pieces on grain, which means that they will hang straight.

      When sewing them together, use a narrow zig-zag instead of a straight stitch. This is because, unlike woven fabric, your sweaters have stretch, and the zig-zag will sew a stretchy seam. A straight stitch would break when stretched to put the garment on.

      Try to use the same weight of sweater material as you piece them together – if you sewing a heavier knit to a lighter knit, the lighter one may stretch out. If you have to piece together different weights, try to keep the heavier ones on top so that gravity won’t stretch them out more.

      Hope that helps!

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