As the weather cools down to more consistently have that Fall chill in the air (versus one day 50 degrees and next two 80), I’m looking to add more snuggly yet still stylish tops to my wardrobe. As we head into the dreaded third wave of COVID-19 here in the Northeast, this means there are two important considerations when getting dressed every day. First, comfort continues to be key – I’m still working from home every day – and these are long days with 5am work calls and teary hybrid schooling slogs – so I won’t be wearing many of my office clothes this year. And second, my family plans to spend as much time outside as we can to keep our sanity but also stay safe. So any get-togethers with friends or if we can still grab a meal out will absolutely happen outside.
So I was THRILLED to be able to participate in a pattern test for a newer to me designer who was testing the PERFECT FALL PATTERN for my Fall life. I introduce you today to the Carmel Knit Tulip Top by Sinclair Patterns! Look at this line drawing – it’s like Style and Comfort had a child together and named her Carmel.
If you aren’t familiar with the pattern testing process, let me share with you – it is both fun and a little stressful. Usually there is an initial “version 1” which is really the second draft of the pattern in most cases since a lot of designers also do a “pre-test” process before the official pattern test. During the actual testing process, sewists sign up to sew different versions of the pattern to check both the fit and the pattern instructions, and then provide feedback to the designer that they use to improve the pattern. Sometimes there is a second round of test sews, but if the pattern just requires a few tweaks, the designer will make the adjustments and ask the sewists to sew up their final version. We then photograph them to the best of our abilities and help promote the pattern. Most pattern testers don’t get paid, but they can use affiliate links to promote the pattern which the gives them a small commission. For me, this testing process was admittedly a little stressful because I was very busy with work (often having to do work in the evenings to make up for hybrid schooling meltdowns) and this pattern test mostly transpired during the week vs over a weekend. BUT I loved the pattern and that makes it a lot of fun!
So back to that pattern! The Carmel top cups with lots of options: regular top or tunic length; different sleeve lengths; hood, cowl, or banded neckline, and extremely functional and nice looking deep side pockets. I particularly like the look of this kind of pocket because you can use complementary fabrics for the outer band and then the inner pocket bag. The main feature of this pattern is the overlapping tulip front pieces, which provide the opportunity to further play with different combinations of fabric – you could do one side in a print, one side in a solid or stripes for example. For my test version, I made my first version entirely out of scraps from my sweater knit scrap bin. Sometimes test versions aren’t all that wearable but I have already worn this one three times. My test version is the regular top length with banded neckband in a size 6 (based on by bust measurement) which I graded to an 8 at the waist.
For my finals version (but not my last for sure), I decided I wanted something with more potential for layering and wearing out in the colder weather – something I could wear, for example, in late Fall on my patio or out for a walk with the pups. So this time I made the tunic length and sized up to a 10 all around. My fabric this time also had less stretch so I’m glad I went up. I decided to go bold and used bright complementary blue Liverpool and doubleknit fabric, with a fun pop of pink ribbing for the neckband and pocket bands. I am so happy with my fabric choices!
And remember those pockets I mentioned earlier? Don’t these look gorgeous??
This pattern may look a little daunting to the beginner sewist, and it’s definitely not a super quick sew if you take the time to do the pockets (which I highly recommend). By my count, my final version had 12 or more pieces including things like the hem facings – I should mention this pattern uses those hem facings to finish the bottom of the top and it’s worth taking the time to do it as it’s a really nice finish. But the instructions are really clear and there really aren’t any actual advanced techniques used…so I think this pattern is very doable if you have sewn any kind of knit top before.
As I mentioned, Sinclair Patterns is a newer designer for me – I’ve sewn up just two or three of their patterns over the years, but have been impressed with the quality construction and beautiful drafting. So I was really excited to get accepted as a tester for this pattern, and I hope to test more of them in the future.
Get the pattern here:
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