Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

3 hacks on 3 Rowans // Megan Nielsen

I’ve been meaning to make some new tops for a while but always got distracted by my next big new shiny project that I’ve just put it off for ages. I finally did it though and made not one, but three versions of Rowan by Megan Nielsen.

I picked this pattern as a base as I knew it fit me reasonably well from my previous makes with it. Essentially I just wanted a simple stretch bodice sloper as my starting point and this was the perfect choice!

I was inspired by What Bella Made’s square neck hack where she created a lovely square necked Rowan herself (check out her Instagram stories for her tutorial). The hack involves inserting a fully lined bodice so you can turn out the new neck shape then adding the sleeves as normal. It’s a really neat way of finishing a neckline though I probably wouldn’t recommend it if you’re using a thick fabric.

I obviously had to put my own spin on it though!

My version in a lovely soft grey ribbed jersey from the stash was the simplest of the three I made. I did a simple square neck and fully lined it but kept the bodice cropped and finished with a hem band.

The second and third versions have a further hack on the bust!

On one, I wanted a peasant top/ milkmaid gathered bust look. To do this is cut the bodice into along the style lines where I wanted the gathers to end, and slash and spread the top along the neckline to add volume. I fully lined this gathered bust area but left the rest of the top unlined. I stitched a channel into the lining and stitched in a little keyhole opening before threading through some drawstrings to pull the gathered neckline in. I used a lightweight viscose jersey from Rainbow Fabrics for this one.

In retrospect I could’ve positioned the volume of the bust better but otherwise it totally worked how I wanted it to!

The third iteration also used a variation around the bust. For this one I wanted a dart in the bust as part of the design but also for a more contoured fit. I essentially did a full bust adjustment to get the placement and sizing for this. I recut the bodice pattern piece (this is why I’m Team Trace by the way – so I can remake and hack the originals!) with a new underbust curve and a dart. I also curved the neckline for a nice smooth scoop. I used a one way stretch narrow ribbed cotton jersey for this one.

The bust dart really should have been about 2cm more central than it ended up. I think that it was off because I hadn’t fully taken into account the negative ease of the pattern and the amount of stretch in the fabric. It’s not unwearable but just something I’d remedy if I made this one again!

Interestingly, I’ve used the exact same sleeve pattern for all three and you can see how the differences in the fabric affects the fit. The gingham version has the least amount of stretch (but it’s a 4 way stretch) and you can see the sleeve fits best here whereas both the ribbed versions have increasing numbers of lines as the widthwise stretch increases. Both the ribs have little lengthways stretch at all. Something else to note for future – to introduce more negative ease with the stretchier fabrics!

There are definitely pros and cons of doing hacks like this without toiles. On one hand – I think it’s way more fun to try new things and just go for it! I got three new tops that I love to wear even if they’re not perfect and I don’t feel like I’m wasting fabric on “practice” garments. On the other, the perfectionists amongst you are probably looking on in horror as there’s obvious room for improvement in each!

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  1. I think these all look great. Very creative! I would never notice the issues that you are seeing, so I think they’re very successful. You should wear them with joy even as you note what you might change for next time. I always enjoy your blog posts. 🙂

  2. I think they all look great! It’s really interesting and helpful how you detail how you made the changes and what the effects were on fit.

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