Modern and flattering trapeze-shaped top. The perfect addition to your summer wardrobe!
I have made the Collins Top three times now. The first version underwent a small laundering mishap, the second provided an opportunity to use up some leftover fabric, and the third was a remake of the first.
What I love about this top is the modern design created by interesting and flattering panel lines, in particular the three piece raglan sleeve. The panelling is also a great opportunity for personalisation, with the potential to colour block or experiment with patterns.
A wrap-up of this review
The maker: In the Folds
The In the Folds approach is slow and simple. Nothing fancy, but in a good way! I particularly love the way the designs utilise simple techniques but in interesting and unique ways (e.g. placement of a seam). The designs are also timeless, and will have you making them over and over!
The founder, Emily Hundt, has a background and story that really resonates with me. It was interesting to read that she too studied fashion design, but found "fashion no longer felt like the right fit for me", with there being a disconnect from the hands on (not like it is at uni). Her zig-zag career path was also a familiar story, but one that has found her returning to where it all started - pattern making.
In the Folds patterns can be purchased via the In the Folds online store, and a number of bricks and mortar and online stockists both in Australia and internationally. Also, be sure to check out the In the Folds website, a great resource, for sewing, pattern making and garment fitting tutorials, and @inthefolds on social media.
The Collins Top pattern is available in paper format in sizes A-J, equivalent to Australian sizes 6-24. The pattern is drafted for a B cup bust, and a height of 170cm (5'7").
The top pattern itself includes two versions;
View A, featuring a three piece raglan sleeve, and a neckline finished with bias binding.
View B, a sleeveless version, with the neckline and armholes finished with all in one facing.
Overall the design is fairly minimal with most of the interest created by the panel lines. In particular, the design features include:
Round neck with bias binding (view A) or all in one facing (view B).
Voluminous, three piece raglan sleeve (view A).
Double rolled hem.
Centre back opening with button and loop closure (optional).
You will receive full A0 printed patterns, printed on high quality white tissue paper that are really easy to cut and pin. The markings on the pattern pieces are also really clear and easy to follow.
Tip: What I love about tissue patterns is that you can iron out any creases (carefully)!
This instruction booklet is one of my favourites! Not only is it beautifully presented like the pattern envelope, but the booklet form is super easy to manage, and the instructions and diagrams are detailed and easy to follow. The booklet covers everything from;
An introduction to 'In the Folds' and slow sewing.
Sizing and garment measurements.
Cutting guides and tips.
Section for reflection.
Fabric and notions
The suggested fabric is light to mid-weight such as linen, linen blends, cotton, gauze or chambray. The choice of fabric will have quite a bearing on the overall look of this top, dictating the silhouette, with softer fabrics creating a more flowy look, and heavier weight fabrics creating more volume and structure.
The panels provide the opportunity to colour block or experiment with patterns (also great for using up smaller pieces of fabric you may have in your stash). There is a helpful planning template included online for you to colour, helping to visualise your design. I didn't use this particular one, but I have used them for other patterns, and found them to be a great tool.
The only additional notions you will need for this top include;
1 x 10mm (⅜in) button (optional).
1m (1.1 yard) x 32mm (1¼in) single-fold bias tape (view A).
2.5m (2.75 yards) bias binding if you would like to also bind the hem (optional).
When choosing fabric for my latest version, I was looking to replace the Merchant & Mills Tencel™ Lyocell/Linen Voyage Navy version I had previously made. I instead opted for their European laundered linen in Autumn Sea, a lovely deep blue grey. This fabric, which forms part of their stock range, is 100% linen, 143cm wide, and Oeko-Tex certified. I also picked their matching 15mm organic cotton buttons, that also have a matte, chalky finish.
Cutting and layout
As always, I would recommend pre-washing your fabric as per the care instructions prior to starting any cutting or sewing. For more on pre-washing your fabric, check out my article 'How to: Pre-wash your fabric'.
The pattern consists of 13 pattern pieces, 9 for view A, 10 for view B.
Centre front (cut on fold)
Upper centre back
Lower centre back
Front sleeve (view A only)
Sleeve shoulder (view A only)
Back sleeve (view A only)
Front shoulder (view B only)
Back shoulder (view B only)
Front facing (view B only)
Back facing (view B only)
The benefit of having many small pattern pieces is being able to play around with the layout. As you can see from the photograph to the right, you can position the pieces together quite snugly, using up as little fabric as possible.
As mentioned previously, there are quite a few pattern pieces involved in this top (13). Therefore, I recommend labelling your cut out pattern pieces or leaving the pattern pieces attached to the fabric until you are ready to use them. I also recommend identifying the right and wong side of your fabric (if it isn't already obvious) as many of the pattern pieces look quite similar.
Tip: I simply insert two parallel pins to indicate the fabrics wrong side.
Ensure you have transferred all pattern markings and notches onto your fabric. Be sure not to miss these, as they will help put the panels together and ensure accurate alignment.
Other than this there isn’t anything required prior to commencing sewing of this top. My only recommendation if making view A, would be to prepare the bias binding for the neck. While no pattern piece for the bind is provided, the measurments and instructions are clearly provided.
The Collins top is placed at a Level 1.5 on the In the Folds pattern skill scale. Personally, I would describe the pattern as being suitable for beginners.
The pattern will have you;
Sewing straight and curved seams.
Piecing many panels together.
Creating and attaching bias binding (view A only).
Sewing a double rolled hem.
Creating a button loop.
Attaching a button.
Finishing neckline and armholes with an all-in-one facing (view B only).
This top came together really quickly, with the bulk of the sewing coming from straight-stitching the various panels together and finishing their edges. I simply overlocked all the seams, but I think french seams would offer a more professional finish and be easy to do considering the straight edges of the panel (maybe next time).
I only really deviated from the pattern when it came to the button loop. Instead of creating a self fabric loop, which I found to be too bulky, I simply used a coordinating piece of narrow cord.
I also tried two different hem finishes. For my second version (view B), I simple finished the edge with overlocking before turning up and top-stitching. However, for my third version (View A), I followed the pattern instructions, sewing a rolled hem, which created a slightly fluted edge.
For my second version (view B), I was using up some leftover fabric and didn't have enough for the all-in-one facing. I therefore used bias binding at both the neckline and armhole, and found this to also provide a nice finish.
N. B.: You are not alone in sewing your patterns. In the Folds provides a Collins Top sew-a-long.
In regards to the fit, I can only comment on the size A (equivalent to size 6) top. However, I had no issues, finding the top to be a really flattering fit, thanks to the trapeze shape. The length is really nice, sitting on the hips at the front, and being longer at the back. I found this length to be perfect for pairing with trousers and skirts. The pattern is drafted for a height of 170cm (5'7") however, the includes a ‘lengthen / shorten line’ so adjustments can be easily made to suit your height.
The linen fabric certainly provided a more voluminous, sculptural sleeve to the version I made in tencel/linen which was much softer (unfortunately I don't have any photographs wearing this).
While the neck opening is wide enough to be slipped over the head, I opted for the centre back opening as I find it more convenient for occasions when you may have your hair up for example. An opening also minimises the risk of distorting the neck.
Please get in touch or leave me a comment. I would love to know if you found this article helpful. Maybe I have inspired you to check out the Collins Top from in the Folds.
Thanks for reading.
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