Tuesday, March 13, 2018

FO: Green Banksia

I'm on a bit of a roll with patterns I've intended to make for years lately. After making a Sassy Librarian Blouse, I got the idea to also make a Banksia. This pattern is actually what got me into the online sewing community when I saw the example photo on Pinterest back in 2011 or 2012. I wanted that shirt! I had no idea anything about the technical aspects, plus I wanted it as a t-shirt, but I tracked it down and discovered Megan Nielsen Patterns and the sewing community at large. It's all history from there. In spite of my initial love of this design, I still had never made it up. Craziness! I've had this cotton lawn earmarked for this top since I bought it back in 2015. I finally sewed up my first version a few weeks ago- et voilĂ !
First off I'm not happy with this outfit - I wanted to take pictures with my brown skirt, but it was in the wash, so I grabbed an old skirt that worked. I will certainly not be wearing it out like this. Ahem. Anyway, the Banksia top has a functional button placket and a peter pan collar with the rest of the shape being very simple. I prefer how this version looks tucked in (as above), but all the other shots are untucked so you can see the whole thing.
I made this version using a Robert Kaufman Classic Cotton in green. I can't remember the actual name of the fabric, but I know it had "classic" in it. I've always assumed it was a lawn as it is very light weight and slightly sheer but still has a crisp hand. Who knows. I snagged it at a Sewing Studio sale and I was in too much of a fabric buying frenzy to pay close attention. The fabric works well fort this design though, and I really like the color. This shirt is definitely a wearable muslin since being my first version ever, it is far from perfect. Interestingly the darts are too short for my bust by about 1.5" or more, causing some strange drag lines as the fabric tries to compensate under my bust. Also it's not loose enough over the hips, so next time I would add more width there. I'm pretty proud of my placket though - first one! The pattern gives two options: the "easy" way and the traditional way. I went for the traditional way so I could have experience with them for other designs as well, and it was pretty persnickity. There is a tiny bit of puckering at the bottom edges of the placket, but I'm able to iron them down pretty well. It won't keep me from wearing this, but it is worth noting.
The back has a strange fit issue I've never encountered before - look at that fabric bunching up at my shoulder blades. Isn't that weird? The picture would make me say it's too tight across the back, but it doesn't feel tight at all when I wear it - it's actually perfectly comfortable. I have no idea what that would be from. Any ideas? Also I had a bit of an interesting time with the collar. I cut everything out, fused the interfacing and sewed it together only to notice a spot on the fabric immediately after. I tried washing it out, but it was no use. Luckily I had enough fabric to cut another complete collar and try again. The collar seems to want to flip up a bit at the edges in these pictures, which I another baffling thing because I understitched that beast and cut away 1/8" from the under collar to pull the top around. So clearly I have things to work on with this pattern.
Here you can see how short those darts are. I did make a pretty big change to the sleeves. The pattern includes elbow length sleeves that do not taper from the bicep. I love the example photos, but when I sewed this up it looked like a big tub on my arm, plus it flipped out in a strange way too. I didn't know if I should just taper the sleeve a bit or if it just needed shortening. I took to Instagram asking for advice, and in the end I agreed with the consensus of shortening. This got a little complicated though because if I just shortened it evenly, the sleeve looked crooked on my arm (meaning the hem was not straight with my arms at the sides). I played around with folding different amounts up and creating an angle so the sleeve hems would be straight - I took off 4 or 5 inches total (not sure exactly how much because I did it a few inches and then cut more later). I'm happy with the length now, though I would like to figure out how to make the longer sleeves work on my frame. Also I got really lucky with my buttons - I only had these 3 left over from making my sad green Melissa skirt and they match perfectly!
So that's my first Banksia :) I should also note that this is the original printed version of the pattern bought and traced before the update with extended sizes and options - they were super generous and offered a free copy of the digital update with proof of owning a physical copy, so I do have that and perhaps I will try out the new version sometime to compare. I made the XL of the old version (the largest size) and added a bit to the hip (apparently not quite enough - though it's not that bad with other skirts since that line on my tummy is from the skirt riding up at the waist). I do like this top in spite of its fit problems on me, and I do plan to make more in the future. I'm a bit stumped on fixing the back, but I have ideas for the other fit issues and I have a few other cotton lawns I've bought over the years with this shirt in mind. I also have concocted a plan to make this in a knit. I'm thinking I could use the Renfrew pattern for the body since I already like the fit of that and just add the placket and collar. One of these days I'll try that. For now I'm just happy to have finally made this up and I will enjoy wearing around even if it's not perfect.

Fabric: 2.5 yards of Cambridge Cotton Lawn by Robert Kaufman - $8.00
Pattern: Banksia Top by Megan Nielsen Patterns - Free (gift from husband long ago)
Notions: 1 yard Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing - $1.50, 3 green buttons - Free (leftover stash), green thread - $1.50
Total Cost: $ 11.00


  1. Very pretty green. I am sure when you fix the bust area with may be a full bust adjustment; the lines in the back are going to disappear. That is happening because you do not have enough fabric in the front so is grabbing from the back. Looking forward to your next version.

  2. That's definitely an idea! I've never had to do a fba in my life as my bust is not very "full", lol. I'll have to try that for next time. Thanks so much for the suggestion!


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