Jalie Dolman Top, Salvaged

This is the second saved project I alluded to when I blogged about my knit Stevie Top. The pattern is the Jalie Dolman top, which I originally made using the view with ¾ sleeves. It’s sewn in a really lovely marled sweater knit. I love this fabric so much—it washed up beautifully and it is lightweight, super-stretchy and very soft. I had grand visions of turning it into a basic pullover that I would wear all the time.

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My Jalie Dolman top originally

But the reality of my first version of this top was something that I just didn’t like at all. There was too much ease in the sleeves. I felt like the drop-shoulder style looked weirdly sloppy on me, despite the fact that it’s a style I typically like a lot. And the neckline was so wide that I was flashing bra straps every time I put it on. I was incredibly disappointed to have wasted such nice fabric on another flop.

Jalie Dolman Top

But like the pinstripe jersey I used from my second Stevie Top, my love for this fabric led me to hold onto the failed project and the scrap fabric much longer than I otherwise would have. And I would pull the pieces out from time to time to puzzle over how I might salvage the project or recut the fabric to get some kind of wearable garment. It was a tough puzzle to solve—I pinned out the excess in the sleeves in the hope that I would like the result better, but it didn’t make a substantive difference. I tried cut another pattern out of the scraps and the larger pieces of the top, but I could never seem to make it work. I considered finding a complimentary sweater knit that I could use to create a color-blocked project, but couldn’t seem to find either a second fabric or a good pattern that would result in something I’d like.

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I very nearly gave up when I was reading a blog post by Meg at Cookin’ and Craftin’ about a t-shirt she’d made for her sister and was shocked to see that she’d made it using a sweater knit. It had simply never occurred to me to use a sweater knit for a short-sleeved, warm-weather garment. Apparently, in my mind, sweater knits could only be used for traditional sweater-like garments with longer sleeves that are meant to be worn in cold weather. Talk about a ridiculous limiting belief. I thought about this lovely marled, gray sweater knit—which is a lightweight rayon blend that would be very nice in warmer temps—and wondered if I could get a tee out of the scraps I had left.

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I couldn’t. But at some point in the middle of trying unsuccessfully to get all the pieces of my favorite tee pattern out of the little bits of fabric available to me, I finally recognized the very clear and obvious solution: just cut the damn sleeves off. All other attempts to salvage the fabric had failed, so I recklessly cut of the sleeves about an inch from the seam. (Trying to unpick the sleeves would have taken forever and would have seriously marred the fabric.) Then I treated the remaining bit of former-sleeve fabric as a find of facing, turned it to the wrong side of the garment, and top-stitched it in place. Voila. It took me more than a year to basically just make the easier view of the pattern. So it goes.

My original thought in cutting the sleeves off was that even though the neckline was too wide, I’d be fine to wear this as a shell under a jacket. But without the weight of the sleeves, the neckline doesn’t pull in the same way so I’m no longer flashing my bra straps. So now I have a multi-season top that I can wear as is or under a jacket, and I finally get to enjoy the soft sweater knit that has just been languishing in my stash for way too long. Another win.

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