How to Draft An Icarus

I won’t give this pattern, or this top, a name.  It’s an Icarus.  I use that term for projects which over-reach my abilities with unwearable results.  However, the term carries positive connotations because I can evaluate what went wrong and how to fix it.

I saw this top- Roses in Rain from Anthropologie- in a thread at PR and decided it looked like a fun drafting problem.  I played it safe with Mirabilis and the Plus Fours, as they required no major dart movements.  I like the idea of using interesting seams and drapery in knits to disguise shaping, since a darted t-shirt would look… weird…

I started by making a pattern for a cut-on sleeve front and back.  Then I moved the vertical darts to the side seam.  Basically, I knew my dart at the waist measures 3cm so I took that off the side seam and smoothed the line.  It’s not perfect, but I think it’s ok for knits.  That left the horizontal bust dart.  On the PR thread, someone suggested it was a cowl sewn into a neck dart, which is how I approached the problem.

After a false start, I marked the CF at 6″ down from the neck and drew a deep V from either side- the way to set up a cowl neck.  On the right side, I rotated the horizontal bust dart to the neck.  I cut off the far right side to cowl the left side.  My proportions were 2:7, which was more or less random.  Pepin suggests thirds and halves are visually boring, so I decided to be bold.

Then I drew the cowl lines based on another vintage drafting manual I had on hand.  I forgot I was dealing with the body and the sleeve in one, and that was my first mistake.

See how low I made the third slash?  Second mistake.  I should have drafted the body from the regular dress sloper and added the cut on sleeves last.  That would have been less ambiguous for me while following the book, and I wouldn’t have a mad puffy drape below my boob.

If you imagine I’m standing in front of a normal hedge, I might be Thumbelina’s stroppy sister.  Note the yellow-green, a different green from the pine/oak forests I rambled as a child.  Greens here are golder.

The back is ok, I’m not expecting much from an experimental muslin carried out in the world’s most disgusting rayon slub knit which pills after two washes.

I learned!  I’ll probably wear the top around the house until it falls apart, I don’t hate it and it’s comfy.  The second it pills or falls apart, I won’t have any qualms about cutting it up for rags.  I don’t like the original enough to draft once more, though I may revisit it in the future.  This exercise taught me a great deal, I’m not upset with the result, and I’m feeling confident about my next challenge:

In a plum bamboo/spandex with long tight sleeves… Yes, please- though not for a while.  I want to take a few weeks to focus on quilting, home dec, finishing ufos, sewing a laptop bag, and sewing for the other people in my household.  It’s kind of boring sewing for just myself and I’ve had quite a streak of that lately.


  1. This is an interesting little top and when you tweak your new pattern it will be great. I really admire your ability to draft your own patterns and get the design so close to what you want so quickly.

  2. Your pattern pictures all look like origami to me, holy man. Looks like you have the basic concept down for the next top, though. :)

  3. "…and sewing for the other people in my household. It's kind of boring sewing for just myself and I've had quite a streak of that lately."Please, for the love of God, NEVER EVER EVER write this on a public forum! Should family read this, all my hard work would be reversed! They have learned to expect NOTHING from me LOL!

  4. I admire your gusto..and your willingness to share your mistakes along with your sucesses. Both tops are certainly worth having, but I had to laugh at your comment about it being boring to sew for yourself…its all I ever want to do, kinda shameful, I know. -lol

  5. Oh.. heh. I didn't mean to make you feel bad or anything. I have a few organic cotton T-shirts I promised the husband, and the little girl needs a few winter tunics and a pretty birthday dress.

  6. I am only willing to sew for myself at this point. My husband has suggested I make him shirts and a suit, my mother in law has declared she is first in line for a dress. These people are crazy.Anyway, it almost looks like the cowl neck is somehow gathered up and sewn under the neckline in that Anthro shirt.Do you think your next project has a panel under those drapes?

  7. Probably could fix it, but I don't care enough to try. I sat down to do some sewing for someone else today and I just couldn't stop thinking about the other top to draft, so I did it and need to make up a muslin to see if it works, but I think it will.

  8. "…I sat down to do some sewing for someone else today and I just couldn't stop thinking about the other top to draft, so I did it…"Muwa ha ha! I see you are coming over to the dark side of selfish sewing. We'll sign you up yet, mark my words!

  9. Both inspiration tops are gorgeous! As soon as I learn to sew knits I'm adding them to my pile ;-)I know I say this every time, but its so fascinating watching you sew and drape patterns. It really is diametrically opposite to what I do, which involves draping lots of fabric over a mannequin and hacking and pinning it until it looks right. It's enthralling how mathematical and analytical your process is. And I'm stealing the term Icarus. It's just perfect! I'll credit you though!

  10. Leimomi, I fantasize about skipping over the Tasman to visit you and Felicity, go fabric shopping, hop through op-shops, and trade our diametrically opposite skills. The we could take over the world. And I'd get you sewing knits already, for the love of Pete.

  11. Pingback: Are Guachos A No No? What About Chef-chos? « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  12. Pingback: Fear and Sewing in BrisVegas « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  13. Pingback: Finished Object: Bow Tie Tee « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

Is it kind, useful or interesting? Great!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s