I’ve recently discovered – or rediscovered – a love of hand embroidery so for this project I decided to combine two current fashion trends; embroidery and statement sleeves.

I picked the McCalls Sewing Pattern number 7542 for its variety of sleeve treatments, although I have to say I was slightly concerned about the shape of the bodice. More on that later. 

As I knew I was going to add embroidery I wanted to choose a plain fabric that draped nicely – I wanted those statement sleeves to flow rather than poke out. I was tempted by some linen, but in the end chose this Plain Viscose Fabric. The next decision was which colour to choose as there are more than 25 colours available. In the end I plumped for red as I’d recently seen some dark blue and pale grey embroidery done on a red background in a book my friend bought me. It looked so nice I decided to try and recreate that look.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing the embroidery, whether to make the top and then do the embroidery afterwards, but in the end I decided to embroider the fabric before I’d even cut the pattern pieces out. I traced the neckline and shoulders of the front bodice onto a piece of Water Soluble Embroidery Fabric and then started arranging the design templates. These I photocopied out of my book, cut out and placed underneath the soluble fabric until I got the desired effect. I then traced them onto the soluble fabric with a black pen. I just used a normal fine liner, but I suppose I should really have used a Water Soluble Marker.

I then pinned this piece onto a piece of the viscose large enough to take the entire front bodice pattern piece and started my embroidery. I used 2 shades of DMC Stranded Cotton for this, a navy blue (#823) and a pale grey (#415). This design took less than one skein of each colour.

Once I’d finished the embroidery, which took approximately one evening for each motif, I cut away the majority of the water soluble fabric and then put the viscose in the washing machine, inside a small laundry bag on a delicate cycle to remove what I couldn’t cut away. When this was dry I could get on with making the top. The pattern comes with 5 different sleeve options and after some deliberation I decided to go with the tulip sleeve. There are two bodice lengths, and I chose the longer, lengthening it by about another inch when I cut it out. I also graded out one size from waist to hip, but sadly as the top is quite boxy this wasn’t enough and I had to resort to side slits in the side seams at the hem. I’ve read online that others have had similar problems.

Rather than using the included facings I decided to bind the neckline with self made bias binding and create a tie fastening for the back neck at the same time. A word of warning – the neck on this top is high and feels quite restrictive. I lowered it about 15mm but it still feels pretty high compared to what I’m used to.

Overall, I’m really pleased with this top, although I don’t think I’d use this pattern again. I may take the sleeve options and use them with a better fitting bodice however. The fabric choice was perfect for this project, particularly with the sleeve option I chose, but it may be to drapey for some of the other sleeve treatments included.