We need to talk about Agnes. HAHAHA. I have such extreme RBF! I can’t help it!
Seriously, though, Tilly & The Buttons Agnes is a SUPER cute top, right? And if you’re the tiny size with an A-cup, I’m sure it will come out super cute just like on the pattern cover, even if you’re a beginner sewist.
Let’s talk about everyone else though… I bought the pattern during the 20% off Black Friday sale, but it’s been out for a few years. If you’re about to sew this pattern, or you have and you don’t look like the cute girl on the cover, let’s go over it. It has some grading errors, it’s missing some information, and I’m 5’9″-ish, 150 lbs-ish, and in the realm of a 36D – I’m not tiny. So, I’ve made a list of some things I’ve worked out.
1. Elastic markings: The pattern elastic placement on both the bust and the arm is not graded out to larger sizes. If you place the elastic where it says, then your ruching will not go to the seam allowance, and your ruching will start too low.
You need to move the placement in correlation to the size you are cutting.
2. Starting the elastic and the top and stretching down, as per the instructions, will leave you with a flat 1/3″-1/2″ anchor point at the top. Reverse the anchor point FROM the bottom and stretch UP.
Serious grandma boobs happening. The fabric isn’t the best, but also that flat part up top where I anchored the elastic isn’t helping anyone’s boobs, let alone my wide-set D-cups.
3. See that wrinkle on top of my boobs? Normally that indicates I need a full bust adjustment (FBA), however, in the case of the Agnes, the armscye is too long, and the armpits are too low, which also causes that wrinkle. I should take a wedge out of the armscye, but I got lazy/irritated towards the end and just shaved some out some of the pit with my serger. Besides – stretchy fabric should accommodate my bust with my size – so really, on my body, it’s the armscye that is primarily the issue. Looking through Instagram and seeing others’ Agnes tops, I’m not alone. There’s a lot of bust wrinkles across a lot of sizes, and when you see a photo with an arm out stretched, you can see the gap in the armpit. Looking at the last of these green shirt versions, you can see I’ve still got some gap.
4. The direction of stretch on the neckband. This is something I almost didn’t catch because I’ve done so many knit garments, I do a lot of it on autopilot. But going through Instagram and seeing a ton of bagged-out necklines and comments about how they had to remove length in the neckband, I realized a beginner wouldn’t know that you need to reverse the direction of stretch on a neckband.
The neckband is actually graded perfectly IF you know to switch it so the greatest amount of stretch goes the short way, as in image above.
I’ve done my fair share of pattern testing, and I’m mostly disappointed none of the testers caught these issues. This pattern has been out for awhile, but Tilly’s customer base is mostly beginners, and I don’t expect they’d catch these issues, but testers should be experienced enough to go through the steps and pattern pieces with beginners in mind and catch these issues, especially the grading marks.
I also mitered the neckband to make a V at the point of ruching, and did the neckband last, instead of before the ruching as the instructions indicate, but that is a personal preference, so I’m not including that as a fix-it item.
A note about fabrics. I made this top in everything. The top is a cotton/poly sweater knit from Joann’s, the grandma boobs is a poly-something from Mill End, the green/white is a very yummy cotton double-sided knit from Britex, and this monstrosity below is a rayon blend from Girl Charlee – I like getting their weird off-print clearance fabrics for testing:
The pattern works well with various percentages of stretch…the Hawaiian acid trip has the most stretch, then the sweater stripe, then the Grinch green stripe, and last, the grandma metallic gold has the least amount of stretch.
I’m still WAY more in support of indie patterns overall, but this will probably be my last Tilly pattern. I’ve sewn the Miette skirt up a few years ago and wasn’t in love with that one either – so let’s just say they’re not for me. It’s an ok pattern, but for me, it’s no Renfrew. I still wear my stack of Renfrews, including in my last Ginger Jeans post. I’d rather hack the Renfrew to accommodate ruching before I wrestle with the Agnes anymore.
Or maybe there are some other go-to knit shirts out there I need to play with? I understand the Grainline Linden is popular. I might go that route next.