This is my second go-around with this top. The first time it was a horrible failure–a complete waste of some lovely pale pink cotton knit. What a shame. There were all kinds of problems, beginning with the flimsy knit and ending with rumpled seam lines. It was awful.
I hated, however, the neck facing. I hated the knit lining. I hated that the shirt used a neck facing and a lining (what?). I hated that the pleats kept collapsing.
So, for the second time around I made some significant changes. I eliminated the front neck facing entirely and instead used the front lining as a facing. Basically I sewed the darts in the lining and then sewed the lining to the front along V-neck, wrong sides facing. I flipped the lining in and treated the lining and pleated front as one piece from there on out.
This caused a little bit of trouble later on when it came to the back neck facing. I forgot about the back neckline, so I had to fiddle a little to make it work. Still, it came out looking nicely, although a teeny bit bulkier at the top shoulder seam than it might otherwise be. It worked with my fabric, but if you use a bulkier knit you might need to be careful there.
What else? Well, I made this into a maternity top for my sister, so I expanded the front belly piece to make room for her bump. That was simple–just some gathers and it worked like a charm. I also had to narrow the band, since otherwise it would have hit too low on her belly. I initially left out the band, thinking it might get in the way and be uncomfortable for her, but the shirt looked really silly without it. Narrowing the band seemed to work. I used clear elastic on all the lateral seams to hold things in place (especially with the gathers). And this time around, I was so so happy to see that all the pleats held. Who knows what will happen when she actually washes the shirt, but that’s a problem for later, right? Amazingly, the shirt still looks pretty good even without my tie-on pregnancy bump, so this may be a shirt she’ll be able to wear while nursing, as well. We’ll see.