Friday, 5 May 2017

Blue Cold Shoulder Top - How to Sort Out Sleeve Slippage!

Welcome back to the wardrobe, blue Bardot style beauty!  Saved from the scrap heap, I'm back in love with this off the shoulder top again after a rather stormy start.  

This was created in late August 2016 as a last minute summer make to wear on those balmy early autumn days.  Due to a technical issue with fit, i.e. not being able to do so much as lift a glass of prosecco halfway to my lips without the top pinging upwards in an alarming fashion, I gave it the cold shoulder treatment and never wore it.  This morning I decided to look at it again, and voila!  I'm smitten.  Problem solved.  For that reason I thought I'd let you know how I sorted out the fit, as it's something I think many of these types of garments have as an issue, and it might be useful to share.

So let's go back a beat. The pattern is a Cynthia Rowley one and I won't bore you with the detail of the original make again.  If you look here you can see the process in my first blog post about this make (and you can read the grumbling too).  

At the end of last year I saw so many cold shoulder, Bardot style tops around and decided to make this one.  Made it. Loved it. Wore it.  Hated it.  Basically, the top itself looked great on, the fabric was lovely and the colour right up my street.  But I just couldn't get it to stay on - or rather off - my shoulders.  Every time I moved my arm higher than waist level, the elastic would pull in and whoosh!  Up it popped in a desperate attempt to contract to its unstretched state, only to slap me in the ear and come to rest at a rather odd angle.  The issue of course was that, in order to magically stay in place at that golden spot on the top of my arm, the elastic must remain tight enough to stay up above the bust (major wardrobe mishap waiting to happen if it was too slack here, as I don't have that much up front to hold anything aloft for long), but relaxed enough not to want to zoom upwards.  For this reason, it was never worn and I ended up flinging it back on my fabric pile to be reused again as scrap.  

Lately I've been eyeing up some other similar tops on the high street and thinking, hmmm I do still really like those, maybe I could just buy one?  And after flirting with a couple of them last week in the changing rooms, I had to stop and give myself a good talking to.  What on earth am I doing purchasing the EXACT SAME style top, with the EXACT SAME issues?  I am a maker.  So what I should be doing is going back to the original and using my knowledge of making to sort it out.  And so I did.  This is what it took.

This highly complex and sophisticated structure, also known as five inches of elastic, is my solution.  Yes it really did take that much investment, along with 25 minutes of sewing time, to totally solve the problem.  Genius.  This little piece of elastic, covered in a tube of the same fabric, goes inside the top, attached to front and back of the sleeve, and sits just around the very top of my upper arm. 

Here it is in situ.  I have attached it in place inside the top, along the front and back seam lines, stitching in the ditch so that the fixing is invisible from the outside.  It is snug against my underarm, but not tight, and there is plenty of room for moving around without it being restrictive in any way.

So I have essentially created a loop, and I put my arm through this, and then into the sleeve itself. This comfortably keeps the top neckline elastic in place and makes it impossible for it to creep upwards.  

And it's back in the game!  In fact I can, after rigorous testing confidently report that even 180 degree arm swinging is now perfectly possible and the top will return to exactly where it is supposed to be.  Top shelf cereal packets?  No problem!  Tying laces?  No problem!  Adjusting sunglasses?  Just watch me! No wriggling around, no hoiking it back down, no more mini robot-arm movements with my elbows glued to my sides.  I'll be celebrating by drinking a glass of something chilled in the garden this Friday evening and demonstrating, with expansive arm movements, how my superior engineering skills saved Bardot from the bin.

It makes me wonder why I didn't just spend a bit of time thinking about this in the first place, before getting into a huff with it and throwing it in a heap.  Well I guess that's a lesson learned really, to spend a a little bit less time huffing and puffing and a little bit more time applying myself to finding a solution.  Lessons for life and sewing. 


  1. Pleased to read your latest blog after a bit of a break, and it's as entertaining - and instructive- as always! You should make a video about this tip and put it on YouTube, I'm sure lots of off-the-shoulder tops would be saved from the scrap heap, and maybe clothing manufacturers would be interested?????

  2. Thank you AWR and yes perhaps this could be the beginning of a trouble shooter vlog! Although it's has taken me 9 months to actually get round to altering the top, so don't hold your breath for the video! Sarah x