Testing the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top

The demands of family life and of building my own business have kept me from pattern testing more often.  So lately I've been following the pool of creatives, waiting to select to test a pattern that really stood out.  When I saw the call to test the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top by Townmouse, I was immediately attracted to the light, summery, feminine design.  I sent off my application and the pattern arrived in my inbox later that day with a grateful note.

My first impressions?  

The PDF pattern was attractive, simple, clean and easy to follow.  And I thought no doubt the designer's artistic clarity and attention to perfection was reflected in her pattern designs as well, not only visually but in terms of fit and functionality too.  I was eager to begin.

The Top!

Such a whimsical, summery design.  I am a big fan of flutter sleeves.  

And I love garments made of light weight fabrics. The top seemed particularly suited to a Liberty of London for those of us who have special Liberty's we've been saving - however I also toyed with a fun intricate flowery design, also light weight, but of a more regular (and affordable) cotton.  In the end I chose this lovely whimsical Liberty cat fabric (cats have been a bit of a theme in our house lately).

The first step in the process was to place the keyhole binding and then the neckline binding both of which went smoothly notwithstanding family insanity (see below).  

The flutter sleeves are particularly effective when a tiny hem is used but my needle was just missing the roll of my rolled hem foot (Sigh... perhaps it is time for my machine to have another checkup - I am looking forward to getting a new more functional machine in the near future).  So I made a baby rolled hem the old fashioned way. 

Attaching the sleeves, finishing the armholes, sewing the back and side seams, and hemming were all done during my daughter's precious 2- hours-a-day-I-should-place-on-an-alter-and-do-puja-to-because-it-keeps-me-from-going-off-the-deep-end-permanently nap :) 

The last thing to do was to attach the button.  I made my own fabric button with a Dritz Cover Button Kit and secured it in place with a few hand stitches.


I always wonder whether tops that fit my daughter's body will fit her shoulders correctly.  Her shoulders tend to run small.  So...

I was so excited and pleased when I finished the top, wrestled my child (as usual - she hates trying on clothes for me) and bribed her with something delicious. But voila!  The shirt was on and a perfect fit!  

I realized I think, given the tops light and roomy design, and forgiving flutter sleeves, it's a shirt well suited to varied shoulder sizes.

The Process

Murphy's Law: 

Anything that can go wrong will

A mild illness that left me lethargic and incapable of generating any motivation to lift a finger kept me from beginning constructing the Isabella Flutter Sleeve Top for a few days. But in the mean time I lazily sifted through my lightweight cotton fabrics and enjoyed mulling over my options.  When I finally began the first step in the process, precisely placing the binding around the keyhole opening, I was very pleased with the result.  It was very cleanly bound and I felt off to a great start but I had no idea my project was about to be sabotaged.


I have a small boy who happens to be a very beautiful, energetic, and intelligent almost-eight-year-old.  Though he's all kinds of lovely qualities he also has a penchant for risk and misbehavior (the two do not go well together!) you have to see to believe.

For a number of days he'd been pestering me to let him watch a tutorial for a video game he wanted to learn about.  Well, media had been taken as a punishment for bad behavior prior and I wasn't about to allow a lazy foray into laissez faire parenting that has before, and surely would again, spiral into

"okay, STOP PESTERING ME (he has an unbelievable staying power), just go play your game!"  

Because then I lose all my parenting power!

So the day after I began my project I put my son's baby sister down for her nap and prepared to make use of my precious 2 hours.  I sat at my desk and picked up the top. I thought my eyes were deceiving me, in large (actually such well written letters I momentarily thought perhaps an adult had done the dirty deed) clear print written with a ballpoint pen across one side of the back of the shirt said:




I stared incredulously, overwhelmingly shocked and disappointed, crushed at the thought that my beautiful fabric was ruined, my time had been wasted, and I would no doubt need to begin again with a quickly approaching deadline.  I was stunned and uncertain of what should come next.  Ballpoint pen is known for being tough to remove.  However I have had great success with the soap, rinse, repeat method, and this time I added baking soda and after several repetitions of soaking and air drying, the ink disappeared.  

Phew!  Ink removed, shirt dried, only one sleep session lost, still enough time to my deadline, I could continue, had salvaged my liberty fabric, and was on to finishing this delightful little top!