Playing with Ponte (Style Arc Madeleine Ponte top)

I wish I'd been wearing shorts for this pictures. It was so, so hot outside.
I wish I’d been wearing shorts for this pictures. It was so, so hot outside.

Here in Southern Ontario, spring is a funny season. It can last for anywhere from two months to two minutes. Sometimes it has an existential crisis and seesaws back and forth between winter and summer, alternating snow flurries and thunderstorms, for a month or so before it finally turns hot for real.

The first week of April was winter. We wore our heavy jackets, stared longingly at the dirt waiting for shoots of green, greeted every weather forecast of flurries with bitter tears.

The second week of April was summer. We wore shorts. Spring lasted for about ten hours.

The side, kind of sort of. You can see here that the waistband is above my waist, but more on that below. You may also be able to see a fine sheen of sweat on my face; I should have worn shorts!


The cold will come back, of course. We’ll take out our coats again and put the shorts away for a little while longer, which is entirely fair since we’re still waiting for tulips and magnolias to bloom. (Case in point: the day I took these photos it was 21C. It’s a good one hour hike, largely uphill, to get to this spot; so you can imagine by the time I got there I was glowing, as they say. As I post this it is about 4C.)

But in that brief summery interlude, I finished my Madeleine Ponte top, and got to wear it outside. A couple of times, actually. It was great. Nothing like the feeling of hot sun on bare skin after a long cold winter.

The Back!
The Back!

The backstory is more complicated.

The Madeleine Ponte top was the free pattern in April, and I loved the style lines and the pattern sample, so I bought some of the other patterns I’d had on my wish list and got this one sent along as well. Picking a size was a challenge; I knew the construction would be complicated and wanted to pick something with the fewest number of alterations. In the end I decided to size down to a 10 and do an FBA.

Pattern sample from Style Arc. Note lack of excess fabric below the band, and snug fit of waist that does not go right up on to the bust.

The ponte is a lovely poly/rayon blend from Fabricland, on sale for $8/metre. I have it in a nice coral red too (of course) and I plan to make up the same shirt in that fabric now that I’ve worked through the fitting woes (I think).

Because there were fitting woes.

First off, figuring out how to do an FBA on this shirt was a trick. Here’s the front pattern piece.


Well, it's all of the pattern pieces actually.
Well, it’s all of the pattern pieces actually.

SA doesn’t mark waist or bust lines on their patterns so I folded the pleats in place, held it up to me in about the right position and marked the bust/waist points myself. Then I spent a couple of days tracing it out, cutting it apart and taping it back together in a new configuration, deciding I’d done it wrong, and trying again. I actually got so far as to cut out a version with a different style of FBA before deciding that it wasn’t right and trying yet again with the version you see here.

Once I got something I thought would work and cut it out for real and serged it up, it became clear that there were Issues. As in, despite the size being smaller than I should fit into, it was too big.


Does this look like the pattern sample to you?
Does this look like the pattern sample to you?

The Madeleine is shown by Style Arc to be a fitted top, and yet I had inches of extra fabric pretty much everywhere below my waist. The top front was fine (so yay, the FBA worked) but the rest needed major work.

I did a couple of things:

1. Opened up the horizontal back seam, and took it in by about an inch in the centre, tapering to nothing at the sides, to get rid of excess length. You can’t see the back in the picture above but, as always, it was way too long for me.

2. Opened up the right side seam and took in about 2″ everywhere below the band.

It helped a lot, but it still needs work. I need a smidge more space in the shoulders, and the front top isn’t long enough–the band is above my waist. It probably needs about another inch in length in the front. Taking 2″ out of the side seam was a very imperfect solution. I need to resize the front lower piece so that it is 2″ narrower all across the front, or even better, 1.5″ narrower, and then take another 1/2″ out of the back.

I don't know why it looks like I'm levitating here. I promise my butt is firmly planted on a nice big stone.
I don’t know why it looks like I’m levitating here. I promise my butt is firmly planted on a nice big stone.

The arms and the neck fit well, and I do like the design of the shirt. It’s different and interesting and comfortable, and I know I’ll make it up again. But do be warned that there is excess ease in this pattern. My advice is to buy at least 2 sizes down from what you think you’ll need, and make adjustments from there.

The photo shoot did get me out into the woods, where I got to see the trout lilies starting to come up and the coltsfoot blooming, and that made me happy. Life of a single mother, Dear Readers: when you combine your daily exercise, nature therapy and blog photo shoot into one outing, then pick up groceries and prescriptions on the way home.

Oh! Also:



More on that in a post where I did more than just the hem. But hey! It was pretty fun.

2 thoughts on “Playing with Ponte (Style Arc Madeleine Ponte top)

  1. I sure do like those colors together! And despite your disclaimers, I’ve decided to believe that a coverstitched hem enables levitation and that I should nab one for myself.

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