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The Barra Button Back Top from Greyfriars and Grace.

Today’s blog post is a little bit different and one that I hope a few of you will find quite interesting.

Greyfriars and Grace are a ‘new to me’ pattern company founded by a lovely lady called Fiona, which designs and sells sewing patterns with an environmental focus. Most patterns have the option to use existing garments or textiles therefore combining sewing and recycling unwanted clothing and textiles. Such a smart idea as I’m sure that most of us have some idea of the dangerous impact that fast fashion is having on the planet.

Fiona has very kindly sent me this pattern to try with no obligation to post or share. But I am doing so today as I thought that you might like to know about this unique idea. I think it’s pretty cool, and hope you will too.

The pattern that I chose to take a look at is the Barra Button Back Top.

Image from Greyfriars and Grace.

This pattern enables you to make this button back top in two ways – one is to cut it out of fabric in the regular way – you can add the button band from an existing shirt as the closure to save you having to add all those buttons/buttonholes yourself, and you can use the cuffs for sweet little sleeves and add a hem ruffle if you wish!

The second option is to make it (as I did) simply by using an old shirt. Nothing else needed – just a reel of thread!

(Cropped wide leg trousers are the Tilly and the Buttons Safiya trousers from Tilly’s ‘Make it Simple’ book).

For those of you reading that live in the UK and are loving The Great British Sewing Bee on the TV, it’s a bit like the ‘transformation challenge’ where you are given an old shirt and have to cut it and make it into something else in a ridiculously short amount of time. Well, these patterns are like that, but WITH a pattern!! (and you can take your time to sew it too)! Ha! Sadly without the presence of Patrick Grant peering over your shoulder though. *sighs*

The shirt that I used was from the local charity shop and was a man’s 18″ collar shirt originally from Next, which I bought for £3.

The pattern includes colour photographs, illustrations and written instructions, and they were very clear to follow. In no time at all I had cut my top out using the pattern pieces (just two pattern pieces – shirt front and shirt back). I am very much a visual learner and the images contained in the instructions helped me understand where to place the pattern pieces with no problems at all.

The back of the old shirt had a couple of vertical darts to give it some shape, which I unpicked and pressed out flat before cutting out to ensure that I had the maximum fabric possible and that there were no unsightly darts running up and down what would effectively be the front of my new top.

The only pattern marking that I needed to trace off was the bust dart which I was interested to see were positioned pointing down from the armholes rather than the usual position from the side seams below the arms.

The sleeves are used to make the bias tape which finishes off the neckline and armholes. There are instructions to show you how to do this, so don’t worry if you’re not sure. You could also use shop bought bias for a pop of contrast if you prefer. I made plenty of tape by using the sleeve fabric and still have some leftover to put in my stash for another project in the future.

The Barra Button Back Top was ever so easy to sew up, and nice and quick to make too. I had very little left over of the original shirt – just the collar and some tiny pieces of fabric. I have saved a couple of buttons from the top of the original shirt which was not needed, and also some buttons from each cuff to use another time on another project. The rest of the leftovers will be added to my box of scrap fabrics which I might use as filling for a pouffe that I hope to get around to making at some point.

The pattern size range is XS – XXXL which is a UK size 8 – 20 ( US 4 – 16). I made a size small (UK 10). My measurements are 34-29-38 and I am 5’2″ in height. I have tucked the front into my trousers for most of these shots as it is a little longer than I expected it to be. Next time I make it I shall shorten the length a little so that it ends up as an almost cropped length and hits the same point on my body as it does in the model in the pattern image who I am guessing must be much much taller than I am!


Pink acrylic button necklace is available from my shop x

The only teeny addition that I had to make was to add a buttonhole right at the top of the button band. As you might be able to see from an earlier image in this blog (the picture with the orange scissors)! the neckline was cut right at the point of where a button and hole was positioned. In order to sew the bias tape around the neckline I had to remove the button, sew the tape into place, and afterwards simply sew a new button hole and re-sew the button in it’s new position. No bother, or you could add a little press stud, popper, hook and eye, velcro etc if you don’t fancy sewing a buttonhole.

Oh and here is the before and after!

I do hope that you might find a chance to take a look over the Greyfriars and Grace website, and find that you are as inspired by their environmental options as I have been.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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