This was the last piece of merino fabric from my somewhat impulse purchase from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics, from a year and a half ago. I guess though since it's been that long, it now qualifies as stash busting, right?
I had a specific idea of what I wanted this top to be, but without really having a clear picture in my head (if that makes sense). Since I'd already made a simple lightweight hoodie, and a vest, I wanted something different. I wanted a slightly longer top, with a zipped up collar. I also though that adding some gathers to the side could bring some interest. And I also wanted a regular set-in sleeve (no raglan), and princess seams at the bust...
With all these requirements, I was looking around for patterns that would work. It was harder than I thought actually, even though the concept of a half-zip is pretty simple. I went through all my burda magazines, and looked online as well.
Eventually, I came across the Ascent Fleece Pullover pattern, by 4 out of 5. It definitely fit the bill, to a point. But to be honest, I have now reached a point where I own so many patterns already - Burda magazine, big 4 envelope patterns, independent designer pdfs...etc that I find it hard to justify buying yet another pattern, especially for something pretty simple.
I did have to make some changes to make it fit the bill.
The pattern has a few design lines that are much more intricate than what I wanted (especially in the upper back), but it wasn't very hard to tape those pieces together in the pattern and cut them as one piece.
I then combined the front and back shoulder yoke into one piece. I also removed the back center seam. In the front, I rotated the princess seams so they would end at the armhole instead of shoulder yoke. Since this pattern is for a jacket, and I wanted a half zip, I removed the seam allowance at the center front, and cut that piece on the fold instead.
I lengthened the bodice about 7cm and used the curved hem from view C for the back, as well as the front. Finally, I also added about 4cm to the sleeve length, but that's more of a standard adjustment than a design change...
Once I had all the pieces cut, I basted the whole thing together (sans sleeves), in order to check the fit.
Overall it was pretty good, but I did have to do some fitting adjustments to the princess seam at the bust. I took in the side pieces quite a bit (basically following what a small bust adjustment would be on a princess seam). As a result, the sides ended up being slightly shorter, so I just added a little triangle of fabric just st the armhole, to compensate. It almost looks like a gusset piece in a way. Or if I'd used a contrasting mesh fabric for example, it could have passed for a technical design detail. In any case, the fix worked fine and I don't think anyone would be able to tell that it wasn't supposed to be there in the first place.
I had noticed on the RTW half zips that I own that there was an extra piece of fabric attached to the zipper on the inside, and folding over the top of the zipper. This is to prevent the zipper from rubbing against the skin on the inside, or the neck at the top. So I decided to add a piece like that as well.
I followed this tutorial to install the half zip. The construction of it wasn't very complicated, once I figured out how to include the extra piece of "zipper lining". The part that gave me most trouble was the collar. After I had it all constructed, I realized that it was gaping in two places, on either side of the zipper, instead of sitting nice and flat against the neck. I hadn't noticed that issue with my vest, but I was using heavier-weight black fabric, so maybe it just wasn't as obvious.
In any case, it took me a few try to manage to reduce the gaping. I think I finally managed to get something better, by basically taking in some of the collar length towards the very top, so it would be shorter and tighter...
Setting in the sleeves turned out way more frustrating that it should have been. I planned on attaching the sleeves to the shoulders before sewing the sleeve and side seams. But I found out the hard way that the pattern had WAYYYY to much ease built into the sleeve head. No matter how careful I was gathering and sewing the sleeves, I ended up with unwanted gathers. So finally after sewing the sleeves twice without success, I decided to chop off some of that sleeve head to remove the extra ease. As I'm writing this I was wondering if maybe the adjustment that I made at the bust seam would have impacted the armhole size, but looking back at in progress photos, I don't think so...Anyways, if you intent on using this pattern, maybe check the length difference between sleeve head and armhole first...
Finally I was almost done. Using this tutorial I constructed the side seam gathers without any problems. The sleeve cuffs with thumb holes also came together really quick, and then came time for hemming. In an attempt to keep my hem from being all wobbly like on my previous merino makes, I used stay tape once again, to make it smoother (which is still only partially successful - maybe I pull too much on the fabric as I sew it, or not enough? hard to tell).
When I put it on, all finished, I didn't like the length and curve of the front, which I had matched to the back. So I undid the hem in the front and re-cut it about an inch and 1/2 shorter in the middle, tapering to nothing at the side seams. I liked that much better.
And voila! Merino half zip running top completed, and all from stash (well, except for the zipper).
I finished it just before my big race, and really wanted to wear it on that day, but B. wisely pointed out that wearing a new piece of clothing on your first long-distance race is not a good idea, as I didn't know if any part of it would start rubbing or chaffing after a while (what? like anything I could make could be imperfect like that :P).
I followed his advice and instead wore this top for the first time the following week-end, on a hike we hadn't done before. Which was very convenient for taking scenic photos of my finished garment!